I rarely disagree with G A Ponsonby, but I do part company with him on his belief that it would be a strategic mistake to hold an independence referendum without Westminster granting a Section 30 order (although of course he does very much want a referendum and thinks the Scottish Government should press for a Section 30 next year). Basically he thinks that the unionist domination of Scotland's mainstream media would doom the referendum to delegitimisation and failure. I think that argument overlooks a few key points -
1) Just like in Catalonia, there absolutely must be a back-up plan if the state cuts off the most obvious route to an exercise in self-determination. There isn't much point in being a pro-independence Catalan if you accept the risible argument that voting for independence is illegal, and by the same token there isn't much point in being a pro-independence Scot if you're willing to accept that Westminster has the right to say "now is not the time, and the right time is never". Most of us agree that it would be preferable to hold a referendum with Westminster's agreement, but if we don't have a prepared answer to an insistent "no" we might as well pack up and go home.
2) It's not possible for the unionist establishment (both political and media) to delegitimise the referendum without also boycotting it. If there's a unionist boycott, a Yes victory in some form is assured. As in Catalonia, that will immediately create new facts on the ground - at the very least the anti-independence mandate from the 2014 referendum will no longer be unchallenged.
3) Unlike in Catalonia, the referendum will not actually be illegal. What we're talking about is legislation that is framed in such a way that the Presiding Officer's legal advisers, and perhaps the courts if necessary, will accept that a consultative referendum is within the Scottish Parliament's existing powers.
4) Irrespective of legality, the referendum will almost certainly not be disrupted by British state violence of the sort that we've just seen from Spain. The UK population just wouldn't stand for that sort of thing - witness the spontaneous disgust displayed towards Spain's actions by establishment figures such as BBC network newsreader Huw Edwards. That means the only limit on the number of Yes votes we can attract will be determined by the shortcomings of our own campaigning skills.
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Now I'm back from my travels, I have a couple of things to let you know about. This year has seen a bumper number of visitors to this blog, culminating in the month leading up to the general election when Google Analytics recorded approximately 35,000 unique visitors - the second busiest month in Scot Goes Pop's nine-year history, outstripping even the month of the 2014 referendum. Part of the reason for that success is that I was made an admin (or editor, or whatever the correct word is) on one of the most popular pro-indy Facebook pages, and was encouraged to post links to my own content. I've no idea exactly what percentage of the blog's visitors were coming from that page, but my vague impression is that it was making a significant contribution. The page was recently taken down, seemingly due to a long-running dispute with Tommy Sheridan and his supporters. It's now back up again, but the creator has stepped aside, and it appears that as part of the shake-up I've been quietly removed as one of the admins. I briefly thought about querying that, but I quickly realised that a) I don't actually know who is in overall charge of the page now, and b) it's very unlikely that I would have been removed by mistake. I'll probably never know the reason why. This could obviously prove to be a big setback, so it's led me to think about alternative ways of promoting the blog on Facebook.
For many years Scot Goes Pop has had its own dedicated Facebook page, but it 'only' has 1780 followers, probably for the very simple reason that I spend a fair bit of time on Twitter and almost no time at all on Facebook. (And there are only so many hours in a day.) I'm wondering if a Facebook group might conceivably work better, because it would allow non-admin members to post their own content, and indeed to annoy friends by adding them directly. So just as a mad experiment, I've set up a group called Scottish Independence Required By Next Tuesday. There's probably a 95% chance it'll fall flat on its face, but let's give it a go and see what happens. If you have a Facebook account, you can join the new group HERE. Rest assured that if it takes off it'll be an anything goes funfair.
And the other little piece of information is that I have a new article in the October issue of iScot magazine. If you're not a subscriber to the print edition, a digital copy can be purchased HERE.