Monday, November 19, 2018

Any indyref strategy that could leave us powerless to act until 2026 is a strategy that should be rejected

You may have seen a YouTube video doing the rounds of Nicola Sturgeon being unusually candid on Saturday about her strategy for seeking a mandate for independence if the UK government refuses a Section 30 order.  Here's a transcript...

"And the same would be true if we ended up trying to have a referendum that the other side would say was illegal.  The beauty of 2014 was that it was an agreed process.  So all this is taking me to the point of: I don't have an easy answer to this, because we may get into a situation where the UK government says 'No, we're not going to agree to a Section 30 order' and you know, I think if that happens we need to look above that, we need to make a case of how unreasonable that is, and ultimately if the only way through that is to take that to an election, and ask the people of Scotland to use an election to say no, we will absolutely have the right to do this, maybe that's what that would take."

Let's start with the good news.  Although some people are interpreting this as the first concrete evidence that Ms Sturgeon might be minded to adopt the Pete Wishart "Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! Hoooold!  Hoooooooold! HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!" strategy and let the current mandate for a pre-2021 independence referendum expire, on my reading that very clearly isn't what she is saying at all.  It sounds much more like she is at least planning to attempt to use the mandate, and will at some point over the coming weeks or months renew her demand for a Section 30 order.  If so, fantastic, that's just what most of us are crying out for.

The bad news is that her thinking on a consultative referendum doesn't appear to have moved on since early 2017 (a time when everyone still naively thought London would accept Scotland's right to democratic self-determination).  In other words, Ms Sturgeon still doesn't believe a referendum is worth holding unless it has London's consent, and therefore if a Section 30 order isn't granted, we won't go ahead in the immediate future.  That needlessly gives London a veto of sorts, at least in the short term, and that doesn't seem satisfactory at all.  I'm particularly puzzled by her use of the word "illegal", because any consultative referendum held without a Section 30 would almost certainly only go ahead if the Supreme Court upheld the legislation, which would remove any doubt about the legality of the process.  The Tories and Labour would just look silly if they tried to claim something the Supreme Court had endorsed was "illegal".

However, a needless aversion to a consultative vote isn't the end of the world as long as there is a credible alternative plan, and that's what makes the ambiguity in Ms Sturgeon's closing words so tantalising.  Most people are interpreting it as meaning she would use the 2021 election to seek yet another mandate for a referendum, even though we already have a perfectly good one.  (As our dear old American gun nut friend Kevin Baker used to say: "Do it again, only HARDER!!!!")  I agree that's probably what she meant, but it's not at all clear.  I would suggest that it's entirely possible to interpret "use an election to say no, we will absolutely have the right to do this" as meaning that the election will be used to seek an outright mandate for independence itself if a Section 30 order is denied.  That would be a strategy most of us could happily unite behind.

But if the 'seek yet another mandate for a referendum' interpretation is the correct one, I think we're going to have to speak out against it, because the problems with that strategy are pretty obvious.  If we win a pro-independence majority at the 2021 election (not a given, of course), and Westminster still says "no" to a referendum, what do we do then?  We already know that Ms Sturgeon is unlikely to go ahead with a consultative referendum, so even if she belatedly accepts at that point that an election must then be used to seek an outright mandate for independence, there would be the rather enormous problem that another Holyrood election wouldn't be due until 2026.  Any strategy that could leave us powerless for another eight years does not strike me as being a promising one.

Of course snap Westminster elections can sometimes appear out of the blue, and might offer an opportunity to seek a mandate (of whatever sort) more speedily than would otherwise be the case.  But relying on blind chance doesn't seem like a great idea either.

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44 comments:

  1. I agree with you, James. I understand the current government strategy/tactic of behaving like rational adults and agree with it. It is always best to take the moral high ground and be seen to do so. But... British Nationalist imperialists are never going to cherish us: we aren't quite them. A 2-pronged attack is needed - statesmanlike Nicola Sturgeon in public and the rest of us in private

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  2. I really don't envisage Nicola looking at 2026 to make her move. It simply has to be sometime between now and 2021. We're almost upon peak brexit chaos and to defer until the mid 2020s just loses the momentum and advantage that is materialising before us just now.

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  3. Is a possible interpretation the election she is referring to is held before 2021? i.e. Section 30 refused and immediately call a Holyrood election on the issue of independence?

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  4. A snap Holyrood election could be brought about by the First Minister resigning and the majority (SNP and Greens) preventing the nomination of a new one. After 28 days without a First Minister, the Presiding Officer must announce an election. (Scotland Act 1998, sections 3 and 46)

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    1. Interesting. Sad if it had to come to that, but at least the option is there when normal reasoned methods are rejected by London. As they will be.

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    2. Absolutely, but I was working on the assumption that if Nicola Sturgeon is cautious about calling a consultative referendum, she's likely to be cautious about engineering an early election too.

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  5. I have this thought. Being careful of what you say in public is one thing. It is perfectly possible while allowing an understanding to percolate down the Yes movement that privately you are determined to get to a decisive move on Indy before the next Holyrood elections, and are prepared to force the issue. But those I have spoken to who have discussed the matter straight with Nicola believe that the most pessimistic interpretations of her real position are the correct ones.

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  6. Hi there,

    I can't see Westminster agreeing to issue another Section 30, ever. They're just too frightened that they might lose, or at least not win with a sufficiently crushing majority. If a Section 30 is denied, neither can I see British Nationalist-controlled Councils agreeing to administer any "consultative" Referendum without prior gruelling court cases taken out by the Scottish government ruling against them. In addition, the Unionists are likely to boycott any "unofficial", according to them, Independence Referendum in an attempt to delegitimise a pro-Independence result. No, a further Referendum with a Section 30 is just not going to happen and it is unlikely that one without a Section 30 will either.

    That does not mean a Section 30 should not be requested, of course it should. We have a mandate to hold a further Referendum and should make every attempt to do so, when the time is judged to be right, and that time must be soon, before the current mandate runs out.

    If a Section 30 request is denied by Westminster, the next election "opportunity" becomes the Independence election. If this is a Holyrood election, looking unlikely at the moment, certain problems become apparent, not the least of which is the voting system designed to prevent a majority being formed. There might have to be an agreement between the SNP and other pro-independence parties on the division between fighting constituency and list seats in order not to dilute the Independence vote through the Unionist parties hoovering up transferred votes and list seats. Better to fight a Westminster election on the Independence ticket. If we win that, just watch how quickly a "confirmatory" Independence Referendum is "imposed".

    Regards,

    Robert I

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    1. A majority of the vote would be required for a mandate for outright independence, so the Holyrood/WM voting systems are irrelevant.

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    2. If the Yoons refused to vote in a referendum held under exactly the same legal conditions as the Eu vote then they're going to look very stupid when we return a 98% majority for independence. Even that gang of morons know there's no comeback from that. Also any council refusing to run a vote can be safely abolished and replaced with a more democratic model. It's win, win, win.

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    3. You're still drawing breath, are you?

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  7. I hope you're being too pessimistic, James. I had hoped to see Scotland independent within my lifetime.

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  8. I really think this should be very simple. The previous thinking was that a majority of pro independence MPs representing Scotland at Westminster was enough to commence negotiations leading to dissolving the Union. If they fail to allow a referendum on the previous terms, having been voted through the Scottish Parliament, the leave no other option but to return to the previous method. That would be much easier to win

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  9. Graveheart Williewallace Clown GWCNovember 19, 2018 at 10:23 AM

    Tha eeeyoo may take our lives but they'll never take our freedom.
    Freeeeeeeedum!

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    1. GWC AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois of the 77th (Manky Shirt, Self Funded) Auxiliaries and its utter confusion.
      Poor, tormented, miserable Cordelia.
      So much impotent rage.

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    2. She's a poor soul. Maybe it's the menopause.

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  10. A five-year parliament is an anomoly caused by Westminster elections syncing with Holyrood's normal four-year term. That syncronisation has been broken by May's snap election so the next Holyrood term should end in 2025. It's a minor pedantic point in the great scheme of things, but worth pointing out.

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    1. Pedanting your pedantry, but the election was due in 2023. We've already had two delays abolishing the 2015 and 2019 polls.

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  11. Will there even be a Scottish Parliament in 2021? And even if there is, will it still have powers over, for example, the franchise? Or will those powers - and many more - be transferred to David Mundell's unelected and unaccountable shadow administration?

    You can't play this game without also considering your opponent's options.

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  12. Timing - we are almost there.

    I think it is right for the SG to ask for a section 30 order, out of courtesy and precedent (2014). However when, as expected, WM refuse or deliberately delay beyond a reasonable period of time, then I expect the SG to assert itself. Time to take the gloves off.

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    1. I agree. And I also think that if SNP top brass are not war gaming what to do if a Section 30 is rejected, then they're not the savvy politicians I took them to be.

      You mention an important thing, there, Luigi. Precedent. You are right that it should be followed. By both parties. If Westminster chooses to dispense with precedent, then there is no need for ScotGov to feel bound by it any more either. Find alternative means, and as quickly as is necessary. No excuses or cringing.

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    2. Precedent is that a simple 50%+1 vote in a purely consultative referendum is sufficient to begin negotiations to end membership of a long term political / economic union. The UK has led the way here with brexit.

      I'll add that the UK government has actually not openly refused to give a section 30 in any big way. It's tried to bat one away, but the 2017 election result fell in its favour and the SNP backed off.

      The public absolutely believe it is up to Holyrood and don't see that right as currently being eroded. If Holyrood actually formally moves on this and Westminster says no, we shall have our Yes vote for that reason alone.

      I would have voted Leave if the EU had tried to block 2016 somehow, much as I think brexit is stupid as hell.

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  13. In the view of every middle-of-the-road politician (amateur or professional) in Westminster, holding the 2014 referendum was a mistake that almost turned into a disaster, and holding the EU referendum was a stupid blunder that has turned into a disaster. Until this experience is forgotten (? 25 years or more), Westminster politicians will never consent to hold another referendum about anything. And if, after the last two years the people who live in Scotland are not prepared, now, to make an unstoppable demand for independence, I regret to say that I think that they never will

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  14. Whatever the SNP hierarchy decide to do they must show they have done everything possible to win independence within this Holyrood term; as they promised in their manifesto. If not I will resign my membership and donate the money to worthier causes - like this website for example- and I suspect I will not be alone. Does not mean I will not vote SNP if they are the best chance of winning but I will no longer fund their havering.

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  15. I no longer expect or believe a section 30 order is needed or will be granted,and asking for the first one was a mistake.I also think stipulating that a vote at any election for an SNP majority is an agreement then go for it because we are a nation without control of our country.

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  16. There's nothing in the treaty of union about a section 30 order, that has been imposed by westminster. The Scottish Government could hold a vote in the Scottish Parliament to repeal the treaty, they were one of the two signitories.

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    1. Does the treaty say anything about lactating on public transport?

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  17. Your mother ate my DogNovember 19, 2018 at 8:47 PM

    I think all this chat about another referendum is a phony war. Anyone with a functioning brain can see the London mafia will never allow it to happen. Let's leave aside the obvious problem that bedevills Scotland - it's ignorant, cowed and cringing populace who even now pay their BBC tax like guid wee boys and girls.

    The idea is to manage public expectations that a referendum WILL happen, to present our corpulent foes at Westminster as being capable of moral decency. I think after the bedroom tax, rape clause, Grenfell tower - not to mention all the crass, sneering jingoism from the Brexiter madhouse - that it is plain to see your average Tory wouldn't piss on Scotland if it was on fire, so another strategy will be required. But to say so publicly would invite ridicule, and open the SNP up to allegations that they're just whingeing Scots havering about ancient grudges while slinging their porridge out the pram.

    Look at all the legal skullduggery going on, and the SNP'S frequent 'trade trips' to Europe, and join the dots. A referendum can't happen before Brexit, there's no time, no clarity of terms (a problem that fatally undermined the SNP's propositions in 2014 and would certainly do so again while the London media holds sway in Scotland), and no credible means to how the logistics would even work.

    Yet still, something has to give.

    On the stroke of 29th March, the Holyrood parliament's power, the Scottish economy, and our constitutional human rights as EU citizens will turn into pumpkins. The status quo will evaporate overnight. We will be in Brexitland, under possible UK martial law, and with no ability to leave for pastures new as was the traditional Scottish response to the turmoil wreaked on our country. All courtesy of another nation's voters imposing their will over our own. This will be a democratic outrage, and one that can never be accepted. If that isn't reason enough to break the chains of Union, then literally nothing will be.

    Or to put it another way, it is not more 'democratic' for the (mostly young) 60% plus of EU Scottish citizens to be stripped of their rights by the ignorant (mostly old) 50% of Scottish Britnats - it never will be - and it cannot ever be accepted by anyone with any genuine desire to protect the Scottish people from harm.

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    1. I am a Brit Scot and do not want to be an EU citizen. I DID NOT get a vote on whether I wanted to be an EU citizen.

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    2. Chances are, you're going to see polling changing very fast. It is, as you elude to, make minds up time. First tentative signs of this occuring UK-wide.

      Anyone who thought 'it will be ok in the end' needs to wake up; the UK has lost the plot and it's not going to get any better any time soon.

      We are now in the mad world where e.g. offical ONS figures show EU citizens are fleeing the country their hundreds of thousands, yet the PM is shouting 'We don't want you fkers here - you'll need to queue and we'll only let in a few we can tolerate!' across the channel at the neighbours. All the time, the economy goes downhill.

      It's a racist delusional fantasy land now and we're all fked unless we bail.

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  18. PM thinks my wife, who's lived and worked here for 18 years, is a 'queue jumper'.

    The PM/UK government are scum. Simple xenophobic scum.

    UK is going down. It's international reputation is ruined. No wonder EU folks are heading for the exit gates. Who can blame them.

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    1. I thought you were heading for the ROI. STENA are doing cheap deals. GOOD BYE.

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    2. It's Northern Ireland heading for the republic.

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    3. The Enterprise does a good day return to Dublin in case you change your mind.

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    4. GWC AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois of the 77th (Manky Shirt, Self Funded) Auxiliaries and its utter confusion.
      Poor, tormented, xenophobic Cordelia.
      So much impotent rage.
      So very funny.

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  19. I see the Northern Irish unionists are now totally screwing up things for the English Tories following the latter betraying them over brexit.

    Such loyalty and unity. One big happy family.

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    1. "But the fabric of that [pro-union] arrangement is certainly torn... and once faith is broken between the two, it's hard to see how it could be restored."

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46269757

      Loyalty repaid by complete betrayal. N. Irish unionists cannot trust the British ever again. No way; not if they try to pass that deal in parliament. Total and utter betrayal.

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    2. Is see Labour are trying to make a point of this as well, but as ive just seen Robert Peston point out on twitter, they still could not defeat the Government even without the DUP and Jeremy Corbyn did not even vote. I'm no fan of the Tories but Labour under Corbyn is a shambles.

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    3. Economics takes precedence over loyalty. Look at the Nat sis they want independence and then sell out the Scots to the EU simply because they think they can line their pockets with EU euros.

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    4. GWC AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois of the 77th (Manky Shirt, Self Funded) Auxiliaries and its utter confusion.
      Poor, tormented, xenophobic Cordelia.
      So much impotent rage.

      Delete
    5. CONSTANT Masturbation is having an effect on you. Get yourself a woman or a hairy ersed man if that is your preference.

      Delete
    6. GWC AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois of the 77th (Manky Shirt, Self Funded) Auxiliaries and its willingness to share entirely too much of its inner life.
      Poor, tormented, xenophobic Cordelia.
      So much impotent rage.
      So very funny.

      Delete
  20. Hi there,

    Keaton is superficially correct, except that where elections are concerned, it seems people have all sorts of different reasons for not voting for the political party with whose principal aim they agree, putting that aim secondary to another stronger one, but still wishing to see the secondary opinion fulfilled.
    That is why I would argue that a majority of MP's at Westminster elected on an "Independence" ticket should constitute a mandate for opening negotiations on Independence. It's how the UK is governed.

    Regards,

    Robert I

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  21. Wish you a very 26 January Happy Republic Day 2019 to all of you. January 26 is our Republic Day. We celebrate this day every year. In 1950, our India became a sovereign democratic republic and it had its own constitution.
    Source: https://www.26januaryhappyrepublicday.in/

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