Democracy Now

The Scottish Independence movement is at a cross roads as regards strategy and tactics (not the same thing). In March, members of the SNP will meet to debate and determine future strategy for the cause of independence.  On the 25 and 26 of February the Aberdeen Independence Movement will host a major Progress to Yes event (tickets here). There are a multitude of other projects under way. The first few months of this year will be pivotal in deciding strategy and tactics in going forward.

Over this time Bella will be interviewing key organisations, activists, writers and organisers to host this discussion. We do this with an open mind and invite readers to submit articles and express their own views. We have contacted and commissioned dozens of voices from across the Yes movement and will be publishing their views by interview, podcast and article in the coming weeks.

There are clearly tensions within the SNP as within the wider independence movement about strategy and there is a significant change from the position of the consensus from when the plan was to ‘win a referendum and then win that referendum’. Writing in the Scotsman Stewart McDonald has written:

“One option that has been widely covered since the Scottish Government’s decision to go to the Supreme Court last year is that of a de facto referendum: using the next UK General Election as the platform to settle Scotland’s constitutional future. Such a departure from the referendum option that my party has long held would be a major one, and one that must not be taken lightly or birthed out of frustration.

Indeed, the combination of the court judgement and Westminster intransigence must not force us into seeking an answer to the wrong question, or down paths that won’t ultimately allow independence to be lawfully delivered.

Our debate between now and March must be wide-ranging in its consideration and go beyond the sole issue of process. The independence movement’s overarching task remains the same as it was before Lord Reed declared the court’s unanimous verdict: building majority support for independence.

If we approach the present quandary with the sole motivation of settling the independence question as swiftly as possible and only on our own terms, with no regard for the flexibility that politics demands, that will be a mistake. It would carry little appreciation of where public opinion stands on independence – which has shifted just over and under the 50% mark over the past year or so – and would risk undermining one of the pillars upon which an independent Scotland must be built: that of loser’s consent.

For many years we have separated a vote for the SNP and a vote for independence. If we are to ditch that patiently crafted position – central to delivering 16 successful years in government and mainstreaming our cause – then we should do so only on sound, solid merit, not a throw of the dice. It will be difficult to get back if we lose.

When we convene in 10 weeks time, we are not doing so to discuss party or government policy for the next parliament, but to author a new path forward in which we hope the country will give its consent. We should do so with a deep reverence for Scottish public opinion but always have the courage to lead.

We are debating Scotland’s future. That two-word phrase is one which rolls a little too easily off the tongue and should inspire more pause for thought than it often does.

Scotland will only become independent when a majority decide that Scotland should be independent.

While we have been driven to this conference by the die-hardism of Westminster, we must approach our great task of building a solid cross-country majority for an independent Scotland in a way that is deliverable, because it enjoys public consent.

Let us not lose sight of that as we seek a fresh way forward.”

This is a very interesting statement which suggests that there are very real tensions within the upper echelons of the SNP and the coming debate will not be characterised by the centrally controlled narrative of absolute unity.

The way forward is not clear and there is not consensus. Yet the idea that the independence movement is riven by deep divides or that the case of independence is faltering or over is also massively overplayed.

There are the following ideas on the table:

  1. A de facto referendum played out by the next UK General Election.
  2. A de facto referendum played out by a Scottish election.
  3. UDI, with various versions
  4. Lobbying for a Section 30 Order with the momentum of consistent pro-indy high polling 
  5. Independence is dead as an option, either due to SNP intransigence or other factors

We could add to the above the tactics of mass disobedience, civil disorder, non-violent action, withdrawal from Westminster, though these on their own don’t immediately bring the change required they may legitimately be part of a ratcheting-up of pressure.

Within options one and two there are variations of ideas that there should be a ‘single ticket’ for pro-indy parties and there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to either option. In option one there is a much clearer outcome/result from the FTPT system. In option two there is the control over the franchise (16 and 17 year olds and overseas residents could vote).

Everything has changed.

We are now in the phase of ‘Anglocentric British nationalism’ as described by Ciaran Martin here.

The goalposts have been moved.

What is the best way forward?



Comments (64)

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  1. dave. says:

    Hullo, Mike. You appear to be talking about the S.N.P. and not the INDEPENDENCE movement. The independence movement is led by Alba (by numbers), ISP and all the other Indy groups. Alba now has 23% of the vote = 20 seats as indicated by a very recent poll. That is a fact. The S.N.P. along with the 95% English-owned Scottish media are of course blacking out Alba news as always. Your point # 3, UDI, is the only one worth mentioning. The other points 1, 2, 4, 5 are just the usual Sturgeon – look at me, I’m doing something for independence- pretend strategy to keep her in power at Holyrood. Why is there an avoidance of Sturgeon’s ‘ I am British’ statement? also ‘Scotland will always be a part of Britain’? There is no country called BRITAIN or the U.K. Why do you say the Supreme Court when it is the English Supreme Court? The E.S.P has no power over Scotland’s laws. Alba, blacked-out by Sturgeon and the English media up here and ridiculed by the S.N.P. posters on the National (some are so obviously unionists) has already 23% and growing. The only Crossroads we ( Scotland ) are at is a committed ‘get independence’ Alba led by Scots versus a British Sturgeon-led S.N.P. to keep Scotland as a colony of England. The Scottish population sees how Alba stands up for our independence and the 9-year Sturgeon ‘do nothing’ except of course to refuse to back the only 2 Alba members when they stand up for Scotland at Westminster. An undeniable fact. 23% was from a few days ago. No doubt it is higher today.

    1. dave. says:

      Thousands sign a petition against Monarchy’s secret lobbying to be exempt from Scotland’s laws.
      Sturgeon answered stating: Scotland’s hospitals are almost completely full. So what is Sturgeon hiding? While her deflection will be accepted by her S.N.P.s the rest of us want an answer. She is also holding talks to expand an English railway (HS2) into Scotland. Her counterpart is Andy Burnham, her good English friend. Keeping Britain together is her goal. Oh, independence? Stand by as she will soon criticize Westminster for making a bad British decision. That’ll get things moving.

    2. Squigglypen says:

      Excellent Dave. You are not alone!
      For Scotland!

  2. Alan Austin says:

    Having read this piece I believe people wanting independence are in the minority and the only way it will be achieved is for them to be in the majority. The current SNP government’s performance has been very poor and unless this improves more voters will.move to NO then YES. Where is the case for independence apart from ” Westminster BAD” . The YES movement have to date not produced any piece of evidence that independence would be better than the current situation so why vote YES to an unknown situation??

    1. Squigglypen says:

      You are absolutely right Alan.. we must be ruled by another nation cos we’re too feart to do it ourselves…but wait!…why are all the countries on the planet independent…or in the throes of fighting for it or maintaining it……Ukraine? Really Russia’s not BAD….better do as Russia says….
      engage yer brain Alan…or even find it.
      For Scotland!

      1. dave. says:

        Hullo Squigglypen, Your answer to Alan Austin is 100% accurate. It would appear that Mr. Austin is a unionist, trying to pretend subtly that there is no case for independence and it is better to stay under English rule. (Better together). He uses the ‘do nothing’ plan of the Unionist Sturgeon as a base to justify his post. Sturgeon is on the way out and her S.N.P. party has a choice of joining the English Labour Branch at Holyrood in oblivion or
        joining Alba or ISP, as they are doing now if they truly want independence. We will be having a lot more ‘Alan Austins’ type posts from now on as the unionists know that their unionist Sturgeon is finished so they have to up their game. They are terrified of Alba as is Sturgeon.

    2. BSA says:

      In what way has the performance of the current Scottish government been ‘very poor’ and from whose perspective, in what context ? ‘Very poor’ is often asserted but never explained. England is the closest comparator. Would you take your chances there or in Scotland ?

      1. dave. says:

        Well, BSA You ask in what way has the S.G. been run by Sturgeon (you missed that bit out) very poor. I’ll just give you a couple of reasons as all of the answers would fill a very large book. 1) Perspective and context? = The Scottish population. Poorer now than in 2014.
        2) Very poor but never explained? It has been explained SEVERAL times. However here again is the answer. a) Sturgeon is only concerned with the area of Britain, not Scotland, as she herself declared that she is British and that Scotland will always be a part of Britain. b) She rules Scotland by English law. c) She begs England for permission to hold a referendum (12 times) and then meekly asks the English Supreme Court for a ruling of legality. You must know that English law doesn’t apply to Scotland as we are a sovereign nation. d)Sturgeon has also blacked out the most critical piece of factual information that all Scottish residents and voters must know. Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world if not the wealthiest. Why? We have more resources than Norway, the 2nd wealthiest, and Eire – Southern Ireland, the 4th wealthiest. the world. By doing your own research you will find the answers to your questions.

        1. BSA says:

          I did indeed seek perspective, which will be critical in the next phase as the article says, but I doubt if any of that will ever come from your good self.

          1. dave. says:

            Well, BSa. I have answered your questions. I answer with facts and don’t give my opinion. You obviously have never heard of Brexit or you wouldn’t be asking who’s perspective. Obviously, the Scottish people who voted not to leave the EU. Why don’t you give us your perspective? You just ask questions but can’t express anything.

  3. Tom Ultuous says:

    Using the next general election as a de-facto referendum is a bad move. Over and above omitting 16-17 year olds, it may not command the same YES momentum an actual referendum would.

    As i’ve suggested before they should hold a referendum and state that a majority must vote YES and the total YES vote must equate to >50% of eligible voters multiplied by the turnout (84.6%) at the last referendum. That is, a majority must vote YES and the total YES vote must be > 42.3% of eligible voters. To put it another way, the number of YES votes must equate to what would’ve been a majority in 2014.

    Why? Because that way any Yoon boycott will have no effect. Indeed, if YES has the most votes but the >42.3% figure is not reached, it leaves the question open because there wasn’t a NO majority. In other words, a Yoon boycott will have a negative effect over and beyond them not actively campaigning.

    If the majority and >42.3% is achieved we should unilaterally declare ourselves an independent nation. It’s then up to Westminster to choose whether cooperation or violence is the way forward.

  4. Alasdair Angus Macdonald says:

    Thanks for this level-headed piece and for your plan to publish a range of articles over the coming months.

    We need to keep focussed on continually evolving strategies and tactics to further the aim of achieving independence.

    What we do not need are the kind of responses from some claiming to be supporters of independence whose raison d’etre seems to be to attack other groups within those supporting independence, with particular vitriol being directed at the current Scottish Government, SNP MSPs and MPs and, especially, the First Minister. The tone is often far more hostile than what we hear and read daily from the mainstream media.

    Of course debate and disagreement are part of finding ways forward, but not to the extent of fomenting division and discord.

  5. Jim Stamper says:

    With options 1 or 2 we should be trying to have international observers involved so there is no claim the process is non democratic and to help prevent UK dirty tricks and help ensure international recognition. While option 2 has advantages there is the problem of the period before it when I believe the Scottish Government would not be operating normally and be able to support the case for independence during that time while no doubt the opposition case would be heard loud and clear at UK level and in the mainstream media.

  6. Cathie Lloyd says:

    We need to be talking about building support for independence. Too many people are focusing on winning if necessary by a narrow majority. It feels to me that they are underestimating the scale of what we are trying to do. We need to think about the kind of society we are going to have. Bitter divisions will not be a good basis for the future, particularly the difficult negotiations likely to follow independence. Knee jerk reactions to opposition are not taking the social transformations seriously. We need a sensible, grounded debate, not just taking up rather vain positions.

    1. I agree Cathie. We also need to, and have always need to look outside the movement. The internal gaze is really debilitating.

    2. Matthew Twist says:

      I’m a soft No and occasionally look in at Bella and other sites. Rarely do I see any articles or posts that cover the topics that would inch me towards Yes. There appears to be no acceptance that the Indy movement will have to talk to potential converts and – more importantly – you’ll have to talk to them about what they deem important.

      For the record I think that we would have better politics but worse economics, and that the worse economic position would trump the better politics for the short and medium terms, say up to 25 yrs. Saying “Denmark is successful” isn’t enough, you need a serious projection of the tax and spend position as a starter.

      1. Matthew Twist says:

        If I can add to this a bit. I feel that Indy supporters underestimate just how transactional a lot of the undecided are. When I was a Sales Director I’d coach my staff to be able to answer this question: “In what way will [independence for Scotland] make my life, and the lives of those I care about, better – in a timescale that matters for me.”

        I never feel that anybody is trying to answer that sort of question in terms that are of interest to me.

        1. I suppose the answer to your question: “In what way will [independence for Scotland] make my life, and the lives of those I care about, better – in a timescale that matters for me” -s you’d live in a democracy.

          I don’t mean that blithely, you’d live in a country where you get the political party you elect. For good or bad. You can always chuck them out if they don’t do what they said they would. Does that seem important to you?

          1. Matthew Twist says:

            I’d live in a country where the country – not me personally – would get the government it voted for. But if I consider the UK to be my country that’s the case already.

            In an independent Scotland individuals and geographic areas would not necessarily get the government they voted for, although I agree that we could have a considerably better form of proportional representation.

          2. Of course individuals wouldn’t all get the government they voted for – but by the international definition and understanding of democracy – a majority party or parties would be elected.

            Do you think there is a democratic deficit in Scotland being ruled by a UK government it has rejected at the ballot box?

        2. dave. says:

          Matthew, You appear to be confusing the S.N.P., currently being run into the ground by its British leader Sturgeon, with the independence leader Alba led by Scots. I and others have posted many times about Scotland’s huge wealth making it one of the wealthiest countries in the world. If you really don’t know the benefits, then just ask on this Bella Caledonia article. If you don’t is it because you are a unionist subtly telling us ( better is together ) It is quite amazing that after 9 years of nothing from Sturgeon, there are many posts like yours and Alan Austin suddenly popping up. Could Alba’s jump to 23% of the vote have something to do with it?

          1. Matt says:

            So hands up who thinks Dave’s reply is going to make me more or less likely to support independence?

          2. Dave – Alba haven’t jumped to 23% of anything.

      2. Hi Matthew
        thanks for this. Sorry to hear that we don’t publish articles that would inch you towards Yes. I certainly 100% agree that ‘the Indy movement will have to talk to potential converts and – more importantly – you’ll have to talk to them about what they deem important.’

        We will try and commission some specific research and articles on the economic case for independence. I suppose many of us on the Yes side start from the proposition that Scotland – and the people who live here – are as capable as anywhere else. The idea would seem obvious, would it not? Why would we be uniquely incapable of ruling ourselves?

        But I understand that what you are looking for is economic stability and security. Thanks for commenting.

        1. Matthew Twist says:

          My concerns are not that we are somehow incapable, but more that those proposing independence are not acknowledging the scale of the short and medium term economic difficulties and have no apparent plan.

          Every nation is capable, but not all nations are as wealthy as Scotland currently is.

          I look forward to some future work on the economics and I thank you for your polite and thoughtful engagement, which we need considerably more of!

          1. Thanks Matthew. I kind of agree that many Yes supporters don’t acknowledge the ‘scale of the short and medium term economic difficulties and have no apparent plan.’

            That’s why us, and many others have been advocating for the establishment of a national bank, a national energy company and the resolution of some of the contradictions around currency and EU membership that need resolved.

        2. dave. says:

          Hullo, Mike. With reference to your reply to Matthew Twist, I’d like to point out that the Independence movement is talking continually to NO and the Undecided. It is Sturgeon’s S.N.P. that is not, In fact, the opposite. Blanking out critical information for over 9 years while begging and complaining about Britain’s PMs etc, etc is the Sturgeon S.N.P., not the independence movement which is led by Alba.

        3. Julian Smith says:

          There have been comments here and elsewhere that “the case has not been made” (on currency, economics, borders, pensions, deficits, debt to name a few). I am at a loss to understand these comments. There are umpteen sources of information on all these problems. Business for Scotland/Believe in Scotland, Common Weal, Scottish Independence Convention Transition Papers, Scottish Currency Group, Salvo to name a few. I can’t help feeling that those who complain of never having heard the case have never put in the effort to find out and weigh up the arguments. In other words, their assertions are not their reasons for remaining unsure or rejecting independence; they are excuses and justifications and their real reasons lie elsewhere. As a campaigner, I would have more respect if they were honest about their real emotions rather than waste my time with endless spurious questions to which there can be no definitive answers, only principles on which answers will be based.

          1. Hi Julian – its true what you say that the case has been made (endlessly).But I still think that its worth taking on board the fact that the case has to be re-made and that those of us on the Yes side need to engage with those soft Nos that we need to make the change?

          2. Matthew Twist says:

            So back to my past life as a Sales Director (multi million IT deals for customers who were nervous about the risk and disruption of change), If one of my staff had said ‘the case has been made by other people, it’s just that the prospect hasn’t put in the effort to find out…’. Do you think that would reflect well on those proposing the change?

            Scotland is not in a good situation. The constitutional stalemate is poisoning everything and the level of discussion between both sides is woeful – each is talking to their base and not to those that they need to persuade.

            IMHO the way out of the mess is to have political discussions that accept that there has to be a democratic way for Scotland to have an Indy ref, but accept that it can’t be something that can be repeatedly triggered at short term intervals. Right now there is no upside for a UK PM to agree to another ref. Whatever the result it will tie up politicians and civil servants for a year when they have all sorts of pressing issues to deal with. If the vote is to leave they go down in history as the PM that ‘lost’ the union, and if the vote is to stay the clamour for Indy ref3 starts immediately.

          3. Hi Matthew – we agree that the case has to be made to your Sales Director (though you might want to question his judgement if he put up with the current shambles).
            When you describe the problem as being one of inconvenience for the sitting PM – do you not think what might be more important the current and future lives of people living in Scotland? & I’m not sure that ‘losing the Union’ needs to be seen in such a negative way. It has a proprietorial feel about it. It could be conceived of re-imagining’ the union.

          4. Matthew says:

            I think that the Sale Director in me would have recognised a coaching opportunity for their member of staff!

            Your point about reimagining the union is well made and I am regularly surprised that the Scottish Govt seems to want to antagonise Westminster and not to present Indy as an opportunity for Westminster.

          5. Julian Smith says:

            I don’t know enough about your field selling IT systems to instance parallels with campaigning for independence. But if, for example, I were selling car tyres and having described the virtues of the brand, its outstanding grip, its excellent steering feel, its large mileage, its competitive pricing, I was asked “but how often will I get a puncture?”, how should I respond? Knowing that frequency of punctures is hugely dependent on factors outwith the manufacturer’s control, like hitting a pothole, running over a sharp object, should I point this out? In which case the “prospect” could turn round and say “well, if you can’t even tell me that, why should I buy your product?” Or should I lie and say “these tyres will never puncture” knowing that I’m being dishonest? At this point there may be another question like “how noisy are they on cobbles?” Knowing that cobbled roads are pretty rare, I would at this point decide that my time might be better spent talking to another “prospect”, who might be more open to considering a purchase. The first “prospect”, in my opinion, is, at best, not interested but not willing to say why directly, and so throws up a series of hypotheticals. It would be of interest to know the real reason for the lack of interest, because it might lead to a fruitful debate. But simply to say “the case has never been made” is a justification, not a reason.
            And, yes, Mike, I do think that we have to keep making the case to truly soft “no”s and undecided voters and do all that’s possible to encourage people to (re-)register to vote and that they turn out on Election Day.

          6. Niemand says:

            Matthew Twist, the point about the endless poison and the fact that even if a new ref / plebiscite election was lost, the call for indyref3 would start not long after and go and on, probably with a renewed big vote for the SNP like last time, is very well made indeed. Despite supporting independence I find the total inability for many zealots to ever accept at some point that idea might be over, will continue to poison the well forevermore. If on the other hand, independence was gained, though those against would complain for a bit, they would have no choice but to accept it in and get on with life as the mechanism for reversing it would be so massive as to be untenable. This imbalance is a serious one.N

          7. dave. says:

            Hello, Niemand. After re-reading your post and of Matthew will do nothing for independence. The trap of Sturgeon, deflecting away from Independence on continual side trips, only means another delay which wastes more years of a Sturgeon’s avoidance of declaring independence.
            Matthew is talking in circles using big words which make no sense.

            The Scottish population must know the fact that Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Scotland is a sovereign country; as such, we DO NOT have to beg any country for permission to do anything. That’s the message that the independence movement is working very hard to get out. The Indy movement consists of Alba, ISP and all the groups who promote and march to bring these truths to all of Scotland.

            Which political party has blacked out the contents of the above paragraph? Which political party has continually lied to us that we must beg to the British/English aristocrats for permission? Answer: Sturgeon’s S.N.P.

            So our S.G. Gov’t has the power to declare independence and issue an order at the same time to all Scottish enterprises, agencies and individuals to send all taxes and revenues to Holyrood immediately for the benefit of all the Scottish population. At that time the details of Scotland’s way forward can start to be worked on.
            Then England can go along with that or take their case to a Scottish Supreme Court.

      3. Julian Smith says:

        You ask for a projection of tax and spend. First, the phrase is back to front. Spending comes first and taxation is the mechanism for removing some of the money created. Second, none of us in the Yes movement can predict levels of spending and taxation following an independence vote and a transition period of indeterminate length. A year ago, did anyone set out the current spending and taxation situation for the U.K? Did anyone demand it? What we can do is set out the likely principles that will guide spending – a more equal society, a state pension more in line with that in other similar countries, a well funded Public Health and Care Service free at the point of delivery, a well resourced Education Service. To do this, it will be necessary for the country to have its own currency issued by its Central Bank. There are many ways to tax back the money created. One major issue is avoidance with many unproductive jobs created to find ways to avoid contributing to the provision of facilities from which we all benefit. Ultimately it comes down to natural resources and Scotland is rich in them, not least land area. So land reform and a tax on land ownership might be considered. Third, no one is claiming it will be quick and easy to become independent. There is a lot of work to be done. Many jobs will be involved. We may need to attract people to, or back to, the country. It will take time but the result will be a modern, self-confident, agile, prosperous, outward looking country. In huge contrast to the declining, hubristic, backwards facing U.K.

        1. Matthew says:

          Hi Julian. Thank you for your good faith engagement.

          I suspect that we are inching towards an understanding of each other’s points of view. I have absolutely no doubt that an independent Scotland could be a successful nation – given time, and I think that’s the view of many people like me.

          I am concerned that the transition period will be substantially more difficult than many Indy supporters believe, and I foresee a situation where the government of a new Scotland is continuously having to cut back as financial pressures bite. What makes me more nervous is that I don’t see any open recognition of this or any serious plan to deal with it. The SNP have promised us an ‘indy GERS’ at least twice, but mysteriously have not delivered.

          So back to my comment about the different points if view. In my experience the soft Noes are concerned about the short – medium term (5 and 20 years?) whereas Indy supporters seem – in my view – to see the transition as a bump in the road leading to the better future. One of my best friends says “We’ll muddle through.”

          Where I will take issue with you is where you say ‘no one is claiming it will be quick and easy’. Alex Salmond claimed a timetable of something like 20 months to develop the apparatus of state for an independent nation, we have SNP politicians saying that there is no currency issue as we can all use credit cards and a minority saying that we can just issue a UDI – great if you don’t need the IT systems currently run by the UK.

          So…… When I see political leaders with the honesty to say that it will be tough and I see that they have a credible plan for the transition I’m on board.

          Thanks again, and I hope that this exchange has given you some insight into just one person’s views.

          1. Thanks Matthew – you make some good points and it is not just Soft Noes who worry about the lack of clarity about the process and medium term impacts. For example see Jonathon Shafi’s perspective (from the left) on the inconsistencies and tensions within the SNP project, and many others.
            I suppose the difference is that – and this may be where we are getting clarity – the difference is I don’t see these as being insurmountable. I do see it as being necessary to get clarity in moving forward, and I think its entirely reasonable to ask for some clarity to lend the project your support. The caveat being Julian’s puncture analogy. There is a difference between having ‘legitimate concerns’ and having an endless supply of straw men to avoid something you see as an existential threat.

            Thanks for your input. One of the purposes of Bella is the exchange of views of people who don’t agree. Too many sites and blogs are stagnant with people re-inforcing their own beliefs (endlessly).

          2. Julian Smith says:

            Thank you, Matthew. It has indeed given me an insight. First, apologies for missing out the word “now” when I said no one is saying it will be quick and easy. Back in 2014 we naively thought that, in the event of a yes vote, we would be facilitated and helped by a friendly next door neighbour in whose interests it would be to reach amicable agreements over the whole range of situations that would require negotiated settlements. Now we have the evidence from Brexit that we would be dealing with a hostile and devious neighbour who might well try to sabotage efforts to establish a successful country.
            Going back to an earlier comment where you said that the U.K. does always get the Government it votes for, I’m reminded of a recent reply to me on another platform where the contributor said that “every part of the U.K. voted to leave Europe; but some parts voted more decisively than others”. These statements reveal a fundamental difference in perception of what the U.K. is. It is either a unitary state or it is a voluntary collection of 2 countries, a Principality and a Province. It can’t be both. In the unitary State, the people are subjects. In Scotland, at least, the people are sovereign citizens. You can’t be simultaneously a subject and a sovereign citizen.For more than 3 centuries, there have been sustained and determined efforts to incorporate Scotland into the U.K. The Acts of Union were foisted on an unwilling population by a wealthy elite who had a financial inducement. Later, thousands of inhabitants were forced from their homes, many emigrated to all corners of the globe. The Gaelic culture and language were proscribed. The Scots language was scorned and discouraged. Scots culture was denigrated. Scotland demonstrates a number of the characteristics of a colony despite protestations to the contrary. Lower life expectancy, drug and alcohol problems, constant belittlement, regular claims of being dependent on the English taxpayer, insults disguised as humour, much of its land owned and controlled by a few absentee owners. There were combined projects to establish an Empire and there were common enemies to face in 2 World Wars. But, despite all that, the concept of Scotland and England being separate and different countries still persists. And the differences grow greater, rather than diminishing, as time goes on. The myth of British values of fairness and justice etc has faded. The reality of exploitation and subjugation has been exposed. And, increasingly, there is a need for a reset. I believe it is time for the disaggregation of the U.K.; for England, Wales and Scotland to chart their own futures in a friendly and cooperative spirit with their neighbours in the British Isles and with continental Europe and for Ireland to be reunited.

    3. Chris Ballance says:

      I completely agree. And I think the lead for this should come from our creatives – National Collective again – and the arts. We need to win over those who aren’t interested in politics and don’t follow the political news, and we can’t do that with political argument. We need to enable Scotland’s artistic community to build up the vision for a proud independent Scotland, the sense that we can do it, and it is inevitable. To create an artistic tapestry which gets into the psyche of those who are disengaged from the political process – and that’s a significant number of people.
      I don’t think that countless discussions within the SNP (or Greens) as to the arguments, the economic reasons, the social reasons, is going to win over that 15-20%. But the arts can reach where politics doesn’t.

      1. Chris Ballance says:

        That was a “completely agree” with Cathie at the head of this thread btw.

  7. Paddy Farrington says:

    Thanks for organising this discussion and commissioning these articles, Mike. I really look forward to reading them, and discussing them with others here on Bella and elsewhere. In the meantime, as Cathie Lloyd says, the long slog of building up support for independence through public political activity continues, and must do so whatever else happens.

  8. SleepingDog says:

    I often feel Bellacaledonia’s articles would be enhanced by the application of a consistent Quotation Style:
    That aside, the choice of Scottish Independence will be made in the context of the degree of perceived unfitness of the Union, or British Empire, in handling the various emergencies that the near future is expected to bring.

    The science-fiction comedy Avenue 5 is set on a luxury cruise-spaceship that is undergoing a serious of (largely self-inflicted) crises which its formal leadership structures are completely incompetent to resolve. The creators are clearly not buying into the Myth of Leadership here, but intent on puncturing it. How are political decisions really made behind the scenes (or problems resolved Below Decks)? If we knew, perhaps we would never trust politicians again (if we ever did).

    My expectation is that, like the BBC reporter admiring the organic community self-help after the Grenfell Tower Fire, the way forward will be found during public responses to these greater emergencies. We will be tested on who we really are, although unfortunately the non-human living world will still be absorbing most of the damage anyway, along with global exploited humanity. In these emergent ways, new organic systems may take over from the failing British state, and its same-mould devolution partners, in laregly unpredictable ways. This could go badly wrong, and fail to address the centralised problems at the heart of Empire (including nuclear weapons, military blocks, reactionary forces loyal to the organised-crime monarchy and so on). We should learn how to Think in Emergencies.

  9. Roland Chaplain says:

    Cathie and Mike, I absolutely concur with your comments in the discussion of this article. We need to approach what we have traditionally spoken of as “independence” from new angles and build on where we have potential consensus in relation to an increasingly obviously “interdependent” world .
    One of these is in relation to the importance of Scotland immediately being given recognition as having an equivalent status to that of a full UN recognised Nation State on international bodies dealing with the climate and biodiversity crises globally. In particular, because of our declared commitment to meaningful (in cash and kind) “Loss and Damage” restorative justice we should have far more of a role globally than just a “sub-state” player. This is a tangible cause to work for and win rather than dissipating our energies around constitutional arguments phrased in the language of a past era.

  10. dave. says:

    Editor Mike Small. The latest poll says that Alba has 23% of the vote. You won’t read that in any of the English polls. You won’t read/hear that in any English-owned Scottish media. You won’t read/hear that from Sturgeon’s S.N.P.
    Alba is holding meetings (ignored of course by the media and S.N.P.) in many parts of Scotland and will continue in order to keep the Scottish population informed of where (our) their wealth is going. Also, their continued fight through our 2 Alba MPs at Westminster for independence.
    More and more S.N.P. members and supporters are joining Alba as they realize Alba’s 2 MPs are the only ones who are standing up for Scotland’s independence at Westminster. The same with the Scottish voters at large who are tired of the Sturgeon kick-the-can game and begging a foreign country for something we don’t need. Therefore the fast rise of Alba to 23% makes perfect sense. Personally, I believe the 23% is low.

    1. The latest pol has been widely ridiculed for being methodologically flawed. Alba poll in real elections at 1.7%. They have no candidates who have stood on an Alba platform. None.

      1. dave. says:

        Well, Mike Re: the latest poll who conducted it, and who published it? The Scottish English-controlled media, or?
        The latest poll does show Alba @ 23%. The same type of disbelief occurred when Alex Salmond’s S.N.P. ran the English Labour Branch at Holyrood into the ground. In today’s National, there is a huge announcement. “Holyrood backs motion calling on the UK government to ‘ Respect Scotland’s right ‘ to hold Indyref 2.
        Do you really think that will increase Alba’s support or Sturgeon’s S.N.P.? I predict that it will give more votes to Alba. All the posts responding to this useless announcement were negative pointing out that NO is and always will be the answer. A no-brainer. A joke if it wasn’t such a serious matter fighting for our independence. The latest poll was conducted by the respected Panelbase.

  11. dave. says:

    Point for clarity. Sturgeon’s S.N.P. is being confused with Salmond’s S.N.P. Salmond’s S.N.P. was a true independence party and did get a referendum which we narrowly lost. Sturgeon’s S.N.P. is a unionist party which continually begs Westminster for permission to hold a referendum
    especially after she received a resounding vote in 2021 from Scottish voters to declare independence. To avoid that she went begging to Westminster knowing that they would say no (12 times). Then she, not Westminster, went to the English Supreme Court, and asked if a Scottish referendum was legal. As a lawyer, she knows that English law does not apply in or to Scotland. Why? Scotland is a sovereign country. All that has to happen to be independent is for our government – Sturgeon- to declare independence. Sturgeon as a British unionist will never do that. So far she’s stalled for 9 years as our trillions of pounds go to England every year and we get poorer and poorer. It is time for all independent-minded S.N.P.ers to look at the facts and stop making excuses for Sturgeon’s deception.

  12. Wul says:

    To those seeking “the positive case for independence”, please remember that there is no “keep things the same” option by remaining in the UK.
    The UK is traveling (fast) in a rightward direction and ratchets are being installed ( laws to attack trades unions, laws to prevent protest, hostility to refugees, privatisation of public health, de-funding of regulatory bodies etc.) to make sure we can never again have a socially democratic country. Note: The leader of the “Labour” party is a “Sir” who supports the same policies as our current Tory ultras.

    For myself, a powerful motivator to become independent is to protect ourselves from the rightward slide of the UK. The UK is set to become as unequal and unhappy as the USA. We have an opportunity to move in a different direction (just an opportunity, no guarantees) and I am willing to take a risk because the UK does not offer a future that I want to live in.

    If I need guarantees and reassurance I look around at my fellow Scots and see people who largely support collaborative, positive and redistributive ways of living. Then I look at the resources under our feet and see treasure. That’s enough for me. I’m in.

    If you need facts and figures to reassure you that your spending power will not reduce (it might, for a while, but you can have less spending power and still have a better quality of life. Believe it or not!) then you will need to look at pro-independence sources; you are never going to hear the benefits of an independent Scotland promoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation. That’s not what they are for (read the label on the tin).

  13. Wul says:

    Where are the road-side billboards making the case for an independent Scotland? Where are the adverts on the side of a bus? Newspaper adverts? Social media campaigns?

    A tenner each* from everyone who voted “Yes” last time would fund a pretty good promotional campaign (£16m)

    *To be donated to an independent “Yes” movement campaign, not the SNP obvs.

    1. There’s quite a few Wul, the ones I’ve seen are from/by Business for Scotland

      1. Wul says:

        I see those (particularly from Business for Scotland) and you see them too. Because we are in the independence loop. But there isn’t a mass-market campaign that people like Matthew above will see. You have to go looking for it.

        If you were to ask the average middle class “No” voting Scot what they think that Scottish independence supporters want, most would probably reply with some kind of negative, narrow nationalist stereotype. ( “They hate the English”, “They want Nicola Sturgeon to rule the country for ever”, ‘They are all mad” etc etc). Would they be able to identify the crippling democratic deficit of us being in the UK? The massive potential that Scotland has to be wealthy and prosperous. The importance of retaining our most talented people by offering success in their home turf? The potential to live in a more re-distributive country and have a better, less fearful quality of life?

        1. Matthew says:

          Can confirm that I haven’t seen a Business for Scotland billboard!

          1. Julian Smith says:

            I think the billboards are mostly in the West. BiS is based in Glasgow. An (I think) Alba trailer billboard was recently completely obliterated by Union Bears graffiti, so billboards are being noticed and regarded as a threat.

          2. Matthew says:

            I find the tribalism (on both sides) really disheartening!

            In 2014 a farmer friend of mine here in North Berwick ended up putting his Better Together signs in a pool of cow slurry to deter the vandals that had wrecked every other sign.

        2. Possibly. I saw them in Seafield (Edinburgh) and in Dennistoun/Parkhead (Glasgow). I didn’t see them because I was in a loop.

          I don’t know if there is an ‘average’ No voting Scot (of whatever class) but I would slightly resist the characterisation. I think the views of negative stereotypes are exaggerated and amplified. Many of the soft No voters I speak to – or also exhausted Non voters – have questions, many of which are entirely legitimate and need answered.

  14. Philip Raiswell says:

    As an English person, I would be more than happy for Scotland to have a second referendum on independence. Not everyone in England supports the Tories, given their woeful record in government.

    1. Thanks Philip! Of course it used to be a given that you didn’t need to be pro independence to support the people having the opportunity to make that choice. IT was called democracy. This basic principle used to be supported across Unionist parties.

  15. Jake Solo says:

    Oh goody. More talk. This is just cover for even a pathetic, half arsed plan B being rowed back on.

    1. What’s your point caller?

      1. Jake Solo says:

        Tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy tactics and strategy

        There you go, I’ve just saved you months of time and effort.

        Because see what the above amounts to is exactly what your initiative will amount to.

        It’s very simple. Two things need to happen. Yes support needs to be grown and solidified. And a democratic event engineered to optimally realise that support.

        How do you grow support? By selling the idea and it’s benefits intelligently. How do you solidify that support? By flipping the reverse Midas trend of everything the SNP touching turning to shit.

        What’s the optimal democratic event? A homegrown indyref2 or an extraordinary Holyrood election. The election pips the referendum at the moment because it negates a unionist boycott.

        Now I’ll turn it back to you. Describe to me another avenue that does not involve agreement from WM or defiance of WM.

        There isn’t one.

        There really is not much to think about. Certainly not months’ worth.

        The absolute scandal that is the necessity of you doing this doesn’t strike you as a red flag? The SNP/SG very obviously lying to your face day in and day out isn’t a red flag?

        See if your group concludes anything other than that we should sit about and wait for a while longer, you’ll be unpersoned. You do know that, right?

        1. Well it’s great to know everything Jake, thanks

          1. dave. says:

            Hullo Mike, I notice that you have blanked out 2 of my posts in the last couple of days. One replying to Matthew and one to Jake Solo. Could you please explain the reason why? I only post facts. I don’t use foul language and I back-up everything I post. Again, please explain.

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