Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle
– Sun Tzu, Chinese general and military strategist
This is the full quotation of the oft quoted phrase 'know thy enemy'. Now while we on the side of independence are not officially at war with the unionist cause, there is certainly an almighty metaphorical battle being waged at the moment for the hearts and minds of the Scottish people. To follow the above injunction, let's try for the moment to imagine ourselves in the mind of a Tory politician at Westminster. Not a pleasant or comfortable mental excursion, I agree, but for the sake of the argument let's try.
So first things first – we do not want Scotland to become an independent nation, for a number of reasons. Two of the main ones are: our shrinking (English, let's dispense with the 'British' pretence) empire, apart from the odd remote throwback such as Gibraltar and the Falklands, is down to the home nations, and an independent Scotland might well set in motion the break-up of the rest of the UK leaving an England on its own starting to look somewhat abandoned and isolated, our sphere of control greatly reduced.
Secondly, Scotland undoubtedly has assets we do not want to lose, primarily water and energy resources. We successfully snaffled their oil from under their noses and in the future water will be an even more important natural resource of theirs that we want to control, as well as the abundance of renewable energy sources that the Scots view as their own.
How then to stop this horrid secession attempt? It's a damnably tricky one actually since they'll all start yowling and yammering 'anti-democratic' if we play the Section 30 Order card and deny them their referendum. That could backfire badly, in fact resulting in a further swing in favour of the Yes movement. Let's not go there.
Let's instead allow them their referendum and bring out the big guns to help thwart it in the shape of Gordon Brown (it sticks in the throat, I know, but Labour is onside with us here), the BBC in general, and the likes of James Naughtie and Andrew Marr in particular (as many homegrown Scots of some standing as we can muster – NB at all costs keep Govie at arm's length, they really don't take to him in his home patch). We'll launch the full project again, scare them shitless, tell them their Barnett Formula is a charitable handout which they can kiss goodbye to, plunging them into poverty, assure them their pensions will become valueless as will their savings, etc – only stopping short of alien abductions of their newborns. The young won't buy it of course, but the oldies will be bolting for their panic rooms, as per last time.
Okay, so we don't like it, but the reality is they'll get their pesky referendum sooner or later. Which? It's a no brainer really. As soon as possible, of course. As I just mentioned, it's the oldies we can rely on and we don't want to leave it till they start falling off their perches in numbers, and meanwhile more of those youngsters start coming on the voting list with their 'progressive' ideas. No, let's get this hateful thing done, the quicker the better, while the balance is still roughly 50/50 and we know we can still swing it our way.
The final question then is how, since we can't very well come out and say 'bring it on now'? Luckily there are factions within the Yes movement and indeed within the SNP itself who absolutely want it to happen ASAP. In fact, they've been calling 'foul' for a while on the SNP Government for dragging their heels, as they see it, with the timing of calling for indyref2. Let's therefore do all we can to foment this unrest and our buddies in the media will be absolutely on board with us here. Sling general mud in the direction of the SNP as incompetents, do a double bluff by shouting loudly about them being only concerned with bringing on a divisive referendum; we, of course, as outlined, are all for this, but by seeming to resist it we'll whip up the fury of the impetuous crowd who want it right now and hopefully this forces the issue. Job done.
Okay, there's my best guess as to what might be going on in the Tory Westminster mind right now. Know thy enemy. If I'm anywhere near the truth, then by trying hard to get indyref2 in motion now or as soon as, we are surely playing right into the hands of the unionists. Another failed referendum, twice failed within the space of a few years – what a gift! You can just see the jubilant headlines, 'Scots people show their settled will – No to disastrous separation'. Then the whole thing, it would be safe to say, could be consigned to the dustbin, or at least to the distant land of 'maybe sometime in the future, who knows'.
We've been in this unequal union now for 300 plus years – let's not blow our chances of coming out of it by premature and impetuous action. Just wait till the figures are decisively in our favour, as in say 60/40, rather than risk all in a gamble. It won't be long.
If you would like to contribute to the Cafe, please email your comments to email@example.com