I admit there were a few occasions when I thought I’d stuck my neck out a little too far after I’d solemnly declared the Scottish #IndyRef to be over in February. It wasn’t of course and, as I also predicted at the time, it has brought in a lot of new business to the SNP, and neatly decapitated Scottish Labour into the bargain.
The paradox of the currency question is that it had two immediate but contrary effects when it crystalised back then.
Most obvious was an immediate boost in the polls which which Yes was able to build and was primarily cultural: ie, no old Etonian twat is going to tell us we can or cannot have our own money. And yet, it also killed the debate amongst those to whom it actually mattered.
Yes’s policy on the currency was simply not credible — you might believe that a currency union was the right policy — but it wasn’t a credible policy when the 3 major Westminster parties said they wouldn’t back it — and it won’t be credible next time.
In order to have a winning story on the currency next time (and there will be a next time) work has to start about 3 years before to develop, establish and socialise the currency plans so that they are seen to be bulletproof.
This leads to a couple of problems for the SNP:
- the Euro — or rather not the Euro
- the banks
It is fairly clear that the Euro doesn’t have its troubles to seek. Clarity on continuity of membership of the European Union — in particularly with regard to the Eurozone would be helpful. But given that a number of European states have their own independence movements that clarity is likely to elude us — but we need to have a more active and longer-term approach to flush out our opponents and achieve as much solid ground as we can.
He goes on to explore the deep cultural weaknesses on the No side, not least the pleading from some not to call another referendum. He rules out a quick re-run saying it would be lost by a much higher margin, but is confident that Scotland will return to this point again.
In fact the banking crisis all but ‘scrios-ed’ Scotland’s credible case for sustainable independence.
Going forward, the volatility of the oil market adds greater concern. Geopolitical risk is shifting substantially and there are fewer guarantees now than there ever have been in the past that we are ever going to move sweetly back to the status quo ante.
Sorting out and defining a sustainable business case for Scotland is a daunting task, and one that any re-invigorated Scottish Labour opposition would do well to try to steer and own themselves.
There’s no alternative but to roll up the sleeves and get working. The gradualist approach has worked sublimely well for the SNP thus far, and there’s no reason at all to suggest that that it won’t push further towards something like independence.
But the blocks are substantial, both internally and externally. Ireland is reeling from what was arguably its greatest existential shock since independence, and one not delivered by London, but Frankfurt and the governing council of the ECB.
Vested interests at home too are likely to provide substantial resistance to necessary change. Defeated Yes campaigners might do well to understand the struggle for independence as an arduous never ending journey, rather than a simple analogue destination.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty