The following was intended to be a comment on James Kelly’s Scot Goes Pop article suggesting ways to achieve/restore unity in the Yes movement. It probably wouldn’t get past the censor-monkeys so I had intended to copy it here anyway. But it transpires that I can’t even post it because there’s a daft character limit. And I’m not editing it down for no good reason. Editing is hard work. Fuck that!
The Scot Goes Pop article is called Some concrete suggestions of how to achieve Yes unity.
The first paragraph of the first comment on this article nicely illustrates why unity in the Yes movement is a pipe dream. Once that kind of dumb tribalism has set in the chances of recovery are vanishingly small. That’s just the nature of tribalism. That’s why effective leaders prevent the factionalism which left untreated decays into tribalism.
Pretty sure Ruth Wishart was another BOTH VOTES SNP NUMPTY. What was the problem in working together earlier in the year in the Holyrood election. Why not then why now?People like me held up my side and voted SNP in May in the constituency even though I felt sick doing it. But Sturgeon and Wishart preferred loads of Britnat MSPs in Holyrood so they could moan about them. A party (the SNP) that is SUPPOSED to be about independence preferring Britnat MSPs to Alba MSPs is a Britnat party.
Even if there was a way to put a stop to this self-generating, self-perpetuating, self-reinforcing, self-rationalising tribalism, James Kelly’s suggestions fall at the first hurdle. The hurdle of Section 30.
1) Set a date for a referendum, and immediately start the process of a) requesting a Section 30 order and b) legislating for the referendum after the Section 30 order is refused.
You’d think from this that Section 30 wasn’t a contentious issue. You’d think there was general agreement on it across the Yes movement. That was never the case. And it’s even less so now.
But even before we get to that there’s the matter of the suggestion to “set a date for a referendum”. This is why James is better sticking to crunching numbers rather than dabbling in the politics. Setting a date at this stage is a very bad idea. It reduces options and provides a target for various ‘unfriendly’ parties to aim at. There is absolutely no way to guarantee that the date won’t have to be changed. There are just too many moving parts. And changing the date will be a massive embarrassment. Or at least that’s how it will be portrayed by the British media and hence perceived by a large part of the population.
There will come a time when setting a date is both necessary and good politics. That time is not now. Not least because it’s one of the big fireworks and should be held in reserve. A smaller firework will have just as big effect right now because it will be set off against a blank black sky where no fireworks have been seens for many years. Why use a big squib when a wee one will do?
I won’t take up space here explaining why requesting a Section 30 order would be an act of the worst political folly. I’ve covered that subject often enough on my own blog. Evidently, to no avail. The idiocy persists. I must, however, deal with a small part of this idiocy as it pertains to the announcement which could and should be made and which would have a massive and very positive effect on the Yes movement.
The idiocy I refer to is to first act as if a Section 30 order is necessary while planning to insist that it isn’t. It is effectively destroying your own case before you make it. Madness!
And what if Boris doesn’t say no? James doesn’t bother to address that eventuality. But the biggest danger in requesting a Section 30 order is that it might be granted – with conditions attached! The British aren’t going to grant a Section 30 order unless they are certain they can sabotage the process at a later stage using the power granted to them by the Scottish Government. Power to which they are not entitled. And if the Section 30 order is granted it will be extremely difficult for the Scottish Government to turn it down no matter how onerous the conditions. Do I really need to spell out how that would play in the British media?
But let’s look at the next bit of James Kelly’s suggestion – “legislating for the referendum after the Section 30 order is refused”. How does that work? The only way it can work is if the Scottish Parliament asserts its competence to authorise a referendum. How else can that authority be acquired? So, if this is what you intend to do, why not just get on with it rather than fart about with a Section 30 request that horribly compromises the sovereignty of Scotland’s people?
Rather than setting a date for the referendum the same impact can achieved by announcing the intention to introduce legislation which takes the power to authorise a referendum and dare the British state to challenge that legislation in court. A challenge which would require them to argue that Scotland is not a nation; that Scotland does not have the right of self-determination; that the people of Scotland are not sovereign; and that Westminster has greater democratic legitimacy than Holyrood.
Think about that for a moment. Then consider how this contrasts with a challenge by the British state subsequent to a Section 30 request. In that case they would only need to argue that the legislation (Scotland Act) is what it is. Letting them off a very uncomfortable hook.
None of this will put a stop to the kind of puerile, pointless pettiness so amply illustrated in that first comment. But it will open up the possibility of a certain measure of unity of purpose. Much of the Yes movement would find ways to work together despite the background noise of infantile squabbling between SNP/Sturgeon loyalists and Alba/Salmond fantasists. And that’s about the best we can hope for. I just hope it’s enough.
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