Since the 2016 Brexit referendum, uncertainty and pessimism have been the SNP’s strongest allies, allowing them to recover their electoral losses and encouraging them to stir up evermore grievance for their own advantage.
If they were really committed to European ideals and the common market, they would have supported Theresa May’s failed deal. However, they thrive on uncertainty. They were willing to sacrifice the stability, prosperity and social well-being of Scotland, and the UK, in pursuit of that uncertainty.
They played their cards, and now their bluff has been called. To their horror, the “vanishingly small” chance of getting a Brexit deal has come to fruition.
They knew that Brexit was a more significant concern to the Scottish electorate than Separation; they knew they could exploit the many concerns. They played the cards they dealt themselves as any political opportunists would. On the one hand, they cried wolf, and with the other hand, fed the wolf. But, they can’t do that any longer.
Some of you may remember the panic at the end of the last century, surrounding the “Y2K” scare, when the world realised that computer programs that had been written using only two digits to represent the year, made the years 1900 and 2000 indistinguishable. This computational timebomb, based on the incorrect display of dates, and the calculations based on those dates, was feared to cause global collapse and Armageddon. Nuclear weapons would explode in their silos, power grids would collapse, and satellites would fall from the sky.
Y2K fed a worldwide panic. A distant American cousin of mine spent the year beforehand building up a private arsenal that would make the military of a medium-sized country jealous. But then the millennium arrived, and the world didn’t end.
Y2K would have happened, just as a no-deal Brexit would have happened, had it not been for the tireless efforts of many people determined to prevent it. In Y2K’s case, programmers, governments and private individuals reprogramed the world’s computer systems, and though there were a few glitches on the 1st of January, 2000, the date and the fear passed faster than the hangovers we all had from welcoming in the new millennium.
Brexit will be much the same. Yes there will be some bumps in the road, a few misfiled forms, a few trucks slowed, and a few pet passports not applied for, but overall the date will pass with little significant change, as the world continues to grapple with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
However, just like the extortionist profiteers that prayed on the fears of many in the runup to Y2K, the SNP and associated Separatists and Nationalists will find themselves in a difficult spot when the dust settles and people realise they have been had.
The SNP has used the fear of Brexit, the uncertainty of the pandemic and the frustrations of millions of people impacted by them, to further their cause, as a doomsday cult promising salvation; “the end of the world is nigh”. That which propelled them is now draining away as the deal passes.
But all these, even COVID, will pass. At this article’s writing, over 600,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered so far, with projections for a further 200,000 per week. The Oxford vaccine, one not hampered by logistical issues, such as -70-degree storage, is now poised to be approved and will exponentially increase that number.
As the fear of these things pass, people’s attention will naturally focus on recovery. After nearly a decade of upheaval, voters are crying out for stability and solidarity. They will reject further division and uncertainty, knowing it can only harm our prospects of rebuilding from a period of social upheaval not seen since the end of the Second World War.
The SNP is in danger. Brexit is resolved. The pandemic is being tackled at home and abroad with evermore effective weapons. Grandstanding opportunities for free media attention and unchallenged directives, are rapidly passing.
As the pandemic and Brexit recede, only their scandals and their myriad failings will be exposed, like crabs left on the shore after the tide turns. As the SNP’s tools are stripped from them, the UK government will have a lot more time and resources to devote to defeating them. They are primed with success, having pulled off an ‘impossible’ feat. Nationalists will no longer be able to use our darkest hour to hide.
I leave you with this thought. In 1945 Winston Churchill may well have felt very confident about his chances of re-election. After leading the nation through the war to defeat Western Axis powers, with the Japanese posited to follow, to many he would have seemed untouchable. Yet, he lost, and a new government concluded the war and built the Britain we know and cherish today, from the ashes of six years of destruction.
The SNP now find themselves in much the same position, and they know it.
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