Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A consultative referendum is an opportunity to be grasped, not a bogeyman to cower away from

Pete Wishart is one of the de facto leaders of the 'indefinite delay' faction within the SNP, and judging from his latest blogpost he seems to have been put on the defensive by the results of this blog's Panelbase poll from about ten days ago that showed, by a clear majority of 56% to 44%, that the Scottish people think Holyrood should go ahead and legislate for a consultative referendum if the UK government continue to refuse to grant a Section 30 order.  Pete rehearses a number of objections that we've heard many times before, but let's go through a few of them anyway.  (For clarity, I'n paraphrasing him below, rather than quoting directly.)

'The new support for Yes is incredibly fragile, and we will lose all of those converts with talk of UDI, dissolved unions and wildcat referendums.'  

First of all, it goes without saying that "UDI" and "dissolved unions" have nothing - absolutely nothing whatever - to do with a consultative referendum, and so those are pretty blatant straw men on Pete's behalf and should be totally disregarded.  The use of the word "wildcat" is also absurdly inappropriate for a referendum that is legitimately legislated for by the Scottish Parliament, and that is either upheld by the courts or isn't subject to a legal challenge in the first place.  But to turn to the substance of the point, Pete has made unsubstantiated claims in the past (usually based on vague doorstep anecdotes) about the impact that certain supposedly 'hasty' actions would have on support for independence.  We're fortunate in that we now have polling evidence with which to test those claims, and frankly that evidence very strongly indicates that Pete has got it wrong.  A mere 4% of the people who are currently minded to vote Yes (and who are now, don't forget, a majority of the electorate) told Panelbase that they are opposed to legislating for a consultative referendum without a Section 30.  By contrast, 10% of current No voters support the idea, so if anything we might actually gain more support by being bold!

'If we legislate for a consultative referendum, the UK government won't challenge it in the courts, but will allow it to take place and then boycott it.'

Apparently we're now expected to believe that a good reason for not legislating for a referendum is that the UK will allow it to take place on a legal basis.  On the logic put forward in Nicola Sturgeon's Brexit Day speech, that would actually be an argument for proceeding without delay, because the main objection she raised was that the courts might rule against her.

However, back in the real world, Pete is almost certainly wrong.  There would be a legal challenge.  Everything about the UK government's recent militant behaviour points overwhelmingly to that conclusion.  That means we'd get clarity on the legal position, and the referendum would only take place if the Supreme Court upholds it as the law of the land.  In those circumstances it would be considerably more difficult for the unionist side to boycott it, and even if they did, there would be major doubts over whether a boycott would actually detract from the legitimacy of a scrupulously legal vote.  The onus would be on us to maximise legitimacy by delivering a high Yes turnout - if we have more than 1.8 million Yes votes, we'd be able to point out that we almost certainly would have won even without a boycott.

Incidentally, I am not remotely convinced that No voters would dutifully boycott as a bloc.  I think a decent percentage of them would turn out and vote, particularly if the perception is that the boycott is a Tory project.

'We'd need more than 50% of the total electorate voting Yes to claim victory.'

No we wouldn't.  See above.  Nobody is going to assume there would have been a 100% turnout if the boycott hadn't taken place.

'After a Yes victory, the UK government would legislate to retrospectively make it illegal.'

So let me get this straight.  The UK government wouldn't challenge a referendum in court.  They wouldn't legislate to prevent it happening.   They would let it take place, and allow Yes to win, and only then make the whole process illegal.

Come off it, Pete.  This is just silly.

'People say that victory in a consultative referendum would make the UK government engage, but they haven't explained why this would happen.'

I really, truly don't know whether to laugh or cry at this juncture.  Pete is a leading member of a faction who would have us believe that if we just do absolutely nothing for a few more years, if we just twiddle our thumbs and take no steps to obtain an independence mandate, then all the obstacles will vanish and independence will fall into our laps at some unspecified but long-distant point.  He has never explained (indeed he has never even come within light-years of explaining) how and why the sheer passage of time will lead to the UK government conveniently surrendering, and yet he's now criticising others for not explaining why the UK government will change its attitude?  It's brazen, I'll give him that.  Nobody can know with certainty what will happen, but I do believe that a Yes vote in a consultative referendum (on a sufficient turnout, that is) would be a massive shock to the London establishment and that it would be difficult for them to simply ignore it.  I might be wrong about that, but I'd respectfully suggest that my own belief is somewhat more plausible than Pete's strategy of "let's take no action and then Boris will cave in for no apparent reason in a few years' time".

'There would be pressure to declare UDI after a consultative referendum, and if we did that it would weaken our international standing.'

So what if there's pressure?  Just resist the pressure.  Does anyone seriously believe that any SNP leader would declare UDI in the foreseeable future?  Does anyone believe that even Alex Salmond would have done it?  I don't.  It's a complete red herring.

51 comments:

  1. Personally, I think if a consultative referendum were to take place, the Unionists would declare that we needed more votes for Independence than the just over 2 million who voted No in 2014. It's completely illogical, of course, because the electorate will have changed significantly over the past 6 years but that won't stop them.

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    1. They can hardly ignore/boycott a process and set the rules for it at the same time.

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    2. It's not hard to imagine them trying though!

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    3. A consultative referendum would have to be paid for by those who want it. Those who do not want consulted could just ignore it.

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    4. By any standards of logic or common sense, they can't but that's never stopped them or their cheerleaders in the media.

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    5. If remain voters had boycotted the CONSULTATIVE referendum in 2016 would that have invalidated the result? P Wishart and everyone agreeing with him are spouting bollocks.
      Any referendum which gives a yes majority gives us an independent Scotland.

      Has the poisoned Perthshire dwarf forgotten that A MAJORITY OF SCOTS HAVE ALREADY VOTED YES TO INDEPENDENCE?

      If his virtue-signalling gonk of a party had restricted postal votes, holiday home owners, the english army and anyone without 5 years of residency from voting (Like they do in every other democracy on Earth) We would currently be an independent member of the Eu enjoying our £20,000,000,000 minimum budget surplus.

      He is an enemy of Scotland. Just like his leaderene.

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    6. Would that include EU citizens that voted yes for the majority? Or are you only wanting to block people who voted no from voting?

      Also please show were the other democracies in the world require 5 years residence before you can vote; or is that just another made up rant...

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  2. What about the ultimate sanction. In the event of Scottish Independence the English government send 30000 troops across the border "to bring back control". If you want any evidence for this have a look at the last 1000 years of Anglo-Scottish relations.

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    1. The British Army do not have 30.000 troops unless the English have a secret army.

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  3. Of course we should have a referendum.
    We have a parliament.
    We have a thousand year old legal system.
    We have the majority of fair-minded people with us--in England as well.
    I think only the Tories would boycott it.
    And the world would be watching---Boris is already coming over as a far right ego-maniac. Not good for rUK's reputation.

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  4. I don't understand Pete Wishart. I don't really think he wants independence. I feel he is more about devo max than independence. He also makes too many pronouncements and seems to think his lofty mind is more in touch with the real politic than the ordinary punter. I would rather read GWC's comments on here as he is more intelligent and wittier (at times) than PW is useful to the independence cause.

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    1. I don't understand the stick that Pete Wishart gets. Why people think he is comfy at Westminster and would prefer to stay there - where does that come from? Why people think he is out of touch, when he fought a battle to hold on to his seat and got a handsome boost in support, presumably by listening to and understanding his electorate? Maybe there are a lot of soft yeses and soft nos in his part of the world and he has his finger on the pulse?

      I am not saying I agree with everything he says or stands for - or his stance on this particular issue - but just curious why so many people seem to not give him the benefit of the doubt. I'd rather at least hear PW's argument than some of the 'more intelligent and wittier' people on here.

      Not sure how public derision (and I don't mean the post on here) of a high profile independentista helps the indy cause.

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    2. He sneers and blocks anyone who asks what he has been doing for the last 4 years.

      He builds entire armies of straw men.

      He denies Scottish sovereignty.

      He denies the right of self determination which the UK government has freely signed up to.

      He denies the precedent set by every english PM, even including Thatcher, Blair, Major, Brown and Cameron, who all publicly accepted Scotlands right to choose.

      He is a cretin. A comfy slippered, settled down and very well paid cretin.

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  5. The arguments in the blog are plausible, though for the last one, it seems more open that there may be pressure for UDI, that might be more irresistible than one might think, especially if there is an element of unionist boycott, that inflates the apparent percentage yes to more like the pro-devolution proportion. Imagine if Yes got that sort of vote, isn't it quite likely the national mood would be such to make UDI and/or dissolving the Union much more reasonable and justifiable?

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  6. What are thoughts on a plebiscite election, and/or a referendum held at the same time as the Holyrood election? In theses cases, although held in 2021 (unless brought forward!) and not 2020 as SNP led us to believe, the clamour for a new indy party might recede.

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  7. I'm a different anonymous

    Folks should bear in mind that nothing Pete Wishart says with regard to SNP policy is, or ever will be SNP policy
    Pete Wishart has no input into party policy whatsoever and unfortunately for him never will

    Folks should also remember and bear in mind that very often politicians are instructed to say things in order to gain feedback from what they said or just to keep people talking about their party, it's commonly called Kite flying

    I will guarantee everybody in Scotland that there will be a referendum on Independence quite soon and if there's not I promise to cut off my own little finger as penance for being wrong

    The Internet is choc a block with haters and subversives doing their job as they see it to upset and anger and annoy as many people as they can, but their main focus is to make you give up on the idea of Independence by tying to convince you it'll never happen because the SNP are bad or the SNP are troughers, or the SNP just want to keep their jobs forever but do nothing

    All garbage, every single word of it, don't let the internet scumbags mess with your heads, it's going to happen

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    1. Try your forefinger and you will save your eyesight.

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    2. I don't think the "kite flying on behalf of the leadership" explanation really works with Pete Wishart. His pro-delay views have been consistent and sustained over many years. It's obviously a personal view, rather than something he's been instructed to say.

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    4. Johnson is a cowardly PM in a very weak position. The wheels are already falling off the brexit bus left right and centre. It's absolutely impossible for it to be a success because of what it is born of. Today's back of a fag packet mad hat populist policy on migration shows utterly screwed the UK is. Skilled migration is collapsing, with net EU heading for emigration. It was down 85% at last count in the middle of last year. While they are building walls, everyone's leaving.

      For Scotland, section 30 was an utterly desperate last throw of the dice, because the UK now has absolutely nothing to offer Scotland any more. It is an open admission that Yes is now moving into majority on a permanent basis, and No. 10 has no f'n idea what to do about it. The 2019 was a total disaster for the Tories. They're now internally having a civil war over the Section 30 issue which will start to tear them apart, driven on by the mad hat policies from london they keep needing to defend. Ruth got out while she still could.

      No section 30 signals that the end is very near. When you have to come down hard on the natives, cancelling elections in a supposed democracy, it's because you've completely lost control.

      Thatcher by contrast was in a very strong position, hence telling us Scots time and time again that if we didn't like her policies / no devolution, we could simply ‘vote in a majority of SNP MPs and toddle off’. She had baws where Boris has none.

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  8. You demolish Pete Wisharts arguments very well. Pretty fed up with Wishart.

    A consultative referendum is not possible. The people of Scotland are sovereign.

    A referendum in N.Ireland in 1973 was boycotted but the result stood. A precedent.

    Scotland cannot do a UDI. Scotland can only dissolve the Union.

    It cannot be illegal to ask the people of Scotland how they want to be governed.

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  9. I think we need the following in this order-

    1. A demonstrable consistent lead in the polls.

    2. An agreement or at least indication from the rest of Europe that a consultative referendum would be recognised by them.

    3. The above mentioned consultative referendum.

    We don't need Westminster's blessing, we need Europe's.

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    1. This is correct. And if Europe agrees, so will the rest of the world.

      It's not what England thinks that matters.

      Today's official announcement from England that 'European people are just scummy layabout unskilled cheap labour which we don't want in our country' can only help things along.

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    2. It was the EU bourgeoisie capitalist class that offloaded its surplus cheap Labour.People do not just get up and say let's go to the UK and help their economy. They do it because of lack of jobs in their home countries. The EU is doomed to failure.

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    3. They are up and leaving the UK right now.

      Which is a sign of the direction of the UK economy.

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    4. I see no sign. If people leave the UK voluntarily then that is fine. My brother left the UK during the sixties and Canada has benefitted. Canada allowed him in not the EEC.

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    5. I don't think ONS data is based on your observations.

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    6. You must be glad though that e.g. applications for skilled migrant visas are collapsing and EU workers are net emigrating. I mean that's what you wanted right, i.e. reduced immigration.

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  10. For many years I thought farm animals stayed in fields because they were kept in by fences and walls. One day I saw a few young bullocks jump over a four foot high wall and escape down the farm track. I realised at that moment that it was not the fences and walls that kept the beasts in the field but either stupidity or complacency.

    I feel like I'm in a field of cows these days. All this talk of various types of referendums, the exact meaning of UDI, what our ancestors did or did not sign up for 300 years ago, what's lawful where and who says it is or isn't, I feel we're counting angels dancing on the head of a pin.

    Carpe diem?

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  11. England has been trying to depopulate Scotland for over 100 years
    In the 1920s they told them to go to promised lands of Canada and America to places where they would find the kind of work they already had in Scotland but their land and work was either stolen or removed to England, later on they were paying Scots to go to Australia and all these other place with assisted passages because once again their work was removed to England, then incuded in our school curriculum was taught the only way to get on in the world was to pass their exams get qualifications and go to London where the brightest and the best would find work, and that dear friends was called the *brain drain* from Scotland to England

    So here we are again in the 2020s and the scum sucking greedy Bastirts are doing again

    But this time dear friends they will pay dearly for it

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    1. The Nazis did the same and called the proximal countries that they controlled / refused to give Section 30's to, 'Lebensraum'.

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  12. I see John Bercow agrees with you James. He's saying a consultative referendum would not require the nod from Westminster but that would of course mean it would not be 'legally binding'.

    But then neither were 2014 or 2016; both of these were consultative.

    Tory ranks are split on this issue. It's a big step to start shutting down democracy and not all of them are pathetic, cowardly, freeloading chickenshits like England is in general right now (hence no Section 30).

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    1. Aye, not "legally binding" it may be, but politically it would be bloody unstoppable.


      Dynamite.

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  13. Brexit as actioned by the Tory Government seems to be what we expected. A hard Brexit should undermine those opposed to Independence. I see that anyone new to these shores have to speak English - the Brits in Spain might be a tad worried.

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  14. Out of curiosity, how many pro-union / leave voting brits on here fall into the Brexiter category of 'Cheap (less than £25.6k pa), low-skilled labour which is of no value to the economy'?

    Also, why is the Brexiter UK government aiming to give highest paid (greater than (£26.5k) 'skilled' jobs to non-brits?

    It's weird to watch folk who voted leave cheer on a government that wants them to take on the 'low skilled fruit picking etc' posts while foreigners are encouraged to come and fill the top, highly paid management roles etc.

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  15. The tax threshold is £12,500. If you earn over that amount you pay tax which is of value to the economy.

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    1. If you pay no tax you are still of value to the economy if you are working, you contribute to GDP/GVA. Even if you are staying at home looking after the kids to are valuable as this is needed for an economy to function.

      It is brexiters who are saying brits earning less than £25,600 are 'low skilled cheap labour not doing valuable work', hence they 'don't want any more of them in the country!'.

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    2. I have not heard any brexiteer saying they want UK workers to leave the country who earn under £26.6k. I would have to leave and my Mrs remain.

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    3. The pro-brexit UK government has said people in the UK earning under £25.6k are 'low skilled cheap labour that we don't need any more of in this country'.

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  16. GWC is a poster to be grabbed by the throat, not a bogeyman to cower away from.

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  17. Big Eater From PerthFebruary 20, 2020 at 11:11 AM

    I am currently dealing with the small-minded in my locality. Then I will move west.

    Some of us have known for years that neither the Section 30 process nor mere ‘gentle persuasion’ was going to “progress our cause”. Some of us have tried very hard, against fervent opposition from such as yourself, to persuade the SNP to at least open up discussion about our options. All to no avail.

    Determined that the culinary catastrophe of his cake shouldn’t lack a cherry on top, Pete Wishart regurgitates the idiocy that “independence has never been closer”. Had he been less determined to shut out all dissenting, questioning or critical voices he might have been aware of how plainly, unavoidably idiotic it is to claim that we are closer to independence now than we were when the polls opened on Thursday 18 September 2014.

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  18. The new points based system confirms what I’ve been saying about many in England being lazy freeloaders.

    If you want the ‘British/English’ right to kick my wife out of job queue so you can go straight to the front, even though she’s harder working / more skilled than you, then there’s no f’n doubt you are a lazy freeloading waster.

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  19. Claire Fox former temporary Mep offers her opinion on the workings of the EU Parliament in the Spectator 15 Feb 2020.

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  20. The glorious irony of it all.

    https://twitter.com/andrewlearmonth/status/1230402215145353216

    Andrew Learmonth
    @andrewlearmonth
    Jimmy Buchan of the Scottish Seafood Association - and a former Tory candidate - says Boris Johnson’s changes to immigration rules will be “catastrophic” for fish processing. #r4today

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    1. Aye, this Jimmy Buchan.

      https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/jimmy-buchan-embrace-brexit-for-the-sake-of-fishing-industry-1-4168101

      Jimmy Buchan: Embrace Brexit for the sake of fishing industry

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    2. There are Philpino and East European men doing the hard work on Scottish owned fishing boats, I've met them. They live on board the boat frequently in poor conditions and the Scots owners of the boats take the profit. It is these guys that Jimmy Buchan and his like are wanting to go on exploiting. My heart bleeds for Jimmy Buchan. He voted for Brexit, he can own it, all of it.

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  21. Peter has got so much to tell us about how Peter knows what is best for us. Peter thinks Peter should be the ruler.

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  22. I simply want the momentum for Independence to be maintained. It can be marches, consultative referenda or a dozen other devices.

    What I DON'T want is to have years of inactivity. When you are gaining ground you keep going and going.
    If we pause the Unionists win!

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