I, in an unusual move, caught an episode of Question Time tonight, where the issue of the Scottish referendum came up. There were a couple of issues that were being clearly not spoken (unsurprising given that there were no Scots on the panel) that bugged me. First, Wendy Alexander is being criticised for calling for an early referendum on Scottish independence. By doing this, she is seen as betraying the Labour Party. But, what this discussion forgets is that Wendy Alexander was voted in to represent Scottish interests in a Scottish Parliament. Just because the official Labour party line is pro-union, and thus anti-referendum, does not mean that she can put her head in the sand and pretend it’s not an issue. Referendum will happen; it’s just a question of when. She should be allowed to make the best judgement of the political climate in Scotland without this being seen as betraying England. Because, guess what, this isn’t about England. That is the whole point! We’re fed up with Scottish politics always being determined by what’s happening in England.
Which is quite ironic, given my next point. What Wendy has realised is that Scottish people are a lot more likely to vote for independence under a Conservative UK government than under the current Labour government. The Conservatives are unlikely to make any headway in Scotland in the next election, leading to that threat that loomed over Scotland throughout the eighties- a Scotland without any Conservative seats, under a Conservative English government. The Conservative victories across England and Wales have made the Scottish public nervous, because Margaret Thatcher still looms in our memories, and it’s as a nightmare.*
The problem with a panel of English politicians and politicos discussing Scottish problems is that they show no awareness (or I suspect cannot admit awareness) of the dissatisfaction within Scotland of the anglo-centric drive of British politics. They can only see Wendy Alexander’s behaviour as a betrayal of England, because they forget that the whole world doesn’t revolve around them. And the sad thing for pro-unionists is, if they don’t wake up and figure that out, Scotland is going to move on without them.
* Although not it seems in the minds of first year u/grads who don't know who she is- but that's another story.