I am disappointed for Angus MacNeil and Chris McEleney. However misguided their ‘Plan B’ was, I know their intentions were good and their enthusiasm genuine. Nobody should be in any doubt that these are two of the ‘good guys’. Among our elected representatives, they are all but alone in expressing the sense of urgency felt by so many in the Yes movement. Not to mention the sense of disappointment and frustration.
The fact is that their ‘alternative route to independence’ really isn’t. It was never going to fly, even if it could get off the ground. It was never going to fly for reasons I have set out in detail. It was never going to get off the ground for the reasons given by an anonymous “SNP insider”.
Unfortunately, Angus and Chris were addressing a problem that doesn’t exist. We do no need an alternative route to independence. We do not need a ‘Plan B’. The hard truth is that if we don’t find the right route to independence now then we’re unlikely to have the opportunity to implement any backup plan. And increasing numbers of Yes activists are entertaining serious doubts about the SNP’s ‘Plan A’. Some members will certainly be “disappointed” that SNP conference will not debate the party’s approach to resolving the constitutional issue. More than a few, both in the SNP and in the wider independence movement, will be frustrated and angry that the leadership is unwilling to rethink an approach which they see as seriously – perhaps fatally – flawed.
If the British political elite is willing to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination then why would anybody suppose that they’d stop short of ‘suspending’ the Scottish Parliament? And if they do that, why wouldn’t they take steps to thwart any possible alternative route to independence? Once established power resorts to undemocratic and anti-democratic means to suppress a challenge to its status, it has no choice but to continue on that course – wherever it might lead. Any climb-down would be too humiliating to contemplate. And it would involve admitting seriously questionable behaviour.
And it’s not as if we are merely facing the prospect of the British state resorting to methods associated with oppressive regimes. They are already embarked on such a course. It started with opposition to the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination. That opposition has now become prohibition. There’s only one way it can go from there.
The British state could, even now, pull back from the brink. But that is not going to happen. In all of British politics not a single voice is to be heard issuing a word of caution about the way the British government is behaving towards Scotland; far less denouncing this anti-democratic conduct. Instead, we have candidates for the post of Tory leader/British Prime Minister indulging in macho Jock-bashing to amuse and enthuse their British Nationalist constituency.
It truly beggars belief that, against this background, the SNP leadership can imagine it appropriate or politically realistic to contemplate taking the Section 30 route used in the first referendum and rerunning the 2014 campaign.
We would not be so desperate for a ‘Plan B’ if we were at all convinced that there was a workable ‘Plan A’. The SNP is doing absolutely nothing to persuade us that they are even aware of the threat posed to Scotland by a rampant ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism intent on preserving the Union at any cost. That threat is real and imminent. It is looming over us now. We are desperately awaiting some sign that our political leaders are preparing to deal with it.
Angus and Chris may not have come up with an answer. But at least they are asking the questions. More power to them!
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