Setting aside for the moment the improbability of Patrick Harvie giving up the status he has long considered his just desert – a consideration which, to be fair, applies to many other MSPs as well – would the resignation of the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government actually “precipitate an emergency Holyrood election”? Not necessarily. The strategy is not without risk.
There is, of course, the possibility that the outcome of this emergency (extraordinary) election might not be all that George Kerevan hopes for. In order to be the “de facto mandate for independence negotiations” he envisages this would have to be explicitly stated in the SNP manifesto. And the manifestos of the other pro-independence parties. Although we can be sure the British establishment with the aid of the British media will contrive to discount those ‘secondary’ parties as far as possible. Would Sturgeon agree to this? There must be some doubt. How much doubt will depend on the extent to which one is prepared to turn a blind eye to her record on the constitutional issue. And a deaf ear to her statements about the indispensability of a Section 30 order.
Supposing Sturgeon does permit the adoption of some form of Manifesto for Independence – although not in George Kerevan’s plan the original Manifesto for Independence – will that manifesto win the decisive support necessary? Mr and Ms McVoter have snubbed the offer before. Has enough been done in the last eight years to make a difference? Given that almost nothing has been done, there must be some doubt about this as well.
The result must be decisive. Just as the result of the much promised but never delivered referendum would have needed to be decisive. If anything, the outcome of a plebiscitary election must be even more clear-cut simply because it being an election and not a referendum there is already an inherent blurring of the issue. Any further blurring – such as by there being no victory for any single party – could prove fatal. The slightest question about what the result means will be seized upon by defenders of the Union. Bear in mind that they don’t care how ridiculous they look. Things would have to move fast after this extraordinary election. The British political elite and their allies in Scotland will strain every sinew to cause delay in the hope that something might turn up. A war, perhaps?
I think the point is made. As tends to be the way with those Alba types, George assumes everything will go according to the script what they’ve wrote. But there’s always those ‘events, dear boy.
Even before we get to this extraordinary election, however, there is another bloated bluebottle in the ointment. An extraordinary election would not automatically follow the resignation of the Scottish Government. The Presiding Officer would first be required to explore every possibility of forming another government. Only if this effort fails would there be an election. We can be certain that the British parties squatting in Holyrood would use this period (from admittedly unreliable memory it’s 28 days) to try and prevent an election. Whether they could cobble together a ‘Grand Alliance’ that would be credible enough to form a minority government that the PO could commend to Her Majesty may be doubtful. But that doubt works both ways. Given the circumstances, Her Majesty – effectively the British Prime Minister – is likely to apply a very broad definition of ‘credible’.
Proponents of the Kerevan strategy (Aye! You’re stuck with it now, George!) will be scornfully dismissive of the idea that the British parties might use the resignation of the Scottish Government to reimpose British control of the Scottish Parliament. But the consequences of such a development would be so absolutely catastrophic for Scotland that I am not inclined to discount entirely even the remotest possibility.
To the nub of the matter, and the major flaw in the Kerevan Strategy. (See that! It’s grown capitals now!) Only the Scottish Parliament can restore Scotland’s independence and only the Scottish Government can initiate the process by which independence will be restored. A Scottish Government which has resigned can do nothing. It may be argued that the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government is doing nothing anyway. But it is surely better to have the power even if it remains unused. Especially if this prevents that power falling into the hands of those determined to ensure that it can never be used.
The Kerevan Strategy may be worth considering. But it must be considered rationally and in full recognition of the cons as well as the pros. Alba Party has an unfortunate record of indulging in fantasy politics. The ‘supermajority’ myth being but the most egregious example. We have to be realistic. We have to resist the temptation to grab at ideas presented in only the most flattering terms. We must ignore those who would prevent reasoned assessment of ideas by calling criticism negativity or even treachery.
Let’s weigh the Kerevan Strategy alongside other suggested courses of action taking full account of all factors before deciding which might serve to tip the balance in favour of Scotland’s cause.
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