01 June 2014

Jumping the gun

The Independent appears to think that it will be straightforward:
The Scottish referendum in September. This is possibly the most important event of Cameron’s time as Prime Minister. The official campaign, during which spending limits apply, started on Friday. All politicians say that there is no room for complacency. This invites the question: why does complacency take up so much space? You might have thought that neurotic anxiety about imminent defeat would need a clear area for pacing up and down. Still, I am not a politician, and my complacency is quite compact: I think Scotland will vote to stay in the United Kingdom.
If so, that would be a great vindication for Cameron. He will be recognised as an astute judge of high politics, which he hasn’t always been. This is not the place to list all his errors, but he got the initial response to the banking crisis wrong; he allowed Nick Clegg to sabotage the boundary changes that would have equalised constituencies; and he cut the top rate of income tax, fatally undermining the Government’s “all in it together” rhetoric.
But if Scotland votes to stay in the UK, all that will fade a little against the brilliance of his triumph. His assessment that he could not be seen to stand in the way of the Scottish people will, after the event, be regarded as obviously right. I do not see how any prime minister could have refused to allow the referendum to take place, but a different one might have tried to delay it or to impose conditions. Cameron seems to me – although what do I know? I’m Scottish but I don’t live in Scotland – to have handled it exactly right. His tone has been respectful, statesmanlike and reasonable.

Aye, vindication would be a wondrous thing.  But what if the yes vote carries the day?  Then it will be goodnight sweet prince.  And, even more probably, what if the no vote sneaks home by only a whisker?  Then the prospect of neverendum looms.

In the circumstances, it might be wise to avoid counting chickens ...

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