The SNP Membership, Not the Leadership, Must Decide on the Second Referendum 104


The policy of the SNP is that there will not be a second referendum on Independence in the next 5 years unless something material changes, such as UK exit from the EU. Why is that party policy? Because Nicola Sturgeon says it is.

I am only a humble SNP ordinary member, for only four years. But something within me tells me I am allowed to disagree. And I do. Loudly.

I think it is essential that the SNP manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections states clearly that, if a Holyrood majority will support it, a second referendum will be called on Scottish independence before 2020. If elected on that manifesto, something material will have changed. A unique double mandate will have occurred at Westminster and Holyrood for supporters of independence. And that change will have come from where it counts, from the Scottish people, not from extraneous circumstances. The independence I want is absolute, not a product of external factors.

Those who are comfortable with the status quo, plus a few more powers for the Scottish parliament, will argue that we cannot hold the referendum until we are certain to win, that another loss will kill it for ever. But there is a much more important argument – that of missing the key moment, letting the window of opportunity slide by. With a very right wing Tory majority in Westminster immediately imposing fresh austerity in Scotland, and with levels of SNP political dominance historically unlikely to be exceeded in any pluralist democratic system, there can never be a more favourable conjunction. If not now, when?

The biggest danger is bottling it.

Gradualism has taken us so far. I liken it to a long jumper hurtling down the runway. You may be sprinting brilliantly, and achieve fantastic speed and momentum. But if you think “this is going well, let’s not change anything” and don’t alter your action when you hit that white board, you will record six feet and not thirty. Scottish independence is at the white board. Gradualism has had its day. It’s time to soar. Let’s not fail to jump and plunge into the Killiecrankie Leap, no matter how well we are sprinting.

Some genuinely think I am wrong. It is a legitimate argument. But it needs to be a legitimate debate at Party conference, and a vote by members that decides on whether a second referendum is in the manifesto, not a decision by the leadership. I share the popular admiration for Nicola Sturgeon. I think she is tremendous. But were she the Archangel Gabriel, I would not follow her on the “leadership principle”. I do not subscribe to it.

Which leads me to say that I have decided to put myself forward again for vetting to be an SNP candidate, for the Holyrood election. This has not been an easy decision given the leaks to the media and internet abuse I went through last time, and I realise that I open myself to the apparent humiliation of easy rejection.

I should add that if I pass the party hierarchy vetting but fail to be selected by party members in the constituency, I should have absolutely no complaint whatsoever. That is proper democracy working.

But it seems to me that it is now very important indeed that the SNP is a political party that genuinely welcomes internal debate and differing shades of belief of those sincerely attached to Scottish independence, and can accommodate in particular those of an independent frame of mind who will not guarantee always under any circumstance to do what they are told.

The SNP is now in a dominant position in Scottish politics and facing no coherent or effective external opposition. In that circumstance, extreme discipline becomes more frightening than admirable.

Canvassing during the referendum campaign one thing No voters repeatedly told me was that they feared that the SNP was authoritarian and an independent Scotland would have the characteristics of a one party state. I assured them that they were quite wrong. I hope to prove that I was not lying.

My last post was about the excellent Jeremy Corby. Pro-CND, anti-austerity, anti-privatisation, pro-Palestinian, he rebelled against the Labour whip 230 times in the last parliament. Yet the Labour Party – which we characterise as the epitome of machine politics – does not seek to suspend him or stop him representing them in parliament. Many in the SNP will agree that Corbyn is a first class MP. Yet the same people will argue that no SNP representative should ever be able to rebel against their party whip, even once.

I abhor the creed of Democratic Centralism, which has always been associated with Stalinism. The worrying thing is that at present I do not even find the SNP terribly democratic. I have been to two party conferences now and both were glorified leadership rallies without one single genuine policy debate. There are issues which urgently need democratic consideration. The second referendum is top of the pile. The future Scottish currency may be next. I would like to find what the new membership wants on the monarchy and on NATO. The very close NATO vote a few years ago by no means killed off that debate, whatever the leadership may want.

The SNP has shown it can dominate. Now we must show that we can be genuinely democratic.


104 thoughts on “The SNP Membership, Not the Leadership, Must Decide on the Second Referendum

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  • Tim

    Craig

    Thanks for your reply last night. Glad that you know what you are doing, which seems to be more about changing the SNP than changing Scotland.

  • Beth

    Muscleguy—-don’t agree with you at all. I think what is happening is a very deliberate process of making people think it was their idea to demand the right to die. If it ever does become legal it will end up bearing no resemblance to what it was initially supposed to be. Look at abortion—if you dare to say that abortion is killing babies who are the same age as babies born and surviving prematurely you are attacked. it has been made politically incorrect to disagree with abortion on demand and I guarantee the same thing will happen with right to die.
    I also think the new pensions policy is a very sneaky way to push people in this direction. An aging population is seen as the biggest challenge in the future.

  • Judean Peoples Front

    Fred at 11:54 is once again full of shit to the hairline as a radical poseur. “if they follow the Conservative path of austerity or raise taxes and increase spending.” This kind of fake dichotomy would make Margaret Thatcher moist. Spending is constrained not by taxes but by resources. Doesn’t even know his MMT. Fucking Fred must march with the Revolutionary Front of Chartered Accountants.

    Now watch him say bad words like he always does when he’s caught being full of shit.

  • fred

    “Now watch him say bad words like he always does when he’s caught being full of shit.”

    Fuck off and die brain dead shit for brained retard.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Fuck off and die brain dead shit for brained retard.

    Fully establishing Fred’s moral superiority over the alleged SNP supporters whom the Mail reports were making Kennedy’s life a misery….

  • fred

    “Fully establishing Fred’s moral superiority over the alleged SNP supporters whom the Mail reports were making Kennedy’s life a misery….”

    What the fuck would you know about morals?

    Now you fuck off and die as well, your Nationalist blackshirt bullying doesn’t work on me.

  • Angus

    While SNP reps think it’s alright to draw a wage from Westminster AND Holyrood at the same time (who could that be then?), why should we trust any of them?

  • jemand

    If the Scottish people are given regular opportunities to bale out of the union, will they ever be given a future opportunity to reunite or will that be denied to them?

  • N_

    The SNP got 49.97% of the vote in Scotland in the British general election, which gave them 95% of the seats. If you add the Green vote, you get a tiny majority for pro-independence parties. This was mainly because Yesniks were still fired up. Most of them thought they’d win the referendum. Many still think they won morally or that they’ve got to the point where independence is a near certainty. Some No-ers stayed at home in the general election because they just weren’t as interested in the issue of which parties sit on which side of the House of Commons as they were in the issue of whether or not Scotland should be independent. If there was another referendum tomorrow, it would have the same result as last year’s. Holding it would be a waste of public funds, an act of contempt for the Scottish electorate, and a distraction from real issues.

    The SNP MPs were sent to a British parliament by British voters and it’s a disgrace that they may abstain on a bill to re-legalise foxhunting in England and Wales and thereby allow it to pass. There may well be enough Tory opponents of foxhunting (a few dozen?) to defeat the bill so long as all opposition MPs vote against it too.

    Are the SNP going to help the Tories again, just as – as everyone on the left in my generation remembers – they brought down the Labour government in 1979 and ushered Margaret Thatcher into office?

  • N_

    Don’t the SNP actually want any respect whatsoever from anyone who’s first and foremost on the left rather than a nationalist?

    Fucking do something against the Tories rather than bleating that you want more control over public money, you jumped-up local-council tossers! Do something against the Tories and you might start deserving some respect.

    I urge left-wing people in Scotland living in constituencies with SNP MPs to write to their MP and encourage them to vote against the Tories’ foxhunting bill. Remind them that they are a British MP elected by British people and that they don’t have a ‘mandate’ to sit on their hands when bills are passed that only concern England and Wales. On the contrary, they have a mandate to involve themselves in matters concerning all parts of Britain.

  • DavidFromScotland

    I completely agree with your comment about how evil and destructive internet trolling is. So why, why, why do you describe yourself as a vauntie cybernat? At best this can be described as inconsistency, at worst out and out hypocrisy.

  • AWoLsco

    This is not the right time for Scottish independence. It’s probably not far off, but now is not the right time.
    Carry on agitating, niggling, whining, complaining and whingeing( mustn’t forget the good old whinge)is the best and only option available at the moment.

    Scotland is hopelessly disorganised. It has no teeth, fangs and claws.
    The SNP vote themselves into NATO, but have no navy, army, airforce or secret service…..or any useful links with the outside world.
    Right now, should they attain independence, or even have it thrust upon them(the best scenario), then they will be squashed underfoot like slugs, by the powers of the IMF,USA and EU.
    Scotland, what remains of her, is currently in a more perilous predicament than she was in 1706.

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