We now have some certainty about where we’re headed in terms of another referendum. The First Minister has announced that plans will be announced within the next six months, and the issue of independence and Scotland’s right to choose will be front and foremost during the next Holyrood elections. Voters will go to the polls in the next Scottish elections in the knowledge that this is not just an election to decide the party which will govern a devolved administration for the following five years, it’s an election to decide who has the right to choose the future of Scotland itself. Is it the people of this country, or is it a Prime Minister in Downing Street that Scotland didn’t elect.
If, as is to be hoped, there is a majority SNP and pro-independence government in the Scottish Parliament following that election, then Scotland should be able to move ahead rapidly to a second referendum. Or perhaps more accurately, to move ahead rapidly to a constitutional clash with the Westminster government. A clash which Westminster will lose as long as we hold our nerve.
This is a test of wills and resolve. Westminster is not about to concede another referendum unless it realises that one way or another, Scotland is resolved that the people of Scotland are going to decide the future of our country. That’s why it’s vital that we concede not an inch of ground to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. Scotland has the absolute right to decide for itself whether it wants to remain a part of the UK. The people of Scotland have the absolute right to decide when we wish to ask the question. We will not be bound by spurious arguments about generational votes. We will not be held to promises which made or may not have been made by politicians. The Conservatives do not have the right to bind the hands of the people of Scotland. That is why we must not, and we will not, concede that Boris Johnson has any right at all to refuse our demand for a second referendum.
The purpose here is to create sufficient moral and political capital amongst the people of this country to ensure that Westminster realises that the people will support alternative routes to another referendum. The Tories know that if they continue to stand in the way of Scottish democracy, all that they will succeed in doing is to build up a head of steam and anger in Scotland that will ensure that when things do finally come to a head, whether that’s in a referendum without a Section 30 order, a plebiscite election, or some other democratic mechanism, that they will lose heavily.
The Conservatives need to be taught the lesson that the only hope in hell that they have of winning is to cooperate with a Section 30 order. That’s why it’s essential not to give them a millimetre. If they believe that our resolve will crack because many of us think that they’ll never agree to another referendum, then that only assists them in refusing another referendum. They’ll perceive it as weakness and that will only encourage them. They need to know that we are determined, and that we’re not going to go away.
This is essentially a campaign for the collective civil liberties of Scotland. In any campaign for civil liberties, those campaigning were not disheartened because the law was against them. They didn’t give in because they were in a minority. They knew that they had right on their side and that conviction is what carried them to victory. That conviction is what we need too.
The Scottish Government can only have sufficient resolve and determination to stand up to Westminster until it gets a referendum if it knows that the electorate are behind it. The SNP was seriously spooked by the loss of seats in the 2017 General Election, despite still ending up as the largest party. Losing 21 seats and some of the party’s biggest names in Westminster was a serious blow to its confidence. Perception counts for a great deal in politics. It counts for more than facts. That’s something that the pro-indy critics of the Scottish Government often fail to appreciate. Politics isn’t about facts so much as it’s about the stories that are told – and the stories that are believed. This is also why it’s imperative to ensure that the SNP gains in seats and vote share in the next election. Because if they lose seats, even if they lose seats to other pro-indy parties, the only story in the media will be that the SNP has lost and that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum.
Naturally these plans will not be sufficient for the woe woe and thrice woe faction of the independence movement. However, let’s be blunt here. If you are the kind of person who spends a significant amount of your time on social media banging on about Scottish independence, you are not the target audience. The regular readers of this and other indy blogs are not who the Scottish Government is seeking to persuade of the wisdom of its plans. Yes, it sounds like a slap in the teeth to those of us who have slogged our guts out in one way or another to keep the flame of independence alive these past years, and yes, some of us might feel that we’re being taken for granted and upset that we’re not getting greater recognition. But this is a campaign to win back Scotland’s independence. This is not Nicola Sturgeon’s best friend race. All she needs to know is that when another referendum happens, we’ll vote yes in it. And we will.
I’ve said this before but it bears repetition. The important demographic that must be wooed here is not those of us who would crawl over broken glass in order to vote for Scottish independence. It’s the ones who are uncertain. It’s the recently converted. It’s remain voters who are starting to realise that the best and quickest way back into a closer relationship with Europe is through independence. They’re the people who need to support an alternative route to independence if it is to succeed. And frustrating as it is to those of us who have already been in an independent frame of Scottish mind for a very long time, it’s only when those people back us that we will have a sufficient majority in order to win, and to win convincingly.
The simple fact of the matter is that there are not enough of us who are banged on independence supporters to get us over the line. Scotland is on a journey to independence, but a large number of our compatriots are not quite there yet. Much as some of our more zealous friends don’t wish to accept it, that’s the reality of Scotland. This is not a country which is ready for UDI. Yet. This is not a country which is ready for a referendum without a section 30 order. Yet. This is not a country which is ready for a plebiscite election. Yet.
We can now see the route to independence starting to appear out of the fog. We need to ensure that there’s a majority SNP government in power in Holyrood next May. Then we can demonstrate to an already cracking and panicked Conservative party that if it’s going to come down to a battle of wills between Boris Johnson and the people of Scotland, Johnson is going to lose. We have right on our side.
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