In a new plan for indyref2 – revealed exclusively by The National today we find neither revelation nor plan. “This is the SNP’s routemap to a Scottish independence referendum!”, proclaims Mike Russell. With all due respect Mr Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, your “routemap” is all over the place. If this is the map we’re following then Scotland’s cause is going nowhere. This, sir, is a pile of pish. It is numpty fodder. Some numpties will be hungry enough to gobble it up. But there may not be enough numpties in all of Scotland to finish such an enormous serving of insipid gruel.
The SNP’s “routmap” to a new referendum is presented as a numbered list. At first glance it looks like a series of ordered steps towards a goal. The first flicker of doubt comes when we read step number one only to find that it isn’t about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there or even about where we are as we start this journey but where we’ve been. It’s not about what is being done or what is going to be done but what has already been done.
Fair enough! Just laying the groundwork for what is to come. Not how you’d expect it to be done. You’d think this would precede the “routemap”. You’d think it would be part of the introduction. A bit of build-up before getting to the substance. It seems a pity to waste one of your numbered list on a recap. But there’s still another ten. Let’s see.
Step two does nothing to allay our concerns about this supposed “routemap”. Rather than moving us on it lingers over the past. It does nothing more than tell us a wee bit more about what has already been done. Step one told us that the Scottish Parliament has already passed two bills that lay the groundwork for a referendum and the titles of these bills. Step two tells us what they do. Not so much a step as shuffling on the spot. When, we wonder, are we getting to the stuff that justifies the headline. Maybe step three…
But no! Still shuffling on the spot and trying to make it look like dancing. By now all but the most credulous of readers will have realised what this is. Old cynics like myself may well just give up at this point – turning away from the page with a weary sigh or an angry curse. Some will persist in the desperate hope that Mike Russell might be teasing. A hope cruelly dashed on reading step four.
We are now more than a third of the way through this supposed “routemap” and we have gone precisely nowhere. We haven’t even got to where we are. We’re still where we were. What kind of “routemap” is this?
Step five at least makes a start on describing where we’ve got to up to now. But it still doesn’t tell us anything new. It ‘reveals’ only the promise made in the Programme for Government announced last September.
…a draft bill for an independence referendum, to give people in Scotland the right to choose their own future, would be published before the Holyrood election in May 2021 and would be enacted if an SNP Scottish Government is re-elected with a majority to do so (either as a result of gaining an overall majority or if it had such a majority as a result of support from another pro-independence party).
Step six is a promise that the promise of a promise of a referendum will be kept. Well, that’s promising!
And that’s as good as it gets. Even Mike Russell himself seems to abandon the pretence of a “routemap” at this point. The remainder is just a rehash of the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue. As if we needed further cause for despair.
It is not until the final step that we find something which with a generosity of spirit to which few will be inclined might pass as a bit of a plan.
A national campaign of information and education on independence. Hopefully within the context of a renewed and widely based Yes campaign, will take place in parallel with the work being done to organise the referendum during and after the bill’s passage.
Which seems to be confirmation that having had six years to reflect on and learn lessons from the first independence referendum the SNP’s plan is to do the same again. Wow!
And that’s it! That’s what we’re supposed to get excited about. This is what it is hoped will keep the pilot light on under the Yes movement and still the growing clamour for a total rethink of the SNP’s entire approach to the constitutional issue ahead of the National Assembly on Sunday. An Assembly which itself was called in an effort to quell the storm of protest about the way discussion of the party’s approach to the constitutional issue was effectively prohibited at last years virtual conference. It appears that there may be some concern that the National Assembly may turn into a revolt against the pusillanimous prevarication which has characterised the Scottish Government’s handling of the constitutional issue for the past six years.
I have news for Mike Russell. It won’t work! This pathetic plan of inaction is not going to satisfy anyone other than the unthinking leadership loyalists who neither ask nor tolerate the asking of questions about how the SNP intends to take Scotland’s cause forward. Those of us who are awake and aware enough to be angry will only be further angered by being served up this numpty fodder.