June 1, 2023


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Wings Over Scotland | Firing blanks

3 min read


This is getting properly embarrassing.

Because that starting gun must be red-hot by now.

It was previously fired in April 2019.

(Alert readers may notice that 2021 has come and gone, the Scottish Government has NOT acted and Scotland has very much NOT been saved from Brexit.)

It was fired in May 2018.

It was fired in March 2017.

It was fired in October 2016.

It had already been fired in June of that year.

As far as we can tell, it was first fired in September 2015.

Amusingly, the six-year period in that headline expired eight months ago and we’re still no closer to another referendum than we were then. Although according to The National, the campaign actually started three years ago and is now on Day 1,124.

(They stopped listing the days on the masthead after Day Two, obviously.)

It’s been 16 months since the sort-of newspaper exclusively revealed the SNP’s incredible 11-point plan to bring about a second referendum.

It’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves of how that’s gone.

The first four points of the “plan” were just a recap of previous events. But the 5th point made some specific pledges.

That “draft bill” finally arrived ten months after it had been promised, barely two weeks before the 2021 election. Those ten months of work produced a bill just three pages long, with the Scottish Government website proudly announcing that the “balot” [sic] was “avaliable” [sic] “within in” [sic] the supporting documents.

The bill is so comically short and content-free we may as well reproduce it in full. Page 1 can be accurately and completely summarised as an extremely long-winded version of the sentence “The referendum will take place on a date of some kind”.

Page 2 can be fully summarised as “This bill is a bill.”

And page 3 tells us exactly what size the ballot-paper voting boxes will be (21mm) and what kind of font the text will be written in (sans serif, 14pt or more).

And that’s it. That’s what took ten months to prepare and was considered a key part of the great indyref2 masterplan. (Although actually it took almost four and a half years. The Scottish Government began consulting on the draft bill in October 2016.)

Points 6 and 7 of the 11-point “strategy” were empty waffle and as far as we’re aware point 8 has still not been enacted, 16 months after the “plan” was unveiled and more than a year after the 2021 election victory that would supposedly trigger the request.

The last request made by the Scottish Government for a Section 30 order remains the one made in December 2019, two and a half years ago, 13 months before the “plan” was published.

So points 9-11, such as they are, are yet to come into play.

9 and 11 are of course meaningless gibberish anyway and always were. But point 10 doesn’t even BEGIN to mean anything until Sturgeon carries out Point 8 by requesting a Section 30 again, at which point the process outlined in the plan – passing the bill, testing the question, deciding the date, resolving any legal challenge in the Supreme Court – could get under way.

It would all have to be done and dusted by about this time next year to allow time for a few months of actual campaign before a vote by September/October 2023 at the latest. (Because you really, really can’t gamble on having an indyref in Scotland in November or December and making the whole thing hostage to winter weather.)

Anyone who thinks there’s the tiniest chance of all that happening within the next year when it took nearly half a decade to produce the 745 words of padded-out nothing-fluff in the draft bill is, frankly, a drooling imbecile who shouldn’t be allowed to buy biscuits unsupervised, let alone decide the future of a nation.

You can fire as many guns as you like, but nobody’s even on the way to the bus stop to get to the stadium yet, never mind on the starting blocks. They’re all back home, eating bunch after bunch of limp, rancid, rotten carrots.

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