2007 - 2020

Now’s the Day and Now’s the Hour

These are bewildering times. The pandemic has pretty much sidelined normal political discourse, ructions are showing among Indy supporters around the Salmond fiasco and other matters, there is little sign of action on the independence front, and we are left wondering where the movement goes from here. Gratifyingly, and however unexpectedly, the Scottish Government enjoys high popular support and trust, and it is in a position to bring independence about, if it can just get the proverbial finger out. Thumb-in-the-bum, brain-in-neutral is not a good stance. So, thinking things through and starting from basics, here goes. 

The current legitimacy of the Union does not flow from the acts or the treaty which set it up three centuries ago, or from the long years of Scotland’s participation in it. It comes instead from its endorsement by the majority in the 2014 referendum, the first ever proper vote on the question, in that it was peaceful, democratic, legal and constitutional. The reason why it trumps everything else is that it was an exercise of the sovereign right of the people, and that is the highest authority in Scotland. Their decision can only be overturned by the people themselves casting a different vote in an equally proper plebiscite. 

The mechanism for the 2014 vote was a referendum held by Holyrood through special authority, granted at London’s discretion, under Section 30 of Holyrood’s founding act, the Scotland Act, and the Edinburgh Agreement between the two governments bound London to cooperate if the result was for independence. Holyrood’s subsequent requests for similar authority for a fresh referendum have been rejected out of hand by London.

Is London’s permission necessary? Holyrood, a devolved parliament, can only exercise those powers which have not been retained by London. Although the Scottish Government behaves as if it believed that without London’s say-so it lacks the power to hold an independence referendum, it is arguable that the Scotland Act does not actually forbid it, and a Court of Session case by the Yes group Forward As One is now underway on that very question. Both the outcome and its timing are uncertain. If the court eventually finds that Edinburgh does not need London’s permission (and if London does not then amend the Scotland Act to disempower Edinburgh, which it could do – believe it or not), then Holyrood could hold a referendum whenever it chooses. But if the court says that Edinburgh cannot hold a referendum without London’s consent, does that close the question so long as permission is withheld

Well no, it does not, because there is another approach. A referendum is only one way to hold a vote, and internationally it is very rare for a country to use that method to decide on whether to go independent. The other way is, of course, by election, and that is the route which was always regarded by the SNP as the way to go (indeed the only way to go, before Holyrood was established). It would be perfectly proper for the SNP, the Greens and any other pro-indy candidates to stand on a manifesto clearly stipulating that success would be a mandate not merely for another referendum, but for independence itself, and it would be democratically unassailable if the manifesto included a condition that success must comprise not only a majority of seats, but a majority of the actual votes.

London too has assumed that if Scotland left, it would be by the electoral route, and has never (repeat, never) denied its right to do so. Of course it does not want Scotland to leave, but on those very rare occasions when the UK Government has actually expressed a view on the constitutional position, it has consistently said that the Union is based on consent, and that if Scotland withdrew its consent it could leave. In other words, the choice is for Scotland alone. Now that does not imply that London should help Scotland to leave, and it would no doubt do what it could to persuade the people of Scotland not to go. London has no obligation whatsoever to give Edinburgh permission for a referendum, but it has no right to forbid Scottish independence, and has never made even the slightest suggestion that it has any such right.

Most of the commentary on the independence side completely misses this point, and is resentful at what it sees as English obstruction. But it is not London we have to persuade, it is Scotland. If its people wish independence, all they have to do is vote for it. There are two obvious mechanisms for that, namely a referendum or an election. London may be able to stop a referendum, and the Scottish Government may be right in its apparent belief that London has such power. But it cannot stop an election. The Scottish Government should state loudly and clearly that the electoral route is open. If it would prefer to proceed by referendum, it should warn London that if permission is not given promptly, their manifesto will turn the next Holyrood election into an independence plebiscite.

If the vote went for independence, it is likely that London would fall into line and the mechanics of the matter would follow agreement between the two governments, because that would be the reality of the thing. But if London refused to cooperate, the way it would work is very simple. The highest representatives of the people of Scotland are its MPs, and the power to take the step of effecting independence is in their hands. By majority, they would leave Westminster and establish the body of all Scottish MPs as the sovereign Scottish parliament. All the necessary procedures and arrangements to bring independence into full effect could then be put in place, with or without London’s cooperation.

So, the people of Scotland have the sovereign right to go independent if they so choose. That right is acknowledged by the Scottish Government and by the UK Government. The feasible mechanisms for exercising that right are a) a Holyrood referendum (perhaps requiring permission from London), or b) an election (requiring no such permission).

Against that background, how stands Scotland now?

The Scottish Government’s current mandate to hold an independence referendum will expire when Holyrood rises before the Scottish General Election of May next year, five years after it was granted by the electors. In that time, there have been several points which could properly have been adopted as crystallizing the mandate, namely June 2016 (EU referendum), March 2017 (Article 50 notice), April/October 2019 (proposed Brexit dates) and January 2020 (actual Brexit). None was utilized. Nor will the next point be used, the end of the transition period on Hogmanay, a date which the SNP are trying to have postponed for two years (so much for their eagerness for independence, we may think).

If the Scottish Government remains in suspended animation regarding independence, there will be no action for the rest of its term, and it will have totally failed to implement its mandate. Even if it were to obtain a fresh mandate for a referendum at the next Holyrood election (and given its non-performance on the present one, we might ask why on earth it should), there is no indication that things would be any different. The Prime Minister would still withhold permission, and the Scottish Government would continue in its accustomed servile role of rejected supplicant. That would be the state of play for at least another three years, till the next Westminster election in May 2024.

A legal decision that Edinburgh can hold a referendum without London’s permission would certainly change the picture, if only by depriving the Scottish Government of that pretext for inaction. We can’t bet on it for the moment, however, because of the unpredictability of the judgment, and because London might try to stymie any decision against it by amending the Scotland Act to make it crystal clear that Edinburgh had no such power.

That leaves only one mechanism in Edinburgh’s own hands entirely: an election. The only election coming our way for years is Holyrood in May 2021. Either we seize that opportunity, or the independence movement goes into deep freeze.

The omens are phenomenally good. Polling support for independence is holding up at about 50%, and the most recent poll of voting intention shows the SNP and Greens winning an absolute majority of votes for both constituency and list seats in Holyrood, and for Westminster. Either by arranging an independence plebiscite by referendum before next year’s Holyrood election, or at the latest by turning that election itself into the plebiscite, the Scottish Government can unify all strands of the entire movement for a victorious campaign.

The SNP leadership almost boasts that it is determined to await sufficiently firm prognostication of success before bringing on the vote. But under the circumstances which now apply, if they fail to act, the question that will have to be asked is not whether they are too afraid of losing, but whether they are too afraid of winning.

 

 

Comments (67)

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  1. Michael says:

    For all the enchanting rhetoric that has come from Nicola Sturgeon since she took over leadership of the Scottish Government, I can’t really think of any actual material progress towards independence. Given that we’ve had 56 MPs at Westminster over this period, her lack of progress is near miraculous! When absolutely forced, the best she seems to be able to do is turn to the work done by Common Weal and try and pass it off as her own. Has she been so boxed in by the hostile media, British establishment and security services so as to have been neutralized as a threat to the UK? What is the explanation for her complete lack of progress and engagement with the indy movement?

    1. Bill says:

      Michael, the answer lies in the final sentence of the article in that the SNP are too afraid that they might win. Under the current situation they enjoy the trappings and all the etceteras of a governing party. Any good policies or governing outcomes can generate plaudits and congratulations. Any bad outcomes can be blamed on Westminster in general and in particular on the corrupt, incompetent, lying Tories who have visited all manner of problems upon us.

      In an independent Scotland, the independence party might well struggle, having lost its raison d’être. Scotland as an independent republic, in the long run could be very successful. Compare us with Denmark, Finland, Iceland or some of the Baltic states. But the project would be risky and for the SNP, no guarantee that a grateful Scottish public would reward them with the status that they currently enjoy

      Bill

      1. Michael says:

        Thanks Bill. I suppose this is how colonized states operate – with fiefdoms and comfortable petite rulers playing the people off against the colonial rulers! Sad. Time for a change of leader. Someone more proactive like Joanna Cherry!

  2. Daniel Raphael says:

    Very clear reasoning and quite informative to someone outside the UK. Thanks for this.
    FWIW, I wish you success both in having your election and your own government; as has been made clear in many ways, you already have your own nation.

  3. Alistair Taylor says:

    May 2021 it is then.
    See you there,

  4. MBC says:

    As Tom Nairn once said ‘our captivity is self-captivity’. London controls Scotland by inducing us to believe that we cannot make it on our own or would be far worse off it we did.

  5. w.b. robertson says:

    Since an indy Scotland appears to be willing to pay its share of the UK national debt, I am curious how the virus pandemic has added to the grand pot. (if I am correct, £300B extra attributed to Scotland this financial year alone.) In any future grand debate the share of the debt question will be raised. And with the way energy is going internationally, we will not have our oil as a counter argument. Perhaps Mr Kerevan and other experts will explain?

    1. Black Rab says:

      Scotland gets less than 5% of the oil wealth after england takes it’s 85% population share and the drillers get their cut. Oil could dry up tomorrow and it wouldn’t make a difference to Scotland. We became poorer upon it’s discovery.

      1. Mc says:

        Oil isn’t worth anything right now…. And probably won’t bounce back.

    2. John S Warren says:

      The debt remains with rUK. This was clearly and publicly established by the British Government in 2014. Scotland has no responsibility at all for the British debt, post-independence. The debt stays with the sovereign authority (effectively the Crown in the Westminster Parliament) which controls the currency (sterling) in which the debt is denominated. rUK made it clear it wanted it no other way. The proposition that Scotland takes a share of the debt post-independence was always absurd.

  6. Chris Connolly says:

    As folk who want the lockdown too end too soon risk it being re-imposed, so independence supporters who are too impatient risk losing a vote and being sent back to Square One for the foreseeable future. The time for a referendum is the day we can have realistic expectation of winning it. Currently there is an enormous distraction out there, a crisis which has caused a huge amount of heartbreak but whose saving grace is that Scotland’s government is widely seen as outperforming the one at Westminster, and providing a clear and pragmatic message rather than making a bourach out of it. Our decision not to follow England’s lead, together with the stance taken on Wales and Northern Ireland, is isolating England and there’s evidence of a siege mentality in the English Tory Party.

    The momentum is in our favour but we risk losing control of the narrative of we jump too soon. There’s every reason to believe that we are well down the road of achieving our goal and that the 2021 Holyrood Election will deliver a mandate. In my opinion it’s when we have that indisputable mandate that we can win the independence we all long for.

    We’ve waited 313 years. Another 18 months won’t hurt us if that’s what it takes. We don’t need to be like bairns in the back of the car continually asking “Are we nearly there yet?” Yes, we are nearly there; just be patient for a wee while longer and we’ll arrive at our destination.

    1. Dougie Strang says:

      Thanks for a good, thoughtful response. I despair sometimes at those who believe that the SNP don’t really want independence. It’s such a bizarre notion; and that someone more forthright, like Joanna Cherry, will somehow convince No voters to turn to Yes. I’m not a member of the SNP, but I support independence and, like many, I feel deeply frustrated that Scotland has been dragged out of Europe and treated with such distain by the UK government. I also sometimes feel deeply frustrated at my fellow Scots who don’t seem able to be positive about independence (how can it be, given what’s happened over the last few years, that we’re only at 51%!!?). But we are where we are, and you can’t blame the current SNP leadership for their cautious approach. They must be very aware that the next referendum will be the last, one way or another, for at least two or three decades; and imagine the response of the UK government if we fail again: there could be all sorts of constitutional legislation that would bind Scotland irrevocably to the UK. So the stakes are high, and we’re sitting at 51%. The big question is how do we get that nearer to 60% or over, so that after a successful referendum, when Independence negotiations are underway (and perhaps turning acrimonious) we don’t see support slipping back below 50% – which would surely trigger legitimate demands from NO voters for a re-run or a confirmatory referendum. How do we do that? I don’t think by electing a leader in the pugnacious Salmond mould – a leader who might make the faithful feel good about themselves, but who would repel as many people as they would attract. I think you have to be inclusive. I think you have to demonstrate competence and do the slow, sometimes frustrating, work of convincing doubters that Scotland’s independence is viable. Personally, my political beliefs are some way to the left of Labour and considerably more green than the Greens; but I understand that we live in a democracy and that goals are achieved by taking the majority with you, not by thinking that just because you want something really bad, everyone else should get in line. That’s just immature, and dangerous. Apologies for the outburst – directed more at some of the comments, rather than the author of the article. The proposition that the Holyrood elections should be a plebiscite is attractive, but also very risky. I think I’d rather see it made absolutely clear that success for Independence supporting parties was a solid mandate for another referendum, and take it from there. But no doubt, some will think I’m just a fearty.

      1. Michael says:

        It is one thing to be cautious and another not to be doing the background work that will allow movement to convince doubters to get on board. The the result of the kind of leadership style you seem to be advocating for has got us nowhere, you say it yourself: “How can it be, given what’s happened over the last few years, that we’re only at 51%!!?”.

        It is NOT the role of a proactive leader to be “liked”, The role of the leader is to progress things and get on with the nitty gritty legal and political matters. Whatever people think of Salmond, he and his way of doing things has got indy on the table. It is down to the movement to get get people on board – the campaigning litterateur is clear about that. If you are relying on the charisma of the leader to onboard your cautious and skeptical population then you are already sunk 🙁

      2. Bill says:

        Dougie, as has been stated by others, on more than one occasion, we do not need a referendum in order to achieve independence. We are attached to England by a consensual treaty. If the consensus to be joined fails, then we can detach and we do not need the approvall of Westminster so to do. Were the SNP serious about independence, then they would be campaigning far more vociferously for it to be achieved. Much could be made of all that has happened since the coalition vested austerity upon us. A failed policy that has contributed to the position we find ourselves in today.

        Why are they not making more of the situation? Is it complacency? Were the SNP and the Greens to put out a manifesto for independence and then win a majority in the Holyrood election a declaration of independence could legitimately follow. However as I have suggested what role would the independence parties then play in an independent Scotland?

        The SNP need to be resolving those issues that contributed to the loss of the last referendum – the currency, the banking issue etc- now as it will be too late later. I am not a member of the SNP, but I have voted for them in the last six elections and am sympathetic to their cause. I just wish they would show some more smeddum on the independence issue and get us out of the bit

        Bill

        1. Dougie Strang says:

          Thanks Michael and Bill for your responses. I don’t normally pitch in to the comments sections, partly because I’d far rather be discussing this over a pint, and able to properly engage in a conversation, rather than the kind of call and response that we’re limited to by this medium. I guess regarding the current levels of support for independence, the 51%, one of my concerns is that, for all of us in Scotland, we’ve been considering our position on the question for several years now, so it doesn’t strike me that there’s that many floating voters out there. I could be totally wrong, but my sense is that people are quite entrenched in their views, either Yes or No and, therefore, to persuade no voters to change, it’s possibly more fruitful to go canny rather than forceful. But, honestly, I also understand the frustration of those who want a bold and radical vision.

          Here’s the thing, I absolutely agree that the currency question is important, and that work should be being done right now on that. But then, don’t you think it is? Don’t you think that options are being discussed in detail, so that come a referendum, the SNP will have a coherent plan. Maybe I’m naive, maybe the SNP are not the efficient organisation they seem to be, but I suspect that there’s a lot of behind the scenes work going on. If it was down to me, I’d be proposing a Scottish currency, and getting on with it – but, again, how does that play with the wider population?

          There’s a strong case for presenting a bold, Commonweal-style, vision of what Scotland could be and standing by it, win or fail. But that, one might argue, is what Corbynism was all about, and look at what happened there (and I don’t say that with any glee: I was rooting for England to rediscover its radicalism as much as anyone). The SNP, it seems to me, are a left of centre party, trying to be a broad church and appeal to the majority in order to win the prize. Honestly, if they were, for example, to adopt Commonweal’s policies wholesale, do you think that would work? I genuinely don’t know. I thrill to the idea of it, but fear the caution of my fellow Scots. Hmm, I think I need that pint!

        2. Chris Connolly says:

          Bill. Just because independence has not yet been delivered it doesn’t follow that the Scottish government isn’t serious about it. The SNP/Green coalition is a pro-independence coalition but it’s also its job to govern the Scotland we have and the folk who live in it. This means that there is another priority just at the moment; it certainly can’t reasonably be taken to imply that they don’t really want a free Scotland.

          Before Covid-19 there was Brexit. It’s been a very difficult last year or so as I’m sure you have noticed. Some of the anti-Nicola people who use this forum have criticised her over both the virus and Brexit and yet expected her and her government to deliver independence at the same time as deal with these two other important issues.

          If it were as simple to defy the English government and order a referendum as some seem to think it still would only be the right thing to do if we were to win the bloody thing! The pro-Union media would go mad in those circumstances. You all saw what they did to Jeremy Corbyn in the summer and autumn of 2019 so you know what they are capable of and how brazenly they fill the airwaves and news stands with propaganda. If we were to act unilaterally they would plumb new depths but should we get that mandate next year they will be on far rockier ground. If they see the wind is blowing our way they might even allow themselves to be converted to the cause in order to stop their readers from giving them the elbow. We’ve certainly got a lot more of a chance without having to fight the British media barons.

          Again, I ask for patience and for an end to the anti-Nicola shenanigans that seem to be bubbling away all the time and are getting the Herald so excited. Stick with the team and we’ll get the outcome that’s so important to us all. If the independence movement becomes split and fails as a consequence some of us will not be in the mood for forgiveness. This isn’t about personalities; it’s about working together to achieve our fundamental right to self-government.

          1. Michael says:

            Chris, I absolutely agree that, “Just because independence has not yet been delivered it doesn’t follow that the Scottish government isn’t serious about it.”. But if the very tight knit leadership are interested in indy it is going about it in a very strange way. I’m told on pretty good authority that there is no serious work being done on currency or anything else. Where is the costed plan for setting up a Scottish revenue service. Or a reorganized military? Relationship with the EU? Pensions? etc etc Why do it in secret? This is the info that soft No voters need to know to be assured of a stable transition? And this is the info that the movement needs to know to be able to have the conversations with soft NO voters. If the plan is to do a sudden reveal three months before a referendum and then rely on ads and the press to communicated the great plan to population then I have to wonder how serious the Scottish Gov really is about indy. How was setting up Salmond going to help keep unity in the party? I want to be wrong – but I do not see the evidence of a serious costed vision and campaign strategy, do you?

          2. Bill says:

            Chris, I am not anti Nicola. In fact she is currently doing an excellent job. If only the SNP more broadly had been as open about the state of play regarding independence. My complaint is that there was no clear analysis as to why the first referendum was lost. Then there was no indication that anything was being done to address the sensitive and vague issues. (currency etc,) They have requested another referendum but no ground work seems to have been done. Had Boris said yes – then what?? begin again at the beginning?

            All of what else was going on should not have precluded some elements of the party starting to set the groundwork. As someone once said, ‘if you cannot ride two horses at once then you should not be in the circus’. A strategy for independence is required in advance of a referendum or a move through an election. I do not see that strategy being extant and that is the reason for my comments.

          3. Chris Connolly says:

            Bill & Michael

            I feel your frustration and you make some interesting and, for all I know, valid points, but I will say, again, that these are unusual times and if there has been a lack or preparation for independence perhaps it’s forgivable, if a shame, in the circumstances.

            Michael. You have made another assumption which I do feel ought not to go unchallenged. The fact that Alex was prosecuted and walked free does not necessarily mean that he was the victim of a conspiracy. Around 11% of Scottish trials finish with a not guilty or not proven verdict but it doesn’t follow that everyone who doesn’t get sent down was only there as a consequence of a plot. That guilty rate of 89% falls to under 40% in cases where the defendant is charged with attempted rape.

            Had accusations been made of sexual misconduct and the SNP leadership not acted on them Nicola would, quite rightly, have been accused of a cover-up. The jury decided that Alex’s conduct did not cross the line from nuisance to criminal, which is fair enough and I’m not going to argue with a verdict delivered after a fair trial, but in my old workplace if the boss had behaved towards his lower-ranked staff in the way that Alex himself conceded he had done he would have been pensioned off with his feet not touching the ground. For the prosecution to have resulted from a conspiracy the police and prosecutors must have been in on it, but why would they? Losing the case hasn’t done their careers any good. Besides, if the SNP wished to set someone up why would they choose Alex? Surely if there is a threat to the leadership it comes from Joanna Cherry, Kenny McAskill and Jim Sillars rather than from the former leader.

            In the words of the song: let’s work together. Come on, come on, let’s work together. I don’t for a second accuse either of you, Bill or Michael, of writing from a position of personal malice against anyone and I respect your opinions, but there’s an element of male chauvinism and far too much tittle-tattle going on out there, especially in the Herald, where Kevin McKenna and Ian McWhirter contribute regular articles which seem less pro-independence than anti-SNP, and consequently don’t help our cause a bit.

            I wish they would knock it off, and I find the tone and content of Alan’s article above unnecessary and confrontational as well. In my opinion, like all political movements, we spend so much time arguing among ourselves that we tend to forget that we are all supposed to be on the same side. It makes it much harder to draw folk into our tent if they look through the canvas and see us all having yet another rammy!

        3. Dougie Strang says:

          Thanks Michael and Bill for your responses. I don’t normally pitch in to the comments sections, partly because I’d far rather be discussing this over a pint, and able to properly engage in a conversation, rather than the kind of call and response that we’re limited to by this medium. I guess regarding the current levels of support for independence, the 51%, one of my concerns is that, for all of us in Scotland, we’ve been considering our position on the question for several years now, so it doesn’t strike me that there’s that many floating voters out there. I could be totally wrong, but my sense is that people are quite entrenched in their views, either Yes or No and, therefore, to persuade no voters to change, it’s possibly more fruitful to go canny rather than forceful. But, honestly, I also understand the frustration of those who want a bold and radical vision.

          Here’s the thing, I absolutely agree that the currency question is important, and that work should be being done right now on that. But then, don’t you think it is? Don’t you think that options are being discussed in detail, so that come a referendum, the SNP will have a coherent plan. Maybe I’m naive, maybe the SNP are not the efficient organisation they seem to be, but I suspect that there’s a lot of behind the scenes work going on. If it was down to me, I’d be proposing a Scottish currency, and getting on with it – but, again, how does that play with the wider population?

          There’s a strong case for presenting a bold, Commonweal-style, vision of what Scotland could be and standing by it, win or fail. But that, one might argue, is what Corbynism was all about, and look at what happened there (and I don’t say that with any glee: I was rooting for England to rediscover its radicalism as much as anyone). The SNP, it seems to me, are a left of centre party, trying to be a broad church and appeal to the majority in order to win the prize. Honestly, if they were, for example, to adopt Commonweal’s policies wholesale, do you think that would work? I genuinely don’t know. I thrill to the idea of it, but fear the caution of my fellow Scots. Hmm, I think I need that pint!

          PS, my internet is patchy, so this may be a repeat of what I already tried to send.

          1. Michael says:

            Thanks Dougie. It is good to get your perspective.

            I do generally support the core Common Weal proposals. For example, it is essential to have a properly thought through proposal for what and how the core institutions of the financial system would be established, paid for and operate etc.

            But my beef with NS is not that she isn’t going down the Common Weal route (a route, that in any other era, would be considered very conservative and common sense). My beef is that there are no costed proposals for almost any of the key issues – at all. And not even a mention of them! And just when the UK gov is in a total mess. Building support for indy should have been pushing at an open door for the last 5 years. But how have has the SNP leadership actually capitalized for the benefit of the indy movement? The small growth in support for indy could easily be put down to the horror of what WM has been up to the last half decade. I just find it unbelievable how little headway the SNP leadership has made with indy given the gifts that London has kept on giving.

            I think Bill might be on to something with his take on things!

      3. Jo says:

        Dougie and Chris

        Thanks for both of your posts. I agree.

        I personally am very uneasy with the negativity and the divisions in the independence movement right now. If people want to know what happens to movements where factions, bitter factions, thrive and grow and ultimately destroy, they need look no further than the Labour Party.

        For me, at the moment, the Scottish Government is dealing with a dangerous pandemic which has left few parts of our lives undisturbed. That MUST be the priority. The Scottish Government is dealing with that for all of Scotland, the entire electorate, as it should.

        I’m happy to be patient and disagree strongly with this article.

    2. David Allan says:

      we’ll never arrive if we allow the destination to get further away!

      In football parlance we need a penalty to score a winning goal. We ain’t going to win by play alone.

      Somebody needs to take the preverbial dive.

    3. Lorna Campbell says:

      CC: so many look at the situation unilaterally. England-as-the-UK is, even now, and under the radar, voting through legislation that is anti EU and pro Brexit. Any decision taken is not unilateral; and they have the upper hand. If people would just think about that Brexit means in reality, they would understand that there is no way we can be allowed to go our own way, to wait to go our own way or to persuade others to let us go our own way. That 2014 NO vote f****d everything up for Scotland, and the only hope we have now is to get out quickly before we are corralled and reduced. That is precisely why the second indyref has been a self-made trap that hinders rather than helps. I don’t buy into the notion that an indyref – or any referendum – can be the primary source of our democracy. Why would 55% as opposed to 45% (with the 45% now close to, or actually, 50%) in light of the massive constitutional changes that have taken place without Scotland’s consent since 2014, entitle anyone to claim that this is democracy. It is one vote on one day in an ever-changing political landscape. It was a vote for the status quo which changed within two years. It is a patently undemocratic nonsense. Why should one 50% be democratic but the other 50% undemocratic, particularly in light of the primary source of all democracy everywhere in the world – elections – in which the SNP, the supposed party of independence, has won on each and every occasion since 2007, just because it won a vote – around which there are still questions – on one particular day? All we are doing by insisting on another indyref – sanctioned by Westminster or otherwise – is handing the advantage, yet again, to the Unionists and British Nationalists. It is insanity. We could lose it again. The foolish complacency at the heart of this referendum trap will be our undoing.

  7. Andrew says:

    “on those very rare occasions when the UK Government has actually expressed a view on the constitutional position, it has consistently said that the Union is based on consent, and that if Scotland withdrew its consent it could leave.”

    In January of this year, the UK Government’s spokesman in Scotland, Alister Jack, announced that we are not in a voluntary union, by which he meant, “Shut up and do as you are told”. It was an astonishing statement because Scottish Unionism has always claimed the opposite and that therefore we cannot be called a colony. So are we now a colony?

    I agree, Alan, that the pro-Indy parties should go into next year’s election saying an overall win for them means the end of the Union and stop wasting time pleading to Westminster for permission to hold a referendum.

    1. Lorna Campbell says:

      Andrew: it is not so astonishing if you think about what it means. It means that, basically, in 1707, the English MPs believed that they had “catch’d” Scotland – i.e. that they, the English, had subsumed us. The one thing that stood out for me in the campaigning for the 2014 referendum was the number of people (Unionist) who believed quite sincerely, and without any sense of irony, that the UK is one country – not a political state comprising other parts than England, but, essentially, a Greater England. This is what so many Scots – even independence-supporting Scots simply cannot get their heads round. That is why the Treaty is important. That is why the Treaty will be crucial in any independence negotiations: precisely because England-as-the-UK will try to use it against us to remove the majority of our assets and resources from our hands. The UK was founded on the Treaties of Union, ratified by the Acts and translated into domestic legislation. The Treaty is an international document that must – not should or not could, but must – be adjudicated on in the international courts. England-as-the-UK bank on us never actually trying to ‘sound’ it in international law or to apply it to negotiations on our behalf. In that, according to this article, they would be right.

      Foolishness where our neighbours is concerned has been our bane almost as much as undermining from within because we refuse to be pragmatic and realistic about our neighbours and their very well attested to, perfidy. There will be no point in saying, “oh, we should have done something about the Treaty” when it is too late. To back up the resiling of the Treaty is every piece of legislation in England-as-the-UK’s favour since 1707. Added to that evidence could be the UN Charter on self-determination (now, undoubtedly independence rather than devolution or federalism or any other sop) and on human rights (England-as-the-UK preventing even the means to the means to independence). Unless we start to get to grips with the reality of the situation we are in, we can forget it all. There is no legal requirement for any kind of referendum. None. That is the first reality. Could we hold one if we did not have a S30 Order? Probably, but it would not be recognized as either constitutional or legal by the ‘British’ (English) Constitution, if the other court cases we have challenged on are anything by which to judge, devolution limiting our options, and Westminster claiming hegemony through parliamentary sovereignty. That’s the second reality. Could we win a second indyref in the unlikely event we held one? We might, but, then again, we might not. Winning by 50% + 1 will never be accepted by the Unionists, but I doubt we’d make even that when the chips were down. The Quebecois thought as so many here do – that it’s a done deal. It never is till you actually have it in the bag. They lost their second as they lost their first. So could we. That is the third reality. We could use the Claim of Right and the sovereignty of the people, but these are strictly Scottish Constitutional legal tenets, not British Constitutional ones, and they run contrary to sovereignty in parliament (the Claim of Right, used in 1998/99 was used under the auspices of Westminster sovereignty, not Scottish sovereignty, remember, and the reason why the Commons were happy enough to vote it through; they knew it is useless without their permission, according to the British Constitution). The fourth reality. We could utilize civil disobedience, but look where that got the Catalans, and how many of our politicians would risk going to prison on our behalf? Where has the international community been on that score? Nowhere. That is the fifth reality. There is nowhere to go except to the international courts and that would serve a dual purpose: it would keep Westminster’s and Whitehall’s sticky fingers out of our independence bid except to put their own contrary case, and, frankly, and legally, they do not have one except in the division of the spies after independence; and it would afford us international recognition at the point of independence, meaning that borrowing, etc. would become easier. We could lose our case and that would be that. It is a risk. That is the sixth reality. Nothing worth having is without risk or easy. Personally, if we employed the very best constitutional lawyers on this, I believe we would come through as an independent nation state. What do we have to lose? Just another indyref, if we ever have one this side of the 21st century, and before we are dismantled and regionalized into a Greater England. Think it would never happen? Aye, right!

      1. Michael says:

        Thanks Lorna – this gets to the heart of what worries me. The whole issue of independence is shrouded in so much emotional rhetoric, with an almost total absence of solid analysis in reference to the hard legal, political and economics realities of our situation. Why has there not be a television series(or at least something written) by serious and credible constitutional experts outlining the realities of our situation? This seems like a huge whole in the independence movement’s knowledge and understanding that then leads to endless conversations that go round and round based on what people “feel” about the issue, rather than a well founded understanding of the reality of our situation!

  8. Hamish100 says:

    Oh dear , not Nicola Sturgeon only Cherry can deliver.

    Actually it is rubbish on both counts.

    The Scottish electorate need to say Yes and with the undermining of the First Minister by so called pro independence supporters ( there all resigned from the snp apparently) are aiding the unionist cause.

    Once covid is controlled rather than eradicated we also have a roll to play, to convince No voters, the undecided that the best people to govern Scotland are us.

  9. John Monro says:

    Ireland – had to fight for its independence for generations. But imagine if an enlightened government of “Great Britain” had said in 1910, OK, you can have a referendum, which we will honour, what would have been the likely vote? 90% for independence?

    Contrast Scotland:, yes, a substantial number of Scots would seem to prefer independence, but that substantial number barely reaches parity with those who wish to remain part of the UK.

    Scotland’s wish for independence is then surely the very definition of half-hearted?

    By what right does a mere 50% plus whatever small amount creeps over this figure have to so completely dislocate the prior constitutional arrangement? I believe they don’t. We surely don’t need reminding in the UK as to how a very small majority on a simplistic binary question on a hugely important constitutional and societal matters brings serious disharmony. The referendum was always dishonest and divisive because of this. Philosophically it’s pretty easy. Leaving the EU was never the equal and opposite of staying in the EU. The actual equal and opposite was joining in the first place. The former brings great upheaval, the latter doesn’t cause a ripple. So a simple majority, which seemed to assume the former, was never reasonable.

    For Scotland to gain independence on a secure foundation surely you need to insist on say at least a 60% majority of those voting? Anything less is not sufficient for such fundamental constitutional change. I don’t think that will happen, unless a major economic crisis and near total failure of the body politic in the UK forces the Scots to look for their own solution. We may be closer to that time than most folk presently understand.

    1. John Monro says:

      Sorry, slightly confusing wording here, the sentence which starts “So a simple majority….” should read something like “So a simple majority, which assumed the yes or no vote as equivalent or equally valid, was never reasonable”

      1. David Allan says:

        I
        55% for YES would be a great outcome it was sufficient in 2014 to keep us in the union it therefore should be sufficient to deliver the opposite.

    2. Lorna Campbell says:

      “…Scotland’s wish for independence is then surely the very definition of half-hearted?…”

      Actually, JM, it is what we must expect in the ‘mature democracies’, as Quebec has shown. Studies have shown that the Western democracies are far more likely to lose independence referendums that not. Pre independence referendums are supremely unnecessary. There is no legal obligation to have one. It is a myth perpetuated by even independence supporters because they want to show how right-on they are with people who would happily trample on their rights. Anyone who tries to claim a pre independence referendum is necessary, is lying. That it might be convenient to hinder independence is another matter entirely.

      That is why I have always come down against them. They actually solve nothing, as we can see from our own, and are fundamentally undemocratic except in certain circumstances, such as devolution. Post independence referendums, or confirmatory/ratifying ones, are the norm, not the aberration. The aberration is the pre independence referendum. It shows just how easily people’s perceptions of reality and truth can be manipulated. Most people would not believe what I have just written. What our independence, I think, and it is just my opinion, must be based on is whether it would be beneficial to our citizens as a whole, and whether remaining in the Union is detrimental to the majority of our citizens. This must not be a perception, but a conclusion based on fact and a priori knowledge.

      I believe that the facts and all evidence shows that we are at a distinct disadvantage, that we are denied a voice, that, at no time in the past 300+ years, has England-as-the-UK ever treated us as an equal as the Treaty of Union intended, and as all the workings around the Treaty, show. Even the monarch, Queen Anne’s words to the new British parliament show that she, herself, intended that it should be a Union, not a takeover. It is now forgotten that it was Queen Anne, as the (separate for each) Head of State of both Scotland and England, who actually commissioned the Union, and not either of the two parliaments or peoples. For her, it was a natural progression from the Union of the Crowns. That she might have foreseen what happened – that England assumed a takeover – is another story. The fact is that it was never intended to be, as may be deduced very quickly from reading the Articles. Scotland remained a nation, but no longer a political state, exactly the same as England.

      We could make an excellent case on the Treaty, backing that up with reference to the modern UN Charter, to which the UK is a signatory. It is because we are too willing to believe the nonsense that is spouted by those with a vested interest in keeping the status quo that we are in such dire straits now. Unionists routinely spout absolute nonsense about the nature of the Union. It would be laughable if it were not so serious and undermining. That few of them even bother to question their own rubbish when faced by facts, tells you immediately that there is something for them in keeping the status quo. Unionism is little more than a collection of minority vested interests with one uniting theme – anti independence – no matter the harsh reality of Scotland’s situation now. That is the final reality that we need to get our heads round: we do not need to pander to these people under the mistaken assumption that we are being democratic. The UN Charter, to which the UK, their precious Union, is a signatory, states as much; they are the anti democrats. The truth is that they are being supremely undemocratic, and, furthermore, they know it, and they ‘game’ the electoral system on the knowledge that they are being undemocratic.

  10. Fay Kennedy says:

    it seems there is a majority of folk in Scotland who are like the ‘abused child/adult’ who return to their abuser because they have never experienced anything different so cannot imagine a ‘different country’. There is a long history of what colonisation does to a population who are in the minority on that island of Britain. I do believe Ireland had the advantage of being a separate land mass and people are place not some abstract notion of the ‘voter’. I speak from the perspective of a working class woman of senior age living in the British colony of Australia which has practised the same policies as it’s mother country Britain. The effects are no different other than the sun shines more often but the culture is not very different. i could die happy if only the Scottish people and all oppressed peoples could awaken to a new way a new world where common decency and community were the given. Dreams are not easy to let go of.

  11. Roland says:

    I’m with Dougie on this. Keep the heid. Time and demographics are on our side.

  12. Heath Braxton says:

    This is how Ireland went independent in 1918. It is often forgotten that the Irish nationalists only won 49% of the vote in that election but a huge majority of the seats. No one questions their right to independence now. For maximum legitimacy Scotland should use the next Westminster election as a referendum as the author quite rightly stated that the MPs are the highest authority. That’s how the Irish did it. It worked for them and it can work for Scotland too.

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      Ireland went into a Civil War after that Election, Heath. That’s something we can well do without in Scotland!

      The problem with not having a referendum is that there will always be those arguing that the new nation lacks legitimacy. People can get very worked up about that sort of thing; we only have to read our history books and look around the world today to emphasise the point.

      Should the next Election be announced as a plebiscite what happens if people who voted SNP or Green last time for social or economic reasons get cold feet and vote Labour or Liberal instead? If the pro-Indy majority at Holyrood is lost then all we’ll have done is set independence back by 5 years and voted in a more right wing government as well. Much better, surely, to get that healthy majority in place and then set about preparing for, and winning, a referendum.

      Not having our new nation demonstrably supported by a majority of the population would be like being awarded the League title before the season has finished! Our celebrations just wouldn’t feel the same because, deep inside, we would know it wasn’t really legitimate, and if we know it then the Unionists will know it too and I can’t see them just thinking “Such is life” and keeping their thoughts and actions to themselves; can you?

    2. Lorna Campbell says:

      HB: since devolution and the setting up of the parliament, It is the Holyrood party – the SNP MSPs – that are the authority. It is the FM, not the Westminster parliamentary group leader, who would be the fist leader of an independent Scotland. If we cannot win in the SE, the GE is an irrelevance. We must win within Scotland itself, and, frankly, we do not have the time to waste to wait for another GE, unless Johnson’s handling of the pandemic works against him and he is forced to call yet another GE.

  13. Joan says:

    Leaving the Union would be disastrous for Scotland, as even the SNP’s Growth Commission admitted. We should focus on repairing the damage the current Scottish Government ‘s obsession with separatism has done to the country instead of looking to inflict further damage. There is no economic case for leaving the Union. Accept the wishes of the majority, and move on.

    1. Bill says:

      Sorry Joan, there are many reasons for Scotland to seek to be independent from the Union. Not the least of which is economic. Over the piece there have been a number of studies that demonstrated our ability to survive and to prosper economically. The SNP Growth Commission has attracted serious criticism from a number of sources and is deemed by many to be seriously flawed.

      The austerity approach of Osborne and the coalition was a catastrophe. The economist who suggested the approach said that in cases of inflation in excess of 15% it was the way to go. Osborne did not even have inflation near double figures. Further to that the originator of the policy had recanted before Osborne took the decisions.
      On the score of that ten years of economic incompetence alone there is sufficient reason for Scottish independence.

      Many were persuaded to vote NO because of all the promises and the VOW. Were we not told that voting No was the only way to stay in Europe – where are we now? were we not promised a shipbuilding contract for 13 frigates?- where are we now? We do not need another period under the incompetence of Westminster.

      With independence we can be Scotia citizens, we can make mistakes, but they will be ours and we can prosper by our own efforts.

      Bill

    2. Lorna Campbell says:

      But you are no longer the majority – if you ever were – are you, Joan? I could reasonably ask: why don’t you accept independence and move on?

  14. Alin says:

    A very interesting piece of writing and I agree with much of what is being said. I cannot see Westminster consenting to a referendum again simply because Scotland has elected a majority of MP’s or MSP’s in favour of independence – that is exactly where we are now. I agree completely with Alan Crocket that it has to be a clear majority of votes, I say 60%, and a majority of elected members all clearly voting for independence. A referendum by the Scottish Parliament without the authority of Westminster is likely to be boycotted by Unionists and the result will lack credibility and be thwarted by Westminster.

    The way forward is indeed through a Westminster election and dangerous (electorally) as it may be, it really has to be a general election campaign on that single issue – win or out if necessary. This would allow time to build a proper campaign and sell what an independent Scotland is all about. What country ever voted for independence because there was going to be a living wage for everyone and so on – these are things that get a party elected within an existing system as is running a competent government which in itself does not obtain independence – hence non-indy voters voting SNP within the Union. Scotland is not down trodden or under any boot and a lot of people do very nicely thank you under the current system – what is the purpose of independence for them?

    It would allow an enthusiastic but fractured Yes movement to be co-ordinated and importantly, and as an SNP member, it would give time for the SNP to rebuild its branches and its vast army of enthusiastic supporters which have somewhat withered in attendance in recent years as nothing is happening. We could forget everyone banging on about a referendum which is only a vehicle to vote it’s not a message – if there was a referendum tomorrow, what does independence mean?

    Lastly we need a real vision delivered with brevity and wit “a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick inventive way to create humour”.

  15. Stroller says:

    This issue was discussed on Bella just a few months ago, I don’t really see the point of going over the ground again, because we know that the SNP will not turn the parliamentary elections into a plebiscite on independence because Nicola Sturgeon has said so.

    There are good reasons to try to secure another referendum rather than go the plebiscite route. Referenda are the way constitutional matters have been decided in Europe over the last few decades – they have become fashionable you might say – and while it is true that even Margaret Thatcher – in her autobiography I think – states that if the Scots were to return a majority of pro independence MPs they could go their own way without any quibble, the international perspective and most importantly securing recognition from other European States should be paramount in people’s minds. As we have seen with the C19 calamity, Scotland is totally reliant on cooperation with other countries, we do not make anything here these days at all really and international recognition is important to a new nation State, especially one floating a new currency if that is eventually the plan.

    It seems odd, by the way, that when Johnson said no to a second referendum, no-one in the SNP bothered to remind him very sharply in public that the idol of Tory England, Margaret Thatcher, always unequivocally backed the right of self-determination of the Scottish nation. What do all those SNP advisers and staffers do all day except retweet Nicola Sturgeon?

    Talking of which, the announcement in The Guardian today by The Adam Smith Institute, and the 1922 Committee, that neo-liberal austerity is over for good means that the SNP commissioned Andrew Wilson Growth Report is now more right-wing in terms of economic policy than Conservative England. Wilson and his crew at his consultancy firm Charlotte Street Partners were already to the right of the editorial line of The Guardian and the Financial Times back at the time when the infamous document was published, but to be outflanked on the left side by the 1922 Club and the Adam Smith Institute marks a new low for the SNP….

    Nicola Sturgeon says that the Sustainable Growth Report was not binding, which begs the question, why did the Scottish govt commission it, how much did it cost, and what use is it now except to pull apart and use to build paper aeroplanes with during lockdown?

    But like everything else involving the opaque, highly top down SNP – run by a married couple in the shape of the FM Sturgeon and her husband, Peter Murrel, CEO of the party, an iron fist in a velvet glove so to speak – nobody asks the questions for fear of a torrent of insult, abuse and invective, even below the line on Bella Caledonia…

    All in all, another day in Scotlandshire…

    PS: Re Peter Murrell we know next to nothing. Why? He is, after all, the CEO of the party which is asking for our votes?

    1. Lorna Campbell says:

      Stroller: the advent of other pro independence parties in the List might just be the beginning if the SNP continues to renege. There is still time to stand against the SNP in the FPTP ballot. As an SNP voter, I would not want that, but if they behave with the same kind of arrogance as Westminster and the Tories, something is going to give. A party that does not reserve the right to change its mind as circumstances change, is going nowhere. The SNP should take the advent of the new parties as a warning shot across its bows. It has dallied far too long to no effect. There never was the remotest chance of turning Brexit unless the English electorate wanted it turned and, again, only if the vested interests who wanted it – and, more than any, they do – so four years were wasted in trying to overturn it when we could have been readying ourselves for independence. I am not blaming Nicola Sturgeon for that: she knows that mighty England still has clout; and we are small. However, if you never take the decision to stand up to those who would do you down for their own purposes, you will never be able to lift your head and look the world in the eye. It is all about having the courage and backbone and, yes, taking the gamble that you can prevail. Otherwise you just coast along, powerless and beaten down, until the anger boils over and something drastic occurs that you never planned for.

    2. Lorna Campbell says:

      Stroller: you say that Peter Murrell is the iron in the velvet glove? Do you mean that our FM is a wife who defers to her husband in matters that he has no locus? That, as a woman, she is incapable of taking the decisions? I have not always agreed with her strategy or tactics, but I think that is as far from the truth as you can get. I would imagine that they talk about those issues that she is allowed to talk about, as they probably agree on a great deal, but he is not either her Svengali nor her eminence grise. What an insult that is to all women. This is a great part of the problem within the SNP: women feel alienated from these patriarchal male assumptions about their place and their influence. Women voted against independence by some 57% in 2014. If the SNP wants to bring women into the independence sphere (once they are for independence, they are totally committed in a way that men are not, because they have so much more to lose) they are going to have to put some sense into many of the men. Same goes for all the parties, and society itself. We really, really, really are not going to put up with this misogyny for very much longer, and we will find ways to show men that we mean it. This kind of nonsense is ridiculous in the 21st century when we should all be looking out for each other, everywhere.

      1. Stroller says:

        No. I mean merely that Murrel must be responsible for a whole number of things we don’t know about as CEO in such an opaque and watertight party where nothing is ever leaked – like, say, the party hierarchy, its internal workings, and disciplinary matters (“iron fist”) related to those things – whereas Nicola Sturgeon is the public face who is sugar and spice and all things nice (“velvet glove”). She is so obviously the architect of so much SNP policy making that I’m not even going to get into the idea that I’m trying to portray her as just stooge to her mysterious husband. Nobody could ever believe that, and as far as I know, no-one has ever hinted at such a ridiculous idea eve allowing for the lurid ravings of the Scottish press corps.

        They are both very able people, that is not in question… but it is very undemocratic to have a husband and wife team running a political party as big as the SNP, especially in a country where there is no real opposition and such a weak press. It’s a damning indictment of Scotland’s long Unionist tradition that there is not one single politician on the Opposition benches who can ever lay a glove on Sturgeon… if there was a wife and husband leading the Labour Party or the Tory Party I’m sure we’d never hear the end of it…

        I would say women are well represented in senior SNP leadership. You’re not happy with Sturgeon, Hyslop, Freeman, Kate Forbes, et al? If you think women should be given all the jobs in Sturgeon’s cabinet, then fine by me, just say so… why not?

        1. Chris Connolly says:

          For you to speak of “torrent of insult, abuse and invective, even below the line on Bella Caledonia” as if you are not one of the worst offenders illustrates an almost Trumpian level of brass neck. If a Unionist-leaning person who might be having second thoughts were to drop in s/he might well be intrigued and interested by this conversation till s/he came to your contribution at which case s/he would probably run back to the safety of the other side.

          Like every troll who ever existed on any forum you continually put words into people’s mouths and then tear them down for saying what they never said in the first place. You’ve done it again here. At what point did Ms Campbell say she wanted an all-woman front bench? If you don’t think women have additional barriers put before them in order to progress in politics or any other walk of life then either you walk around with your eyes closed, you are being deliberately disingenuous or, and having encountered you myself and been insulted uphill and down dale as a consequence, you are just looking for an argument.

          The Scotland that most of us crave is a tolerant and compassionate one. Look those words up in a dictionary; you might learn something useful.

          1. Stroller says:

            Chris Connolly, I would kindly ask you not to respond to any of my posts. I have not insulted you or anyone on these pages, that is simply false.
            You have insulted me several occasions on these pages the other day, and I do not understand why you continue to harass me by replying to my postings, with more insults added today for good measure.
            Please be a reasonable person and stop engaging with me.
            And why not Mike Small if I’m a troll?
            I’m a regular contributor on Bella Caledonia, and have been for many years, both above and below the line.
            I’m an independence supporter critical of the SNP’s leadership of the independence movement…

          2. Stroller says:

            Bella, if you are going to allow somebody like Chris Connolly to follow people like myself over various threads insulting them for holding a point of view different to his own, then I will not be contributing here again.

            Bella was always a non party political site, but now it has clearly fallen into the hands of SNP zealots.

            There are obviously some very important issues pertaining to Scottish democracy and the SNP leadership which deserve scrutiny, without that meaning that one is a troll, or the member of some faction…

          3. Can we keep these exchanges civil please?

            Bella is a non-party political site, and will forever remain so, it has fallen into the hands of nobody.

            It should be perfectly possible to have exchanges of views without being abusive.

          4. Can we keep these exchanges civil please?

            Take this as a yellow card.

          5. Chris Connolly says:

            I guess I imagined Stroller addressing me by my surname as if I’m his butler on the “Happy Mondays” thread last week. Also his assigning opinions to me that are the direct opposite of the ones I hold.

            Here’s the evidence and then that’s this dialogue over because everyone else has got better things to look at than this:

            “Oh yeah, here we go with the English superiority complex.”

            “Evidence? None whatsoever. Who needs it when we’re indulging in a centuries’ old prejudice? It’s just the same English superiority complex which got us into Brexit and is the ruination of this island.”

            The date of the lockdown is of itself an irrelevance, Connolly.”

            “Still, we’ve got Victory in Europe day to celebrate on Monday. There’s always that. Get your bunting out and unfurl your union jacks, and be sure to wear a knotted handkerchief on your head when the big day comes.”

            “Are you suggesting that Salmond is guilty Connolly?”

          6. Chris Connolly says:

            Warning taken on board. Apologies to Bella.

          7. Stroller says:

            Chris Connolly, of course you would go and find what I said and repeat it back to me… none of those comments can be described as are insults to you or your person by any reckoning…

            I’m not going to do the repeat the litany of abuse you have subjected me to for disagreeing with you… it’s too petty.

            I’m asking you once again and very plainly to cease engaging with me. Please respect my wishes.

        2. Lorna Campbell says:

          Stroller: that is not what I said. I don’t want men sidelined at all because I happen to believe that the human race has been utterly disadvantaged by the sidelining of women for millennia, and has been at least one of the reasons for the utter mess that we are in at the moment. I do not believe that women are, intrinsically, any better people than are men, but I do think that having all the power of the human race concentrated in the hands of one half of it for so long has meant that so much of what could have been brought to bear to mitigate the worst effects of human existence: wars and conflict; rampant capitalism and the concentration of money in the hands of the few at the expense of the many; and many other facts that show that the worst aspects of patriarchy have been given their head. I believe that, if women are sidelined again, and there appears to yet another movement towards that, the world will collapse in on itself because men, I think, are completely incapable of saving it alone. On the contrary, they will drive it to ultimate destruction. At the end of the day, Mother Nature has a way of restoring the balance. We shall see.

          The two jobs – of FM and of CEO – are quite separate, and independent of each other, with the CEO actually being an employee of the party, rather than a political appointment. I am sure they share a great deal, but, in no way, can Mr Murrell ‘run’ the party in tandem with his wife. Neither do I believe that the FM has deliberately tried to sideline independence; I do think that the NO vote of 2014 changed everything because it set a precedent that should never have been set at all, but which should have been a one-off as far as independence is concerned, and actually changed all concept of what democracy means in relation to constitutional matters. Basically, the NO vote was an ad hoc alliance of disparate and competing minority vested interests whose sole point of contact was in the anti independence alliance they set up. That, in itself, in case anyone is interested, was illegal according to international law and the UN Charter, specifically. Alex Salmond wanted to ensure that a win would be respected, but that was gambling on the fact that a win would end the S30 Order/Edinburgh Agreement route; the other thing was that, if we lost, and taking the devolution example, another indyref would always be in the offing. That, too, was a gamble, and one which, in my opinion, was wrong-headed because devolution is always a reserving of powers to the centre, while independence is removing powers from the centre – two very different situations and in no way alike. Yes, the desire for independence has grown, but not enough to leave Unionism standing on the blocks. That takes us back to the way that the ‘mature democracies’ reflect the desire for independence, and refutes the argument that people can be persuaded as things get worse. Often, it has the opposite effect.

          1. Strollers says:

            Murrel must be responsible for the internal working of the SNP, Lorna. Which would protect his wife who is First Minister from any internal dissent in a way which would not be the case if they were not husband and wife.

            That’s not good for democracy, to have a husband and wife who have complete control over the SNP, and consequently the independence movement. It’s just too much power in too few hands, and on too big an issue which means so much to so many of us..it’s a recipe for complacency, not to say disaster….

  16. Donald Gibson says:

    Not all SNP voters want independance now, we are happy to wait, and if the vote for the SNP at the next election was framed as you suggest, the result would not be as predicted. Sorry, the time is not here yet, but we will get there in the next ten years.

  17. Jack Allen says:

    Author is living in clous cuckoo land, as whether we are given the permission to vote on independence is neither here or there.
    When he talks about a majority, does he mean simply 51%? If that was the case, then as with Brexit, the country would be for ever divided. In addition, when the SNP are deposed, what’s to stop us having another independence vote and this time rejoin the UK. More chaos and division one would suppose?
    The real issue is the perilous state of the country, which after 10 years of misrule by SNP, has gone down the tube. During this time, lack of freedom, centralisation, control and mismanagement of the country has increased exponentially. Never has our NHS, Social Care, Education, Mental Health, Economy etc; been in a more perilous state.
    Finally, it is only with the moral and financial support from the UK government and Boris Johnson that we will get through the current crisis.
    Otherwise, we would be bankrupt, as would be the case if we ever became independent.

    1. Lorna Campbell says:

      Yes, all those other small, independent countries have come and begged at his table, too, and where would they be without the UK? Norway, Denmark, The Faroes, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia… You really need to show us how we are better off in the UK because many of us simply cannot see it. What we can see is quite the opposite. Any country that has borrowing powers, its own tax sources, its own central bank and bank of last resort, its own assets and resources, etc. would do as much as, and probably better than, the UK. Sorry, but the evidence is there for all to see with their own eyes. That you don’t or refuse to, is up to you. You can take a horse to water, as they say, but you cannot make it drink. Soon, you will be by-passed and we will no longer listen to your siren voices which do nothing to help, but always hinder. We must, or we will be in a mess that we will not get out of at all.

    2. Bill says:

      Sorry Jack, the ten years of misrule were by Westminster and the austerity that they imposed on all. See my earlier post. Why don’t the Tories not see that when they suggest that we raise our own income tax, that is de facto acknowledging our independence. We don’t need or want a referendum, we want independence – and in addition to the other points that have been made, the Declaration of Arbroath could be used to ensure that not only do we get rid of Westminster, we also get rid of the corrupt monarchy. ‘It cam wi a lass and it will gang wi a lass’.

      Bill

    3. Alin says:

      “Never has our NHS, Social Care, Education, Mental Health, Economy etc; been in a more perilous state.” Would you mind citing your sources and provide some comparative figures so we can judge for ourselves?

  18. Lorna Campbell says:

    Stroller: Mr Murrell’s running of the SNP machine has nothing whatsoever to do with the parliament and its procedures, and it is these which rule at Holyrood. You evidently know little knowledge of how either the party or the parliament works. Mr Murrell is chief of the nuts and bolts of the party in relation to its members, not the parliament and not the parliamentary parties in either Holyrood or Westminster. These are governed by rules that are agreed by parliament, not by the party machine. No one of any party can break the agreed rules without consequence. In which case, there would be no opportunity to cover anyone’s back. That is precisely the point I have been making for some time in relation to the accusations against the FM. Had she broken the procedures and rules that govern parliament and the parliamentary aspects of the party in relation to the nitty gritty of the Salmond trials, she, too, would have fallen with him, had he lost. Whoever wanted Mr Salmond off the scene, if that was what happened, and we are not at all clear on that, need not have been the same ones who wanted both of them off the scene at one and the same time, or as a domino effect that would weaken the SNP administration and the party simultaneously, if, indeed, that was the plan. If there was a plan.

    1. Stroller says:

      Yes, Lorna, I agree with you, Murrel has control of the party machine, which is the second most powerful position in the SNP after Nicola Sturgeon herself.
      He can effectively neutralise internal opposition to Nicola Sturgeon, should that be required.
      Do I have to spell out the name of the only other Scottish independence supporting politician, no longer in the SNP, who could pose a serious threat to their stranglehold on the party and by extension the Scottish independence movement?
      And it’s not question of them “not wanting independence”.
      It’s about them not wanting it enough…

      1. Stroller says:

        There are certain men and some women too with, as the saying goes, an absolute eye for the main chance…

  19. Alastair McIver says:

    This article does not propose a realistic route to Independence. You may well be technically correct about the legal position of using an election, rather than a referendum, as a poll for Independence. There is, however, a very good reason why not: WE WOULD LOSE! The referendum is so entrenched as Scotland’s gold standard that any attempt to deviate from that model will make the SNP appear as dangerous nutcases on the fringes of rational politics. A handful of hard-cores will back the move, but a lot of people will be put off the SNP and the Greens, and ignore all the other reasons for voting for them – which are many. A lot of people who don’t support independence have voted SNP, because they are the most competent party to govern Scotland.

    There is also a very good reason why a referendum, sanctioned by Westminster or otherwise, has not taken place this year: there is a global pandemic on!

    Nicola is not inert. Do not assume that because you cannot see her movement, that she is not moving. She’s playing a patient, subtle game which I’m convinced will pay off. I understand the impatience of those who want indepedence now. I feel it too. But we have to play the long game. Allowing a popular movement to take the UK Gov to court is a masterstroke, for example: if it succeeds, bring it! If it fails, we’re no further back, and she can honestly claim it was nothing to do with the SG.

    The implication that Nicola has somehow lost interest in independence is insulting nonsense. Let’s at least wait until there isn’t a global health crisis going on before we demand immediate action!

    1. Michael says:

      “Do not assume that because you cannot see her movement, that she is not moving.” – this is the line that I have been consistently feed for the last 4 years (with no evidence to support it) by my pals who have no inside track, but are plugged into social media and the SNP machine. It gt a couple of years ago. So you are asking just to “have faith” in our great leader?

      Everyone I know who has any inside track and/or professional connecting into Scottish politics (all pro-independence) tells me clearly that: she has no plan; there is no work being done currency etc; she can’t delegate; her MO is keeping tight control over the SNP machinery, and; that she is completely focused on keeping the troops on board. She’s great at the PR. I acknowledge that. I just don’t see any evidence that she is a strategist. Can you provide any evidence to back up your assurance?

    2. Lorna Campbell says:

      AM: independence cannot, ever, be won with subtlety. Independence can be won only by confronting the immoveable object that is preventing it, and shoving it out of the way. If you can give us an example of subtle winning of independence by any country, we’d be glad to hear of it. Nicola Sturgeon is stymied. We all are. Brexit will continue even while the pandemic rages. There will be no subtle way to escape Brexit, believe me. Apart from the 1998/99 referendum which led to devolution, and the 2014 one which proved conclusively that the forces of Unionism, all minority vested interests, allying to prevent what is an international human right, and to which the UKG is signed up, will never relent, we have been conned. In fact, the 1998/99 referendum was also a con in that it was intended to retain power, which it did. Alex Salmond, wisely, in my view, wrung the S30 Order/Edinburgh Agreement out of Cameron with the intention of waiting another year or two before actually using them. In the event, Cameron would have withheld those had Salmond not held the indyref when he did (Cameron did not want it to coincide with the Brexit referendum, which, in hindsight, we can see, would have probably led to a YES vote). The loss of that referendum in 2014 meant that any recourse to a referendum should have been abandoned as impossible since Westminster would never allow another (even with all the interference, and I would think much more will emerge in the coming years), we came uncomfortably close ever to be allowed a second. Every principle of the ‘British’ Constitution (wholly English) will be brought to bear should we attempt an unsanctioned one. Our one hope is to persuade the SNP to place a policy in their Manifesto that will allow them to move straight to independence – via resiling the Treaty or simply by declaring independence on the result, assuming they win. Once we are in the Brexit negotiations and, particularly the ones with the US that are running parallel under the radar, we will be tied into pan-UK trade, financial, etc. contracts that will be impossible to break without massive financial loss. If you want to sit around waiting for that to happen, just ignore my comments. If not, think about pressuring the SNP into utilizing the Treaty, God’s gift to our small, struggling nation; think about crowdfunding a commission of two constitutional lawyers (two to get all aspects covered) to take us out of the Union constitutionally, legally and democratically (with a confirmatory/ratifying referendum after independence). Why do you think Cameron commissioned his to to show that Scotland had been subsumed, but never used it in 2014? Because the implications for England-as-the-UK, if the Treaty were to be resiled, were dire, that’s why, and because the arguments of Crawford and Boyle were demolished utterly by the two constitutionalists, (the late) Professor Walker, and Professor Campbell, of Liverpool (John Moore’s) University.

      1. Alin Scot says:

        I agree with Lorna. However once the pandemic is over we are back to concluding Brexit. I am not quite sure what it is we are waiting for in order to press the go button but we are currently completely unprepared. There is no training of supporters, no co-ordination of others such as Yes groups, no proper campaign, no posters, no information on Scotland’s potential future. We have had the post 2014 referendum crescendo followed by majority seats in both parliaments, at least two elections, re-election of Tories twice, Theresa May, Boris Johnson with Donald Cummings.

        We have had the Brexit campaign where SNP campaigned hard to keep UK in and success would have made our cause so much more difficult to achieve. Now we have the pandemic and its aftermath which will be financially devastating, will that be the catalyst or do we need better times – now is not the time – now is never the time – when is the time – what planets and stars have to be in alignment. Where is the passion, where is the anger, where are the answers, where are the rebuttals?

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