I guess it’s official, then. The new independence referendum postponed from autumn 2018 or spring 2019 but promised for some time in the second half or towards the end of 2020, will not happen. We have the word from Angus Robertson – hardly one of those anonymous party spokespersons. I think it’s safe to say that Angus qualifies as a ‘senior SNP source’.
He is not at all ambiguous about it either. When he eventually gets to the point after enough waffle about how the British Tory government can’t possibly keep doing for much longer what it has effortlessly kept doing for as long as anyone can remember to deter the casual reader, Angus casually states what others have been hinting at almost since a 2020 referendum was not quite promised by the First Minister but dangled in such a way as to have people think that is what they were voting for in last month’s UK general election.
That not-quite-a-promise can be quietly shelved now that the SNP have those votes banked. We’re back to where the SNP leadership always wanted to be.
Hard as it is to endure given the repeated electoral mandates for an independence referendum, the reality is that the issue of indyref2 will be decided in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. With a majority of pro-independence MSPs, it will be impossible to oppose Scottish democracy.
Hang on a moment! Wasn’t a massive preponderance of SNP MPs supposed to make it “impossible to oppose Scottish democracy”? In the same way that Brexit was supposed to be the tipping point for a swing in favour of independence.
Angus Robertson goes on to inform us that “a pro-independence majority of MSPs is the key to Scotland’s future”. Well, duh! Does he seriously think we need to be reminded of this? Does he imagine we are unaware of the critical importance of continuing to vote SNP? Does he suppose we can’t figure out for ourselves how it would be if we allowed our Parliament to fall into the hands of the British parties?
We know what the “key” is. We’ve been handing that key to the SNP for thirteen years. We know we will have to hand them that key again in 2021. What we need to know is when are they going to use that key.
As if to conclusively make the case that the British government’s anti-democratic opposition to a referendum must imminently crumble under the onslaught of various people saying it is “unsustainable” – including a few surprising sources – Angus Robertson quotes the former head of communications for the Scottish Conservatives, Andy Maciver.
If the SNP wins the election with a clear manifesto commitment for a second independence referendum, a full two parliamentary terms after their first win, there can be no serious grounds to oppose it. You can’t be a fair-weather democrat. You can’t demand to get Brexit done because voters asked for it whilst demanding that Indyref2 is continually rejected despite voters asking for it.
But the SNP has already won several elections with a clear manifesto commitment. The referendum hasn’t happened. There are no serious grounds to oppose a referendum and never have been. The referendum hasn’t happened. You can’t be a fair-weather democrat. Yet that is as much as the British political elite has ever been. You can’t be hypocritical. Yet the British political elite has never been anything else.
The British establishment’s position is not going to change. If they can discount four or five mandates, they can discount forty or fifty. If they can disregard one expression of the democratic will of Scotland’s people, they can ignore all such expressions. If democratic principles were a consideration for the British state they would not have blocked a referendum in the first place. If they were going to relent, they would have done so long before now.
The SNP will be forgiven for sort of breaking its not-quite-a-promise of a referendum in 2020. But resentment grows exponentially. They will be given yet another mandate in 2021. But, one way or another, that will surely be the last.
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