Let’s play a wee game.
I’m going to take some statements, like this, from The Telegraph’s latest editorial:
After the Brexit vote last June, Miss Sturgeon said another independence vote was inevitable; now she has backed away because she knows she would lose it and scupper the separatist cause for generations. If she really has the interests of her fellow Scots at heart then she would drop this empty threat and help Mrs May deliver a Brexit in the interests of the entire nation, Scotland included.
Some of these statements may have been taken in the past year, in the wake of the First Minister reasserting her existing position regarding a second independence referendum, and her direct interaction with several prominent individuals in the European Union. Some may be from prominent supporters of Scotland as part of the UK; some may be from supporters of Scottish independence. Some of them may have been altered to replace Alex Salmond with Nicola Sturgeon, and are taken not from this week, but years ago.
Can you tell who said these things, and when?
“Ms Sturgeon has tried to reassure voters by kicking that pledge into the long grass – knowing she would currently lose a referendum heavily.”
“The SNP need to appreciate that Scotland is still, and in my view will always be, part of the United Kingdom, and while representation is one thing, attempting to exaggerate the importance of Scotland’s SNP administration is becoming tiresome.
“But there is also a stark message for the SNP. You are not there to grandstand on the world stage. You are not there to bicker for bickering’s sake with Westminster. You are there to deliver on the bread and butter issues.”
“There are voices in Scotland, in the business community and beyond, who rightly think that the uncertainty is damaging, which is why I suggest the SNP get on with it. Put your money where your mouth is. They will never again be able to say there is some unionist cabal that is stopping Scotland speaking. Who are they kidding?”
“This is a devastating blow for Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a referendum. Until now her argument in favour was that the great majority of the public wanted it. This poll decisively destroys that argument. This is a government that has run out of ideas and run out of steam.”
“Secondly, and Nicola Sturgeon should look away now, this is yet more decisive confirmation that Scots do not want independence, in any shape, way or form. No matter how the question is put, the separatists never win the vote. Hardworking Scots, in Glasgow East and throughout the country, want to focus on the issues and problems of today, not imagine tomorrow’s nightmares posed by risky constitutional upheaval.”
“Nicola Sturgeon continues to duck, dodge, dive and delay on asking her question because she knows in her heart and her head that she would not win. If she thought Scotland wanted to separate from the rest of the UK, she’d hold a referendum tomorrow.”
“This has been delayed again because Nicola Sturgeon knows, following the General Election result, there is obviously no appetite for independence. All there is left is grandstanding.”
“This was always just a gimmick designed to keep the issue alive. If they were serious about putting the question to the people, they would have published the bill by now and tabled it in parliament. Perhaps they know there is no support for an independence referendum in any form or shape.”
“It is ridiculous that, after four days and 10 platform speeches, the SNP are still keeping the date of the referendum secret. There is no point them talking about a roadmap when the referendum is still locked in the garage and Nicola Sturgeon won’t tell anyone where she has hidden the keys. They have to stop ducking the question.”
“This is tripe – the wild words of a panicking woman. Nicola Sturgeon is clutching at straws for her minority whim. It may have escaped her notice but you don’t have a referendum to preserve the status quo – devolution is the status quo… Sturgeon’s proposal is born out of a recognition that independence is a minority view held by a minority party. Her so-called ‘National Conversation’ has no Parliamentary mandate and is a one-party, one-country initiative.”
“Nicola Sturgeon just does not get it. The Scottish government is there to serve the country, not just the SNP and her own political career. She has lost her nerve.”
“In Holyrood, I disagree with Ian McWhirter: there will be no referendum.”
“Ms Sturgeon does not want to have a referendum on independence because she knows that she will lose, and I am anxious that my noble and learned friend may be optimistic about reaching agreement.”
“The priority is to get our economy growing again, to create jobs and to create opportunities for our young people. Now she tells us the referendum will be put off for most of the next five years. That will create uncertainty and damage the recovery. By then, we will have had nine years talking about the referendum.”
“Saying to [Nicola Sturgeon] we won’t have a referendum is just playing straight into her hands, because that’s what she wants. I think that’s a huge mistake. She is desperately hoping no-one will take her at her word. Ms Sturgeon and her colleagues want to delay a referendum because they think they will get a better vote than if they were to have a referendum now, so the unionist parties should call her bluff.”
“What I do not understand is that why, if leaving the United Kingdom is the key to Scotland’s prosperity, why she wants Scotland to languish… The truth is Nicola Sturgeon knows if she held the referendum now she wouldn’t just lose it, she would be routed.”
“Of course, Ms Sturgeon is well aware that the Scots don’t want independence at all. Which is precisely why she is floating the idea of ‘devo-max’ — otherwise known as having your oatcake and eating it.”
“Bad year for Scotland’s independence hopes… Given her political astuteness – and I repeat this compliment without a hint of irony – she knew she couldn’t win it. She knew that going into the election and she knows it now.”
“There are Scottish nationalists too who perhaps do not realise that Nicola Sturgeon has nipped out during the night and shifted the goalposts. The First Minister’s view of Scottish independence is, now, radically different to the one the SNP espoused in the early 1990s and some way from that being punted by the SNP even a few years ago.”
“And if it has the majority, does the SNP really want one? It would force them to wear colours they tend to keep relatively hidden of late. And, of course, the polls still suggest they wouldn’t win it. They would probably be tempted to go for it as late as possible in what will be a five-year term (rather than the normal four years), hoping that feelings against London might have heightened over time. But lose a referendum and you must wait – as Nick Clegg acknowledged yesterday in a different context – a long time for another. A flame is, if not extinguished, then much dimmed for a party’s activists.”
“All politics is about compromise in the end. So, notwithstanding their landslide victory on 5 May, the SNP is not so subtly abandoning the primary principle behind its raison d’être in favour of the pragmatism of the art of the possible. Faced with mounting evidence that a vote in the Holyrood elections for the SNP is not, per se, a vote for Scottish independence, party apparatchiks are now watering down its independence message to make it more widely palatable, electorally speaking. At least we are now beginning to get somewhere near what many of us have been asking over the past few years – namely how exactly the SNP defines the word “independence”, which has been etched deep in its collective psyche for the near-century of the party’s existence.”
Did you guess?
It really does seem like the most fervent proponents of the United Kingdom are caught in a time warp, a causality loop where they can only repeat all the tired old phrases and ideas that the rest of the world has left behind. You could argue that it was easy to say the independence movement would fail back when we were polling 20-30%, all of half a decade ago. But now? After everything that’s happened, to see British Nationalists continuing to bang the Drums of No Appetite, as if the last five years simply hadn’t happened?
It’s understandable they’d want to travel back to an earlier age of the Scottish Parliament: back when other parties dominated at Westminster, where the SNP only had a handful of seats, and where the SNP administration at Holyrood was a strange abberation – a fantasy the electorate would soon surely snap out of. Any day now, the SNP honeymoon will be over, the dream of independence will subside, and we can get back to the way things were before.
We in the independence movement are travellers in time, too. We’re just going in a different direction.