The U-turn that wasn’t

Today Nicola Sturgeon spoke to the Scottish Parliament about her plans for another independence referendum. There had been rumours that she was going to shelve the referendum, even that it would be taken off the table like a plate of salmonella. What happened was that she clarified what she’d originally said when a second independence referendum was first mooted, that it would take place once the outcome of Brexit becomes clear. The speech today was a clarification of process, not a change in policy no matter how much the Unionist media would like it to have been otherwise.

However that didn’t stop the more frothing end of the Unionist media claim that the dream of independence had been killed off. Now the independence movement knows how Mark Twain felt after a newspaper mistakenly published his obituary when the author was very much alive and well. “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he replied. Or in the case of the Express whose headline screamed “Nicola Sturgeon kills off Scottish independence dream after admitting she got it WRONG”, with capital letters and everything because that makes it more true, reports of the death of Scottish independence have been hand knitted out of wishful thinking, fond hopes, and fake news. As U-turns go it’s not much of a U turn, more of a capital I. But still, it does allow the Express to retain its title as “Newspaper least likely to have a clue what’s going on in Scotland”, and it’s a field with plenty of competition. The Scottish Unionist press awards ceremony is held every year in Brigadoon, although the Express can never find it due to the fog it creates.

What really happened today was that Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that she won’t seek the legislation for another independence referendum until autumn 2018, by which time the country will have a clearer idea of the enormity of the Brexit disaster that’s about to befall the UK. BBC Radio Scotland and the Guardian were reporting this statement as meaning that independence is being “shelved”, which is true, but only in the sense that there’s not going to be another independence referendum until the time that everyone who wants one was originally proposing to have one anyway. After Brexit has screwed the British government, and when we’re going to win it, in other words. So it’s not really a shelf but more of a coffee table. Independence remains within reach, and it remains in the centre of the Scottish politics room. The mandate for another independence referendum remains undiminished.

In the meantime the Scottish government is going to focus on trying to ensure that Scotland gets a Brexit deal that’s fit for purpose. They’re going to speak up for Scotland and argue the case for Scotland to have a seat at the Brexit negotiations, to retain our place in the Single Market, to ensure that it’s not forgotten that Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. That uncomfortable fact has been conveniently overlooked by the Unionist parties of late. We cannot allow them to forget it.

Brexit isn’t shaping up well. The British government is mired in even more confusion than it was before Theresa May took her selfish and ill-fated decision to hold a snap general election. Her government is weakened and discredited, relying on a bunch of homophobic misogynist sectarian bigots in order to prop up the government of what we’re always being told is the progressive and forward looking UK that Scotland needs in order to guarantee that we won’t fall back into Braveheartish atavism. No one has the foggiest idea of what the British government wants to get from Brexit, least of all the British government. The chances that the UK will crash out of the EU without any deal at all are greater than they ever were. We’re in dangerously uncertain times. Over the next 18 months the Scottish government is going to fight Scotland’s corner, fighting for a bit of sanity in this insane state. Good luck to them, they’re going to need it.

The most welcome part of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was her commitment to working with the wider independence movement. The Scottish government is going to spend the next 18 months or so focusing on trying get the British government to take Scotland’s voice into account, and to ensuring that Scotland gets a seat at the Brexit negotiations. It’s up to the wider Yes movement to build the case for independence and to ensure that by the time that Brexit comes crashing down on top of an arrogant and complacent Westminster that the clamour for independence rings loud across Scotland. Our job is to tell the story of the better country of a Scotland that’s not afraid to grasp the thistle, to take its own destiny into its own hands, to be a country fit for dreams, a land that grows hope, a place of a people at peace with themselves and sure of their place in the wider world. A land that’s confident and outward looking, the Scotland that we can only achieve by freeing ourselves from the puppet strings of a Westminster that’s lost its way and lost its head.

We’ve got a lot of work to do. What we have learned over the past couple of years is that we won’t win independence like winning a lottery. It takes work, it takes hard graft, it takes the slog of a long campaign, the effort of an entire nation. I’m always saying, and I’ll say it again because it can never be forgotten – Scotland needs party politics in order to achieve an independence referendum, but Scotland will not win its independence referendum with party politics. Only a broad based mass movement can win independence, and that movment won’t magically spring into being. It takes commitment, it takes time, it takes energy, it takes enthusiasm.

Over the coming months I’ll be speaking at events all over Scotland, doing my wee bit to enthuse, engage, persuade, and persevere. It’s vital that we get local indy groups energised and active, taking the message of independence into their local communities, joining the dots and making the links, showing the difference between the powerless of Scotland in Brexit, and the determined self-determination of a country that forges its own destiny. If you’d like me and the dug to come along to your local group, get in touch at the email address below or contact me on Twitter. It’s up to us now, but then it always had been. The people who will win independence for Scotland will be the people of Scotland. Independence means doing things for yourself, let’s do this for ourselves, for our children, and for generations yet to come. Let’s write Scottish history, and become a part of the story that we tell.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at

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52 comments on “The U-turn that wasn’t

  1. David Munro says:

    Sorry but there has been a change and a disappointing one at that. To seek legislation in October 2018 means no referendum until after the UK leaves the EU. The initial proposal was a referendum before the UK left but after much if not all of the terms of leaving were known. It offered the possibility that Scotland might just be permitted to stay in the EU during the Independence negotiations with the UK if the vote were Yes.
    Holding a referendum after exiting the EU, in my opinion, reduces the likelihood of a Yes vote as the Unionist parties will, once again, trumpet nonsense about the € or not being allowed to join. You know the script. I can only speak for myself but i am disappointed at today’s statement.

    • weegingerdug says:

      No I don’t agree. Seeking legislation in Autumn 2018 doesn’t mean holding a referendum after Scotland has left the EU. The UK won’t leave the EU until Spring 2019 – and that’s if the timetable doesn’t slip which it very well might, and assumes that there will be no transitional arrangements which seem likely. Very little has changed with Sturgeon’s announcement, but it remains the case that we won’t win independence by sitting down and moaning. The wider indy movement needs to get out there and campaign for it.

      • ockletycockletywitch says:

        You are right, Paul. Today’s announcement has changed nothing, except to formalise the view that the wider Independence movement is now part of the SNP’s plan going forward and as long as we all continue to work like stink, we have as much, if not more chance of succeeding as we did before.

      • C avery says:

        We have been without much help from the SNP who were advising people not to go on the recent march in Glasgow. Let’s be honest Nicola was forced in to calling the referendum; has never appeared particularly keen on it; and has wholeheartedly failed to advocate it.

        If you live in the old Tory heartlands of Perthshire and Angus pinning your colours to the mast has and does have consequences with friends neighbours etc and for what more of Sturgeon’s procrastination and poor leadership?

        I feel it’s time to call it a day…

        • weegingerdug says:

          If you give up as soon as it gets difficult, you’ll never achieve anything.

          • C avery says:

            I am just sick of the timidity of the SNP legislative programme. They had the chance to destroy the old landed Tory heartlands with progressive land reform. This wasn’t done and the farms and estates, in Angus at least, made sure one of their own got in. Meantime in Perthshire in most rural villages young people can no longer afford property due to the influx of retired rUK nationals who to a man or woman are Lib dems or Tory voters_ why is this not dealt with by home ownership legislation and residence rules which is common in the EU? I can go and on…the SNP just don’t have the bottle to really shake up the establishment. Meantime, the DUP play their cards to the full!

      • Ross Greer is telling me that the Electoral Commission rules say the vote should take place nine months after legislation is passed – which would take us past the spring UK leaving date.

        • C avery says:

          And then it’s too late: we are chasing ourselves and the Unionists lambast us with fear tactics.

          If Nicola had any backbone she would have announced a UDI when May rejected her calls for a referendum date… now the excuse will be the DUP. The democratic process us dead.

          • Tony L says:

            UDI would have been the biggest mistake ever. In those circumstances iS would not have got the support it needs to be recognised. Countries don’t declare UDI until all normal democratic processes have been tried and rejected.

    • RogerM says:

      In addition there’s the question of whether the SNP will be in a position to offer independence. With Labour’s resurgence under Corbyn many of the younger independence supporters are likely to switch sides. There could well be another GE under which the SNP are likely to lose more seats and a Corbyn govt could kill off indy.

      Even if Brexit is a car crash that doesn’t mean support for independence will increase. I fear the window of opportunity may be a small one. We have to be very careful not to miss it.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug The U-turn that wasn’t […]

  3. Macart says:

    Well said Paul. I’d hazard there’s more than a few bods in party politics and the meeja choking on their predictions about now. 🙂

    Oh, and worth popping this in again.

    • Stan Wilson says:

      Have joined as a volunteer, willing to do what I can to enlighten the people to the truth.

      • Macart says:

        Worth pointing out to folks that they’re also looking for suggestions and ideas.

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      Being an ex-Pat, I have as yet been unable to join mobilise and therefore I can’t access their material. A wee bit frustrating ….

      • Macart says:

        Moral support gratefully accepted. 🙂

        • Thanks for the link. I’ve joined as a volunteer. If we in the Independence movement start believing the lies and rhetoric spouted by the Unionist media and parties, then it is a bad day indeed. Onwards to Independence.

  4. My concern is that this gives the unionist parties more time to spout ‘untruths’ along with the boundary changes which will possibly see the tories gain 20/25 seats.

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      I don’t think the boundary changes were in the Queen’s Speech, were they? I know they’ve been on the cards for ages now but I doubt they’ll go ahead with them while they are so weak and have the Brexit disaster to deal with. As for the Yoon lies … “plus ca change” …

  5. Annie Martin says:

    “The most welcome part of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was her commitment to working with the wider independence movement.”

    This sums up my thinking Paul. I was delighted to hear Nicola say this in her statement, because the naysaying Unionists seem to think that they will crush the call for independence by crushing the SNP and Nicola – how wrong can you be? As has been said before the SNP are required to provide the political requirements for Indyref2, but it’s the Scottish people who must do the work and encourage the momentum of the independence movement.

  6. Golfnut says:

    The unionists won’t damp down the rhetoric, they will still go hammer and tongs at Nicola, the SNP, the Yes movement and you can bet your last rollo they will continue to demand that Nicola takes indyref 2 off the table. Of course, what that tells us, no matter what the headlines, they know indyref is coming.
    This was a smart moving the legislation to nearer the end of negotiations, interviews etc have just become a lot easier. The yoons will be quite worried about this since they have failed completely to stop indyref.

    • Jan Cowan says:

      Yes and the fact that they are desperate to remove any hope of a referendum simply means they expect us to win.

      Excellent article, Paul. It did my heart good!

  7. Weechid. says:

    So if the Yoony press believe independence has been shelved – will they now shut up about it and get back to their day jobs?

    • AnnieM says:

      Aye right. LOL!

    • Daisy Walker says:

      No, of course not, They haven’t stopped at all, or haven’t you been watching the BBC.

      They’ve been in full Propaganda, emergency save the Empire mode since the fist Ref, and will continue to do so.

      The FM’s speech, takes the wind out of their sails a bit. They have no timetable now to organise their staffing of same.

      The YES Movement doesn’t need a Timetable. It needs to win hearts and minds with facts, and keep doing so, till we get there.

      Sometimes the hardest decision any leader makes is the one that says ‘hold’ when all around are shouting, ‘do something, anything, just be seen to be active’.

      Today is a good day.

  8. daveyone1 says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

  9. JGedd says:

    With that clarification today I find that I am not quite so dispirited as before. There is nothing that can sap the spirits as much as uncertainty.

    I agree with Paul that now is time to get the Yes movement back on the road. However, we do not need the SNP spin doctors. Ordinary grassroots voters have a better idea of the electorate in their own area. But we need organization and vision again to inspire and engage – especially the young and also the marginalized. Information has to be better distributed to combat the misinformation being disseminated by the MSM. Again the grassroots was more effective in this than the official campaign.This time though the MSM might not be quite so sure of their hold and as Brexit chaos undermines their certainty, who knows?

    UK politics is in flux now. There is time. We just need momentum.

  10. Therapymum says:

    Again a great article a Paul. I’m pleased that Nicola hasn’t given in to the intimidation of the last year, because there has been plenty. She is usually a talented and instinctive politician but I think she was railroaded into calling a second referendum, despite the manifesto commitment, because she knew that it was too soon, the polls showed only a small increase towards Indy, and we had too many elections too close together. Voter fatigue is real and not surprisingly lots of people were fed up.

    I’ve said before I was surprised that the SNP had no reply to the No Indyref unionist rhetoric during the GE, which was clearly getting through to people. There was a good deal of anti-SNP/Sturgeon feeling around, and for some reason the SNP just didn’t respond to it, and also didn’t appear to support her.

    I agree with C Lavery above, that they haven’t used their legislative powers sufficiently. Land tax would be a great start! The Common Weal’s suggested 6 policies are good blue print.

    What we do need to win the next Indyref is a clear vision for the future, and we need the wider Independence movement to buy into it. We need to see and be able to talk about aspiration and aspirational policies, and we need answers about the economy, currency and deficit. But more than anything we need the SNP to show we can manage ourselves and improve e.g. education – real improvement, not spin, that the unionist parties cannot dispute. Difficult, because they would argue black was white.

    We should be in this for the long haul, because we will have to encourage more people to think differently. And as Golfnut and Daisy Walker say the campaign against Indy will be dark and nasty. Gird up the loins, I think.

    • Kerly says:

      Working beside rangers supporting ,orange walking unionist my life is already dark and nasty how bad is it going to get

  11. Col says:

    I think we really need to focus people’s minds on the long term prospects of Scotland. The anti indy parties will try to focus on the negative process of splitting and the “chaos” it will unleash but while brexit is doing that anyway Scotland must come out of the other side with all the powers we need to steer us in the right direction.
    I’m sure there was a poll done that revealed that most Scots think we will be independent in ten years time so let’s focus minds on the future.
    In the immediate future I think Ruth the mooth will continue banging the no to a second referendum drum but I think people will tire of this and as they see what unfolds her popularity will no doubt take a nose dive.
    If Corbyn becomes PM we all know that the media in Scotland will treat him as if he is jesus himself returning to save us poor Scots and the union will be the biggest and shiniest polished turd the universe has ever seen but by then brexit will be hard and I hope to god that we don’t end up losing by a whisker.
    All the more reason to mobilise now and lay the groundwork that will not just make an indy Scotland the best of a few bad options but make it a truly exciting prospect for our future and more importantly for our childrens future.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Completely agree, I have within my group of acquaintances been trying to get the message across. What I need to help is in effect a new ‘white paper’. I know the options for currency, social care, taxation etc. etc. but I need one common message which we are all going to stick to.

      I am an individual and not a party member of any party, however I have volunteered to do my bit on the SNP website. I feel we need the message now. My ideas will be going in to Nicola’s website soon.

      I am down hearted by this but I am angry at the BBC reporting yesterday and the yon papers today. Lying b######s.

  12. Doug Porteous says:

    So it’s not so much a U turn it’s more a call to arms. The MSM got that one wrong again. Tic Toc

  13. douglasclark says:

    Thanks for the article Paul.

    Just my thought, but an autumn election still looks like a possibility. Otherwise what Doug Porteous had to say seems about right to me. The MSM is trashing itself.

  14. Random Onlooker says:

    I do get the feeling, if/when Sturgeon sells the land out from under our feet to the fracking vermin, that the SNP are going to be dead in the water and independence will have to be given to the people to instigate. She’s not been meeting with frackers for nothing. Things are about to change…quite drastically. Forever.

  15. Macart says:

    Heh. There’s a yoonstorm out there today and the poor dears don’t know which way to turn. All they know is that they’re not happy. Bless!

    Mind you that’s what happens when you have two pre set headlines and narratives, which then wind up being utterly useless. Some Tory titles out there are carrying both narratives at the same time, their commentariat and meeja are so confused. As for the parties themselves? Labour (north and south) are singing from two entirely different hymn sheets and the Tories, who are well out of pocket at this point, are simply beelin’.

    All they’ve thrown at the Scottish Government and the YES movement and we’re still here. Two years, three ballots, millions of pounds worth of campaigning, media coverage, lobbying and leverage. 24/7 assault on all fronts for two years and they didn’t achieve their main aim… the breaking of the Scottish independence movement and the removal of a Scottish government willing to protect the rights of ALL its citizens.

    Worth pointing out in a ‘Well Duuhhhh’ sorta way. If you want to know if you’ve done something right? Look to the reaction of your opponent.

    If the establishment are deeply unhappy with the Scottish government, the SNP and the YES movement after yesterday (and its safe to say they are), then you know you’ve had a good day.

    Very soon now, it’ll be our turn. The first call was sent out yesterday and the door is open at the link I’ve provided in a post above.

    Let’s get it done. The clock is ticking.

  16. Anne Martin says:

    You’re right Macart.

    It amuses me to see the MSM with their, ‘U-turn’, ‘back-pedalling’, ‘putting on hold’, etc and The National with ‘Call to Arms’!

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      Very true … at least there is ONE publication with the cojones to tell it as it really is!

  17. AnnieM says:

    Love this paragraph in The Independent:

    Waiting for clarity around Brexit is a shrewd and clever move. Like a good politician, Sturgeon knows that the job of a salesperson is not to sell somebody independence, but to make them want to buy it.

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      I too loved that paragraph so much I repeated it on the comment threads of a well-kennt Yoon organ of the press this morning. Paul gives me so much EXCELLENT ammunition!

  18. John Edgar says:

    Read in today’s Independent on line the article by Rachael Revesz on why Nicola Sturgeon’s statement is not a u turn. It is perceptive

    • douglasclark says:

      I really don’t think it was. Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was a call to arms. To read it any other way is to be led by MSM.

  19. bringiton says:

    I used to read the Beano and Dandy as a kid but even then realised it was fiction.
    Fake news for fake people.

  20. Robert Graham says:

    Nothing absolutely Nothing the SNP do will ever get approval however well they are doing , however much they try to improve people’s lives they will get derision from every single unionist media , print , TV , Radio , all following the exact same script .
    This pish thats been swallowed by a few here , that Ref 2 is being quietly dumped , get a bloody Grip , who knows what government will be in power at westmonster , who knows what is going to transpire , Mayhem might have a hissy fit and walk out she and the tory party are that unpredictable .This tory lot are in chaos right now and putting a brave face on the shitstorm behind the scenes , the DUP deal being another problem they have added to the mix .
    I trust Nicola and her government know what they are doing , what she dosent need right now is the bleedn moaning of so called Independence supporters , we get more than enough of that from the bbc we dont require a top up from our own side .

  21. Dr William Reynolds says:

    I am proud of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.She has faced down Davidson and Dugdale’s shallow rhetoric.The SNP won the GE in Scotland convincily although there was some painful losses and temporary loss of momentum.Nicola has stopped that and I think that her recognition of pro independence supporters outside of the SNP was a very good strategic move.We live in interesting times.

    • AnnieM says:

      Let’s face it, no matter what Nicola does it’s going to be wrong! I’ve just finished screaming at the tele during Politics Scotland and of course they’re all saying that nothing has changed and she is still ‘banging on about independence’. If she had said that there would be no Indyref2 they would all have been gloating about a humiliating u-turn. Like I say she can’t win! AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!

      That wonderful statement was a call to arms by Scotland’s leader and it’s now up to the wider independence movement, and all the people of Scotland, to step up to the plate.

      Saor Alba Gu Brath!

  22. Computer says:

    Read in today’s Independent on line the article by Rachael Revesz on why Nicola Sturgeon’s statement is not a u turn.
    I trust Nicola and her government know what they are doing , what she dosent need right now is the bleedn moaning of so called Independence supporters , we get more than enough of that from the bbc we dont require a top up from our own side .

    • Marconatrix says:

      I agree, but the SG is in a difficult spot. There’s a very fine line between being canny and looking too clever by half. Who knows what might happen before a Brexit deal is tied up?

      I only hope the SNP have planned for all options and are ready to take advantage as soon as events swing public opinion our way. But then sometimes mebbie you need to run ahead of the crowd and hope they’ll be inspired to follow?

      Who ever would want to be a politician? 😉

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