The National reports today (Bid for SNP to commit to indyref2 date and define ‘end of pandemic’ rejected) that party managers have rejected a conference resolution which demanded that a date be set for a new referendum and a “concrete definition of what it means for the Covid-19 pandemic to have passed” be provided. This is why so many in the Yes movement simply can’t take the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government seriously on the constitutional issue. It is why so many take all the bold rhetoric with such a large pinch of salt. It is why the Yes movement is now demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament demanding that the bold rhetoric be matched with at least equally bold action. It is why moderately politically aware and astute observers harbour serious doubts about Nicola Sturgeon’s willingness to confront the British state as will be required if Scotland’s independence is to be restored.
According to the article in The National, the resolution which does appear on the final agenda for the SNP’s upcoming virtual conference contains the following.
Conference welcomes the draft Referendum Bill published before the recent Scottish Parliamentary elections and the commitment in our manifesto to passing that bill and holding a referendum as soon as it is safe to hold a proper, detailed, serious national debate on independence.
Conference notes that the Scottish Parliament election results in May 2021 demonstrate clear, majority support for a referendum on independence. Conference believes that people in Scotland should not have their health, wellbeing and future economic potential compromised by holding a referendum on independence before it is safe to do so, and that this decision should be determined by data driven criteria about the clear end to the public health crisis, which would allow a full, normal, and energetic referendum campaign.
We can gloss over the customary self-congratulatory tone which is now customary with only the slightest of dry boaks. We cannot, however, fail to remark on the fact that the resolution doesn’t merely state this aspect of the Sturgeon doctrine, it reinforces that position. It is, if anything, even more emphatic about Covid-19 being an insuperable obstacle to progressing the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. Even more worthy of comment is the complete lack of any explanation as to why a referendum is all but unique in being totally impossible because of a public health crisis which didn’t prevent an election in May or major events such as COP26. Nor is there any word about why the pandemic stops the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government doing things other than naming a date for a referendum in the Scottish Parliament. Nor is there any attempt to set out the criteria which will be used to assess when the the public health crisis has ceased to make a referendum unthinkable.
In fact, the resolution is notable almost entirely because of what is missing from it.
I have dealt elsewhere with the matter of the elusive criteria which will be driven by the unspecified data referred to in the resolution. I have also previously addressed the matter of the type of campaign that is envisaged by the Sturgeon doctrine. The latter being crucial context for an assertion that a campaign is impossible without the people of Scotland having “their health, wellbeing and future economic potential compromised”. Presumably such a threat to health etc. would only arise if the ‘planned’ campaign necessarily involved lots of personal contact or proximity and precluded measures such as wearing face coverings. This sounds very much like an election campaign. Which begs a wee torrent of further questions that are not addressed in the resolution as reported and are yet to be addressed by the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government.
Why is an election-like referendum campaign considered impossible now without the risk that it would bring the sky crashing down on Scotland when it wasn’t so considered in May? Given that we are not talking about a referendum now but in several months or even a year, what is preventing the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government from proceeding on the assumption that it will happen within a defined timeframe just as was done with the Scottish Parliamentary elections?
Why is an election-like campaign being ‘planned’ if circumstances make such a campaign impossible? The election campaign was modified to take account of the public health factor so what is to stop a referendum campaign being similarly modified? Has this even been considered? Is an election-like campaign even appropriate for something which isn’t an election?
In what way does Covid-19 make it unsafe to “hold a proper, detailed, serious national debate on independence”? Haven’t we been doing that for the past decade and more? What is yet to be debated? What detail has not been covered repeatedly and comprehensively? What is not serious about the debate so far? Why the **** are we talking about a “debate on independence” anyway? Why aren’t we now having a debate on the Union such as we didn’t have in the 2014 referendum campaign?
What does the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government think of as a “full, normal, and energetic referendum campaign”? If the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government is convinced that a “normal” campaign is not feasible under the circumstances, why the flat, unexplained and inexplicable refusal to consider anything other than what the Sturgeon deems “normal”? Why is the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government so dead set against even listening to ideas for a campaign which is “full” and “energetic” without being whatever “normal” is?
To whatever extent Sturgeon and her clique have are now ‘thinking’ about these matters, why the hell has it taken so long? What the **** have they been doing for the past seven ****ing years!?
I can answer at least one of these questions here. There is absolutely nothing preventing the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government acting now to initiate the process by which Scotland’s independence will be restored should the people of Scotland so wish. The referendum is generally spoken of as if it is the determining aspect of this process. As if it is the starting point. Not so! The starting point is the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government proposing that the Scottish Parliament assert its competence in all matters relating to the constitution. Nicola Sturgeon herself has implicitly acknowledged this.
We must defend our parliament against UK Government power grabs that are undermining the very principles on which it is founded. And as we do so recognise that the best way not just of protecting this parliament from Westminster but also equipping it with the full powers it needs to build a fairer more prosperous country is to make this parliament independent of Westminster.Nicola Sturgeon says Greens deal gives ‘undeniable mandate’ for indyref2
The emphasis is mine. What Nicola Sturgeon declines to state is that the only way the Scottish Parliament can be equipped with the powers it needs is for it to assert those powers. The powers Sturgeon is talking about cannot come to the Scottish Parliament in any way other than by being assumed. Power is not given. Power is only ever taken. That which is given in the guise of power is false. It is a deceit. It is devolution! It is not the powers which rightfully belong with the democratically elected Parliament of a nation. It is not power of the kind which affords that nation the status of being independent. It is not the collection of competences and capacities which come with the full restoration of Scotland’s independence.
The only way the Scottish Parliament can have the powers it needs for Scotland to either become or be an independent nation once more is for it to wrench those powers from Britannia’s jealous grasp.
That can be done now. The process of restoring Scotland’s independence can be begun now. The referendum can come later. The referendum can only come after the Scottish Parliament has asserted its primacy on the basis of its democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. The only way that referendum can be a free, fair and impeccably democratic exercise of our right of self-determination is if it is authorised by and held under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament. The only way the Scottish Parliament can have the power to authorise a constitutional referendum and so make it undeniably legitimate is for the Scottish Parliament to take that power unto itself despite whatever efforts the British political elite makes to prevent it doing so. The only way the Scottish Parliament can take that power over constitutional matters (and hence all other powers) is if the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government proposes that it do so. That can be done now!
It is not the announcement of a date for the referendum which is the game-changer. It is the declaration of the primacy of the Scottish Parliament. There will be much that happens betwixt that declaration and the start of a referendum campaign. The longer SNP+SGP/Scottish Government delays initiating the process the further away the referendum is and the longer the British state will have to put new obstacles in the way of the restoration of Scotland’s independence. There is no sense in delay. The confrontation has to happen. It might as well be now and with Scotland’s cause on the offensive for a change.
Contrast the bold, determined, assertive voice of the above quote from Nicola Sturgeon with the ambivalent, hesitant, caveated tone of the conference resolution doubtless approved by ‘her people’. These are the two faces of the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government. Neither of which is answering questions.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.