I hear what the likes of Maggie Curran are saying and, with all the generosity of spirit that I can muster, I allow that they are merely coming late to a realisation that many of us arrived at decades ago. It is not that “the case for independence in 2018 could be stronger than in 2014”, as Curran insists. The case for normalising Scotland’s constitutional status has always been overwhelming through all the different circumstances that the tides have history have brought our way. The argument that Scotland should be a nation as other nations has not altered. And, while circumstances have certainly changed, they always do.The new situation created by the EU referendum vote is undoubtedly significant. But there is something more fundamental happening here.
During the first independence referendum campaign, I frequently remarked that the difference between a Yes voter and a No voter is that the former had examined the union and the relationship it created between Scotland and England/rUK while the latter had never done so. People who question the nature and function of the union invariably conclude that it is untenable. Those who oppose the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status are, almost without exception, people who have never really looked at the union and Scotland’s place within it. People who simply accept it as the “natural order”.
It is not the case for independence that has changed, but the readiness of people like Margaret Curran to question the union. Recent event have forced former hard-line unionists to take a long hard look at the union they have been defending with unthinking fervour. For the first time in their complacent lives, they are being irresistibly prompted to consider the established order from a new perspective.
Suddenly, unionists who are at all open-minded (which evidently excludes David Mundell) are viewing the political union between Scotland and England through different eyes. And they are not comfortable with what they are seeing.