Alex Massie Alex Massie

This St Andrew’s Day, Scottish Tories should count their blessings

As is traditional, St Andrew’s Day will be marked in the proper style by expatriate Scots gathering to bless what they’ve left behind. For most of the rest of us it’s just another dreich November day. There is something cheering about this and at least we have spared ourselves the tomfoolery that’s made St Patrick’s day such a toe-curling embarrassment.

Still, that’s not to say the day passes without interest. For instance, the Times today publishes a YouGov poll indicating that support for independence is, broadly speaking, back where it was in September 2014. Just (sic) 44 percent of Scots would vote for independence if given the chance tomorrow. 

It must be allowed, I think, that the Brexit-bounce the SNP expected has not materialised. At least not yet. I expected it to be greater; but then I did not expect the SNP to play its post-Brexit hand quite so poorly. Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have spent the last five months demanding that Scotland’s voice be heard. There should, they insist, be a ‘deal’ that allows Scotland to maintain some stronger relationship with the EU than that which the rest of the UK may yet enjoy. Now it is possible to be cynical about this and suppose Ms Sturgeon is setting up a series of tests she knows cannot be passed, at which point, once the smoke clears, there will be a renewed appetite for independence. 

And this too may yet prove the case, even if I continue to hold to the line that it would be folly to press for another referendum called in response to Brexit before the terms and conditions of Brexit have even been determined. Loss aversion is a powerful instinct and responding to one constitutional upheaval by demanding another constitutional upheaval does not strike me as a sensible or winning plan.

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