A matter of timing

If the First Minister did hint at an #indyref2 announcement during the SNP Spring Conference it was a very subtle hint. So subtle, in fact, that it took all the speculative powers of the British media to discern it. On this occasion, however, the imperative of sensationalism may have led normally clueless journalists to stumble onto something real.

Let’s get one bit of speculation out of the way from the start. There is going to be another independence referendum in Scotland. OK! There are a couple of scenarios which could put this in doubt. But they are unlikely enough that, for most purposes, we can put them to the back of our mind – whilst not totally discounting them.

These scenarios, you will not be surprised to hear, involve Theresa May doing something untoward, if not completely crazy. Like refusing a Section 30 order to ‘authorise’ a referendum. Or even suspending the Scottish Parliament. In the first scenario, the Scottish Government would simply proceed with an alternative plebiscite that would effectively serve the same purpose as an independence referendum. Let’s call it #indyrefB.

There are at least a couple of options for the form that #indyrefB might take. It might simply be a consultative poll asking whether there should be a referendum. Or it could be a vote on what powers the people of Scotland want restored to their parliament. Either way, it would be a massive headache for the British establishment. Perhaps enough of a headache to prompt suspension of the Scottish Parliament. At which point, UDI becomes a real possibility.

I do not speak of such things lightly. But it would be foolish to underestimate the arrogant recklessness of the present London regime.

But let’s just stick with our preferred option of a referendum. We know it must be held before Brexit is finalised. We can reasonably assume, on the basis of what is currently known, that the deadline for that will be March 2019. So, September 2018 seems to be the latest possible date for the second independence referendum.

We can’t be absolutely certain about this; for the same reason we cannot wholly dismiss the possibility of the Westminster elite provoking a spike in the ongoing constitutional crisis. Suppose Theresa May decides to cut short the faux negotiations with the EU? Suppose she makes some kind of arrangement with Trump that makes Brexit an even greater threat?

Suppose it becomes clear that the British government is intending to use Brexit as an opportunity to lock Scotland into the union in perpetuity?

There are a number of conceivable developments which might prompt Nicola Sturgeon to hold #indyref2 earlier than September 2018. So she has to keep her options open. Fortunately, our First Minister is rather good at that. She can deal with growing demand for a fresh referendum by confirming that it is definitely happening. But there is absolutely no reason why she should specify a date. And what better occasion for such an announcement than the SNP Spring Conference in March?

By then, the Scottish Government will have amply demonstrated its willingness to be reasonable and to compromise in diverse ways short of actually disrespecting the democratic will of Scotland’s people. And it will have just about fully exploited opportunities to lure Theresa May into demonstrating the British government’s high-handed intransigence. The time will be right.

Formally confirming the intention to hold a referendum without specifying a date shall, of course, provoke entirely predictable hysteria among British nationalists and a welter of demands for answers. With all the contrived indignation that they can muster the British media machine will raise itself to the full towering height of its monstrous hypocrisy and appoint itself the ‘voice’ of the very people it’s been lying to for as long as anybody can remember. There will be much sickeningly pompous talk of the public’s ‘right to know’ from the individuals and institutions who have for years seen it as their duty to misinform and mislead and deceive the Scottish people in the name of preserving the British state.

My anxious hope is that the Yes movement will have sufficiently learned the lessons of the first independence referendum campaign to avoid being drawn into this narrative. When agents of British establishment demand answers on our behalf the very first thing we should do is, not join in their clamour, but question their motives. We should be asking why they need to know the precise date of the referendum. We should be inquiring as to what they intend to do with this information that they can’t do without it. We should scrutinise their efforts to pin down our First Minister and narrow her options.

We should have confidence in Nicola Sturgeon’s judgement. After all, what’s the alternative? Should we put our trust in those who have inherited the unprincipled mantle of Better Together/Project Fear?

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14 thoughts on “A matter of timing

  1. Doug McG

    To call Indyref2 on the European issue before the Westminster team have not left Europe IRREVOCABLY would be a catastrophic mistake . The very real possibility exists that this whole clusterfuck can be cancelled , payment will be in the shape of the heads of May , Johnson and sundry others.

    At that point Indyref2 would be insisted to go ahead but not really necessary and probably would be lost for lack of passion. Do not underestimate their determination to hold onto Scotland.

    Nicola is right to keep her tinder BONE dry.

    1. John McLeod

      Doug McG is raising an important issue here. Theresa May’s announcement that there would be a Commons vote on the final Brexit agreement, opens up the possibility that Scotland may not need to vote for independence in order to remain In the EU. There is no straightforward way to address the uncertainty that this introduces: ‘what am I voting for if I vote yes in Indyref2?’. A crucial group of Scottish voters, in this scenario, are those who would prefer an independent Scotland outside of the EU, with the balance in favour of the ‘outside EU’ factor (i.e., if they thought that the UK was on the verge of leaving the EU, they might vote no to Indyref2). One way of at least partially dealing with the legitimate interests of these individuals, would be to go into Indyref2 with a commitment to hold an in/out EU referendum within 2 or 3 years of Scottish independence.

      1. gordon

        Yep, spot on John Mcleod. The Indy2 question will be exactly as Indy1. No metion of our link to being In or out of the EU.
        This is fine anyway because Westminster have maintained from day 1 that Indy will result in no EU membership so they can’t then threaten Scotland will be kept in, can they?
        The whole point of Indy is that Scotland will decide in or out EU. Not what England votes.

  2. Dan Huil

    For the immediate future we should let britnats continue on their course of self-destruction. I can’t think of anyone better qualified than Nicola Sturgeon to get the timing right for IndyRef2.

  3. bringiton

    I think you are right Peter and that all the signs from May and her merry men are of a short sharp exit from the EU.
    They will rename the Tower of London,Trump Tower London and invite him over on a state visit to open the new edifice.
    This should elicit the required B/S of a super duper trade deal which the English press can then use to convince the voters that all is well and nothing they need concern themselves with.
    Meanwhile in the real world north of the border……
    May made a monumental blunder being photographed holding hands with Trump.
    This will have antagonised a lot of No voting Scots.

  4. Alasdair Macdonald

    What would be your prognostications were the Westminster Government to suspend the Scottish Parliament and the Assembly in Northern Ireland?

      1. Cameron Gazzola Black

        The only scenario in which I can conceive of that being the way ahead. It’s possible we could have a referendum (with or without section 30) and see its result ignored and unacknowledged by Westminster, and then go to the ICJ, and that would be UDI in a sense, but not truly unilateral.

      2. David Mooney

        UDI will only work if the international community accepts Scotland’s right to self determination. Which is by no means a given without some kind of democratic mandate, specifically indicating a desire for independence.

      3. Alasdair Macdonald

        I probably agree with your opinion.

        Interestingly, on GMS this morning Gary Robertson mentioned the possibility of the devolved administrations being suspended.

        He was interviewing the chair of a House of Lords Committee dealing with the relationship amongst Westminser and the devolved administrations. He described the peer as ‘Conservative’ and was immediately correctd by the peer who said he was ‘non-aligned’. At the conclusion of the interview Mr Robertson again described the peer as ‘Conservative’.

  5. Doug McG

    We need a true test of public opinion , not slanted opinion polls . We could turn the next set of council elections into an unofficial Unionist v Independent contest , probably will be anyway!

    At no cost and with WM mired in Brexit , our way out would be assured.

  6. David MacGille-Mhuire

    Not if this term “UDI” is applicable in our political/constitutional context of a bi-partite treaty between the oldest nation state in Europe (Scotland) and the gangster forebears of the current Yookay mobster Mafia style WM commission given the original Treaty and subsequent respective Acts of the twa parliaments were achieved by subterfuge, bribery, and a massed English force of hoodlums on the border to aid and abet things along.

    Much prefer the idea that we are simply abrogating a Treaty as an equal partner and signatory to it conned, bribed, and militarily forced into it, and ripped off and suppressed thereafter and unto the present day (a bit like The Vow and love expressed and sabre rattling of the AngloBrit establishment and their JockBrit comprador colluders during Re-Indy Referendum 1, come to think of it).

    Another referendum is simply the realpolitik icing on the cake cannily on option as the FM and her battalions of Scots democrats back the Brits into a constitutional/democratic corner.

    Personally, I would abrogate the Treaty of Union in a heartbeat, but trust the FM and her said troops to get it right in this asymmetrical game of political/constitutional/democratic/human rights “warfare” between the sovereign citizens of Scotland and the Divine Right forces of lebensraum uber Engerlund.

    I can smell the dram in the coffee and it’s coming soon:)

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