Thursday, 12 April 2018

Alea iacta est

There continues to be a huge debate about the timing of a second Scottish independence referendum, although it would appear that most supporters of Scottish independence would prefer it to take place before the next Scottish elections in 2021.  However, it remains to be seen whether the Scottish government will do so, especially with stalwarts of the Yes movement like Jim Sillars proclaiming very stringent conditions to be met before calling one.

Nicola Sturgeon has proved herself an excellent administrator and statesman, as have others in her government.  This is not a bad thing at this stage, as it has given people a sense that Scots are more than capable of running their own affairs (albeit currently in a limited way), as well as a politics quite different from that elsewhere in the UK.  The Unionists will, of course, sneer that everything isn't perfect under the SNP, conveniently forgetting that everything hasn't been perfect under their parties of choice either.  Nevertheless, people who are not tied to a particular party will likely now have some confidence in our abilities to do things for ourselves.

How does this relate to the second independence referendum?  Essentially because I don't get a sense from Nicola Sturgeon that she has the bold streak that will be required to go for it.  Let's face it, there will never be certainty.  There are too many people who will decide on the day which way to vote.

Imagine the scene.  Julius Caesar and his generals approach the Rubicon, knowing that to cross it will start a civil war.  They cannot be certain that they will win it.  Nevertheless, Caesar crosses the Rubicon and utters the phrase 'alea iacta est' (let the die be cast).  He can't be certain of victory, but is willing to play the odds with the information he has.

Imagine the scene.  Robert the Bruce is contemplating a battle with the English at Bannockburn.  He almost calls it off, but is told that morale in the English army is poor, so decides to go ahead with it.  He can't be certain he will win, but thinks that his chances are good enough to at least try.

Imagine the scene.  Henry V is at Agincourt, about to face a much larger French army.  He believes his Welsh archers will give him the advantage, but he cannot be certain of victory.  Nevertheless, he is sufficiently confident that he can win the day to go ahead with the battle anyway.

As far as another indyref, we can never be certain we can win it.  The best we can do is start with as much support as possible and try as best we can to convince enough floating voters to our side.  It requires, however, a leader with a certain boldness, willing to go all-in if they were a poker player.  This I am not certain the current leadership has.

What if we lose?  We don't give up.  It may be the next generation that has to take on the fight.  Fear of losing should not prevent us from trying however.  The lesson of history is quite clear on this, and we would do well to heed it.


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