The Tories have pretty much admitted that opponents of independence are going to lose the next Scottish independence referendum. Asked by the Daily Rocket, sorry, Record, whether they’d participate in an advisory referendum held by Holyrood following a court ruling that an advisory referendum without a section 30 order was legal, a spokesauthoritarian for The Scottish Tories said that their party would boycott the vote. Obviously, you don’t announce that you’re going to boycott a vote if you believe that you’ve got a good chance – or even a realistic chance, of winning it. You only announce that you are going to boycott a ballot when you think that you’re going to lose it and you are desperate to do what you can to delegitimise the result. It’s the political equivalent of bursting the baw when you realise that you’re going to lose the match. That’s the Tories for you, when they cannot win the argument they don’t have the grace to admit that the people have abandoned them, instead they abandon democracy.
However although the Tories will be calling on opponents of independence not to vote and will not officially take part in the campaign, you can be quite certain that they and their hypocritical allies in the overwhelmingly anti independence Scottish media won’t desist from a constant barrage of scare stories and threats which will be uncritically amplified and broadcast by the BBC and most of the Scottish press. That same press and BBC will also do their utmost to aid the Tories and reduce turnout by constantly telling everyone in Scotland that even if you do support independence , voting is pointless because Westminster won’t recognise the result.
Under such circumstances, where opponents of independence say that they are not going to vote, there’s going to be little doubt that Yes will end up with the largest share of the vote, so the main task for the independence movement will be to work to maximise voter participation and to increase turnout as much as possible in order to place the result beyond dispute. So, purely as an illustrative example, if turnout is 55% and there’s a Yes vote of 90% (which is not unfeasible if opponents of independence don’t vote at all), then even if No voters had voted they would still have lost. It’s harder for us certainly, but not impossible.
It is entirely likely that support for independence and the SNP will increase on current levels once the UK exits the EU transitional period either into the chaos of no deal or with a threadbare deal cobbled together at the last minute. That pro-independence majority will only be boosted even further if Johnson is foolish enough to refuse to agree to a Section 30 order following the election of a pro-independence majority to Holyrood next year. A union which refuses to allow the people of Scotland to decide for themselves whether and when they want an independence referendum is no union at all, and will be rejected by a large majority of the people of Scotland. Johnson’s cant about once in a generation is just that. No political party which claims to be democratic can bind the electorate to a promise that a politician from another party may or may not have made. Even among the Tories more sensible voices acknowledge that ‘just saying no’ is not sustainable. The popular anger generated by a Johnson regime which has imposed Brexit on Scotland refusing to agree to a Section 30 order will boost support for independence to such an extent that it will guarantee that even a Conservative boycott will not be enough to call the outcome of an independence referendum into doubt.
A convincing victory in this referendum needs to be followed through however. Upon the announcement of a yes result which is beyond reasonable doubt, The SNP needs to immediately make it its job to use every arcane rule and regulation in the House of Commons playbook to bring the business of the British government grinding to a halt. They must be disruptive, they should ignore the gentleman’s agreements upon which the Westminster parliament depends and become a constant thorn in the flesh of Johnson and the Tories until they agree to begin independence negotiations. The Scottish Government should cease to co -operate with UK government departments. This should be combined with a mass campaign in Scotland of peaceful civil disobedience. If the Conservatives refuse to allow the people of Scotland to govern Scotland, then the people of Scotland need to make it their goal to ensure that the Conservatives can’t govern Scotland.
This strategy has the best chance of success if at every step along the way we ensure that we retain majority support. That means we can’t cut corners. It means first making that demand for a section 30 order and seeing it refused.
Conservative denial of Scottish democracy by refusing a Section 30 order and planning to boycott a lawful referendum held under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament will provide ample political legitimacy in the eyes of soft yes voters and undecideds for a plebiscite election in which pro-indy parties seek a direct mandate for independence itself. Johnson’s consent is not required for this to be lawful. After all, if the British government has demonstrated that it’s going to ignore the key mandate given to the Scottish Parliament by the voters of Scotland – then what is the point of a devolved parliament? It will be far harder for the Conservatives and their allies to boycott a plebiscite election. The key will then be to demonstrate to the international community that there is unarguably majority support in Scotland for independence. The international community is far more likely to accept and recognise the outcome of a Scottish plebiscite election if it sees that the British government has blocked the previously recognised route to a referendum for no other reason than the fact it’s likely to lose the vote. Then a combination of pressure from within Scotland and international opinion can bring Westminster to the negotiating table.
This isn’t going to be easy. The Conservatives and their allies are going to put every obstacle in our way. We will require determination, resolve, and plenty of that pig-headedness that Scottish people possess in abundance. But in the longer term the Tories cannot win – and they know that too.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the crowdfunder. Thanks to you we have now had an offer accepted for a fully accessible new home and are aiming at moving in towards the end of January. So I won’t be blogging much over the next few weeks as we need to get everything packed up for the big move. Although my recovery is going far better than I could have dared hope, my mobility is still quite limited and I am experiencing issues with post-stroke fatigue so it takes me much longer to manage everyday tasks, and then I have a day or two when I am completely wiped out and just need to lie on the sofa and do nothing.
My walking is improving. I’m able to get about indoors without the walking stick, but am still dependent on it outdoors. I still need a wheelchair if I need to get further than a few dozen metres, but as my strength and stamina improve I should need it less and less. I am also noticing some minor issues with forgetfulness, but am told that this should also improve over the coming months. It’s already a lot better than it was, in the days after the stroke I was losing entire days – which was alarming and distressing. I still also have some issues with hemianopia – a lack of awareness of what’s going on in the left hand side of my visual field, but this is also improving. It’s now very mild and scarcely a problem at all.
One of the biggest problems I am still experiencing is a lack of sensation and feeling on the left hand side of my body. I’m now able to waggle my fingers and some movement has returned to my thumb, but my grip is extremely weak and I struggle to pick anything up because I can’t feel if I have a grasp of it or not. However it’s still early days – only two months since the stroke when I was completely paralysed down the left hand side, and there is still plenty of potential for further improvement, so you can be sure that come hell or high water I’ll be playing a full and active role in the campaign that’s ahead of us in 2021 it’s going to be a much better year than 2020.
So in the meantime let’s all enjoy this Christmas and New Year. We’ve all go so much to look forward to in 2021 – let’s make it Scotland’s year. Johnson and the Tories are boasting that they’ve taken back control, now it’s our turn.
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