Nicola Sturgeon has written an article which will appear in Holyrood magazine’s 2020 annual review. In the piece, the highlights of which are given here https://www.holyrood.com/news/view,next-years-election-to-be-the-most-important-in-scotlands-history-says-nicola-sturgeon she says that the next Holyrood elections will be the most important in Scottish history. And she’s not wrong.
This will be the first time that Scotland will have gone to the polls while there is majority support for independence. It is highly likely that by the time we vote in May 2021, support for independence will be even higher than it is just now. The UK will have exited the EU transitional period and we will be feeling the full force of Brexit. The Conservative power grab will be in full swing. And who knows what other catastrophes this inept and chaotic Conservative administration will have led us all into by then. There will be growing public anger and disquiet. It will be clear to one and all that the UK that we are living in is not the UK that Scotland was promised it could be a part of back in 2014.
It is vital that the SNP are returned with an absolute majority of seats in Holyrood. We need a majority SNP government just like we had in 2011. That will replicate the political conditions which obtained back then, conditions which resulted in a Section 30 order and an independence referendum. It will be politically unsustainable for the Tories to continue to resist demands for another referendum under those circumstances. Basic democracy demands that a referendum should take place. Even influential voices within the Conservative party have conceded that much.
It’s all very well for Boris Johnson and his minions to claim that they intend to hold Nicola Sturgeon to her supposed promise that the 2014 referendum was a once in a generation affair, but the return of a majority SNP government which has stood for reelection asking the electorate if they want another referendum means that it’s not the SNP leadership that Boris Johnson is holding to a promise that only exists in the mythology of British nationalism, it’s the whole of the Scottish electorate.
Democracy means that those in power accept the verdict of the people. If Johnson refuses to accept what the people have said, then it means that British nationalist arguments about the economics of a future Scotland, their claims about currency, their assertions that Scotland needs the UK, all become side issues. The debate will have become one about the fundamentals of democracy itself, and how democracy is denied to Scotland within the UK. When there is a direct equation between independence and democracy itself, that is not an argument that supporters of the British state can win.
The greatest threat to us winning back Scotland’s independence right now is our own division. The closer we get to our goal, the more that nerves get fraught, that fingernails get bitten, that tempers fray. The feelings of anxiety and worry are compounded by the experience of the pandemic. We are concerned about the health of our loved ones, we may already know people who have suffered and died. We fret about our jobs and livelihoods. We have been deprived of the normal social contact that makes life worthwhile and which allows us to balance ourselves and gain a proper perspective. Our doubts, fears, and anxieties only benefit the British establishment.
However make no mistake, if the SNP fail to win an outright majority because some independence supporters have deserted them in favour of a minor party – especially a minor party which fails to win seats – the narrative from the media and the British nationalist parties will not be that “Scots want a more decisive line on pursuing independence”. There will be no leader columns in the British nationalist press saying that the SNP failed to win its expected majority because Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t really want independence or because the SNP isn’t tough enough in asserting Scotland’s right to self-determination. No one outside a few social media bubbles is going to be saying that the SNP’s failure to win an outright majority shows that Scotland is angry with them for not prioritising independence sufficiently.
The only story in the papers and the broadcast media will be “Scots don’t want another referendum.” The Conservatives and Labour will be pushing that line as hard as they can, assisted by the overwhelmingly anti-independence media in Scotland. Even if the SNP makes gains in seats, even if they are returned as a minority administration propped up by the Greens, the anti-independence media and the British nationalist parties will still spin it as a defeat. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Only the reelection of a majority SNP government will provide the political capital which cannot be contradicted, gainsayed, or undermined by British nationalist spin.
Yes, the SNP are very far from perfect. But they are not our enemy in the campaign for independence. That would be the Conservatives and the British nationalists. In my area our SNP MSP is an opponent of marriage rights for gay people, believes that creationism should be taught in schools, and has some views on religion and other social issues which I viscerally disagree with. I cannot be certain that he would support my husband and I should we need his help in renewing my husband’s visa (my husband is not a British citizen). But next May I will hold my nose and vote for our SNP MSP anyway, because independence is too important to risk.
This blog will continue to make the case for independence. It will continue to support pro-independence initiatives. But what it won’t be doing is attacking the SNP – if that’s what you’re looking for you can go elsewhere. I don’t attack the SNP or its leadership for the same reason that I don’t use this platform to attack any other independence supporters with whom I disagree. Attacking and criticising the indy movement is the job of British nationalists, and I won’t do their job for them. So I won’t be using this blog to attack Nicola Sturgeon – for the exact same reason that I don’t use it to attack Alex Salmond, Stuart Campbell, Mike Small, Craig Murray, Peter Bell, the Green Party, or anyone else in this fractious and argumentative movement of ours. The purpose of this blog is to criticise the forces of British nationalism, to highlight the idiocies of the Conservative government in Westminster, and to make a positive case for Scottish independence. As we get ever closer to regaining our independence, it’s even more important that we concentrate on what is going to take us over the line. That’s what the job of this blog is. I believe it’s the job that needs to be done to help Scotland regain its independence.
You may have heard that there’s a crowdfunded initiative to test the lawfulness of an independence referendum without a Section 30 order. Taking on a legal case of this sort is eye wateringly expensive but it’s a worthwhile cause as it could establish once and for all whether the Scottish Parliament can go ahead with a referendum without the need for a Section 30 order. Or if the case fails and it’s ruled that a Section 30 order is required, it tells us that this so-called union is not a union at all, because Scotland would not be a free member of it which can decide to remain or to leave according to the will of the people of Scotland. That would deprive British nationalists of their claim that Scotland is a voluntary member of a union of nations. Either way, the independence movement ends up with either a legal argument in its favour, or a political argument in its favour, and we would have more clarity than we do just now.
The crowdfunder for the case is more than halfway to its goal of £155,000. You can help out with a contribution here:
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My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
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