by Colin Campbell
THE creator of the highly successful pro-independence Wings Over Scotland website packed it in in disgust after last May’s Holyrood elections.
Stuart Campbell backed Alex Salmond’s Alba Party and was disappointed by the fact that they secured only a tiny fraction of the vote.
But more so, as he stated in his explanation to his many followers for quitting, he’d had enough. He couldn’t bear having to respond to Nicola Sturgeon announcing yet more “planning for a referendum” that wasn’t going to happen.
In one article he displayed around 20 front pages from The National over the past five years, each one cast in “Here we go, this time it’s on/going to happen/is imminent” mode. Prepare for indyref2!”
And it never did, long before covid had ever been heard of.
But before he signed off, he laid down a challenge. He said he would bet any amount of money against anyone that there would be no referendum while Nicola Sturgeon was leader of the SNP. He is a wealthy man, having been something of a video gaming creative genius, which earned him a lot of money.
He has appeared briefly on his website since to say there have been no takers.
And of course he was right about Groundhog Day. Now it’s “Here we go” again. Yet again.
Sturgeon announced on TV on Sunday that now the covid threat is fading planning will begin for a referendum she is “determined” to hold in 2023. Her deputy John Swinney yesterday underpinned that message on the radio.
And the nationalist noise begins all over again. From Sturgeon, Blackford, Hendry, Forbes, other MPs and MSPs, the National of course and nationalist pundits here there and everywhere.
All of them have a direct interest in keeping this charade going because they are making money, lots of money from it.
Blackford, Hendry and the rest have to justify their huge salaries and expenses at Westminster with frequent outpourings on another referendum and independence. Sturgeon has to justify her very existence. The National, the Herald, the Scotsman and the Record, these in particular, have to keep whipping it up to sell papers, which they are doing in ever decreasing numbers. If it wasn’t for the independence fandango, some if not all of them would probably be out of business by now. Those who write for them have to join in to earn a crust.
None of the above are going to come out and say: “It’s just not going to happen” because it’s not in their financial or commercial interests to do so.
But they know it’s not going to happen, at least not in 2023.
The insoluble problem for Sturgeon remains. Because the constitution is reserved to Westminster she needs Section 30 approval for a legal referendum. This has already been rejected by Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson, and will continue to be rejected, no matter who is Prime Minister.
She says that the pro-independence majority of the SNP and their lickspittle Green acolytes will pass legislation at Holyrood for another referendum and “dare” the UK Government to challenge it in the courts.
If they did “dare” virtually every legal expert apart from a couple wearing yellow rosettes believes that Sturgeon and co would lose. The Supreme Court would back the UK Government.
If the UK Government did not “dare” and decided to ignore it more than half the Scottish population would ignore it also and the outcome would be a meaningless farce.
And councils like Highland Council would almost certainly refuse to be involved and refuse to set up polling stations or count votes. So it would never get off the ground in the first place.
So where is their 2023 referendum going to come from?
None of this is going to stop leading nationalists with an eye on their bank balances from referring to “the countdown to the referendum now being underway” with the certainty of a Space launch from Cape Canaveral.
But what they’re mainly counting is how much money they’re earning from the independence industry which has proved so lucrative for a select number of them.
There is no way Blackford or any of his Westminster gang are going to walk away from the money they’re raking in. So what if they have to go along with the indyref2 charade. When your Westminster expenses add up to a quarter of a million pounds a year endless deception is just part of the deal.
Inverness MSP Fergus Ewing secured a highly paid job for life in the then fledgling independence industry 23 years ago. Between salaries and expenses, he must have made several millions on the back of it.
I tend not to associate much with nationalists, and certainly not ardent ones, but if I did and they started banging on about indyref2 I’d be inclined to take a leaf out of Stuart Campbell’s book and say, “Enough, if you really believe it, put your money where your mouth is.”
How high would I go? Actually, pretty high.
An even money bet against a legal referendum in 2023 wouldn’t be a gamble, it would an investment.
But amid all that “Here we go” palaver there would be no takers.
Unfortunately, roared on by those cashing in to the full on the independence racket, there just seems no way to avoid the dreary, wearying prospect of two years of endlessly futile nationalist noise.