There is no doubt about it that the independence movement under the auspices of the SNP is in a mess. After 3 years and 9 Months we are marginally over where we were at the last referendum. We are sitting somewhere 48% as apposed to the 45% we achieved during the referendum campaign, and the main group of people responsible for the 3% increase is not the SNP but the Tory party. Who have been responsible for alienating large swathes of the people of Scotland because of their ani Scottish actions from the introduction of English votes for English Laws to disregard for Scottish feelings on the bombing campaign in Syria, Brexit, and lately the ignoring of the Scottish Parliament’s vote on repatriation of devolve powers to Scotland, in the process, virtually degrading the Scottish parliament to a local authority within the UK.
Ok, so how did we get to where we are? Well, it goes back to the referendum. We made mistakes during the campaign, the main one being the currency problem. At that time the best option would have been to have a currency union. It was the best option for both the UK and Scotland and we had alternatives in the white paper. The problem was that when the gang of three ,Osborn, Alexander and Darling came out and said we could not use the pound and “what was plan B,” people actually believed them and to make matters worse, Alex Salmond said, we don’t need plan B, although we had plan B,C and D. It made no difference when we explained to people that the pound is an internationally traded currency and the UK can stop no one from using it and various other options had been laid out in the white paper.
Now , of course we had virtually the whole of the British press and the BBC against us and to make matters worse the SNP cowered way from them at every turn hoping that they would go away. Well, unfortunately they didn’t go away and many of the Scottish people believed them and voted no.
Ok, so that is all in the past but how did we get to this pass, where independence seems to be further away than ever? We fought a good campaign through the Yes Bus team and I went to the SNP two days after the referendum and said,”ok we have lost a battle but not the war, so whats the plan”? ( I was still a member at that point) I was met with a blank look and “what plan”. That blank look has remained with the SNP for three years and nine Months. We have had constant obfuscation by Nicola Sturgeon on the subject of another referendum. The troops have been marched up to the top of the hill and down again that often it would make the Grand Old duke Of York dizzy. Most of this occurred in the run up to an election. We have constantly had the subject of another referendum swept under the carpet. All of this because of a simple misreading of the Scottish people by Nicola Sturgeon and too much notice being paid to the press and the opposition as they constantly fed the lie that the Scottish people were fed up hearing about independence , when in fact it was the very opposite.
Lets go back to just after the independence campaign. What should have happened was that the SNP should have initiated a lower level campaign of information to put forward the true case for independence including explaining things like the currency option’s ,pensions, borders the EU. If that had been done, then by this time there would have been an unarguable case for independence and we would have been ready to go at any time when one off the many trigger points presented themselves, but unfortunately we have never been ready for a short referendum campaign. An obvious action they could have taken would have been to have included in any election manifesto , the intention to wrest control of the right to hold and organise a recognised referendum without recourse to Westminster
The SNP, ever since the referendum, have constantly and deliberately refused to keep independence as their main function in life. We here in Dundee had a rally arranged in the City Square for the week before the 2015 general election. We were implored by the SNP to postpone this until after the General Election. It was put to us that a prominent Dundee politician had made plain the SNP position, by saying,”we can’t have saltires and yes signs being paraded around the square ,the week before the general election.” Absolutely incredible, and given the result of that election, an indication of just how much out of touch the SNP were.
Despite their virtual rejection of independence as their sole purpose in life ( there is no mention in the SNP constitution of governing Scotland) the SNP returned 56 MP’s to Westminster on a Tsunami of disappointment occasioned by the defeat in the referendum. This was where the big mistake was made. They convinced themselves that their policy of keeping quiet about independence and governing Scotland well, would curry favour with the electorate. They were wrong, they were 100% wrong., At every election since the 2015 General Election they have lost ground, culminating in the last snap General Election in which the lost over half a million voters, They lost them, not because they were talking too much about independence, but because they were seen to have lost the way to independence. Not only that but the referendum on the EU which returned a 62% vote in favour of full membership in Scotland was conveniently converted to a will of the Scottish people to be attached in some way, to the single market by Nicola Sturgeon. Something, not a single person in Scotland voted for. To make matters worse the Scottish government brought out a paper which contained their slant on how Brexit should be progressed, which sounded like a road map to Unionism.
As time has gone on, two things seem to have occurred. The SNP majority in the Scottish parliament has been drastically cut and in Westminster the 56 MP total has been cut to 35. Which on the surface shows that the SNP mandate for independence has been diluted, at the same time, Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity has been greatly reduced. This could be construed as the independence cause has reduced,. I do not in the least believe this to be the case. Instead I believe that what has happened is that because of the SNP distancing itself from independence under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership. People have gone back to their natural allegiances and as there did not seem to be independence on the horizon, they voted as they would have under normal circumstances.
So, the problem for the SNP is that they have been painting themselves into a corner as far as options for another referendum go.
They have not in any way prepared the ground for another referendum.
They have thrown their lot in with the tories and Labour as far as Brexit goes.
They have lost credibility and greatly reduced their representation in both the Scottish parliament and Westminster.
They have a leader who has lost respect.
In order to reverse this position they could wait until the next Scottish election in 2021 or a snap General election and hope for an increased majority on the back of a tory government that are in melt down.
They could take a chance and go for one of these options on a single manifesto item, that of independence ( which is what they should have done in the case of the 2015 general election and we would have been independent now)
So in short the SNP have been painting themselves into a corner ever since the Nicola Sturgeon became leader of the party in 2014 and their options to fulfil their commitment contained in their constitution are reducing by the day.
So what can they do? Well, ever since the referendum in 2014 they have been the beneficiaries of circumstance and it has been other factors ( mainly the tory party) which have allowed independence to rise from 45% to the apparent 48% that it seems to be sitting at now. They have yet again been presented with a trigger point in connection with the removal of powers to the Scottish government and this time they must act on it. This was the debacle in Westminster last Wednesday at prim-minister’s questions when Ian Blackford was instructed to leave the chamber and all the SNP MP’S walked out with him. This was followed by membership of the SNP increasing by over 7,000 new and lapsed members. To be fair most of them probably did not expect the MNP’s to return to Westminster the very next day.
So although I have made my feelings clear regarding the awful lack of preparation for a new referendum and I have severe reservations regarding the monetary option in the economic commission report, I feel that the best option would be to bring back all our MP’s from Westminster and call an election for September this year. This is the first time since the last referendum that I have advocated a short lead in referendum.
The SNP make the case that any decision on a future referendum should wait until the outcome on the Brexit negotiations are clear. Why? You do not allow your enemy to regroup and rearm, before you attack him you push your advantage when he is weak any other position is plain stupid. Unfortunately we are also not truly prepared but what are the options if we wait for Brexit to unfold? Either we will get a hard Brexit which once again, could be a trigger for a referendum, but by that time the Tory government will have more time and resources to fight the referendum. Or we will have entry to the single market which is what the SNP have been campaigning for and say ( wrongly) is the preference of the Scottish people. So if that is the final scenario, the SNP preference, what will be the case for another referendum? Absolutely, none.
I still believe we are on the road to independence but the SNP have to get out of the corner they have painted themselves into , they are still the only party who can front another campaign but they must get on with it now.