The days since the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement have been marked by vicious and very personal attacks on the Scottish Government and Alex Salmond in particular. For once the genesis of this is not in hatred of the SNP, Alex Salmond or the thought of Independence. It is a reaction to the sudden recognition of how damaging the Edinburgh Agreement is to the Unionist cause by those that purport to represent it.
So obsessed were David Cameron and his array of Labour and LibDem helpers in Better Together in ensuring that only one question would be put before the people of Scotland, they completely missed the bigger picture. Many point to the Scottish Government’s clever misdirection with regard to the Devo Max question but little (if anything) has been noted in the aftermath about the way that the very need for an agreement on a Section 30 order was handled by Alex Salmond.
He was absolutely right to say that the Scottish Government did not need a Section 30 in order to hold a referendum. What he also knew, but never said, was that securing a wider agreement on the whole process would completely alter the legal basis on which Independence would be won and the impact that that would have on an emergent nation’s rights and obligations post Referendum.
It seems from my vantage point that both these stances have resulted in the Unionist machine moving at such breakneck speed to close down the prospect of a Devo Max option that they did not pause to reflect on what signing any agreement of this nature would actually mean in the wider context.
Not only has the SNP Government ensured that the Scottish Parliament will control every aspect of a single-question Referendum (as long as it is held before 2015) but it has effectively secured the mutual dissolution of the Treaty of Union in the event of a Yes vote. Nobody, domestically or internationally, now has any basis to claim that our Independence will be unilateral or secessionist. For me, this achievement is possibly greater than that greatest of victories in 2011.
The Smell of Blood
Someone, somewhere Tweeted on the FaceBook Blogosphere that when Scottish Labour smells blood they don’t half go for the jugular.
That was certainly in evidence over the claims, based on a tampered transcript (almost the alliterative equal of dodgy dossier), that Alex Salmond had lied about seeking legal advice on EU membership. The trouble for the First Minister’s inquisitors was that it wasn’t his blood they were smelling, it was the gushing from their self-inflicted wound of the previous week that had overwhelmed their senses.
Hold the front page; Scottish Labour don’t believe Alex Salmond. Neither do the Tories or LibDems. Hardly a revelation – if I recall, we had just short of 4 years of this prior to the 2011 election and look what happened. And wasn’t it enlightening to see that the good old Scottish MSM, most notably BBC Scotland, still know who their master is as they jumped willingly aboard the bad ship Hell in a Handcart once more to peddle its latest fabrication as indisputable fact.
What went unreported, of course, was that Better Together had realised in the week between the Edinburgh Agreement being signed and this most unedifying of spectacles that any doubt about an Independent Scotland’s place in the EU, the UN or any other international body had been quashed – by themselves. It is not uncommon when one is angry with oneself to take it out on others.
So, let’s not be too quick to judge those glasshouse lodgers hurling their rapidly diminishing ammunition; they are in pain.
And So It Begins…
So said King Theoden of Rohan as the combined ranks of Sauron and Saruman advanced on Helm’s Deep and, in some ways, we could view the Yes Scotland campaign in a similarly hopeless position; besieged on all sides by a relentless enemy.
But, like all the goblins and orcs of Tolkein’s imagination, our opponents are blinded by complacency and hatred. The Edinburgh Agreement has already ensured that we will fight on a battlefield of our choosing and their focus is almost exclusively on Alex Salmond when the enemy who will ultimately defeat them is busy massing to their blind side. This may look like a foregone conclusion to those who choose to view the battle from the perspective of Better Together, but it was Theoden who led his people out of Helm’s Deep to bigger and better things.
Raise your eyes above the hurly burly of everday political life and gaze upon the political landscape. We have an agreement on a Referendum process that will result in a mutually agreed dissolution of the Treaty of Union. We have Labour cosying up to the coalition partners in the Government from hell to fight us, a move which has already seen some of their members and supporters embrace Yes Scotland. And we now have Scottish Labour abandoning the gains of devolution in preference for maintaining what is in human terms, a monstrosity, and in economic terms, a calamity at Faslane and Coulport.
Sometimes things look tough if viewed from the prism of the short-termists. We in the SNP know better than to take the short term view, so let’s do ourselves a favour and not start now. I would be prepared to bet almost anything that 6 months ago Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon would not have dared dream we would be in the position we find ourselves in today.
One question. One Answer. Yes.