A three-day period at the start of June this year could decide the mod of the Scottish nation for the next four years and possibly longer.
As everybody knows, Britain goes to the polls in a general election on Thursday 8 June. Two days later, on Saturday 10 June, Scotland play England in a must-win World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park. It is difficult to predict which event is likely to deliver the more depressing result.
The prospect of five more years of Tory rule at Westminster is depressing in the extreme. But so too is the possibility of Scotland yet again failing to reach the finals of a major tournament, twenty years after we last qualified for one. The grimmest prognosis would be having the Conservatives in power for as long a time as it takes Scotland to reach another World Cup final stage. That vision of the future is truly hellish.
A matter of months after we were told that a General Election ‘would not be in the best interests of the country’ and only a few short weeks after we were informed that ‘Now is not the time’ for a second referendum, because ‘politics is not a game’, we are now told that the upcoming general election is going to be a ‘vote on Scottish independence’. While that may appear as clear as mince, the message is that it is ‘game on’, basically.
Theresa May and Ruth Davidson claim Nicola Sturgeon is obsessed with indyref2, but the one party utterly obsessed with the issue are the Conservatives. Never a day goes by without Davidson or May resorting to the same set of well-worm clichés, such as: ‘The UK as a country voted to leave the EU – there can be no special deal for Scotland’. That attitude is like your landlord taking a shit on your doorstep and not allowing you to either clean it up, or move out.
‘The last referendum divided families’ so we can’t repeat it. Did it? Can’t we? Not in my experience. I don’t know of any families that were divided by the referendum. However, I do know of two families that have been divided since 2014, because someone had sex with their partner’s best friend. And in both cases, they did it more than once.
‘Nicola Sturgeon should stick to her day job of running the country’. This attitude smacks of ridiculous small-minded parochialism. Do you think anyone ever say to Ghandi that he should ignore the idea of freedom for India and focus on making sure that the trains were not so over-crowded at rush-hour?
While it is unwise to put too much trust in opinion polls, there would appear to be a growing number of Scots who claim they are going to vote Conservative this June. Some people in Scotland seem amazed that there are Tory voters in this country. The reality is that there have always been Tories in Scotland. It’s just that for the last thirty years, they’ve all been voting Labour or Lib Dem.
However, it beggars belief that anyone in Scotland could consider voting for a party led by Theresa May – whose arrogant and aggressive attitude towards us a nation is eerily reminiscent of the person who turned Scotland against the Conservatives, namely Margaret Thatcher. In my opinion, May is ten times as repulsive, because at least Thatcher had a personality. May appears to have been raised from the dead, as if some sinister experiment to re-animate Thatcher’s corpse had somehow managed to bring her back to life minus the charm and humanity.
If the Tories do make gains in Scotland, the post-match analysis in the right-wing press will so predictable it can almost be written now. If the Tories win any seats north of the border, it will be portrayed by the Express and the Daily Mail as a rejection of independence. If the SNP wins fewer seats than they did in 2015, the same rags will be interpreting this as the end of the line for Nicola Sturgeon.
The reality is, of course, somewhat different. The fact is that the SNP’s high-water mark in 2015 of winning fifty-six out of city-nine seats is virtually impossible to replicate. This is very similar to Celtic’s dominance in this year’s Scottish Premiership, where they have wiped the floor with every team, particularly a Rangers side who will end up third, thirty-six or so points adrift of their rivals.
Theresa May winning ten seats from the SNP and claiming that was a rejection of independence is the same as Rangers coming second in the 2017-18 season, cutting Celtic’s to twenty-five points and claiming this makes them the champions.
So if the SNP win four times as many seats in Scotland as the Conservatives in an election ‘about Scottish independence’, are the Tories going to grant us our freedom? Your guess is as good as mine.
Vladimir McTavish will be appearing at The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow from Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th May www.thestand.co.uk