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Indy's looming.. but do we really want it this way?

Byline: Lesley Roberts

It seems we are drifting inexorably towards a Yes vote.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says the tide will not be blocked by Labour, at least not the Westminster kind, the ones who sit in what he calls the "English Parliament".

Horrified Scottish Labour bods have flown into full-scale damage limitation over the "strikingly ignorant" remarks which threaten a constitutional crisis. But the damage has already been done.

The appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister has been like a firm shove on the back of those who were teetering on the edge of supporting independence.

And many of us are being swept along the river of change by the desire to escape a No Deal Brexit. It's a powerful current.

But did any of us - even-dyed-in-the-wool nationalists - want to make the journey to independence this way? Last week, a survey by Lord Ashcroft - considered among the most reliable pollsters - showed support for independence running at 52 per cent since Johnson took over.

It also revealed that most Scots now back the First Minister's plan to hold IndyRef2 before 2021. And some 67 per cent of us would choose Remain in a second EU referendum, an increase of five per cent on the 2016 vote.

Nicola Sturgeon hailed the result a "phenomenal poll for the independence movement". She would say that. More moderate supporters might describe it in less euphoric terms. Good, but no cigar.

A "phenomenal" result would have been 62 per cent in favour. Or even 72. Those are the kind of results we should be seeing in the face of the multiple omnishambles of the Labour and Conservative parties.

It is difficult to remember a time when the schism between Scottish parties and their Westminster counterparts has been wider or more dispiriting.

Ruth Davidson and Richard Leonard are so out of step with the views of their UK party leaders that they could get a gig as the comedy turn on Strictly. Worse, they seem utterly insignificant to their Westminster bosses. They are tolerated rather than consulted, occasionally indulged rather than frequently included. So where does that leave the country they represent? Drifting towards independence because there's nothing else for it.

It's five years since former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont accused the London-based party of treating the Scottish equivalent as a "branch office", but those words resonate still.

McDonnell waited until he was taking part in an Edinburgh Fringe show before (twice) declaring that a future Labour government would not block IndyRef2.

He was on Leonard's patch, for goodness sake. You'd think he'd have had the decency to tell the Scottish leader of a policy change.

If there actually is a policy change. There may not be.

Who the hell knows? Jeremy Corbyn's too busy elsewhere to contribute, with an allotment to tend and a Celtic game to go to. So everything's as clear as the mud on his wellies.

Even Tory golden girl Davidson is being trampled by Johnson. She wanted to retain her pal David Mundell as Scots Secretary. "Ta-ta, Davie," said Johnson. She warned that "millions" of people will suffer the economic shock of a No Deal Brexit. "Tally-ho," says Johnson.

In the face of all that, one poll showing 52 per cent support for independence seems the very least that Sturgeon and co could hope for.

Perhaps it would be a different story if we weren't pouring squillions down the drain on a new Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh that's not good enough to accept patients. Or if the number of pupils passing Highers had increased, not decreased, by two per cent.

Getting the everyday stuff right is even more crucial as Brexit edges ever closer.

If this country is to be independent, it should not because we were pushed and we drifted there, but because we dived in and swam towards it with confidence and optimism.


ON MARCH Sturgeon, top, and Davidson
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 11, 2019
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