As she set out her Programme for Government Nicola Sturgeon was at great pains to ensure that her get-out clause on the constitutional issue was not just placed on the public record but hammered into it. By my count the official transcript of her statement refers to ‘Covid/pandemic’ around twenty times while ‘independence’ and ‘referendum’ get a mere three mentions between them. It may be simplistic to suppose this to accurately reflect the First Minister’s priorities, but after seven years of procrastination one could certainly be forgiven for harbouring such suspicions.
What is missing yet again is any explanation of why Scotland’s cause is so uniquely impacted by Covid. Nor are we given any clues as to the criteria which will be used to ascertain when the Covid crisis is officially ‘over’ or ‘passed’ or ‘ended’ or whatever. Nor is there any word on who will make this judgment or what qualifies them to do so. All of which was covered in a previous article. Sturgeon’s statement is being presented by The National and Sturgeon/SNP loyalists as a definitive, unequivocal commitment to action on the constitutional issue. And so it is… but for the dearth of definition and the slippery equivocation and the monumental caveat which makes mock of the word ‘commitment’. The repetition of that huge caveat is intended to make sure the excuse is solidly banked against the day she’s accused of breaking her word again. It’s her ‘Aye, but…’ card tucked up her sleeve ready to be tossed on the table when another deadline comes and goes with nothing done.
We know that’s what it is because we know it’s not what it purports to be and so it must be the only other thing it can be. It is not a justification for further postponing action. There is absolutely no reason why Covid should obviate a referendum. The only argument for this is that it would make campaigning impossible. It wouldn’t! It would make certain forms of campaigning difficult. Being truly committed to a referendum would mean finding ways of dealing with those difficulties. Something the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government isn’t even prepared to discuss. Covid only makes a referendum campaign impossible if you choose to campaign in a way that is made impossible by Covid. But there are many ways of campaigning. There hasn’t even been any discussion of what manner of campaign would be most appropriate. All we know is that as far as Nicola Sturgeon is concerned it is a manner of campaigning which only becomes possible when she says the Covid crisis is ‘over’ or ‘passed’ or whatever.
The Covid caveat has no purpose other than to afford Sturgeon total control of Scotland’s cause. Needless to say, not everybody is content with this. Some are even prepared to make it known that they are not content. What is democracy without dissent?
For those mindful of her record of inaction on the constitutional issue and capable of listening critically to what Nicola Sturgeon says, the Covid caveat is a major concern. As is talk of a “detailed prospectus” which will supposedly “guide the decision” in the ‘iferendum’. We are left to assume that what she is referring to is what I cannot resist calling ‘Back To Scotland’s Future II’. Basically, a rehashing of the ‘white paper’ produced by Alex Salmond’s government for the 2014 referendum. A manifesto-like catalogue of what William Shakespeare called “an infinite deal of nothing.”. All such a ‘prospectus’ does is make independence the contentious issue when it should be the Union that is under scrutiny.
How can there possibly be a ‘prospectus’ for independence? The very idea is nonsensical. The dictionary defines a prospectus as a formal offer. The only thing on offer in the referendum is the restoration Scotland’s independence. There can be no ‘formal offer’ of anything else because nothing else will be decided by the referendum. Referendums are necessarily binary. Nothing can be delivered as a consequence of the referendum outcome other than one or other of the only two options available – independence or the Union. If the choice is independence then what happens next and for the foreseeable future will be decided by the people of Scotland. If the choice is the Union then the people of Scotland will have no meaningful say in what happens next or well into the future. That’s it! There is nothing else! Stripped of pointless waffle the entire ‘prospectus’ could be contained in a Tweet.
What is all too evident from Sturgeon’s statement is that there is ever greater need to maintain the pressure not just for a referendum but for the right referendum. This is too important to be left to the politicians. Especially politicians with Sturgeon’s record of failure to provide the bold, decisive, determined, assertive, tenacious leadership Scotland’s cause requires. There will be those who say we shouldn’t rock the boat. But if the boat is headed for the reef then we have to do something to get the captain’s attention. They will insist that anybody who isn’t fully behind Nicola Sturgeon whatever she decides to do cannot be a true independence supporter. Dissenting voices will be accused of damaging the independence campaign or helping the British Nationalists. I repeat; what is democracy without dissent? Can there be democracy without dissent?
It is entirely possible and proper to disagree fundamentally with Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to the constitutional issue – the Sturgeon doctrine – and still be fully committed to Scotland’s cause. Demanding a viable approach to restoring Scotland’s independence cannot possibly be anything other than a vital part of pressing Scotland’s cause. We all know that the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government is crucial to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. Nothing better demonstrates a commitment to Scotland’s cause than actively campaigning to ensure that the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government is fit for purpose.
For such a campaign to succeed the whole Yes movement needs to recover its unity of purpose. We need something that might pull the fragmented Yes movement together again. Something in which we can all participate regardless of party or faction. Something like The Saltire Strikes Back, a campaign being promoted by White Rose Rising which aims to strike back against the repellent Union-jackery to which Scotland is being subjected by the British state. Very little is asked of participants. Only that between now and the opening of COP26 on 31 October they stock up on as many Saltire flags, banners, posters, stickers, badges etc. as they can ready to put on display as the world turns its attention to Scotland. The Johnson regime intends that the world will see only Union flags. We can thwart this devious scheme.
On 31 October and for the 12 days of COP26 we should try to come up with imaginative ways of asserting Scotland’s identity by displaying the Saltire in different and/or unusual situations. Pictures can then be shared via social media with the hashtag #SaltireStrikesBack. If enough people join in we should be able to obscure the Union flags altogether.
As was pointed out by somebody commenting on the White Rose Rising blog, Scots all over the world can join in the Saltire Strikes Back campaign. All they need is a photograph of a Saltire in an identifiable location – such as beside a well-known landmark. There’s plenty of time to obtain your Saltire materials and think of a way to display it which might get it noticed. You don’t have to sign up for anything or join an organisation or pay any money – other than the cost of your flag or whatever. When it’s this easy there’s no excuse for any independence supporter failing to participate.
We may see the Yes movement united again. We may make it hard for the politicians to ignore us. Whatever else, we can actually do something. That alone makes it worth the small effort.
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12 thoughts on “The ‘iferendum’!”
Hell yes, I’m up for it.
Do you have any hi res files for the star wars themed ‘Saltire Strikes Back’ logo and union flag Darth Vader mask for general use? Also direct messaged you on Twitter about this.
That sounds like an idea some Unionist try would sue over copyright issues….. unless of course the movie makers gave their permission, which would be put the Unionists in one big huff!!!
Talking of the movies parts of Glasgow City Chambers and St. Vincent weere stuffed full of Amercian Stars and Stripes flags for a parade scene set in 5th Avenue, New York City.
It would be great if the City Council did the same thing, with giant Saltires festooning the place everywhere they can stuff them.
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“Stripped of pointless waffle the entire ‘prospectus’ for could be contained in a Tweet.”
You’ve head the nail on the head there:
Nicola Sturgeon has become something of an expert on the production of vacuous and platitudinous twitter comments.
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Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
If there’s no need for a ‘prospectus’ for indyref2 why all the complaining about Brexit? We knew the vote was coming then we (Scotland) voted No in 2014 and subsequently we (the UK) voted leave in 2016.
If prospectuses aren’t needed then the lies told to win votes don’t matter.
How exactly do you propose to win the majority needed when you can’t tell them anything about what comes next?
Yet again, you just don’t get it. It is impossible to give a detailed prospectus for “what comes next” that is honest for numerous very obvious reasons. And it’s a bad idea from a party political as well as a campaigning point of view for reasons that are at least equally obvious.
A prospectus is an offer. It cannot be other than a dishonest offer if those making it have no assured way to deliver what is offered. The first and subsequent governments after independence will be mandated by the people of Scotland to decided “what comes next”. The referendum doesn’t decided who is elected to that government. It cannot be a vote on any prospectus – which in this context is just another word for a manifesto. To present that prospectus as if it is what people are voting on is dishonest.
And it’s just a manifesto. Even if the referendum were an election and even if the party presenting the prospectus-cum-manifesto were to be elected that government would be under absolutely no legal or constitutional obligation to deliver what was promised.
From a party political perspective treating a referendum as if it were an election is fraught with danger. Not only is the result then seen as a judgement on that party, but the prospectus is just a collection of easy targets for opponents to take pot-shots at.
Try thinking about how things work in the real world. It doesn’t matter what is the content of the prospectus/manifesto, public opinion breaks four ways. If it breaks evenly – and it tends to do so very roughly – 25% of the electorate will be for it; 25% against it; 25% claiming to be undecided; and 25% who just don’t give a shit – the disengaged and alienated. Opponents have the advantage of needing to do no more than work on the element of doubt that always exists as well as creating additional doubt simply by asking questions. That’s what won it for the No campaign in 2014. Sturgeon is proposing to hand them the same advantage again.
When your opponents control or are supported by virtually all of the media then the best strategy is to keep things as simple as possible. The referendum is NOT about “what comes next” but about whether you have confidence in the people of Scotland to decide “what comes next”. To the extent that discussion around implications and consequences is unavoidable, you steer that discussion towards the implications and consequences of voting for your opponents’ proposition.
Anybody considering jumping in here to insist that I’m saying the ‘white paper’ produced by the Salmond government for the 2014 referendum was dishonest should do themselves the favour of stopping to think for a minute or two (or maybe ten) before commenting to that effect. The circumstances ten years ago when the strategy for the first campaign was implemented were totally different from the circumstances now. The notion that we can just do everything the same is sub-idiotic.
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I have immense confidence in the people of Scotland not to be idiots and jump into the unknown based on assurances from either people who have never held power in Scotland or, even worse, those who do hold power and have shown themselves unable to wield it for our benefit.
The easiest way for the SNP to win Scotlands independence was simply to run the country well. They don’t. They constantly fail us and blame Westminster. I thought that was a tactic, now I see it as simple incompetence. They are small minded, petty whingers who behave like a wee clique who took control of the village council and are using the power to push their own naff agenda and to bully people they don’t like or who resist them.
Regardless of what anyone else in the Yes movement says or thinks ONLY the SNP can deliver independence. Only Nicola Sturgeon has the personal popularity to lead that fight.
We all know they won’t even try.
You start off by declaring your confidence in the people of Scotland only to then assure us with all the confidence of a man who has uncritically read every article Tom Gordon ever wrote and unquestioningly accepted every word as unvarnished truth, that those same people you’re confident are not idiots have repeatedly elected a party which “constantly fail us”.
No need to worry about damage to your credibility, however. You never had any credibility.
It is totally false to claim “We knew there would be an EU vote” in 2014.
There were concerns raised about such a prospect as a vote being held, the and possibility of Scotland being taken out of EU via English votes.
All such concerns were dismissed outright.
The infamous Baroness Ruth, was especially indignant at such a suggestion.
This is Ruth Davidson days before the 2014 vote, responding to these very concerns raised by Patrick Harvie, in a televised STV debate on September 2nd. 2014, Ruth Davidson, said:…. “I think it is disingenuous of Patrick to say that No means out and Yes means in, when actually the opposite is true. No means we stay in, we are members of the European Union.”…..
It was absolute. Any concerns raised about the EU plans by UK Govt. swept aside.
Gordon Brown and his likes, were of equal opinion.
And what happened within 2 years of that “No” vote?
We were forced out of EU, via England!
And Ruth Davidson was suddenly gushing in praise of a brighter future for UK outside Europe!?!
And tell us, what was promised to all those Brexit voters in 2016?
And do tell us what became of those promises?
Just as the great (and some were great) promises made to Scotland by Davidson and Brown and all the rest of the anti Scottish pro London lot?
Nothing came of any of it!
And it’s worse in their case, as they were the actual leaders in charge, and still in charge of events after the result was in. They had the actual power to make those promises happen, but they didn’t, as they had clearly lied their wretched anti Scottish faces off.
So yeah, there are some things I want to see for an Independent Scotland, either side of Independence, it must be pointed out, but those things by themselves are not the reason we vote for Independence.
We need Independence first, then we can take the steps we need to for rebuilding everything else.
Getting that Independence is what matters, and as things stand, it appears the present SNP Administration fail to see that. Either that, or they no longer really care that much.
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A great example of rewriting history with selective memory. Is this how we build a new country?
‘Scotlands Future’ aka the independence white paper. Published by the Scottish Government, November 2013
If we remain in the UK, the Conservative Party’s promise of
an in/out referendum on EU membership raises the serious
possibility that Scotland will be forced to leave the EU against
the wishes of the people of Scotland.
Those trying to rewrite anything are the pro Unionist lot!
The fact is, the prospect of a future EU vote was raised, and every time it was, go dismissed out of hand by the pro London side.
The example of Ruth Davidson, I give is proof enough of that.
Also, it needed an outright tory win at the UK May General Election, and that was not a certainty.
You ignore all those points. You seem to forget all those dismissive responses from Davidson, Gordon Brown, and all the others, and the way they made being part of EU a very, very big deal, in their “No” campaign.
These are the very same political figures you seem to trust, over anyone else.
That is certainly not going to do anything for Scotland!
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I agree with a lot of what you say. We all need to do more to support the Yes Movement and stop sniping at each other. Perhaps you can give some publicity to Believe in Scotland.
Yesterday we had 9 volunteers boxing up 600,000 items of campaigning materials to be delivered to 107 BiS partner Yes groups in about 5 working days. We also have 12 drop off hubs and 8 volunteer drivers.
BI’S and over 100 Yes groups are holding a Day of Action on the 18th September. Please see
We are bringing the Yes Groups together whilst others simply talk a good story and/or criticise other supporters of Scottish Independence. Recently we had a fundraiser which brought in over £100,000. ALL of that money is going to support Yes Groups with materials and services.