I DON’T judge how people voted in the EU referendum. I am still guilty of indecisiveness. As I’ve said before, in a real vote on the EU, I am for Leave. If voting on the social attitudes of the respective campaigns, I’d vote Remain. The mainstream debate forces you, in essence, to choose between xenophobic nationalism and the neoliberal globalisation that gives rise to xenophobic nationalism. Clinton or Trump. Remain or Leave. Crisis now, or crisis in five years. This is the blackmail imposed on our whole global political debate, and Brexit is just one angle on it.

Generally, I am fully in favour of one-sidedness, but which side are we on here? The truth is, we had a side, but thanks to the Remain campaign, we are losing it. The radical left is being co-opted by corporate globalisation; the Scottish independence movement by the old neoliberal leadership of the British state, which is organising through the People’s Vote campaign.

READ MORE: This is why I won’t vote for Theresa May's rotten Brexit deal

It’s important to be clear about what’s really at stake. It’s a fascinating geopolitical event, and yes, it has real consequences, but ultimately I don’t want to belong to Britain, so my emotional involvement is inherently limited. What worries me is that elements of the radical left will abandon their critical faculties so readily, will lose sight of the failings of globalisation, and will make uncritical alliances with the people who brought us varying hardship. The riots in France last week offer further proof that simply rebooting EU-style neoliberalism will not work. We need a break with globalisation, to the left, otherwise, a break to the right is inevitable.

None of that negates the awfulness of the Brexiteers, or the clownishness of the negotiations. But let’s get a sense of proportion. The Brexiteers are a subordinate faction of the British elite; the dominant faction are Remainers.

Yet despite its dominance in most sectors of the UK elite, the People’s Vote isn’t guaranteed victory. It faces three huge hurdles. First, like anything else, can it secure a majority in the current, deadlocked Parliament? Second, agreeing on the terms of the referendum (the Remain campaign has made no effort on this front). Third, and no small matter, you’ve got to win a dirty campaign. Despite endless propaganda, opinions have barely shifted since 2016. If anything, older people have died, younger voters have replaced them, and maybe that’s enough for a Remain majority. Even then, it will never be enough to solve the democratic deficit any return to the EU would impose on British politics. That all assumes Remain wins; if they lose again, Brexiteers will rule the UK for the foreseeable future.

But let’s say everything goes to plan. Let’s say they clear every hurdle: it’s hardly unlikely, given that almost every previous vote against the EU has been ignored or overturned by the ruling groups. In the event of no General Election and come 2020, the people have opted to remain – politically, who wins? It would be a massive victory for the old-fashioned centrists in British politics, but what about the recent insurgent movements?

For obvious reasons, the right-wing populists would be enormously strengthened: victimised, forced into principled opposition, claiming to speak for 17 million voters overthrown by an unprincipled elite. For Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Farage and Tommy Robinson, that’s far better than the humdrum responsibilities of administering trade deals. It casts them in a role they will relish.

The National:

Boris Johnson's role would be strengthened 

Scotland could be one winner, measured by superficial numbers. The status quo would be restored, reflecting the wishes of 62% of voters, perhaps more today.

But for those of us who believe that Scottish independence is the only solution to Scotland’s democratic deficit, this is less obviously a victory. A people’s vote not only establishes an ugly precedent, it also plunges Scotland into an indefinite political darkness, as the ruling blocs in British politics tear each other to shreds.

I’ve written about the precedent problem before, and I’m far from alone in raising the problem. By signing up to the People’s Vote, Nicola Sturgeon has conceded that the sovereignty of a referendum is revocable if public opinion sways or markets panic due to the difficulties of negotiating a trade deal. And let’s remember, in this case, despite years of Tory blundering, actual public opinion barely shifted at all, and, despite Osborne’s promises, markets didn’t immediately crash on the day of Brexit.

Scottish independence might face a harsher environment. The “second vote” principle gives the successor state every incentive to block, mock, humiliate, sabotage and ultimately impose an awful deal. The EU’s Brexit negotiating stance shows how this can be done, and the British state will have learned lessons the hard way. Unless independence won a referendum with an overwhelming majority – say, 60% – we’d be constantly menaced by the people’s vote precedent.

The second problem is that a people’s vote puts Scottish politics at the mercy of events in Westminster, with the narrative dominated by inter-elite clashes and Scotland side-lined completely. Negotiating a people’s vote is no easier than negotiating Brexit. First, we’ve got a Tory leadership election. That will be a bloodbath, not a cakewalk. If it goes badly, Brexiteers get to set the agenda for what the vote will look like. If it goes “well”, you still face a gridlocked Parliament. Brexiteers will block at every turn. They will dispute every point, quibble every paragraph, impose every humiliation. Anyone who imagines this concluding in weeks hasn’t been paying attention.

Meanwhile, they’ll need to extend Article 50 by at least a year, assuming the EU states agree to that. Allow many months for negotiations, followed by an extended campaigning period agreeable to both sides. At current speeds, the chances of finalising all this in a year are limited. Even then, you’ve got the aftermath of any vote, and the inevitable battle for meaning. If Remain wins, renegotiating entry; if Leave wins again, which is equally likely, we are back to square one. Negotiate another deal, or prepare for no deal? The battles will rage.

During that period, nobody is talking about Scottish independence. We are forced, instead, into sham unity with the old neoliberal bloc of British politics, to fend off even uglier sentiments coming from the Farages of the world, who will be savouring every minute, win or lose.

As this drags on, the SNP’s opportunity for an independence vote slips away. Even in the unlikely circumstance that the people’s vote is over in a few months, we miss any opportunity for a referendum in the lifetime of this Parliament. Instead, we’ve got to return to the public, and ask for a new mandate. However, by this point, the public have had nearly a decade of divisive referendums: regardless of their feelings about the British elite, are they ready for another one?

Sturgeon’s best-case scenario is that, by 2020, Scotland remains in the EU. Of course, then her biggest argument for independence has disappeared, but on the other hand she will have earned kudos from middle-Scotland for putting the national interest first. However, we’ve then got to worry about our own petard.

We’ve just spent four years arguing that there is never an economic argument for breaking with your biggest trading partner. Unionists will be only too eager to remind us that our biggest trading partner is England. We’ve then got to convince a referendum-weary public that independence is worth the risk, after winning people to an argument that breaking trading blocs and geopolitical alliances always ends in disaster.

I can’t see a happy outcome. It makes no sense to sign up to a campaign representing one faction – the dominant faction – of Britain’s ruling political and economic elite. If you still believe that Scotland’s best interests are served by independence, then you mustn’t forget what that is for. Right now, we’re being puppeteered by the perpetrators of Iraq and austerity, the very people who plunged Britain into this dark age in the first place.