Unsurprisingly I suppose, Tony Blairs foray into the Brexit debate has been met with opprobrium from all sides, emphasising how completely he seems to have pissed off everyone across the political spectrum including his own party. His speech to Open Britain makes the case for a second EU referendum based on the first vote being made on incomplete and misleading information. On that he is undoubtedly correct but the chances of a second referendum are slim, as he himself acknowledges.
Commentators in the media and critics on social media laid into Blair citing his political record and the Iraq war as reasons to dismiss his speech without thought. Many also opined he was trying to rehabilitate himself or was making another bid for the EU presidency. All of which may be true. Interestingly a more concillatory tone was struck by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who said, “Not his biggest fan, but there’s a quality of analysis & argument in Blair’s speech today that has been totally lacking from Labour to date.” Now I have to say I’m not his greatest fan either, in fact I think as little of him as most people and for the same reasons. Had I just read the MSM and social media comments or heard just the brief clips shown on the news I would have as quickly dismissed him as others did. How easy it is to make a snap decision on something based on others tweets or a newspaper column when we don’t know the full facts and context of a speech, argument, meeting etc.
However by chance I had sat down to have something to eat and had switched on the TV just as Blair was starting his speech. I watched it all. To paraphrase the First Minister there was a quality of analysis & argument in Blair’s speech that has been totally lacking from any other source. It was beyond doubt the best analysis I had heard or read on Brexit. Whatever one might think about Blair it showed he is head and shoulders above the Mays, Johnstons, Davies and Foxs of the Brexiteers both intellectually and politically. It was hard hitting and wide ranging in its analysis. There was barely anything I could disagree with. He very lucidly captured the madness of the current situation as well as the consequences of a hard Brexit. He placed Brexit in the much wider political, economic and social context of the UK’s future. He lambasted the attempts of the Brexiteers to close down discussion by telling the rest of us to shut up and accept the result. He also identified, as has everyone else to be fair, that it makes Scottish independence more likely.
All very interesting Ken you might say, but why are you telling us this? Well we know that the EU will play a big part and quite possibly a central role in Indyref2. We also know that a large number of Yes voters have said they will switch to No in ref2 as they don’t want to be in the EU. I don’t trust what information we have on numbers but it is undoubtedly a constituency we need to and can win back. It simply isn’t logical to favour remaining in the UK as opposed to independence coupled with EU membership. But there has been a great deal in politics in the last year that defies logic or even self interest.
My own pet theory is that people in Scotland are just like the rest of the UK and have been bombarded for decades by the right wing press and the wider MSM with anti EU stories on economics, bureaucracy and immigration. So it’s not surprising that there will be a proportion of the populace believes it. As I posted in my blog, https://mackisimul.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/in-out-round-about-a-guide-to-the-eu-referendum-for-the-independent-scot/, before the EU ref, there is a very Scottish dimension to the advantages of EU membership. We have to get those arguments across to those who are are sympathetic to independence or previous Yes voters. That’s why I encourage all indy campaigners to watch the video of Blair’s speech as there is much useful info and argument that can be gleaned to use in the upcoming independence campaign, whenever it arrives. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/watch-full-tony-blairs-dramatic-9837758.
So don’t shoot the messenger until you have listened to the message. You can always shoot him later.