Marching Towards Not So Distant Drums.

The coverage of the All Under One Banner march in Glasgow last weekend was instructive. The one overtly nationalist Scottish daily paper gave over several pages devoted to pictures of some of the 35/55/85 thousand (pick your own estimate) who turned out to process from Kelvingrove to Glasgow Green.  The one fairly sympathetic Scottish Sunday paper found itself getting pelters for foregrounding a pic which appeared to give equal prominence to the small band of Union Jack waving dissenters.  The bulk of the mainstream media found itself looking elsewhere. By Monday one columnist was explaining to the lieges why the marchers had got it all wrong on four counts, and why Nicola Sturgeon should beware of listening to the man in the street.  It was a fairly classic example of the "your betters know best" school of analysis.

So far, so predictable. But what the weekend also threw up were some interesting new strands to the overall Indy debate, and, more particularly, anent the timetable for running another poll.  Some people, including an erstwhile and long term advisor to the First Minister, proposed that the the most practical course for the Scottish Government would be to throw in its lot with those Lib Dems, Greens and dissident Labour voices demanding a second Brexit Referndum; a peoples' vote on the final deal if they ever manage to come up with one. There are perfectly rational arguments for this course of action.  You add grist to the stop Brexit mill, and you build cross party alliances against the day when IndyRef2 will need all the friends it can find. Whether this thought was offered by the Scottish Goverment and floated  through an intermediary, or was an entirely personal observation  I know not. But it is out there now.

This prompted a raft of other opinions; those who pointed out that opposing Brexit might alienate independence inclined Leave voters, and those who suggested that regardless of what we thought of Brexit in Scotland, our natural Remain majority would be ignored  from a great height as it has been since June 2016.  There were also those who, not unreasonably, reminded the would be UDI contingent that unless and until we had official sanction from London to run another Independence referendum the DIY variety would have no standing and would lose rather than garner those undecided electors needing to be brought on board.

All of these arguments can be said to have merit, in different contexts. My own instinct is that backing a people's vote on Brexit and planning for a second Independence Referendum should not be viewed as mutually exclusive.  I still believe the likely fallout from Brexit to be economically catastrophic and that voters are entitled to endorse or reject the final deal. I still believe too that Brexit offers a substantial platform from which to mount another push for Scotland to reclaim full nationhood.  If, as now seems likely,  Holyrood and Westminster have to slug it out in the Supreme Court as to which previously devolved powers can be annexed by the UK Government "temporarily", then that  too will concentrate many Scottish voters' minds.

All that said there is much work still to be done in refining the offer - not least on the economy - which might be put to the Scottish electorate in IndyRef2.  There is a small mountain to climb in persuading my generation that neither with Brexit or Independence is it entitled to mortgage the future of its grandchildren.  The young have overwhelmingly supported both Remain and Independence; they should not be shouted down at the ballot box by those whose race is much more nearly run.

I think that work and these efforts have to be redoubled now rather that at some indeterminate time when the starting pistol is fired. And, for the record, I think the man and woman in the street, the many thousands of men and women in the street, are rather more streetwise than many of the commentariat.