Compared to 2014, when Scotland was alive, the scene today is dreich: parties in Holyrood going through the motions; the SNP, a wee bit complacent, cantering towards victory, while Labour has already thrown in the towel.
What Scotland needs to come alive is people with fire in their bellies, life, energy, ideas, imagination, and will power. The political and cultural qualities that can lift us out of the rut we are in, and they are there for the tapping – if you the voters have the good sense to think outside the narrow box we were squashed back into by the defeat of independence.
I will cast my list vote for RISE, the new kid on the block, because it has has those qualities in spades. People like Cat Boyd in Glasgow and Colin Fox in the Lothians emerged from the referendum campaign full of ideas, and with the kind of commitment to the working class I thought had died with my generation.
In the coming Scottish Parliament election, RISE will be the only political organisation that will confront you with a truth full of future danger, and how we can rescue ourselves. That truth is about the Westminster election of 2020. With the boundary redistribution in England, the Tories will gain between twenty and twenty five more seats than they have now. Can we endure another Tory Government until 2025, and probably 2030? Can we put up with punitive policies that are presently depriving 30,000 disabled of their transport? l bet most people have not thought of 2020, but it is coming. We need to arm ourselves against it in the only way possible – starting a new drive to independence.
That, of course, begs the question ‘how’? Where is the mandate for a second independence referendum to come from if, as seems likely, it is not in the SNP manifesto?
Schedule 5 of the 1998 Scotland Act says the Tory government at Westminster has the power to grant or deny another referendum. Here we come to a clash between English principles of legality and a counter view, often expressed by our politicians, that the Scottish people are sovereign. In the 1953 case, where Scots contested Elizabeth’s ‘QEII’ title, one of our most eminent judges, Lord Cooper, said: “the principle of unlimited sovereignty of Parliament (he meant Westminster) is a distinctively English principle and has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law.” An important distinction.
Have a look in the mirror and ask what kind of nation are we? Will we go and beg a Tory Government to grant us a second referendum? What will we do when it says no? As the Proclaimer’s song ‘Cap in Hand’ challenges, will we boast and then cower?
RISE has the answer. If elected in May, their MSPs will table the following resolution:
“Bearing in mind its unique status having been elected by the people of Scotland, and recognising its prime responsibility is to respond to circumstances that effect the economic and social wellbeing of the nation it represents, the Scottish Parliament resolves to assert its right to a mandate to call for and achieve a second referendum on independence, at the time of its choosing, during the lifetime of this Parliament.”
That is imagination combined with will power, anchored in the sovereignty of the nation, using the Parliament for the People. That resolution can change political reality and overcome any legal impediment from Westminster. Will the SNP and Greens dare to vote against such a motion? Not if they are to retain their integrity.
But achieving independence is not just about tabling a resolution asserting the sovereign right of the Scots to decide if and when. That resolution has to be backed by a vigorous, sustained independence campaign from now until we drive the 45 per cent up to 60 per cent. There has been no such campaign. We are where we were on 18 September 2014.
RISE aims to marry that resolution to the kind of effort now needed to re-energise the Yes movement, and build the majority we need; and then and only then exercise the mandate contained within the resolution. Intelligent people, ideas well thought out. Worth your second vote.