Navigating Through for Scotland

This is the first of a mini-series, one a day all week, asking questions about where we are and what next for the constitution.

We are living in uncertain times. The UK is in the midst of an institutional crisis.

Before New Labour, Robin Cook established his chops with his speech on the Scott Report. He speed-read the embargoed million words in a couple of hours and barnstormed the parliamentary debate.

This triumph was a mark of deep rot. Bouncing is not serious institutional oversight.

Last week Kwasi Kwarteng bounced the economy off a cliff: no Perm Sec, no OBR.

The SNP is a constitutional and institutional party in a state that is aconstitutional and in deep institutional crisis. Not lawlessly aconstitutional, not a terror state, but a crumbling mish-mash of feudal remnants, some tarted up and made startlingly modern. Mediaeval and fake-mediaeval melded together. Running through it though is a golden thread of crown-in-parliament worn by a series of pretenders.

We are painfully attempting to find a constitutional way to exercise our political rights – we are not putschists. And there is no way without engaging our opponents – we must agree it with them.

The SNP government must remember it is not a government for a party, or movement, but all Scotland, yes and no alike.

We don’t want an independent Scotland, we want the people of Scotland to freely want an independent Scotland – we, and are our government both, are servants of the electorate. The choice should not be Scotland or hell.

Our government, with the other governments in these islands, shares responsibilities towards the UK. We have to be one of the grown-ups in the room.

Current polling would give Labour up to 550 seats – an institutional apocalypse might be upon us. In 1918 Sinn Féin got a clean sweep in the south on 48% of the vote. In February 1974, a 51% victory saw Northern Ireland return 11 out of 12 anti-power sharing MPs – lighting the fuse on an armed general strike, the collapse of the 2-month-old Sunningdale Executive and 25 years of misery and death.

We too have had 3 wipeout elections since 2015 that left half the voters unrepresented at Westminster – luckily, we have PR at Holyrood and are spared the horrors of 120 SNP MSPs.

When FPTP goes off-piste it really goes off-piste, and when it has, it has wrenched the state.

Does the SNP currently have a strategy for this future? We do not.

There are 4 questions the SNP (party, movement, parliamentarians and government alike) need to have answers to, and in the run up to conference I will be considering them one a day:

  1. Which election is the referendum? next Holyrood?, Special Holyrood?, next Westminster? And what is the referendum-election question? “Should Scotland be independent” or “Does Scotland have the right to an indyref?”
  2. Under what circumstances would the SNP participate in a Labour-led constitutional process if it brought PR and reformed the Lords?
  3. Under what circumstances would the SNP-Green government trigger a Holyrood Special Election in defence of devolution?
  4. Under what circumstances, if at all, would the SNP government move to open defiance of Westminster?

And a couple of bonus questions for the bar in Aberdeen:

• should our leader be elected by our MSPs only?
• when do we stop using the term nationalists to describe ourselves?

Comments (10)

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  1. Gordon+G+Benton says:

    I am asking them “On matter ‘Independence’, what exactly are the punters voting for?” … but no response.
    “What will (certainly) happen on Independence … and what COULD happen if we wanted it?”
    I don’t know, and believe that the SNP have the talent to put it all out on the table. WE NEED TO KNOW.
    The SNP may already be working on this AND the draft Scottish Constitution which we must have before any election/ referendum/ UDI, but just please tell us it is coming!

  2. Jacob Bonnari says:

    1. Next Westminster GE. Better to argue who has a mandate on a FPTP result that your opponents also seek to use for their cuts, tax giveaways, nuclear bombs and wars.
    2. Up front about it – abolition of the HoL, PR, an English parliament and the right of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland working together to out vote England on matters of foreign policy and tax.
    3. If the UK govt seeks to take any further powers away or to force a reorganisation of Scotland over the heads of Holyrood.
    4. Removal of the ECHR and (further?) privatisation of the NHS.

    Bonus Questions:
    No. Leaders should be elected by the membership. But the process has to be structured to weed out the loons, the liars and the leadership’s toadies. If elected by the MSP and the MSP are appointed/approved by the leader then you’ll end up with a nomenklatura. For now one ofnthe strengths of the SNP MP and MSP is that they broadly reflect the makeup of Scotland and are therefore accessible and relatable. Nicola Sturgeon went to Dreghorn Academy which is about as normal as you can get. I can’t take Anas Sarwar seriously as a leader of the Labour Party’s Scottish Branch. Hutchie posh-boy millionaire, who sends his kids to private school and whose family firm isn’t great on workers rights. Man of the people? My arse.

    I’d keep it for as long as we’re not independent. I’d use Unionist or Britis Nationalist for our opponents.

    My bonus question:
    In the 80s we saw CoS Ministers willing to put their liberty on the line for the moral cause of opposing nuclear weapons. In 2022 we see primary school teachers and retired CoE priests being incarcerated for protesting peacefully against climate change, again a moral cause. Which SNP leaders, if any, would put their liberty on the line for Scottish Independence?

    1. Gordon Guthrie says:

      The leadership question comes from watching the Tories elect a leader who didn’t command majority support of their members in the House of Commons. Its a simple practical question. Our leadership rules date from when we didn’t have any elected members.

  3. Matt says:

    The way to engage with your opponents is to first engage with your potential supporters, but there is no evidence of team indy trying to engage with the soft Noes to build a substantial majority. Talk to me about the tax and spend projection in the early years. Talk to me about what sterlingisation looks like when you are running a current account and fiscal deficit…….

    1. dave says:

      Well Matt, you must be referring to the NU-S.N.P. under the leadership of the admitted BRITISH F.M. LEADER STURGEON. You are 100% correct.
      F.M. Sturgeon has never ever said that she wants independence but that the Scottish people will decide. She runs a BLACKOUT policy thus depriving the soft NOs and indeed the Scottish nation at large of just how rich Scotland really is economically, culturally and historically.

      She makes herself a laughingstock and we Scots at the same time by begging while curtsying to our colonial masters in London.
      F.M. Sturgeon along with her husband Mr. Murrell are UNIONISTS and have conned the NU-S.N.P. supporters in accepting her KICK the CAN
      agenda will achieve independence when in fact it will and is the exact opposite.
      That’s why I left the NU-S.N.P. and joined ALBA.

  4. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Unfortunately the debate is too polarised. I resigned from the SNP but will continue to work for an independent Scotland via our local non party Yes group. Nicola Sturgeon is a good manager of the Status Quo but lacks the guts to rock the boat. SNP party hacks manage the conferences to avoid serious debate and avoid serious questions.

    We lost Alex Salmond to an Unionist orchestrated political assasination and he is now beyond the point of return. With the help of non party organisations he was the guy that brought us the referendum in 2014 and was the touchstone that got us from 20% to 45% with radical policies and positive thinking. Nicola has done what that is radical? We are submerged in acrimonious debate about the GRA position and have reintroduced the start of the return of family allowances. Nothing about Local Government reform; nothing about land reform; no clear picture or plan to let the people decide on independence when, not if, Westminster says no.

    1. dave says:

      Hullo Dougie. As an EX-member of the OLD-S.N.P. not to be confused with the NU-S.N.P. I joined the ALBA party the minute Alex Salmond was appointed leader. I can assure you that he is back, and the ALBA party is as dynamic as the OLD S.N.P. was under his leadership. ALBA with the help of the ISP led by Collete Walker and all other true Indy parties will deliver Independence. F.M. STURGEON and her husband Mr. Murrell, the appointed CEO OF THE nu-s.n.p. are UNIONISTS.

      It is the NU-S.N.P. under the direction of the BRITISH F.M. Sturgeon who are saying that Alex Salmond is ‘finished’.

      I and the many EX-S.N.P.ers who have joined ALBA can assure you that is not the case. Just like the English Gov’t. F.M. Sturgeon is terrified of ALBA as she knows she is finished as ALBA is showing up her do-nothing agenda since 2014 unless one considers her begging to a foreign country for permission to hold a referendum which we (SCOTLAND) as a SOVEREIGN country do not need.

  5. 221003 says:

    All I want to know is a) how and by whom our political state would be constituted after we’d left the UK, and b) what preparation the Scottish government has made in anticipation of that process.

  6. Niall says:

    Great starter for 10 Gordon.
    Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    1. Gordon Guthrie says:


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