A Dangerous Narrative

Lost amid the clamour of ‘Advice for the SNP’ articles – plus, of course, carnage in London, the Brexit fiasco and chaos at the heart of the UK system – one striking event since the General Election has gone almost unremarked upon: the erosion of Scottish democracy.

Make no mistake, the narrative which has been established by the Unionist parties – trialed the very moment polls showed losses for the SNP – sets a dangerous precedent, marking a potentially grave turning-point in Scottish history.

First, a recap.

May 2016: the SNP run for the Scottish Parliament on a manifesto of a second independence referendum, if there is “a significant and material change of the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.” The SNP win that election by a minority, but Green support ensures a pro-independence majority in Holyrood.

June 2016: the UK narrowly votes to Leave the EU but 62% of Scots elect to Remain, triggering the “material change of circumstances”.

March 2017: after various Scottish Government proposals allowing Scotland to stay in both the UK and EU are thwarted by Theresa May, the Scottish Parliament passes a bill for a second independence referendum by a majority of 69 to 59.

May 2017: the SNP publish their manifesto for the UK election which states that “if the SNP wins a majority of Scottish seats, that would complete a triple lock [on the referendum], further reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists.”

June 2017: the SNP win 35 out of 59 Scottish seats, a clear majority. The mandate is thus triple-locked.

The legal situation, as we can see, is clear and watertight. At each step the SNP have been open about their intentions, have followed democratic procedures, and have obeyed the wishes of the Scottish electorate. The Unionist parties then, in denying the SNP’s mandate, are engaging in a coup.

Their narrative runs thus: the SNP losing 21 seats in this year’s General Election, combined with a 62% vote share for anti-independence parties, means that, in the words of Ruth Davidson, ‘indyref 2 is dead’. Cue applause not only from the right-wing media but the left. The Observer, with no reference to the facts whatsoever, has declared that ‘the independence question is settled.’ Even when it is accepted that the SNP’s total of 35 of 59 seats is more than that of the Unionist parties’ combined it is done so dismissively, as though such a thing barely matters. Gerry Hassan, in his recent assessment, placed inverted commas around the word ‘won’, implying that the SNP’s victory was ambiguous and not factual.

Of course the General Election was a serious loss of momentum for them. Of course lessons need to be learned about the party’s flawed pitch to the electorate, about how they deal with threats on both right and left flanks. One can agree with this without translating it to a loss of support for independence – which has held steady since 2014 at 45-48% in opinion polls – nor a nulling of the Scottish Government’s democratic mandate.

To do so means that the accepted benchmark for victory under First Past the Post – winning the most amount of seats – and the agreed route of passing legislation in the Scottish Parliament – by majority – have been suddenly and arbitarily discounted in favour of ‘vote share’.

Scottish democracy, in effect, has just been rewritten without any of us being consulted, or even noticing.

By the Unionist parties’ definition, as James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop has pointed out, the Tories had no right to implement their manifesto after 2015, on 37% of the vote, nor did Labour between 2005 and 2010, on 35%.

Do we now see the absurdity of their argument?

Let’s get the SNP’s 2017 election into perspective. Yes, they lost votes and seats – they were always going to since that impossible high of 2015 – but so did Tony Blair over three elections between 1997 and 2005, despite a weak Conservative opposition and the broad support of much of the press. My recall, however, is that commentators ignored these losses in the face of an unprecented triumvirate of wins for a Labour PM.

Shall we talk unprecedented? 2015, a mere two years ago, was the first time the SNP achieved a majority of Scottish seats in a UK election (equivalent, for Margaret Thatcher, of a declaration of Scottish independence). They have done so again. This comes against the backdrop of three successive victories in Holyrood and a recent council election win, all while facing relentless media hostility plus opposition parties united and co-operating with each other against them. If we are being told this is calamitous for independence then why were three Blair victories on the trot – with reduced vote-share each time – considered remarkable for the Labour movement?

All of this is classic Doublethink: victory is defeat, defeat is victory. The parties which came second and third in the Scottish results this year have been deemed the successful. According to the BBC’s Brian Taylor, Ruth Davidson ‘won’ in Scotland. Julia Rampen in The New Statesman proclaimed Kezia Dugdale’s ‘quiet victory’.

Again, some perspective.

Of 59 Scottish seats these ‘winners’ claimed a mere thirteen and seven respectively. In contrast, two elections ago, Labour held FORTY-ONE. Their vote-share in Scotland has gone up by 2.8% from 2015. The very ‘quietest’ of victories, then?

The Conservatives’ new 28.6% Scottish vote-share meanwhile – hailed as miraculous – is less than Margaret Thatcher won north of the border in 1979, identical to her 1983 result, and only marginally higher than what she managed in 1987 and John Major in 1992, a period which Scottish history books have interpreted as united opposition to Conservatism. Yet such a result for Davidson proves the Scottish Tories are thriving?

It might be easy to write these machinations off as political spin (which they are) were the repercussions not so dire. Short of an impossibly high bar – yet another majority in Holyrood? repeating the 2015 total of Westminster seats? plus an immense share of the popular vote? – Scots are now being told there is simply no way to democratically bring about a second independence referendum.

Pause, go back, and read that again.

The Scottish Parliament has already passed a Bill for a second referendum. If this is being disregarded then we’re witnessing a fatal and historic cancelling of Holyrood’s authority by Scotland’s Unionists.

“It might be easy to write these machinations off as political spin (which they are) were the repercussions not so dire. Short of an impossibly high bar – yet another majority in Holyrood? repeating the 2015 total of Westminster seats? plus an immense share of the popular vote? – Scots are now being told there is simply no way to democratically bring about a second independence referendum.”

It would’ve been such an easy sell for them: “We still oppose independence, and will continue to campaign as such, but we recognise the will of the Scottish Parliament.” This could’ve allowed them to seem proudly British but also respectful of Scotland’s democratic institutions. Why have they chosen not to? Because their goal, quite simply, is to weaken Holyrood as a political force in the eyes of the Scottish electorate, to undermine it forever as a means of enabling independence.

Their talk about the will of the people is a red herring. They were never going to allow another referendum. They’ve told us so. Ruth Davidson was asked before the General Election if a 50%+ vote share for the SNP in Scotland secured their mandate. She said no. Kezia Dugdale, in the run-up to the Holyrood election of 2016, was quizzed by Bernard Ponsonby: ‘If the First Minister in her manifesto seeks a mandate for a second referendum, gets a mandate for it, will you respect that?’ She said no.

Where were the thundering broadsheet opinion pieces denouncing this betrayal of the Scottish people? Their absence should’ve alerted us. The subtle recasting of the SNP’s General Election win into a defeat is the second shoe falling on Scottish democracy.

Of course, Unionists will claim that it is their vote which is not being observed. Scotland said No in 2014, after all, and NO MEANS NO. But this argument is facile (and comically undercut by the Lib Dems demanding a second EU referendum, and Kezia Dugdale calling for the 2017 General Election to be re-run, because they didn’t get the results they wanted). Quite obviously the No vote was respected. Scotland is still in the UK. What Unionists are attempting now would be equivalent to Alex Salmond declaring independence on Sept 19th 2014 after defeat.

Time and the democratic will move on. Whether Unionists like it or not, Scots have voted to have another say on the independence question. Opinion polls (or ones without very leading questions) bear this out.

The Scottish Parliament has decreed that a referendum will be held when the Brexit settlement is clear. That is eminently sensible, given how disastrous Brexit is set to be. Scots may or may not vote No again, may or may not remain in the United Kingdom, but if this referendum does not take place, under pressure from Unionists, then not only will independence be nullified but so too will Holyrood as a forum for Scottish popular will. A ‘quiet victory’ indeed.

We must hold the line.

Comments (87)

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  1. Chris says:

    Thank you for this Alan.
    I have become dismayed by Gerry Hassan, particularly recently. I really enjoy his writing normally but cant quite get this narrative of the SNP somehow losing the election.
    To my mind Indy has never been more urgent. The Tories, propped up by the DUP, is a bizarre combination. I think we all need a breather and for the yes movement to get active again without politicians. To that end I am looking forward to proposals from the Independence Convention and CommonWeal. The mandate stands for the duration of this parliament. Bat it back to Westminster. tell them we are ready to go on a referendum after Brexit but it is now for Westminster to agree it, Tell them for the moment it is out of the Scottish Governments hands and is in the hands of Westminster. leave the ball in their court. Let the SNP get on with Government and let the people agitate for a referendum. The BBC cant protect Ruth forever and there is no soft or hard brexit just various degrees of damage. Labour backbenchers are already after Corbyn, who is no friend of a “soft brexit” anyway. The Yes movement and the SNP and the Greens just really need to hold their nerve here.

  2. Crubag says:

    “The legal situation, as we can see, is clear and watertight.”

    It’s a political situation, rather than a legal one – the constitution (!) being a reserved matter. I think the SNP have the political capital to push for a second referendum – but I don’t think they want to at the moment. Vote share matters here more than FPTP as this might be an indication of how another referendum would go.

    Certainly the polls aren’t showing the 60%ish level that was thought to be needed to make another push, and Brexit hasn’t proved a defining issue – Scots seem ambivalent about EU membership, the EU isn’t helping, and Brexit negotiations will take a long time to work out. If there is a border in Ireland, etc. then that will be a factor in any Scotland/England arrangement – assuming the SNP still push for EU membership.

  3. bringiton says:

    It all comes down to who has the right to determine Scotland’s constitutional future.
    The people of Scotland or Westminster.
    The unionists are claiming that only Westminster has that right which supports their underlying narrative that Scotland is no longer a country/nation.
    Their election “manifesto” for Westminster was not about independence per se but about who has the right to determine that.
    Can’t believe that the majority of Scots would cede that right to Westminster or meekly stand bye as the powers of our democratically elected parliament are “repatriated” to London.
    Hope not.

  4. Willie says:

    What this narrative brings in to clear focus is that in pursuing a democratic and transparent agenda, the SNP, the Scottish government, and indeed the Scottish electorate, have had their electoral choice traduced through the relentless propaganda of the BBC and the MSN.

    Voting in a Scotland is a frivolity. It counts for nothing. It changes nothing. It is ignored. That is the way it works in a colony, and ultimately, folks will just have to suck it up.

    In many respects, a bit like the ” unknown ” numbers who perished in Grenfell. Airbrushed out of existence, with the true horror minimised, it is the same malign establishment that disregards and traduced the voting intention. in Scotland.

    1. Alastair McIver says:

      We’re disgruntled. They’re dead. Some perspective, please, and some respect.

      1. John says:

        I take Willies point , I don’t think he was being disrespectful , just looking for a comparison . I think he means everything is manipulated by UK government and MSM and I wholeheartedly agree , we will never know how many people died in that fire , but I imagine it is probably at least double what they are telling us it is .

      2. Alf Baird says:

        Alastair, aside from what appears to be catastrophic market failure in an overly deregulated housing market, for another relevant ‘perspective’, there are estimated to be some 30,000 ‘excess deaths’ a year in England and Wales due to Tory cuts, according to Oxford University research. Willie is therefore right to raise concerns about the ‘cost’ of Westminster policies more generally; ongoing Westminster cuts will certainly adversely impact a powerless colony like Scotland. Those seeking to thwart the independence of Scotland, thereby consigning our society to ongoing Westminster cuts, should be aware that this is also likely to contribute to ‘excess deaths’ here in Scotland. We will not be immune from Tory medicine. Independence is therefore a matter of life or death for many people, much as it has been over decades of Westminster mis-rule previously, i.e. through the years of mass emigration, de-industrialisation, mass unemployment, poverty and now austerity, with poverty rising again.

  5. Ian says:

    The article makes a really good point. The challenge for supporters of independence is that we need Scottish democracy to flourish (as it did in 2014) whereas the unionist position actually benefits from it withering.

    I think there is a deliberate and willful effort to confuse Scottish democracy and undermine it by doing so. If unionists can create even chaos and uncertainty then they will ‘win’ because an electorate that is misinformed and confused will not have the confidence to vote for independence. I think many ordinary folks are confused by stuff like this….
    When the unionists turn the council election into a proxy vote on indy – they are undermining local democracy.
    When the unionists and the media put devolved issues centre stage in a GE campaign (e.g. education)- they are seeking to confuse and misinform the electorate about who and what they are voting for. Ironically, not one of these new unionist MPs has any power over Scottish education because they are going to Westminster.
    When the Tories make a GE manifesto commitment to keep winter fuel payments in Scotland (presumably using the Scottish budget) – they are confusing the electorate by making a promise that only the Scottish Government has authority to implement.

    I am not convinced about the Scottish leaders debates in the GE campaign. I think this adds to the confusion because all the leaders are MSPs and not standing in this election. Suddenly the focus is put on the SNPs record in Holyrood, rather than what the SNP has done in Westminster.

    1. Calum MacRae says:

      On all counts, the union succeeds if Scotland fails.

      – Lack of self confidence, votes drift to the unionists.

      – Economy does badly (or reported as doing so), votes drift to the unionists.

      – Public services doing badly (or perception rather than reality due to press plus shrinking budgets under austerity), votes drift to the unionists.

      – Bad news stories in general, the press & bbc present tenuous links to SNP (e.g. shoddy buiding of schools), votes drift to the unionists.

      Conversely if Scotland succeeds, peoples confidence and self esteem rise, votes go to SNP.

      That’s the key, a positve vision for Scotland!

      All in all we have seen the way the press will treat us going forward, there is no positive vision from the press for Scotland. Meanwhile we are treated like fools when they tell us of this brave new world that involves trading with others outside of the EU. Something that the uk has been doing, but without the success of others since joing the EU.

      What other nation on earth could be manipulated in to believing a vote on their future at an important point in two years time would be bad for them?

  6. jack elliot says:

    What is really lacking is choice

    and where is Scotland will live

    Westminster led by cowboys

    Leads us into the wild west.

    http://jackelliot.over-blog.com/2017/06/you-choose.html


  7. Mark Rowantree says:

    Bottom line as Alan Bisset shows, that there has been a concerted effort by all the Unionist parties to delegitimise Scotland’s democratically elected parliament.

    1. e.j. churchill says:

      Well, that is what he ASSERTS, dunno about ‘shows,’ but so what?

      This is politics, not beanbag.

      rgds,

  8. Peter says:

    The fact that the Unionist politicians in Scotland are trying so hard to shut down the idea of a second independence referendum tells us all we need to know and gives us encouragement (methinks they do protest too much). If they believed they would comfortably win another referendum, they would just remain silent, keep their heads down, avoid “frightening the horses” and think to themselves “OK, let them have another referendum, and when they lose again perhaps this time they really will shut up and go away” (We wouldn’t, but that’s by the way !)
    The very fact that they are making so much fuss about “why don’t the SNP get the message – no one wants another referendum” is clear evidence that they (unionists) are the ones who don’t want it, because they believe they’d lose !
    However, this could all backfire on them in due course; keep the faith – to quote the Bard out of context “it’s coming yet for a’ that !”

  9. Andrew Aird says:

    There is a simple solution to this. Scotland goes to the polls in 2021. Why not declare this election as a proxy for an independence vote. The argument goes like this, democratically elected Scots parliament asked Westminster for Indyref2 – Westminster said no. The “most powerful devolved parliament in the world” legally can’t just go ahead regardless so use the election we already have coming. If pro independence parties win a majority at Holyrood in 2021 we should announce UDI based on having told voters that’s what will happen if we win. Simples

  10. Peter Curran says:

    Alan, you say “The Scottish Parliament has decreed that a referendum will be held when the Brexit settlement is clear.”

    If the Scottish Parliament had in fact “decreed that a referendum will be held when the Brexit settlement is clear” that referendum would de facto be a referendum on the validity of that deal alone: calling it would be automatic, whatever the deal, whatever the status of the single market, the Customs Union etc. The delay in launching a campaign and naming a referendum date would merely have been to give the UK negotiating team freedom to secure a deal without a parallel campaign distracting them from the business in hand (which in my view is misconceived, strategically and tactically.)

    What I believe is that SNP/Green position is that they have secured from a divided and reluctant Scottish Parliament enabling legislation, but see it as an open mandate to call one after they have looked at the outcome of the Brexit process, i.e. SNP/Greens looked at it and evaluated it. That is not decreeing that one WILL be held – it’s a back pocket post-dated cheque they are not obliged to cash.

    There is nothing automatic about the legislation, nor about SNP/Green intent – it is conditional on a judgement being made on that deal. It is abundantly clear, from statements made explicitly, and questions avoided deliberately, that the Scottish Government is willing to trade a referendum for a single market deal, or even less. They have retreated a country mile from their position of Scotland remaining in EU (see manifesto wording).

    In my view a date for the #indyref2 ballot date should be specified now for end of April 2019, two years from the triggering of Article 50, i.e. the EU deadline plus a few. The #indyref2 campaign should be launched immediately and the confrontation over UK blocking of enabling legislation and an Edinburgh Agreement Mark Two squarely faced down.

  11. Paddy Mac says:

    Yes ironic that England saber rattled about them having final say in the ind ref, yet they didnt allow the eu to have the same Veto. We should create a thermometer that tallies up ind voteing intentions. That is published on Bella C, and able to be shared on social media. As BC is a concrete platform to show MSM our intentions.

  12. Heartsupwards says:

    Alan Bissett says,”This could’ve allowed them to seem proudly British but also respectful of Scotland’s democratic institutions. Why have they chosen not to? Because their goal, quite simply, is to weaken Holyrood as a political force in the eyes of the Scottish electorate, to undermine it forever as a means of enabling independence.”

    In a longer game, weakening Holyrood as a political force, and the other two devolved governments of the UK, will become the argument for the dismantling of the devolved governments post EU law enforcement. Insurgence bottled. Or they will simply lay as an expensive non-event like when Labour Lord McConnell gave Westminster an easy time.
    By the time that the next independence referendum comes around there will be so many English born people living here that a YES vote will be the ship that has long sailed. We can begin the blame game for that now as the once council tenants who bought and sold their English gold who couldn’t see Thatcher’s trick for their greed.
    At least Gerry Hassan can prod the dreaming rose tinted specs mob out of a slumber. There will be no Scottish Independence without some kind of fight, of that I am fairly certain.

    1. AlexK says:

      “We can begin the blame game for that now as the once council tenants who bought and sold their English gold who couldn’t see Thatcher’s trick for their greed.”

      Thatcher offered them the dream of owning their own home. I cannot agree it was (just) greed. For many it must have been a dream come true, one which turned a bit sour for the greedy when they found they could not sell the properties as building societies do not lend on ex council properties.

      Councils often treated their tenants like a captive population, not even letting them paint their front doors a different colour. Being abloe to do what they wanted in their own home must have been a very tempting prospect.

      Or were you being sarcastic?

      1. Heartsupwards says:

        AlexK, thank you for you answer and, no, I’m afraid I wasn’t being sarcastic.
        Thatcher’s government took responsibility for selling much of the family silver (our silver! (grandparents, parents, sons, grandsons, etc.)). It may have been packaged as a (very short term (not long game)) dream of owning your own home (on a giveaway discount- too good to be true-irresistible-kerching for the buyer). The UK establishment don’t do short game giveaways. They do do long game strategy. Scottish Independence had only just been headed off at the pass in the 70’s (It’s Scotlands Oil). How do we change the Scots from undoubtedly going in that direction? We don’t, we change the populace. How do we get non-scots to move there? We change the housing policy and allow for multitudes of homes, in the decades to come, to be available.
        Ireland saw this Westminster strategy and changed their policy to halt the silent colonisation by the back door. Look at the rules to build or buy a home per county in Ireland. There are good reasons for the restrictions.

  13. Peter Curran says:

    Alan, you say “The Scottish Parliament has decreed that a referendum will be held when the Brexit settlement is clear.”
    If the Scottish Parliament had in fact “decreed that a referendum will be held when the Brexit settlement is clear” that referendum would de facto be a referendum on the validity of that deal alone: calling it would be automatic, whatever the deal, whatever the status of the single market, the Customs Union etc. The delay in launching a campaign and naming a referendum date would merely have been to give the UK negotiating team freedom to secure a deal without a parallel campaign distracting them from the business in hand (which in my view is misconceived, strategically and tactically.)
    What I believe is that SNP/Green position is that they have secured from a divided and reluctant Scottish Parliament enabling legislation, but see it as an open mandate to call one after they have looked at the outcome of the Brexit process, i.e. SNP/Greens looked at it and evaluated it. That is not decreeing that one WILL be held – it’s a back pocket post-dated cheque they are not obliged to cash.
    There is nothing automatic about the legislation, nor about SNP/Green intent – it is conditional on a judgement being made on that deal. It is abundantly clear, from statements made explicitly, and questions avoided deliberately, that the Scottish Government is willing to trade a referendum for a single market deal, or even less. They have retreated a country mile from their position of Scotland remaining in EU (see manifesto wording).
    In my view a date for the #indyref2 ballot date should be specified now for end of April 2019, two years from the triggering of Article 50, i.e. the EU deadline plus a few. The #indyref2 campaign should be launched immediately and the confrontation over UK blocking of enabling legislation and an Edinburgh Agreement Mark Two squarely faced down.

    (see various blog since summer 2016 on this topic https://moriduraalt.blogspot.com )

  14. 1 0f 100 says:

    And what happens when the democratic route to independence is not possible, when democracy itself is taken from us (or shown not to exist except where England allows?) The English know what they are doing. They know what will happen, but a war in Scotland is the price they are prepared to pay, especially since it will be Scots dying.

  15. Valerie says:

    Great piece, Alan, there is no doubt that the election results have provided a new platform for the Unionist parties to ply this dangerous nonsense, and SNP are rightly just playing low key for now.

    For those in any doubt about Mays intentions, the Conservative graphic setting out objectives for Brexit, at no. 3 – strengthening the Union. What has that to do with Brexit? That’s an internal matter. It shows they obsess about every action being geared to neutering Scotland, and we know why.

    The Great Repeal bill will set out the necessity to take back powers from EU, that could come to Scotland, such as Fisheries, into London control for ‘strategic’ purposes. Rejigging of any farmers subsidies will penalise Scotland. Either Barnet or something to do with powers, to justify reducing the Scottish bloc Grant will be enacted, all under the ‘one nation’ banner.

    With the impacts of Brexit biting deeper, this country is headed for the rocks. It could have all been so different.

  16. Monty says:

    The Conservatives are currently claiming over 80% public support for Brexit based on combining the votes of the Labour and Conservatives. This is of course nonsense. The SNP currently don’t either want to take Indyref 2 off the table even though it would have the side effect of hammering down the Tory vote as it would have many of their own supporters up in arms or press on with it as it is annoying a lot of their softer voters and they might very well not win the referendum. Indyref 2 is now causing the SNP similar types of problems as it has caused for Scottish Labour in the past. Suspect they wish they and everyone else would quietly forget about it for a while and then it could be brought back into play when Brexit goes wrong.

  17. Alf Baird says:

    The article reinforces the fact there is no such thing as “Scottish democracy” under current colonial arrangements, where Scotland’s voice is blatantly ignored (for both EU remain and Indyref2 decisions, as well as EVEL, the UK Supreme Court, the Holyrood puppet parliament, media manipulation, plus numerous other breaches of Treaty/Acts of Union). The only option now available to Scots is for Scotland’s elected majorities at UK, Scotland, and local government levels to give notice to end the union of parliaments; it is after all merely an administrative union, our nations were never dissolved (despite some English Tories thinking Scotland was), and in Scotland sovereignty rests with the people, never with Westminster, nor with any parliament for that matter. 2-3 years should be enough, to take matters through the UN, who may or may not request a referendum to ratify independence, overriding Westminster’s intransigence. A second referendum has increasing risk, however, given census data that 70,000+ more cultural ‘No’ voters have been and still are coming north over the border to live in Scotland each year (over 1 million people in the last 20 years), which suggests far more careful attention needs to be paid to the voting franchise, and much as the UN itself would advocate in any decolonization process anywhere. So, let Scotland’s elected majorities take this to the UN, as former ambassador Craig Murray advocated some time ago (ideally he should be leading this strategy, if the SNP had any sense), and as most former colonies have done and had to do over the past several decades. This strategy would also let the world see that Scotland means to throw off its colonial chains and will not be mucked about by an undemocratic cabal of privileged thugs and their vested interests, and it would also no doubt embarrass Westminster, and its global image.

    1. Douglas Scott says:

      Great comments, especially the point about Craig Murray.
      If that were to happen. Hopefully he would select you as his deputy

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Douglas, you are right to appreciate, as I and many others do, that Craig Murray is an enormous asset to Scotland’s independence movement. As Ian Hamilton QC, another enormous asset to Scotland’s independence movement, said, Scotland’s greatest asset is our people. But we need to use the expertise of our people far more than the SNP has been doing. Scotland’s case for independence will end up at the United Nations door at some point, and this might as well be now, and more especially given the consistent electoral majorities in favour of independence. Despite these electoral majorities there is now extensive evidence that Scotland and its people continue to be treated like an oppressed colony. The UN is committed to ending ‘the scourge of colonialism’ and we should therefore make use of that commitment. Nicola and the SNP should have a Scotland delegation heading to the UN now. Relying only on the disrespectful whims and constitutional mischief of our English Tory maisters is clearly not in the best interests of Scotland.

        1. Graham says:

          Alf, reference your point about cultural No voters, while reading the comments here I stumbled across a 20 minute Youtube clip of random responses on the streets of Glasgow to the prospect of Indyref2. It’s worth viewing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md_5gfHLBv8

        2. Geacher says:

          “Scotland’s case for independence will end up at the United Nations door at some point, and this might as well be now, and more especially given the consistent electoral majorities in favour of independence.”
          Hahahahahahahaha…. man this is better than Tommy Cooper, it really is….. “United nations”….. “electoral majorities”…… keep it up Alf, very amusing.

          1. Alf Baird says:

            You are right to laugh, Geacher, because for two general elections now Scotland has voted for a majority of MP’s who claim to be in favour of Scottish independence, yet who have still to give notice to end the union of parliaments, as they are entitled to do, more especially as the Holyrood mandated indyref2 has been refused, and Scotland’s EU remain vote ignored. Nevertheless, independence will happen, as Tommy Cooper might say ‘just like that’! Constitutionally, all Nicola’s 35 MP’s need do is give notice to end the union of parliaments in the same way it began, i.e. through a majority of Scotland’s MP’s, which would be further confirmed by the independence majority at Holyrood.

            Thanks for the video link Graham, very interesting.

        3. Geacher says:

          Alf, that is absolute nonsense. It beggars belief that you can even contemplate a situation whereupon a party that has just lost nigh on half a million votes and 21 seats and only has the support of less than 25% of the electorate can turn up a say “That’s it, we’re off.”
          You need, really need to get real.

          1. Alf Baird says:

            The Tories lost a lot more seats than the SNP and they are still in Downing St, and they continue to rule over Scotland with the support of only around 15% of the Scottish electorate. Democracy UK style is a majority of seats, nothing else. The SNP and independence camp have a Scottish majority of MP’s and MSP’s, and in local government too. This is more than sufficient to give notice to end the union of parliaments in the same way it began.

  18. Big Jock says:

    It looks to me like London is going down the Madrid route. They are basically denying that the people of Scotland and Catalonia have a right to self determination. Madrid have held this line for decades but their will is slowly being crumbled by people power.

    It’s unsustainable to deny a country it’s democracy. It may be a short term measure to buy more time. However what it also buys is resentment and anger. It’s unhealthy for both sides but long term it will hurt Westminster more than Scotland.

    We will have our referendum. We may have to go through three courts to get it , but nothing will stop the tide.

    The unionists are trying to create an illusion of public opinion against independence. They get their message out through the media and rely on the population to start believing the lie. That’s the most dangerous part of this. Indi supporters may believe it’s already over. That’s what they want , it’s what they need to kill our souls.

    The truth is independence support is not restricted to one party. It’s shared by some members of all parties, even the Tories. People are voting for parties not for the union when they vote Labour or Lib.

    I vote SNP , but I don’t believe in Nato or the monarchy. Never assume everyone is the same. They know this, the press know this but this is a game to them to see who blinks first.

    Some independence commentators like Gerry Hassan and others blinked on June the 9th. Nicola hasn’t blinked once!

  19. Dougie says:

    Thank you for this Alan. It’s quite the most measured and useful analysis of where we are now that I’ve read. Eric Blair must indeed be turning in his grave at the extend to which newspeak is now blighting political discourse in the UK, and your clinical examination of how this is affecting Scotland is most welcome.

    We need to gather our breaths, and think carefully on your words, before we seek to articulate how best to take ourselves forward politically.

  20. Geacher says:

    Erm, this article has a lie at the very centre…”Their talk about the will of the people is a red herring. They were never going to allow another referendum. They’ve told us so.” Nobody in Government has said that there will not be another independence referendum, they have said not in the time scale demanded by Sturgeon. Big difference. What Davidson is saying that in her opinion Indyref2 is dead, an opinion shared by Jim Sillars, Kenny MacAskill, Alex Neil & Alex Bell… oh and Tommy Sheppard now it seems.

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      So what are your thoughts on both Davidson and Dugdale saying that the Scottish Govt would not have a mandate even if given one by the electorate – even on over half of the vote share?

      (also Tommy Shepherd has said there should be a referendum when the Brexit terms are known, which is exactly Sturgeon’s position)

      1. Geacher says:

        Davidson and Dugdale are not in any position to decree whether there will be a referendum or not. Any personal opinion that they may have (ie Indyref 2 is dead) is just that, a personal opinion. Until the PM makes an official announcement that says *no referendum* then your piece is just conjecture. What I really really fail to understand however is given the apparent disastrous loss of support for the SNP as a party, why are so many people so keen to push for indyref2? Sturgeon and Swinney have both admitted that the push for another divisive referendum cost the party countless votes in the GE, and if a referendum was to be granted now and held in 2019, you would lose.
        Finally, Sturgeon and Sheppard are not in agreement. Sturgeon wants permission for indyref 2 granted now so she can have the referendum in 2019. Sheppard (wisely) wants to WAIT until 2019 to see the terms of brexit before committing to another referendum. It is a subtle difference, but one you should really be aware of.

      2. Geacher says:

        Alan, I would draw your attention to this line also :”Scots are now being told there is simply no way to democratically bring about a second independence referendum” Who in authority has said that? No one. If you are going to go down the Davidson/Dugdale route again, I could, with the same logic write “The SNP do not want another referendum in 2019” based on the opinion on Tommy Sheppard . It is a ludicrous argument.

        1. Alan Bissett says:

          You are wrong on all counts here. Sturgeon had said indyref 2 would be held *when the terms of Brexit are clear*. She gestured towards 2019 as she was basing this on May’s own timetable, but if she was committed to that she would’ve specified a date. She did not, because she wanted the very same elasticity as Shepperd does to move with the Brexit conclusion.

          And do you really believe – with May only in power because of Davidson’s gains here – that May will not take her cue from Davidson on the matter of Scotland? Of course she will. Davidson will now be dictating Scottish policy, Corbyn will do likewise with Dugdale now that Labour have picked up again, and I’ve provided quotes outlining the intransigence of their positions. Both will block a referendum if they think they can get away with it. I’m amazed you think otherwise.

          It is not simply Davidson and Dugdale’s ‘opinion’ that ‘indyref2 is dead’, they have clearly stated: ‘the SNP have no mandate’. David Mundell has said the same. This in clear contradiction of the facts and an obvious signal that they will not allow another referendum to go ahead.

          It quite frankly staggers me that any Scot would deny themselves the chance, once it’s obvious what the Brexit settlement would be, to decide whether or not they want to opt in or out of that. But this is what many, including yourself presumably, are arguing against. ‘No, let’s just accept our fate, even though we’ve absolutely no idea what it will be. HOW DARE STURGEON OFFER US THE CHOICE!’

          1. Geacher says:

            You said “You are wrong on all counts here. Sturgeon had said indyref 2 would be held *when the terms of Brexit are clear*. ” That is what I said: “Sturgeon wants permission for indyref 2 granted now so she can have the referendum in 2019”
            Sturgeon earlier this year when she announced her plans for indyref2 : “….. permission for indyref 2 granted now so we can have the referendum in 2019″
            You obviously do not get the difference between HAVING a referendum in 2019 and ASKING for a referendum in 2019. I cannot help you there, you need to work this out by yourself.
            Again :”that May will not take her cue from Davidson on the matter of Scotland? Of course she will.” You do not have a single clue as to whether that is the case. She will seek her advise for sure, but the decision will be May’s, and she has NEVER said they will not be another referendum.
            Again: “‘the SNP have no mandate’. ” That is true, there is no mandate for indyref2. To have a mandate then you must have an overall majority… the SNP do not have one so they had to rely on the support of the Greens to get a positive vote on this, but crucially the Greens did NOT have the brexit clause in their manifesto, so they are deemed to have voted for indyref2 “without mandate.” You may not like it, but it is fact.
            What next? Ah the “Scot” thing. Well this Scot is STILL asking what currency we would use as an independent country, and two+ years down the road we are no nearer to the answer to that one are we? Or how we would tackle the £15b deficit. Or how we would manage without the £9b fiscal transfer.
            Do you? I doubt it.

        2. Alan Bissett says:

          Geacher, you’re hair-splitting for reasons known only to yourself (asking/having). The point is that Sturgeon is not committed to a date for indyref 2, and never has been.

          Yes, May will technically ‘make the decision’, but realpolitik will mean it will be Davidson’s call, given the leverage she now has over May on Scottish matters and the tactical nous she has shown.

          But let’s go with your theory. May has said ‘now is not the time’ (even though literally no-one, including Sturgeon, has said *now* is the time). If you read my article carefully you’ll see that I wrote that a referendum will be blocked, “Short of an impossibly high bar – yet another majority in Holyrood? repeating the 2015 total of Westminster seats? plus an immense share of the popular vote?”

          By kicking indyref2 into the long grass, it will allow the UK Govt (abetted by Scottish Unionists) to place new and enormous conditions which demonstrate the popular will, ones extremely difficult for the SNP to achieve. I mean, it’s not as if there’s no precedent for that (1979). This will allow Westminster to say ‘Oh, we ALLOWED a referendum, but the SNP didn’t meet the conditions.’

          These measures are the same as an effective bar, and certainly a cancelling out of the SNP’s already-existing mandate and the very downgrading of Holyrood which I outlined in my article.

          I can see you’re going along with all this – in claiming that a majority vote in Holyrood is not legally-watertight – so why you’re pretending to protest this scenario is beyond me.

          Re. the prospectus. Sure, these are important questions. But you’ve already signaled you’re not interested in finding out the answers to them, aren’t interested in discovering a renewed case for independence, because you don’t want to even be given the choice of accepting or rejecting it. So you’ll avoid the supposed unknowns of independence by committing yourself in advance (and committing Scotland) to the unknowns of Brexit?

          Takes all sorts, I suppose.

          1. e.j. churchill says:

            You badly mischaracterised what he said.

            I think he is satisfied with ‘moral’ arguments and needs no more. What he wants (and you run from fast & regular) is answers to ‘how is this going to work?’

            Take a pull at them, why’don’cha? (you’ll never see them in BC, btw)

            rgds,

          2. Geacher says:

            There is a huge difference between asking/having!! If Sturgeon had not made the gross error of asking for a referendum in the spring of 2019 -“Sturgeon is not committed to a date for indyref 2, and never has been” is absolute nonsense- then she may have not faced the disaster of two weeks ago. She, as you are, is backtracking.
            “If you read my article carefully you’ll see that I wrote that a referendum will be blocked,” Yes of course I read that, but you have zero proof that that is the case, its just a continuence of the grievance politics that the SNP and its supporters do so well. You are presenting opinion as facts.
            “new and enormous conditions which demonstrate the popular will, ones extremely difficult for the SNP to achieve.” Not sure I understand what you mean with that.
            I also notice that you have neatly sidestepped my points re currency and the deficit. You are Nicola Sturgeon and I claim my 10/-

          3. Peter says:

            Geacher ? Is 10/- the current exchange rate for 30 pieces of silver ?

          4. Alan Bissett says:

            Rather partial with your quote there. What she said was, “These considerations lead me to the conclusion that if Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice should be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019.”

            They key thing here is not the date but the phrase “when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course.”

            As I’ve said many times, she’s basing the date on Theresa May’s stated timetable, but clearly allowing herself the flexibility to move with this schedule should the schedule move. That seems so startlingly obvious that it barely needs saying. I ask again: if the Brexit negotiations dragged on beyond Spring 2019 – and the settlement was still unclear – do you think Sturgeon would call the referendum anyway? The answer is clearly no.

            You’re ‘at it’.

            And you sidestepped it again. You have no way of knowing what the Brexit settlement will be, nor do you have advance knowledge of the independence prospectus at the next time of asking, but you’re denying yourself the power of having a choice between them, when everything is known….just because?

            Sorry if I can’t take that position seriously at all.

        3. Alan Bissett says:

          Geacher, if it’s clear the Brexit negotiations are dragging on into 2020, you think Sturgeon will insist on a 2019 indyref right in the middle of it? Don’t be silly.

          And it’s hardly opinion dressed up as fact when the leader of the Scottish Tories and the leader of Scottish Labour are both saying that Sturgeon has no mandate, and that they would refuse to recognise one even if she did. That says it all really.

          I didn’t get into the currency and deficit questions because we would literally be here for about three or four days in a back and forth, but I’ll refer you to the Commonweal, who should be publishing replies to these matters within the coming period. That’ll save us both some time.
          My point was that you deny yourself a choice on independence because of ‘uncertainty’ but will happily accept whichever Brexit terms Scotland is forced into, even though there’s at least as much uncertainty there. That’s a contradiction you ‘neatly sidestepped’.

          1. Geacher says:

            You said: “……you think Sturgeon will insist on a 2019 indyref right in the middle of it? Don’t be silly.”
            March 13th Sturgeon said: “….then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019.”
            Sturgeon wrote in the draft bill for independence that was put before Holyrood: ” independence referendum before Britain formally leaves the EU ….by the end of March 2019.”
            So there you go again…you are wrong wrong wrong, tho’ you are correct about it being silly, but it was Sturgeon that was silly, a silly mistake that cost her 100,000s of votes. If you put yourself forward as a political blogger, then you do need to get the basics (ie facts!!) correct, or you lose all credibility.
            Sidestep? I sidestep nothing. Again, you wrote: “you deny yourself a choice on independence because of ‘uncertainty’ ” There is no uncertainty…. we have an inept government, a potential £16b deficit coming up and also face losing our £9billion Barnett transfer. Also we have no currency plan, no valid economic plan, no central bank…… Lots of certainties.

          2. Geacher says:

            Ah you are fudging, and you know it. It is all here, in the Scotgov website:
            https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/elections-and-constitutional-development-division/draft-referendum-bill/
            Gives the timetable, the lot.
            You need to understand that any date granted for another referendum would be set in stone, there would be no negotiation after that date is set. Fact: Sturgeon asked for a referendum for late 2018 early 2019… there is multiple sources that prove this, audio, video and written.
            “I ask again: if the Brexit negotiations dragged on beyond Spring 2019 – and the settlement was still unclear – do you think I ask again: if the Brexit negotiations dragged on beyond Spring 2019 – and the settlement was still unclear – do you think Sturgeon would call the referendum anyway? The answer is clearly no.The answer is clearly no.”
            You do not understand the basic fact that Sturgeon DID ask for the referendum in the time scale….I have proven this beyond any dubiety and why you think say ” I ask again: if the Brexit negotiations dragged on beyond Spring 2019 – and the settlement was still unclear – do you think Sturgeon would call the referendum anyway? The answer is clearly no.”
            She did call for the referendum on that date.
            I’m getting bored now, but I will give you one more chance to save face. Answer me this.
            On March 13th 2016, Sturgeon held a press conference to announce the plan to hold another independence referendum. Did she give the time scale as being between Autumn 2018- Spring 2018?
            Yes or No?

          3. Alan Bissett says:

            The link you provided was no help whatsover, so I had a look at the Draft Referendum Bill which is here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00507743.pdf

            It’s a long document so I searched the terms ‘2018’ and ‘2019’, which do not appear, so it would seem that Sturgeon has not ‘formally’ requested that period. Even if I’m wrong, however, I did find this section, which suggests to me the very flexibility Sturgeon requires – in case Brexit negotiations do not look likely to be completed in time, for example – being written into the Bill itself:

            (4) The date on which the poll at the referendum is to be held is [insert date], unless before
            then regulations are made under subsection (6)
            (5) Subsection (6) applies if the Scottish Ministers are satisfied —
            (a) that it is impossible or impracticable for the poll at the referendum to be held on
            [insert date], or
            (b) that it cannot be conducted properly if held on that date.
            (6) The Scottish Ministers may by regulations appoint a later day as the date on which the
            poll at the referendum is to be held.

          4. Geacher says:

            And again…are you going to man up and admit you were wrong?
            https://uk.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A7x9Un1ywUxZ2VMAyhJ3Bwx.;_ylc=X1MDMjExNDcxNzU1OQRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1ibHAtZGVmYXVsdARncHJpZAM5dUlVUy5sdVRfcUduZHFxQUEua29BBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMxBG9yaWdpbgN1ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMxBHBxc3RyA3N0dXJnZW9uJTIwc3BlZWNoJTIwbWFyY2gxM3RoJTIwMjAxNiUyMHZpZGVvJTIwaW5kZXBlbmRlbmNlJTIwcmVmZXJlbmR1bSUyMARwcXN0cmwDNjEEcXN0cmwDNzgEcXVlcnkDc3R1cmdlb24lMjBzcGVlY2glMjBtYXJjaCUyMDEzdGglMjAyMDE2JTIwdmlkZW8lMjBpbmRlcGVuZGVuY2UlMjByZWZlcmVuZHVtJTIwBHRfc3RtcAMxNDk4MjAyNTI5?p=sturgeon+speech+march+13th+2016+video+independence+referendum+&fr2=sa-gp-uk.search&hspart=blp&hsimp=yhs-default&param1=sid%3D621%3Aaid%3D102%3Aver%3D0%3Atm%3D-1%3Asrc%3Dhmp%3Alng%3Den%3Aitype%3De%3Auip%3D1454687281%3Aup%3Dc3R1cmdlb24gc3BlZWNoIG1hcg%253D%253D&type=hmp_102_621_0

          5. James says:

            @Geacher

            I wouldn’t waste your time arguing with this kind of nonsense. It amounts to not much more than fake news when push comes to shove; all projection, assertion as fact, omission of context and plain simple factual inaccuracy all wrapped up in an overblown, hyperbolic grievance ‘a grave turning point in Scottish History’. Seriously? – doesn’t really help the debate at all. You’ve nailed most of the aspects that simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.

            The simple fact is that no one is preventing a second referendum (legally). Sturgeon herself shelved it as she knows it is a lost cause, and that many SNP supporters are Euro sceptic, hence the massive loss of support in the NE. 1/3rd of SNP voters also voted leave and that the lowest turn out in the UK for the EU ref was in Yes areas as many deliberately abstained -Glasgow was the lowest I think with 56% turnout. May simply quibbled with the timing given the Brexit process- entirely within her mandate but never said anything about blocking a future ref after. To claim this is an assault on Scottish democracy is just shrill childish posturing that gets us nowhere.

          6. Geacher says:

            Well it looks like you don’t have the gumption to admit that you were wrong. The Independence if not dead is mortally wounded. In 2014 after the defeat of the Separatist movement, the SNP had the chance to drop indy and go and govern our country and show all us no-ers what a good job they could do… but no, they decided to carry on and cater for the separatist movement, keep the flames of grievance alight and our country had deteriorated because of that. Yet like lemmings you carry the flag of indyref2, oblivious to the fact that support for the SNP, and therefore independence is on the wane. If it were me I would give you your second referendum, and gleefully watch the indy movement die.

          7. Did you vote Leave as well as no Geacher?

          8. Alan Bissett says:

            Hi James, you clearly didn’t read the article.

            “The simple fact is that no one is preventing a second referendum…”

            How do you explain both Ruth Davidson and Kezie Dugdale denying that Sturgeon has a democratic mandate for a second indyref (which she does) and that they wouldn’t recognise one even if she did?

            “Sturgeon herself shelved it.” Really? When did that happen?

        4. Alan Bissett says:

          Hi Geacher, here’s a clip of Nicola Sturgeon last month saying that the indyref2 timetable would move with Theresa May’s Brexit schedule, and that the 2018/19 was not set in stone:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXjjTtVzajs
          In your own words: “Now are you going to man up and admit that you were wrong?”

          1. Geacher says:

            You said: “……you think Sturgeon will insist on a 2019 indyref rig and I have proven beyond any doubt that this is the caseht in the middle of it? Don’t be silly.” Fact is she did, at least twice and I have proven this beyond any doubt that her initial demand was Autumn 2018-Spring 2019. With regards to your last post to me about what she said last month, I will remind you of what I said 4 days ago: “”She, as you are, is backtracking.” So she is now framing a different timescale, this we know, but it does not change the fact about what time-scale she INITIALLY requested indy2, a fact you are in denial of. In your other reply, again you spout nonsense about Davidson & Dugdale and their private…. Dugdale is not even in the Government for Heaven’s sake.

        5. Alan Bissett says:

          Geacher, what is wrong with you? I never once denied Sturgeon had proposed 2018/19 as the indyref2 date, I said she wasn’t *committed* to it and that she would move with Brexit’s timetable. You’ve now spent about five days arguing that is not the case, I show you video footage of Sturgeon LAST MONTH proving my point to the letter, and here you are still banging on? Sit down and stop embarrassing yourself, man.

          1. Geacher says:

            Today: ” Geacher, what is wrong with you? I never once denied Sturgeon had proposed 2018/19 as the indyref2 date,”
            Four days ago: “Geacher, if it’s clear the Brexit negotiations are dragging on into 2020, you think Sturgeon will insist on a 2019 indyref right in the middle of it? Don’t be silly.”
            Also: “(even though literally no-one, including Sturgeon, has said *now* is the time).”
            Sturgeon asked for a referendum in 2018-2019. You now admit this, despite denying it was ever said. (see above) If the referendum was granted she could not have moved that date depending on Brexit negotiations. It isn’t a “we can’t do next Thursday after all, but we can do anytime in October.” All this denial leads me to a conclusion:
            You are not big enough to admit you were wrong. OR
            Your grasp on politics is a tad tenuous if you are implying that Sturgeon would, or could change the date of a referendum on a whim after it had been agreed by all parties and all the necessary legislation and legal stuff.
            If it is the latter, then you really consider not writing any more stuff until you are more au fait with how things work.

          2. Alan Bissett says:

            You should be mortified by this, Geacher.

            I agreed that Sturgeon PROPOSED a referendum for 2018/19. That’s obvious.

            I said she was not COMMITTED to that date and that she would move it – if she had to – with the Brexit timetable. I even quoted relevant bits of the draft referendum bill which proved the Scottish government could move the date if they really needed to *after it had been agreed*.

            This has been my position at the start, middle and end of this boring and pointless discussion, but you want to dance on the head of a very, very small pin, possibly for your own amusement.

            I provided a video of Sturgeon one month ago making my *exact point*. So if you think (somehow) I’m wrong then you must think she’s wrong in this video, in which case there’s nothing more I can say to convince you you’ve made an ass of this.

            Now. Goodnight.

          3. James says:

            It’s like walking a toddler through baby steps.

            Part 1.

            a) No official application from the Scottish government was made to Westminster for a second ref. Nicola Sturgeon only announced it publicly (not legally).
            b) Therefore there has been NO rejection of a 2nd ref – except rhetorically. Mutual agreement over the timing of a referendum (while Scotland is part of the UK) is subject to constitutional provision and is perfectly acceptable given that it also profoundly effects England Wales and Northern Ireland (not that you care about anyone else.)

            Part 2

            a) Ruth Davidson, and Dugdale, given they were elected on a mandate to prevent Indyref 2 – the prevailing majority of people in Scotland tend to agree – are allowed to express whatever opinion they like , such as pointing out the SNP don’t actually have a majority and that many in Scotland don’t want a 2nd ref – They have done nothing to legally impede SNp from calling a second ref whats so ever. They are perfectly entitled to represent the views of their constituents (who democratically voted for them) as we live in a DEMOCRACY.

            Christ on a bike.

          4. Geacher says:

            Again,March 13th Sturgeon said: “….then that choice **must** be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019.”
            Sturgeon wrote in the draft bill for independence that was put before Holyrood: ”independence referendum before Britain formally leaves the EU ….by the end of March 2019.”
            You denied that she ever wanted these dates…. the give away was your “you think Sturgeon will insist on a 2019 indyref right in the middle of it?” It was what she asked for. It was what she desired, she even put it in the draft bill.
            I have proven you to be wrong.
            You only “agreed” that she did when I gave empirical proof that supported my fact. Note the word **must** that Sturgeon used… if Sturgeon had agreement from TM on that proposed timescale, she would have taken that date. Once that bill and that legislation for that date had gone through Holyrood, then that was it, no turning back. Silly, wasn’t it?

  21. Juteman says:

    The Scottish Government can’t set a definite date for Indyref2 for one obvious reason. The Westminster Party would simply call a GE just before that date, and elect a ‘Socialist’ party.
    Why vote Yes when you can have what you want under benevolent Westminster rule?
    The English Establishment will stop at nothing to keep hold of Scotland and its assets, and we will be under continuing attack for the foreseeable future.

    The Yes movement needs to get up and running, allowing the SNP to call a snap 6 week Indyref at the right moment.

    1. bringiton says:

      Or manipulate the Brexit negotiations to undermine the SG position.
      As you say,hanging onto Scotland is paramount for England and they will do anything to further that end.

  22. Chick McGregor says:

    Very well composed Alan. Not sure you highlighted anything most here would not have been aware of already but you have put it all together in a way such that the whole is greater than the some of its parts.

    But that is what artists do after all.

    Well done.

  23. Malcolm says:

    Good reading, and this type of article needs to somehow get through the door of those that only get their “facts” from the BBC or the papers. We need to be bolder and reach those that never see this. Needs to be a noñ party initiative but could be assisted by SNP network of members for delivery etc. Most people ending this will already be Indy supporters, as are those that will read the National and the magazine.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      While efforts must continue to inform more Scots about the benefits of indy, despite the British state media apparatus and msm levelled against us, this should not preclude Scotland’s elected indy majorities at both Westminster and Holyrood from taking Scotland’s self determination further, to e.g. the UN ‘Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’, which reflects that the UN ‘calls upon Member States to value the principles and actions of the United Nations to be on the right side of history by reaffirming its support for the Declaration and the eradication of the scourge of colonialism.’ The SNP could and should be doing a lot more than it is currently with its long awaited democratic electoral majorities.

      1. Geacher says:

        Good luck with that one.

        1. Anne84911 says:

          Geacher, you mention Scotland has a £15bn deficit but it is actually WM deficit which they say is our share of their £170tn deficit. As Scotland is not allowed to borrow so must spend within our means.

          1. Geacher says:

            Anne, it is a waste of time trying to debate with someone who doesn’t understand the difference between debt and deficit as you clearly don’t.
            And Scotland can borrow.

    2. Ann Rayner says:

      Timing of a referendum will be difficult. As people here are saying, more and more English born voters are moving into Scotland and that will dilute the numbers for independence. Also, if we have already left the EU at the time of any referendum, we would lose a lot of European citizens who voted Yes last time. In fact many are already leaving because of the uncertainty over Brexit.

      I do not know if they can, but I would not put it past Westminster to decree 16-18 year-olds may not vote or say there needs to be a majority of the whole electorate to be valid. The fact that such a move would invalidate Brexit retrospectively would not bother them.

  24. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Excellent, Alan
    The only appropriate response from the SNP at this moment is determined defiance to not only the unionist naysayers but also the seriously naive on our side who react to unionist spin exactly the way the unionists would like them to and undermine the rest of us in the process.

  25. Seonaidh says:

    “Advice for the SNP”

    Laughed at that as I thought the same. Despite not being an SNP member, I still recognise that they’re the major pro-Indy force as they always were. No-one comes close – not even Jim Sillars – he of 3 different parties and 3 different fall-outs. Jim though at least has had some electoral success under his belt unlike many of the talking heads. Much as I like reading Hassan, would he as an electoral candidate take Scotland over the 50% mark?

    As an SNP/Green (one time SSP) voter, I’d like to see both parties renew their arguments for Indy and against Brexit but more forcefully. As for policy changes to the left… both parties are fine where they are for the moment but they need to call out Corbyn’s copycat manoeuvres for what they are – he’s a good guy but more radical than what we already have in the Scots Parli? Hell, what’s his party’s position on Trident or Brexit? Who knows?

  26. Richard says:

    Why is the most obvious question of all not being asked?
    “Why are the unionists so scared of Indyref2?”
    The polls (alleged) do not show a clear win for the independence side, and it would appear momentum has been lost following the recent General Election.
    So why the utter panic and fear from the other side?
    And why are Davidson and Dugdale not just saying “bring it on”?
    If they are so sure of a win, knowing it will put independence to bed for ever if not a very long time, then they should agree to the vote and let us get on with it.

  27. grizebard says:

    The most salient and perspicacious review of the current situation I have yet encountered. Should be required reading in every school Modern Studies class. By everyone, in fact!

  28. John Watson says:

    Great article Alan, and I agree we need to keep the heid. But the SNP really needs to start playing hardball now. It’s been really hard these last two years just absorbing all the flak and seeing the leadership continually set themselves up as sitting ducks. There’s been no fight (it was really frustrating being out on the streets with the same materials, same arguments we used two years ago) and the case for independence has been allowed to stall. None of the arguments against us in 2014 for instance, such as the currency issue or GERS, have been tackled. I’m beginning to wonder if my fiver a month could be spent better elsewhere in the YES camp, because playing by Westminster’s rules is not going to get us anywhere. There’s too much focus in personalities in our politics (just look at all the mentions of Davidson and Dugdale above) and not enough attention to policy and, yes, the vision thing. I think the SNP need to steer towards the latter and have a strategy for getting us to independence. Up until now they seem to have been hoping for things to fall in to place, always a dodgy proposition. (As the saying goes, you make your own luck.) And make independence the case, not another f*****g referendum. Indyref 2 is just the process; it’s the vision of how we could have a better Scotland that will win people over. For what it’s worth I think we’re going to have to largely write off the elderly and baby boomer vote. Of course some in these groups get it and will vote for independence but, in my opinion, most won’t. The old are still blinded by Britain and the boomers think they have too much to lose. (My abiding memory of 2014, and GE17, was of standing outside polling stations in Moray watching demure elderly couples, hand in hand trooping in to vote. Armies of them; lots of beige and pastel colours and golf course wear. Occasionally they would condescend to give us a look, usually one of scorn or disdain, as if it was their world and how dare we challenge the natural order. These people are never going to vote for us and the SNP need to stick the proverbial finger up to them.) The case for indy is just as strong as ever -maybe more so when you see all the crap going on in London – but we have to start making the case, and be better at pitching it to those that have an open mind.

  29. Alin Scot says:

    I have read all these comments and the ones too in Gerry Hassan’s last two articles. I tend to agree with Gerry Hassan but what Alan Bissett says I agree with also.

    My commitment to independence is undiminished and I have been an active SNP member from an early age and would like to see independence happen while I am still alive. That gives me around 25 years if I reach 100, a bit less if I don’t.

    Nevertheless, something is wrong in the SNP and it’s difficult to say exactly what it is. In my lifetime we have hit so many hurdles on the path to independence, that the current “setback” of winning the election is easily taken in our stride as are the attacks thrown at us by the MSM and the Unionist parties, it has always been so and is nothing new.

    It is however a fact that a lot of long serving SNP members are not happy as was evidenced by the diminished turnout of canvassers and helpers at recent elections. It most certainly is NOT campaign fatigue.

    One thing that is clear is that canvassing members are posed questions on the doorstep to which the SNP leadership have provided absolutely no answers at all and many are the same questions that arose in the 2014 independence referendum.

    When Nicola Sturgeon announced she was seeking a section 30 order to hold another referendum, quite naturally the Unionists went on the attack; crazy to think they would do otherwise. The fact that the referendum was to be held in the future was completely bypassed and again it would be naive to think the Unionists would not push it as imminent.

    The subsequent calling of a GE by Mrs May caught us unawares and instantly SNP canvassers were regaled with the same questions that arose in indyref1. The SNP stance was we were not in indyref2 campaign mode, although all the unionist parties were. It is also abundantly clear on the doorstep that previous soft No voters did not want an indyref2 now but no one was listening to the eyes and ears of the party; the branch members.

    Things need sorted big time and soon.

    1. Geacher says:

      Correct, 100%

    2. e.j. churchill says:

      Another way to put it – in Military Terms – the Unionists were inside the SNP’s OODA loop. (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)

      The whole stratergy convo was short & sweet:

      “Sir Layton, EVERY Scottish election is about secession.
      “Hmmm, so it is. mmm’k we’re in.”

      And NS has been unable to change the subject.

      rgds,

  30. tom kane says:

    Thanks, Alan, this is an excellent assessment and a welcome corrective. The unionist parties are quite clearly attacking the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament. Our biggest priority now has to be to reassert the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament. A good place to start with that is probably Donald Dewar’s magical words – “There shall be a Scottish Parliament. I like that.” And we need to be clear too, on the pronouncement of the Supreme Court that bills from the Scottish Parliament are tolerated, they are not legally binding, and they can be overturned by Westminster. The unionists have become pretty joined up in their anti-Holyrood thinking – we need to pull them up short where we can.

    The unionists managed to run a British General Election campaign in Scotland solely on resistance to a second referendum… well, they have defined the battlefield then. So be it. Will they succeed, and therefore take the second referendum off the table? Or will we have our referendum? That’s up to us. Let’s have our referendum as endorsed by the Scottish Parliament – when it’s clear what the terms of Brexit are and before we are forced to hurtle out of Europe on the coat-tails of our bigger sister, while we can still choose our own way – and knowing that we have political friends right across Europe. Europe could not possibly be more respectful of our predicament. As the UK plans to leave Europe, we can develop our own European perspective… 450 million European social union or a 60 million British union for bankers, hedge-funders and tax avoiders. Go figure.

    And we have to be really clear-sighted of the British politics surrounding Scottish politics. The unionists are now working together in a co-ordinated manner. There are questions about the preparedness of the unionists for this GE (how much of a heads-up did they get from the Tories), questions about the amount of money spent by the political parties (where did all that money come from?), and questions of political collusion between the unionists (did they really just work together on one message – to get people to turn the British General Election into a guerrilla campaign to stamp on Scottish Parliamentary Business?).

    That doesn’t even touch the actions of the media.

    If there are enemies of Scottish democracy, we need to know the enemies. And then we need to know the enemies are not stupid, and that they are not without significant financial and media resources. Well, we too have resources, democratic resources, at our disposal and it’s up to us how we use them.

    Fab article, Alan.

  31. Wul says:

    There is a pattern here. When Scottish independence gains support, we get promises and sweetners offered to us. When support for Indy appears to wain, the Establishment boot goes in.

    The UK ruling elite have been playing this game for centuries around the globe. The SNP needs to go on the attack highlighting the parasitic interests of the elites (including Scottish ones) and at the same time offering a clear vision of a better Scotland (including credible answers to the currency, defecit black-hole etc).

    Here’s Cameron offering to make the Scottish Parliament permanent after the massive 2015 SNP surge:

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13769131.Cameron__I_ll_change_devolution_legislation_to_make_it_crystal_clear_that_Scottish_Parliament_is_permanent_part_of_UK_politics/

  32. Jamie says:

    This article is simply full of factual errors. Alan Bissett clearly doesn’t have a clue. As much as I’m in favour of remaining in the EU I don’t see how this kind of fake news helps.

    1) Theresa May did not thwart Scottish ambitions to remain in the EU – The EU did. Although it was never official the consensus and legal position is for re application. Known as the Barrosso Doctrine and the most likely outcome.

    2) The legal position for indyref 2 is a reserved matter. Theresa May has never said she would stop it just not until after Brexit.

    3) The mandate for a second ref has nothing to do with how many MPs are at Westminster. It is the Scottish Parliament/ Scottish government that can call for a second ref.

    I could go on…

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Alan Bissett’s core argument remains true, ie, that there is a concerted media effort to spin a handsome SNP election victory into a delegitimization of the case for a second referendum.

      It does not matter that, as you rightly say, the number of SNP MP’s at Westminster is wholly irrelevant to that, the media and the shambolic Unionist parties who run the UK – the laughing stock of the whole of Europe now – are trying to turn an SNP election victory on its head.

      Guys like Gerry Hassan, one of Lenin’s willing idiots if ever there was one, echo that view, at least to some extent.

      It’s like saying that if Celtic win the league again next year, but suffer a few defeats along the way, unlike last season, that somehow the runners up deserve to lift the trophy….it’s illogical nonsense.

      The media in this current age are undermining democracy.

      One wonders, in fact, if democracy can survive the media onslaught if something is not done to monitor lies, fake news, and ensure that some kind of balance is always maintained…

      Bisset’s argument is spot on.

    2. Alan Bissett says:

      Hi Jamie

      1) It is not a factual error to say that Theresa May dismissed out of hand the Scottish Govt’s attempt to keep Scotland in the Single Market and the UK. That was exactly the fate of their “Scotland’s Place in Europe” document, simply ignored, without any consultation taking place between the EU and the UK govt on its contents.

      2) “The legal position for indyref 2 is a reserved matter.” You know what a Section 30 order is, right?

      3) “The mandate for a second ref has nothing to do with how many MPs are at Westminster.” The SNP had in their manifesto that winning a Scottish majority of Westminster seats would triple-lock their mandate, and the Unionist parties (and the media) since have used the SNP’s performance to argue against them having that mandate, so I think this is something you should be taking up with all of them, not me.

      1. Alan Bissett says:

        Jamie, just to clarify my position on 2)

        When the SNP followed democratic procedures through Holyrood to bring about the 2014 referendum, a Section 30 order was granted by Westminster, subject to negotiation about date, franchise, question, etc. The SNP have followed exactly the same democratic procedures this time around, but not only has a Section 30 not been granted but the UK govt are refusing to even enter negotiations. That should tell its own story. “Now is not the time” is simply a concealing phrase.

        But the key to the article – which you ignore – is Davidson and Dugdale’s refusal to admit the Scottish Govt even *has* a mandate (which they do) and their assertions that they wouldn’t recognise a mandate even if they did have one. Here we see the undermining of Scottish democracy in action, preparing the ground for a block.

  33. Geacher says:

    @Bella Caledonia Editor: I voted no. What makes you think that I voted leave?

  34. David says:

    There is one very simple observation about this whole ongoing process.

    On 15 October 2012 the UK and Scottish governments, in full cooperation, signed the Edinburgh Agreement enabling the referendum on to take place on 18th September 2014.

    The UK government and the unionists only supported this because they were fully confident that a resounding NO vote would be delivered.

    The NO vote won in 2014 but it was not the overwhelming rejection they had hoped for. They had seen an independence campaign flourish in the face of almost total mainstream media adversity. It was a wakeup call to the politically active supporters of the UK. They realised that support for the union had been seriously eroded and was not the no brainer they had assumed it to be in October 2012.

    They now choose to undermine the democratic processes that could enable another independence referendum because they know that if it is allowed to happen the risk that they could lose is far too high.

    So beware of UKIPs, Tories, LibDems, Slabs and Corbyns because they share an agenda on the Scottish constitutional question. Their preference would be to close down the discussion of this issue even if that also means closing down the Scottish Parliament.

    1. Mike McGeachy says:

      “They now choose to undermine the democratic processes that could enable another independence referendum ….”
      How so?

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