The Urgency of the Independence Referendum

There has been considerable consternation in the independence movement over when, not if there should be a Scottish Independence referendum.

In my view, the Scottish Independence Referendum must be held in September 2018, or else incalculable yet avoidable economic and constitutional damage will be wrought, and the opportunity to hold another one will be forever lost. 

It is increasingly likely, arguably even probable, that the UK will crash out of the EU with no deal. There were three principal questions to be resolved before negotiating the future relationship could begin; the Irish border, citizens rights, and the ‘divorce bill’. In March, they announced tentative agreements over the three, with details to be filled in. This last week, the first two have been seriously undermined.

  • UK proposals for dealing with the Irish border were summarily dismissed, and Michel Barnier clearly indicated that talks could well fail.
  • The Windrush atrocity has clearly eroded trust in the UK even further, especially the Home Office. The UK is literally deporting its own citizens. How much confidence can the EU have in the UK government to protect the rights of its citizens post-Brexit? Zero.

There is also the question of Gibraltar. Spain has made it a condition that the application of transition period to Gibraltar is contingent on the UK negotiating its future status with Spain before UK withdrawal, and has the backing of the other member states. This hasn’t even come up yet.

According to the planned sequencing of the withdrawal negotiations, by this time, the UK and the EU were supposed to be negotiating their future relationship, so that a withdrawal agreement could be signed by September, leaving several months for all the 27 remaining member state parliaments, the EU Parliament, and the UK Parliament to ratify (note the Scottish Parliament is not included). But that can’t start until the Irish border question is solved, and some trust is restored in the UK government. What are the chances of that occurring in the next four months? Again, zero.

No withdrawal agreement means no transition deal. No transition deal means all treaties, 58 free trade agreements with 69 countries, some 750 bilateral agreements, and 37 EU regulatory agencies, cease to have effect on the UK, and therefore Scotland. These are but a few of the many consequences after March 29, 2019 if there is no transition deal:

  • Airplanes will not be able to legally take off and land at UK airports.
  • Food and water safety standards will evaporate.
  • Worker and consumer protections will disappear.

Now unrestrained by the EU, Westminster Tories will be free to:

  • Tear up the devolution settlement, even abolish the Scottish Parliament
  • Make free trade deals with the US, imposing much weaker food safety standards, bringing in chlorinated chickens.
  • Sell off the Scotch Whisky brand to the Americans and/or Peruvians.

And many other consequences too monumental and damaging to contemplate.

Scotland must call and hold a referendum by next September, to have any chance of avoiding being forever shackled to a post-Brexit UK.

I’ve read Pete Wishart’s arguments about waiting until after Brexit, for ‘optimal conditions‘ to be fulfilled before holding a referendum, focusing mostly on public opinion issues. He doesn’t seem to grasp the impending urgency of getting out before its too late. Given the Brexit trainwreck that is rapidly approaching, conditions will never be more ‘optimal’ to change constitutional course before Brexit. After will be too late. Public opinion will be irrelevant when Scotland is firmly under corporate oligarchic control, as it definitely will be after Brexit.

There is still the question of Scotland’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit, and there are ‘yes’ voters who voted to leave the EU. However, nearly 2/3 of Scots voted to remain in the EU: a higher percentage than voted to remain in the UK.

Therefore, Scotland must seek assurance from the EU during the campaign that it can remain in the Single Market and Customs Union, if Scots vote ‘yes’ to independence in September 2018. Given that they are already making these arrangements for Northern Ireland, there is no question that they would.

After independence is voted, during the constituent process of creating a new state and constitution, crucially still in the Customs Union and Single Market, Scots will have the time and space to collectively weigh the pros and cons of becoming an EU member state, or perhaps becoming a member of the European Free Trade Association. The EU and EFTA can make their offers and cases, and Scots can decide on their own terms.

The case for independence has never been stronger nor existential.

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16 thoughts on “The Urgency of the Independence Referendum

  1. 100%Yes

    I was at the meeting in Airdire yesterday regarding depute leadership contest and yes every one of the candidates mentioned Independence, after all why wouldn’t they, it’s the fundamental reason for the SNP as a party, Julie Hepburn believes we should leave it to Nicola Sturgeon to decide, I thought to myself well your not going to me much good as a deputy if you just want to leave it to Nicola Sturgeon to decide every thing and you happy to go along with it, Keith Brown happy to leave it until we know we will win a referendum on Independence, I thought we could remain on 45% for the next 10 years, then there was Chris McEleny, who indicated it should be held in the next 18months. I left the meeting with one thought in my mind, they are not bothered about another Independence referendum now or in the future, yes they’ll all bang on about Independence to keep the dreamers hanging on, but that’s all it is. In my opinion something has happened that the SNP are not telling us about, but one thing is for sure there will not be a referendum called this year. I like many other believe the EU nationals vote will bring Independence if a referendum it was held 30.09.18 and we would stand a better chance in fighting the Unionist propaganda with all that is happening with brexit and all the other disasters,like the windrush issue, etc,and a weak PM and Tory Government, with issues like fishing and Shipbuilding along with every other thing that is happening it beggars believe why we aren’t going for it an independence referendum NOW. I know Peter probably wont agree with me but I believe the SNP have become a party more concerned about being in government rather than Independence.

  2. Peter A Bell

    Don’t agree with the idea of tacking the monarchy onto the independence referendum. An unnecessary and pointless muddying of the issue, in my view. But Mark makes an excellent job of stressing the urgency of Scotland’s plight. Would that senior figures in the SNP shared that sense of urgency.

    1. Bob

      Absolutely agree about the monarchy question Peter. That is a different debate and should be a decision for an independent country. Bringing the monarchy into a debate about independence will simply muddy the argument and be a gift to unionist politicians and media.

  3. William Purves

    Stress should be placed on as few things as possible. That all taxes raised in Scotland, including all income raised from oil and gas production, would be spent for the benefit of the people who live in Scotland.

    It would not be used for weapons of mass destruction, fighting foreign wars, building useless aircraft carriers and infrastructure in England deemed for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

  4. Daisy Walker


    To all who are concerned, and to Pete Wishart MP (who should be).

    Like a good many others, in Scotland, and around the globe, I woke up on 19/9/14, as one bereaved.

    And tragically, even a lot of those people who voted No, were also gutted. On some level they must have known the YES group were the goodies. But they had not been convinced. They admitted it, Project Fear worked on them.

    But here was the thing, before the dust settled on the day, before the next sunset, the whole country, the whole country, had a plan, a solid, clear road map to Indy, and the wind was in our sails.

    First SNP Membership rose from 15,000 – 100,000 in months. The 3rd biggest party in the UK. Wow.

    Then the GE. Lend us your vote, said Nicola, and Yes, No’s and Mibbaes Aye did, overwhelmingly – 56 out of 59. And not only that but real human beings got elected. Mharie Black, Tommy Shepherd, Pippa Whitford. Fresh voices, fresh ideas. Right in the face of WM and boy did they know it. And then adjusted… Westminster is the oldest hand at taming its subjects, practice makes perfect.

    And in spite of their best efforts, how little did their presence achieve.

    And then Brexit, no clear literature, mixed messages from HQ, poor leadership on many a level, and the Yessers divided.

    On a UK l’vote leave’ level a campaign overwhelmingly Racist, dumbed down to the most simplistic base instincts, with a big lie on a bus as a salve for their conscience – How much for the NHS a week? … aye right.

    And no-one, not even the most hopeful, devoted Yesser, could have believed the outcome. Every part of Scotland voted to stay, a 62% majority. The democratic contrast between Scotland and England could not be more clear cut.

    And Brexit, a mystery, wrapped in a soundbite, Brexit means…. blah blah.

    (Its April 2018 now, and the only clear thing about Brexit, is what a total ClusterF*ck its going to be. For the economy, for the prices of everything, for Farming and Fishing and Manufacturing, and Human Rights, the environment, employment. Nothing, nothing good is coming from Brexit.

    It’s Brexshit and Bad all the way, except for the already rich, who will carve up the NHS, and keep their Tax Havens.)

    And still we had a plan, the leadership say ‘hold, hold’ and we get that, ‘patience, there is a plan’.

    And a snap GE, snap for us, well planned in advance by the Unionist Parties. And not just one, but 2 terrorist incidents in the middle.

    And still we had a plan, a mandate, a get out of jail free card, a cast iron ‘we’ve damned well had enough’ mandate, ‘we reserve the right to call another referendum in the event of extraordinary circumstances, such as Scotland being pulled out of the EU against her will’.

    Doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it. Didn’t put it in small print, thinking no-one would read it did they. I was conscious of voting for it, with that in mind.

    3 times, 3 times they tried to scupper it, and 3 times, the people of Scotland voted for this mandate. (2 x GE,s and 1 x SE).

    And still, in the face of all that WM and its complicit whoor – the Medial, could throw at it, we won, still the biggest party in Scotland. Still the wind in our sails and the road rising up to meet us. Never losing faith, never loosing courage, never losing site of the plan, and never stopping the campaign.

    And for those of us, worried that there seemed to be a lack of urgency at SNP party level, a complacency, a quietening on the urgency for another Referendum. Well we put our concerns to one side, with their brilliant governance (and I do on the whole think it has been brilliant), and the promise of a Peoples’ Energy Company – wow, a Peoples’ Bank superb – (set up by someone from Tesco’s no less – sure to be radical yeh right, fingers crossed) We took comfort from the quiet insistence, ‘hold, hold, patience’. There is a plan, once Brexit is known.

    And we put to one side, concerns that there appears to be no plan to countenance the non stop Propaganda from the BBC – it exists, that at least is acknowledged, but nothing to hit back at it, nothing. No leaflet drops, no public meetings, no poster competitions to get the message out, no car posters for every member – with info on them, not some mindless slogan, not a bloody thing. An open goal totally ignored.

    So we take stock and re-assure ourselves with certain facts, that a party in Governance has responsibilities and has to behave in a certain manner, and we go off and use the grass roots movement to try and plug the gap.

    And still the road ahead is clear, there is a plan.

    And then one day, one week, one month, 3 things happen, and all is changed. April 2018:

    War – war is waged, on the thinnest and most dodgie of evidence. And the clear siren voice of decency, of common sense and common reason, that voice that rung out in protest over Iraq, that voted in unison against the vote to bomb Syria the first time, that voice, this time became the muted, muffled, so, so, politicians double speak of a bland bank manager.

    And next up, Pete Wishart goes to press, ‘Now is not the time’ Maybeas later if yir all good boys and girls, after another GE, if you stop being naughty and vote for us again. And the song being sung, has backing singers, Jim Sillars and Robin McAlpine, even the Tory party like it.

    And the third blow, Wings Over Scotland publish the article ‘Elephant in the Courtroom’ – that even if we want to use our mandate, WM could stop us, unless we win the right in court, or at any rate exhaust that avenue.

    And devastatingly, on this issue, the SNP are deathly silent. Is there a plan, have they considered this, are they even aware of it and just have their heads in the sand. Questions, questions, and of answers there are none. The silence is deafening.

    And this is truly devastating – the grass roots can’t fill this gap. Only the SNP, in government can implement this.

    On this issue we fall.

    3 things, 3 things together, have brought me to my knees in a way the IndyRef1 vote never did. The wind is out of my sails, I’m bailing out water, and days ago I was sailing on at a good steady pace, plotting a course and making good progress. The shore has never seemed so close, and at the same time so far away.

    On 21/4/18 Pete Wishart reiterated his argument, and I welcome the fact he did so in a more reasoned tone. And I am more certain now than ever, this is Policy, policy being finessed and sold to us, whether we like it or not.

    And so the purpose of this essay, is to address his arguments, in a polite manner. There are some who say any disagreement should be done at branch level, behind closed doors. Pete’s article was public, therefore the arguments against should be public also.

    PW ‘debate seems to centre round whether we should proceed with a referendum simply because we currently posses a mandate or whether we hold one when there is good evidence it can be won.’

    There was nothing simple about obtaining that Mandate, that 3 times won Mandate. If we lose it by waiting for another GE, we lose it forever.

    PW’ ‘I want to see evidence it can be won, and I want to see it held at the time of our choosing, when optimum conditions are in place for success’.

    Well, I want to win the lottery, I want the full boona, and I’d like it to happen pretty much now, or at a time when it would suit me best.

    Dear Pete, you will NEVER see evidence it can be won, WM Establishment will burn any such evidence, destroy any person who can present such evidence, and take the country to War to distract from any hint of evidence of this kind.

    ‘At a time of our choosing’ – what fantasy planet do you live on? When ‘Optimum Conditions are in place for success’ – there’s no such bloody thing, optimum conditions my arse, what a fair wind, sunny weather, Scotland winning the football?

    PW, ‘go over what these ‘optimal conditions’ are not’

    ‘Less than a year from having lost one third of our indy supporting MP’s’

    Dear Pete – remember Nicola’s phrase, ‘lend us your vote’. Well they did, and they were disappointed. To go from 6 MP’s to 56 in one vote and then think that’s your new normal is incredibly foolish and presumptuous.

    ‘we cannot ignore the fact the SNP lost half a million votes’

    No you can’t, but where’s your analysis, your evidence, your polls and your research to identify the whys of the loss. Hmmm, pretty big on insisting others show you evidence, you show yours, and do so as a matter of urgency. You have people campaigning on the doors, this evidence, would be bread and butter to assist them.

    ‘Optimal Conditions are not when a significant gap exists between support for indy and support for an early indy ref’.

    Really, you whit!!!! Imagine for a second, that for the second time in Scotland’s history, we get a second chance to vote for Independence for Scotland, and on voting day, do you really think someone is going to go,

    ‘that’s it, I’m voting No – told them to hold it a week on Tuesday, but would they listen, no, well this’ll teach them’.

    And that Tory voter you met, who previously voted for Indy, bet they voted for Brexit, Hmm, bet they did. And like a lot of them at the time, never gave it much thought beyond the simplistic message about immigration!

    Speak to Brexiteers now and a significant number of them, now know its a damned site more complicated than that, with zero good news coming through. Immigration has been knocked off the poster board as an issued when it comes to Brexit.

    Immigration, for those who have that fear, is going to get an awful lot bigger under a Tory Government desperate to strike any kind of deal with India, for which ‘free movement of people’ will be an absolute condition. Fancy that do you, with workers rights Binned under Brexit.

    If you want to win back the Yes/Leave voters I ‘d strongly suggest the above hard fact might be one to start shouting from the rooftops.

    Pete, you say that support for Independence is holding strong at 45%, and then in the next sentence talk about it being opposed by a ‘significant margin’ – that margin is 5%.

    You identify this 5% as the hardest group to convert. You say we ‘need a new case’ and we ‘have to get on their territory’, every day issues such as ‘pensions, currency, perceived deficits’ are to be addressed and to win, ‘we are going to have to be creative’.

    On this I agree, and am pulling my hair out at your almost complete lack of ambition. You are aiming for 5%, 5%! Aim for 30%, aim for 40%. Damn well aim to win.

    And where, where, where is your new case for pensions, your new case for currency, for perceived deficits. Anyone following the issues will know, Prof Richard Murphy has done more work on ‘perceived deficits’ than you – did you print it off, did you do a leaflet drop – did you hell.

    Currency – look to the the Common Green, they’ve done all the heavy lifting there. Did you print it off, did you get billboards commissioned with the info. Did you hell.

    Last time round the SNP produced a 500 page white paper, grass roots Wings Over Scotland produced The Wee Blue Book, thank god they did.

    You ‘get creative’ if you want to, the rest of us would be better off putting a big simple message on the side of a bus.

    You talk about returning to a ‘One Scotland’ approach to independence. I do hope you didn’t pay anyone money for that slogan. Money down the drain if you did.

    You talk of Brexit, of not leaving those who voted Leave – Semi Detached from the Yes Movement, proceeding to another indyref with this unresolved will be like having one hand tied behind our backs.

    Well Pete, lets hear you ‘get creative’ about sorting this one out eh. Suggestions, ideas, policies. Where are they. It’s been over a year since the Brexit vote, where are they? what are they? EFTA, EEA, what about it, argue the case.

    You say,

    ’ Brexit will be an Unmitigated Disaster for our fellow Scots and when it properly hits our fellow Scots will want to review their constitutional options. It (optimum conditions) is hitting the sweet spot when Brexit Impacts and people actively want out of an isolated, desolated UK.

    It means support for the SNP returning to the levels we achieved around the last referendum in electoral contests.’

    So your going to let an unmitigated disaster befall us, a Brexit impact that will isolate and desolate us, and if we’re good boys and girls and vote SNP in enough numbers you might, mibees just honour the mandate we voted for the first time. Stronger for Scotland my arse.

    Please, please listen, when I say this. If we do not hold another Indy Ref before the next General Election and before we lose our mandate. No-one, No-one, No-one is Ever, Ever, Ever going to Vote for you Again.

    The mandate will be squandered, our single market membership to the EU will be lost, our economy, our businesses, universities, environment, NHS Scotland, our Parliament, ruined, and gone, gone, gone.

    These are Desperate times, not chosen times, not optimum times, Desperate times.

    Last time we had a choice, a choice for change or no change.

    This time out we have a Fight for Survival and only a short window of opportunity to achieve it.

    Your current stance has done, what the BBC, the Tories, the Labour Party and the No Voters could never do. You’ve taken the wind from my sails.

    That’s me for now.

    Now, where did I leave that pair of oars.

    Yours in kindness and in commitment.

    Daisy Walker

    1. Robert Graham

      God I really hate being hit between the eyes with the truth ,I can’t argue with a single thing you have said , and it’s bloody depressing how right you are.

      Your thoughts , well i had the same feeling some time ago, it probably started with information from inycar Gordon Ross and Fluffys build up of the Scotland Office in Edinburgh what’s he up to ,is he settling up a unit to administer the repatriated powers from the EU , that would mean he wasn’t lying when he said powers would return to Edinburgh , just not to the Scottish parliament . Nothing from the SNP .

      As you say the troops on the ground need leadership and guidance the absence of any movement is starting to cause little discontent on various Indy supporting websites arguments are becoming more frequent , sometimes Wings resembles something out of the Wild West , this situation only benefits one side and it ain’t ours .

    2. scrandoonyeah

      I am with you……it is now or never, otherwise Scotland will cease to exist and will be subsumed under the jackboot of a greater england

  5. Big Jock

    I too am concerned about the SNP recently. However surely everyone and their dog can see the way the Brexit outcome is going.

    We are crashing out and no deal can be reached with the DUP over the border issue. No transition means emergency status for the UK and it’s economy.

    They are going down and they want to take the crew and passengers with them. May is desperate for a deal with Trump. She knows what’s coming and the foney war with Russia was constructed as part of a potential emergency deal.

    If the SNP don’t do something then Scotland is doomed. We need actions not talk, talk .talk. I think they have until the end of May. If the SNP haven’t made their move by then , by naming the date. Then we will know that they have no intention of fighting for independence. Ironically the thing they are trying to protect, devolution . Will be destroyed brick by brick.

    This government wants control and for that they want unitary government.

  6. Kenny Higgins

    Some good sense in the thoughts expressed above. There is no doubting that there is a groundswell of enthusiasm in those keen to see an Independent Scotland as soon as possible, like me. Pete Wishart and others have been ostracized for holding a cautious stance on the date of Indy2, however, they have sound reasons for this and we need to see the bigger picture even if we push for an early date. It’s more than likely the UK Gov will refuse a referendum – how do we legally overcome that temporary hurdle even if we have a mandate?

    There is the small matter of EU negotiations over Brexit that may or may not happen. What if it does? and what if it does not? We also need to be realists and understand that the same old questions will come back to haunt us:

    * What about border management
    * What about Currency
    * What about partnerships – ie In or out of NATO, EU, Customs Union, Single Market
    * Defence / Trident
    * Trade agreements
    * Pensions
    * All powers suddenly devolved
    * Scotlands Oil

    We can’t sweep these considerations under the carpet, they need to be part of our progression plan that we put to our people to get behind. (Our white paper2) We need a strong Holyrood government to take us through this process delivering the wishes of the Scottish People.

    Like it or not, SNP and the Green Party are needed to steer Independence even if elections for a new Government follow sometime later. No one in their right mind can believe Independence will just happen without the SNP fully behind this supported by the Greens. But most importantly, it needs the people of Scotland to Demand Independence not to just hope it happens one day.

    The 5th of May Independence March in Glasgow is an early opportunity to gauge the shape of public demand and this gathering needs to show the type of peaceful passion expressed by the Catalans to demonstrate this to the world.

    We are in for a hammering by the BBC, STV and wider MSM the minute a date is announced on top of the lies and smears already building and we need a watertight case to show its all doable even if a work in progress within what could be a tight timeframe.

    With the best will in the world, September 2018 is looking extremely difficult but ideally needs to be by end of March 2019. St Andrews day is very relevant and a Friday – 30th November- Perhaps a good day to be celebrating Independence if not also too early.

    Firstly, we need a huge movement developed very quickly and all the pieces of the strategic Jigsaw pulled together in the background (as I’m sure is already happening).

    We also need some respectful cohesion between all the Pro-Indy Groups coming together on the same hymn sheet. Including representatives from all of Scotland’ s political scene here and through MEPs including the few staunch Media outlets willing to lend support. Most of all, the passion and enthusiasm of 2014, has to come back asap.

  7. Christian Wright

    Kenny Higgins wrote: “It’s more than likely the UK Gov will refuse a referendum – how do we legally overcome that temporary hurdle even if we have a mandate?”

    Who says the people of Scotland need the permission of a woman from Maidenhead England, they did not elect before expressing their opinion in a ballot on the future of their own country? And what makes you think her denial of a Section 30 order would be temporary?

    If we prosecute this campaign predicated on seeking England’s “permission”, we may as well not even start. The only way Scotland can become independent is by dissolving its union with England. Free yourself from this mindset that Scotland is seeking independence *from* the UK. Without Scotland there is no UK.

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain is a legal and political entity formed by the Union of two and only two countries – the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England (incorporating Wales). It was created by a bilateral internationally recognised treaty.

    It is the case that upon dissolution of the Treaty of Union, its associated enabling acts of parliaments, and any subsequent contingent intra-state treaties and agreements derived therefrom, the United Kingdom of Great Britain will cease to be.

    As you might expect, two and only two successor states will emerge from its discarded husk – the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. There can be no continuing state (rUK) of an extinguished voluntary union of two nations. It is on its face a daft proposition.

    Consider the tautology, when the Union is dissolved. the union ceases to be.

  8. Cubby

    What is wrong with the SNP. Call a referendum now for Sept 18 the vast majority of EU nationals will reverse their vote and vote yes . This is a massive swing in itself.

    If we do not we will end up prisoners, like the Catalonians, of a Fascist English government.

    If we accept we need the English permission for a referendum we are accepting we are not a country but in practice prisoners of the English state. We are not their possession.

    Tell them to stuff their sect 30 permission.

    SNP Get a grip.

  9. Douglas

    It is time to get on with it.

    I really don’t understand the hesitation.

    If it is delayed any longer then some will leave.

    I don’t want to bring my family up in Brexitania

  10. Pingback: Announcement of a Date of an Independence Referendum could come within weeks – Towards Indyref2…

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