INVERNESS MP Drew Hendry hasn’t fully climbed aboard the “independence is now inevitable” bandwagon but he’s lagging not far behind it. Following the publication of a single poll that found 52-48 per cent support in Scotland for the break-up of the United Kingdom, his unmissable Twitter site hasn’t gone into the kind of hysterical overdrive we saw after Nicola Sturgeon announced she was “going for it” two years ago last March, but it’s certainly getting into gear.
The days when Mr Hendry confined himself to local matters have gone. Now his site is packed full of referendum and independence wishful thinking and propaganda, with the occasional weather warning squeezed in between.
But for the Nats at the moment, it’s blue skies all the way.
The MP writes of his own experiences: “Door knocking in more rural areas today as part of this summer’s surgeries. Trends continue – spoke to both ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ voters who were ‘No’ from 2014 who see Independence as very attractive. Regardless of previous politics, all happy to talk & dismayed by Westminster.”
The “anecdotal evidence” of a surge towards independence seems to have crawled into every crevice of the nationalist mindset.
And clearly Drew Hendry is no exception.
That poll was unwelcome for those, like me, who strongly support the Union. There’s no point in denying it. But compared with the famous, unforgettable and electrifying “Yes takes the lead” banner headline spread across the front page of the Sunday Times 11 days before the 2014 referendum, it barely registers.
Independence quite obviously is not inevitable. And no amount of drumbeat repetition of that mantra will convince a majority of people that it is.
It almost goes without saying that there are too many permutations as to what might happen in the coming weeks and months to begin to make any firm predictions on what the future holds.
The fact that Boris Johnson is not a popular Prime Minister across Scotland is unarguable, as is the fact that a majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU, and are strongly against a “No deal” Brexit.
In these circumstances, it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that the 52-48 margin in that poll could be construed as disappointing news for nationalists. If everything is falling so perfectly into place for them – why aren’t they further ahead?
Drew Hendry is not a fanatical British-hating zealot with a fundamental dislike for people who were born in England, the hallmark of some – too many – of the nationalist ilk.
He’s a reasonable enough man who generally tries to do his best for all his constituents, especially those from eastern Europe.
But no matter how much supposed dismay he may come across over the confusion and discord at Westminster, he must know that it’ll take a lot more than a sustained spell of Boris-bashing to persuade a majority of Scots to switch irrevocably towards independence.
The SNP still has to do an awful lot of explaining on its own account. For the moment, Sturgeon and co are managing to dodge scrutiny of their own abysmal track record in Government. And even more importantly, are not yet being called on to answer a pile-up of questions about the realities as they see them of an independent Scotland.
When scrutiny does fall on them – will they even be able to tell us what currency we’d use?
They’ve had five years to try and work that out and are still hopelessly split between those who want to continue using the pound for a lengthy period – as a foreign country with no economic influence on it whatsoever – and those who want to almost immediately create a separate Scottish currency, issuing Mickey Mouse money that would be next to worthless beyond the Scottish border.
And do they really believe a majority of Scots are ready and willing to see a border with passport controls separating us from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while we throw in our lot with the Germans, French and Italians, and start relying on begging-bowl favours from them?
However, if things start looking really serious there will be a large swathe of the population who – setting the political shenanigans aside – will need cast iron guarantees that an independent Scotland would be able to pay out the state pension. And guarantees from Sturgeon, already on the record as saying “any price is worth paying for independence”, may be far from enough.
And there will be many other questions of real importance to people to be asked and needing to be very convincingly answered.
But for now Brexit and Boris-bashing is undoubtedly putting a spring in the step of Drew Hendry and his cohorts.
But they’re fools if they think the ultimate prize they crave above all else is almost within their grasp.
And Drew Hendry is no fool. Time I’d say to calm down a bit, and get back to focusing firmly on the day job.
But amid the current fevered nationalism, with the separatists desperate to supplement the difficulties of Brexit with the outright turmoil of another independence referendum, that may be asking too much.