Nicola’s announcement: Is it enough?

Another year. Another announcement from Nicola Sturgeon concerning the constitutional issue. Another flurry of breathlessly congratulatory and unreservedly supportive comments from Nicola’s claque. Another crashing disappointment for all those who see the announcement for the hollow humbug that it is. A promise (political) of preparation of the draft of a plan to do something sometime. It’s like waiting for Christmas and getting World Town Planning Day.

We really have heard it all before. Almost word for word. Over the six years since the first independence referendum there have been almost as many promises of action on the constitutional issue as there have been missed opportunities to take action. Now we have another to add to the pitiful collection. Another to add to the pocketful of burst balloons.

I have questions! What action is being promised? How will it be delivered? When can we expect delivery? Why this action and this promise?

To say that the ‘when’ is vague is to lend it a substance it is signally absent. The Scotsman’s headline declares,

Bill to set out timing of Scottish independence referendum to be published within a year

Although the article goes on to say a Bill will be unveiled before the next Holyrood elections in May. Which is only nine months away. Mind you, that’s well within the British media’s margin of error. Which is as wide as it needs to be.

The National, somewhat predictably, interprets the statement as implying a much shorter timescale, assuring us that,

Plans for a second independence referendum – including when it will be held – are to be unveiled in the next six months…

Independence: Nicola Sturgeon to publish new plans for a second referendum

But this raises questions of its own. Six years! It’s been six years since the first referendum! And this is the SNP just getting around to drawing up plans for #indyref2 now!? What have they been doing all this time? It’s not as if the situation has changed in such a way as to need a brand new plan. As turbulent as the last six years have been, the facts governing the essentials of the next referendum have been known since early 2015. A plan devised ahead of or immediately following the 2015 UK general election would only need the dust blown off to be ready at any time since.

What plan did Nicola Sturgeon have in mind on all the other occasions when she’s led us to believe a new referendum was “highly likely” (June 2016) in the “not too distant future” (November 2018)? Surely when she “called for a new Scottish independence referendum in the second half of 2020” (May 2019) there was some kind of plan in the pipeline at the very least. What happened to that plan? Is it really necessary to start from scratch every time? It must be very frustrating for those charged with drafting the plan to be repeatedly told to go back to the beginning and start again.

To be fair, nobody with a functioning intellect took that last one seriously. Even before the pandemic entered the picture that 2020 referendum was never going to happen. There wasn’t even a pretence of preparing for it. Nonetheless, this should be included in the ‘Big Diary of SNP Disappointments’. I just hope there’s still space for this latest announcement.

Let’s bear in mind, also, that what we’re talking about is an undertaking (maybe too strong a term) to start preparing for a process that will take us well into 2022. Perhaps far enough into the year after next that the referendum will have to be pushed into the year after that. Which would be 2023, for those of you who’ve lost track. Given that Nicola Sturgeon insists “she alone will decide when the time is right for a second independence referendum” (April 2016), she will surely choose the best time of year for going to the polls. September seems favourite. September 2021 would have been acceptable – albeit solely out of desperation. It’s an improvement on the indefinite postponement that was intimated by the FM when she said (July 2020),

As long as I need to be focusing on the coronavirus crisis and the economic legacy of that crisis that will have my 100 percent focus.

Barrhead Boy: Fight or Flee?

September 2022 is too late. It is only acceptable to those who are oblivious to what the British government is doing and intends to do in the far less distant future. The entire month of September 2023 might as well be cancelled for all the use it is to Scotland’s cause.

What I’m saying is, let’s not get too excited. Certainly not as excited as retiring MSP Richard Lyle.

And, of course, if history is to be our guide then the big day will never arrive at all. The soundtrack to the SNP’s treatment of the constitutional issue is the clatter of a can being repeatedly kicked down an endless road.

What’s in the can? What is it that Nicola Sturgeon is proposing to promise to prepare to plan? From her statement it would appear she remains wedded to the Section 30 process. Nothing she said offers hope that she might update the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue in the light of the political reality screaming in her face that her approach to the constitutional issue has to change. There gave no reason to believe that the question will be different from that used in 2014 – Should Scotland be an independent country? This is crucial. Because the form of the question determines the form of the campaign. If Nicola Sturgeon intends to use the same question then this means she intends to run the same Yes campaign as for the 2014 referendum. But it isn’t 2014 any more! Things have changed! Pretty much everything has changed except the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue!

It’s not good enough! To the extent that we can know or be justified in assuming what Nicola Sturgeon is promising, that’s really all there is to say about it. It’s not good enough!

My advice to Nicola Sturgeon is that she should think again. If she ever intends to add some content to the empty Kinder Egg she’s now holding out to the Scottish people then she really must ensure that it is a pleasant surprise. She must put something of worth inside the flimsy shell of a proposal mentioned in her Programme for Government statement. There is still time for the SNP to change its approach to the constitutional issue. But time is running out.

Scotland’s situation demand’s bold, decisive, assertive action by our elected leaders. The time to promise that action is now!

12 thoughts on “Nicola’s announcement: Is it enough?

  1. I left this comment earlier on the “Yours for Scotland” blog

    There is a potential Catch22 embedded in the “strategy”. There is an assumption that the SNP will win a majority in the Holyrood 2021 election.
    Unless they define a more explicit route to independence, not merely the hope of a further section30 permitted referendum, then there will be no SNP majority in 2021.
    Why ? , because the SNP depends on its army of footsoldiers to conduct the campaign, and those very footsoldiers are becoming mightily pissed off about the timidity of the leadership, to the extent that 50% or more will decide that they are not going to campaign for the SNP this time around.
    They owe their primary loyalty to the cause of independence, and only to the SNP as the supposed key political driver of that cause.
    Now’s the time and Now’s the hour – if the SNP is seen to be unfit or unwilling to lead the task then it can quickly lose that leadership status.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said, Geoff. But I really don’t want to think about the potential consequences of the SNP’s timorousness. The combination of the effect you describe and the effect of the AltIndy parties could quite conceivably open the door to a ‘Grand Alliance’ of the British parties a la Galloway’s Alliance for Unity. Although he won’t be involved, obviously. I don’t think people realise how easily that could happen. The pro-independence parliament rests on a razor’s edge.


  2. She’s done just enough to keep the wolf from the door and absolutely nothing to further the cause. Woe is me! What makes it even worse is we can’t march on Holyrood to voice our displeasure because of the pandemic. I actually think the SNP are going to get a kicking at the next election which is completely self-inflicted and like yourself I’ll commit to one last time, but that’s it for me. I know others won’t and now see Nicola as the main obstacle to Independence.

    We’re talking 3 years into a No-Deal Brexit I think before any referendum under Nicola.
    I suspect public opinion will force a more radical approach before then.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter, if you’re going to judge someone for what they say, you should check to see what they are saying, not what the media say they are saying, nor for what you think they are saying. Here’s what Sturgeon actually did say in her speech:

    “Presiding Officer, Brexit – and the way in which it is being implemented – immeasurably strengthens the case for Scotland becoming an independent country, with the ability to shape our own destiny and contribute positively to Europe and the world.

    If this was a programme for government in an independent Scotland, it wouldn’t have to contemplate the damage of Brexit. Instead it could set out even more far reaching plans. Plans for:

    an immediate extension of the Job Retention Scheme – not a plea for another government to do so
    the greater use of borrowing powers to further stimulate our economy
    transformation of our national grid to support faster development of renewables
    a migration system that welcomes talent at all levels and supports people to make Scotland their home
    a Univeral Basic Income and a social security system geared wholly, not just partially, to lifting households out of poverty

    That is why, before the end of this Parliament, we will publish a draft Bill, setting out the proposed terms and timing of an independence referendum, as well as the proposed question that people will be asked in that referendum.

    And then at next year’s election, we will make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”

    No mention of Section 30 in that speech, at all.

    and here’s the only reference to Section 30 in the whole 139 page pdf:

    “In line with its mandate, constitutional precedents and agreed all‑party principles, the Scottish Government sought an agreement on an order under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998
    to place a referendum on independence beyond legal challenge.”

    and it needs to be taken in context of what else is said on page 126 of the pdf.


      1. You either didn’t read the transcript – or you didn’t read your own post, where you said:

        “From her statement it would appear she remains wedded to the Section 30 process. ”

        Her statement said NOTHING about the Section 30 process exactly as I demonstrated, your assertion can therefore not be based on that statement, so your statement is illogical.


        1. Correct, idiot. Her statement said nothing about the Section 30 process. Therefore, her previous statements on the matter still pertain until she does say something different. You’re making a fool of yourself here.


      2. It’s up to you Peter, this isn’t my blog, and you clearly can’t handle criticism, which is a shame as criticism is what helps us improve our acts. But she never was “wedded” to the Section 30 process, what she actually said was that any referendum would be legal, and the S30 route was the gold standard. She never said it was the only way, in fact she said it might well all end up in court and she was up for that.

        But the only fool is the one who never considers other peoples’ opinions, even if not taking them.


  4. You’re wasting your time on here Yesindyref2. The thinker and listener listens to no one unless they actually agree with him. He’s proven to be an ignorant, rude, egotistical, wee braggart and it’s well seeing that he gets around nine posts per article, after all these years, four of which are his. And in this case, that relates to a significant announcement from the FM, three are yours. He should have a think about that.


    1. It’s always worth a try Petra. Even if it’s doomed to failure!

      There’s too much of this going around unchallenged, elsewhere someone’s saying Sturgeon said “Scotland is being imprisoned within the United Kingdom against its will”, whereas what she did say on that pre-Christmas Marr show was: “Scotland cannot be imprisoned in the United Kingdom against its will.” which is totally different. The first would be submissive (and wrong), and the reality is aggressive (and right). And just two little words different.

      People taking different sides with the same facts – sanity. People taking different sides with misrepresentations, madness. I think some people are actually believing Unionist fantasy versus reality.


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