Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Behold the full wackiness of the details of the plan to delay the de facto independence referendum until 2026

I was very surprised to learn, judging from the feedback to my post yesterday, that some people seem to have completely misconstrued the point I was making.  Even more bizarrely, one person who clearly did understand the point I was making still felt the need to 'explain' it to me!  I actually don't think there was anything remotely opaque in what I said, but I suspect the confusion is being caused because many people haven't actually read the NEC resolution for next month's SNP emergency conference and thus aren't aware of the full wackiness of the details of the proposed alternative option for a de facto referendum, ie. waiting until the scheduled Holyrood election in 2026.

So, for absolute clarity, here are the two options for obtaining a mandate for independence as set out by the NEC resolution:

Option 1: ONE MANDATE REQUIRED, which will be sought at the next Westminster election (probably in 2024). A majority of the popular vote at the election will be needed for this mandate.

Option 2: TWO MANDATES REQUIRED, the first of which will be sought at the next Westminster election, and the second of which will be sought at the next Scottish Parliament election in 2026.  For the first mandate, a majority of the popular vote will NOT be required (only a majority of seats), but for the second mandate a majority of the popular vote WILL be required.  The rationale for this difference appears to be that the first mandate is merely a 'trigger' mandate that effectively 'grants permission' for the second mandate - for independence itself - to be sought, and is therefore less important and a lower threshold is fine.

The point I made yesterday is that it's the complexity and randomness of Option 2 that is going to look like student politics or playground politics, or like a movement that is trying to make up the rules as it goes on, just to suit itself.  It's obviously there because of a fear that the SNP will win a majority of seats at Westminster 2024 but not a majority of votes, and yet it's still trying to paint that potential outcome as a successful part of the mandate process, while maintaining that a majority of votes will be required for independence.  It simply isn't going to wash with the public, or with neutrals, or with the media, or with soft unionists, because the contradictions within it are painfully obvious.  If the SNP win a majority of Westminster seats on, say, 40% of the vote and claim that as the first part of the mandate, people will perfectly logically ask how that can be the case when 40% would have been well short of the self-defined threshold for a mandate in Option 1, and would also be well short of the self-defined threshold for a mandate in the second half of Option 2.  They'll say the SNP have no authority to arbitrarily set different rules for different elections, and that it looks a bit silly to expect everyone else to conveniently play along with that little game on demand.

I really do beg delegates at the special conference not to go down the rabbit hole of Option 2.  The most sensible outcome is to amend the resolution to call for an early Holyrood election and use that as the de facto referendum - it's been clearly explained umpteen times how that is a perfectly practicable proposition.  The second best option would be to use the 2024 Westminster election as the de facto referendum.  But the nutty idea of a two part mandate requiring victory in both 2024 and 2026, and with completely different targets for victory in each election?  Forget it.  It's not a credible option and will turn the Yes movement into a laughing-stock.

*  *  *

If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue in some form, donations are welcome HERE.


  1. I agree that the complexity of option 2 is likely to be a turn-off, but I don't think that it's innately unreasonable for the SNP to use an election to obtain a mandate for a de facto referendum, and for this to have a lower win threshold than the referendum itself. That's the precedent from 2011 and 2014.

    The main problem for me is that the first part has *already been achieved*, in the 2021 election. If they'll neglect the mandate they already have, there's no reason not to expect them to neglect another. They have to hold a referendum in some form within this Holyrood term or the whole thing has no credibility.

  2. Terry Callachan Dundee , I agree with what you say, I am totally fed up with these delay tactics , any country in the world should be able to call a vote on independence whenever it’s government chooses , the Scottish government are accepting the rules set by Westminster by meekly accepting what the Supreme Court decided and I can go along with that but only if the Scottish government call an immediate Scottish election and say that the result will be a decision on Scottish independence , in fact they should have announced this the day the Supreme Court issued its decision.

  3. Terry Callachan Dundee , it’s time for someone in the SNP to step forward and challenge the First minister on a ticket of i will call an immediate Scottish government election which will also be an election on independence and should we win it i will immediately step down and call independent Scotlands first General Election.
    Anyone got the guts to do it ? Or are you all cowards willing to sit back with your cosy salaries and pensions whilst Scotland people are insulted.

  4. The gutless SNP isn't up for confrontation, Tricky Nicky emasculated that political party years ago. Ipso facto, there will be no de facto anything without a decent leader - I like that guy Steven Linden : he appears to have a pulse though I've yet to see him on TV.

    1. No, too angry (hey, I like that about him too), SL is just right - authoritative without being too aggressive; he's no Salmond but then again, who is ? With a leadership role, SL would be ready in a year or so. Salmond should mentor him. Btw, I just realised that every time I see 'Nicola Sturgeon' written in an article, my skin crawls, even when I'm defending her - time she went.

    2. I'm not aware of anyone called Steven Linden? Do you mean David Linden?