WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH ETC

Owing to mild social media addiction I've been tuning into a remarkably eclectic batch of post election commentary from the twitterati. The strangest examples of the breed are those suggesting, in terms,  that the SNP should forget about its attachment to independence.  So the way forward for a party founded to work towards an independent Scotland is to pretend it doesn't  care about all that nonsense any more?  Which is rather like suggesting Andy Murray give up tennis because he lost the semi final of the French Open.

But the mainstream media have been hardly more logical. One analyst suggested that Nicola Sturgeon should have just ruled out the idea of a second indpendence referendum for the duration of the current parliament, thereby shooting the opposition fox. Perhaps he and we should re-visit the chronology.  When the demand for IndyRef 2 was formally  raised what was very much in play was the proposed start of 2 years of Breixt negotiations. The PM had decreed that she would proceed on the basis of not staying in the Single Market or the Customs Union.  This, in January mind, from a woman who kept insisting that her negotiating hand had to be kept close to her chest.  Except, apparently, for two of the most crucial decisions.

So we had a situation where Scotland had voted by over 60 per cent to remain in the EU, and where the Scottish government then prepared a series of options to be considered by the UK government which would not involve secession from the UK, but would allow Scotland to respect the will of its people in their vote last June.  These options were dismissed out hand before the ink was dry.  At which point the prospect of a second poll on independence was raised.  And the Scottish Government was advised that "now was not the time."  It was, it seems, a time for stability - not the uncertainty of another polling exercise. But believing, correctly in my view, that Brexit was a disastrous route to self harm, the First Minister suggested that the Scottish electorate should have the option to vote separately on the terms the UK government agreed with the EU.  And that they should make that choice when the Brexit terms were broadly known, but before the door was shut on any possibility of Scotland making a discrete deal with Europe about its own continuing EU membership on whatever basis proved legally and politically possible.

At that juncture, Mrs May also decreeed that in pursuit of  stability and certainty there would be no UK general election until 2020. She was quite adamant about that - repeating it many times over on live TV this very Spring,  reminding the BBC's Andrew Marr that the fixed term parliament act so willed it.  A fortnight later she did the first of many quite spectacular U turns. This Tory PM is for turning. And that, of course, changed quite a lot of games - not least the grounds on which the Scottish parties would go to the country.

As we now know, all three opposition parties majored on the need to prevent a second referendum.  Tory billboards up and down the country, in all their leaflets, and in farmers fields said Vote for Bloggs, No Indyref 2.  The Lib Dem leaflets assured voters that only they could prevent one.  And Labour, despite its losses to the SNP in 2015 joined the anti-Indy chorus with a will.  As we can see from the final results, this joint approach also led to high level  tactics with a tacit agreement not to put too much effort into seats where the best chance of beating the SNP fell to another party.  And doubtless the SNP has employed similar strategies over time. But it all led not just to allowing 13 Scottish Tories to keep the mortally wounded PM and her austerity government in office, but to the kind of anti nationalist swings of the magnitude we saw in reverse in 2015.  The prodoundly unlikely is the new normal.

For those of us who support an independent Scotland this has all been a bit of a double whammy - thanks to the unexpected general election, the prospect of the next referendum has undoubtedly retreated further into the future. And we are having to live with the fact that a mini Tory revival in Scotland has not only saved Mrs May's partially singed bacon, but propelled her into the unlovely arms of the DUP - a motley crew of social conservatives and creationists. 

The arrival of a handful of Scottish Labour MP's is an interesting development, and, I would argue, down to the attractive nature of many of their manifesto policies and the unexpected development of Jeremy Corbyn rock star, rather than anything the fractious and fragmented Scottish Labour Party has done. As I have often argued before, the fact that the two left of centre parties in Scotland expend so much energy in often visceral loathing of each other does the country no favours whatsoever.  In a parallel world they could have seen off the Tory revival; the undoubted political skills of Ruth Davidson notwithstanding.

The other joint endeavour of the opposition was to raise, at every turn, their unhappiness with Holyrood and the Scottish government's record on  policies in areas which are fully devolved and nothing whatsoever to do with Wesminster and UK general elections. That tactic was cheefully echoed by broadcasters who should have known better in the various TV debates. But all's fair in war and elections, I guess.

However the point of heaving all this off my chest is merely to observe that the utlimate prize of working towards a successful, democratic, small European nation pursuing social justice and equality of opportunity is no less desirable this year than it was last. Or in the heady days of 2014.  I am not a party animal (not in the political sense anyway.)  But I am, and remain, connvinced of the merits of a Scottish independent nation, at peace with its neighbours and rejecting bellicosity elsewhere.  The events of June the 8th do nothing to sway me from that view.  Onwards and upwards.