Sunday, 15 January 2017

What is Independence?


Just over two years past we had a referendum.

On the one side was the status quo and on the other the proposition set out in the Scottish Government's notorious White Paper. I say notorious because that document was clearly "informed" by a number of financial assumptions that were tendentious at the time and which, with the benefit of hindsight,have been shown to be the entirely wishful thinking that my side then accused them of being.

And it wasn't just the economics that demonstrated a degree of wishful thinking. It was also the assumptions made as to the response of others to a Yes vote. Whether that being the English, prepared to risk the stability of their currency because, while we'd have demonstrated by our votes a desire to have nothing to do with them, they'd still hold a residual affection towards us. Or the Spanish, who'd welcome us into the European Union irrespective of the consequence for their own polity because, being Scottish, we were special. Actually, the whole document proceeded on he basis of us, the Scots, being special, but I suppose that's the view of all nationalists in any nation since the beginning of history.

BUT

At least then there was a proposition. Scotland and England would go our separate ways but still share a Head of State and a currency. We'd both be in the European Union, so our citizens could continue to live without restriction in either country and indeed, since we'd also remain in the common travel area, we'd also be able to cross the border with any passport control persisting in being at Dover rather than Gretna. Oh, and since we'd still be in the EU, we'd also still be subject to the two European Courts who'd protect us if required from the authoritarianism and worse which almost inevitably becomes the by-product of over enthusiastic nationalism.

So, even accepting the criticisms of the White Paper which I make above, Yes voters in 2014 knew, or at least thought they knew, what they were voting for.

The people who gathered in Glasgow yesterday to advocate a second referendum have no idea what they'd be voting for. Although they'd still vote for it. What currency would this new nation state use? They have no idea. That doesn't matter. Would we be applying to join the European Union? They have no idea. That doesn't matter. Is the plan still to have a constitutional monarchy? They have no idea. That doesn't matter. Above all, how would they address the unprecedented international deficit identified by the Scottish Government's own figures? They have no idea. That doesn't matter.

And how would Independence actually improve health, education, the economy........indeed anything at all? No idea. That doesn't matter.

Utilitarian nationalism always was a farcical proposition. It can only proceed logically starting from the assumption that in certain circumstances its alleged adherents would not be nationalists at all.  But those people preaching "utilitarian" nationalism yesterday as an alternative to the Tories would, strangely, still be preaching "utilitarian" nationalism in the, admittedly improbable, circumstance that Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister and engaged in the socialist transformation of society (sic). For nationalists aren't just "utilitarian" nationalists when Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May was/is Prime Minister, they were equally "utilitarian" nationalists when that position was occupied by Clement Attlee or Gordon Brown.

A month ago they were "utilitarian" nationalists so as they could remain in the EU. Following Nicola's declaration that there will, at the very least, be no vote in a timescale that will permit that to happen they are nonetheless still "utilitarian" nationalists. Indeed, as they consider whether their own electorate might require a complete rethink on "Independence in Europe" altogether, they remain "utilitarian" nationalists. Even if the utility is difficult to articulate.

There is only one sort of nationalism. Suffice to say utilitarianism forms no part of it. Nicola herself described the alternative type as existential. That's one way of describing it I suppose. As I say above, whatever type it is, the eight hundred gathered in Glasgow yesterday will vote for it. The problem for them is that nearly four million people would vote in any future referendum and a large number, even of those who voted Yes the last time, would expect some idea of what they were voting for. Which is why Nicola has taken the decision that there is to be no vote in the foreseeable future.

You can't help feeling that from the perspective of the survival of her existential cause, that is an altogether more utilitarian decision than anything discussed yesterday





Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Fur Coat

January is an odd month. At the start the festive season isn't quite over and thereafter there is a brief period of optimistic renewal until towards the end of the month, in Scotland at least, there dawns the slow realisation that the Spring is still a good three months away. If we're lucky.

But in that brief period of renewal there are inclined to be certain traditions and in this house at least this includes a purge of the wardrobes. Clothes are gone through and those beyond further use: whether by reason of, long should have been appreciated, wear and tear; or a realisation that, if they've not been worn in the previous twelve months, it's unlikely they'll be worn again; or a recognition that a particular item has long been replaced without being discarded; or, most mysterious of all, the discovery that the clothes appear to have succumbed to the phenomenon of shrinking, while hanging on a rail and not being worn at all.

That has been my task this weekend.

Since Maureen has been ill, I  have applied myself to our collective wardrobe, and, since that time at least, I have faced the dilemma of the fur coat.

It's not even Maureen's fur coat, or even one she ever wore. It belonged to my mother, who has been dead for nearly thirty nine years. And, to the best of my knowledge, no one has so much as tried it on since.

I must have taken it with me when we cleared the family home after my mother's death and then again when Maureen and I first moved in together. I have no recollection of that, or even as to how it then came to this house. Let alone of it being placed into the little used part of the wardrobe within which I make my annual encounter with it each January.

I don't know why I keep it. I'm not a particularly sentimental person and even if I were I have other mementos of my mother somewhat more significant, never mind more easily retained.

I'll never have anybody to give it to. I have no daughters, and all my nieces would probably be horrified that I even possess  a fur coat, let alone be willing to accept it off me.

I'm kind of conscious that if I simply hang on to it forever then no-one lives forever and that, some day, somebody will do what I should have long since have done and dispose of it. If not to the bin then at least to a charity shop where it might raise a few quid for a worthy cause.

Every year that rational part of my brain says that's precisely what I should do but, strangely, every year I am ever less inclined to do so. Not least as it would constitute an admission that it is something I should have done long ago.

Why am I writing this? Partly it's because it's New Year and you are meant to be miserably reflective. Again perhaps particularly in Scotland.

But it's also perhaps because the place this fur coat holds in my life increasingly parallels my relationship with the Labour Party. There is a bit of me that is conscious that the Labour Party was once as fashionable as no doubt was the fur coat but that fashions, and mores, change. Increasingly it looks as if no one will ever wear it again. Be clear, Corbynism may be a by product of this unfashionability but it is not its cause. If no-one wants to wear you anyway, what matters the length at the knee, or the width of lapel?

They say that if you wait long enough all fashion comes round again. But the codpiece won't. Or the bustle. Or, I strongly suspect, the fur coat.

Yet I cannot quite bring myself to throw it away.

Happy New Year.





Sunday, 4 December 2016

Nobody has a clue

For the entirety of my adult life, somebody has had a clue. By somebody, I mean one or other of our major political Parties. And by a clue, I mean a clear way forward, even if you don't personally agree with it.

The fag end of the 1974-79 Labour Government didn't have a clue, but Mrs Thatcher did. The fag end of the long Tory supremacy which followed didn't have a clue, but Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did, Yet when Brown finally inherited not only the Premiership but the financial crash, it was clear that having weathered the latter, he didn't have much of a clue as to the way forward either. Although the odd centre right coalition that followed at least sort of had. I might even grudgingly conclude that until September 2014 the SNP in power in Scotland at least had a little  bit of a clue, even if the proposed solution, Independence, was pretty clueless.

Today, nobody has a clue.

The Government kind of treats Brexit as if it was some sort of natural disaster, rather than an event the Tory Party's own hubris as to the state of public opinion brought about. It's not that we, the public, are left to guess as to whether they seek a hard or soft Brexit. It's increasingly clear that they genuinely don't know themselves. And even if they called it one way or another? What would be the consequence? They don't have a clue.

As to my own Party? Well, even if you write off the bizarre Corbynista view that people are voting for far right racist Parties because the centre left isn't left enough, you are still left (sic) with the question of what our line would be if possessed with less deranged leadership. It can't be the case that we write off the leavers as irredeemable racists. Even if that was true, which it isn't, who would that leave to vote us into power? So what would be our line if, by some act of God, Corbyn was swept away and replaced with........well whoever? Dan Jarvis, Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer, Liz Kendall or even, as a less deluded Corbynista, Clive Lewis? As I wrote in an earlier blog you simply can't reconcile that part of our our historic electoral coalition which says "Refugees welcome" with that different part which demands "Local Houses for local people". No-one can. And in the absence of being able to do that? We don't have a clue.

And so to the Lib Dems. I was well pleased they won in Richmond Park. But so what? Come a big election they might well peel off "liberal" voters from us. And indeed probably even pro European voters from the Tories. But can they win from an effectively standing start, never mind the tribal antipathy their call from 2010 to 2015 still evokes in certain quarters? Patently not. And if they can't win? They haven't got a clue either.

I was impressed by the insight of Blair's New Statesman interview. on the importance of the centre. I say that as someone who was never his greatest fan to start with who still regards the Iraq War as a colossal strategic error. Nonetheless,  his kind of mildly left of centre politics is clearly as good as it is ever going to get in the UK. Even then, his electoral triumphs came about in specific circumstance. Seventeen years of Tory Government leading to a willingness on the part of the electorate to tolerate almost anything else while the scars of 1992 had finally persuaded my own Party to sign up for that "almost anything else".

But how does the Centre get to go before the electorate now, today, in 2016 or 2017 or even 2020?There is certainly a movement out there that is signed up for cultural liberalism and a pro European future. Chukka Umunna is in it. and Anna Soubry. And Nicky Morgan and Liz Kendall.  And indeed obviously Nick Clegg and, now, Sarah Olney. It even includes Caroline Lucas on its left flank and George Osborne on its right.

But so what? We live in a democracy. What matters are elections. And Movements don't win elections, Parties do. And under first past the post, Movements, unless they capture a Party, have no way into the game. Even Momentum get that.

And how do we get out of that situation? Nobody, as Blair himself kind of conceded, has a clue.

And so to Scotland. There is clearly no majority for the economic and cultural suicide that would be independence. But how, politically, do the rest of  to come to terms with that? It's increasingly clear the Nats don't have a clue about what to do about this dilemma. But, equally, the rest of us have no idea either as to what to do in response. My Party doesn't just agree with the Tories on the fundamentals of constitution, we also agree with them that there is much wrong with Scottish public services. But that's as far as it goes. When it comes to solutions we are miles apart. Just as nationalism is a philosophy with no traditional left/right ideological dimension, neither is unionism,  So it is not just the Government of Scotland that is in a condition of policy stasis, it is the opposition as well. And the solution to that is? Nobody has a clue.

And that's even before we turn to world events. What to do about not just Syria but the wider Middle East? Nobody has got a clue. Turkey? Not a clue. North Korea? Not a clue. The refugee crisis? Not a clue. Putin? Not a clue. Trump? Not a clue.

So, bring on 2017. Where nobody has a clue.

It is said that politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Here's hoping. But how might that vacuum be filled? I haven't got a clue.






Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Past is never the Answer

They call it the rustbelt for a reason.

Just before the EU Referendum I wrote a blog, Voting against Now, in which I sought to explain the anger that was driving Brexit among, particularly, white working class communities.

I wrote then.

"If you look at those areas of “the Country” which voted Yes and are looking like voting Leave, they share one thing in common. A legitimate feeling that while “elsewhere” prospers, their own location and indeed personal circumstances do not.



And that is, for the avoidance of doubt, a legitimate feeling. The affluence of the “white working class” is at best getting no better, following a period, starting after the war and continuing until perhaps thirty years ago, when a year to year improvement in circumstance, marginal but noticeable, was expected as the natural order of things. Just as, with the benefit of hindsight, that improvement happened marginally but noticeably, it equally ceased to happen marginally. But it is certainly noticeable now. And to compound the resentment of that experience, the relative affluence of others in our society has, over that same thirty year period, visibly improved; whether catching up from behind in relation to the general circumstance of ethnic minorities and “immigrants” or pulling further away in front in relation to a distant metropolitan elite.

And overwhelmingly, those standing still, or sometimes worse, are people who used to “produce” things. All sorts of things from coal brought to the surface to iron turned into steel; from tiny buttons to ocean going ships and things of all sorts and sizes in between. Different things in different places but with a common culture. Industrial work that often depended on brawn rather than brain but which nonetheless, for the long post war boom, had more or less guaranteed availability. Work which brought with it honest reward that fuelled a local service economy: shops, cinemas, social clubs, that was visibly there not as an end in itself but rather as support to allow the primary “producing” purpose of the place to function.

In many, many places this world has gone. It hasn’t changed or modernised. It has just disappeared. The same things are (generally) still produced, obviously, but they are not produced here. They are produced in India or China or wherever. Produced by different producers, working in harsher conditions and crucially at a much lesser level of personal reward. 

And what’s left, too often, is little more than the service economy that once enjoyed only a support role. As Shirley Williams famously described it, an economy based on people selling hamburgers to each other."



All of this could just as easily be applied to the events across the USA this past week. Or, actually, not across the USA, for it should never be lost sight of that Hillary actually won the popular vote, but rather across a handful of large but ultimately critical midwestern states.

Now, the immediate reaction to this is that we must find some way of reconnecting with these voters and, of course, in a democracy, building a winning electoral coalition is what the whole business of politics is about.

But the problem for the left is that in many areas conceding what is demanded simply isn't economically possible. while in others, to concede it would cease to make us "the left" at all.

To deal with each of these in turn, globalisation might be halted or at least slowed isn't going away. The BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China aren't going back to their previous existence of isolated or essentially agrarian economies, neither willing or capable of competing with the west in advanced manufacturing. And the MINT countries, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey are only one of many acronyms for other countries not far behind on a fast track to development.

What is the answer proposed anyway? Import controls and a decline in world trade leading to higher prices and drastically reduced growth? Greater international rivalry for resources that could only too easily slip into something worse? Really? Is that how the dog is to be wagged by the tail? And anyway, even if this was all undertaken, would this make this discontented section of the electorate happy? No, for none of it would ever recreate, in world terms, the advantage they once enjoyed. You might as well fight a British General Election on a promise of returning us to being the workshop of the world while Britannia once more ruled the waves. Getting elected on such a manifesto wouldn't ever, conceivably, make it happen. That will be the ultimate lesson of Brexit where many seem to have believed they could vote for just that. Similarly, no amount of shouting about making America great again will ever make it as great as it once was. For the world has moved on.

But, of course, this is almost as nothing as the second element of being "left behind" it is suggested we must appease, the anger of native born white men. How can the left ever "understand" that without ceasing to be a left at all. If you asked anybody on the left, anywhere in the world, what their basic belief is then they would start with greater equality. Equality between the sexes, equality between the races, thanks to many brave modern pioneers, equality between those of different sexual orientations or physical abilities. And, yes, equality between all those contributing to our communities, no matter where they were born. It is not accidental that the most long lasting achievements of UK Labour Governments include, right at the very top, The Sexual Offences Act 1967, The Equal Pay Act 1970, The Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. There can be no compromise on any of this. Our side is correct in our world view and anybody on the other side isn't just otherwise minded. They are wrong. When Labour notoriously lost Smethwick in 1964,  Harold Wilson didn't try to "understand" why we'd lost the white working class vote, he described the racist winner as a "Parliamentary leper". He was right to do so.

So, if progressive opinion, is to rebuild a winning electoral coalition perhaps we need to move away from the assumption that we start with a class based politics and instead look to a politics which divides between those who want history to continue to go forward and those under the delusion that somehow voting for "a flag" can turn somehow turn it back.

Of course, in the US, the Democrats have been here before, most noticeably when they decided that the tolerance of racial segregation was a price they could no longer pay in order to hold on to the "solid South". They built a new coalition then and in a nation which, no matter what Trump does, will continue to be ever more diverse, they'll can do so again.

Perhaps in the UK we need a similar rebuilding exercise with regard to our own progressive coalition.

I finish with one of Obama's favourite quotes from Dr. King. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." That didn't change last Tuesday.









Saturday, 5 November 2016

Immediate Extract.

After nearly a year, the Independence Camp outside the Scottish Parliament has finally gone. It has been an eyesore throughout but, tellingly, the residents were too typical of a section of their rank and file for any elected SNP politician to feel able to say a single critical word about it. For its entire duration.

It was nonetheless removed at the instigation of that rather obscure institution, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, on which the SNP is quite properly represented. And from whose actions, as far as we know, they didn't dissent. So, it is fair to assume that the saner wing of the Nats also got that this sort of thing does their own cause no favours. Even if, for internal Party reasons, they were too scared to say so publicly.

But here is an interesting question? Why did the removal take so long? And here is the interesting answer. It didn't need to.

When Lord Turnbull granted the order for eviction on 28th July he also granted an order for "immediate extract"*. The legal significance of this is simple. The camp could have been removed at any point after 28th July notwithstanding any appeal being outstanding.

I only realised this** when having a look at the Inner House*** decision on the appeal when they reaffirmed that grant of immediate extract. And that is turn is why the Campers could be removed last Friday despite their stated intention to appeal further to the Supreme Court****.

It is thus far from clear why this wasn't then done back in July or early August.

But in some ways that's not the point. The public and the members of the Scottish Parliament itself were left under the impression that the camp had to be put up with until the appeal process was concluded. It's not even clear that members of the SPCB themselves knew the true position. If they did, it certainly doesn't appear in any of their published Minutes.

So, the Corporate Body allowed the Camp to  remain for three months longer than they were legally required to. Without the Parliament being told. While causing  the continued use of  public money on contesting an appeal which, had they already been removed, you do wonder if the campers would have persisted with.

As I say, somebody might want to investigate why. That's all.

Notes:

*Immediate extract is only ever granted if requested by the petitioning party and specifically so that they can act even if there is an appeal. Indeed, asking for it almost implies that  you anticipate a potential appeal.

**In the original version of this blog I said I didn't think Lord Turnbull's 28/7 judgement was on line but I've since been directed to it by @bbcphilipsim https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=35451aa7-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7 This doesn't mention the immediate extract however so that must have been pronounced at the advising. It was definitely granted however as it's referred to in the Inner House decision.

***For non-lawyers, the Inner House is our highest domestic civil appeal court.

**** This is actually going nowhere as it requires leave of either the lower or the higher court. Which they'll never get. That's not however relevant to my central point.





Saturday, 22 October 2016

Contiguosity

Apparently the Nats want another Referendum. Which they are entitled in their own mind to have because of a rather vague statement in their 2016 Scottish Parliament Manifesto. An election at which they actually lost their absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament. I know.

The one good thing is that their White Paper last week conceded that, in order to have a Referendum, they would need constitutional authority from the UK Parliament, Scotland having voted to remain in the UK as recently as two years ago.

It would, nonetheless, we are told. be an "outrage" for this to be denied.

But clearly a denial, giving cause for yet more gripe and grievance, is precisely what they are hoping for. And I kind of get that. The "success" of the Easter Rising was a result of a British reaction in its aftermath. If the rebels had simply been sentenced to imprisonment for the duration of hostilities then one suspects subsequent history might have been very different.

Lessons thus have to be learned.

So what options are available to our "other" Government beyond straight denial?

Well, firstly there is the questions of mandate.

Had the SNP been up for another Referendum they could simply have stated in their 2016 Manifesto: "If re-elected we will hold another Independence Referendum".

Even I wouldn't deny that in such circumstance the UK Government would have to have conceded to this demand.

But of course they didn't.

So, perhaps, the opening position of the UK Government should be that if any Party (or combination of Parties) secures a Holyrood majority on such a platform then "of course" a Referendum could be held.

The procedure for this is quite simple. Nicola resigns on a point of principle, and assuming no-one else can secure a plurality of votes to become First Minister within 28 days, then a fresh Scottish Parliament Election would follow (s.46 of the 1998 Act). Alternatively a two thirds majority of the Scottish Parliament could simply vote for a dissolution to see if that is what the country wanted (s.3). Ruth would undoubtedly vote for such an election. So would the volunteer if she was told to.

So, Section 30 powers might be granted from Westminster, perhaps even in perpetuity, to any Holyrood First Minister elected on such a clear platform to hold an Independence Referendum. Within, obviously, a fixed period for the introduction of Referendum legislation after such a hypothetical election victory. Over to Nicola to see if she could secure it.

But there is another option. In 2014, Scotland voted by Local Authority area.

Now, had the flag eaters done 6% better in 2014, that would have given them victory. But it would still have left large parts of Scotland dragged out of the UK against their will. The Borders voted 67% No. Dumfries and Galloway 66%. East Lothian 62%. South Ayrshire 58%. Edinburgh 61%. Only when you get to South Lanarkshire 55% and Fife 55% would a 6% gain have given the Nats a narrow victory.

So, perhaps the price of a Section 30 should be that we vote again on this basis but with only those Local Authority districts voting to form an independent Scotland becoming part of it?

The Nats would surely have no problem with this? "Free" Scotland would surely immediately become a social democratic nirvana, with austerity abolished and the population hugely enhanced by the talents of the refugees welcome to flock there from all over the world? The Brains could sleep easy in their beds while the long term unemployed could stay in bed all day without worrying about their giros arriving as expected. At least until the money ran out. In time, the rest of the country would inevitably see the sense of this arrangement. Surely? The only problem meanwhile might be other Scots demanding entry to "Free" Scotland. But, following the example of the German Democratic Republic, walls could inevitably be built until other local referendums were held and the entire volk re-united in a spirit of amity.

Now, and this is he sad bit. In-between, the UK would really need to be contiguous. So the poor souls in the North East (Aberdeenshire 60% No: Aberdeen City 59%) might just have to suck it up. For on that 6% swing there is a Nationalist firewall around the Forth. Hard luck folks. If the worst came to the worst, maybe you'd perhaps have to consider joining Orkney and Shetland and fu.....going away to join Norway.



Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Empress has no clothes.

You may have noticed that I've not been doing much blogging lately. Partly it is simply that I've been very busy at my work but it's also that I've just been very depressed about the state of the world with no desire to depress myself further by putting why down on paper.

But the events of the past few days prompt me to say something about the state of Scotland's polity.

Much has been written about post truth politics but in Scotland it seems to me that we are drifting into post reality political reporting. It obviously suits political journalists to talk up the prospect of a second independence referendum, it's story, but that should not be at the expense of pointing out the absurdity of the proposition on offer.

That proposition is simply this. If the UK Government proceeds with a hard brexit then a second referendum will/may be called so that Scotland can remain in the EU. But no it can't. For simple reasons of timing.

Mrs May has indicated the intention to trigger Article 50 next Spring. Now, that might not happen then, I readily concede that*, but since the cause for this second referendum is apparently to be that triggering then, even if it is delayed, my observations as to what follows still stand but only at a later date. So let's take the Prime Minister and indeed the First Minister at their stated intent.

Article 50 is triggered and Nicola decides immediately and without waiting for the detail to go for a second poll. For the sake of the argument to follow, both of these things happen in March 2017, meaning the UK is to leave the EU in March 2019.

Well, first of all Nicola would have to get legal authority for a second vote in the form of a s.30 order passed at both Holyrood and Westminster. We know what this involves because we've been through the process as recently as 2012. The Scottish Government conceded the need for a s.30 on 25th January 2012. The UK Government had indicated a willingness to consider such a request earlier that same month. At the time there was a genuine desire on both sides to reach a deal but, nonetheless, it took until 15th October for the deed to be done. Crucially, it was done largely on the terms the nationalists wanted, chiefly I suspect because our side thought there was little real prospect of us losing and just wanted to get on with it. This time that deal will not nearly as readily be done as I suspect there will be real issues over the question and the franchise and the timing. To posit but a few, if Yes/No was inappropriate as the Brexit choice then would it still be acceptable in a future independence referendum? If the choice now involved a hard border (an inevitable consequence of a Scotland in/ UK (hard) out of the EU) then shouldn't Scots living in England get a vote, given that this would inevitably impact on their right to remain and work in the residual UK? Should EU citizens in Scotland still get a vote as they did in 2014?

I say this just to indicate that, even if the UK Government is willing, the s.30 process will not be a dawdle. But let's concede that it will take no longer than 2012, So that there is a section 30 by January 2018. Then we need an Act of the Scottish Parliament. The 2013 Act was introduced on 21st March 2013 and became law on 18th December 2013. Now, the delay in introduction might be shortened this time but the Parliamentary time is dictated by the Parliament's established procedures so it is difficult to see legislation before the the end of 2017. But in some ways that doesn't matter because this being Scotland, the vote would need to await the better weather (sic) anyway. So not before May 2018.

And then in the event the flag-eaters won? Well, Scotland would not become independent immediately but remain in the UK until the "details" had been sorted out The September 2014 vote anticipated "Independence day" being in March 2016, a timescale many even on the Yes side thought to be hopelessly optimistic, but let's just apply that same nineteen month period to a May 2018 vote. Independence in January 2020. Until when we'd still be part of the UK. And have left the EU nine months before.

So there is simply no timescale that allows Scotland to vote to remain in the EU. We could certainly vote in anticipation of (attempting) to join once independence was a reality but that is as good as it could possibly get.

Now, neither Nicola nor the people round about her are stupid. They know all of the above as readily as I do. They have nonetheless attempted a gigantic confidence trick both on their own rank and file and, more importantly, on the electorate.

My question is this however. Why have the press fallen for this? Why haven't they pointed out that the Empress Nicola has no clothes? Over to you, ladies and gentlemen.

Important postscript! I've just realised I've actually given the Nats an entire year! The earliest there could even be legislation is December 2018 and a referendum the Spring of  2019! By which time we'd already have left.

*For what it's worth I think the Courts will rule that the Government requires a parliamentary vote before triggering article 50.