Writer’s Block


I have to admit to sitting down today with a complete lack of inspiration.

Does this mean that I lack the drive, fervour and passion needed to ensure Scotland remains in the UK?

Not at all.

Far from it.

I still believe with all my heart and soul that the only healthy way forward is for a strong and united United Kingdom to continue its influence in the world into the 21st Century.

However I think what it means is that I took a reality check.

Let me explain.

This campaign looks set to run for a further two and a half years in the worst case scenario. That is a long time for a campaign to run – especially one so critical to the future of our nation.

This time line looks more and more likely since the Scottish Government has made public its terms of reference for any consultancy tendering for the analysis of their referendum consultation. The deadline for the successful consultancy to issue their report may have been pushed out so far that it effectively means the referendum on independence cannot be run until sometime in 2014 – probably the Autumn – unless the UK Government steps in and drives the process.

Is this deliberate? It is difficult to judge.

To put this into perspective, it will run for a period that is commensurate with a half a parliamentary term – whether that is a coalition UK Government or a Scottish Government parliamentary term. That is much much longer than the standard few weeks of a conventional parliamentary campaign and even then, I have to confess that, although my vote will still be made, I feel bored with the whole thing by the time I hit the ballot box in a normal election.

And so here we are – and two and a half years is a long time to keep up any sort of momentum – especially since there has been so much frantic activity over the past few months on the independence issue. Comments-a-plenty have been made and much posturing has taken place. It has been a great period to report on.

But can all this activity really continue at its present level?

As I sit pondering the subject of this editorial, I am actually wondering how everything can be kept up for the next two and a half years in this way. Just how many cutting edge editorials is it possible to write without being repetitive and losing the edge?
There are however more implications to a protracted time line than simply the length of time of the campaign.

Firstly there is a sense that things are “on hold” in Scotland. Business is adopting a “wait and see” approach which is directly affecting budgeting, planning and investment. As the world tries to recover from the credit crunch is this “limbo” scenario going to have a material impact on Scotland’s ability to recover from the effects of the debt crisis?

In our opinion it will.

Secondly we are facing two and a half years of government where our devolved administration seems to feel that its only aim and mandate is to prepare for an independence referendum if not independence itself. For most of us however this is not the main issue in our lives at the present. We are more interested in making ends meet, in making sure we have a job and just keeping our head generally above water in very difficult economic times.

Will this tie up our devolved civil servants in areas where they should be impartial and mean that day to day duties are left undone? Does this mean that nothing will be done by the Scottish government for two and half years to give effective aid and stimulus to the Scottish economy because they have an alternative priority?

Only time will tell.

As I said, I sit with writers block wondering how to tread water in a dynamic way for the next two and half years while trying to keep interest alive in the debate.

One thing is very clear though.

Two and a half years really is too long to wait to resolve Scotland’s future.