Bad Panto

The election has ended like a Bad Panto, re-written as a Black Mirror episode for a society collapsing in corruption and propaganda.
To be clear “the British people haven’t spoken”, there is such thing as “One Nation”, and “the country” hasn’t been united.
The United Kingdom has never been so divided. With the DUP losing North and South Belfast and Sinn Fein with seven gains and the SDLP with two, Nationalist MPs outnumber Unionist MPs for the first time in Northern Ireland’s history.
The election marks out more starkly than ever how much the political cultures and trajectories of Scotland and the rUK are so very different .
The problem for the Scottish Conservatives concentrating their entire campaign on the constitutional question, relentlessly negative and relentlessly focused on “stopping Nicola”, is, they lost. Having spent the last month arguing: “A vote for the SNP is a vote for Indyref2” the Unionist parties now seem to have pivoted to try and argue: “The SNP have no mandate for Indyref2”.
This isn’t credible.
If the Scottish Conservatives gambled and lost on a desperately narrow outlook, the Lib Dems are now reduced to a paltry eleven MPs across the whole of the UK. Jo Swinson, who pretended she could become the PM couldn’t even become an MP.
If her loss to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan was a personal failure for a woeful campaign, it may also prove the limitations of a style of politics that projects relatively inexperienced candidates to effect campaigns of studied superficiality and opportunism. Swinson was criticised for spending little time in her constituency and this rootless, detached approach left her slated.
A Renewed Mandate
Although the gulf between Scotland and England seem larger than ever, this is not a sudden rupture. The Tories have now lost seventeen General Elections in Scotland in a row and the mandate for independence was created by the SNP 2015 victory at the General election in Scotland, the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, the 2017 General election in Scotland, the 2019 EU election and the 47 MPS elected in the 2019 General election.
On Friday, shortly after Boris Johnson swept out of Buckingham Palace, and before he made any public utterance, Nicola Sturgeon challenged Boris Johnson to give Scotland the powers to hold a second independence referendum.

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.

Three Words

“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:

  1. How to respond when the Conservative government rejects a Section 30 Order?
  2. How will the Labour Party reform itself in the face of a historic failure?
  3. What does it mean for the beleaguered Richard Leonard closely associated with Corbyn’s disastrous campaign?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. What is the significance of the Sinn Feinn and SDLP victories in Northern Ireland, and how does that interact with Scottish republicanism?
  7. How will Johnson actually “get Brexit done”? What is possible and in what time-frame?
  8. How do the Conservative defeats in Scotland affect the Unionist alliance ahead of a future referendum?
  9. How will the Scottish Government cope with the following year of Brexit negotiations and inevitable sidelining that will continue?
  10. 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.

Comments (39)

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  1. Morag Burton says:

    Troubled marriages often use mediation. Who could mediate? The EU? Perhaps the right of Scotland to have another referendum could become an influence in Brexit negotiations.

  2. bringiton says:

    During the forthcoming trade negotiations with the EU,the Tories are going to have to satisfy the EU that they can deliver
    promises they are going to make on fisheries.
    As before,fishing will be traded for something London values more.
    The only hope for NE fishermen is that BoJo and his pals might walk away from the EU without any negotiation.
    Not likely,so…..
    Vote Tory get shafted,Bertie Armstrong should have know better as his pals in NI have found out.
    Of course,the Tories may have to do something that demonstrates to the EU that Scotland will never decide what happens to
    Scotland’s fisheries etc.
    Very likely.

  3. Alastair McIver says:

    Withdrawal of Scottish MPs will simply make the SNP’s voice in Westminster as irrelevant as Sinn Fein’s. That’s not what we voted for.
    There is no pressure to concede a Section 30 order that the SNP can possibly apply to BJ that would in any way force, coerce, or even make it in his interests to do it. Apart from your suggestion about withdrawing in protest, you haven’t made it clear what pressure you think would work. I’m listening…

    It is true that we can’t guarantee that a court ruling would go our way. If we could, we would not be on the side of good. But it is the best chance to get a legally binding referendum, which is the only one whose outcome would be respected by the international community.

    The only other alternative would be an advisory referendum, which you have also cautioned against. It could easily be ignored and throw us into a pointless game of “Aye we are”; “naw yous arenae”, until something gives – probably the pri-indy majority at Holyrood. This may yet be our best option, but let’s try going through the courts first.

    1. tartanfever says:

      No point going for an advisory referendum. Unionist parties would simply tell their supporters not to take part – therefore completely de-legitimising it in the eyes of the rest of the UK and the broader International community. It would also be challenged and struck down by the courts and the chances are the EU would frown upon it – they like their potential new members squeaky clean.

      At present the earliest I see any kind of agreement on a new referendum is based on the 2021 Holyrood elections, notwithstanding some seismic Westminster event between now and then. Indeed, Alister Jack, our Tory Scottish secretary has already indicated what to expect. He’s quoted as saying

      “the democratic mandate for a Section 30 Order is a matter for 2021.” In his case, he has argued that the SNP would need to win a majority by itself and “not in collaboration with other parties, not in any alliances”.

      The Tories believe that Brexit is enough to be dealing with at present, and this is gaining evermore traction within institutions that have been critical of the Tory handling of Brexit, like the Institute for Government. Most UK press will come round to this thinking. We can shout all we want, but if the body politic of England is simply ignoring you then we will not be heard.

      Taking into account Alister Jack’s comments, it seems imperative to me that Holyrood 2021 is what we plan for whilst hoping that something might come sooner. Scottish Labour must be asked to come down on one side of the constitutional debate or the other – so we know just what a vote for them will mean in this context, likewise ‘Rise’ who were campaigning for Labour in some seats last week. If indeed, such restrictions were to be placed, we have to be prepared for them.

      We must make the most of the continuing English opposition to Brexit and the wealth of information and comment coming from the London commentariat. Ian Dunt might not be popular, but when unionists in Scotland aren’t listening to us, his voice, along with others can be quite useful. Daily they make Johnson look like and idiot – that’s useful in my opinion.

      The SNP must be preparing all the required documentation they will require. Pathways to independence, how it happens on the ground, the process etc. If that planning is not in place, we will be laughed at. What will our position on Europe be ? How will we decide that after independence ? Is their a transition period between the rUK and Scotland after before independence ? How will talks progress / what format will they take ? How will assets be divided ? What about common security ? All of those things have to be considered or we will be shot to pieces by a hostile press.

      Oh , and that the last thing. If you had a problem with the press before 2014 and thought that pro-independence got rough treatment, you haven’t seen anything yet.

      1. Cathy Gunn says:

        Many good points in your message so thanks for that. One more thing. Commonweal has been working to prepare policies and solutions to the very practical issues around independence. As far as I know they have support from across the party political spectrum – illustrating the point that this is not and should not be considered just an SNP initiative.

  4. Jo says:

    On “the mandate for independence” I have to say you need to tread warily, Mike.

    The only way to change the answer given in 2014 is to overturn that result in a second referendum. I don’t believe you can interpret election results as you have here.

    The SNP has seen success in elections for a number of reasons. Independence is just one of them. Many Scots have backed them solely on domestic policies. Considering the policies, that’s not surprising.

    The other thing is that the SNP, including its leadership, said at the latest election that a vote for them was about “stopping Brexit” and “keeping Johnson out of Downing Street”. To now claim the increase in seats and the win as a mandate for independence therefore looks, well, dishonest, to say the least.

    In addition, there are specific domestic matters which, in my view, require urgent attention and for the SNP to prioritise the quest for indyref2 and leave them aside would be foolish indeed. The Scottish Elections work very differently from FPTP. They are not far away and, in my view, if these issues aren’t addressed the SNP could be punished severely. That “mandate for independence” could take a serious kicking!

    Sturgeon should be pleased about the result in Scotland on Thursday but she needs to stop the “demanding”. We need dialogue between the SG and Downing Street, not public speeches. Johnson may declare he won’t budge but he also needs to recognise the result here last week. If he says no then what are his answers, what are his plans for Scotland in his “one nation” rhetoric? Challenging from behind a mic is no challenge at all. Sturgeon also needs to engage in mature dialogue at Holyrood. Labour, the LibDems, the Greens…they all saw what happened on Thursday. They should be reflecting too on what Scotland now faces. The Scottish Parliament must cut the sniping and work together – we know the Tories won’t – but Sturgeon has to have dialogue with those Parties who will so that solid messages emerge.

    On indyref2 itself my personal view is, if held right now, YES would lose again.

    That is why I say the SNP has to address the problems in Scottish domestic issues right now as the priority and work harder at Holyrood to engage with other Parties. Merely rushing headlong to “demand” indyref2 is not the way forward.

    1. Jo says:

      Johnson may claim we’ll be out of the EU at the end of January but, in fact, he’s going to get found out big time not long after!

    2. Michael Edwards says:

      Regarding your following points, I very much agree – we would lose:

      “On indyref2 itself my personal view is, if held right now, YES would lose again.

      “That is why I say the SNP has to address the problems in Scottish domestic issues right now as the priority and work harder at Holyrood to engage with other Parties. Merely rushing headlong to “demand” indyref2 is not the way forward.”

    3. Wul says:

      I think you are right Jo. A referendum now would not produce a “Yes” majority.

      What would it take to change that?

      1. Jo says:

        The person under pressure now is Johnson. He’s said we’re out by end of January and officially out twelve months later. I think it won’t be as smooth as he thinks. He doesn’t know what’s ahead of him.

        Labour in Scotland are, at last, realising they have to do something. It’s a start but they now seem to accept that it’s up to the people of Scotland which, let’s face it, is what the Edinburgh Agreement says. That’s good news. Hopefully Willie Rennie will see the light too because the Scottish Parliament can play an important role here. The Tories won’t play of course but ultimately the Scottish Parliament could pass a very powerful message to Westminster saying that only Scotland can decide on this and for Westminster to block putting the question is wrong.

        If every Party backs this (except the Tories) it will be a very good thing. I’m glad Labour in Scotland has begun.

        I think Sturgeon can bring more people on board by, as I said above, getting to grips with urgent domestic business.

        The QEUH debacle has dominated news here for weeks and isn’t done yet.

        The Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh has attracted bad headlines too. It’s a mess. Both of these raise serious questions about how ongoing construction projects are managed. These two were clearly woefully mismanaged. I have questions about independent inspection arrangements. PFI brought us the ridiculous practice of contractors being able to “self-certify” their own work. That’s baloney. Is any form of this still around? If so, why?

        Mental Health concerns.

        Drugs deaths.

        Ferries… another debacle affecting the daily lives and economies of our islands.

        There are others. I honestly think had these been Scottish Elections the SNP would have had a tougher time. But they have to set about the domestic agenda now because the elections in 2021 aren’t far away. There’s no point in Sturgeon making a second referendum her priority if she lets her domestic responsibilities slide and gets kicked out of office.

        1. MBC says:

          But who would you trust to do any better? Scottish Labour? Lib Dems?

          1. Jo says:


            I trust the SNP more than the others but I’m concerned about all of the things I’ve mentioned above. The problems are serious.

            I think Sturgeon has been distracted. I think it was unfair that Freeman was left to take the flak over the QEUH with just over a year in the job. (Project management on such projects needs to be reviewed, pronto.)

            There’s a lot of domestic work to be done. Sturgeon has to get on to it.

    4. Alasdair Macdonald says:


      Sadly you appear to have bought the unionist lie about the SNP campaign in the recent election. While the emphasis at final days was “stopping Brexit” and “keeping Johnson out of Downing Street”, throughout the campaign the issue of independence and a second referendum was always emphasised. However, the unionist groups, supported, as ever, by the media continue to strip this out to the soundbite you have quoted. The SNP was not ‘dishonest’ as you claim.

      This lie will be repeated by the media in the way the ‘once in a generation’ trope is trotted out, without challenge by the media.

      This leads to the kind of hand-wringing that some on these sites are indulging in

      It seems that something is shifting within the Scottish Labour Party.

      YouGov is currently polling on the idea of a second referendum.

      I do not underestimate the problems which the election result will bring and we have to examine additional options, strategies and tactics. Things are in even more flux than they have been since 2016. There will be many millions of people in England who will be examining deeply held ideas.

      The Government might well ‘refuse’ a Section 30 order, but that is entirely to be expected. It is how things unfold over the coming months – ‘events. dear boy. events’, as Mr Harold MacMillan said – that will determine outcomes. This is not to say that there should not be any positive actions and Plans B, C, D, ….

      1. Jo says:


        “Sadly you appear to have bought the unionist lie…..”

        It’s a shame you started off that way as it’s not how I function.

        My position is based on what I heard from Nicola Sturgeon and other SNP people. I make up my own mind about Parties and politicians based on what I see and hear from them, not on what I hear from journalists no matter their political persuasion. If I’ve made anything clear in many previous posts here it’s that I find the media even more dishonest than politicians. So, I don’t “buy” anyone’s lies. Alasdair.

  5. Michael Edwards says:

    Isn’t is dangerous to continually push this line that we have to get permission from Westminster via a section 30 order, when in fact the power to decide if we would like to retain the union is in our hands – the hands of the people of Scotland?

    Former MSP Christine Grahame’s presentation in the Scottish Parliament, 26 Jan 2012, Claim of Right, makes this point very clear – listen or read at the following links (also reproduced below):


    Christine Grahame’s (MSP), Scottish Parliament, 26 Jan 2012, Claim of Right

    I have to agree with David McLetchie that power devolved is, indeed, power retained. We are talking about obtaining independence. As a divorce lawyer—as I was—he knows that when one party sees the end of the marriage, the marriage is at an end. The detail is then negotiated according to law and practice. The same would happen in the separation of two parts of the United Kingdom.

    It is sometimes important to work back to why certain assertions are made—for example, in the claim of right, the assertion that the Scottish people are sovereign. Much slips into our everyday parlance that has a deep-rooted and substantive cultural constitutional genesis. For example, we hear Scots being reprimanded for saying “I seen it” or “I done it”. That is, in fact, grammatical language. Those phrases have survived through centuries of spoken Scots. They are not lazy or ignorant slang, but an echo from the past.

    That takes me to the claim of right from 1989 and the words:

    “We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs”.

    That Constitutional Convention was proposed in a private members bill way back in 1980 by the SNP leader, Gordon Wilson. Where did that sovereign right come from? There is no written UK constitution, but there are fragments of an incomplete constitutional jigsaw, some of which predate the treaty of union. We have to go as far back as the declaration of Arbroath—a declaration of Scottish independence and of conditional monarchy. Talking of Robert the Bruce, it says:

    “Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule.”

    That shows that he was a king who was in office by leave of those who, at the time, represented the people. They were a narrow bunch—some 51 magnates and nobles—but, nevertheless, he was on parole.

    The significance of those words, resonating through the centuries, is that the monarch’s power to rule was conditional on the will of the people of Scotland. That is reflected in the fact that Queen Elizabeth is Queen of Scots and not of Scotland. Therefore, sovereignty—now exercised in this democracy by various institutions—is exercised through the expressed will of the Scottish people.

    That takes me to why Queen Elizabeth is designed Queen of England. If my recollection is accurate, Henry VIII of the Tudor dynasty, installing himself as the head of the church, embedded the divine right of kings to rule. Sovereignty—the embodiment of which was the monarch—was absolute. However, as power was removed from the Crown and transferred to the English Parliament through the centuries, so was sovereignty. Therefore, the English Parliament was, indeed, sovereign, but that does not overrule or supersede the conflicting principle of the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

    Article III of the Union with Scotland Act 1706 says:

    “That the United Kingdom … be represented by one and the same Parliament to be stiled The Parliament of Great Britain.”

    The significance of that is that that Parliament was not a continuation of the English Parliament or of the Scottish Parliament. Therefore, for Scotland, sovereignty remains as it always was—with the people.

    I pray in aid the case of MacCormick v the Lord Advocate, from the 1953 session cases. At that time, postboxes with “E II R” on them had been blown up, because Elizabeth was the first Elizabeth of Scotland. In that case, the following remarks were made obiter:

    “Considering that the Union legislation extinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England and replaced them by a new Parliament, I have difficulty in seeing why it should have been supposed that the new Parliament of Great Britain must inherit all the peculiar characteristics of the English Parliament … as if all that happened in 1707 was that Scottish representatives were admitted to the Parliament of England. That is not what was done … The principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law.”

    So, why the potted constitutional history lesson? It is because it is significant to the legitimacy of the referendum, which will of course not be consultative, but will have legal and constitutional authority, as well as political authority.

    In 1979 and 1997, there was no Scottish institution to provide a mechanism for asking the Scottish people a question on the constitution. In 1979, the UK Government took it upon itself to draw up a referendum. Of course, it produced the question and chose the date—1 March 1979, which was right in the middle of the winter of discontent, when snow was falling over Scotland. That was an omen, but the 40 per cent rule, which in effect counted the dead and those who did not exercise their franchise as having voted no, was the real treachery. That was compounded by Sir Alec Douglas-Home broadcasting on the eve of the poll that we should vote no for a better deal. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Now we have our own mechanism in the Scottish Parliament, but we do not need to have a Parliament. Even if the Parliament did not exist, if the Scottish people streamed out on to the streets of our towns, cities and villages to say with a clear voice on megaphones, on marches and online that they wanted an independent Scotland again, that would be a declaration of independence. No challenge from the Palace of Westminster, the corridors of the United Nations, this place or any courts could gainsay that. The Scottish people would say that they done it, and they done it their way.


    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Thanks for that counter to the defeatism that is in many of the posts.

  6. Indy all my life says:


    That is how EFTA works in front of a neoliberal court. One policy at a time.

    The supposedly ” safe ” option our side of the Neoliberal EU.

    The middle class liberals are so confused.

  7. Wul says:

    Totally agree re; a legal challenge around S.30 powers. That would be a gross mistake. We now have the inalienable right to decide our own future. Taking it to court is to vastly downgrade our rightful claim to self-determination and a needless risk.

    2) How will the Labour Party reform itself in the face of a historic failure? It probably won’t. It will eat itself again.
    What they should do is form a separate Scottish Labour Party and campaign in the interests of Scottish working people.

    4) 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?
    By running a campaign that asks; “what are your fears about independence?” Listens to the response, and comes up with well researched and argued responses. ( Common Weal have some “oven ready” policies which should be turned into postcard sized info-graphics and air dropped by the multi-million). The “currency issue” needs a proper, honest, easily understood response.

    5) 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?
    Dunno. Make our own media? Organise a BBC licence fee strike in Scotland? ( would a £15m loss hurt the Beeb?) Complain.

    8) How do the Conservative defeats in Scotland affect the Unionist alliance ahead of a future referendum?
    They will organise covertly, with cash from the rich & landed. They will try to dismantle the power of our parliament and strip away devolved powers. Will mount a campaign to remove NHS, Education and other powers from Holyrood. Big branding campaign in Scotland; “brought to you Jocks by your generous British/English masters. Be grateful”

    10 ) How do we show solidarity with the people who will be impacted by an emboldened right-wing Conservative government, in Scotland and beyond?
    By naming loudly the abuses on Scottish people who are victims of Tory class war. By demonstrating, eating and socialising alongside “othered” groups.

  8. Wul says:

    I can’t help feeling that our focus on the process of independence is a diversion of energy and, perhaps, a trap.

    Shouldn’t we just direct all our energies into building support for Scottish independence to 60% or more of voters?

  9. wayne asher says:

    I am English, ad I wish the Scots the very best. Could be I’ll be joining you soon!
    But please be careful. The SNP only won 45% of the vote and that is nothing like enough to be sure of a win in another referendum.
    What would you do if Johnson called Sturgeons bluff on the basis of a referendum soon? i think it would be lost again. To win, you need to convince, convince and convince. And in particular come up with an honest answer to the currency question, which, I think, was what lost it for you last time.
    But all best wishes from down here

    1. James Mills says:

      Wayne , like so many of the recent comments by unionist naysayers ( I do not include you in this group ! ) you are conflating GE results with the result needed in a referendum .
      The 45 % figure cannot be extrapolated to meet the needs of a referendum which is a binary choice . This number was in a multi-party election . How many of those voting Labour , Liberal or even , dare I say it , Conservative would vote YES in an independence referendum ?
      One cannot assume that party loyalty in a GE is fixed when asked to vote in an entirely different context .
      You have to also include 16 year olds and EU citizens who will also be in the mix come a referendum .

      Do not fall into the unionist trap of spinning the GE result to suit their ends !

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Well said, James Mills. (Johnstone is a fine place!!)

  10. florian albert says:

    ‘What is the significance of SInn Feinn and SDLP victories in Northern Ireland’

    The Sinn Fein vote declined from 238,915 in 2017 to 181,853 in 2019. As a percentage of the total vote, it declined from 29.4% to 22.8%. Not as bad as SLAB, which managed a drop of 8.5%, but some way short of a victory.

    Most analysts ascribe this to Sinn Fein’s failure to deal successfully with social problems – think failing NHS – afflicting the people of the Six Counties.
    There is a lesson and a warning here for the SNP though not perhaps one they are keen to hear.

    1. MBC says:

      There was an electoral pact between SDLP and Sinn Fein for tactical voting. That’s probably why SF vote dropped.

      1. florian albert says:

        You are correct that there was an electoral pact between Sinn Fein and the SDLP. However, this led to Sinn Fein standing down in only one constituency which the SDLP was fighting; South Belfast. There, SF had won only 7,143 in 2017, so this does not explain the drop in the total number of votes they got this time around.

        Sinn Fein vote, as a percentage, dropped in a number of constituencies where they were fighting the SDLP; Foyle – 19% drop; Belfast West – 12.9%; West Tyrone – 10.8%; Mid Ulster – 8.6%; Newry and Armagh – 8%.
        These constituencies might reasonably be called Sinn Fein’s heartland. For Sinn Fein, this general election was a significant setback.

      2. Jo says:


        I was reading over the weekend about the NI results and the drop in the SF vote. There is a lot of anger at both SF and the DUP over “dormant Stormont”. It will be three years in January since it ceased to function.

  11. Bobby Klaus says:

    The 2015 general election did not provide a mandate. An independence referendum was not in the SNP manifesto.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      But the 2019 one did.

      In any case, the SNP (I am not a member) has always stood for independence and there is a majority within the Scottish Parliament and there has been since 2012.

      1. Bobby Klaus says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not understating the current cause. But we have to be 100% on the facts, otherwise we’re open to accusations of trying to rewrite history much as unionists are now trying to state that continued membership of the EU was not one of their central arguments in 2014 -it very much was!

        In 2015, the SNP did not seek a mandate for a second indyref. They have though in every election since.

  12. john burrows says:

    I have a suggestion which could force the issue. At the very least it could begin to rally an opposition the other nations have towards naked “one nation” English nationalism.

    AUOB , in partnership with their counterparts in Ireland, Wales and England, should organize a march in London itself. Marching in Scotland, alone, will not move the dial.

    What other rallying point is available? Political opposition in the UK has been effectively defenistrated. People power is all that is left.

    There will likely be large contingents of English, Welsh and Irish who would join and support a second independence referendum given the chance. Even among the British Nationalists.

    In today’s political arena, the narrative is all. We must literally be in their faces to accomplish what we desire. That is done through the media in this country. They ignore the marches in Scotland. Could be a problem to do that when it turns up outside Westminster.

    A sea of saltires, accompanied by Welsh dragons and Irish National flags, supported by our English friends and neighbors who support our cause, would be a refreshing and uplifting moment. Their argument of no support for independence would be seen for the lie it is.

    A march would also negate their ability to control the message and sideline us again. They cannot be allowed to change the subject. Doing nothing constitutes consent – arguing on twitter and blogs will not accomplish anything.

    1. Malcolm says:

      Will the Scottish people vote for Independence after first leaving the EU and then secondly the Union?
      That would certainly be true Independence
      Probably not

      1. john burrows says:

        I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make any sense to me.

        When did the Scots vote to leave the EU? To be clear, I am not a ‘one nation’ Tory. I do not consent to be culturally and politically defined by the Tory party and its factors.

        The UK vote nonsense entirely negates the idea their are four demos that make up the UK. If there is no union in principle then there is no union.

        The choice of taking the path of independence is for the Scots to decide. Denying them the opportunity to make that choice through the exercise of their franchise, by Tory party fiat, is all the evidence I need to conclude their is no union whatsoever.

        Hiding your head in the sand will not make this all go away you know. Your pessimism over the result of such a vote does not negate the need to have one.

    2. David McGill says:

      What other rallying point is available?
      Marching on Westminster would be an expensive business for thousands of potential supporters and extremely difficult to organise. Mike has suggested that the answer may lie…’ in taking away the things that are important to the British state…’ such as Trident. Perhaps 250,000 marching to Faslane under the AUOB banner would do the trick and capture the world’s attention.

      1. john burrows says:

        Crowdfund to cover everyone’s expenses. It would be a better use of our money for the cause, than handing it over to any political party.

        We literally have to establish a new Scottish covenant, marshal our citizens and prepare to do battle in the media arena. Tory England really hasn’t got a leg to stand on. Even our dim witted neighbors to the south will realize this eventually.

        The SNP is the vehicle we have used to bring us to the cusp of independence. Only deliberate positive action on our part can actually make it happen.

  13. Hamish100 says:

    Too many on here telling the FM to put the brakes on Independence referendum. The SNP have a mandate and should see it through. Rejection by The Tories will convert more to our cause. Therefore those saying to hold back one can only look with suspicion.

    1. Josef Ó Luain says:

      Fear not, Hamish 100, they’ll get-with-the-programme soon enough.

  14. Michael M Romer says:

    It is an irony of history that Scotland is in danger of being wrenched from the EU against the will of its people in 2020 when the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath is being commemorated. The ceremonies will ring false.

  15. MBC says:

    Apart from hubris, there must be reasons why Britain wants to hold on to Scotland. I’d say these were military installations and oil.

    Legal routes could be pursued quietly as a back channel, like the Scotland UN committee in the 1990s. Progress there put pressure on Blair to produce a Scotland bill, so whatever Wray opines, there is precedent.

    180 states supported the Chagos islanders case to the ICJ. Britain ignored the ICJ’s result, but had the Chagos islanders been in a position to declare UDI, 180 states would have recognised them.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      And the fact that with territorial waters, Scotland accounts for 51%of the UK area. These waters, as well as oil and gas – production of which will decline for environmental reasons – also contain 25% of renewable energy potential of all of Europe. They also contain most of the fish. They also provide the sea lanes for the great illusory phallus that is Trident to ravish. And, hubris has a lot to do with it.

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