Scotland (overwhelmingly) and Northern Ireland (less so) have voted to stay in Europe while England (decisively) and Wales (narrowly) have voted to leave. Northern Ireland has its own choices to make, but Scotland must now hold a second referendum.
SNP party folk will “take nothing for granted”, of course, and some aficionados might find it fun to see which candidates slink into list seats after they’ve lost the votes which count, but I’m really much more interested in what will come after that.
There’s much noisy chat at the moment about Jeremy Corbyn being 20 points ahead of his Labour leadership rivals on first-preference votes. His rivals seem to agree; they’ve turned their main efforts to competing amongst themselves for second and third preference “stop Corbyn” votes.
But could any of them really close such a huge gap? And what if they don’t?
I was driving along under a lovely London sky yesterday and heard Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s interview on BBC Radio 4’s PM (package starts at 33.26).
As it progressed, it became clear that Sturgeon was turning in one of the best political performances on a radio programme ever. I say that as a Labour supporter, albeit one who’s belatedly grasping just how good she and her party folk are.
Scots voted No, in the end, on a ‘vow’ of greater devolution. Every Scot I have spoken to understands that the promised transfer of power can only take place if the books are balanced and Scots no longer legislate on England-only matters; this is manifestly part of the deal. If the UK government, Tory or Labour, reneges on it then the referendum result will have been fraudulent and founded upon a lie that won’t fly.
A Yes vote in the independence referendum would elevate Scotland to the top of the world political agenda for one reason and one reason only: the fact that the UK’s entire nuclear arsenal would unavoidably be located in a foreign country for years. Everything else about the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK – currency sharing, borders, taxation – is subordinate to that simple and critical fact.
The UK’s serious-minded and capable Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told Andrew Marr on Sunday that he “didn’t think” it was he who had told the Guardian, a couple of days beforehand, that Scotland would be able to currency-share with the UK.
You can take that any way you like, but he also pointed out that he’d just spent the week in Washington DC.
Really? Rather than accept a common travel area, as exists with Ireland, the UK government would instigate full international border arrangements – arrangements which exist nowhere else in Europe – on the UK mainland?
Some recent comments of mine about how the UK government and European Union wouldn’t – because they couldn’t – strip citizenship from anyone in the event of a Yes vote in the independence referendum brought dissenting responses on Twitter from a few folk who certainly know a thing or two about government.
Their primary arguments were so weak, though, that coming from such able individuals they exemplified how much the establishment is being forced to state obvious untruths in defence of an otherwise perfectly legitimate line of argument. But does politics really have to be this dishonest?
This week’s papers had a story about ‘cybernats’ posting rude messages on social media about Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s opposition to Scottish independence.
For the uninitiated, ‘cybernat’ is the term used in Scottish politics to refer, ostensibly, to slightly mad old-school nationalists who post vile, personalised attacks on their political opponents. Some politicos in Scotland don’t seem to understand, though, that this attack doesn’t really work as a political device as it seeks to apply a pejorative to the SNP when everyone knows it can be applied to some supporters of all political parties. Take a look at the comment pages of any UK newspaper.