Options for Independence 1387

So what do we do now with Theresa May apparently obdurate on blocking the referendum?

It is important to realise politics are fluid. In a week’s time the situation will not be what it is today. The battle for public opinion is key. The unionist media (ie virtually all of it) are asserting continuously, as a uniform line, that opinion polls say the people of Scotland do not want a second Independence referendum in the timescale Nicola Sturgeon has set out – even though that is not true at all. The serial Tory crooks at You Gove came out with an opinion poll right on cue “showing” that support for Independence is hitting new lows. But I suspect it will not be long before evidence emerges that May’s unattractive diktat has profoundly assisted the Independence cause. That will change the game.

So with a wind of public opinion behind her, what does Sturgeon do if Westminster denies a Scottish Parliament request for a referendum? There are several options:

1) Hold an Advisory Referendum

It appears probable (though not undisputed) that the Scottish government can hold a referendum which is not binding, without Section 30 permission from Westminster. It is hard for Westminster to dismiss the result of an advisory referendum, given that Brexit was only an advisory referendum and May has taken as a matter of faith that it is binding.

But as we saw in Catalonia, a boycott by unionist forces can be quite effective in denying the credibility of a non-binding referendum result. I strongly suspect that would be their attitude to an advisory referendum, and I do not see it as a strong way forward.

2) Call a New Holyrood Election

This is an attractive option in many ways. It would be predicated on the plain statement that a new pro-Independence majority would declare Independence unilaterally. That would be the normal and internationally accepted way for a country to secede – a referendum is very much the exception.

But there are problems with this approach. The first is that it would require a two thirds majority of the Scottish parliament to dissolve it, and the Unionists would in all probability simply block it. Forcing them to do that may be a good move, but doesn’t take us far forward.

The second problem, should parliament dissolve, is the campaign itself. As it would not be a referendum campaign, media coverage would not be balanced on independence, but the unionist parties in effect given three times the coverage of the SNP, assuming the Greens continue to be very poorly treated. But as the “Balance” of the referendum coverage was risible anyway, I am not sure this is so much of a drawback.

More difficult is the uncertainty created by the appalling De Hondt system. There is no doubt that the optimum outcome for Independence would be for every Independence supporter to vote SNP 1 and Green 2. But in practice that will never happen on a significant scale, and what is the best way to utilise your vote to achieve independence is simply not predictable. Risking all on a system so prone to statistical fluke is a problem.

3) Call a National Assembly

In the event that Scotland is being blocked from holding either a referendum or an election, the Scottish Government could move to convene a National Assembly. This might consist of all MPs, MSPs and MEPs and that body could declare Independence. To be clear, that would be a revolutionary act in UK terms, but it is perfectly normal for such an act to be required at the birth of a new state and is no bar to it being accepted in international law as a state through recognition by the United Nations General Assembly.

The argument would run that, having been blocked at every turn from holding a democratic vote either by way of referendum or parliamentary election, the Scottish government had taken the option of convening all representatives democratically elected at the national level – MSPs, MPs and MEPs, and these elected representatives of the Scottish people had made the decision. That is perfectly respectable and entirely analogous to the way many EU members such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent.

To return to my original argument, the possibilities depend very much on how public opinion is seen to be trending. May’s calculation appears to be driven firstly by a desire to play to her Brexiteer base in England – which judging by the rabid comments pages across the media is very successful – and secondly by a desire to further polarise Scottish politics to the benefit of the Scottish Tories. She is more than happy for Independence to be decided on a straight SNP vs Tory field. That May thinks she can win such a battle is an example of staggering hubris.

I have been saying in all of my speeches across Scotland in the last year that the game has changed and we have to be prepared for the idea we may have to achieve Independence without the consent or cooperation of the Westminster government. I am happily no longer a radical outlier in this belief.

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1,387 thoughts on “Options for Independence

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  • David Beckett

    I don’t think MAY will give a inch and try and split the Scottish people, I think that the Eu may come to our rescue in brexit negotiations in that they will want to keep us in Eu and weaken the UK as I believe that Westminster will be trying to do the same with the twenty seven so we will have to see how things develop

    • michael norton

      I think many people are perplexed, the majority of actual real people in Scotland, do not want another once in a life time referendum, at least not in their life time.
      The S. N. P. are trying to railroad the referendum, before the Scottish Electorate are accepting of the notion -why?
      Does democracy mean nothing to the S. N. P.?

      • D-Majestic

        Possibly more than it does to some other people, if we are into making facile political points.

      • fred

        “The S. N. P. are trying to railroad the referendum, before the Scottish Electorate are accepting of the notion -why?”

        The local elections are coming up in May michael, with the deterioration in services since the SNP came to power they were going to get hammered. The prospect of another referendum will give them a lot of votes they otherwise wouldn’t have got, people voting on tribalist sentiments rather than things that are important.

  • Sharp Ears

    A poem Eva Bartlett shared on Facebook. Author is Bill Purkayastha. For those not on Facebook, it refers to a feature where users can mark themselves ‘safe’ when there has been a terrorist attack (or natural disaster, etc) so that worried friends and family will see that they weren’t one of the ones killed or injured. It was used a lot after the Westminster attack.

    “I swear to you, I pledge
    I will not mark myself safe
    No matter if the skies should fall
    Or the earth belch fire around me.

    When my brothers die in Damascus
    Under jihadi hell bombs
    I am not safe.
    When my sister’s children cry
    In the ruins of Gaza, a hard winter night
    I am not safe.
    When my siblings are broken bodies
    In a Baghdad street, just one more car bomb blown by
    I am not safe
    Or when they’re charred ashes in Sanaa
    As Saudi planes fill the sky;

    I am not safe,
    Not when women scream in Mogadishu
    And die unknown in Maiduguri.

    When they crouch in Donbass cellars
    As Nazi shells fall
    I am not safe, I cannot walk tall.
    When in Kabul they look around the
    Wreck of a nation once great
    And their children dream of drones
    I am not safe,

    And I never will be.”

    h/t Flash TLN

  • Velofello

    Hey Fred,
    A bit sloppy by you, dying where? Iraq? Libya? Syria? Afghanistan? Yemen?

    Ever experienced the adrenalin surge when you zero in on a vehicle on your monitor, press the fire button and bang the drone strikes the target, many many miles from where you are comfortably sitting? No, not a computer game, real stuff.Or does the UK arms sales revenue, arms for use by others note, in Yemen, matter more to you?

  • michael norton

    More than a thousand campaigners have taken part in a march supporting the European Union in Edinburgh.
    Ministry of Truth

    Is that the best this E.U. obsessed lot of Remoaners can manage
    and on the back of this support, you are leaving the U.K.

    • michael norton

      Ahead of the march, Vanessa Glynn, the chair of the European Movement in SCOTLAND, said it would show that SCOTLAND opposes Brexit.

      She added: “As the Westminster government is driving us off a Brexit cliff, we will say it loud and clear. Not in our name!

      This dribble sounds just like the pink pussy hat wearing lesbians scream “Not my President”

      yet who is their President, it’s the pussy – grabbing Donald Trump

      Yes, the U.K. is leaving Europe, in less than two years, that means all of us in the U.K.
      Get used to it morons.

      • D-Majestic

        As you may have to get used to hyperinflation, starvation, and the two-quid carrot, Brexlemming. Still-those who rule us won’t be short of asparagus, will they?

  • Dave

    Its normal for a nationalist to oppose mass-immigration and seek to exploit any terror attack with an anti-immigration message, but there is a range of interests promoting the mock drills as real but for different reasons and I remind nationalists not to be being played by a non-nationalist deep state whose pro-war and genocide policies led to the migrant crisis. That is the nationalist response to the mock drill should be to expose it, or at least use it to end the globalist/neo-con “war on terror”, rather than allow them to use it to promote WWIII in the name of security.

  • michael norton

    London attack: Man, 30, arrested in Birmingham
    A man has been arrested in Birmingham by police investigating the Westminster terror attack, in which four people were killed.

    The Met Police said the 30-year-old was being held on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

    Another man, 58, arrested in Birmingham on Thursday, remains in custody.

    Apparently the Westminster Attack, took less than ninety seconds.

    That is a stunningly short snatch of time to do so much damage to so many people.
    What an evil fucker.

    • Dave

      Yes and what a lucky, at least initially, f….. , because he was able to attack the officer during a 82 second ‘million to one’ window of opportunity to enter the unguarded gates and kill the (presumably unarmed and isolated) officer (wearing a stab vest) with a reported knife blow to his neck. But this was followed by some, for him, ‘million to one’ bad luck that the Defence Secretary’s personal body guard (not a police officer!) just happened to be on hand to shoot him with his handgun, before he could do any more harm, with a large bloody knife, as shown in close up by the Daily Mail!

      • Roric Veldon

        Large bloody knife? The pic they showed, of a military looking knife lying on the ground had no blood on it or even on the ground? Is that pic still circulating?

  • michael norton

    PM says Brexit plan to ‘strengthen Union’ ahead of Sturgeon meeting
    Saint Theresa May will meet Nicola Sturgeon in SCOTLAND later today, for the first time since the S. N. P. announced their proposals for a second, once in a life time, independence referendum.

    At the beginning of a week that will see Article 50 triggered on Wednesday, the PM will say she wants to “build a more united nation”.

    Mrs May has said “now is not the time” for a Scottish independence referendum, as the Brexit process is due to begin.

    I expect Nicola Sturgeon will use the words Scotland quite a few times, in their meeting
    nobody expects anybody to change their mind.

    • michael norton

      Options for independence are narrowing, perhaps Nicola has shot her bolt, too soon?

      Oil nations look at extending supply cut


      Major oil producers are considering extending their recent cuts to output in a fresh bid to boost prices.

      Countries in the oil cartel Opec and several other oil nations started to reduce production at the start of 2017.

      The move initially pushed up the oil price, but it has dropped in the last few weeks on fears the limits would not be enough to deal with an oil glut.

      A group of ministers agreed on Sunday to review extending the cuts by six months, taking them to the end of 2017.

      At a meeting in Kuwait, they requested that officials report next month “regarding the extension of the voluntary production adjustments”.

      Opec countries and 11 other oil-producing nations, including Russia, agreed in December 2016 to slash production, the first time in 15 years that a global pact had been struck.

      The price of Brent crude peaked at over $57 a barrel in January, before slipping back to below $51 a barrel in recent weeks.

      That was after Opec revealed a surprise jump in global crude stocks in February, and US oil producers – who are not part of the cuts – started to increase production again.

      Abhishek Deshpande, an oil analyst at Natixis, told the BBC the price had fallen after oil traders became “jittery” about the market.

      In particular, they were uncertain about the commitment of Russia and Saudi Arabia, Opec’s biggest member, to the cuts, Mr Deshpande said.

      The oil countries now need to show “discipline” and cut back on production in the coming months because stocks are still too high, he said.

      “The chances remain high for an extension to the supply cuts, as long as there are more stockpile withdrawals,” he added.

      The world is awash with oil

  • Doug Scorgie

    March 24, 2017 at 00:14

    “While people were dying yards away, while the emergency services were fighting to save lives, George Kerevan was tweeting a picture of himself with a big smile on his face.”

    Fred, the houses of parliament were in shutdown and no-one was aware of what had happened outside at that time. Did any other MPs or Peers of other parties tweet anything while they were in lockdown?

  • Doug Scorgie

    michael norton
    March 24, 2017 at 09:53

    “I think many people are perplexed, the majority of actual real people in Scotland, do not want another once in a life time referendum, at least not in their life time.”

    Michael, please stop using the “once in a lifetime” canard. Neither Sturgeon or Salmond used that phrase.

    Who are the “actual real people in Scotland” Michael ?

  • Doug Scorgie

    March 24, 2017 at 12:09

    “The prospect of another referendum will give them [the SNP] a lot of votes they otherwise wouldn’t have got, people voting on tribalist sentiments rather than things that are important.”

    Don’t you remember Fred, the Brexit campaign was based on tribal sentiments (Anglo-Saxon racism), rather than things that are important?

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Don’t you remember Fred, the Brexit campaign was based on tribal sentiments (Anglo-Saxon racism), rather than things that are important?

      If it was (and it was based on far more, including a general dissatisfaction with political elites which should be familiar), at least is was consistent: if the SNP want’s to surrender its sovereignty to the EU rather than working through the UK, ok…but that’s something you want to deny the rest of the UK so that you can do it? Gimme strength.

      I voted leave because I was pissed off with being globalised and all that entails. If you like, call me a nationalist in that sense*
      At least I’m a consistent nationalist. If probably a hopelessly overoptimistic one.

      *Kindly quote in full or not at all.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          You’ve got your own laws and judiciary, of course, But perhaps that would have been better expressed as ‘subject to the EU’s diktats as mitigated by the UK’ – as opposed to – ‘directly subject to the EU’s diktats with much less representation’.

          I’m all for national independence, me. I’d like the UK to be independent, and I can certainly see why Scotland would want to set smaller bounds to its own nationhood…given some coherent view on how this could be self-sustaining. But what the SNP is offering isn’t coherent, and it won’t be national independence. Is Leave coherent? No. And it won’t lead to any kind of independence…but it at least offers a choice as to who and what ‘populists’ – or true democrats – want to be independent of….unpopulists..

  • Andy

    ”The serial Tory crooks at You Gove came out with an opinion poll right on cue “showing” that support for Independence is hitting new lows.”

    Yougov and many other polling companies pay people to do surveys. Yougov also offers case prizes. If you sign up to a few online polling companies you can spend your evenings doing surveys and make a bit of extra cash. I’m sure if you are on a low income and struggling to pay the bills an extra £100 or more a month would be very welcome. So, when you see one of these surveys published in the press remember it’s a survey of people who do online polling for money.

  • michael norton

    Nicola Sturgeon’s call for second Scotland independence referendum formally backed by Scottish Parliament
    Ministry of Truth

    A sad day for the people of Scotland

  • william gordon nelson

    i think the new shetland oil field discovery is a real game changer here, information used properly will help convince undecided voters that our long term future is secure

    • fred

      No William it isn’t a game changer. It’s good news for the Scottish oil industry and good for Scottish jobs but it changes nothing regarding the independence debate. Oil is still around $50 a barrel on the world market and Brent crude is still one of the most expensive oils to produce.

    • Fergus

      “i think the new shetland oil field discovery is a real game changer here”

      Until the Shetlands decide they want to leave Scotland and stay in the UK. Anyway, as fred pointed out, oil prices are low and unlikely to rise much.

  • Doug Scorgie

    Perhaps it would be better if, after the Brexit negotiations are complete and before the Government signs anything, we should have another EU referendum when the UK voters will be better informed as to the consequences of Brexit.

    • D-Majestic

      Yes, Doug-completely agree. But since this Brexit stuff is probably deeper than most people could imagine, I would guess that it will not happen.

    • Dave

      Yes the SNP and others complain that Brexit creates a climate of uncertainty. Scotland leaving the UK would also create a climate of uncertainty, perhaps more so since Scotland trades more with UK than with EU. So it can hardly be in Scotland’s interests to deal with both uncertainties at the same time. This means May is providing better leadership for UK and Scotland than Sturgeon by refusing a referendum at this time. I would have preferred her to say Yes, but not yet, rather than No, not now, but ironically this delay provides Scotland with the prospect of a genuine independence referendum if one is ever held. That is independence from both UK and EU!

    • michael norton

      Doug, I can’t see Theresa May agreeing to another E.U. Referendum.
      Remember, she was for Remain.
      However, she has now agreed with the overwhelming number of United Kingdom Voters, who have said they want out of Europe.

      Very unlikely that Theresa will back-pedal, the die is cast.

      • D-Majestic

        Do you think this was all part of some Baldrickian cunning plan, Michael? Like a game of ‘Snakes and Brexitladders. Lol. BTW-don’t think it was an overwhelming number or anything approaching it.

        • michael norton

          Well, almost all politicians, even retired ones, like the disgusting Neil Kinnock, were against Brexit.
          Almost all political parties, except for UKIP were against Brexit.
          Almost all the media were against Brexit.
          All the banks and most businesses, yet still the good people of the U.K. voted for Brexit.

  • Doug Scorgie

    michael norton
    March 29, 2017 at 17:44

    “Almost all the media were against Brexit.”


    Not true Michael, almost all the media (British) pushed for Brexit. Do some research on the Daily Express; Daily Telegraph; Daily Mail and all the other right-wing media you can find.

  • Barry

    I’m sorry Mr. Murray. The thought of some of the Scottish political figures running an independent Scotland is not one I would like to see. Why: I see higher taxation, the same or more corruption and a poor state school system. We say we want to challenge the world. How can we do that when we take capital and burn it on an ineffective state school system. With teachers who believe children from deprived areas are a lost cause and not worth the effort (overhead conversation). I believe Scotland wastes thousands of children every year. I would have my concerns. For something as historic and significant as independence I would need to see a comprehensive framework about what we will do, how we will fund it and of course a timescale. What measures will be in place to deal with and root out corruption. People lose faith in a system they do not trust.

    • michael norton

      What if more than half of the people in Scotland
      still want to remain in
      The United Kingdom?

    • Fergus

      “When it is not possible to get a referendum”

      We did have a referendum. You lost. Now grow up and stop your tantrums.

  • Fergus

    “having been blocked at every turn from holding a democratic vote”

    We had one three years ago, you idiot.

    • michael norton

      First Minister Ms. Nicola Sturgeon has said there is “NO RATIONAL REASON”
      for the United Kingdom to block a second Scottish independence referendum.
      Ms Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Theresa May asking for a Section 30 order to allow Holyrood to legislate for a referendum.

      Well pardon me for being rational, if Scotland had a referendum and left, the United Kingdom would cease to exist.

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