The political news today is dominated by the Scottish Government’s timetable for the year and a half after a Yes victory in the looming referendum. This has, of course, invited charges of hubris and complacency from many in the press, not to mention comments that the SNP is happy to say when ‘Independence Day’ will be (March 31st) but not the actual referendum date.
These are all fairly low brow objections. The precise date of the referendum is not occupying the minds of anyone save perhaps the odd antsy journalist, and despite the suggestion that the SNP is planning ‘parties’, there is no such mention in the report released today. The Electoral Commission found that the public were uninformed as to what a Yes or a No result would mean and the SNP, for its part, is doing something about that.
Of course, one clear offshoot of today’s news is the indirect invitation for Scots to consider what would happen in the aftermath of a No victory. The unionist camp may be cleverly trying to paint this referendum as a choice between full independence and further powers, but there’s no Devo Max option on the ballot slip and it’s not difficult to imagine the current status quo remaining the status quo long after 2014 is done and dusted, the needle returning to the start of the song and us all muddling along as before.
Comparing and contrasting with the hint of national jubilation after a Yes vote, the extra bank holiday and the feel good factor of having delivered change may be seductive for many. Even the sight of Yes supporters proudly wearing their Yes t-shirts (once the weather warms up a bit) might start to turn a few minds. Will there be No t-shirts in parks up and down the country? Would that even be good PR if there was? It’s nice to feel like you are a part of something and it’s difficult to get excited about being part of ‘No’, irrespective of what that No entails.
So by laying out a post-referendum timetable to independence and subtly challenging our ambitions, the SNP is keeping up its positive agenda today and once again pushing the unionists onto the backfoot. After all, it begs the question, how would Scotland celebrate a No victory?