Vote Leave, Get Sexit
Humour is a powerful political tool and especially here in Scotland. ‘Vote SNP, Get Sexy Socialism’ is a popular meme with Scottish nationalists. Angry Salmond, a political commentator sporting a raspberry beret, often shortens it to ‘Vote SNP Get Sexy’. Despite the SNP claiming otherwise, it’s now certain from recent campaigning in Scotland that a vote to leave the European Union would not lead us to vote for Scottish independence. But the SNP would still be against it even if it did.
Following their defeat in 2014, Yes Scotland supporters have learned the hard way that another referendum for independence just isn’t sexy. We don’t want it – well 70% of us, anyway. Referenda are tiring, and we Brits just aren’t Swiss. We don’t like going to the polls constantly; we like our MPs to do that for us. A vote for the UK to leave the EU would mean Sexit: Scotland will for the first time in 40 years would be free of control from continental Europe.
It will create massive challenges overnight for the SNP. There would be a refractory period where in no one serious is going to vote for Scottish independence after leaving the EU and having to readjust in the world. A double exit (Dexit?) would be far too much uncertainty as far as public opinion goes. It would, however, mean that Scotland would have more freedom to decide policy inside United Kingdom and fishing policy would be handed over to Holyrood.
This is why the SNP cannot campaign to leave the EU even though that is the desire of half of Yes Scotland voters. It means more challenges inside the UK and the more the SNP fails inside the UK the lower the support for independence. The SNP must be seen as perpetual opposition and that’s hard when you have more and more powers to deal with. The SNP know another independence referendum is years away and need to keep the airwaves full of something that keeps their fans worshipping. Above all else the SNP points out it is anti-Tory. Even when it copies Tory tax plans – it is still anti-Tory.
The SNP’s Independence in Europe policy is based on Jim Sillar’s work which dates back before the Maastricht Treaty. It gave the SNP a crutch with the idea we wouldn’t be alone if we left the UK. It has stuck, even though Sillars is now leading the Leave campaign for Scottish Nationalists here. So without finding reverse gear the SNP are going boldly forward. The EU is now seen as the new anti-Tory thing to support as it divides them and restricts them, as we are told by Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh. That is one way of marketing the loss of sovereignty, albeit a rather odd one for a nationalist party.
The SNP is continuing its support for the EU because it hasn’t got another believable platform. The current platform is totally incoherent but it’s marketable as something they’ve had for a long time. There will be pains when we leave and the Tories will be blamed of course. Deep down however, Nats are not stupid. They know their policy is nonsense. They want out. They’ll vote out. They just want the Tories to do the job for them.
Just this week Alex Salmond has revealed that Scotland would need a new currency if we went independent. During the referendum he insisted that we’d use the pound and now he’s said that we would use a new currency – but not the Euro. This is very significant and probably the most significant contribution the SNP have made so far.
The SNP no longer see Scottish independence through a European lens. They are already planning for a UK outside the EU and basing their plans on that. If that’s not a signal for Scottish Nationalists to vote to leave one wonders what is. The frontline rhetoric hasn’t changed but the mood music behind it certainly has.
The Leave vote in Scotland is going to be higher than people predict. The SNP leadership is quietly giving Brexit a blessing behind the mandatory pro-EU calls, and expecting the Tories to deliver it.
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