Geez, what a dismal referendum campaign! Where the Scottish independence referendum gripped a nation with record engagement, turnout and energy this EU referendum seems more like an exercise in Tory self flagellation. Tory argues with Tory on the tele and in Scotland we observe these exotic metropolitan beasts with bemusement and scorn.
And all of this is just so reminiscent to the Scots. Hardened by the experience of the Tory designed No campaign the ‘project fear’ handbook seems to have been made available to both sides in this EU conflict. With a deep depressing sigh we observe our old familiar referendum friends - economic armageddon, ruin, war and pestilence.
Underneath all of this there is a deep resentment of the Tories for taking Scotland to the very brink of European exit. There was no desire for a referendum in Scotland (only 1 MP was returned from Scotland pledging one) and all opinion polls show a vast majority of the Scottish people wanting to remain in Europe. Our antipathy towards the Tories is further compounded by the fact that they strongly suggested to the Scottish people that the only way our nation’s EU membership could be maintained was to vote to remain in the UK. Little wonder that so many people are predicting a further Scottish independence referendum if Scotland is dragged out of the EU against our national collective will.
The only comfort we may take from all of this is that whatever the result in a couple of weeks time it looks like this version of the Tories is toast. Cameron embarked on this referendum out of fear of UKIP progress and as a means to unite his deeply divided party. All he has achieved is to ensure that those divisions are now permanent, with added grievance and soon to come vengeance. How he must wish he had never even thought of this disastrous exercise. The poisonous fall out of this referendum will now forever be his legacy. He will be the man who finally broke the Tories on the mantle of Europe.
Meanwhile in Scotland we take to the High Streets to argue the case for Scotland’s membership of the EU as positively as possible. In doing so we try to put aside our friends the EU bureaucrats, who in being so eager to please Cameron, unquestioningly repeated his glib assertions that an independent Scotland wouldn’t be welcome in their EU club. We have to put the case for an immigration system that works against our national interests in the face of something even more calamitous. We have to say that it is actually Europe that offers protections in employment and human rights whilst a Tory Government tries to undermine these guarantees with every ounce of its diplomatic clout. Just when we think we’re getting somewhere along comes Gordon Brown with plans for another vow! Rousing the formidable SNP campaigning machine is something that has therefore not been a straight forward task.
And if we are dragged out of Europe against our will no-one has told us what happens to all our EU complaint legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament. No one has explained how we as a nation may sustain and build relationships with an institution that our larger sibling in the ‘UK family’ has just so indignantly rejected. Yes, Tories, thank you for all of this. Scotland will be eternally grateful...
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