The Trap Springs

Let’s admit at the outset that Theresa May is right. She doesn’t have an option except to block a referendum during the Brexit two-year process. Why? Because her government is already in total chaos without an agreed plan, with (according to David Davis) no costings, ready to fall off the cliff and hope for the best. Her most experienced negotiator has resigned. She is hijacked by the extremist wing of her anti-EU party who are leading her into a decision that no moderate Tory is likely to support. She is unelected to the highest office. Her limited majority may shrink or disappear if prosecutions follow the guilty judgment on election fraud. Her closest ally is smarting in humiliation after being overruled on the Budget. By declining to engage fully with parliament she has made Brexit her personal project. If it fails, so does she. She has exposed herself as an anti-democratic leader claiming a dictator’s mandate over the EU exit process while having none herself. Her characteristic dismissal of anything but insincere cooperation within the constituent parts of the union has led to revolt. Ireland, so constant a friend, is in a turmoil of fury and resentment. She is, in short, being overwhelmed by events. As she stands on the blazing battlements sending archers and spear men to the wall, behind her the Scottish savages are mounting a full-on attack on her flank. If I were her, I’d say the same: I can’t deal with this now.

In this she will be guided by her loyal lieutenants in the North – Davidson and Mundell whose combined contempt for a self-governing Scotland is limitless. She will have believed the polling evidence – and their advice – The Scots don’t want another vote so face them down. This, like the decision to hold the first referendum believing a three-to-one win inevitable, is wishful thinking.

The comedy count is mounting. Telling Scots they would be voting without knowing what for is a line straight from Yes Minister given the Brexit vote and the reservoir of ignorance in which she is marooned.To hear the dismal and weak Mundell say it’s no’ fair is pathetic. IT WAS IN THE MANIFESTO. Sturgeon won big time. She has requested engagement, produced a paper, more than May has done, and played a straight game. That it plays to her plan for May to stumble so lamely, is hardly a politician’s  fault. You play the opponent before you. Is she complaining about only having Corbyn leading the opposition?

If she wanted to play the Iron Lady she should have said No. No referendum and left it at that. That’s what a rejection looks like. Instead she prevaricated – knowing she can’t escape for ever. Not being able to answer the inevitable When question looks what it is – weak. She is stalling but as she does so she shores up the idea of an unprincipled and frightened advocate at bay. She has handed the gift of grievance to the best grievance artists in the business.

And what an opportunity she now presents to the EU negotiators. Unelected, undemocratic, in denial, losing command of her country, clueless and in retreat.

Sturgeon need do nothing except hold her ground and appeal to Europe for moral and political support – she is now held hostage, a keen European, in the grip of anti-EU zealots whose denial of democracy would likely debar them from membership of the Brussels club were they applying today. This is not the time to be precipitous. The cards have been played.When the shape of Brexit becomes clear is the time to demand action or to take it without their consent. By then there may be more than the SNP demanding action before the catastrophe which, after the Dutch election, looks like running against the new pro-European tide.



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34 thoughts on “The Trap Springs

  1. Spot on, again, Derek, Billy-no-mates Westminster seems intent on making more enemies. Britnat arrogance and ignorance never fails to astonish.

  2. May hasn’t a clue. She’s the most incompetent PM we’ve ever had. That’s good news for those of us who want independence.

    It’s all coming together and May and her cronies will soon be found out.

  3. A bit like a game of chess where you find out your opponent has only ever played draughts. Its staggeringly inept government – this coming from someone old enough to have seen ‘inept’ in many ways before – its jaw dropping.

    Lets put aside Scotland for the moment. England is on a hiding to nothing. The EU is staring aghast at the mess and voting in their droves to allay the possibility of any kind of exit of the EU. My gamble this week is of a French vote of utter anti-right’ness, of utter EU pro’ness … the EU message to Wangland will be ‘na na nana na’.

    Scotland were first to do this in effect though, long ago telling the EU they were not England. Several times now actually – in various votes.

    My interest int he MSM is their odd fixation with Scottish EU entry, as if ‘difficulty’ or ‘time’ is the same as ‘sweet FA’. One does get the EU impression that it will be swift and relatively simple. A pragmatic lot that.

    Nb. Can we get a statue of Alex Salmond sorted – there’s a spot in George Square sure to come up.

  4. About to jump down your throat there Derek…at first reading, I thought the opening sentence read “Let’s admit at the outset that Theresa May is bright.”…As you were..

  5. Good article Derek, saying it all as it is.

  6. Lets give credit where credit is due. The UK State is staying consistent and on message with its 310 year history of denying democracy and self determination across the whole world.

    Nobody can ever accuse them of not being consistently blinkered.

  7. Whatever the evidence of shambles around May’s government now – and it is there in spades – we are where we are as a result of the Westminster elites ignoring the evidence mounting over decades that the UK’s parliamentary system – its form of representation and accountability – is not fit for purpose.

    Rather than fixing the ship of state years ago under calmer conditions, it is now in danger of sinking in a storm of crises.

    Even the ‘fright’ given it by indyref1 was not enough to galvanise action to reform. Arrogance, entitlement, delusion of greatness, complacency, incompetence etc., etc. – choose your descriptor!

    • OK, I choose the following:

      “Arrogance, entitlement, delusion of greatness, complacency, incompetence etc.,” 🙂

  8. Masterly summation of a rapidly changing landscape. Thank you, Derek.

    Wonder how long the craven media will continue with their support. They were quick enough to put the boot into Hammond and Davies looks vulnerable now. The Likely Lads, Boris, Liam and the backwoodsmen Cash, Bone and Redwood hover in the background. The Prime Minister can probably rely absolutely on the support of her Scottish cyphers Davidson and Mundell. Neither has shown any inclination or ability to engage in debate.

  9. As interventions go that was an utter catastrophe.

    And not an egg in sight. 🙂

    Ms May successfully portayed herself and her appalling government as elitist, arrogant, intransigent and ignorant. All in one catastrophic orgy of ‘NOW WOULD BE BAD’. How many times did she avoid the question on acceptable timing? Four or five times? I lost count.

    Oh and the beaut about about voting in a referendum without knowing about outcomes. 😀 EPIC LOL

    Clearly Ms May and irony are complete strangers.

    Regardless, I’d say the First Minister will be attending the upcoming conference with some confidence and not a little satisfaction. Ms May cannot now bargain away Scottish assets easily at the Brexit negotiation table. Which, y’know, kinda is the day job of the First Minister of Scotland – to protect the interests of the people of Scotland.

    Ms May now faces going to that table with only the assets of those who mandated an exit from the EU, which is only right and proper.

  10. Yup, great summary

    When you are a not very bright overlord under pressure, you resort to type. Imperious bluster, finger wagging in the hope you will come over as tough.

    Even those in the South can’t fail to see the huge irony of denying us, because we ‘dont know Brexit’, it’s so ludicrous. We know enough, ffs. What she is saying is, you will be lashed to the front of the ship, as we go over, and if you survive the fall, we can talk about you leaving.

    I reckon our problem is we quite like facts and experts, the majority of us anyway.

    It won’t escape the EUs notice that our referendum would give their citizens a vote, and May is again using them, because she hopes to disenfranchise them.

    May thinks Nicola will pull the Holyrood vote next week – hahaha.

  11. The thoughts of Empress May of Greater Brexit

    Oh for the days when we could send in the gunboats.
    Alas We can no longer machine gun unarmed people in a courtyard to prove our authority to rule.
    How I miss those days when we had rifles and they only had spears.
    I wonder if a return to hang,drawn and quarter a step to far.

    “We fought together” so be loyal cannon fodder and shut up (…and don’t mention Iraq). I just hope no one remembers that the Canadians, South Africans, Americans, Indians,etc also fought together but did not see that as a arguement to return control of their affairs to Westminster.

    WMD/Aircraft Carriers – Force Projection so that we can sit at the big table with my pal Trump.
    Trumps America…A real nation where you can profit from the poor and only the wealthy have a health plan…if only we had been the 51st state.

  12. We can have the right to self determination but only when England’s Tories say so.
    Not going to go down well with Scots.
    Thanks Derek.

  13. I’ve calmed down now.
    I have never in my seven decades witnessed such a display of Exceptionalist arrogance.
    It is reported that Davidson advised ‘Big T’ to adopt this patronising approach. Now there’s a surprise; not.
    EngWaland now go into Brexit negotiations fully aware that the EU negotiators know that Scotland, our vast natural resources, our incredible strategic coastline, and our remarkable workforce, cannot be used as ‘bargaining chips’.
    I can see the wee wheels turning in Davidson’s limited cranium. Don’t let them vote until we’ve disenfranchised 180,000 Johnny Foreigners.
    If we can stall for four or five years, they’ll lose interest, because they are shallow uneducated Proles.
    Instead, May pissed out of the train windae and it has blown right back in her face.
    The Yes Movement will make damned sure that our Scotland is not a bargaining chip. It’s EngWaland who are leaving. The jury’s still out in Scotland.
    WE are a known known. We want to stay in the EU, and I personally will make sure our European cousins know this.
    Davidson has just signed the death warrant on her ‘Precious Union’. Bang goes her safe English seat at a suitable by election.
    The SNP Conference should be fun.

  14. What would it have cost May to have made some concessions to Sturgeon on her ‘UK wide approach’ such as seriously engaging with her white paper options. Then she would have avoided all of this. She’s politically inept, and has seriously under-estimated Sturgeon.

    What did they used to say? Keep your friends close – but your enemies closer?

  15. kailyard rules

    “The Trap Springs”

    To be read while listening to some bagpiping.

  16. What a powerful piece of writing. Didn’t hit the wall and miss anybody there.

  17. Worth it for your first paragraph alone, Derek: what a summary of Carry On to Oblivion!

    Fluffy for Hawtrey? Don’t really want to pursue the Davidson equivalent……

    Always remember, the EU is watching. “Her” Scottish assets are no longer negotiable and everyone knows it.

    The FM’s stroke was masterly.

  18. “We are not your bargaining chip”

    Could be a great slogan for the coming IndyRef campaign. 🙂

  19. A requirement of everyone to heed and learn from History , in Mayhems case it must have went right over her head, when she was celebrating with Cameron and as he stood on the steps of Downing street when he made a catastrophic mistake by putting the boot in and saying now we are getting EVEL .
    The result of this was a wipeout of unionist MPs , Cause and effect , unintended consequences , I believe events are going to overwhelm Mrs May . so many little problems left unattended or handled in an inappropriate way suddenly get out of control , she appears to be the clown balancing the spinning plates and all are just about to crash and then he stumbles ,oh dear how sad never mind .

  20. Not sure how practical or feasible on a long term basis, but given sheer numbers of pro-independence MPs, couldn’t SNP (maybe with PC and SDLP help) bring WM’s functioning grinding to a halt but refusing to adhere to conventions such as pairing, applauding and calling by-elections. It would need to be carefully thought through, but the danger of it backfiring because of English/British displeasure no longer matters given the widespread detestation of Scottish political matters.

    There must be many perfectly valud, legal ways to stop WM working if need be.

    • It wouldn’t work because English MPs, whether Tory or Labour or Raving Loony Monster Party for all I know, outnumber all Scots, Welsh and NI MPs put together – and three Scots MPs (Ian Murray, Alistair Charmichael and Fluffy Mundell) and probably all bar Plaid Cumry Welsh MPs and all “unionist” NI MPs (and, remember, Sinn Fein does not take up their seats as a protest) will not go along with such a plan.

      Nice idea, though.

  21. I think there won’t be a referendum. I think there is going to be a constitutional crisis. N Eire will not accept May’s terms nor will Scotland. Independence will come when Scotlands population demand it not request it.

  22. It feels a bit like we’ve just witnessed a 6 month build up to a boxing match, and now there’s almost been a KO in the first round. Sturgeon, having scarcely broken a sweat, leans on her corner watching her opponent try to compose herself, barely containing laughter at her disbelief in how easy it was.

  23. 2 Big Jock: Yeah, I’ve had enough of this request of Westminster stuff.

    May is in a terrible personal situation, and politically she has no allies beyond presumably, her Tory party colleagues.

    And this “We are the world’s sixth largest economy mantra”. If you run a business with a large turnover, but loss-making, you are in the poo. The UK is in the poo. Independent Scotland, an exporting country, will do well provided it ensures awareness to market costings.And value-added to the goods it sells – meaning don’t sell in bulk for others to package and re-sell to you.

  24. she set may up right from the start ,,, she let her paint herself into a corner.. till she had no other choices Brilliant..Scotland is in good hands.. we have NICHOLA,…ALEX and MHARI what a team..


  26. Mrs May has played her hand so very badly. Last week it was “no need for a referendum and it is not wanted by anybody anyway” and today she has implicitly accepted she was talking nonsense and limply says “now is not the time”. As she said to the hapless Jeremy at PMQ’s the other day when he was fluffing his lines “I don’t think you have got how this works”.
    SG should proceed with the Holyrood debate next week, win the vote, then make the S30 application with the date window unambiguously stating the referendum to take place within 3 months of the Brexit terms being agreed between WM and EU or 3 months prior to UK leaving the EU, whichever is soonest. Both a Yes and No answer from Westminster will serve.
    On the evidence of how badly the tories are playing their cards these days the EU negotiators could well say no no no to everything, push the UK off the cliff edge, then “negotiate” with the broken body lying on the beach far below pleading for help.
    In the meantime Nicola and her team should embark on a comprehensive program of dialogue with every European government to garner support.
    In other news the carrier project + aircraft costs have now risen from £10Bn to £14Bn with further rise expected due to equipment compatibility issues, insufficient engineers to run the ships and insufficient pilots to fly the (not yet built) planes. Oh, and the first one, Queen Elizabeth, sailing date delayed yet again. OK, it is a make-work project with not a scintilla of military logic ordered by the unlamented Gordon Brown but hey ho what a union jack flag fest Britnat party there will be when it finally sails away south to the strains of Rule Britannia.

    • I was actually in Estonia on the day the Soviet Union, or whatever it was called at the time, acknowledged Estonia’s independence. Our family was in Tallinn for the vernissage of an art exhibition that included my mum’s work. Bit of a party. Soviet “champagne” and Viru Kange vodka are a lethal combination.

      Next day we met up and had dinner with other Estonian friends, brought together by my little brother having had a school exchange thing with a Tallinn school. We were literally having a – by Estonian standards at the time – fancy dinner on the top floor of their fanciest hotel, when we got the news.

      Moscow has acknowledged Estonian independence.

      We Finns ordered more (Soviet) champagne and thought people would be cheering and dancing on the tables and in the streets, celebrating…

      But it wasn’t like that. Our dinner companions were very quiet. Deeply happy, I guess. Happiness so deep it doesn’t broke loud, outward displays. Also, hopeful, but not daring to believe it.

      Independence is so deeply felt, and the fear of it not being true, the fear of it being snatched away… The day Soviet Union/Russia acknowledged Estonian independence, people were not partying in the streets. It was more like people sticking together with their friends and quietly smiling and lifting a glass, but still afraid, unable to believe they’d got their hearts’ desire.

      I’ve got my old passport with its stamps. I entered CCCP (Soviet Union), I left Eesti Vabariik. (The independence-minded customs officials must’ve made the “Eesti Vabariik” stamps in advance and must’ve just itched for the time to stamp tourists’ passports with it!)

      Independence takes many different paths but the end is the same. Self-determination. (People, you hold the future of your country in your hands, don’t drop it because…oh.)

      Sorry for the long ramble. Independence is an important matter to me.

      • For some reason, the first, and most important part of my reply dissappeared in cyberspace.

        Here it is, again.

        “In the meantime Nicola and her team should embark on a comprehensive program of dialogue with every European government to garner support.”

        Unfortunately, it’s not how it works. Governements only speak to other governments, and as things stand, the UK government represents Scotland internationally.

        The back-door, which has often been used, is for opposition politicians (in the other countries) and all kinds of business or cultural organisations to forge links, with the said country’s official government “turning a blind eye” and quietly approving it.

        Finland did that before Estonian re-independence in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Our government’s and President’s official line was all about international treaties and “wait and see” but behind their back, they allowed, even encouraged, support for Estonian independence to grow and flourish in our country and in Estonia.

        I really don’t know why my independence/Estonia rant got cut in half, and you’re getting it backwards. Ho hum, it’s not all that important. But the idea of independence is, hopefully these ramblings will be of some help.

  27. Spot on as usual Derek.
    If any “LABOUR” people reading this or any of the other great articles on this care to any degree about democracy and in particular Scottish democracy, then next week’s vote in Holyrood on this will be the LAST time they will have to save their party and themselves from political oblivion.
    Kezia and HER band are irrelevant nonentities but there surely must be Scottish democrats left somewhere in their party.
    Now is the time for them to look in the mirror and “grow a set” and finally admit that their imperial masters have finally gone too far( Henry McLiesh, I know you want to)
    Liberals in Scotland must do the same. The young guy at their conference has shown them the way.
    If they all sit on there hands, with their fingers in their ears and 2 pencils up their noses, shouting “wibble” then history will judge them for what they are.
    It can’t be just the SNP and the GREENS that think May and Westminster are an affront to democracy and contemptuous of Scotland.

  28. Thank you for your article. I agree with the thrust and direction. I disagree that this is about grievance, and it is not that we are aggrieved it is that we do not have independence. This time round our language has to be precise, less emotive, possibly clinical. I commend this for your consideration.

  29. Your writing is so sharp Derek. You have completely nailed it.

    I have to say I have been pretty stunned by May’s political ineptitude. I began by thinking she was quite a clever woman, a safe pair of hands. When she appointed Johnson as Foreign Secretary I thought it was a clever plan to sack him the first minute he put a foot wrong. Thus she would have neutralised a potential opponent. But it quickly became evident she actually really did want Johnston as FS.

    For some reason she backs the hardest of hard Brexits but has played her cards very close to her chest about what that means. If we were to go with the clever interpretation we might think her game is to force liberal concessions out of the EU by playing hard ball. But her choice of inept hardliners Davis and Fox and her apparent unwillingness to make any concessions to the 48% or the Remain does suggest ineptitude, and as you say, the common thread of her actions so far does seems to be to keep the editors of the Daily Mail and Telegraph on board. That way she gets an easy ride and her failings are masked from the public eye.

    She has under-estimated Sturgeon who has out-manoeuvred her. Unlike the covert style of May, Sturgeon is an open and straight talking politician who has genuinely tried to accommodate the No-Remainers and act in the interests of Scotland as a whole, by for instance seeking control over immigration and wanting to secure the rights of EU citizens in Scotland, because they are important for the tax base and contribute significantly to the Scottish economy.

    What would it have cost May to have been more attentive to Scotland? And less prostrating before The Donald? Sturgeon has calculated that her hubris and her indifference and ignorance of Scotland would be her undoing and she has played right into it. The other explanation – than hubris and miscalculation – is that she is simply overwhelmed.

  30. The other thing that has struck me lately is the number of Tories, often quite senior figures, all of them males, who have said, in passing, in interviews, ‘I don’t know Theresa May, I have never met her’.

    Was that also true of Thatcher? Is it because of the boozy all male bar world that is the Westminster social culture, that is not particularly woman-friendly? Whatever, it does suggest that she is a more isolated figure who operates within a narrow strata of the Tory party.

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