by Colin Campbell
When Nicola Sturgeon cannot quite bear the prospect of bringing bad tidings to her supporters, who better to delegate the task to than Mr Ian Blackford, one of her closest acolytes who exudes legendary charm and appeal, and who can speak directly to the faithful with the down to earth honesty of a simple 10 acres crofter.
Ms Sturgeon’s promise to the nationalist footsoldiers to hold another independence referendum in 2023 would only be met, said the wiry son of the soil yesterday, if the circumstances for holding it were “ideal”.
Mr Blackford has himself promised them another referendum in 2020, even at the height of the pandemic, in 2021, in 2022, and if course in accordance with his leader’s wishes, in 2023.
So this was a very notable declaration from everyone’s favourite politician.
If circumstances are ideal? What circumstances as they are now need to change if they are to become ideal in 2023?
There are indeed a few things.
* Boris Johnson’s implacable refusal to grant a section 30 order for a legal referendum.
* If Nicola Sturgeon tries to hold an illegal referendum it will be boycotted by more than half the country.
* If Nicola Sturgeon tries to hold an illegal referendum councils, like Highland Council, will refuse to take part and process votes.
* If Nicola Sturgeon tries to hold an illegal referendum and seeks the endorsement of the Supreme Court she is 99.9 per certain to lose.
* The SNP have no mandate for a referendum, as constitutional issues are reserved to Westminster.
* The SNP failed to win a majority in the May Scottish Parliamentary elections.
* The SNP have made no credible case on the economics of independence. They have no answers on what currency would be used and what it would mean for pensions and mortgages, on the inevitability of a hard border with England, on rejoining the EU, on the massive Scottish deficit caused by spending more than is raised in tax, on how the extra £2,000 per head in public spending people in Scotland receive compared with people in England would be compensated for, or on how a Scottish army, navy and airforce would be created and paid for.
* Support for independence has fallen to just over 40 per cent, and in polls consistently trails support for remaining in the UK.
* When the Yes/No question is replaced by the ballot box Leave/Remain question which would be used the gap widens even further.
* With mystery surrounding £600,000 supposedly ring fenced to fight a campaign the nationists are perilously short of money to fight an independence campaign.
* SNP politicians, particularly at Westminster, mainly comprise snouts in the trough chancers and hypocrites who have no genuine interest in independence and want to remain there.
* Blackford regularly rakes in a quarter of a million pounds in expenses, in addition to his vast salary, and losing that would be less than ideal for him.
* Inverness MP Drew Hendry also gains a highly lucrative wedge and has access to the benefits of free foreign travel to sunny places, first class meals, and of course copious quantities of refreshments, and losing all that would be less than ideal for him also.
* And the same applies to most of the cosily contented, money grubbing SNP charlatans at Westminster.
They have no motivation to make a serious and determined move to lead an independence campaign. They have every reason, as is becoming apparent to more and more disillusioned and angry nationalists, to soak up the money, perks and privileges from Westminster for as long as they possibly can.
These are just some of the reasons why holding a referendum now would be less than ideal, and why little may change between now and the year after next.
And of course there’s a pandemic still hanging around, which Ms Sturgeon believes could last from here to eternity.
So no referendum in 2023, as promised, unless the circumstances are “ideal”. There’s rather a long way to go then.
It will, however, no doubt ease the seething frustration among the ranks of SNP members that yesterday’s really bad and very unwelcome news that their indyref2 has been cancelled was delivered by honest, simple 10 acres crofter Ian Blackford.