A good story

In March 2021 The National splashed a headline declaring Majority of Scots believe independence is inevitable, poll finds. In fact, the phrase ‘independence is inevitable’ was common parlance a year ago and more. Oddly, a search of The National‘s archive finds no recent examples of this phrase. Brian Cox said it. So it must be true! Perhaps more persuasively at least for non-Brian Cox admirers, the story below the headline mentioned above referred to the findings of a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times. Believe in Scotland, an offshoot of Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s Business for Scotland also commissioned a Panelbase poll last year after which the organisation issued the following statement (my emphasis).

The age demographics point to it simply being a matter of time before Scotland becomes independent.

If young voters were as likely to vote as older ones Yes would win by a large margin already, so if the Yes campaign in the next independence referendum can engage young voters and motivate them to vote then a Yes result is inevitable.

As far back as 2016 I myself wrote,

Independence is inevitable because any devolution measure which succeeds in terms of the aims and objectives of the British state necessarily fails in terms of the aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people.

EU referendum is not Scotland’s fight

To be fair to myself, I did later recant this view.

The restoration of Scotland’s independence is neither imminent nor inevitable.

The manner of our leaving

I went on to explain this change of heart as follows.

I stand by those words. They are correct, as far as they go. But I now realise that the statement needs a qualifier. Independence should be inevitable. It should be inevitable for the reasons given. The fact that there can never be a constitutional settlement which satisfies the imperatives of both British imperialism and Scottish democracy should make independence inevitable. In a functioning democracy it would make independence inevitable. But Scotland’s cause is not being fought in the context of a functioning democracy. Scotland’s cause is being fought in the context of British ‘demockracy’. So called because it isn’t real democracy and because it makes a mockery of fundamental democratic principles.

The manner of our leaving

The idea of independence being inevitable persists, however. Just this morning I responded to a comment on a previous article.

If a majority of Scots want independence, no power on Earth will prevent them having their say and getting what they want. All of the power of the British establishment can’t even remove a maverick failed prime minister from occupying Downing Street!

To be a nation again!

If that is so and independence is assured, despite my reservations, then it becomes essential to consider the ‘how’ of the matter. The manner of our restoring independence will be part of Scotland’s story forever. It would be good if this chapter was something from which future generations could take inspiration. We can be sure that some will try to taint that story in one way or another. The British version is likely to say that Scotland was ‘granted’ independence by beneficent England while British Nations in and furth of Scotland will seek to portray the process as flawed and say – without blushing at their own hypocrisy – that we cheated and lied our way to independence. I don’t want my great-grandchildren reading that.

I want future generations of Scots to see the restoration of our independence as a proud moment in Scotland’s long history. I want them to be able to say that the process was impeccably democratic and the campaign an example for other independence movements across the world. But I also want them to look with admiration at the boldness and determination of our political leaders as well as the exuberant enthusiasm of the Yes campaign. I want history to tell of our Government and Parliament standing up to the might of the British state. I want the story to be about the resolute tenacity of our First Minister. I want a bit of Braveheart in there – without the blood and gore, obviously.

I would prefer if England-as-Britain wasn’t the villain of the piece. It would be pleasing if history’s account of the period could honestly portray the No campaign as respectful and reasonable and as Scottish as the Yes campaign. By which I mean it must endeavour to avoid being seen as the agent of a foreign power. The British state must be denied any formal role in the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination. It is inevitable that the British will try to interfere. But this should be discouraged as far as possible without impinging on the democratic credentials of the process. Hopefully, history will describe the No campaign as being conducted by people in Scotland with genuine and rational reasons for wanting the Union to remain. While the Yes campaign is about dissolving the Union, the No campaign should be giving us reasons why it should be retained.

This may be hard to imagine given the behaviour of Better Together and the British government in the first referendum campaign. But Unionists in Scotland should stop and think. If they can’t build a campaign on the merits of the Union, maybe they’r on the wrong side.

The main players in the Yes campaign – the First Minister, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish political parties, the commentators and the footsoldiers must do their bit. But it starts at the top. Like it or not, it’s what Nicola Sturgeon says and does that will set the tone of the Yes campaign. Maybe she should pause and consider what she wants the history books to say about her.

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4 thoughts on “A good story

  1. “But Unionists in Scotland should stop and think. If they can’t build a campaign on the merits of the Union, maybe they’re on the wrong side.”

    You’re being too optimistic Peter, thinking isn’t a trait amongst many of the Britnats, we saw that in George Sq on the night no won back in 2014, they’d won but still they ran-amok assaulting and stabbing folk.

    Anyway I hope a plebiscitary election (GE) is just around the corner, and that if indy parties get say 50+ seats of the 59 available that we withdraw our MPs from Westminster, removing the their parliaments consent in the process, and declare the Treaty of Union dissolved.

    Westminster will remain the abode of the “bad guys” until we are independent, only then when Scotland is on a level pegging with England will that change.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “withdrawal of MPs from Westminster”

    People would need to know that was what they were voting for.
    It would need to be clearly stated in each party’s Manifesto and would preferably have been supported at each party’s Conference before the GE.


    1. That’s perhaps the biggest problem with a plebiscitary election. It cannot possibly be conclusive enough unless ALL parties agree to make it about a single issue. And that is not going to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

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