Saturday, May 21, 2022

#Referendum2023: We have LIFT-OFF! The unstoppable momentum towards Scotland's guaranteed independence referendum next year moves into a dramatic new phase with the appearance of an ESSAY

Thanks to the majority SNP-Green government's #2023ReferendumGuarantee, it is the unshakeable destiny of this country to hold a second independence referendum within the next nineteen months at the absolute most.   And it's great to see yet more evidence that some of the really concrete practical steps needed to honour that solemn vow are being taken.  Just a few days ago, Nicola Sturgeon used her official visit to the US to tell a journalist that the referendum would definitely take place in 2023, and tonight brings exciting news that she's written an essay to launch what is billed as "the new independence campaign".  This will almost certainly be the last time that a new independence campaign is announced, because there simply won't be time for more than one campaign in the maximum of a year and a half that remains before referendum day.

We've yet to see the contents of the essay, but we can be sure that they'll be perfectly pitched to prepare Scots for their visit to the polling station next year. This calls for another update of the Scot Goes Pop #Referendum2023 Countdown Clock...

There are just 229 days until the earliest possible date for #Referendum2023 (5th January)

There are just 579 days until the last possible date for #Referendum2023 (21st December)

(Note: the Countdown Clock calculations assume that tradition will be maintained by holding #Referendum2023 on a Thursday, and that it will be before Christmas.)

Of course there have been many previous occasions when new independence campaigns have been heralded that were supposed to lead to a referendum, and nothing really happened.  So perhaps there'll be a touch of cynicism in certain quarters about this latest development.  But this time is obviously totally different due to the clock ticking down on that ultra-specific 2023 guarantee. And because of that, we can confidently join Donna Summer in shouting it out with a megaphone: "This time we know it's for real..."

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The SNP leadership's doublethink on nuclear weapons is unsustainable - polling evidence shows the Scottish people want to join the treaty banning nukes completely

Perhaps the most insufferable aspect of the ongoing debate about reform of the GRA is the claim of those on one side of the debate that they are on "the right side of history" and that their opponents are on "the wrong side of history".  They sound exactly like Marxists when they say that, because Marxism is one of the few ideologies that insists the course of history is predetermined (and arguably it's already been proved wrong about that).  For non-Marxists, considerably more humility is required, because it's very difficult to tell whether you're on the right side of history when you're living bang in the middle of it. In 1940, for example, it seemed obvious to many people that fascists were on the right side of history, at least within the confines of continental Europe, because the fall of France and the Low Countries seemed to leave no route back.  Philippe Pétain's guiding principle in reconstituting the French state after the Nazi invasion was that the 1789 revolution's goals of 'liberty, equality and fraternity' had been defeated forever.  But then Hitler overreached himself by invading the Soviet Union and declaring war on the US. From that point on it seemed equally obvious that the course of history favoured the Allies, and that the future of Europe belonged to liberal democracy and Soviet-style communism.

Sometimes, what appear to be the prevailing trends of history can even contradict each other in the here-and-now.  Due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the momentous decisions that have subsequently been made by Finland and Sweden, it seems obvious that Europe's destiny is to unite under the NATO banner against a common enemy to the east.  But it's equally obvious that there's a trend in recent years towards challenging the assumption that nuclear weapons can never be eliminated, with dozens of countries signing up to a new and legally-binding treaty that bans nukes completely.  Those two historical trends are more or less in direct conflict with each other because NATO is a nuclear weapons alliance.  And yet somehow the SNP leadership have got themselves wrapped up in both.

How did that happen?  Support for the nuclear weapons ban treaty can be explained by the legacy of the SNP's long-standing status as a unilateralist party, which the membership will accept no overt backtracking from.  The support for NATO membership stems from the desire of self-styled 'modernisers' at the top of the SNP to make the party look more 'normal', with 'normality' being defined as centre-right militarism.  (During the SNP conference session a few years ago at which opposition to NATO membership was finally overturned, Alyn Smith infamously said that he was upset that the party's principled stance on peace was making it look 'odd'.)  There's been an uneasy narrative that NATO membership is not strictly incompatible with the removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil, but that attempt to square the circle may have been pushed beyond breaking point by the emergence of an actual nuclear ban treaty with very strict provisions. 

The SNP's militarist wing has now been emboldened by the war in Ukraine to such an extent that the defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald felt able to openly express his willingness to allow NATO nuclear weapons to be temporarily welcomed in an independent Scotland - totally at odds with his party's supposed belief that all such weapons should be wiped from the face of the planet.  That triggered a timely intervention from CND Scotland, who pointed out that McDonald's words are not even compatible with the text of the treaty that the SNP apparently want an independent Scotland to sign and be legally bound by.

Is there any way at all that NATO membership can be squared with joining a legally-binding nuclear ban treaty?  It doesn't look easy to me.  Only three EU countries have ratified the treaty so far - Ireland, Malta and Austria.  Those are all neutral countries where there isn't even any serious debate about the possibility of joining NATO.  Sweden initially voted in favour of the treaty but later decided against joining, and that was presumably partly because NATO membership has never been a non-issue in Sweden (and in neighbouring Finland) due to geographical proximity with Russia.  Now that Sweden has actually applied to join NATO, it's surely unthinkable that it will join the nuclear ban treaty in anything remotely close to the foreseeable future.

So in the real world, the SNP leadership may have to make a straight choice between whether NATO or the nuclear ban treaty represent "the right side of history", rather than pretending that both do simultaneously.  At the very least, they need to be honest with themselves and with others that what they claim to want to do - join both NATO and the treaty - is not only unusual ("odd" as Alyn Smith might put it), it's totally and utterly unique.  An avowedly non-nuclear independent Scotland would of necessity be a very different sort of NATO member, not a full-blooded 'mainstream' member like Belgium or Denmark, and there needs to be an acknowledgement of that.  

And if a straight choice has to be made, let's remember where Scottish public opinion stands on the issue of the nuclear ban treaty.  A poll commissioned by this very blog one year ago asked about the subject, with dramatic results...

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 21st-26th April 2021:

Nuclear weapons were banned by an international treaty that came into force in January this year.  However, the nine countries that are currently believed to possess nuclear weapons, including the UK, have so far refused to sign the treaty. Do you think the UK should join the treaty and dismantle its nuclear weapons?  

Yes: 47%
No: 33%

With Don't Knows removed -

Yes 59%
No 41%

The other point I'd make is that if the SNP leadership think Alba's disappointing results at the local elections means they've crowded out any alternatives within the indy movement to Smith/McDonald-style militarism, they'd better think again.  We in Alba are determined to forge on - to survive as a party and then to thrive.  But regardless of whether we succeed or fail in that endeavour, the fact that the SNP have voluntarily gone into coalition with an anti-NATO party means that the alternative position is alive and well and living inside the Scottish Government itself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Excitement about #Referendum2023 builds to new crescendo as Nicola Sturgeon uses US trip to repeat her guarantee that Scotland will have an independence referendum in 2023

Have you noticed the step-change in independence campaigning from the SNP?  The public meetings, the street stalls, the constant buzz about imminent referendum legislation?  Nope, me neither, but we know it must be going on because a referendum is DEFINITELY HAPPENING NEXT YEAR.

Associated Press interview with Nicola Sturgeon, 17th May 2022:

AP interviewer: "Is the plan for Scotland to still hold a referendum on independence next year?"

Nicola Sturgeon: "Yes.  I was re-elected as First Minister round about this time last year, and was re-elected on a very firm mandate to offer people in Scotland that choice."

As every good Catholic knows, it's important to renew your Vows periodically, so it's great to hear such an unambiguous and emphatic reaffirmation of the SNP-Green government's #2023ReferendumGuarantee.  It's ON, folks.  This calls for an update of the Scot Goes Pop #Referendum2023 Countdown Clock...

There are just 232 days until the earliest possible date for #Referendum2023 (5th January)

There are just 582 days until the last possible date for #Referendum2023 (21st December)

(Note: the Countdown Clock calculations assume that tradition will be maintained by holding #Referendum2023 on a Thursday, and that it will be before Christmas.)


Monday, May 16, 2022

#Referendum2023 : Time to unveil the Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls as our guaranteed referendum fast approaches

"The key thing is that we will take these steps in a timescale that facilitate that referendum before the end of 2023, which is the commitment I made at the election and was elected on overwhelmingly at the election." - Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, January 2022 

"The Scottish Government fully intends to fulfill its manifesto commitment to the people of Scotland...Speaking on Wednesday the First Minister said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had not changed her view that a second independence referendum should go ahead in 2023...Of course some people are never going to be satisfied because they have convinced themselves that the SNP 'doesn’t really' want a referendum, and nothing that Nicola Sturgeon says or does is going to shift them from that view, however for the rest of us the First Minister’s statement is a welcome confirmation that an independence referendum will indeed go ahead in the latter half of 2023." - Paul Kavanagh, SNP-supporting blogger, March 2022

It's a commitment.  It's confirmed.  It's a certainty.  It's simply a fact, and there's no going back.  Thanks to the majority SNP-Green government's #2023ReferendumGuarantee, up to four million Scots will be visiting their local polling stations (or casting a postal ballot) at some point during 2023 to decide whether or not their country should become independent, or should continue to be governed by Tories in London.  The referendum is of course coming three or four years too late to prevent Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will, as the SNP originally promised us they would do - but hey, better late than never, and thankfully because of the SNP's current promises, there is no danger whatsoever of any further delay beyond December 2023.  The absolute last date on which #Referendum2023 can be held is 21st December 2023, which thrillingly means it's now a MAXIMUM of just 584 days away!

As we're on the last lap before we enter full-blown campaigning for a 2023 referendum that is DEFINITELY taking place, it's long past time that I resurrected the Scot Goes Pop independence Poll of Polls, so we can see how public opinion evolves as referendum day approaches next year.  As in the run-up to the first referendum eight years ago, I'll be using an average of the most recent poll from each of the polling firms that have been active within the last few months.


Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 44.3%
No 46.1%

With Don't Knows excluded:

Yes 49.0%
No 51.0%

(Note: the above averages are based on seven polls - one from Savanta ComRes, one from Survation, one from YouGov, one from Panelbase, one from Opinium, one from BMG and one from Ipsos-Mori.)

So it's not at all hard to see why the majority SNP-Green government decided to guarantee that a referendum will take place before the end of 2023 - Yes practically have the support of half the population once undecideds are stripped out, which is a truly fabulous platform on which to start any campaign.  (Remember that there were polls in the early stages of the first indyref campaign that showed No ahead by a 2-1 margin.)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Introducing the #Referendum2023 Countdown Clock

It just suddenly struck me this morning how astonishingly close we are to Scotland's 2023 independence referendum. I know I speak on behalf of all readers of Scot Goes Pop when I say that I don't have the slightest doubt it's going to happen - the majority SNP-Green government have, to their immense credit, allowed us all to relax thanks to their #2023ReferendumGuarantee.  As they've said repeatedly: no ifs, no buts, no maybes, it's a nailed-on certainty, come hell or high water, Scotland will be going to the polls next year to decide whether or not to become an independent country.  Don't worry about questions like "how?" - our leaders are the foremost experts on process and strategy, and the secret route-map to Referendum 2023 has been meticulously planned for years.  All we have to do is just sit back and let it happen.  That's what the #2023ReferendumGuarantee is all about.  And 2023 is only SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS away.  Time to get excited, people!

To celebrate this momentous landmark, I'm now going to unveil the Scot Goes Pop #Referendum2023 Countdown Clock, which will be periodically updated...

There are just 235 days until the earliest possible date for #Referendum2023 (5th January)

There are just 585 days until the latest possible date for #Referendum2023 (21st December)

(Note: the Countdown Clock calculations assume that tradition will be maintained by holding #Referendum2023 on a Thursday, and that it will be before Christmas.)

Which leaves only one question to be answered: what colour tie will Huw Edwards wear?  #ReferendumNight2023 is going to be MEGA!