Thursday, July 19, 2018

If an outright mandate for independence is sought at a parliamentary election, it should be done at Holyrood 2021, not Westminster 2022

You may have seen that Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp's column in The National today sets out what he believes is the most likely timetable for seeking a mandate on independence.  As you know, I entirely agree with him that the mandate must and will be sought in the near future, and it's great to see that point being made unapologetically by such an influential figure.  However, I do disagree with him about a number of the specifics.

First of all, he thinks Nicola Sturgeon may not renew her request for a Section 30 order until April or May of next year - by which time, of course, Scotland will already have been dragged out of the EU.  (That will be the case unless the exit date is extended by mutual consent, which is theoretically allowed under Article 50 but seems unlikely at the moment.)  I believe it would be a great mistake to let Brexit become an established fact on the ground before any action at all is taken.  The referendum itself may or may not have to wait until after Brexit, but the public should certainly know long before 29th March that an alternative choice is coming.  In any case, Nicola Sturgeon has been consistently saying for the last year that she will make her judgement this autumn, and if she were to backtrack on that, it would play into the London media's preferred (bogus) narrative that a referendum is to all intents and purposes off the table for the foreseeable future.  I do expect the announcement could be delayed until the tail-end of autumn, though, and I would just note in passing that Scotland's national day happens to be 30th November - the final day of meteorological autumn.  (Mind you, that choice of date might be just a little too obvious!)

Secondly, Gordon argues that when the Section 30 request is made, there is only a 50% chance that Theresa May will refuse it.  I would say the chances are more like 99% or higher.  The Tories have put all their eggs in the "now is not the time" basket, and nothing will change on that front until one of two things happen: either a) they suffer the shock of losing a significant number of seats in a Holyrood or Westminster election, or b) Nicola Sturgeon sidesteps the Section 30 problem altogether by calling a vote against Westminster's wishes.  That does not mean, however, that a Section 30 request should not be made - quite the reverse.  But when the moment comes, it should be made abundantly clear to Theresa May that "now is not the time" is not an acceptable answer - we will require either a "yes" or a "no", and if no such answer is received by a specific date, a "no" will be assumed and we will move on to other options.

Thirdly, Gordon believes that if a Section 30 order is refused, the alternative option should not be a consultative referendum.  He thinks there would be a danger of a unionist boycott which would remove legitimacy from the vote.  As I've said before, I don't understand that argument, because a consultative referendum would be an each-way bet - the unionist parties might not boycott it, in which case it becomes binding to all intents and purposes, but if they do, a Yes vote becomes inevitable and the anti-independence mandate of September 2014 will no longer be uncontested.  Either way, it's a major step forward.

Nevertheless, there is of course the possibility that a consultative referendum may not be possible if the Supreme Court strikes the legislation down, in which case we would need the Plan C of using a scheduled election as a de facto referendum.  Which brings me to the fourth of Gordon's points that I disagree with.  He thinks that the Westminster election of 2022 should be used as the mandate vote, and that the 2021 Holyrood election should merely be used to establish a mandate for using the Westminster vote to seek a mandate.  There are all sorts of problems with that idea, not least the fact that we don't even know whether the next general election will take place before or after the Holyrood vote - it could be any time up to 2022, including even this autumn.  But the biggest issue is that a Westminster election will be a British contest in which media coverage will be dominated by British issues, and in which the independence issue will be treated as a colourful sideshow.  It's plainly far more appropriate (and more strategically promising for that matter) to seek a mandate in a Scotland-only election.  Given the first-past-the-post voting system, a Westminster election also carries the significant risk of a contradictory mandate - one where pro-independence parties win the majority of seats but anti-independence parties win a majority of the vote, as happened last year.  The proportional representation system used at Holyrood doesn't eliminate that risk altogether, but it does reduce the risk significantly.  There's no way, for example, that either pro-independence or anti-independence parties could win a majority of seats at Holyrood on less than 40% of the vote.

54 comments:

  1. James,

    I can accept your premise regarding the greater suitability of a Holyrood election as an indeendence mandate. However, the fact is, the Scottish Parliament was re-convened, only because Westminster devolved certain powers to it.

    In addition, while we cannot doubt, Holyrood, particularly since the SNP breakthrough of 2007, has been far-more successful than Westminster ever thought it would be, when they first allowed it.

    However, to quote old Enoch Powell: "Power devolved is power retained," at the end of the day, we still have to get English agreement to Independence.

    I reckon the SNP will still be the largest party, by far, at Holyrood after 2021. Indeed, if the radical left would just shut-up, get out of the way of the list vote and make it a straight fight between the SNP and the three Unionist parties, I reckon the SNP could regain the majority they had after 2011.

    Then, going on making the 2022 Westminster GE as a yes or no to independence would, I am certain, secure the result - on the basis of more than half the seats going to the SNP was reinforcement of the Holyrood result.

    I think that is a workable scenario, however, my personal preference is Indyref2, before the end of March 2019, almost certainly keeping us in the EU, or at least able to join EFTA in a Norway-style deal.

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    1. I don't see how a majority of seats at Westminster "reinforces" anything unless there is also a majority of the votes. If the SNP announce in advance that the Westminster election is the one that matters, and they then get 43% of the vote or whatever, what do you think would be the first thing the British Prime Minister says the next day?

      Everything points to Holyrood 2021 as being the obvious election in which to seek a mandate (if that becomes necessary). A Scotland-only campaign in which the issue of independence will not be sidelined. A proportional voting system that means the proportion of seats won by each side will not be wildly out of line with the proportion of votes that they win.

      Counter-arguments in favour of using the Westminster election instead? Frankly, I can't think of any at all.

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    2. We don't have to gain anybody's agreement to become independent. Certainly not that of our foreign occupying army. Just GTF with that quisling attitude.

      We hold a vote and a majority votes Yes. That's it over and done with. Doesn't matter if the yoons didn't vote or the english say no. We are a free country once more the second that yes is in the majority. That's what sovereignty and self-determination means. you Guardian reading Bella-supporting prick!

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    3. Only argument I can see for using a Westminster election for indy is that foreign policy is reserved, and therefore its the SNP MPs (not MSPs) who need the mandate for putting a vote to the Scottish MPs on taking Scotland independent.

      Which is going back to Thatcher's condition of a majority of pro-indy Scottish MPs being sufficient mandate for independence.

      ---

      My personal take is that if the referendum gets held up at all, then the SNP should be willing to use an early election (in whichever parliament) instead, if one of those comes up after they wanted the referendum, but before the referendum gets through the courts.

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  2. We can forget independence if we allow Brexit to happen first. Scots tend to hide in the corner when things go wrong. They become helpless. Brexit will be a disaster and everyone but Ross Thompson knows this.

    The SNP's job is to protect Scotland from Brexit, not let it happen and try and clear up the mess. The referendum has to be held before the end of March 2019. For all we know the next 8 months might actually be the strategic best time for a referendum. Leaving it for a better opportunity when Brexit is an established fact is just crazy.

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  3. Jeez. How many more mandates do we need?!

    Don't play by Westminster's rules.

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    1. Claim of Right. Westminster CANNOT stop us - they just recognized that. It was always illegal under international law to try to deny our right to national self-determination.

      We should indeed not play by Westminster's rules - most of them are based on false assumptions that we Scots have allowed them to persist with for far too long.

      A section 30 order would be nice, but we never needed one. Westminster may think it can stop us holding a referendum, and say that it will not be bound by it - but that's only what they presume, not necessarily the truth, or correct.

      Over the Continuity Bill and other legal challenges to Holyrood's powers by the Westminster regime, if the UK Supreme Court says we have to suck it up and eat our cereal, then we need to either challenge their rulings in Europe, or simply and directly ask the Scottish people - whose sovereignty in Scotland Westminster just (re)affirmed - if we want to go on living under a legal and political regime that is so inimical to our best interests.

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  4. Whatever happens,Scotland's future is and always was determined by it's relationship with it's nearest neighbour.
    Much as many of us despise the Westminster establishment,we are going to have to do business with them in future.
    The only mitigating factor is that it is now clear to Scots that being part of the EU (as is e.g. Ireland) means that we can deal with Westminster on at least equal terms and produce more favourable outcomes for ourselves for the first time in several hundred years.
    Of course we would need EU backing and that would be predicated on being a member state.
    Until Westminster finally signs off the exit agreement,Scotland will not be accepted as a member state by the EU,for a number of reasons,not least of which is the Brussels establishment's desire to not have to deal with a greater number of sub states.
    So....to Brexit or not to Brexit,that is the question for Westminster (not us) and that will determine the timetable of events.

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    1. "Whatever happens,Scotland's future is and always was determined by it's relationship with it's nearest neighbour."

      Would that be Ireland, Denmark or Norway? ;)

      "Much as many of us despise the Westminster establishment,we are going to have to do business with them in future."

      Are we? I'm sure we could just ignore them, and do business with the rest of the world instead.

      Unless you mean charging them exhorberant rates for electricity and stuff?

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  5. Either through or Brexit or Independence Scotland is leaving the EU for a period of time, therefore any campaigning should not be about stopping Scotland leaving the EU, but about giving her the chance to join as an independent Country should that be what the people wish.

    Ironically the only way to stop Scotland leaving the EU, even for a relativly short period, would be that Brexit never happens and Scotland remains part of the UK.

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  6. I agree with pretty much all the article.

    I do think it's important that we call bull on the "now is not the time" stuff. It's either yes or no and if Maybot gets stuck on "now is not the time Brexit means Brexit strong and stable be-de-be-de-be-de" loop-repeat nonsense then we make it blunt that that is a clear "No" answer and clear that we move on to other options.

    I won't be surprised though if the timetable slips from announcing anything in autumn. Everything Westminster feels like it could change in the space of a day or two, its a pretty febrile atmosphere, it feels like everything's on an absolute knife edge and there's lots still to come on that front - won't be surprised if everybody's holding off until it's clear which side that falls on to. Not automatically sure why April or May next year would be options though, unless it is literally the only way to be clearwhat "Brexit means Brexit" actually means in reality?

    As an aside, the way Brexit is going and current Westminster politics, I'll be amazed if the next GE is as far away as 2022. It feels like it may be very much round the corner.

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  7. One point to make ,before or after brexit we need to make sure EU citizens living in Scotland get to vote in indyref2

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    1. I might take you seriously if you stopped going on about your bloody sister-in-law.

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    2. LOL. No one ever takes you seriously because you never say anything worth taking seriously. You don't even try to. Do you even know how to?

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    3. Hark at Mother Theresa! Prissy Missy.

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    4. Hark at you, Miss Hissy Fitty!

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    5. Get her! Little Miss Pishylips.

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    6. Snivelling halfwit.

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  8. All STURGEON has to do is wait for the Conservatives to go full Tory, no deal or run it right up to the wire with the consequent chaos and call a Holyrood run referendum in March 2019 "Should Scotland retain Single Market and Custom Union membership?". Yes or No. Take the resultant Yes vote to Brussels and say here's the solution. All as per WoS article on Border between Scotland, England. No NI border, no Irish Sea border, England happy, Scotland happy, NI retains SM and CU membership. Bosh. Sorted. Independent in all but name and that will follow.

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    1. Imagine Westminster negotiating a 'free trade' deal with the EU which then delivers status quo for Scotland's goods to England, thereby safeguarding this weird PR consultant type UK internal market rubbish. Scotland takes control over its energy and starts charging fair prices to the South East,no more playing by the national grid rules on connection charges. Restart the stock exchange and start pulling capital into Scotland, away from the City. The transfer of folk, capital and resource from England north just to retain EU SM and CU membership would be (IMO) 10% bump to Scottish GDP.

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  9. That's why holyrood betterthan WM election as scotparl controls the franchise so eu nationals and 16/17 get the vote. Strong yes demographics. WM election these would be barred.

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  10. All UK citizens should be given a vote in a Scottish referendum. A bunch of malcontent Scottish/Irish English hating fascists should not determine the future of the UK.

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    1. Translation: Scotland should be prevented from deciding its own future.

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    2. Scotland and Ruk are all British so all British should get the vote. Foreign guest workers should not. Perhaps you think the English, Northern Irish and Welsh are foreigners!

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    3. I'm fairly convince an entire UK vote would result in us leaving the UK...

      I'm all for an entire UK vote - can you imagine how much the mainstream media would tie itself in knots?

      Trying to convince the English that they desperately need to keep Scotland while threatening Scots with all kinds of daft claptrap through Project Fear 2?

      Also define "foreign guest worker" in case you hadn't realised the vast vast majority of people here from the EU and other nations are here legally, if they legally reside here then why shouldn't they get to vote?

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    4. We don't hate the English. We're just not keen on nasty wee fascists like you, GWC2.

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  11. Why are we talking about what Westminster will allow? Can we please stop cringing and tell Westminster what we are going to do? Which should be a referendum in March 2019. A yes vote meaning we remain in the EU.

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    1. If there was popular support for it, then I can see us telling WM what we're going to do. Unfortunately polls show that the No vote continues to be comfortably higher than the Yes vote. In that context, we can't throw our weight around; WM & our media, can easily ignore and render impotent any such attempt.

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  12. Further to my previous comment young James, Scotland did get to decide to remain in the Union but you Nat sis never accepted the result as you do not accept the British brexit which you participated in . You Nat sis are fascists. Every time I see nat si flagwavers reminds me of the cobbled streets in Nuremberg and Wee sweaty upper lip Jim Yung Eck.

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    1. ..and while I'm on the subject, make mine a double. Bottoms up!

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    2. Tullamore or Bushmills?

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    3. Harvey Headbanger

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    4. That's a band, you twit, and we already know you're a heidbanger.

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  13. James, couldn't running it with the westminster give the SNP free reign.? BBC isn't gonna waste a truck running up to Scotland when it can be outside fish store asking middle aged men how their wives feel about the price of butter at the market.I mean, no vow stuff either. They will be spending hours looking for the ONE Indian girl in HER twenties explaining why she is voting for UKIP.

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  14. I have been mulling over the question of UDI in the current context, an idea I had previously dismissed because of international approbrium.

    Given the fact that their is a great deal of sympathy with Scotland's situation in the EU, despite the little difficulty of regional nationalist trends in Corsica, Catalonia etc. I still think that it should be a serious consideration. I wouldn't be surprised if Scottish Government forces are working on that possibility as we speak.

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    1. Do you mean udi after winning an election as ersatz referendum?

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  15. UDI would be a recipe for civil war. The silent Unionist majority who do not go around waving nat si flags will surprise you.

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    1. And we have friends in the services.

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    2. LOL! And you call US "nat sis"?

      It may astonish you to learn that the pro-independence parties have a majority at Holyrood, and a majority of Scottish MPs at Westminster, so we could have declared independence anytime if we had agreed with Margaret Thatcher's view.

      But we're committed to democracy. You appear to like the idea of a military coup. That makes you a f*ucking fascist.

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    3. It's just a word. We will do what we have to to keep our people together. Always have. Always will. We're ready to answer the call when the gloves come off.

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    4. And where do you get off calling the saltire a Nazi flag? It's the Scottish Defence League and those like them who go around spitting at priests, threatening people, and giving Hitler salutes. You really must hate us Scottish people.

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    5. Don't hate you. Sick of paying you're welfare benefits

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    6. "Your", not "you're". So it's all right paying people like you welfare benefits, but not us Scots? What a good reason for us to be independent: you only want us to stay in the Union so we can be discriminated against. Charming.

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  16. I certianly agree that indyref2 must be held before Brexit becomes established. I wouldn't trust Westminster not to start doing things - like getting fracking started - before we have a chance to vote and to stop it. We have to go for it. The damage now is bad enough; we don't want it to become insumountable.

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  17. In all this talk of postponing the new referendum, whether it be until 2019 or 2021 or 2022, I see no explanation of how those commending delay propose to deal with the measures that the UK Government will surely implement in order to make a referendum impossible or unwinnable or both. It's as if they think the British state is a benign entity which is just going to sit back and wait until we get our act together. It's as if they are dumbly unaware that locking Scotland into a unilaterally redefined political union is one of principal imperatives driving British policy.

    How do we even know there will be any Holyrood elections in 2021? How do we know there will be any Scottish Parliament in 2021? And, even if it is allowed to survive while the Postponers are warming their fiddle-fingers at the bonfire of Scotland's democracy, how can anyone even begin to imagine that it won't have been stripped of the power to call a referendum?

    At a minimum, all the British political elite would have to do is transfer powers over the franchise to the new unelected and unaccountable shadow administration under David Mundell.

    But STILL the Postponers have absolutely nothing to say about such matters. They are so wrapped up in trying to think of ways to game the British political system it never occurs to them that there is actually no reason at all why we should be playing according to the rules of that system.

    Worse! They genuinely seem to suppose that the 'right time' for a new referendum will just magically emerge from conditions which - by THEIR choice! - are all but entirely determined by forces that are intractably opposed to the people of Scotland EVER being permitted to exercise their right of self-determination.

    I despair!

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    1. >How do we even know there will be any Holyrood elections in 2021? How do we know there will be any Scottish Parliament in 2021?

      Because the UK isn't a pantomime villain that's going to do what the more fevered-minded nats have worked themselves up into believing it's going to do.

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    2. "...the UK isn't a pantomime villain..."

      I am deeply troubled about the motivations, and the likely actions and reactions, of the mad, incompetent and reality-denying UK regime.It has often been called a clown car - but those are pretty scary clowns.

      They are more perilous than most people realize, as they are well along the road from right-wing exceptionalism and jingoism, through UKIPpish racism and xenophobia and on into ethnonationalism of the flag-waving, fascistic England ├╝ber Alles kind.

      In their past conduct the Westminster regime has shown a cruel ideology of social Darwinism and the concomitant lack of compassion and morality, for example by punishing children for the "sins" of their parents by reducing them to starvation and beggary, and a contempt for democratic norms and the UK's international legal obligations.

      The pro-Brexit campaign and press, and the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, remind me of the populist demagoguery of 1930s European dictators, and in particular, of Mussolini pulling Italy out of the old League of Nations.

      That doesn't make me a fever-minded Scottish (civic) nationalist - it makes my blood run cold.

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    3. That's nice, but the idea that the UK will abolish Holyrood in the next 2-3 years is histrionic madness.

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  18. You despair? So do I. Every time I read that crap. You should be in Broadmoor.

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    1. People who live in glass houses...

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  19. ... and don't realize that the criminally insane of Scotland and Northern Ireland are sent to Carstairs.

    I expect you'd be happier in Broadmoor, though.

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  20. If a HR election were used as a "fallback indyref2", presumably a Yes for independence would consist of a majority of regional votes going to parties who had that in their manifesto - as opposed to a majority of MSP seats won. I picked the regional vote since it is more open to SGP voters.

    Otherwise, there might be a situation like the last HR election where pro-independence parties win a minority of votes, but a majority of MSPs, and then claim a mandate for entering independence negotiations with no majority support.

    With that rule, a GE could be used for the same purpose, as the non-proportional voting system would not enter into it. Indeed, people don't get two votes in GEs so perhaps it'd be simpler. All very not-ideal compared to a proper referendum.

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