We Need to Talk about Indyref2 279

A senior SNP elected representative told me a couple of weeks ago that the party hierarchy were intent on making sure there would be strict control over debate at the upcoming conference. The leadership fear pressure from the membership on holding another Independence referendum, using the mandate won at the last Holyrood elections. You will recall that the SNP was elected on a promise of a new referendum in the event of a significant change in the status quo, specifically including Brexit.

Being well aware from the AUOB marches and other events that the grassroots are ready for another campaign, and with the opinion polls very encouraging, it seemed to me that the foot soldiers deserved at least to be able to voice an opinion on when and how they went into battle. So I suggested back to my friend that, as I am attending as a delegate, I would hold a fringe meeting within the Conference venue on the routes to Independence. This might include how we get a new Indyref in the face of Westminster opposition, its timing, and lessons learned for the Yes movement from 2014 on how to win it. The idea was also to explore other potential routes to Independence including a National Assembly.

They replied that I would not be allowed to hold a fringe meeting on Indyref2. I thought they were being over-dramatic. So I asked my friend the doughty Peter A Bell to join me as a speaker (he agreed in principle), and I was planning to ask James Kelly and Stuart Campbell as well, but first applied for a room in the Conference Centre so I could give them a date.

It didn’t go well.

So I can hire a room on the SNP fringe for the purposes of commercial promotion, but not to promote Scottish Independence.

The Scotsman or the rest of the Unionist media can hire a room for a meeting, but the pro-Independence new media is not allowed to hire a room – even though its readership is bigger than the Scotsman’s.

I am not asking to speak in the Conference, but just to hold a Fringe meeting. The Conference Fringe is where members can discuss things that are of political interest without claiming to be dictating, or in line with, party policy. I am a delegate offering to pay the going rate for the room, and rooms are available. As it happens, the policy we wish to discuss, Independence and how to use the mandate from the last Holyrood election, is bang in line with official party policy anyway.

I went into this with genuine innocence, not believing my friends’ prediction that a fringe event on Indyref2 would not be allowed. I do not imagine for a moment Ms Slider was giving her answers without consultation with Chief Executive Peter Murrell, who is also Nicola Sturgeon’s partner. When a party becomes so Stalinist in its organisation it will not even permit mildly dissenting voices – or just not totally subservient voices – even to express themselves on its fringe, it is not really democratic.

If anybody has managed to book a fringe meeting, and is looking for a speaker?

279 thoughts on “We Need to Talk about Indyref2

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    • Shatnersrug

      The Uk parliamentary SNP are very comfy it seems. As for sturgeon, having been in the Labour Party for 20 odd years, I can smell a Blairite from 500 miles away, which is a real bummer for Scotland after doing their best to rid themselves of the Blairite menace. What is it? All just too comfy? Are some of them too close to the security services. Do they think people will tolerate more triangulation?

      Ay yi yi

  • rich

    ha ha ha, who’d have thought it? The Scottish National Party is not in favour of Scottish independence !!!!

    They just want to get rich talking about it

  • James

    Any party that has a “Relationship Manager” is too managerialist to be any use.

    It’s been obvious to some of us for a while that the SNP is far too comfortable playing controlled politics in Edinburgh, with the “grown ups” in London taking all the big decisions.

  • Gerry

    Strange indeed. I can understand the SNP wanting to remain agile in the current fast moving political envirionment, with the possibility of a snap GE, and several court rulings in the offing that could have a bearing on timing, but this seems a strange state of affairs given the clear appetite that exists for discussion amongst the grass roots.

    I can only hope that the party has something up their collective sleeve with respect to the calling and timing of indyref2 that they don’t want to risk being given the light of day. But surely if that were indeed the case, your proposed meeting should be allowed to go ahead regardless. A cunning plan or some very strict expectation management from the party, who remain our only realistic chance of achieving our ultimate goal. One would have thought they’d have been keen to welcmed the collective efforts of yourself and your well respected prospective fellow speakers.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Is there a hotel function room nearby you could hold it in? I am sure you are well enough networked to get folks to come along.

    I suspect Ms Sturgeon wishes the troops to hold fire until a D-Day of her choosing, so she can fire the metaphorical nukes from Faslane straight down Westminster’s throat!

    Unless of course she believes Mrs May is setting UK up to remain inside EU as a vassal.

    Given the Us/Israel/UK threesome with Uk as submissive **** doing the media rounds, that last option seems wildly optimistic…..

    It seems we are headed to be yap dogs for the Zionists, something I am sure would lose 75:25 in a Referendum of the UK people.

    But when did the voice of the people matter when Zionists carve up UK assets behind closed doors?

    Clearly the aim is defenestration before any annoying thing like an election.

    • Charles Bostock


      I note the obligatory (as far as you’re concerned) reference to Israel and Zionists. What is the connection to Craig not being offered the chance to hold a fringe meeting?

  • giyane

    If Scotland is to remain in the EU after Independence, it will have to be not really democratic. You only wanted to have a wee, city croft, but the SNP want a seat at the big table. You shouldn’t take it so personally if they still aspire to the same system that has put you through the washing machine and spin drier and hung you out to dry on a rope over a back alleyway. They are on a steep learning curve, while you have achieved the summit and descending the slippery parabola on the other side.

    • Republicofscotland

      I think theyd be a vote on what kind of relationship Scotland would want with the EU, after independence EFTA might be one route.

          • Bayard

            Now that the Brexit referendum has shown that referendums cannot be trusted to give the right answer any more, we won’t be seeing another for a very very long time.

  • Lara

    Hiya Craig. It occurred to me that the higher echelons of the SNP are very paranoid, since as we know they will be infiltrated – the SNP having been watched like hawks by spooks since at least the early 50s.

    It might be that the desire to keep cards tightly to the chest means they don’t really want too much detailed discussion – even though you’re not privy to their ideas – in case the British state could be forewarned and therefore forearmed.

    I’ve believed for some time now that the move, when made, will be a dramatic last-minute flourish, and as such your entirely innocent plans may be perceived as dangerous. Just some thoughts.

    • flatulence'

      Hopeful. Nothing wrong with that. But if them playing their cards so close to their chest means they appear to be the enemy, they’ve already lost. I’d need to swat up on my Sun Tzu to be sure, but appearing weak is one thing, losing your support and actually becoming weak would be a bad strategy.

      • flatulence'

        haha swat up. Actually I have used Sun Tzu as a swat a few times. No disrespect to Sun Tzu. My campaigns against the buzzing intruders were always successful.

  • Republicofscotland

    Yes Craig got to agree with you on this one, you shouldve been allowed to book the venue. The SNP are not (solely) the voice of the independence movement in Scotland.

    The grassroots movement and of course the AUOB, who’ve just been denied access to hold their event in Edinburgh’s Holyrood park by the Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on the grounds of it being of a political nature.

    I know you shouldn’t have to but what if someone else booked the venue for you. I get the feeling the SNP has a problem with you, though I fully agree that they’re the problem and not you.

    If the SNP fail to deliver the already approved independence mandate post Brexit, then people will let them know alright. They’d better not slide on it.

    Amyway on a more pleasing note I’m confident that post-Scottish independence folk would vote you into Holyrood, as a MSP, independent or otherwise. So hang on in there, your time will come.

    • Contrary

      Craig said he wants to be Scotland’s ambassador in Paris quite recently, I’m not sure how we vote for that, unless we make it an elected position?!

      • Republicofscotland

        Could be a good idea, Craig is ready made for the position, with his FCO experience. I think some indy voters (present company excluded) forget that Craig has been on the indy wagon for sometime now.

        In my opinion he thoroughly merits an ambassadorial position in a independent Scotland, and I would vote for him every day of the week on the matter.

        I’m not pleased at Westminster scaring off the SNP with regards to Craig, that what it amounts to in my opinion.

      • Contrary

        Oh yes, definitely Craig should be given an ambassadors job, we need people with good experience like his – and a sense of integrity. I was thinking he sounded too keen on Paris, and that he might have been attracted to fine dining and theatre more than actual hard work, so have been trying to think up a grubby backwater for him to go to as his first appointment. (England? Snigger).

        I’m fairly ambivalent about Craig’s post to tell the truth – there are a fair amount of different groups ‘for independence’ around, and they all seem to have different ideas on how if should be done (and putting conditions on it!), and each to their own – but the SNP is the political vehicle for achieving that independence, and if they don’t want fringe chats taking place at their party conference to distract people, then fair doos. I really don’t think it reflects on their lack of enthusiasm for independence (they start campaigning for it this weekend I believe), or any dislike for Craig. It is a party political conference. like they try to separate government duties from independence campaigning – they are making clearer divisions between these different facets. They are probably making a lot of money – if there are only commercial bookings allowed – for the independence coffers too?

        • Dennis Revell


          ” … have been trying to think up a grubby backwater for him to go to as his first appointment. (England? Snigger).”

          – Brilliant wit! Would’a broke the Internet were it more widely spread – try it on fbook. Quite right though, as the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig certainly has lots of expertise on “grubby backwaters”, but xenophobic leeetle InGRRRRRland might just be a tad cruel 😉 .


  • Sharp Ears

    Perhaps the One Show will have you on. They devoted last night’s programme to Ruth Davidson. Pure propaganda and free advertising.
    Much info on the presenters but nothing about the editor or producer.

    The programme and many others is produced by BBC Studios. They have two registered companies. BBC Studios Ltd and BBC Studios Group Ltd. Lord Hall is a director of both. What a strange set up and why limited companies.

    Activities of head office – holding company.

    Nature of business (SIC)
    60200 Television programming and broadcasting activities – Develop and produce programme content for the BBC, playing a vital role in delivering quality output and creating valuable intellectual property, as well as competing in the open market for commissions across a broad range of genres.

    • Clark

      This is an “internal market”. I suspect it protects programme makers from Freedom of Information Act requests. OK, the BBC buys programmes, but maybe someone else is paying as well; if so, that would be commercially confidential information.

    • Charles Bostock

      Sharp Ears

      “They devoted last night’s programme to Ruth Davidson. Pure propaganda and free advertising.”

      I recall that there have been programmes in the past on Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, but cannot for the life of me recall whether they were also pure propaganda and free advertising. Can you help?

      • Republicofscotland


        The BBC, do not doorstep Ruth, infact BBC radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson has been trying for weeks to gain an interview with the Scottish Tory branch manager to no avail.

        In truth Ruth is cosseted by the British media. Even Netanyahu is held more to account than Ruthie.

        • Charles Bostock

          Thank you for standing in for Sharp Ears, who has presumably retired for the night. But you shouldn’t make a habit of it 🙂

          • Sharp Ears

            Do not discuss me pr use my name in your comments.. I was at a PSC meeting. You should have been there. You might have learnt some facts about the Occupation and what it’s like living under it, day by day.

    • Phil

      That’s a very lazy comment. The SNP got us very close to a referendum win from quite a low base. Years and years in the political wilderness and now in charge of a moderately effectual devolved govt. Seen from their side, it might seem like Craig is trying to hi-jack a conference taking place at a critical juncture…perhaps they just don’t need journalists being handed a ‘movement is split’ splash story when important matters are about to be announced. I know normal front-line politics can be boring but the antidote to that isn’t feverish ill-motivated speculation, I would suggest it’s speaking to everyday people about what independence will mean for them. The criticism on here about Salmond and Sturgeon is barely elaborated to any meaningful extent and so isn’t being justified. A great many of you seem very childish and ready to throw your toys out of the pram at the latest perceived snub. I doubt very few of you are really active politically. I admire Craig for almost everything I know about his life and his commitment to human rights but I’m not convinced his political instincts are as good as either Salmond or Sturgeon. So what happens if we get an IndyRef 2 announcement in the next few weeks? Will we hear a bit of modesty from those who are quick to find fault or will they move onto the next minor irritant that happens to be bugging them that day?
      I don’t normally comment here but petty comment after petty comment needed a bit of challenging.

  • Casual Observer

    Jumping the gun a little ? IndyRef2 is a Snickersnee best kept covered until its clearer what’s going to happen on the Brexit front ?

    With the news of an early Monday Budget in October, its clear that HMG are positioning for the possibility that ‘No Deal’ is highly probable.

    But that still leaves the possibility that Parliament will exert its power over the government, and apply the brakes to the whole shebang. Dont forget that it seems as though Article 50 can be withdrawn at any time right up until March 29. And its not entirely inconceivable that as the full effects of No Deal become much clearer, the public mood towards engaging reverse may become a factor.

    IndyRef2 will have much more chance of gaining Scottish independence in a scenario of the UK definitely exiting the EU. Whilst other potential options remain possible, its threat will simply be used by the English media to belittle the SNP.

    Let us not forget that it was the Tory propaganda of Blue Bonnets over the Border that was largely responsible for their gaining of a slim and unexpected majority, which is precisely why we’re in this Brexit mess at all.

  • Ben

    Woah that’s insane!
    I’m not surprised tho tbh. It’s been obvious for a long time that Sturgeon has no intention of fighting for a 2nd referendum. Too comfy in Westminster maybe? It’s very strange that the SNP is censoring talks on the very subject that got them their massive increase in seats and support.
    I look forward to the day that you feel you can return to labour and to a genuinely progressive party.

  • Mist001

    Exactly why I allowed my SNP membership to lapse. The current leadership obfuscate, purposely confuse, and are economical with the truth when it comes to their membership. I don’t believe that they want independence. I suspect that after Brexit, Scotland will be offered Devo Max and this is what I believe the current leadership is waiting for and will snatch the offer as quickly as they can with both hands.

  • Gillian Williams

    It is not democratic at all ..but SNP arent a democratic
    party. Its top down, leaders make all the decisions and rest of the party have to follow.
    I really dont think SNP are pursuing independence despite their rhetoric.
    Nicola Sturgeon has no intention of holding an independence referendum in near future . So am not surprised your request to hire a room for the fringe has been denied.
    I am a Labour voter so you might think I am having a go at the SNP but its my honest opinion .

  • BrianFujisan

    Shocking treatment From the SNP, I hope you can find a way round that Craig

    I was only just Wonderying why SNP are not demanding the Police take action over Ian Lavery;s Obvious Hate Speech –

    “We need to kill off the nationalists in Scotland and regain that great country.”

    And we know what wailings and MSM outrage would explode if an SNP MSP had said that about nationalists in England.

    Another Disgusting Action against the AUOB marchers on 6th October, was Historic Environment Scotland (HES) refused them the use of Holyrood Park. Quite Illeagal I believe, but it’s ok to have a Military fair, complete with war planes. I hope AUOB take them to court.

    Red and Blue Tories at it again. AUOB were onloy told about this on Monday Grrrr

  • Charles Bostock

    Why on earth are you getting into such a tizz-wozz about this?

    Your attempt to book the room as an “organisation” was pretty transparent as you had previously tried to book it as an individual. You should not have been surprised to have got the answer you did.

    More generally, there is something known as party discipline – which you do not have to call “Stalinist”. I note en passant that you have not characterised calls to rid the Labour Party of its Blairites “Stalinist”. The party leadership has decided it doesn’t want to discuss a second referendum. It must have its reasons (one of them might be that it does not want you to advocate the sort of illegal means espoused by the previous Catalan government). Therefore it is not obliged to offer you facilities for a discussion it doesn’t want to take place.

    Having already declined your candidature to become a SNP parliamentary representative, you should not have been surprised that your attempt to hold the sort of meeting you wished should also have received the bum’s rush, surely?

  • Clark

    In 2013 and 2014 I travelled extensively in Scotland, and spoke to many people about the approaching Independence Referendum. A large minority of them were in favour of independence but were not keen on the SNP. I argued that they should vote Yes, because after independence had been gained the SNP would have served its purpose and would decline, as Scotland’s electoral system would enable a wide variety of other political parties to gain representatives at the Scottish Parliament.

    How ironic that the No result empowered the SNP, which now seems to be impeding the path for these supporters of independence.

  • Anon1

    I’ve been telling people here for years that there is no real appetite for independence in the SNP. Independence requires a clear economic plan, which the SNP does not have. It involves a lot of hard work and taking substantial risks. The SNP are much happier safely ensconced in their natural comfort zone of troughing away and blaming everything on ‘Westminster’. They do well enough deflecting their own mismanagement and supporters of independence vote for them in the belief they are actually fighting for independence (!). But independence would mean taking responsibility for their own misgovernment. Being held accountable, potentially losing their jobs and their attachment to the English teet, is a risk they are simply not prepared to take. So we will all have to endure this state of a permanently disgruntled Scotland that doesn’t want independence forever more.

    • Charles Bostock

      I would be a tad less harsh than you, Anon1, and just say that “.. independence would mean taking responsibility..”.

      It is entirely possible that the SNP has revised its ideas about the future ecomnomic, social and political prospects of an independent Scotland (whether in the EU or not). Especially its economic prospects.

      • Republicofscotland

        “I’ve been telling people here for years that there is no real appetite for independence in the SNP. Independence requires a clear economic plan, ”

        Thank you Charles, that made me laugh, it wouldn’t matter how irresponsible a government were in a independent Scotland, they’d need to go some to reach the low level of Westminster

    • JOML

      Anon1, had to laugh at the “attachment to the English teet”. Tits, more like, when you consider the likes of May, Boris, Rees-Mog, etc. However, by “teet” I’m assuming you mean the Westminster fill out the loan forms on behalf of Scotland, give it’s been some time since England produced a surplus?

      • Anon1

        Why are you attached to those tits?

        “It’s SHITE being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONIZED by wankers. Can’t even find a decent culture to be colonized BY. We’re ruled by effete assholes. It’s a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference”

        — Trainspotting

        • JOML

          Beats me, Anon1. Nice copy & paste there but I’d have thought it more appropriate if you had provided evidence of when the “teet” last produced a surplus.

          • JOML

            IrishU, do you have a source for your figure? I’m pretty sure you are thinking about UK figures, not England – unless the UK is England to you?

    • Republicofscotland

      “I’ve been telling people here for years that there is no real appetite for independence in the SNP. Independence requires a clear economic plan, ”

      Unlike the Tories and Brexit, where we are now flying by the seat of our pants. In 2014 the SNP put forward a very detailed White Paper.

      • Col

        It was detailed but it was fantasy. Overestimating the income and underestimating the costs. And assuming good will from the rUK, which from Euro experience will not be there.

  • Anon1

    So you publish your correspondence with them and wonder why they don’t trust you? You’re a man of many talents, Craig, but let’s face it, working as part of a team isn’t one of them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is somewhat restrictive. Perhaps you could form your own independence party? Your central policy could be declaring independence without a democratic mandate.

  • Livia Burlando

    I don’t really know enough about this to form an opinion on the main issue, but 1) ‘Stalinist’ is ridiculously over the top and 2 ) I’m sorry to see you join in the sneering about NS being married to Peter Murrel. This a a favourite irrelevant complaint of the anti SNP mob. She is an excellent FM. he seems to be a competent CEO. You don’t have to love everything the SNP or the government does to accept that. So which of them do you think shouldn’t be doing their current role, and why?

  • Peter

    It’s been controlled for years. Let’s be honest , when was the last thing that was debated at conference where the vote didn’t go the way the leadership wanted. It’s not so much a conference as a back slapping exercise .
    On 6th October , the day before conference , Edinburgh will see the biggest Indy March ever seen , and then over the next three days at conference , Nicola will say precisely nothing.
    They won’t use the mandate, they don’t care about grass roots. Believe me , I’ve seen it first hand at branch level , don’t waste your time submitting a resolution to conference that involves any genuine debate or is remotely controversial , it won’t be accepted .
    Remember Nicola saying to Theresa ‘I’m not bluffing’?
    I’m afraid it looks like she was , she’s lost her nerve. Love the way she looks after Scotland, but indyref2 ain’t happening anytime soon folks . The party leadership(apart from Angus McNeil) simply don’t have the bottle to roll the dice

  • Andy

    Just book it under your blog name and it will go through and be the best attended
    The chain of e mails shows a jobs worth used to dealing with firms

  • Frank Discussion

    SNP really ought to encourage the type of discussion that Craig suggests. It’s time that parties started to respect those they represent, open discussion is a simple requirement for this. Alternatively, members can cross their fingers and hope SNP act in their best interests! Those restricting the narrative lack confidence, and do so out of weakness or conflicting priorities.

  • yesindyref2

    Craig, the media would clearly pick on your fringe event, and point it out as a “Split” in the SNP, and focus on that for the rest of the Conference and days after.

  • Bill Purves

    All the s.n.p. really needs to do, as it has the majority of M.P.s, is for the Government of Scotland to hand an official Government letter to the speaker of the house repealing the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England, after which the country of Great Britain would cease to exist

  • Charles Bostock

    I agree with Anon1 that Craig has many talents and good qualities. Not least of which is his willingness to put up with the likes of me and you (thereby incurring the wrath of some of his more Stalinist followers).

    But he has had several disappointments : having lost faith a long time ago in the integrity of UK government (the Uzbekistan episode) he subsequently lost faith in the Liberal Party, in the European Union (Catalonia) and now a second loss of faith in the SNP.

    How to proceed now? Where, if anywhere, to place faith? The suggestions to form his own party or to become an independent Scotland’s ambassador to France (why France, I ask) do not appear to be very realistic.

  • Malachi

    The SNP appear to be nothing more than a way to prevent a Labour government at Westminster at present.

    As far a Holyrood is concerned: What happened to the SNP aim to get rid of the unfair council tax system and replace it with a local income tax?

    I’m for independence and not against the SNP, but they seem to just have become middle of the road.

    • Anon1

      If the right are in power, the SNP will oppose them from the left. If the left are in power, they will opose them from the right. They will do and say anything for power. That’s all well and good if it’s working towards an aim such as independence. But they don’t even want independence. They are merely ensuring their own survival and being a pain in the arse for everyone else.

    • Charles Bostock

      Yes, middle of the road. Most governments (in liberal democracies) become middle of the road. It’s called facing reality and abandoning the irresponsible promises so easily made when in opposition.

      • Dave Price

        “It’s called facing reality and abandoning the irresponsible promises so easily made when in opposition”.

        Chabbs, this seems to be a recurring theme of yours, ad nauseam. May I enquire as to your credentials in support of your assertion?

    • JOML

      Malachi, the lack of unity within the Labour Party is the main barrier to them forming a government, along with a lack of strategy and talent. Scotland could return 100% Labour MPs and they still wouldn’t get in, so to blame the SNP is laughable.
      Also, the council tax system came up during the SNP’s first minority government in 2007 and the other parties outvoted the proposals for change. Subsequent manifestos dropped this goal.

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