Scotland’s First Minister, Ales Salmond, seems to be losing touch with time.
Following the UK Prime Minster’s speech earlier today, promising an ‘in or out’ referendum on our EU membership by the end of 2017. Mr Salmond is reported as having been crowing in triumph ever since.
He says that the Cameron statement knocks a huge chunk out of the argument against a Scottish independence referendum.
There is now, though, no argument against Scotland holding a referendum. It is being facilitated. The process has been agreed between the UK and the Scottish Government.
Then the First Minister went on to say that the Prime Minster was being accused of destabilising business in the UK by setting the EU referendum so far ahead, leading to ‘years of uncertainty’.
He mocked the UK government for having said earlier themselves that the Scottish Government was damaging potential business investment in Scotland by causing years of uncertainty with its own referendum.
He then grinned and said: ‘And our referendum’s next year’, as if he had only just called it.
The reality is that when it first came to power in Scotland as a minority administration in 2007, the SNP government promised a referendum on independence during that first term.
Then the banks collapsed in 2008.
Strategic intelligence indicated the sense of announcing quickly that, because of the international financial crisis, the Scottish Government would postpone the independence referendum until a later stage, in the interests of the UK as a whole.
Mr Salmond, however, hung on, hoping still to squeeze it in, failing to realise that the depth of the financial crisis was a major game changer.
When he did postpone it, much later, it was from a position of weakness in running out of time and did harm to his cause.
Then, after the 2011 Scottish election victory as, bucking the system, a majority government, the First Minister announced that there would be a referendum on independence during this term – but gave no date.
When he was forced to put a date on it and said it would be in 2014, Scotland was then looking at three years to the vote. In fact, Scotland, the UK and the business community had been waiting for this date since 2007.