MSPs gathered on Tuesday for Holyrood’s annual Indyref2 Statement Day. I swear, it comes around earlier every year.
Mind you, it’s gotten so commercialised these days that people have forgotten the true meaning: the birth of the SNP’s saviour, Brexit, and its distraction from the Scottish Government’s record.
Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t forgotten. Smartly turned out in festive red, St Nic came bearing gifts for her backbenchers, even if their behaviour as she fielded questions from the opposition was distinctly more naughty than nice.
She stressed the scale of the Nationalists’ triumph, telling the chamber: ‘One has to go as far back as the election of Ted Heath in 1970 — the year I was born — to find a party that got a higher share of the vote across the United Kingdom than the SNP did in Scotland last week’.
This was true, but you only had to go back to 2015 to find the last time the SNP did better than last Thursday. That result hadn’t prompted another referendum on Scexit, so there were no grounds for a second vote now — right?
Anyone thinking that got a lump of coal in his stocking. The First Minister said she would be publishing ‘the detailed democratic case’ for ‘a transfer of power from Westminster to this Parliament to allow for an independence referendum that is beyond legal challenge’.
Another taxpayer funded pamphlet pushing separation. How many rainforests have been sacrificed so far in the cause of independence? Some people say Better Together II should be headed by Ruth Davidson but at this rate Greta Thunberg might do it for free.
Sturgeon contended that the 47 seats she won last week was a mandate for Indyref2, but that Boris Johnson, who secured 365 seats, lacked a mandate to refuse. No wonder they had to lower the pass mark for Higher Maths.
Anyway, this time it was the stark divergence between results north and south of the Border that provided grounds for a second independence referendum, a rationale that joins previous triggers including no-deal Brexit, prorogation and Wham!’s Last Christmas not getting Christmas Number 1 in 1984.
It was all about democracy, though. ‘Seventy-four per cent of votes in Scotland were cast for parties that either supported remaining in the EU or were in favour of a second EU referendum’. That suggested Scots were unhappy about Brexit but what about independence? Alas, it had slipped the First Minister’s mind that almost 54 per cent of ballots cast went to parties opposed to secession.
The Nationalist leader was able to pray in aid ‘some signs that those who previously opposed an independence referendum… are now rethinking that position’ thanks to a handful of jelly-spined Labourites who took fright after the election results and ran to the Sunday papers backing Indyref2. Given Scottish Labour’s propensity for putting its foot in its mouth and shooting itself in said appendage, it’s bound to do itself a mischief one of these days.
Jackson Carlaw was still for the Union and pressed Sturgeon to accept that Brexit was now happening. Not likely. She reminded Carlaw that his election leaflets had warned that Indyref2 would follow if Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP won.
She came at him like a wrecking ball: ‘Well, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP did win the election and, frankly, democracy should follow.’
Fair play to her; Carlaw was left in a sombre daze after she’d finished with him, all big eyes and immoveable face. He looked like a cow that just stumbled away from a nasty encounter with a milking machine.
God bless Murdo Fraser, not so much the elf on the shelf as the troll on a roll. He noted economic projections suggesting good times ahead after the Tory victory, and suggested no one embodied this quite like SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, ‘who stands to make a reported seven-figure sum from the sale of his interests in the company Commsworld, a sale that depended on a Conservative election victory’.
The Nat benches tried but failed to drown out the happy news. Drinks all round on the humble crofter.