What will the FM say this week on the subject of a second Indyref?

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to reveal the results of her party’s general election ‘reflection’ this coming week. That reflection will of course include the small matter of a second independence referendum [IR2].

The First Minister deftly avoided being bounced into discussing IR2 in the aftermath of the election result. The media portrayed the result as something of a disaster for the SNP. A bogus narrative emerged that said the SNP had somehow lost its mandate to hold a second independence referendum by dint of having lost a few more seats than it expected.

By accepting, rightly or wrongly, that her party’s stance on IR2 had contributed to seats lost in the general election the First Minister was able to show humility. By refusing to be bounced into making a statement specifically on IR2 itself, the First Minister denied Ruth Davidson the platform the Scottish Tory leader craved.

The hype of Ruth Davidson’s election ‘win’ has since faded. In its place is the very real threat of Brexit. It’s against this new backdrop that Nicola Sturgeon will make her eagerly anticipated statement.

So what will she say? Before addressing this question it’s worth looking back at something the SNP leader said almost exactly one year ago. Take a look at the video clip below.

Pressed by Gordon Brewer on a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon says: “I’m not going to make judgements over the period ahead on what’s right for me as leader of the SNP or the SNP as a party. I’m the First Minister of Scotland and I’ve got to try and make judgements about what’s in the best interests of Scotland.”

The key is what is in the best interests of Scotland … and a hard Brexit isn’t it.

Since the general election, Brexit had dominated the news.The negotiations are underway and it ain’t going to plan.

The chaos that has engulfed Theresa May’s minority government and the confusion over what kind of Brexit she is seeking is creating an altogether different atmosphere to the one that prevailed immediately after the general election.

It’s been so bad for the Tories that Ruth Davidson has virtually disappeared, unless you count the ridiculous spectacle of the leader of the opposition strutting around dressed like Tank Girl.

This is precisely why Nicola Sturgeon delayed saying anything about IR2. She’s been waiting for the inevitable Brexit backlash to hit the Tories.

So what about the statement this coming week? My belief is that the First Minister will re-affirm her commitment to holding a second independence referendum if it is the only way Scotland can avoid falling off the Brexit cliff. She’ll couch her commitment in carefully chosen language, i.e. IR2 is insurance against a hard Brexit, but IR2 will definitely not be off the table.

I also fully expect Nicola Sturgeon to resurrect her offer of compromise so arrogantly dismissed by Theresa May before the Prime Minister announced her shock snap election. That compromise pledged to remove the ‘Brexit Indyref’ if Scotland’s Single Market status was protected.

What happens if a weakened Prime Minister rejects a repeat offer of compromise? Given Ruth Davidson fought the general election campaign in Scotland pledging to oppose such a repeat ballot then a rejection is a near certainty.

A rejection means we will be back to where we were immediately prior to the snap general election when even the Daily Record was calling for a second independence referendum.  We will then have a waiting game to see what kind of Brexit deal emerges and how much damage it is likely to cause Scotland.

And what of Ruth Davidson? The Scottish Tory leader is a bobbing cork on the Brexit waters. Her ‘No Indyref2’ was a good soundbite during a general election that didn’t feature Brexit. I’m not so sure people will be as receptive to this message as the reality of Brexit looms and a second independence referendum looks more and more like a lifeboat.

Scottish voters may even begin to recall that they actually voted to remain part of the European Union.


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9 thoughts on “What will the FM say this week on the subject of a second Indyref?

  1. twathater

    I agree that Nicola should make a brief but emphatic statement that nothing has changed , brexit is still going to be a catastrofcuk no matter whether negotiated by mayhem or corbyn . I voted to REMAIN 62% of Scots did also , I also voted SNP and was assured by Nicola that she will do everything in her power to protect the people of Scotland . Prove it Nicola ignore the constant taunts from the brutish establishment lackeys, the union is dead and a rotting putrid corpse. The 62% did not vote for a dilution or an alternative they voted to Remain make it happen

    Your duty is between now and brexit to produce a concise brief paper to explain that we will be setting up a new Scottish Central Bank which will be responsible for issuing it’s own currency, which will be the Scottish pound which may or may not be aligned to Sterling or the Euro it will be our choice

  2. Ayrshirelass

    She most definitely NOT take an independence referendum off the table based on what happens about the singie market or whether Scotland gets representation at negotiations.
    A clear majority of people in Scoland voted to stay in the EU not just because of the single market but because of workers rights and protections.

    With a great British repeal bill coming down the line , which is where the real danger lies, the SNP must not at any stage give any indication that Scotlands right to have a referendum is negotiable.

  3. bringiton

    Whether Scots intend to vote Yes or No in a future independence referendum,the only people who would deny us the right to do so are those who will be voting No in any case.
    These people are denying our basic democratic rights as a country and since they clearly don’t want to have a say or choice in such important matters should be obliged and removed from the electoral role.
    Democracy is about choice and exercising our rights to have it.
    Use it or lose it.

  4. Peter A Bell

    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.

    The 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.

  5. Alasdair Macdonald

    Much of the unionist diatribe against ‘Indyref2’ was predicated upon the fiction that a referendum was wanted NOW. Which was based on Mrs May’s, “Now, is not the time,” and immediately amplified by the unionist politicians and their media propagandists.

    Very few supporters of independence wanted a referendum ‘immediately’ and most opinion polls seemed to support this view. However, there was a clear majority indicating it favoured a second referendum in the relatively near future, i.e. up to as much as 10 years. The vote in favour of a second referendum by the Scottish Parliament is about preparing for a referendum when the outcome of the Brexit negotiations becomes clearer.

    The SNP – and I am not a member – has a majority of Scottish Council seats, it is the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, where, with the Greens, there is a majority for independence, and it has a majority of Westminster’s Scottish seats. Mrs Margaret Thatcher would have accepted that as an indication of a will for an independent Scotland.

    We are in a very fluid situation following the General Election. The Conservative Party is clearly fractured in several places, but adhering fast to its first dictum – ‘We must retain power” and Mrs May has shown during the election that she is not fit to be PM, in any circumstances. Any deal with the DUP will be a ‘Faustian’ one. The DUP will negotiate hard, they are the epitome of thrawnness and, while the sectarianism and social reactionariness appals, they will seek a deal which benefits all of NI, particularly with regard to anti-austerity measures, an open border with Eire, and local control over things like farming and fisheries.

    On top of this with the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, it is clear that huge swathes of the UK public are reacting strongly against the ‘bonfire’ of regulations, the weakening of local government, and the starving of public investment, particularly in housing. It appears there might be a hegemonic shift and younger people are becoming politically active. It is likely that ‘terrorist’ behaviour will continue and not just from so-called ‘Islamists’. I fear that, as we saw with Ms Jo Cox and Finsbury Park, there will be more from the hard right. Racist and sectarian attacks have been increasing massively since the Brexit vote,. but under-reported by the media and rarely raised by the unionist parties, who want to keep the debate off their weak areas.

    The general public are pretty savvy and are watching these developments warily. There is a hesitancy about embarking on further change. Now I know that many will echo the old revolutionary slogan of ‘seize the time’, but, far more often than not this attitude failed. We ought, of course, to seize the time by continuing to emphasise the failures of the government and to be opportunistic – as the DUP is being – about pushing for things which might bring more real powers to Holyrood and, creating alliances at Westminster with Labour, LibDems, Greens, PC to bring about constitutional change which truly and irreversibly puts powers in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and, indeed, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds, Norwich, Bristol, etc.

    So, ‘parking’- i.e. not ‘taking it off the table’ – makes sense. It removes from Ms Davidson and her unionist allies, Ms Dugdale and Mr Rennie, their one-song politics. Let us really address the issues like Health, Education and Policing in Scotland – and the objective evidence indicates many successes – as well as growing the economy, dealing with housing and providing a more humane care system. (‘Care’ rather than the now-tainted, ‘welfare’).

  6. Pingback: Things to come – Towards Indyref2…

  7. twathater

    Alastair I agree with some of your assertions , but consensus with tories labour or lib dems is basically giving up on independence , they are ALL opposed to independence they are ALL diehard union supporters . They to my mind cannot EVER be trusted they are the establishment , the VOW for me showed the utter contempt they hold for the Scottish people and the elected SG .
    The named parties all enthusiastically conspired to vote down any semblance of fairness within the Smith proposals , they enthusiastically co-operated in showing implicitly their disdain and hatred toward the Scottish people and their right to respect and dignity.

    They the establishment are only interested in Scotland and the Scottish people as being their suppliers of wealth and riches , they are only interested in shackling our resources for their betterment
    I am 66 years old and was a loyal labour voter as was my extended family, and stupidly believed they were the party of the working class. boy was I wrong

    The main political parties have been infested and corrupted by self serving parasitical carpetbaggers whose only allegiance is to big business interests , and that honesty and integrity are as rare as hens teeth in the HOC and the HOL

    I personally am ONLY interested in independence , no power sharing , no devo max , no federalism , they are ALL dead in the water the ESTABLISHMENT will lie ,distort , promise and confuse it means nothing , Scotland and the Scots can only prosper when THEY determine their future we owe it to our children and grandchildren

    1. Alasdair Macdonald


      I would like independence, too, and would like to see it during my lifetime, but, approaching my three score years and ten, I have to be sanguine about it.

      People change their minds, as Keynes said he did when the facts change. Like you, I voted Labour for several decades. Some good was achieved. But, the Blair/Brown governments failed, and, were essentially, a continuation of the Thatcherite hegemony, with a measure of redistribution. In the end they forsook socialism for the many for socialism for the very wealthy, when Brown and Darling transferred shed loads of our cash to the financiers.

      Politics is, as is said, ‘the art of the possible’ and we have to take account of the current circumstances of uncertainty and seek to shift things a bit in the direction we want. Labour, LibDems and Tories are not monoliths of identical thinkers. Each is a pretty wide coalition and each has within it some people who are amenable to some aspects of what, say, the SNP, PC, Greens, aspire to. It is messy and compromising. True believers always brand it a “sell out” and only succeed in splitting their own side. Sometimes we have to those things. Lyndon Johnson, who was a very effective politician, “the last foot soldier of the New Deal” achieved a huge social change in the US, by what he called ‘nickel-and-dime’ dealings – small changes, which eventually stacked up to something significant. The neoliberals in the US from Nixon to Trump have spent the last fifty years trying to undo it.

      There are things within our power at any one time and things not, and when things are uncertain, we should focus on the things within our power and not frustrate ourselves with things that ‘should be’.

  8. Bill McDermott

    I heard today on the Parliament channel that it is likely that there won’t be a deal with the DUP until the autumn for good reason. The DUP are in no hurry to re-convene Stormont and it would be about to go into recess anyway.

    That to me would mean further pressure on Theresa May since Parliament is not prorogued until July usually. There is also talk about cross-party consensus on achieving a soft Brexit. This might first manifest itself when the Brussels negotiations demonstrate the weakness of David Davis and he has to pull back from his bravado.

    My own sense is that there might be a change in the air in England over the ‘take back control’ mob and further difficulty in the negotiations could lead to a 2nd Referendum.

    While I am a strong supporter of independence, my view would be that in all circumstances it would be better all round for the whole of the present UK to be in the single market and the customs union, despite that queering the pitch for Indyref 2 in the short to medium term.

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