What’s Nicola’s game plan? Does she want #indyref2 or not? Will she call it or won’t she? Is her Holyrood Cabinet behind her? Are her Westminster MPs behind her? Is the Party of one mind or two – or more?
For the faithful, such questions are either dangerous or even shouldn’t be asked at all. Absolute loyalty and unquestioning trust is expected, even demanded. For non-SNP YES voters they are legitimate, but even there, some might consider them unwise.
Talking to people at Conference, where there is a certain pressure to show the flag and sustain a positive mood, there was a wariness to essay a view, but there were notable exceptions to this, including on the platform. There is by no means unanimity on Brexit and the single market, never mind on the strategy being pursued, and the Leavers among party members were a country mile away from recanting on their June 23rd vote, indeed the ones I talked to were resolute in defending their choice.
I do not claim to know the mind or negotiating game plan of Nicola – I can only speculate, based on her public statements going back to the 2015 Manifesto launch at the International Climbing Centre, the 2015 general election campaign, the 2016 Holyrood campaign, the 2016 Spring Conference and last week’s conference in the SECC Glasgow.
My speculative analysis was set out at some length on this blog and pursued on Twitter in the context of #indyref2.
But if you need certainty and reassurance, I can refer you to Wee Ginger Dug, Paul Kavanagh, who seems to know the mind of Nicola and expounds on it with total confidence in The National p16 October 19th – and he certainly expresses what large number of YES supporters want to believe, if my Twitter analysis of their tweets is accurate.
Paul’s analysis is what I too want to believe, but I lack his certainty because I believe it is inconsistent with much of what Nicola has said or signalled to date – as opposed to what many thought she said because that’s what they wanted to hear.
But I hope Paul is right – that Nicola is simply exhausting all avenues in seeking an accommodation on Scotland and the EU over Brexit with this appalling Tory Government and PM because she has to be seen to do so, but is in fact headed inexorably for #indyref2.
The scenario that terrifies me is that she is offered - and settles for - some kind of fudge on the single market, and in the process kills any prospect of Scotland’s independence for the foreseeable future - which is bleak and may get even bleaker.
I voted for independence and I voted for Scotland remaining in the European Union. I voted for a nuclear-free Scotland.
I know that Nicola wants all of these things and I hope that, with all her superb statesmanship and pragmatism, she keeps those three over-arching goals as her guiding beacons while juggling the realpolitik.