I often use the plane journey to and from my Orkney home to think about the plot for my current novel but today my mind, like that of many others, is taken up with the forthcoming referendum on Scottish Independence. I began to speculate on the plot of the referendum story and here is the synopsis for a putative publisher
Story opens in 2011 when despite a voting system designed not to produce a majority, the SNP, led by Alex Salmond, manage to do just that. They have the power to achieve their aims! Compromises with other parties are no longer necessary.
Alex, a former economist, is a skilled and wily politician. He has promised a referendum on independence, but he knows this is a much more complicated matter than it would first appear. There is the matter of currency for a start. However, he also knows he won’t win because the majority in the country is against independence.
He needs a blueprint for running an independent country. It has been their party policy for 80 years, but unfortunately no one has yet thought out the mechanics. However, that doesn’t matter because he will announce things as he thinks them up and rubbish anyone who contradicts him.
Scroll forward to 2014. The previous three years have seen a slow movement towards independence. This is good news. The narrower the defeat the better. Alex,keeps to his plan. The Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games don’t cause as much movement as hoped, but they have plans to woo disaffected Labour voters with talk of universal social justice and nuclear disarmament.
By late August, the gap is really narrow. Alex is extremely pleased as this gives him huge bargaining powers after the No vote. Devo Max is a certainty and there are no economic consequences for him to deal with. He will remain the people’s champion.
In early September, two weeks out from polling day disaster strikes. YES is ahead! As an economist, understands how currencies, businesses and investments work in the real world. He is unbelievably worried he might now have to preside over the lack of investment, the haemorrhaging of money and businesses to England, the brain drain, the loss of medical research facilities, the costs of setting up all the embassies and a DVLA and a passport office all sorts of other things that he has promised and will not have the funds to deliver.
But, to the First Minister’s relief, the UK parties promise big discussions about all sorts of new powers to happen immediately after a NO vote. This is what he has wanted all along. Now he only has to work out how to cause 5% of the population to change their mind.
He gets Christine Grahame, one of his loyal MSPs, to make a ridiculous statement that the wobble in the pound following the opinion poll was not due to the threat of Independence but was the fault of President Obama. He knows people don’t like it when he is smug and patronising, so he starts to be just these things in radio and TV interviews.
One week to go……
Now, here are the two possible scenarios…
Scenario 1: A few gaffes, a few leaked documents saying that there are doubts about how, as a government, they will cope with economic fall-out which will, of course, be denied but the seeds of doubt will be sown. A narrow defeat by 2 percentage points is achieved. The First Minister is still the hero of the people and he promises next time, they will succeed.
Scenario 2: Unfortunately Alex has miscalculated. The genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back in. Those whose hearts he has won with talk of social justice and a nuclear-free society where everyone learns to play a musical instrument, hate the rest of the UK and its politicians so much that none of them are willing to be swayed towards NO. A narrow victory for YES results and the First Minister’s political career like most political careers, ends in disaster several months on when the realities are finally understood by the electorate.
You choose the ending which appeals to you most.