Podcast Ep. 50: We Voted For Brexit, So What Now?

Brexit Tea by frankieleon

John is called in to mediate Jazza and Jimmy, both on different sides of the Brexit vote, and to discuss the fallout from last week’s vote.

Scotland, Ireland, and the future of the Lib Dems, Tories and Labour are all on the cards. Basically, we’re fucked. (Ed: According to Jazza.)

Image Credit – Brexit Tea by frankieleon

Alistair Darling accepts SNP threat of second Scottish referendum

Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle by Dave and Margie Hill

The former chancellor Alistair Darling argued that Scots should be given a second independence referendum if the appetite for one emerges, only a year after the Jocks voted to remain part of Britain.

Having fronted the Better Together campaign opposing independence, the former Labour MP told the prime minister David Cameron it would be “daft” to deny a vote if the demand was there, even as Westminster devolves great chunks of power to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood.

“My view is if people really, genuinely want to have a vote you are daft to deny it,” he told the Times. “It’s a bit like in Spain: The Spanish government seem determined not to hold a referendum [on Catalonian independence] which always seemed to me to be just fanning the flames.”

Since winning over almost all of Scotland in the general election the Scottish National Party (SNP) has been taunting Westminster with the potential of another referendum, as well as preparing for Scottish elections which could be framed as a mandate for another independence poll.

Earlier this week Nat leader and Scots first minister Nicola Sturgeon said their manifesto for the Scottish elections would include a timescale for another vote, as well as stipulating events which much prompt it, such as Britain voting to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016-17.

“It’s then for people in Scotland, whether it is in this election or in future elections, to decide whether they want to vote for our manifesto and then if there is in the future another independence referendum,” the Fishmonger of Holyrood said.

“Whether that’s in five years or 10 years or whenever, it will be down to the people of Scotland to decide whether they want to vote for independence or not.”

At the time of the referendum Alex Salmond, the then leader of the Nats, had called the vote a “once in a generation opportunity”; He presumably views such ballots as “once every-time-we-feel-like-it opportunities” these days.

Two weeks ago a poll from Ipsos Mori revealed that Scots would vote in favour of independence if the referendum was staged today, with 53 percent in favour and 44 percent against.

Image Credit – Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle by Dave and Margie Hill edited by the Right Dishonourable

Why SNP’s ‘double majority’ EU referendum rule shows the nats are unionists after all

Scottish parliament in Edinburgh by Tharnton345

Calling the Scottish National Party parochial is an exercise in tautology, but the response of the party’s Europe spokesperson Stephen Gethins MP to the revision of the EU referendum question still comes off as amusingly narrow:

“Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon put forward the case for a ‘double majority’ – to ensure Scotland cannot be ripped out of the EU against its will. Any decision to leave the EU, taken against the wishes of the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland Wales or England, would be unacceptable and should be taken to ensure this does not happen.”

This, followers of politics will note, is a quotidian example of reeling out an old message to new events. Under this double majority rule all four nations in Britain (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) would have to opt to leave the EU for the country to quit – or to put it another way, if one wanted to stay, all must stay.

Clearly it is an absurd stance. Under the rule any one of the nations might well be forced to stay inside the EU against its will – surely as great an injustice as Scotland being “ripped out…against its will”, if one is to take the right of nations to independence seriously.

And even that assumes that the relationship is equal between the four. But it’s hardly a secret that the potential for democratic illegitimacy is greatest in the case of England, home to 53m compared to a mere 5.3m in Scotland, 3.1m in Wales and 1.8m in Northern Ireland, according to the 2011 census.

Of course Sturgeon’s proposal is in itself part of the Nats existential challenge to Britain, with the party arguing that Scots’ interests should be considered as distinct from their English (non)brethren.

But there is also an intriguing whiff of unionism to her proposal, which argues in constitutional democratic fashion that the wishes of the majority cannot snuff out those of the minority, however large the difference in population. It is on such a principle that the United Kingdom was built, and shows even the Fishmonger of Holyrood has some unionism left in her.

Image Credit – Scottish parliament in Edinburgh by Tharnton345

£500m for Faslane naval base triggers Trident furore with Scottish Nationalists

Trident nuclear submarine HMS Victorious, April 2013 by MoD

Faslane naval base will be bolstered with £500m of cash over the next decade after the chancellor George Osborne pledged to back the home of the Trident nuclear submarines in the latest ploy to boost his defence credentials.

Whilst the funding will not be directly spent on nukes much of it will be used to improve the naval base’s infrastructure, with money marked for ship lifts, sea walls, and jetties, among other things.

The Tory government sought to spin it as part of a commitment to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, granting the UK the obscure accolade of being “the only major world economy which meets both the Nato [military spending] target and the 0.7 percent on international aid target.”

Presumably shivering in Faslane at the time, Osbo said:

“Today’s announcement of more than £500 million demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to investing in the infrastructure and capability to ensure that Faslane remains the centre of UK submarine operations for the next generation.”

Conveniently forgetting that time Britain signed a security guarantee with Ukraine to get it to remove its nukes before shrugging as the Russians invaded it last year, the chancellor added:

“I’m proud to say that this government continues to recognise that our brave armed forces across Britain have always been resolute in defence of liberty and the promotion of stability around the world.”

Following Osbo’s announcement the Scottish Nats threw a hissy fit, its defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara MP condemning the chancellor for attempting to foist a decision on Trident without consulting parliament:

“George Osborne is essentially pre-empting a vote and actual decision on renewal of Trident.”

He added:

“There is something fundamentally wrong with Westminster’s values and priorities if the Chancellor thinks wasting billions on nuclear weapons is something to boast about when people are dying within our benefits system.”

Staff numbers at Faslane are expected to increase from 6,700 at present to 8,200 in 2022, with the £500m investment beginning in 2017. From 2020 all of the Royal Navy’s underwater capabilities are expected to be based at the facility.

The Tory government said the funding would be a boon for the supply chain of Britain’s “defence and security exports industry”, also known in English as “arms dealers”.

Last year Britain’s arms exports amounted to £12bn, giving the country the questionable distinction of being the second-largest arms dealer behind the gun nuts of America, according to the government, which is seemingly proud of the fact.

Image Credit – Trident nuclear submarine HMS Victorious, April 2013 by the Ministry of Defence

Scots sceptics on independence after SNP surge

Edinburgh Castle, Apr 2005, Stuart Caie

Much has been written about the possibility of the Scottish National Party pushing for another referendum on independence should they augment their recent surge in Westminster seats with a victory in the Scottish parliamentary elections next year.

This is despite reports that the Scots could lose out financially if they claimed fiscal autonomy for themselves because of tumbling oil prices. Perhaps for that reason many of them are sceptical that Scotland will become independent before the next general election (currently scheduled for 2020) – though the English are not so sure.

Figures from a recent Survation poll, which included people from across Britain, show that a third of Scots think their country will be independent by the end of this parliament. Though this gives unionists cause for optimism the English seems to view divorce as more likely, with 43 percent predicting Scotland will break away within the next five years.

“It’s interesting that Scotland is split pretty much down the middle on whether independence will happen, even within a decade, while more people in England think it’s already lost,” says Sunder Katwala, director of the think-tank British Future, which commissioned the online survey of 4,000.

Long-term pessimism of the fate of the United Kingdom, which has existed for more than 300 years, is more rife than the short-term kind. Almost three-quarters of both English and Scots predict that this may be the last united British generation, with both groups expecting dissolution of the Union within 25 years.

“That’s a long-term challenge for unionism and an opportunity for Nicola Sturgeon to play the long game,” Katwala added. “Up to a third of that 72% will be ‘No’ voters who are resigned to independence, and her task will be to convince them that it’s all going to be alright.”

Header image – Edinburgh Castle by Stuart Caie