Well, an eventful day, by all accounts with Nicola Sturgeon announcing “the possibility” of another referendum. I say “the possibility “because that is what the announcement amounted to.
I sincerely hope that it will lead to a second referendum but I have my reservations, the main one being that Nicola stated quite clearly that she was still open to compromise, and compromise within the offer made to the British government could simply be the UK joining the single Market, which would, for the UK make very good sense.
Sense of course is not necessarily something you would associate with the present Tory Government , but it is dangerous to assume the level of strategic stupidity required to form a policy which a country like Britain would leave a trading block like the EU without at least retaining the trading advantages of the single market.
Now it looks very much like the UK government were set to trigger article 50 tomorrow and although they managed to get the necessary Lords amendments defeated in the commons today (with reduced majorities) they have postponed the announcement of the triggering of article 50 which would see the UK set on the exit path from the EU. In other words they have taken time to think about the possible future independence referendum as outlined by Nicola Sturgeon. So, they are perhaps not as daft as they seem.
Meanwhile Nicola is to take the matter to the Scottish parliament to pass legislation allowing it to apply to the UK for temporary permission to suspend article 30 of the devolution settlement. Now correct me if I am wrong but there was already a draft bill implemented with a consultation document for that very purpose and that was on October 20 last year.
So all that was new today was the announcement that a second referendum “could be held” in the Autumn or Spring 2018-2019, with the implied proviso that if the UK joins the single market ( which no one in Scotland voted for ) then there will be no need for a referendum on independence.
Now I apologise if this sounds like all doom and gloom but having been in business for over half a century I have learned that one is well advised to look at situations, as they are in real life and not as you would “like” them to be, because only then can you make proper provision to turn an outcome to your advantage.
Now before I get off the subject of article 30 of the devolution settlement, as this is the main hurdle in getting to the point where we can actually have a referendum. We need the permission of the UK government to temporarily suspend this clause which states that as this is a retained power we cannot hold a referendum without the permission of the Westminster parliament. Now I have written so many words about this situation that it must have given me writer’s cramp multiple times because the fact is that if the SNP had made this an item in either the Westminster elections or the more recent Scottish election manifestoes, to wrest control of the power to hold and organise referendums from Westminster, then with the majorities of pro-independence parties returned in these elections we would have had that power now. Instead we are about to go yet again ,cap in hand to Westminster to ask for this “concession” and they are going to tell us that we cannot have a referendum at least until after the Brexit negotiations , by which time we will have lost any strategic advantage that the Brexit negotiations and confusion will afford us.
If anyone is still awake after reading this you might like to read some of my blogs warning of exactly this case. One in particular is “A Letter to Nicola” on, bobsblog.scot.
OK so apart from all of that, what happens now? Well because of the euphoria generated today by the general feeling conveyed by Nicolas announcement, we have impetuous and we should capitalise on it, and when I say “we,” I mean the grass roots together with the SNP . As if the SNP are serious then there will be a move firstly to address the outstanding issues we had problems with during the last referendum, such as the monetary situation and pensions, together with a program of a campaign strategy with posters leaflets etc.
One thing is certain and that is that the grass roots groups cannot simply hang on to the shirt tails of the SNP,this time and they must be pro-active. No one should be afraid of the press especially the SNP and to be honest I have seen signs of this in the SNP already. We need to take the fight to the opposition on every level, but remain above the awful name calling and threatening behaviour prevalent this past two and a half years from both sides. We must be respectful to all sides of the argument.
It is probably too early for a full blown campaign but I am calling a meeting of the Yes bus team for Thursday 23 March at the Graham Brown studio in South Road ,Lochee Dundee. Simply a discussion and suggestions for a possible forthcoming campaign. All are welcome, from any and every grass roots group, SNP members and politicians from all parties.
Whatever the future might hold, let’s hit the ground running?