2007 - 2020

Momentum and Trajectory

Earlier this week saw the sort of visual representation of polling that would put a spring in any independence supporters steps, or so you’d have thought. The first fishy looking data snapped voting intention from 2015 to today and showed a major downturn for the No vote and an upsurge for Yes.

Responses may have swung from “about bloody time” to “no bloody surprise” (other swear words are available). But taken with the recent poll conducted on behalf of Business for Scotland showing support for independence surging to 54% and a large rise in support from Labour voters, this is exceptionally good news.

But step back and look at the longer-term visual (below) – which tracks the voting intention from 2011 to 2020 – and the trend is even clearer. This is momentum and trajectory.

 

As Britain further dissolves and disintegrates in the face of institutional corruption and dysfunctionalism as we come out of the worst crisis since the Second World War, this trend is likely to increase. No-one is coming out of the coronavirus experience thinking “Boris Johnson handled that well.” No-one is coming out of the coronavirus experience thinking “I’m glad we didn’t have full control over ur borders.”

The ideas and tactics of the NO campaign from 2014 are in tatters and a further generation of young people have been radicalised by the need for urgent change on a number of fronts.

But, as Scots we are past masters at clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. We are spectacularly good at glorious failure. Some people are looking at these polling figures and thinking “this is terrible”.

The polling blogger James Kelly wrote: “The news that the pro-independence vote has reached an all-time high of 54% with Panelbase was characterised by a rehashing of the bogus claim from a couple of weeks ago that Yes support has not really budged for years. This is getting a bit silly now. There were twelve independence polls conducted between the EU referendum result becoming known and the end of 2016. Eleven of them had a Yes vote lower than last night’s poll. Nine of them had No in the lead. By contrast, six of the eight polls in 2020 so far have had Yes on 50% or higher, with an average Yes vote of 50.9%.”

Part of the reason for negativity in the face of good news is a frustration at the lack of progress by the SNP towards a new strategy for gaining independence. That frustration is palpable and widespread. But while it is entirely understandable it does boil over into incoherence (‘Enough of the lies!’)

Parts of the Yes movement – and often they are some of those who were previously most fervently loyal – seem to be consumed in negativity and think that relentless attacking SNP MPs A or B is a useful way their spend your time.

There are alternatives to ‘Plan A’ – as Craig Dalzell outlines here, in fact we’re hoaching with options:

“Plan A” – A Sanctioned Referendum

“Plan B” – An Advisory Referendum

“Plan C” – An MP Plebiscite

“Plan D” – A Holyrood Plebiscite

“Plan E” – A National Covenant

“Plan F” – Unilateral Declaration of Independence

If this begins to sound like a Dr Seuss story most of these have some merits and all have some drawbacks, but we’re not exactly short of options.

But as Dalzell notes : “with the exception of “Plan A”, none of them can compel the UK Government to recognise the result of the act or to turn up at the negotiating table to start untangling our respective affairs.”

This is also true of the thorny question of international recognition.

To these arguments its often responded that Westminster will “never!” agree again to a Section 30 Order (followed by a stream of invective …)

I’m not so sure that’s true.

It would be wise not to over-estimate our opponents.

We are faced, after all, with the likes of Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Alister Jack and Jackson Carlaw. These are not the Praetorian Guard.  Dominic Raab famously admitted that he did not fully appreciate the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing for UK trade. Alister Jack looks as if he would struggle to do up the buttons on his cardigan. Boris Johnson is struggling from the chaos he has unleashed and the obvious trauma and death created by his own tragic incompetence.

These are not formidable people.

They are not going to outsmart anyone anytime soon.

When we say that a “Section 30 Order is impossible” we are nor recognising the extent and the depth of the British crisis, which now, next, will tumble into a No Deal Brexit, which will further haemorrhage support for the Union.

But two things should drive us on. First let’s concentrate on what unites us rather than what divides us. Second, let’s continue to build the positive case for independence, a new vision for a better society ( and God if that was ever needed it is now now now!). The case for Britain is collapsing around us without any need for us to put a shoulder to the wheel.

Finally – we can and must retain a critical edge against the (many) failings of the SNP without descending into a sort of bile-pit of inchoate rage. Options A – Z need to pass a credibility test, would they work beyond the fervid imaginations of your own social circle? And we can have some very good ideas for alternative strategies but we also need to achieve some unity. If percentages of a Yes movement are each pursuing plans B, C, D, E and F then the effectiveness collapses into chaos.

We are living through a period of profound change, and closing down the options for how that will unfold doesn’t make any sense at all.

Johnson’s regime will appear out of this crisis (presuming some endpoint) as a discredited and disgraced group of people hugely culpable.

While he appears intransigent its worth remembering he is a supreme opportunist. He believes in nothing but himself. Remember he had written two articles both for and against Brexit depending on the outcome?

This is not somebody you need to be intimidated by.

 

 

Comments (39)

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  1. david says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that Westminster will never permit another binding referendum, putting aside for a moment the case of Ireland, the other 50+

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_that_have_gained_independence_from_the_United_Kingdom

    countries that have chosen to leave Westminster rule were effectively colonial projects. When they left UK rule, there was a “successor state” – the United Kingdom – which retained all the rights, privileges, territories, assets, and rather importantly, debts of the UK. There was no talk, for example, of Ghana taking a per capita share of the national debt.

    Scotland, no matter how it may feel to us independinistas, is not a colonial project. We are in the UK by dint of a treaty of union. The logical, indeed legal, way to become independent is that we dissolve the treaty of union. As in the case of any contractual arrangement being dissolved, there would have to be a settlement of assets and liabilities. There would be no successor state. The United Kingdom would cease to exist. There are a lot of very tricky issues that this creates. Let us examine a couple of biggies. In 1713, the UK and Spain signed the Treaty of Utrecht, bringing the war of the Spanish Succession to an end. This ceded Gibraltar to the UK. If the UK no longer exists, I wonder what the Spanish government would say about who “owns” Gibraltar now? The two states formed when Czechoslovakia evolved, both had to apply for membership of the united nations, they were accepted of course, but neither of them were offered a permanent seat on the security council. The UK’s seat on the security council is the last fig-leaf covering Westminster’s post-imperial embarrassment. They will cling to it as tightly as they will our “independent” nuclear “deterrent”,

    I think it certain that the Westminster government would want to be the successor state, in which case, of course, taking a proportion of the national debt is off the table. We get off “Scot free”. This is probably unsellable in England.

    So, what about Ireland? They too were in the United Kingdom by treaty of 1800. That the people of Ireland were no more consulted than the people of Scotland were in 1707 is not legally relevant. When Ireland left the union, it was very much a process rather than a single act. They signed up for anything, including civil war and taking a share of the debt, just to get out. They had their war, but did not pay the so-called debt. Why should they?

    Much is made in the commentariat about the seeming cognitive dissonance of believing the GERS figures that show that Scotland is responsible for about 50% of the UK’s deficit, that the Barnet formula demonstrates what a colossal financial drain Scotland is on the UK, and the determination of the Westminster government to keep us in the UK. Why would they want us? They want us, because they cannot continue the post-imperial fantasy without us. That is priceless.

    We will not be allowed another referendum. I don’t know how this plays out. The demographic certainty as “British” Scots die of old age, to be replaced by 18-24 year olds who are 75% in favour of independence is clear.

    1. Hillary says:

      David, it’s been made clear on numerous occasions that the rest of the UK would remain as the successor state and inherit assets and liabilities, including debt. The main reason for this is the UK wants to retain its permanent seat on the Security Council, and its position as a leading world financial hub and currency. So no worries on that score, I don’t believe.

  2. Andy Anderson says:

    Very interesting article Mike which I very much agree with. We can see the beginning of the economic recession, we can see the beginning of the Brexit endgame we can also see that the Covid 19 pandemic is going to be worse in England than the rest of Europe. We can’t see the outcome of these problems on this totally incompetent UK Government. You are right they are not people we should be concerned about.

  3. Topher Dawson says:

    The lack of talent which runs through the Johnson administration is partly the result of the purging of Remain Tory MP’s which took place before the 2019 election. But whatever you think about Johnson’s intelligence he is not running the UK. Johnson got most of his cabinet to agree publicly that Barnard Castle is a great place for eye tests just so Johnson could retain the services of Cummings, who really runs the UK. Although Cummings has not convinced the public, he does not need to, as he is not a politician. He may be weird but he is not stupid. Bannon may be somewhere in the background. Rees-Mogg for all his Bertie Wooster act is not stupid and is a member of the small group of hedge fund owners who backed Brexit so they don’t have to pay taxes to the EU.

    So what we have to ask is not “How will the clowns who make up the present Conservative government deal with the Scottish desire for independence?” but “How will their puppet masters deal with the desire for independence?” Perhaps someone should just ask Cummings.

    1. Hillary says:

      Maybe if they work out it’s the only way to keep the Tories in power in 2024, it might all happen very suddenly.

  4. Indyman says:

    While I very much agree with you about the incompetence and stupidity of the UK government, these people are just puppets whose strings are being pulled by others who are not only highly intelligent, but they are, like Cummings, completely lacking in any morality and conscience apart from getting as much money out of the UK as they can before it completely crashes. They don’t give a sh*t about how many of us die and suffer in the process. To me this is the real problem.

  5. Ally says:

    They are hopelessly incompetent on almost every front, except one. Why are Boris and his chums suddenly devastatingly effective when it comes to selling Britain off as quickly as possible?

    They’ve been facilitating further US market takeover pretty efficiently while the rest of us are busy, you know, being human. Trying to stay well.

    Perhaps their hapless bungling is actually a total lack of concern, and it’s simply that their true priorities are elsewhere. Perhaps none of us understands well enough the mind of an utter b*stard to have headed them off from their true target.

    Monbiot wrote a bit about it in the Guardian recently.

    I think this article’s right on the whole, particularly on the polls. Even if the Tories were to reveal some hidden persuasive attributes in a fight for the union, whatever they had left would be wasted on any thinking Scot.

    They’re good at wrecking tactics though.

    I’m being super extra-cautious. But I genuinely think their sights are set elsewhere – a quick smash-grab, setting up the super rich for future decades – and they’re likely to get it.

  6. Welsh Sion says:

    The ‘Acts of Union’ (i.e. The Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542) which effectively annexed my country to England because of the ‘great personal zeal and affection’ that King Henry VIII had for Wales, and thus obliterating it from the English statutory scene until 1967, were repealed by the Westminster Parliament in December 1993, by virtue of the Welsh Language Act 1993, Schedule 2.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1993/38/schedule/2

    I don’t recall anyone outside the Welsh national movement making any great fuss over that and our legal departure from the so-called ‘United Kingdom’ – and that before devolution in 1997.

    Now it might be that Englandshire’s ‘rulers’ hold Scotland in more worth and wish to hold onto her for as long as possible. But they must realise that both history and time is against them. Time for another country to re-establish itself outside the confines as a self-serving, arrogant, ignorant and incompetent system based in London.

    Here’s to freedom!

    Tros Gymru / For Scotland.

    1. Adrian Roper says:

      Hi Sion, as a lifelong Plaid member I’d somehow managed to miss the repealing of the Acts of Union between Wales and England. I’m now feeling a bit boggled!
      What exactly is Wales’ status in the Union?
      I fear there is some catch…
      If you’d like to pick this up outside this wonderful Bella space, you can email me at adrian.penarth@yahoo.co.uk.
      Hwyl

      1. Welsh Sion says:

        Replied, Adrian.

        Check your spam box, too in case it’s gone there!

        Hwyl,

        1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

          It would be informative if you could persuade Mr Small to publish an article on this.

          While this site, politically, amongst other themes, supports Scottish independence, one of its great benefits is that it has a much wider perspective, not least in relation to the Arts and culture, and knowing more about the history of the other countries of the UK is useful in being able to examine the mendacious myths of the UK. I know a fair amount about the history of Ireland, not least because of the civil war which was pursued for the majority of my life and also because of the long historic links between Ireland (particularly the whole of Ulster) and Scotland (especially the West of Scotland). And, I know a fair mount about the history of England, largely because much of my school history related to it and because of the BBC (and other media’s tendency to tell us lots – and often genuinely informatively – about England.) More has become widely known over the past 5 decades about the history of Scotland. However, sadly, I do not know a lot about the history of Wales and have only visited Wales twice and, on both occasions, to Anglesey. So, knowing more about how Wales is bound to the UK would be helpful to me, at least!

  7. Neil says:

    Interesting article. It does some feel with some individual outlooks from the independence it is a fait accompli, sadly we ain’t there yet. There is still a big chunk of the population that need to persuade to support (mostly older, and/or born elsewhere in rUK if polling is correct).

    So on your quote:
    “let’s continue to build the positive case for independence, a new vision for a better society”
    I’d add let’s share the existing case and persuade people to support a vision of a new country and society.

    1. Certainly not suggesting independence is a fair accompli, not at all

  8. Marga says:

    Not sure I’d agree. Scotland is an easy rag doll to shake about, and would go down well with English voters. He could take a stand.

    The grimmer things get, the more he could take it out on Scotland. Covid probs will mask Brexit probs it’s always going to be someone else’s fault. And Scots still kowtow to authority.

  9. John B Dick says:

    Could someone draft a petition to the UK parliament in such terms that English nationalist Daily Mail readers, AND Yessers could support it?

  10. Andi Holmes says:

    Just a thought, but has anyone argued for renegotiating the Act of Union? It’s kind of old and out of date anyway. We’ll stay in (for now) but only under terms that ‘we’ the people of Scotland agree to. Whatever happens we will still need to have a relationship with England, we share a physical border, lets break the Act down into it’s component parts and hold a public vote on each aspect. It’s like ‘rock, paper, scissors’ there’s always a way to win, you just have to find it.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      There has been a fair amount about this, not least by the redoubtable Lorna Campbell.

  11. aayawa says:

    If Boris is being manipulated the problem is the intelligence of those manipulating him.

    If he is NOT being manipulated then as soon as he is sure the end of the union is needed to keep him in power it will be over.

    He is not stupid. He came from nowhere in 2016 to prime minister in 2019. That does not sound like stupidity to me.

    I have read that people who work with him consider him very smart and can do in 5 minutes what would take most people an hour. and the clown act is just an act.

    His priorities are in descending order.

    Boris Johnson, the Tory party ( without it he is nothing – at the moment), England, The UK the economy and finally the lives of the people.

    Don’t underestimate him. He beet a lot of smart people to get where he is.

    Cummings is far from stupid. Not as clever as he thinks he is but I would not want to play chess or poker against him or Boris Johnson

  12. John Williams says:

    I notice that the ‘States got their independence only after a long fight & in a period when the might & ire of the London establishment were distracted by the French revolution & its aftermath.
    I notice that Ireland got a partial & bloody independence of sorts after the London establishment were distracted by the Kaiser’s war. An independence the Isle of Ireland has yet to complete a century & 4 years after the Easter rising.
    I notice India got her independence along with the bloodshed of the partition into India & Pakistan only after the London establishment was weakened by Hitler’s war.
    I notice the independence of the former african colonies, also enabled by WWII & the US torpedo into the hull of Whitehall in Suez, has been far from any startling success, corralled as those countries are now into the new Chinese hegemony.
    Given that the majorities of all those “successfully independent states” were strong for freedom & struggled for it, what hope have Scotland or Wales yet?
    Apathy & the expectations of handouts are all that are engaged in & met with enthusiasm here – along with an entirely ridiculous belief in the excellence of Scottish football.
    Independence for Scotland? Not at the moment. WWIII is too high a price to wish to pay. London is not on its knees yet, nor can Scots agree sufficiently: at least 70% need to be keen to allow endurance of the bloodshed that London would ensure unleashed unless they were prevented by other circumstances.
    We do not need to snatch defeat from the jaws of success: 1282 & 1746 have already guaranteed it unless the London machine tears itself apart – which it may do soon & so save us yet another bloody failure.

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      Irrelevant and inaccurate. For instance, you wrote “I notice that the ‘States got their independence only after a long fight & in a period when the might & ire of the London establishment were distracted by the French revolution & its aftermath”. The US wrung its independence from Britain almost a decade before the French Revolution took place. The UK’s current weakness that can be the catalyst for its dissolution is the coming economic collapse due to the collision of an ill managed Covid crisis and the self inflicted wound of Brexit. No external military foe is required; only England’s descent into madness.

  13. SleepingDog says:

    I think we should be sceptical of framings that make political progress or reaction a matter of individual rather than collective intelligence. One reason I support Scottish independence is that I believe it is a likely way of unlocking the collective intelligence of the population and the chance to apply it to the pressing issues of the day, and in planning for uncertain futures. There are ways of making an option (Plan A, for example) seem more attractive (as the lesser of two evils, as part of a basket of options versus another basket, and so on). And sometimes few plagues will wear down the resistance of a regime’s hardline stance against letting a section of the populace go their own ways. But you have to look at what loyalists (here, unionists and/or imperialists) are loyal to.

  14. Iain Bruce says:

    That’s all very well Mike but he’s/they are not so stupid to bite their proverbial noses in respect of a nukes park, limitless water resource and hun tin n shootn facilities as to make an offer of a section 30 so restrained as to make it an unacceptable offer to Blackford crew and on the back of that bring in the UK Constitution Act already in the wings.

  15. Doug Daniel says:

    But as Dalzell notes : “with the exception of “Plan A”, none of them can compel the UK Government to recognise the result of the act or to turn up at the negotiating table to start untangling our respective affairs.”

    This is also true of the thorny question of international recognition.

    This is the problem. As much as it might suit various bloggers and politicians with an axe to grind to go on about alternative plans (which are never actually spelled out fully) in order to rile up impatient supporters, the Scottish Government has to deal with reality. “#DissolveTheUnion” is nothing more than a meaningless hashtag. “Plan B” is just a vague demand to follow a slightly more convoluted (and unmapped) path to the same roadblock, because ultimately the only way Scotland is getting independence is by building up a solid, sustainable majority in favour of it.

    We don’t get there through legal loopholes – believe me, if such things existed, the Scottish Government would have identified them itself and acted on them if they felt it was democratically viable to do so. Anyone who thinks they’ve found This One Neat Trick To Become Independent is kidding themselves if they think the Treaty of Union hasn’t been pored over to death with a fine toothcomb by people who get paid big bucks to be experts in constitutional law.

    The SNP could adopt any one of these alternative plans/vague demands, and it would bring us no closer to actually getting what we need – an unmistakable desire among the public to actually implement it. The reason Scotland isn’t independent is not because the SNP refuses to back the latest ruse to sidestep difficult questions – it’s because independence can’t yet be described as the will of the people. The people are not yet saying “yes”, they’re saying “hmmmmmm, not sure, maybe, it’s kinda looking a bit more attractive, but I’ve changed my mind before, so maybe I’ll do it again in a few months.”

    We are not hostages in the union, even though it might feel like it. They will put up every obstacle they can to stop us leaving, but they will stop short of actually locking the door. People say the only reason they gave us a referendum in 2014 is because they knew they’d win it, but that only explains the timing, not why they granted it in the first place – the fact they granted it at all was an acknowledgement that they can’t keep saying “no” forever. If there was no consequence to ever-rising support for independence, then there would have been no reason to try and burst the balloon before it got too big. Ultimately, the thing preventing us leaving is the fact that almost half the country still haven’t given up on the union.

    We’re on the cusp. Once it’s unmistakably clear Scotland wants it – and not just those of us who campaign for it and/or spend all our time arguing about it online – then I suspect the Scottish Government will do whatever is necessary to get there. But we’re not going to get there if we’re spending all our time bickering in proxy wars about process.

    1. aayawa says:

      Agreed.

      Unless we can persuade Bozo and the Tories ( sounds like a dodgy rock group) that independence is needed to stop them losing power or loads and loads of money the UK will fight against independence.

      Once they think they need independence we will get it, even if 90% are against it. Since Thatcher and Poll tax Scotland has had no political value for the Tories and since 2014 no political value for Labour and Liberal “democrats” I suspect Labour is slowly realising this. Very slowly.

      There are plenty of political reasons why England wants to preserve the UK ( e.g the UN), but as far as I can tell none require Scotland to be in it.

      They would be happy if it were the United Kingdom of London and the Regions of England as long as it preserved their international status, including the Security council.

      We focus too much on the economics. Losing Scotland would be like losing an old but valued pair of shoes.

    2. Arboreal Agenda says:

      This is the simple truth. It isn’t that complicated. Independence will happen if it is the clear will of the people. All the rest is not just grand-standing hot air but deeply undemocratic zealotry. I believe that if the groundswell of support for independence is undeniable and shows a clear consistent majority, Westminster will not be able to resist it, though it would take a while. I think it also a real mistake to think a very tough line in the face of that would go down well with English voters. It would not: reluctantly or otherwise, independence would be supported by the majority in England if it were clear a significant majority in Scotland wanted it. There is a real ignorance and blindness here about the English view on Scottish independence, coupled with a serious misreading of the situation south of the border, even the nature of its people. But there’s little point in talking about that further here.

      The other factor surely is that anyone who really cares about the future of Scotland would not countenance independence without that clear consistent majority because otherwise it would lead to a seriously divided newly independent country that would get off to the worst possible start: mass disunity and strife.

      1. Hillary says:

        Absolutely. If the polls were showing 70% “Yes”, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It would be better if those who fantasise about an undemocratic Plan B were instead to find out what would make the independence proposition attractive enough to win over another 15% of No voters, and to persuade another 20% that while they might not want it, independence would not be a catastrophe.

        I don’t know if the results were fiddled, but when Norway voted to become independent from Sweden, the proposal was approved by almost 100% of voters, with just 184 voting against the proposal out of over 371,000 votes cast. (Wikipedia)

        Now that’s a decisive majority. If Scotland does not have anything like the same, it means there is something wrong with the independence proposition, not the voters. Now, as others have pointed out, Boris and his gang are doing an excellent job of making the proposition more attractive…

    3. Robert says:

      I think it’s easy to explain why Scotland got a referendum in 2014. It was step 2 in David Cameron’s strategy of using referenda to silence competing parties: the LibDems (AV referendum), the SNP (Indyref) and finally, unsuccessfully, the Brexit party.

  16. Frank Waring says:

    Two straight question: are these curves sketched by hand, or calculated? Where can I find a spreadsheet with the data?

    1. aayawa says:

      Fair point. I am a little ashamed to say I did not look at the spread in the results, focussing on the solid lines.

      I do not know the source of these graphs, do not know how the solid lines were calculates and the significance of the spreads about the line.

      As a pessimist after 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 I would not be hopeful till the two clouds of results are distinct, not just the lines.

      Assuming there is a real swing to independence ( I think there is) what could reverse it?

      Cancellation of Brexit? Soft No/Remain voters swinging back to NO, forgetting the risk of a future Brexit? Cancellation is unlikely.
      Removal of Bozo from power? Could swing them back to NO depending on who replaces him
      Westminster gives Scotland Independence in all but name? You’ve got to be joking. They would rather take recreational laxatives.

      But even a trend like this can reverse, so we need to make sure we know waht might do it and have a plan.

      1. Frank Waring says:

        I used to work as a research scientist, and I know too well the temptation to sketch a curve through a cloud of points, and then imagine that you’ve discerned the trajectory of a real process. Extrapolation may be psychologically comforting, but it isn’t predictive.
        I strongly believe that the ‘Yes’ proportion will only reach an irresistable level in a campaign or crusade.
        I may be wrong about this, but few of us will live long enough to disprove it: certainly not me………

        1. aayawa says:

          Yes, I remember from School how some could squeeze extra mars from a lab report by creative slide rule use.

          I would like to see the source and the way the curve was created. Till then I am not hopeful it represents reality or was not faked by anti-independence people in order to ensure a referendum at the wrong time.

          OK, that sounds a but paranoid but the way things have gone since 2014….

  17. MBC says:

    Incompetent they may be, but they are equally ruthless.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        The most frighteningly unpredictable of all the incompetencies.

  18. Wul says:

    So, why am I not seeing billboards and internet adverts promoting all the positive reasons why Scotland should / can be independent?

    Why is no one making this case relentlessly to the general population?

    I’d happily chip in towards a massive advertising campaign (indeed, this is what I thought I was doing when I donated to Yes.Scot many months ago. Nicola said “It’s time!”, but it turns out it wisnae)

    1. aayawa says:

      I understand billboard owners refuse such ads claiming they are political.

      If I am wrong please correct me.

  19. Paddy Farrington says:

    I think the Yes movement is in danger of eating itself over plans A, B, C etc, when all of these plans suffer from the same problem: the intransigence of the UK government. Those that suggest that plan B or whichever will deliver the holy grail are not really being honest with us. The only way forward, in my view, is to stop obsessing over tactics and focus on strategy, which must be to build up support for independence by reaching new constituencies, notaly within the labour and green movements. Nor is there any virtue in endlessly attacking the SNP for its centrism: let’s instead develop alternative plans for independence, green and socialist in inspiration, and ensure that independence is not just one route map but a rich ecology of ideas. Getting poll rating above 50% is great of course, but let’s keep on. We should be aiming for support a lot higher than that.

    Regarding the tactical plans A, B etc, let’s not forget that unforeseen events can change the course of history. Who would have thought that Apartheid would end the way it did? Who could have confidently predicted the events that led to the toppling of the European fascist dictatorships in Portugal and Greece? Or to the collapse of the Berlin wall and the independence of the Baltic states? The key strategic shifts underpinning all of these were changes in opinion and external supports for the regimes in question. Similar changes are taking place today in the UK, with its international position weakening by the day and Scottish public opinion on the move. Those who say the UK Government will never give in have not learnt anything: those regimes swept away by the tides of history have always said the same.

    Finally, let’s not kid ourselves about the speed or ease with which any of this will happen. It will take time, unity, and cool heads. We are up against the British state after all. They fight dirty: divide and rule has always been their modus operandi, from Ireland to the Raj. It is perhaps no coincidence that all these fissures should be appearing now within the Yes movement, just as we make it over the 50% mark. So, let’s keep the ideas flowing, stop taking pot shots at our own side even when we disagree, and above all – once lockdown is eased – get away from our keyboards and out into the streets to build up a diverse movement of support for independence which reflects the whole of Scottish society.

    1. Very good statement Paddy, I agree completely

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