I sat down to write a blog on where we are on the road to independence and to be honest, I am finding it difficult not to duplicate the many blogs I have written on the subject.
I have been accused many times of wrongly criticizing the SNP and, in particular, Nicola Sturgeon. I have honestly tried to look at other alternatives and indeed places to place blame, because one thing is certain and that is we ( the independence movement) are in an awful position and the people with the mandate to deliver independence are the SNP with Nicola Sturgeon at the top.
So, what do I mean by an awful position? Well here we are, almost 5 years from the last referendum where we had a campaign lasting around two and a half years, raising support for independence from 27% to at least 45%, with, (until recently) support raising only marginally. The reason support increased at all was nothing to do with any credible independence related initiatives embarked upon by the SNP and all to do with the actions of the Tory government by way of broken promises and exposure to the lies and misinformation put out during the last campaign , as was the increase from 6 to 56 SNP MP’s in the Westminster parliament.
Ever since the day Nicola took over the leadership of the SNP the cause of independence has been swept under the carpet. This was very noticeable, even during the campaign to elect MP’s in the 2015 General Election and in this respect I will always remember the incident ( related many times before) where we ( the Yes Bus team and Yes we Care Dundee) were to hold a rally in the City Square of Dundee the week before the general Election. A week before the rally I had a visit at my office from Chris Law who at that time was the SNP chosen candidate for the Dundee West constituency together with his political assistant. I had known Chris for many years and had , through my workshops , renovated the Spirit of Independence, a 50 year old ex-Army fire engine that Chris had used on a highly effective trip around Scotland during the campaign.
The purpose of Chris’s visit surprised me, as he asked if I could postpone the rally until after the General election. I couldn’t believe my ears. I said to him “Chris, this is a pro-independence rally, the SNP’s main function in life is to deliver independence, you are the SNP candidate for Dundee West, we (the Yes bus team) campaigned for your adoption as the independence candidate. What is going on?
His next words almost floored me. He said “Stewart Hosie has said that we can’t have saltires and Yes signs being waved around the Square the week before a General Election” I was lost for words.
We did eventually agree to postpone the rally and what happened next is a story in itself and can be accessed on the blog, link below, as during the pleas to postpone the rally I had told Chris and his assistant that as it was so close to the date , there wouldn’t be enough time to get the necessary permission to hold the rally on the new date , the week after the General election. I was assured by both there that “it would be sorted “meaning, the rules would be adjusted to suit their agenda. In the event, it wasn’t “sorted” and we showed up in the square on the new date to find that panic had ensued because the gruesome twosome had immediately forgotten their commitment and had not rearranged the date with the SNP council, so on the very Morning of the rally the licensing board chairmen had to be found and signed off the permission there and then. Well the SNP did not exactly cover themselves in glory in that incident but there was more to come, because some time later we organized another rally and this was to be the Mother of all cock ups by the Dundee SNP as they , in their endeavor to spoil it actually used the excuse that they were refusing permission to hold the march element because “I had failed to apply for the holding of the previous rally in time” Yes you just couldn’t make it up straight out of a Blackadder sketch. Read below the saga of the second rally.
However, what these incidents told me was that something was amiss in the SNP attitude to independence and the result of the 2015 General Election which was a massive 56 MP’s returned to Westminster showed just how bad the SNP were at assessing the feelings and mood of the people which put the comment by Stewart Hosie” we can’t have saltires and yes singes being waved around the square” firmly in the context of the SNP not really knowing what they were doing. I think it is true to say that the 56 MP’s sent down to Westminster was not because of the SNP but despite them.
This has been followed by a catalogue of misread, confusing and miscalculated strategy over the last. almost 5 years manifesting itself in every election since, showing a drop in support for the SNP, with the snap General Election in 2017 returning a massive loss of half a million votes for the SNP. The only way the SNP could ameliorate this loss of confidence was by announcing some independence initiative or other weeks before each election. Every single promise, subsequently to be backtracked on until another election loomed.
We have had statements from Nicola, like the people will tell us when we are ready for another referendum, without actually explaining what is involved in telling her, so the people carried out mass rallies. This being the only way they could make their voice heard. Unfortunately, Nicola was selectively deaf and soon stopped asking for the people’s voice to be heard as it was apparently telling her something she did not want to hear.
These rallies were scantily supported by SNP politicians who, on a few occasions made cursory appearances and indeed we in the yes Bus team were subject to a campaign of vilification for having the audacity to hold a rally in Dundee (the yes city) and invite Tommy Sheridan to speak. This campaign set up by members and officers of the Dundee West SNP office. We had several incidents of obstruction of independence rallies by the SNP council on an ongoing basis.
At no time did Nicola Sturgeon appear at any of the rallies nor did she offer any kind of support even by way of a simple good luck message. Not a single mark of respect or support. This in marked contrast to her support for gay events, going as far as to lead one of these gay parades in London. I really do not see why she should put her own sexual orientation before her job by using her position to champion causes out with her remit as both leader of the SNP ( party of independence) and First minister of Scotland before showing support for what should be the SNP’s raison d’etre.
We have had the spectacle that was the Scottish Act 2016 played out in parliament where something like 80 amendments were put forward by the SNP and almost every single one of them ignominiously voted down out of hand. We have had numerous occasions of Scotland being sidelined and humiliated in Westminster like the EVEL laws brought in by subterfuge, meaning the no Scottish member of parliament could even debate a law concerning England, a country we subsidize. All this and much more and still no move towards another referendum or other form of determination of the will of the Scottish people.
Then of course we had the referendum on the EU, something we were told during the independence campaign was not going to happen and the only way of guaranteeing remaining in the EU was to vote no. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain but we are to be dragged out against our will, and still no move by Nicola to even prepare for another referendum, not only that but Nicola has made it quite clear that she is just not interested in going down any other rout than obtaining a section 30 from Westminster . This is a pre-arrangement that the result of a referendum will be honored. Since 1939 there has been 66 countries which have gained their independence from the British Empire and not a single one has had anything resembling a section 30. No, if a country wants independence it takes it under its own volition. Why has the SNP not put provision for this in place? In fact, why have they not made any sort of effort to prepare for an assessment of the will of the people?
Ever since Nicola took over the leadership the SNP have done nothing credible to forward the cause of independence and I am taking into account the flawed report by Andrew Wilsons Growth commission which came away with recommendations that would have tied us to the UK for at least 10 years. Simply ridiculous.
It appears to me that Nicola’s main efforts have been to save the UK and not to gain independence for Scotland this to my mind was made very plain in her so called answer to the vote on leaving the EU. I wrote a blog the day before the paper was due to be published titled “A Road Map to Unionism” and another blog the day it was published titled “I Told You So” Here are the links.
This was indeed a road map to unionism and Nicola has been pursuing this for a long time .
Just because the SNP have not been pursuing independence diligently does not mean our adversaries have not either , no, on the contrary they have never stopped and now it is getting to the stage that the Westminster establishment are seriously worried about Scotland becoming independent as they realize that the subterfuge regarding Scotland’s dependency on England has been seen through for what it was and now they are doing something about it , evidenced by the large capacity civil service building at Haymarket to house UK civil service and the speech from the departing failure of a Prim Minister making a pretty thinly vailed threat to devolution.
Yes, because of SNP inaction to get a campaign going or to take advantage of the many opportunities to call a referendum, the SNP have allowed the UK to put in place a mechanism for the dismantling of the devolution settlement, meanwhile Nicola fiddles while Scotland burns.
As regards to a way to achieve independence and Nicolas gift to the UK by making it clear that she will not consider any other way except by a section 30. Well a section 30 is not actually required by any country who wishes through the majority of its people to become an independent nation.
The UN charter of self-determination makes this very clear.
The right of a people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law, binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms. It states that people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.
That makes it very clear that there is a simple rout to independence and there is no constriction to this in the devolution settlement. Even if there was then in international law this supersedes this and remember, the UK is a member of the UN.
The process would be this, first we have to determine the will of the people and that can be done in two ways. A referendum, of which there is no impediment in the devolution settlement or constitution (no written constitution anyway) to stop this happening as apposed to the situation in Catalan where there was a condition in the constitution to prevent an unauthorized referendum. Or there can be an election where the SNP went on a one issue manifesto, that of independence. If a majority was gained in one of these ways, then independence could be declared, and negotiations opened with the UK regarding the split of assets borders etc. At the same time countries would be encouraged to recognize an independent Scotland and I know of at least 27 who would no doubt be ready to do that.
Now, why this has never been explained by the SNP is a mystery, it is almost like they do not want independence and remember many people have loaned the SNP their vote to gain independence and will thereafter go back to their natural elegance as Scottish Tories, Scottish Labour or Scottish Lib Dems . Could it be that the SNP realize that and wish to hold on to the power they have at present by continually dangling the carrot in front of the electorate?
The SNP must wake up or they will be responsible for the biggest political disaster ever in Scotland because the unionists are becoming desperate, more so with the prospect of a no deal Brexit happening as they could not survive without Scotland’s assets.
Nicola Sturgeon is sleep walking into Scotland’s Armageddon