Stronger Things

Continuing his guest-residency Gordon Guthrie reflects on the British crisis, the SNP’s lack of strategy and future choices.

Question 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?

To describe the SNP’s current position as unclear would be excessively polite. Contrary to popular wisdom it is possible to have elections-as-referenda, and we have had a lot of them, particularly in Northern Ireland. They are a symptom not of a mature democracy but of a country in crisis. The UK is in deep crisis, I think nobody can deny that, but we are not yet in a situation where every election is a crisis election: Westminster, Holyrood, local council, university rectoral…

The SNP is a constitutional party in an aconstitutional state – the constitution is written but can be freely jiggered by the person holding the magic crown-in-parliament, and there is a crooked electoral system that throws the leading party a huge seat bonus – 20% of all Westminster seats for Thatcher and Blair and a measly but decisive 12% for the current government – a bonus that is bigger than their majority, and more than Scotland sends.

The current strategy of patiently making requesting a working constitutional settlement for a voluntary union -“may we have an agreed Section 30 referendum?” – denied by politicians, “can we have an advisory referendum?” which may well be denied by the courts, is a fundamentally constitutional policy. But at some point, against an aconstitutional opponent, the road runs out.

One of the lessons of Northern Ireland is that elections-as-referendums are usually wrecking elections, elections to still-birth something, institutions, changes, adaptions. Our strategic goal is not to accumulate a list of ways we were denied an independence referendum but to actually build an agreed roadmap to an independence that will be internationally accepted and let us rejoin Europe and the modern world.

But the disorientating part of elections-as-referendums is they usually become so in the moment, in a crisis. The context of these articles has dramatically changed in the few days between their commissioning and you reading them.

If we are having an election-as-referendum what question is on the ballot? One that excites Yes voters: should Scotland be independent? Or one that the majority of voters, Yes and No, agree with: are the people of Scotland sovereign?

Contrary to popular believe there is no such thing as a soft No voter. In 2014 there were hard Yes voters and hard No voters and soft voters. We would do well to remember that.

Us being a democratic and constitutional party is our strength, the support that the peoples of Scotland have for our parliament and government is our fortress. We need to build a campaign that faces outwards, that includes as many as possible, however uncomfortable that might make some of us feel.


Comments (13)

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  1. Sandy Watson says:

    And Gordon,
    “We need to build a campaign that faces outwards, that includes as many as possible, however uncomfortable that might make some of us feel.”

    Your ideas on how best to do that?
    And how to get it moving?

    Perhaps only a year to do it in!

    1. Cameron Fraser says:

      It’s not going to happen.
      Not with this right wing gang of opportunists that hold sway in WM.
      The best tactic must be to remove them from power and trust that a labour Gov will be persuaded that Scotland’s people must decide on how their country is run and by whom.
      The biggest threat to Scotland and indeed all the people living in these Islands, is the Conservative & Unionist Party, who, as recent events have shown, will pursue idealistic dogma regardless of the harm and suffering it will bring.
      Remove them first.

      1. Alan C says:

        Labour are no more predesposed to Scottish independance than the tories, we need to drop this notion that we need the permission of another country, we don’t.

        1. Gordon Guthrie says:

          The Labour voters in Scotland are part of this country and are not going anywhere – and a chunk of people who have voted SNP might just switch back.

      2. JP58 says:

        For the overall good of UK the Tories must be removed from power. Labour will not be so bad as not so ideologically focussed on reducing size of state regardless of impact on weakest in society.
        From a Scottish perspective Labour will only be receptive to a Scottish Independence Referendum if SNP hold balance of power.
        Otherwise they will be hostile to independence- evidence: last week’s Labour conference where SNP were vilified to appeal to English Red Wall voters, Scottish Labour leadership utterances & Bain Principle.
        In many ways Labour are more hostile to Scottish independence as they still see Scotland as their fiefdom whereas Tories have not won a significant number of seats in Scotland for many years and their is also a growing section of Tory Party who are primarily English nationalists and would gladly see Scotland go their own way.
        I speak as a former Labour voter who now votes SNP. My vote would be up for grabs again post independence. I believe there are many ex Labour voters who think and vote in a similar manner and Labour leadership seem determined to alienate us at every opportunity.

      3. Gordon Guthrie says:

        That’s part of it, but not enough, the UK desperately needs to move to working institutions – not just Scotland.

    2. Alex McCulloch says:

      ……is what we should be thinking, talking and writing about!

    3. Alex McCulloch says:

      Is what we should be thinking, talking and writing about!

  2. Gordon+G+Benton says:

    Absolutely agree it is time to bang heads together (no criminal violence intended, Your Honour!).
    Been looking for ideas as to best this be done; perhaps we need a super power to bring Sturgeon, Salmond, the YES Groups and all other Indy folk together.
    The mibbees need to be contactable and concerns addressed: who/what will be responsible for them?
    The young folk, largely pro-Indy according to the polls, need to be educated into HOW TO VOTE; so far they haven’t shown too much interest in bothering or have picked up the the courage to vote.
    An out of the box suggestion! We live in a Global World – economically, environmentally, educationally. Scotland must/ should see itself as a World Nation, and change its spectacles from ‘short’ to ‘double vision’. Conventionally countries relater to foreign countries through the setting up a Foreign Service, with Ambassadors, Military Attaches (selling war materiel), propagandists, spies and so on. Scotland has one of the largest Diasporas in the World, perhaps 25 million (45 million according to Alex Salmond). They are in every country, running many banks, trading houses, professionals of every discipline, advisors to local Ministers. We are, from my experience held in high respect for loyalty, hard work, intelligence and education. As Ireland did to help it through its financial crisis, should we not bring that body of Scots into the fold?

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      “I wonder my blood, will it ever return, to help us breathe the life back into a dying mutual friend? Do we not love her, do we not say we love her, do we have to roam the world to prove how much it hurts?” Better words never spoken (sung.)

    2. 221004 says:

      Given that they no longer participate in the civic life of the political community (e.g. vote or pay taxes here), can the diaspora still be considered ‘Scots’?

  3. dave says:

    How about this Gordon. A DECLARATION of SCOTLAND’s INDEPENDENCE. period.

    Scotland being a SOVEREIGN nation doesn’t need any referendum. Just because the BRITISH F.M. NU-S.N.P. Leader says we do, and it appears that a great number of authors, like yourself, parrot the Sturgeon line does not make it true. What is even more surprising is that none of said authors don’t seem to get that F.M. Sturgeon does not want Scotland to be independent and has said so. Her in-actions over the last 9 years proves it.

    Independence will come through ALBA, led by a dynamic leader, ALEX SALMOND, with ISP party and other true Indy organizations. Alex Salmond is a true Independista who stands up for Scotland. F.M. Sturgeon is a fake who begs our English colonial masters for permission to hold a useless non-binding referendum.

    Quote from Alex Salmond in reference to the NU-S.N.P.: BRITAIN (England) is bust and independence supporting MP’s should be preparing the SCOTTISH Lifeboat not manning the bilge pumps in the sinking English ship BRITANNIA.

    1. James Mills says:

      Keep taking the tablets , ‘Dave ‘ !

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