LONDON CALLING. AND GETTING IT WRONG.

The Guardian's Zoe Williams is a columnist I admire, so I'm going to assume that what she wrote today "The Weakness At The Heart of Sturgeon's Plan"  was prompted by misunderstanding rather than malice aforethought. She makes a number of statements which are self evidently open to challenge.  The notion, for instance, that because a new poll says 50% of the electorate now favour independence, it follows that 50% do not. That is statistically and factually simply inaccurate.

She says too "it is easy to forget since the result was the status quo, how bitter the 2014 referendum was."  Easy to forget because it is completely at odds with the memories of so many people involved.  2014 brought energy, involvement and excitement to so many people previously turned off by politics.  The solitary egg thrown at Jim Murphy was about as violent as it got, whilst the debates within communities and families, were often robust but a total church tea party compared with the vitriol which accompanied the Brexit variety two years later. It's perhaps telling that she quotes expat Scots "who didn't have a right to vote" apparently telling her they found the whole business a "narrow nationalistic project" rather than any grand social project.  In fact, in enfranchising everyone over 16 residing in Scotland regardless of origin or length of stay, I believe we held a referendum which showcased the best kind of modern democracy.

But where this commentary goes completely off the rails is suggesting that if there is a Labour government elected and a second Brexit vote resulting in Remain "the air would be sucked out of Sturgeon's project". This makes two entirely false assumptions.  The most offensive one is the suggestion that the Scottish government has not been fighting hard for a pan UK Remain vote on the grounds that Brexit is good for Indy business. Consistently and passionately Sturgeon has argued against the folly of leaving the EU, and  has made the attempt to stop Brexit the number one priority despite a third of SNP support apparently having voted Leave. Compare and contrast the fog surrounding Mr Corbyn's views on the matter.

And the second one is the belief that there would be really no point in independence as the aims of an SNP government and a UK Labour one would be so similar that "they'd be fighting in the cracks" and "it would be an ugly and pointless scene  in which narrow nationalism might well emerge as the most solid ground." This is to misunderstand most profoundly the impetus behind the current rise in support for independence.  It is not merely a post Brexit sentiment except in the sense that Scots are appalled at being hauled out of Europe when 62 per cent voted Remain, and there was a Remain majority in every single local authority.  Add into that equation the fact that voters were assured in 2014 that the only way to retain European citizenship was to vote No to self determination and you can discern how and why views have altered and developed.

But above and beyond all that is the fact that people who favour independence in Europe do so for quite distinct reasons unconnected with whatever is happening in the Westminster village.  They have ambitions to live in  a modern, liberal, small European nation; one pursuing the kind of progressive policies which have been largely abandoned by UK governments. The Scottish Government has spent a small fortune trying to mitigate the effects of welfare initiatives like the hated "bedroom tax, and opposed  the so called rape clause.  They live in a country which has set its face against retaining nuclear weapons, against fracking. Again and again their governments have introduced policies on smoking, minimum pricing for alcohol, free personal care and  tuition fees etc which are  subsequently adopted by other parts of the UK

There have been well rehearsed problems in Scotland's  health and education services, but there has never been any question of marketising either. The idea of a Trump trade deal giving NHS access to US corporations is complete anathema.  Meanwhile you could hardly argue that NHS England is currently a raging success, or its education service constantly tinkered with and harking back to rote learning. Since devolution there are a host of areas in which Scotland has forged a quite different path. Full independence is the logical next step for those who do not want dragged into some fantasy nostalgia project.

Finally Zoe contends that five years ago "the SNP flipped from Tartan Tories to leftwing crusaders." I fear she is a little out of date.  The current government in Scotland is  to the left of every other party bar perhaps the Greens. And has been for some decades.  As I say I am a fan of Ms Williams writing.  But tired of a string of London based commentators explaining Scotland to the Scots. Honestly, folks.  We're not that hard of thinking.