Things to come

I don’t presume to know the First Minister’s mind. Rather than speculate about her thinking on the matter, I would prefer to examine the factors which might influence her thinking.

GA Ponsonby’s article basically envisages Nicola Sturgeon restating the Scottish Government’s position as it was before the recent UK general election. To me, this seems unlikely. The anticipated statement must be seen to take due account of the outcome of that election. Goodness knows, the FM has not been short of advice as to how she should respond. That advice may be summed up as falling into two opposing camps – ‘Step back!’ or ‘Step up!’.

My sense of things is that the ‘step up’ argument carries the most weight. This is partly because the First Minister has already done the ‘stepping back’. She’s done the reasonable, patient, willing to compromise thing. Some would say she’s overdone it. To whatever extent that may be true, it is certainly forgivable. When being reasonable, it must surely always be better to err on the side of excess. But I also feel that, amidst the complex, swirling currents of political pressures, the tide is running in favour of something that will reinvigorate the independence campaign.

There is a way for Nicola Sturgeon to do this which is perfectly consistent with her position to date. A way simultaneously to begin the process of disengaging a new referendum from Brexit; maintain the argument that Scotland’s relationship with the EU must be maintained in accordance with the will of Scotland’s people; and provide a fresh stimulus for the Yes movement.

The First Minister can, quite sensibly, argue that we don’t have to wait to know what the outcome of Brexit negotiations holds for Scotland. We know it’s going to be massively detrimental. The compromise tabled by the Scottish Government was almost certainly unrealisable..It was publicly offered mainly so that it could be publicly rejected. But it is not politically possible for the FM to take this offer off the table. The reasonable approach which contrasts so starkly with that of Theresa May must be maintained.

As I see it, the best way forward, and what I would expect from the FM, is that the Scottish Government’s approach be re-framed. Rather than saying a new referendum is a possibility if the UK Government doesn’t deliver the Brexit deal we want, Nicola Sturgeon can now say a new referendum is definitely happening UNLESS the UK Government delivers that Brexit deal. The circumstances are now such that a date can be set for #ScotRef.

When Nicola Sturgeon makes her statement in the coming week, I anticipate that she will announce plans to hold a referendum on Thursday 13 September 2018. I expect that she will make this a firm commitment. She will argue that, by next September, enough will be known about the terms of the Brexit deal and the implications for Scotland for people to make an informed decision.

But she will also argue that there is more to the constitutional issue than the issue of Scotland being ripped out of the EU against the wishes of the Scottish people. She will argue that this, and the UK Government’s open disdain for Scotland’s democratic will, is merely symptomatic of a much deeper malaise in the current constitutional settlement. She will argue that pretty much everything that has happened subsequent to the first independence referendum, not to mention the deplorable manner in which the anti-independence campaign was conducted, all provides more than sufficient justification for a new vote.

She may also argue that, if unionists really want to lay the constitutional issue to rest then the only way to do this is by satisfying demand for a new referendum. With at least half the electorate wanting #ScotRef, the matter must be addressed. And the only way to do that is to let the people’s voice be heard. Scotland’s right of self-determination must be respected. Respecting that right, it is the solemn duty of government to ensure the people have the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination.

This is all speculation, of course. I could be wrong. Nicola Sturgeon may well make a very different political calculation. I totally respect her right to do so. And I will continue to support her – because I can be certain that, whatever her calculation may be, it is always informed by her estimation of what is best for Scotland. All I saying is that the approach I have outlined above is now an option. There are other options.

Having said all that, my heartfelt hope is that, by the end of the week, a revitalised independence movement will be gearing up for a new referendum campaign with aim of securing an emphatic Yes vote on Thursday 13 September 2018.

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15 thoughts on “Things to come

  1. bringiton

    I agree Peter,we need a more positive message from the SNP leadership but given the continuing uncertainties caused by the Tories in London,trying to nail down policy has been impossible.
    The SNP must show that they have a manifesto for improving life in Scotland against the London based parties,whose sole policy is to retain London rule.
    There is no question that Scottish voters will be influenced by the outcome of the Brexit process but one way or another that should be much clearer by the timescale you propose and beyond the spin of the London based parties here in Scotland.
    Fingers crossed.

  2. Proud Cybernat

    And if, during IR2, the BritNat Establishment and their lapdog media think they can break the rules and break purdah with last minute offers to the Scottish electorate of shiny beads and baubles aka Devo-Max / Federalism then it had better think again.

    If BT2 win IR2 by breaking the rules of the campaign (again) then they can be absolutely certain that we will not respect the resut and will be demanding that IR3 be on the table toot sweet. If the Proud Scot buts are fed up with having referendums then they must impress that point upon their BT2 leaders for only a fair fight and a fair win will ever be respected by indy campaigners and that is precisely what will be required in order to place this debate to bed for a ‘generation’.

    If the Proud Scot buts want ‘peace’ then they know what they have to do. Ensure their leaders make it a fair fight.

    Otherwise….

  3. Geacher

    “I anticipate that she will announce plans to hold a referendum on Thursday 13 September 2018.” She won’t. May has already said that it ain’t gonna happen this side of 2020, so why would she demand a date that will be knocked back without a moments hesitation? It would appease the more zealous of her supporters, but would lose her more support from the less committed, as we saw at the recent General Election.

    1. Gordon Taggart

      In Peter’s scenario, the referendum will not be dependent on a Section 30 order. May will not be influencing the date or anything else to do with the “Brexit-ref”…unless she agrees to a Section 30 order, of course.

      Apologies to Mr Bell if I have misinterpreted his words but I’m sure I’m correct.

      1. Geacher

        If there is no section 30 order there is no referendum.
        What if you held a referendum and nobody came?

        1. Gordon Taggart

          You’re close to trolling, but I’ll give you another reply before condemning you:

          Explain your claim that “No Section 30 order, no referendum”?

          If I held a referendum and no-one came, I would (by default) win! Democracy, taken to extremes is still democracy.

          Are you seriously claiming that a consultative referendum is somehow invalid; or that a poor turn-out somehow negates the result?

          1. Geach

            An ad hoc referendum, not ratified by WM, the No voters would just stay away. Who would organise it? Where would you hold it? How would you pay for it? Who would count the votes, monitor the count, organise the collection of the ballot boxes? How could you claim any legitimacy? The SNP would be the laughing stock of the world.

      2. Peter A Bell Post author

        You are perfectly correct that there is always the option of what I have called IndyrefB. A consultative referendum. The UK Government would have no powers to prevent such a plebiscite. And it would create great difficulties for the British establishment. But, before we get there, Theresa May has to be pushed into the position of refusing a Section 30 Order. The Scottish Government has many options. The British state has few. And none that don’t come at considerable cost.

        1. Geach

          “And it would create great difficulties for the British establishment” It would? How exactly? As I said the No voters would just stay away. Who would organise it? Where would you hold it? How would you pay for it? Who would count the votes, monitor the count, organise the collection of the ballot boxes? How could you claim any legitimacy? The SNP would be the laughing stock of the world.
          Theresa May has already refused a section 30 order for the initial time scale asked for by Sturgeon, and that didn’t bite her, did it? The Scottish Government has two options. Ask for a referendum in or about 2020, or take it of the table completely until the party regroups itself.
          You could face up to real world and address these issues, or you could continue to live in cloud cuckoo land.
          If Theresa May grants you guys indyref 2 anytime soon, you will lose. If Sturgeon (who is a dead man walking BTW) takes it off the table till after brexit, then there is no point in the SNP existing.

        2. Gordon Taggart

          Robert & Peter,

          Thanks…I should have checked before answering the eedjit. His last post proves he has a tenuous grip on political reality.

  4. Brian Powell

    It certainly cannot be in the interests of the people of Scotland to stick with the Tory Governments we keep getting, and the rusting seesaw of Westminster politics.
    It is interesting to compare the broad support from most classes that the Catalan independence movement carries compared to the whimpering, self regard from some classes in Scotland.

  5. Robert Graham

    The only constant in this whole mess has been Nicola Sturgeon , every one of the unionist parties in scotland are all over the place , say one thing do another , they change by the hour , the only thing they have is NO 2nd referendum , thats it nothing else , its getting pretty bloody boring .

    1. Gordon Taggart

      I think “events” have pushed those unionists all over the place, Robert…they are desperately looking for the one “strong and stable” issue to use as their raft, which they hope will find favour with the electorate, or that some may want to climb aboard.

      Note that is the very unionists using their little sticks to beat the FM who caused or aided the “events” to unfold in the first place!

      They want the FM to do the same thing and are struggling to break her hold on the firm ground (dry land) that was built by the manifesto pledge, Brexit-ref result in Scotland, the re-affirming vote in the SP and (another) record result of FPTP SNP MP’s to Westminster. They want to drag the SNP down to their level and thus make the field level (in their eyes).

      The irony is that if ANY of these unionist parties had all those checks (umpteen locks now, aren’t there?), they would be crowing and marauding even more than now!

      We see the motes in their eyes but they will never admit to them.

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