It is never difficult (intentionally or not) to wind-up supporters of the SNP and Scottish independence. When I observed this morning on Twitter after the Supreme Court ruling on Article 50 that it was a great result, with the added bonus that it would infuriate the SNP, this did not go down well with grievance-seeking Nationalists. In me it induced nostalgia for the civic joyousness of the 2014 festival of democracy, the first independence referendum, especially when Nationalists keen to reach out started reusing terms such as quisling and traitor and jockholm syndrome (my personal favourite, denoting a person who is apparently held hostage by the English and has come to like his captors.)
To the charge of revelling in the Supreme Court making it clear that Westminster is sovereign in these Brexit matters I plead guilty. That is the constitutional position. Scotland has a devolved parliament and until the SNP wins a referendum that remains the position. As a Unionist who does not want his country – the UK – broken to pieces, I relish the Supreme Court calmly confirming the constitutional reality that the Nationalists refuse to accept.
That’s where the outrage from Nationalists is most odd. Surely this decision by the Supreme Court – branded a snub from Theresa May, when it is the court that has ruled not the government – should delight the SNP and its supporters because it brings forward the second independence referendum they are supposedly longing for? What are they so annoyed about? They should be pleased that the glorious day is at hand, or has become more likely, as the Fist Minister puts it. Or does their grumpiness indicate that they are not quite as sure of victory as they pretend? Losing a second referendum would be a disastrous humiliation for the SNP. The Scottish voters might then insist that the SNP accepts the result and gets on with doing what it has hitherto failed to do, namely fix Scotland’s struggling education system.
There’s a whiff of “haud ma jaiket” about the SNP’s threats. The Glaswegian term is used to denote someone making loudmouth threats to look tough while putting their fists up but hoping the imminent confrontation comes to nothing.
There probably will be a referendum. The Scots may well vote for independence, just as they may have done without Brexit, but the UK’s constitutional arrangements cannot and will not be subverted to allow the SNP and Holyrood to block what the UK voted for.