by Colin Campbell
THE ugliest comment I came across while keeping an eye on the SNP’s “virtual” annual conference over the weekend came from nationalist MP and leading light Kenny Macaskill, who declared: “Britain has never been weaker, except perhaps in a time of war. This is the optimum time for Scotland to strike for its independence.”
My reaction amid head-shaking disgust was that’s a bit sick isn’t it?
“War”, “weaker”, “strike” – three words that in any civilised political discourse should surely never be strung together in two sentences.
People may have their disagreements, but to link Britain today to a time when we were under threat of invasion and obliteration from Nazi Germany is the kind of political verbiage that is regarded as being completely off limits.
Macaskill’s relish at the supposed “weakness of Britain” and his wartime analogy that “this is the optimum time to strike” is the kind of salivating strategy that would have been under discussion at the headquarters of the Third Reich.
I’m not suggesting that this nationalist weasel has lost his marbles to the extent that he hates our country to that extent. I don’t know how much he revels in the “weakness of Britain”.
But at the very least it was either a grossly clumsy or appallingly crass choice of words.
As for the “virtual” conference, it had all the excitement and buoyancy of a Zoom meeting among distant relatives after a funeral.
One thing you can say about a normal SNP conference is that as the delegates and zealots and fanatics gather in a packed hall they know how to generate an atmosphere and put on a show.
Sturgeon and Forbes and Blackford droning on over internet links had none of that.
And the online reaction from those who would have been there to what they said was muted, to say the least.
Nicola Sturgeon coined yet another new phrase, saying “we are on the cusp” of independence. Kate Forbes said it would be all systems go “after the pandemic”. Ian Blackford, still in disgrace after an anti-English outburst against a humble photographer, said SNP members should “keep the heid” and be patient, something he spectacularly failed to do with his infamous “Gotcha” Twitter attack on an Englishman living in Caithness who had posted a photograph of the Northern Lights.
What activists were not looking for was yet another round of vague pledges and platitudes which never come to anything. They were looking for dates, timing and action to secure “indyref2”. They got none of that. And the online frustration of many was very clearly made apparent.
Where do they go from here? They SNP will win the Holyrood election in May, Boris Johnson will refuse a section 30 order for another legal referendum and they blindingly obviously have no credible or workable “Plan B”.
That’s their problem – and let’s hope their problems amid the dismay, discontent, anger and disillusionment just keep on mounting.
Activists of course are demanding that Sturgeon somehow conjures up a referendum in 2021, or else, many say, she’s finished.
Most rational people know that the prospect of stumbling out of the virus crisis straight into referendum turmoil is something that Nicola Sturgeon accepts would backfire calamitously for the independence cause. She’s not a fool. She knows people other than the most rabid nationalists need a breather, and a break from stress and tension.
Those who still remain convinced that IT WILL HAPPEN in 2021 should avail themselves of the chance to make some money, however. That might raise their spirits. Betfair are offering odds of 6-1 against a 2021 referendum. In fact no-one should rush to place a bet on those odds, because as the virus crisis drags on they are liable to lengthen still further.
There will be no legal referendum in 2021. And the remote utterances from the SNP conference – remote in terms of geography, and clueless in terms of content, confirmed it.