As I have explained countless times for the benefit of the politically naive, there cannot be a secret plan. For such a thing to be possible Nicola Sturgeon would need to have a near-infinite number of options some of which only she can identify. That’s not how it is in the real world.
In the real world, there is a very limited number of options and all of them are knowable by anyone who cares to think about it – and maybe do a wee bit of research. They are certainly known to “our opposition” who will have gamed every scenario.
There is a reason Nicola Sturgeon is so tight-lipped about such plans as she has actually formulated. And it’s not to conceal those plans from the opposition but to prevent the Yes movement from getting wind of them. Because if independence activists were aware of what she intends they would be even angrier than they are now.
Knowing what options are available to her – and being mature enough to eschew fantasy politics – we can readily see that Sturgeon has only three broadly defined options.
She can go back on everything she’s said on the matter and proceed according to the steps described in the #ManifestoForIndependence published prior to the 2021 election (see below). This is so unlikely as to be barely worth considering. I include it only at the urging of my mildly obsessive completism.
She can go with the Section 30 process. Which is what she has intimated clearly is her preference. In this scenario, she first compromises the sovereignty of Scotland’s people by seeking permission from the British state to do something that the sovereign people have an absolute right to do without the consent of any external power. The consent for which she petitions is either granted, or it is refused. If it is granted then the British state will use the power thus afforded it to ensure that the referendum is unwinnable for the Yes side. They will do this in any or all of numerous ways, including but not limited to imposing conditions such as a qualified majority. Or perhaps imposing conditions that not even Nicola Sturgeon can accept – such as restricting the franchise – in which case there is no ‘Edinburgh Agreement 2’ and therefore no referendum with the Scottish Government being blamed.
Or the Section 30 order may be refused. Which is what is generally expected. What then for Nicola Sturgeon?
She could meekly accept the diktat of the British government and abandon the referendum while asking the people of Scotland for yet another mandate in the 2024 UK general election. This may seem unlikely. But it is perfectly in keeping with the way the SNP has conducted itself in the past. So it cannot be ruled out.
However, she has not-quite-promised that there will be a referendum even if a Section 30 order is refused. Which, of course, makes the whole business of requesting one utterly pointless other than if the aim is to demean the nation and compromise the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. The question then becomes one of how she goes about arranging this referendum. Again, there are options. She could go back to square one and go with the #ManifestoForIndependence actions. This would prompt questions as to why she didn’t just do this in the first place. Those asking such questions would be shouted down by the SNP/Sturgeon loyalists. Because that’s all they can do.
Otherwise, and more likely by a huge margin, she will choose, as she always has, to try and avoid the confrontation with the British state which is inevitable if independence is to be restored. She will do this by proposing a ‘consultative’ or ‘advisory’ referendum that is so toothless that the British will be content to let it go ahead knowing it will not threaten the Union and knowing also that they will be able to say we’ve had our referendum and should drop the whole thing. An assertion that Sturgeon could not dispute as she too would want to claim that she had delivered the promised referendum.
These are the broad brushstrokes. But it’s plain to see that there is absolutely no scope for any ‘Great Secret Plan’.
Unless you know differently, of course. But then, if you know then it’s certain that “the opposition” know as well.
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.