Let’s get confrontational!

This whole ‘Plan B’ episode is painfully reminiscent of the time when Pete Wishart came out with that nonsense about postponing a new referendum indefinitely in the hope that the independence fairy would deliver something called the ‘optimal time’. Along with many others, I had a number of questions about this approach to addressing the constitutional issue. Or might one more pointedly say, this determined effort to avoid addressing the constitutional issue. Now, as then, nobody wants to answer the questions. Now, as then, the ‘plan’ really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But relatively few are subjecting it to any scrutiny. And nobody is responding to enquiries. Pete Wishart went as far as blocking me on Twitter so as to avoid questions about his outlandish notions.

Great as it is to have two such well-respected individuals putting some pressure on an SNP leadership which seems uncommonly relaxed about Scotland’s predicament, the ‘Plan B’ put forward by Angus MacNeil and Chris McEleny simply doesn’t measure up. And debating it at conference would be a pointless waste of time. Let me explain.

There are, as I see it, three serious problems with the idea of using an election as a substitute for a referendum. For a start, there is the matter of the fundamental difference between a parliamentary election and a referendum. The latter is, or is meant to be, a binary choice between two clearly stated, deliverable options. It is difficult enough to set up a referendum in such a way as to get, not just a result, but an incontestable decision. What is difficult in the case of a referendum is as close to impossible as makes no odds using a necessarily multi-issue election as a substitute.

It might be possible to have a single-issue parliamentary election. In theory, it is possible – if all parties contesting the election cooperate. If they all agree that the election is to be fought on one issue only, and if they all campaign exclusively on that issue, then it effectively ceases to be an election and becomes a referendum.

What are the chances of the British parties cooperating in this way? And, if you’re contorting an election so as to make it something close to a referendum, why not just have the referendum? Because the British state won’t ‘allow’ a referendum! So why would they ‘allow’ a referendum thinly disguised as an election?

It is weirdly naive to suppose that a British state which would go so far as to deny Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination wouldn’t sabotage an attempt to use an election as a substitute.

And it would be so easy for them to do so. They need only contest the election on any and every issue except independence in order to be able to claim that not everybody was voting on the issue of independence. The one thing pretty much everybody in the independence movement is agreed upon is that the process of restoring Scotland’s independence must sport impeccable democratic credentials. An election used as a proxy referendum would be wide open to challenge.

Then there’s the matter of time. The next scheduled appropriate election – and surely a ‘Plan B’ worthy of the name cannot gamble on an unscheduled election – isn’t until the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021. There is considerable doubt as to whether there will even be a Scottish Parliament by then. What is absolutely certain is that the British political elite will not be idle. An overarching imperative for them is locking Scotland into a political union unilaterally redefined for the purposes of the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project. Any ‘plan’ for taking forward the cause of independence that involves delay beyond Brexit has to address the near certainty of the Scottish Parliament being ‘suspended’ and the likelihood of the British government unilaterally declaring Scotland part of an ‘indivisible and indissoluble’ British state.

Then there’s the fact that there is already a mandate for a new constitutional referendum. A very clear mandate with all the democratic legitimacy anybody could wish for. That mandate is being flatly denied by the British state. Why would it be any different for this new mandate? Why wouldn’t the British simply ignore that as well? Especially as we’d be implicitly admitting that the existing mandate was such as could be ignored. By saying we need another one, we’d not only undermine the democratic legitimacy of the mandate we already have, but of any and all mandates.

Any ‘plan’ that seeks to avoid confrontation with the British state’s anti-democratic denial of Scotland’s right of self-determination woefully misses the point that this bullying behaviour must be challenged, not side-stepped. It does Scotland no good whatsoever to work around the injustices of the Union, leaving them intact. The Union is a constitutional device by which the people of Scotland are denied the effective exercise of their sovereignty. It must be confronted. It must be challenged. It must be broken.

Finally, addressing the fuss being made about the ‘Plan B’ resolution not being selected for debate at conference; what would be the point? No debate is required. It’s not necessary to debate using an election in the way suggested by Angus MacNeil and Chris McEleny. The SNP can simply put it in their manifesto for any UK or Scottish general election. The SNP has a standing mandate to pursue independence by any democratic means. Using a majority in an election as a device is perfectly legitimate and requires no prior approval from members. Are members going to object? Is anybody in the Yes movement going to protest?

British Nationalists will be outraged, of course. When are they ever anything else? Ruth Davidson will put on her best scowl and denounce the ploy using the voice that she imagines to be Churchillian but actually makes her sound severely constipated. The British media… well… they’re the British media….

People are saying we need a ‘Plan B’. We really don’t. We need a ‘Plan A’ that works. We can’t afford to fail. We can’t even afford to contemplate failure.

Angus and Chris are to be commended for at least trying to press the issue. But their mistake is to suppose that there might be a path to independence delineated by the rules and procedures of the British political system. There is no such path. There is no route to independence which does not require the breaking of those rules and departure from those procedures. There is no way to walk out of the Union. We have to break out.

The Union’s grip on Scotland will not be broken by some cunning plan or devious ploy or artful political manoeuvre. It will be broken when Scotland’s First Minister stands up in Scotland’s Parliament and declares the Scottish Government’s intention to #DissolveTheUnion.

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7 thoughts on “Let’s get confrontational!

  1. Nail hit on head , DON’T drop the Mike keep it and say more , hoping the delayers in the SNP realise that you have given the SG the ONLY PLAN A they need to succeed

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It appears that it matters not one jot what anyone says or does or thinks about the SNP government’s approach to independence – or should that be non-approach? – because it is obvious now that there will be no pre Brexit withdrawal from the UK. I get absolutely exasperated with people who keep on suggesting that there is a Baldric-like ‘cunning plan’ that cannot be divulged even to members, that will deliver us. The equally pointless re-iteration of the ‘more and more previous NOs are turning to YES’ or ‘when Brexit happens and people see what is really going on, they will come to us in their droves’ is just demoralizing. We have heard them all before: we heard them when Brexit was announced; and what has happened? Sweet Fanny Adams, that’s what. The polls have barely shifted. Just as we seem to be relying on the ‘cavalry’, in the form of so-called ‘soft Nos’ – who and where are these people? – galloping to the rescue, the British State appears to be relying on our complete cave-in come actual Brexit. They know – because they are in the business of knowing – that many ordinary Joes and Jeans in the street tend to lose their radicalism when faced with a fait accompli. Brexit is soon going to be a fact, a fait accompli; indeed, it has been a fact since 2016. Do we really believe that, faced with the reality of Brexit and the British State’s determination to shut us down, people will automatically opt for independence, yet more upheaval? Aye, right!

    What should be concerning us all is that the predictions for a wipeout of the British parties if an election were to be held, as if gaining all 59 seats would, in any way, change the direction of travel, make the SG more confrontational. If the SG is unwilling to even test the Treaty of Union (not the Acts; they are merely devices to translate international law – a treaty, in other words – into domestic legislation) which underpins the UK and allows the British State its free hand, why would gaining every seat make a jot of difference? No one in the party’s leadership seems willing or able to tell us what has happened to change the course of action towards independence, except to state that it must be by means of a referendum. Well, yes, but there is no law, international or domestic, that says it must be a pre independence referendum, open, uniquely, to being lost again. When is this second indyref to take place? The SNP MPs demanded that Westminster recognize our Claim of Right, but was that all window dressing? I must say that it looks like it. It cannot have passed them all by that the ‘walk out’ brought more kudos than anything else?

    No, there might not be any need to debate Messrs MacNeil and McEleney’s proposal for making an election a second indyref, because it wouldn’t work anyway, and because we have debated independence until the cows come home. However, the Conference is the place to let the leadership know that we are not going to be thrown a bone again. We want to know what is being done to advance independence or they need to come clean and tell us why we cannot have it. We have shown them great patience and even greater trust. It is time that they made the situation clear. Way past time.

    The drugs policies – and not just the SNP’s ones either – have served only to spread the infection to every town and village in Scotland, instead of containing it, without ever tackling the underlying addiction; the same social experiment is happening in our rural towns and villages, where any social housing that is built largely by-passes the local population in the name of ‘homelessness’, and when local, young families are forced to move out of their communities to have any kind of life, many opting for emigration. Politicians, by and large, live in leafy suburbs and rural or urban idylls, becoming more and more remote from the people they claim to serve. Please, SNP, do not sink into compliance and social experimentation that leaves ordinary people bereft and adrift, either in the independence question or in social policy, only to discover the utter mess that has been left behind in real people’s lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately as this comedy show of fawlty towers proportions proceeds its become evidently clear that the snp hasn’t got a clue what it’s doing or even knows what it’s end game is. Perhaps in another hundred years or so, when Scotland’s radioactive dumps have merged to create a colossal waste land, when the oils gone, the gas is gone, waters is gone, they don’t need a nuclear deterrent & this land is so polluted then maybe England will say say get lost you pathetic morons. Why did you stay? We always made it clear you were inferior. Then the snp will still be saying wait & see, send a tweet or two, complain about the beeb. Are we truly reduced to this…


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