An Unstoppable Movement for Change

The First Minister faced a packed media room at Dynamic Earth on Friday to outline the way ahead for the independence movement and the campaign for Scottish democracy. She used the moment of ‘Brexit Day’ to steer a difficult course of outlining in dark times “Hope of a different and better future for Scotland.” The re-timing of this announcement (it was initially supposed to have been Wednesday) may have been to do with knowledge that the YouGov poll was coming out which showed Yes in the lead for the first time since 2015, by 51% to 49%. The second reason she moved may have been that the people who are moving from No to Yes are Remainers sick of the Brexit movement.

As Chris Curtis from YouGov explained:

“One reason for this shift is that Remainers are increasingly moving towards Yes. While England and Wales voted to Leave, 62% of Scots voted to Remain, and many of them had voted against Scottish independence just two years earlier. Over one in five (21%) of those who voted Remain in 2016 but No in the independence referendum have now shifted over to Yes.”

A combination of Remain-voting Scots who backed No in 2014 switching over to Yes, plus younger generations joining the electorate, have been enough to give the pro-independence side a narrow lead.”

Nicola Sturgeon took the moment to go on the attack on Boris Johnson arguing: ““There is cast-iron mandate from the people and the parliament for a second referendum” and that “fundamentally the Tory position is a sign of weakness not strength”. She outlined three new campaign tools and projects: for the SNP to double their campaign spend; the creation of  a new Constitutional Convention; and commissioning New Scotland Papers, creating the case for independence.

She backed away from a unilateral referendum without a Section 30 Order, citing the chaos of Catalonia as an example of why this was a delicate prospect. She argued that the legal advice was not settled and that to take a legal case and lose would be a considerable setback.

She said: “The issue of whether the specific constitutional reservation in the Scotland Act puts any form of independence referendum outside the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or instead leaves open scope for a non-binding consultative vote – has never been tested in court. That means it cannot be said definitively that it would not be legal, but equally it cannot be described as being beyond legal doubt. If a proposal for a referendum on that basis was brought forward it would be challenged in court.”

This is difficult to contest.

Speaking candidly she explained: “I’m not in the business of creating a process that’s an empty gesture” and that “leadership is not always about giving people easy answers”.

For some this was milquetoast, or even, “Betrayal”.

In the real world though this was a cautious or canny politician steering the ship. There are elements of the independence movement that will be disappointed by her approach but I think she is doing the right thing.

It will be difficult to take everyone with her but the YouGov polling does show a trajectory that’s worth following as the Brexit fiasco unfolds in front of an incredulous public. If there is anyone who has truly been ‘Betrayed’ it is those people who voted Remain in Scotland and will see their rights. their protection and their economic security undermined.

For some people the simple statement : “We must focus on winning the political arguments” will offer only frustration.

But it is the right thing to do.

Politics is a slow and difficult process and the essential task is to be able to step outside your own head and outside you own worldview and walk with others who have experienced the world differently.

Two or three things will be pivotal in taking the case forward and building a mass majority for independence.

What will the new Constitutional Convention look like and what will be remit and nature of the new Scotland Papers?

The idea behind a Constitutional Convention is to broaden and deepen the independence movement beyond narrow party interest, to activate new players and new voices. This is essential but is also plagued with traps and problems.

If the convention is cast as too worthy, full of doughty civic leaders and predictable figures it may look and feel like a tired re-tread. Church leaders and trade union leaders might be the go-to choices but they also raise the question of who thy actually represent?  If it was possible to highlight people representing workers rights and a spiritual voice without delving into institutional Scotland then we might have a more dynamic body.

Second, the Constitutional Convention might play a part in giving a lifeline to the many people in other parties (and none) that want to speak out on independence but don’t want to be part of the SNP machine. For that matter the SNP would do well to loosen the purse and to give backing to the many non-party civic groups that desperately need it, whether that be the overlooked Scottish Independence Convention and/or other groups that are crying out for support.

This would require an uncharacteristic sense of boldness and generosity but its long-overdue and would release a backlog of energy that’s ready to be unleashed.  The need to lose control and cede power to other groups and voices is counter-intuitive to the SNP machinery, but it is an essential part of taking the movement forward. It also mirrors the idea of independence: that we see a country of people full of passion, energy, trust, hard-work and innovation. If that is true (and it is) then give people their head now.

Equally, the framing and tone of the “New Scotland” papers is important.

It cannot be a re-hash of the discredited Growth Commission which felt trapped in to-down managerialism and spin, cocooned in the language and politics of professional lobbyism (because that’s exactly what it was).

Sturgeon explained that:

“The “New Scotland” series of papers will seek to provide the information and answers people want. They will provide detail on how Scotland can make the transition from a Yes vote to becoming an independent country. And they will set out ideas and options for how we can use the powers of independence to build a better future – to grow a stronger and more sustainable economy, tackle poverty and inequality, better meet the climate challenge and expand opportunity for our country and for each and every person who lives here. The work of the SNP’s Social Justice Commission is a vital part of this and is well underway, engaging with organisations across Scotland.”

This sounds very promising. It isn’t churlish to say that it should have been initiated several years ago and some of it sounds like – lets be generous – an echo of some of the excellent work of Commonweal. But it is the right thing to do anyway.

To lay out why and how constitutional change will make a tangible difference to poverty and inequality and social justice is the essential task and to walk people through (again) the process of “becoming a country” is perhaps basic stuff for Yes activists but it’s what a wider electorate need.

Yes these arguments have been made and made over and over but the world keeps spinning and the case needs re-made and re-articulated for 2020 and 2021 not just regurgitated from 2014.

The key may be: can these arguments be advanced in a way which energises beyond the SNP’s party-base? Can the strategy be about empowerment, not control, can it be about self-organisation not professional politicking, can it be about the grassroots not the lobbyists, and can it be about independent thinking? These are the tools that will make a difference and take a slim majority for independence into an unstoppable movement for change.



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  1. Michael says:

    Nicola Sturgeon’s statement on Scotland’s future reads like a mixture of adopting Commonweal’s well thought through strategy and tactics, while repopulating it with a clear intent to take total control of the independence agenda and to establish the SNP as the only legitimate indy vehicle – which has shown itself to be a banker friendly vehicle.

    Much of the substantive content of her statement (amongst all the rhetoric) does seem to be an admission that the Commonweal’s White Paper project* was the correct and necessary use of the last few years and that the Scottish government is now playing catch up. I wonder how much of NS’s thinking is influenced Commonweal’s work!?

    Some of the key paragraphs that I found interesting are…

    … ‘The “New Scotland” series of papers will seek to provide the information and answers people want.’

    I expect the answers to be far more banker friendly than is actually sensible or than Commonweal has sensibly arrived at.

    … ‘In the first instance we will invite Scotland’s elected representatives – MSPs, MPs, the MEPs elected last year and council leaders – to come together to endorse a modern Claim of Right for Scotland through a new Constitutional Convention.’

    This reads like a power grab and poke in the eye to SIC and wider indy organizations!

    … ‘We will double SNP campaign spending this year to support new independence materials, local newspaper adverts and a new campaign film focused on undecided voters.’

    This reads like taking control of the indy message and thus the agenda, and thus the ability to promote and push the banker friendly “New Scotland” papers when they arrive!

    … ‘Persuading those who are not yet persuaded requires information and answers, but at its heart it requires conversation.’

    This is exactly the information campaign strategy that Commonweal director, Robin McAlpine, has been articulating for months now?

    I hope she is not just re-purposing Commonweal’s strategy and tactics for her own banker friendly agenda! Now is the fight for meaningful independence. Once we are in a referendum campaign we’ll be locked into whichever vision has won out – a bank or people friendly case for independence!


    1. MBC says:

      Why couldn’t SIC and Commonweal not be part if it? Plus the rest of the voluntary sector and civic Scotland?

      1. Michael says:

        I hope they will be but I’ve not seen much evidence that the SNP leadership are very inclusive, in fact, quite the opposite! But I really hope things are changing.

  2. James Anderson says:

    Any further groups like the proposed Constitutional Convention must not become or seen as talking shops. They should have no more than a dozen at most and all must speak with authority of the people they represent. (I say people rather than organisations as the independence vote must be people based over organisational and sectional interests.) The composition of the group must include respected representatives from the main political parties, COSLA, a Union Leader, and representatives from industry, finance, education and rural affairs. They need to be set up and meet within the next 4 weeks and have positive output in the following 4 weeks. Then the people of Scotland might see this as a forward step. Otherwise just another wheeze for the unionists to use against the independence movement.

  3. bringiton says:

    People are angry right now and that is when mistakes are made.
    We need to take stock and convince the UK union remainers that the UK no longer
    acts in Scotland’s interests.
    Brexit has started this process but the real effects need to be felt before there will be a significant
    Farage is screaming about the EU being petrified of the UK as a competitor.
    How is the UK going to “compete”?
    Once these “competitive” measures are put in place,people will realise that being ruled by
    England’s Tories isn’t so good after all.

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      Bringiton: “We need to take stock and convince the UK union remainers that the UK no longer
      acts in Scotland’s interests.”

      Remind me, Bringiton, when did the UK ever act in Scotland’s interests?

  4. David Allan says:

    The frustration felt be many results from the belief that come May 2021 another SNP/Green mandate will again be followed by a rebuke from Westminster.

    “once in a generation” is enbedded now and we all want to know what action will or can be taken to overcome this unionist intransigence. We have a momentum now that hasn’t existed since July 2014 not to press home that advantage in some way is politically disappointing.

    Prior to May 2021. We need to have explored other options/gained support from other Countries to ensure that Westminster is pressurised by other fronts.

    Bold Action needs to be seen. If nothing else it will earn the movements respect.

  5. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Thanks for this level headed consideration. Undoubtedly, there were some pretty febrile calls on Friday after the speech. Some of these are from people who have been strong supporters of independence over many years and have a very strong emotional (as well as intellectual) commitment to independence. Political campaigns have always generated a great deal of heat relating to tactics and strategy and dissent amongst supporters is not unusual. Sometimes, there are splits and resignations, but, dissent can often lead to fresh thinking. Every proposal made is provisional and will have to be reviewed in continually changing circumstances. Perhaps, some of the well-thought out Commonweal proposals, for example, could have been been adopted earlier. However, in his recent major article, Mr Williamson displayed a generous spirited forward thinking and presented proposals for the next steps.

    We, like he has, have to keep our eyes on the prize.

    1. “in his recent major article, Mr Williamson displayed a generous spirited forward thinking and presented proposals for the next steps” – which article is this Alasdair?

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Apologies! “article” is misleading. I meant the ‘Within Our grasp’ document.

        1. Have you got a link for that?

          1. Michael says:

            Jo, that’s it.

  6. David Allan says:

    The frustration felt by many results from the belief that come May 2021 another SNP/Green mandate will again be followed by a rebuke from Westminster.

    “once in a generation” is enbedded now and we all want to know what action will or can be taken to overcome this unionist intransigence. We have a momentum now that hasn’t existed since July 2014 not to press home that advantage in some way is politically disappointing.

    Prior to May 2021. We need to have explored other options/gained support from other Countries to ensure that Westminster is pressurised by other fronts.

    Bold Action needs to be seen. If nothing else it will earn the movements respect.

    1. Wat ‘bold actions’ do you suggest? Its incumbent on people who call for such actions to explain what they are and how they would help. ‘Earning the movements respect’ doesn’t in itself do anything.

      1. David Allan says:

        Imagine if you will a headline ” SNP Leader to Seek Worldwide opinion/support on Westminster Democratic Dogma” write to every democratic leader and outline this ridiculous “once in a lifetime” nonsence. Make the case to the World. Shame Boris internationally.

        If we seek to become a voice on the world stage let’s act like a Sovereign Nation now. Limiting this problem to the UK is getting us nowhere fast.

        Another mandate another rebuke. Stalemate/Checkmate whatever you call it is not going to deliver the opportunity we and the SNP purport to seek.

        Now this example of bold leadership initiative also possibly generating worldwide publicity would earn my respect and likely many others would agree.

        1. David Allan says:

          And remind them (world leaders) where their Malt Whisky comes from ! and where their clean drinking water may come from in the future!

          Send a bottle of malt and water wi the letter use some imagination !

        2. Ron Rothammer says:

          David – Totally agree. The lack of any imaginative action over the years the SNP have had this huge mandate from the voters, is lamentable. There are so many things we could have done to both instil in the minds of the unionist constituency here in Scotland and equally importantly, those abroad, all the advantages of independence.

          There is a huge diaspora spread throughout the world. Why are we not tapping into those and we have political access to most governments in the world as well. Talk and react as though you really believe we are going to be an independent country within a relatively short time.

          Concrete action is required. Create plans, even grandiose plans as to what will happen when Scotland is independent. Do comparisons with other nations the size of Scotland, create plans for equivalent infrastructure, public transport, schooling, further education, pensions etc. Make the plans and publish them, deliver them to each and every household in Scotland, keep telling the people to dream of something better than poor roads, poor and expensive public transport, a creaking health system, schools that are at best mediocre, local councils that have had their funding cut to such an extent that they are almost non functional and I could go on forever.

          Make documentaries about similar sized European neighbours, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and The Netherlands. Show how great their roads are, their public transport, their welfare system. It doesn’t require a genius to compare Scotland to them and see how far behind them on so many counts we are, it would make you cry.

          While at it, why can’t the SNP set up an independent group from all sections of Scottish society and create a draft constitution for the new Scotland. Again publish it and give a copy to every household. Make it obvious that you are serious about being an independent country. Why be shy about it, shout it out, make it an every day issue so that the people of Scotland actually believe that this is a natural outcome!

          Financing for these kinds of actions can be funded through crowdfunding if this is not allowed out of current government budgets. As I said, there are millions of people in the world out there who consider themselves Scottish. Even small donations from all these individuals would furnish more than enough funding to make a serious difference.

          A frustrated citizen of Scotland who thought the SNP was the key to independence.

          Ron Rothammer

          1. David Allan says:

            Thanks Rob . You hit it on the head . It’s a peculiar kind of Independence Party that creates and invents new obstacles to it’s progress !
            The SNP are not worthy of the task something needs to change or this movement will die on it’s knees.
            Brexit the material change the springboard has not been used effectively . Weakness timidity characterise the SNP Leadership someone is providing very poor advice !

      2. tartanfever says:

        As we disagree on the way forward, maybe we should turn the situation around.

        What will the Tory Government do ?

        Possibly –

        this year continue to ignore calls for Indyref2. EU negotiations will take up most of their time over the next six months and this will help them as all press and media will be full of that story. Scotland will literally continue to be ignored.

        continue to undermine a Scottish economy – with all the press and media and think tanks on their side this is easy. Withdraw some more powers from Holyrood, direct fund councils (many are unionist coalitions) and so on.

        if pressure does become an issue, promise a referendum on a majority of SNP being elected in the 2021 Holyrood election – a PR process designed to avoid precisely that outcome. No doubt some rigging from unionist parties on standing down candidates will arise.

        in the unlikely outcome that an SNP majority does happen, promise a referendum for the following year (2022) at the earliest. Introduce to Westminster a new Referendum bill that proposes a supermajority requirement of 65% for the proposal to be carried.

        So, how do we combat that ?

        For a start,there are a few categorical blunders that have been made that have made campaigning so much harder:

        1) ‘once in a generation’ claims.
        2) the validation of GERS when it suited your cause. GERS is flawed, always has been and it should only ever have been presented as thus.
        3) MP Peter Grant claims today about ‘when support reaches 60% for independence.’ Now we have set a benchmark that the unionists will use against us. Basically says that while support remains below 60%, nothing needs to happen. Expect this to be rolled out continuously further down the line.

        My choice, take the referendum issue to court – thats if the SNP actually have any money in the coffers.

        1. David Allan says:

          The UK leaves the EU on 52% thats the precedent set for me .

          If we start a campaign on 40/45% I would expect to gain a 60% victory. Anything over 52% the Brexit Verdict does the job.

          1. tartanfever says:

            David, doesn’t really matter what I think or you think (I think 50% plus one is a mandate).

            What does matter is what the Tory government do. Going on experience, they will continue to ignore us.

        2. Coinneach says:

          Simply going round the loop of S30 requests/denials can’t go on endlessly without us countering the Tories’ attacks on Scotland’s democracy. It’s time for the Scottish Gov to start a policy of Constructive Disruption to demonstrate that it means business. By Constructive Disruption I mean tactics like those outlined in Prof Peter Lomas’s Analysis article in the Herald of Saturday 1st Feb:
          He suggests the Scottish Gov should formalise as policy the adoption of all EU laws & regulations that fall under its own reserved powers in order to keep our laws aligned in so far as we legally can with the EU’s. It would infuriate Downing Street and bring the constitutional issue to the stage where it can no longer be ignored.

          Another Constructive Disruption tactic, since the Scottish Gov is responsible for our roads, police and public health, would be to pass a law at Holyrood banning the transportation of radio-active materials on Scotland’s roads without prior licensed permission of the Scottish Gov. It’s already Scottish Gov policy to rid Scotland of WMDs, so banning the regular convoys of radio-active materials bound for Faslane/Coulport from our roads would force the UK Gov to the negotiation table and demonstrate that we’re deadly serious about independence.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Coinneach, yes, there are lots of tools in the legalist toolbox that you can use without necessarily subscribing to Legalism as the paramount way of resolving social problems. I believe you can be creative and still draught good law that adheres to high principles (easier done within a codified constitution or international treaty system) while addressing a current injustice or political problem and building a consistent framework for the future. If we want to give the natural world legal protections, we might look abroad for inspiration.

          2. MBC says:

            It’s an interesting idea but it would take a while to get a ban on radioactive materials passed. In that time Westminster could pass another act overturning our act before the press even got hold of it. Not saying it’s not worth trying. But if it was purely to be disruptive they would soon put paid to it.

  7. Josef Ó Luain says:

    Without a relentlessly pro-active campaign promoted by a vibrant and inspirational leadership, how is it possible to enthuse the public imagination regarding what, for most, is a thoroughly abstract notion i.e. Scottish Independence. No series of papers or declarations, no matter how well argued or articulated, will change that. To argue otherwise is to seriously over-estimate their potential penetration and to misunderstand the realities of present-day Scottish society and the indisputable power of concrete fact.

    Why have the numbers for Independence not taken-off in the face of Brexit? In my admittedly unscientific way, it seems to me that we’ve successfully retained the 2014 Yes vote and brought over some of the borderline switherers and Remainers in order to register 51%. Nothing more. We should be grateful for that, of course, but the goal of 60% won’t be reached by speechifying or the publication of committee findings. Important though such contributions undoubtedly will be, if not delivered in tandem with a live campaign component they will prove of limited impact in the real lives and imaginations of most Scots.

    1. I don’t think progress is linear Josef, so we may have brought over some people and lost some and gained others.

      I think the numbers are good and improving and the trajectory is clear.

      “Why have the numbers for Independence not taken-off in the face of Brexit?”

      Because people are confused – and dont know whats going on?

      1. Black Rab says:

        At what stage then do we propose Scotland to be an independent state. Is the snp plan to still seek a section 30 order to hold a referendum whenever they have achieved their stated goals or aims?

    2. Coinneach says:

      Agreed, Josef. It’s clear that Johnson will just keep saying “No” until public opinion is so overwhelming that he has to come to the negotiating table. That means a critical priority is to build that essential public support for independence, so how about a high-viz billboard campaign? Politics Home website has a story at

      about the £5 million the UK government is to spend on adverts attacking the idea of Scottish independence. We should get our retaliation in first before Boris buys up all the billboard space with our own billboard campaign and if SNP won’t undertake it, the wider Yes movement could surely crowdfund it? It could start by highlighting the “Vow” of 2014 and what became of the promises. Further campaigns could publicise the costs, restrictions and disadvantages of remaining in the UK so that people who haven’t an awareness of Scotland’s real economy, resources etc can see real stats. It’s so important to get this info onto the streets to persuade the doubters and to demonstrate that Scotland thinks differently from England.

  8. Jo says:

    I’m finding it difficult, still, to deal with all the events that have played out in recent years, ending with our departure from the EU on Friday.

    There is much to say and yet so many things are in my head it’s hard to know where to begin.

    My biggest regret is that Salmond and Sturgeon both gave politically stupid answers in response to the question originally posed about the timing of a second referendum. The right answer was, “That will be up to the people of Scotland.” Instead, they gifted the political establishment and our twisted media with the “Once in a lifetime/generation.” quotes which are now treated as if they are enshrined in law!

    “Two or three things will be pivotal in taking the case forward and building a mass majority for independence.”

    There are others, equally so. There are Scottish Elections just around the corner and I’m concerned that too many folk are thinking they’ll be a walk in the park. Given the many current serious issues requiring immediate attention, I think Sturgeon really must address them because if I, as a supporter, feel alarmed at the SNP’s current approach and performance, then there will be other Scots who are, frankly, horrified.

    The Scottish Elections could get scary for the SNP if Sturgeon doesn’t up her game at Holyrood. Complacency is death, politically.

    I listened to some testimony from the Committee hearing on the ferries debacle recently. I had my head in my hands it was so awful! The basics had been neglected. Building had commenced before designs were complete, on and on and on. Workers, dependent on jobs, becoming increasingly worried because they, the real experts, knew it was a shambles!

    Then, reading about our islands, their economies, the livelihoods under threat because of the serious impact of the ferries matter, the real casualties were obvious. And what did I see in news reports? Pathetic little statements from, “a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that it was doing all it could.” What a message!

    As for the QEUH and the Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh…. disasters both. For ultimately it looks like major public builds under the SNP are no more reliable, or safe, than they were under Labour/LibDems and their precious PFI! Private concerns are still delivering shoddy goods at a cost of hundreds of millions to the public purse with little or no independent oversight during the building process. The QEUH on its own cost nearly £900 million. God knows how much still needs to be spent to fix it. We KNOW GGCHB made major errors, withheld vital information about the QEUH from the Scottish Government. Why does Freeman continue to leave it in place? It’s a shambles and not fit for purpose. It cannot be trusted.

    These issues are in our faces and will stay in our faces for some time to come. Ultimately the Scottish Government is being hammered on all of them. There are others.

    So, really, I think the priority right now is for Nicola Sturgeon to drop that wee laugh she keeps inserting into many of the sentences she utters. Because major domestic issues she’s responsible for sorting out aren’t remotely funny!

    Independence is important. But if she continues to screw up on the domestic front and push serious problems on to anonymous spokespersons I think she will rue the day. She will pay a price at the Scottish Elections. We all will!

    1. David Allan says:

      Jo – if they can’t show competent management of the institutions of government then things will indeed unravel . You are correct in highlighting what many are aware of.

      Both my Indy votes next year will be a Green. They need up their game and stand candidates .

      And I share your concerns.

      1. Jo says:

        Thanks David,

        I worry about the Greens too sometimes. They were threatening not to support the budget unless the SNP abandoned the huge project underway to dual the A9 to Inverness and additional plans for the A96. Harvey’s behaving like these are vanity projects rather than vital, essential improvements to the existing roads network in Scotland. The communities they serve need them, the Scottish economy needs them. They are vital links for public transport too. Sometimes he is infuriating.

        1. Alasdair Macdonald says:


          Patrick Harvie lives quite near me and, although we are not friends, on the occasions when we have met, we have got on pretty well. I certainly would not accuse him of ‘vanity’. He is actually, quite reserved, but, if something is important to him, he will speak assertively about it.

          Remember, the Greens are unequivocal in their support for independence and, in the Scottish parliament, where there is no overall majority they have to use their bargaining power to advance policies they think are important in return for supporting the SG for aspects of its policy.

          I am not a member of either the Greens or the SNP and have voted for both in recent elections at local and national level. In our ward the green and SNP Councillors and the Labour one, for that matter, actually speak with one voice on the majority of local issues.

          1. Jo says:

            I didn’t say Patrick Harvey was vain. I think you’ve misunderstood my post.

            I said he’s treating the ongoing work on the A9 and the A96 as if they’re SG vanity projects, which they’re not. They’re vital improvements to our roads network.

          2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

            I take your point, Jo.

            The Greens have a wider point about road building in that increasing road capacity increases traffic volumes and the increased road space then becomes clogged. They cite the example of the Queensferry Crossing and traffic congestion in Edinburgh. As someone who has lived at various times in the past 50 years close to the M8 going through Glasgow, this is undoubtedly true, with districts such as Tradeston, Anderston, Woodside, Townhead becoming depopulated and disconnected from the rest of the city.

            However, with regard to the A9 and the economic development on Scotland north of Perth, I think the arguments are much more complex and not as straightforward as those in Glasgow and Edinburgh where there is pretty good public transport and extensive rail networks as alternatives to private car use.

            While, on balance, I think the A9 requires developing, I think that the main rail line to Inverness should have its capacity increased and lines off it developed and created, too.

          3. Jo says:

            Thanks Alasdair.

            I do understand that the Greens must follow their particular principles first and foremost. I support many of them.

            I also fully agree that Glasgow has literally been torn apart by the motorway network. I’m all in favour of vastly improved transport networks and, especially, in joining up Scotland in a sensible manner.

            The A9 (and the A96 in my view) are urgent examples of existing roads requiring special consideration. (There are others. The A82, A75.) For Patrick Harvie to suggest the cancellation of any of these projects is to ignore the needs of communities and businesses in those areas, which surely are as entitled as those of us in the central belt to safe road links. The A9’s reputation is well known and the improvements since the upgrade began are documented and welcome. One of the reasons for wanting to dual it was about safety. The death toll on it was appalling. It’s a major trunk road. Mr Harvie has to see the difference between essential projects like this and others which aren’t necessary and simply destroy communities and landscapes.

            I’m a big fan of trains. Again, the north is ill-served. Much of the Highland Main Line is single track. I used to spend a lot of time well north-west of Inverness and remember coming across old “dead” railway stations. It was sad. I agree, so much more could be done with investment in rail. The benefits would be amazing for communities and for the economy.

            It’s undoubtedly true that as quickly as motorways spring up, they are jammed again. I wouldn’t argue with that. With the Queensferry Crossing, however, there was a bigger issue. The Forth Road Bridge was in big trouble structurally and not coping. So a new bridge was arguably the only option. Yes, the new bridge is now just as busy but, with so many new homes still going up across the Forth from Edinburgh, the number of cars and commuters is increasing too. It’s a vicious circle. All Parties need to look at the whole picture. The sooner the better.

    2. Interpolar says:

      At the time I remembered being worried about the utterance “once in a generation”, because I felt it would make it more difficult to revisit the question soon after. On the other hand, Westminster would have just dreamt up some other reason.

      But more broadly, I do fear that the SNP is running out of steam on the domestic agenda. They need new ideas, if they are not to lose their majority come 2021., and some of their ongoing initiatives have to bear fruit. Otherwise, they may have to spend some time in the wilderness for Scotland to realise just how bad the Unionists parties are in government before coming back and tabling a new referendum bill. That is not a thought I like though, because it just means more time loss and damage before pushing again for independence.

      1. David Allan says:

        If SNP can’t garner momentum now at the time of a “material change” their game is up.
        May 2021 election has to be the basis for an Independence Vote. Section 30 is a farce and pinning hopes on Boris approval is shear stupidity.
        It’s now or never.

    3. Elaine Fraser says:

      what d’you make of Mike emphasising the need to see things from the point of view of those who ‘experience the world differently?’ Also saying needs to be ‘grassroots and not lobbyists ‘ …don’t know about you but I just about choked on my tea!!

      Lots of angry women won’t be giving the Green Party their votes anytime soon and as for the SNP government like you say lets hope they get their act together on all sorts of stuff before the game truly is a bogey.

      1. Jo says:


        I take your point. I read that part, reversed, read it again and decided to just keep going!

        The saddest thing is that Scots should be on the streets by now, all of us, not just pro-Indy people. For, already, sinister change is evident.

        Today in Downing Street, journalists were lined up either side of a rug. Those on one side were to get into a particular meeting, those on the other were not. Fortunately they all decided to leave because certain colleagues were being excluded. This is just the start. Johnson is being controlled by a lunatic and has already warned Cabinet colleagues that rebels will be removed.

        And yet, the independence debate has been handled so badly that, up here, the debate is still toxic and, now, splits are opening up in the movement and even within the SNP. I think Sturgeon has flipped and flopped trying to placate too many folk. The contradictions pile up.

        “Once in a generation/lifetime.”

        “Not unless there’s 60% support consistently.”

        “This election isn’t about independence.”
        “We now have a cast iron mandate.”

        Is it any wonder no one can be sure what she’ll say next?

        And to top that, goodness knows what will emerge next month when another particular event kicks off.

        1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

          “The saddest thing is that Scots should be on the streets by now, all of us, not just pro-Indy people.”

          That really is the reason behind the FM’s course of action.

          Although we have had two polls now showing small majorities for independence, these are barely over 50% and, taking into account the margin of error, could be small minorities.

          Undoubtedly, a fair number of people whom I have known have either switched, or, more commonly, have become ‘switherers’. These are the people whom we have to persuade to commit. I suspect that if we were to have a referendum in 2020, with the negotiations with Europe going on and ‘Project Fear’ simply re-run, proven lies and all, a fair number might hold back.

          It is not people like me, or Mr Small or the majority of posters on this site whom we have to convert, because, I suspect even the most bitterly disappointed people at the FM’s position, would still vote YES. It is up to us, as much, perhaps even more than, the SG and SNP, who have to do the persuading, because we are still friends with many of these people. There are ideas, such as those which George Kerevan and Common Weal have put out which can be pursued.

  9. SleepingDog says:

    Perhaps politics (how we arrange to live in groups large enough to contain strangers) is an ongoing, indeed should be a deliberative, rather than a ‘slow’ process. Different types of decision need different kinds of deliberation hence different optimal speeds.

    Anyway, I thought that modern thinking (Common Weal, Extinction Rebellion) is about using sortition rather than representation for Citizen Assemblies, partly because you want to include people excluded by current politics and the unrepresented voices in society. The influential people now and in the past have got us into this mess. Churches and trades unions are essentially the kinds of reactionary vested interests that we do not want to dominate constitutional development, nor should we look to ‘personalities’ to save us the trouble of thinking for ourselves.
    I am sure that sortition can be gamed, and is no doubt open to other criticisms, which is why we should subject it to critical scrutiny as a priority.

  10. Wul says:

    Regarding our “Banker Friendly” fears for a New Scotland.

    This is something that has long puzzled me; Do we, or do we not need the bankers, the “wealth creators”, the “masters of the universe” etc? Can a new country be created without an impratur and “green light” from the Money Men?

    If we DO need their co-operation, in our current economic model, is there any substitute for their money, their co-operation or whatever it is we need from them?

    1. Coinneach says:

      The places to start in relation to finance and currency issues are Dr Tim Rideout’s Scottish Reserve Bank website: (see also the News page (2nd item) there for his lucid and brief explanation of how the monetary cycle actually works) and Robin McAlpine’s essential book “How to Start a New Country”, which details all the necessary steps (including currency and finance) in the process of going independent. The main message of both is that we have to have our own sovereign fiat currency; using the GBP beyond a Transition Period would be pointless, counter-productive and damaging both politically and economically.

    2. SleepingDog says:

      @Wul, Mariana Mazzucato in The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy describes how ‘value creation’ in financialized industry often its opposite: value extraction. In her preface, she notes that “The Internet, GPS, touchscreen, SIRI and the algorithm behind Google — all were funded by public institutions.” (p.xvii) while “Such myth-making, I argue, has allowed an immense amount of value extraction, enabling some individuals to become very rich and draining societal wealth in the process.” (p.xviii). “we need a better understanding of value”

      The book goes into the history of economic value before showing how public perception of wealth creation has been manipulated by value extractors who parasite off “the entrepreneurial state” (the title of another of her books I am still to read). While I don’t think Mazzucato has the answers (she appears to be a reformist-capitalist) I find her critical analysis sharp, relevant and readable (and thankfully shorter than some of the other books on the subject). Good explanation of pharmaceutical price extortion, and a section on Outsourcing Scotland’s Infrastructure (PFIs and all that).

      1. Wul says:

        Thank you Coinneach and S.Dog,
        I will have a look at those links. I can’t help feeling that there is a lot less wealth in our society than there should be.

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