The first minister said she had won “a renewed, refreshed and strengthened mandate” to call for a fresh independence vote after winning 47 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats, 11 more than in 2017.
Tellingly she didn’t say she was ‘requesting’ these powers, she said she was demanding them.
Of course Johnson – revitalised and emboldened by victory – will be in no mood to relent. For the Prime Minister Scotland is a blasted heath, with a paltry handful of low-grade insignificant MPs. The lessons that Johnson will have learned from this election is that he can campaign with an empty manifesto, avoid media scrutiny and behave like a moral void and still get elected.
His levels of hubris and entitlement are off the charts, and his contempt for the wider parts of the United Kingdom are transparent.
Sturgeon’s claim for a Section 30 will be ignored.
“Get Brexit Done” was the Conservative mantra – repeated like “Make America Great” – it was whole worldview reduced for the Deliveroo generation. But if Johnson has bluffed and stammered his way into office, he has hammered a useless Labour campaign supported by a pliant media and a grimly compromised public broadcaster.
The next steps for the democracy movement in Scotland will be crucial. The following questions loom large:
- How to respond when the Conservative government rejects a Section 30 Order?
- How will the Labour Party reform itself in the face of a historic failure?
- What does it mean for the beleaguered Richard Leonard closely associated with Corbyn’s disastrous campaign?
- How does the wider Yes movement act to push a wider and deeper engagement from people disillusioned with a broken Britain and facing a far right government?
- How do we work to repair the complete breakdown of trust and faith in the media that has been a feature of this election far beyond nationalist criticisms?
- What is the significance of the Sinn Feinn and SDLP victories in Northern Ireland, and how does that interact with Scottish republicanism?
- How will Johnson actually “get Brexit done”? What is possible and in what time-frame?
- How do the Conservative defeats in Scotland affect the Unionist alliance ahead of a future referendum?
- How will the Scottish Government cope with the following year of Brexit negotiations and inevitable sidelining that will continue?
- How do we show solidarity with the people who will be impacted by an emboldened right-wing Conservative government, in Scotland and beyond?
I can’t answer all these questions but one: “How to respond when the Conservative government rejects a Section 30 Order?”
If Boris Johnson has no need to take notice of the Scottish result, no political need to placate a nation he requires as irrelevant, then we need to change that dynamic.
There is a mounting argument to try and resolve this with a legal challenge, possibly on the back of seeing similar successful cases in the last year. This is a mistake.
As the journalist Ben Wray has written:
“The idea of taking the UK Gov to court if it doesn’t deliver Section 30 powers is not a good one. It de-politicises the issue, kicks it into the long grass until court case is done, & court decision could easily go the UK Govt’s way, which would be a huge PR coup for the Tories.”
I think we need to build a movement that operates inside and outside of parliament. The 47 SNP MPs need to reconsider their actions in Westminster, and if a Section 30 Order is not conceded they should withdraw in protest. The danger is they give legitimization to a parliament and to a process that doesn’t deserve it.
There are two questions the SNP and the wider Yes movement should be asking ourselves?
How do we exert pressure on the Conservative Goverment to concede our demands for a referendum?
How do we build the institutions, the policies and the ideas that mean that referendum is won easily – presenting itself as a credible alternative to the hellscape of ten years of Tory rule?
The answer to the first lies in taking away the things that are important to the British state: Trident, oil revenue and the legitimacy of Westminster. Disrupting the geopolitical, the economic and the symbolic gains of the Union are pathways to forcing Johnson’s hand.