The first six polls following the vote in 2014 averaged 47% for Yes. The most recent half dozen averages 44%. That Yes hit 52% and even 53% at different points in between is irrelevant. The fact that my bank balance was once in the tens of thousands of pounds in no way alters the fact that it is barely into the hundreds now. The cold hard fact is that what polling indicates is Scotland’s cause going backwards under Nicola Sturgeon. Bear in mind that this backwards trend has been the the background to insistence by Sturgeon/SNP loyalists that the party and its leader were doing great things for the independence cause. There were even claims from some particularly dribbly bladders that we’d “never been closer to independence”. All while the campaign was slipping backwards for the want of leadership to take it forwards.
Ten years ago (approximately) we knew for a fact that there would be a referendum; we knew when it would be held; we knew what the question would be; we had a fair idea what the Yes campaign strategy would be. Today, we have none of that. And this is supposed to be progress! Nicola Sturgeon’s devoted admirers simply ignore the facts and persist in their claims that she is doing a brilliant job and will “lead us to independence”. Not if evidence is our guide!
The Common Weal report covered in the Sunday National attempts to pick apart the minutiae of fluctuations in support for independence. While interesting and even thought-provoking I’m dubious about how useful this exercise might be. Even if there are pointers as to how Scotland’s cause might be better served by the SNP/Scottish Government I can think of no reason to believe the SNP/Scottish Government will take heed.
There is one thing that I take from my first impressions of the report which is surely relevant to the constitutional issue as it actually stands at this time – as opposed to where Sturgeon/SNP loyalists like to pretend it stands. It seems that the SNP/Scottish Government’s now seemingly incorrigible practice of linking the independence campaign to some other issue has failed every time. The Common Weal report states,
Essentially, the ‘Stop Brexit’ campaign failed and thus independence must be campaigned for on its own merits.
This seems to me an essential point. Independence must be campaigned for on its own merits. In a column for The national yesterday Robbie Mochrie made much the same point.
If independence is normal, then it is an end in itself, and not just a means to an end.
The SNP/Scottish Government appears not to have learned the lesson that if independence is presented as being ‘for’ something then the fortunes of the independence campaign will be at the mercy of whatever fate befalls the thing that it is presented as being ‘for’. If independence is ‘for’ stopping Brexit and Brexit happens anyway then the failure of the effort to stop Brexit becomes the failure of the independence campaign. Similarly, if independence is ‘for’ ending austerity and austerity ends anyway – or is portrayed and widely perceived as having ended – then independence looks to have no purpose.
Now, the SNP/Scottish Government apparently wants to tie independence to the idea of recovery from the Covid pandemic. No lessons have been learned. Like Sturgeon’s early management of the Covid crisis, any boost to independence support from association with the idea of recovery from that crisis can only be fleeting. Either recovery is successful, in which case independence is again left without a purpose, or recovery fails, in which case the failure also taints independence.
Scotland’s cause desperately needs a massive dose of hard-headed realism. The Yes movement must as a matter of great urgency shake off the mindless blindness of Sturgeon/SNP loyalists and the fantasy politics of Alba Party and the crude, clumsy social engineering obsessions of the Scottish Greens and the dumb tribalism that arises from all of this and take stock of Scotland’s predicament with a clear eye and a clear head. We have to acknowledge that the Sturgeon/SNP/Scottish Government approach to the constitutional issue has failed, is failing and promises only to fail even more disastrously if it is allowed to persist.
We have to recognise that Alba Party cannot possibly do anything for Scotland’s cause in time to save us from the British Nationalist juggernaut that is already upon us. That only the Scottish Government has the capacity to initiate the process which will stop or slow that juggernaut and lead to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. We must accept that because this must be done immediately it can only be done by the SNP/Scottish Government that we have.
We can only see the SNP/Scottish Greens pact as the poorest of poor substitutes for the super-mandate for independence we so woefully failed to achieve in the last Holyrood election. As well as recognising that it really was the last election to the Scottish Parliament as we know it.
We have to realise that Scotland’s cause can only progress if we make that happen. Only the SNP/Scottish Government can do what is needed; only the united Yes movement can possibly force them to do it; and only if the united Yes movement applies massive, focused and coordinated pressure.
That is the purpose of the White Rose Rising: Union No More demonstration at Holyrood on Tuesday 31 August starting at 13:00. It is a beginning. The start of a hopefully huge campaign which is solely and exclusively about the one thing that is common to the entire Yes movement regardless of party, faction or tribe – ending the Union so as to restore Scotland’s independence.
White Rose Rising stands for the idea that restoring Scotland’s independence is a worthy and honourable objective in and of itself because it necessarily implies bringing to an end a political union that was unjust and injurious to Scotland from its inception and now represents a gross insult to our dignity as well as a real and imminent threat to our distinctive political culture and identity as a nation.
White Rose Rising is a gathering point for all in the Yes movement who understand that only by maintaining a rigid focus on the constitutional issue can the whole movement speak with one voice and act as one body.
White Rose Rising is a gathering point for all in the Yes Movement who understand that Westminster has no role in the exercise of our right of self-determination. That the Union can be ended only by the Scottish Government acting through the Scottish Parliament. That the free and fair exercise of our right of self-determination can only be achieved in a referendum on the question of the Union entirely made and managed in Scotland under the auspices of a Scottish Parliament which has asserted its primacy on the basis of its democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people.
White Rose Rising is a gathering point for those in the Yes movement who understand that the Union will not be ended and independence restored without confrontation with the British state. That the SNP/Scottish Government must be ‘encouraged’ to demonstrate its readiness for this confrontation. And that this ‘encouragement’ is unlikely to succeed absent direct action on a significant scale.
The demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon takes place as MSPs resume work after the summer recess. It takes place on the day the First Minister outlines her Programme for Government. It is intended to impress on Nicola Sturgeon and the entire Scottish Parliament that the Programme for Government must include an explicit and unambiguous commitment to repudiate the Section 30 process and assert the competence of the Scottish Parliament in all matters relating to Scotland’s constitutional arrangements and to do this before the next recess in October.
We gather at our Parliament on Tuesday afternoon to tell Nicola Sturgeon that the time is now! That we will accept no more excuses and tolerate no more procrastination! That the Union must be dissolved before it is too late to rescue Scotland from the British Nationalist onslaught. That Scotland’s independence must be restored for no reason other than that it is right.
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