The threat

The threat to which The Sunday National refers has been looming for years (Tory leadership race ‘poses Thatcher threat to Scotland amid lurch to the right’). Arguably, it has been looming for decades. But it can be said with certainty that it is over the last decade that the threat of far right-wing British governments has become blindingly obvious. Indeed, it may be said that the past ten years have seen this move from threat to inevitability and now the reality.

British Labour long since ceased to be any kind of bulwark against this rightward trend. British Nationalists, on the other hand, exploited it. Brexit is the result. British Nationalism and far-right politics are now intimately bound up with one another so that it is no longer possible to discern which is the wave and which the ‘surfer’.

Here in Scotland, we saw the uselessness of British Labour and turned to the SNP. This helped only in that we got some costly amelioration of British state impositions. Costly and only effective in the short term as every dyke that the Scottish Government is inevitably overwhelmed by the British government’s actions.

The most important thing the SNP offered us was the promise of a way out. As the last ten years have seen the threat posed by right-wing British Nationalism become ever more imminent and urgent, however, the promise held out by the SNP has degenerated into hope, faith and complacency.

Where does this leave us? More to the point, where does it take us/

It leaves us pretty much where we were in 2012. If anything, it leaves us somewhat worse off than then. In 2012 we had the certainty of a referendum which we had good reason to believe would lead to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. Ten years on we have only the tenuous prospect of a referendum that we know for a fact can’t lead to independence. A referendum which if it goes ahead, will see us stake Scotland’s cause against absolutely nothing. A referendum which we must win not because we gain anything from winning but because we lose everything by losing. A referendum in which a Yes vote cannot be implemented while a No vote will be deemed decisive and legally binding.

It doesn’t matter that the proposed referendum is merely “consultative and non-self-executing”. As people are inexplicably fond of pointing out, the Brexit referendum was ‘advisory’ and yet the result was implemented. What these people fail to realise is that it was implemented because the British government had the power to implement it. The Scottish Government has no power to implement a Yes vote in the mock referendum proposed by Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister makes no claim to such power. But the British state has the power to implement a No vote as if it was a determinative referendum just as it implemented the Leave vote in the ‘advisory’ EU referendum.

That’s where we are. There may be a referendum in 2023. There may not. Either way, it makes no difference. Except that the Yes movement will have to put its all into a campaign which even if it is won will only take us back where we started but if it is lost will set Scotland’s cause back at least 20 years. Perhaps 50!

Where this takes us is to the next UK general election – which must happen no later than Friday 24 January 2025. So, autumn 2024 at the latest. Unless a low turnout suits the British political elite. In this case, we will be looking at an election campaign fought in the middle of winter. A low turnout may well favour established power in the UK. The reason becomes clear when we consider what kind of election it is almost certain to be.

The rightward tendency of the British government has been given added impetus by the Tory leadership battle. The leadership contest serves as a preview of the next UK general election. Some time ago I stated that the British Conservative Party would fight the next UK general election on an explicitly far-right British Nationalist platform. Think of the Leave campaign on steroids. But the main target of this campaign will not be the EU. It will be Scotland. Of course, the EU will still be dragged into it. British Nationalist hatred of the EU hasn’t been assuaged by Brexit. Far from it! But it is the ‘Scottish problem’ that will feature more strongly.

As we know, where British Tories go, British Labour follows. The two main British parties will be vying with each other to see which of them can offer the most Draconian ‘solution to the Scottish problem. The election will be presented as a fight to save the Union and thereby ‘make Britain great again’. They will compete to find which might most effectively crush Scotland’s cause and lock us into a ‘reformed’ political union from which there can be no escape. With the LibDems jumping up and down in the background squeaking “Us too!”.

A low turnout tends to favour the extremes of politics as they always vote. As less committed individuals opt out of voting – for example, because it’s cold outside – the extremists inevitably become a larger proportion of the popular vote.

Nicola Sturgeon proposes to try and make the next UK general election a plebiscite on independence. The British will deny that it is an independence referendum. Unless the SNP does less well than it might. The bar is always set higher for the SNP and Scotland’s cause. The SNP will have to win more seats and an increased share of the popular vote for a claim of victory to have any credibility. Anything less equates to a defeat. Like the mock referendum, the UK general election will only be recognised as a plebiscite on independence by the British if they can plausibly claim that the SNP lost. Onlythe SNP! Other pro-independence parties will be buried by the British media.

The same British media will be out in force supporting the British nationalist effort being conducted by the three main British parties, as well as most of the minor ones. This British Nationalist campaign will be monstrous. It will be relentless. It will be vicious. Standing against this juggernaut of a British Nationalist campaign will be an SNP which has alienated the larger part of the Yes movement, including many of its own members. What’s left will be disheartened by the discovery that the so-called independence referendum of 2023 either didn’t happen or turned out to be the soggiest of damp squibs. If the referendum does happen, the Yes movement will be exhausted having fought a campaign it knows it can’t afford to lose but which it finds is meaningless if they win.

This depleted force will be pitched against what will effectively be the biggest anti-independence campaign ever. A campaign which will use much the same strategy as won the No vote in 2014. Meanwhile, the SNP will deploy the same tactics as lost the vote for Yes in 2014. Much to the delight of the British Nationalists.

A catastrophe for Scotland’s cause is staring us in the face compared to which Margaret Thatcher will look benign and beneficent. So you’ll just have to forgive me if I get a bit irked at those peddling complacent drivel about independence being inevitable or telling us we should have total faith in the one individual most responsible for bringing us to the brink of this catastrophe.



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41 thoughts on “The threat

  1. I wouldn’t disagree fundamentally with any of this post, and even if the british state is not so focused on making the next GE about “the Scottish problem” we should be prepared for it in any case.

    What on earth was the SG thinking about when it offered the extra criterion of 50% plus of the vote as well as 50% plus of the seats in a first past the post plebiscitary election where vote share is pretty much irrelevant. In the last such election the Tories polled about 43% of the vote and won a majority of 80 seats – no need for a majority of the vote to ensure elected dictatorship powers for 5 years.

    I can only conclude that the Green/SNP SG are not in it to win it, they are in it to be able to state that they tried. Cynical doesn’t come close.

    So where does that leave us and our country ? Short of the membership of the SNP instructing the leadership that a majority of seats for independence supporting parties, and not vote share, is the marker for a declaring independence then we are into uncharted territory, and need to look at all options for freeing our country.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Of course they are not in it to win it, bushgeoff. That has been evident since at least 2016, and before that, in fact. I really believe that Nicola Sturgeon and her cohort had no intention to restart the independence campaign after 2014; they were prepared to settle in and coast along with devolution. That collaborative style has brought us to this parlous state.

      Liked by 8 people

        1. This is ridiculous. The conspiracist notion of Sturgeon collaborating with Unionists is just ludicrous. Like I said, never attribute to malign intent that which is at least as readily explained by stupidity. Sturgeon IS NOT some kind of traitor to Scotland’s cause. She is just a politician who has got herself into a situation that she can’t find a way out of. Her desperation to avoid confrontation has led to her making some appallingly bad choices. In trying to deal with the consequences without admitting she got it wrong, she has made even more bad choices.

          Everything is explained by her aversion to hard, confrontational politics. There is simply no need to look for more ‘imaginative’ explanations. Sturgeon may not be stupid. But even smart people do stupid things. Unfortunately, Sturgeon is in a position where the stupid things she does have dire implications for a cause that she still holds dear. Just not dearly enough to admit the extent to which she has fucked up.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “This is ridiculous. The conspiracist notion of Sturgeon collaborating with Unionists is just ludicrous.”

            I’m afraid that postcolonial theory affirms the likelihood that “inside the nationalist parties, the will to break colonialism is linked with another quite different will: that of coming to a friendly agreement with it” (Frantz Fanon).

            Another clue here may be the fact there is very little if any major divergence in policy between the supposedly ‘nationalist’ Scottish Government and the ‘unionist’ UK Government. In most respects both government’s appear to share the same ‘values’, and here we might consider that in colonialism “only the values of the colonizer are sovereign” (Albert Memmi).

            As the SNP elites are no longer nationalists then the only conclusion one can reach is that they must be unionists. Such is the well-established Manichaeism nature of the colonial environment.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. You make a very good point there, Geoff. Perhaps because you have reason to be aware that I see my role as something of a devil’s advocate. It is perfectly possible that I overstate things. But only because it is crucial that we prepare for the worst. If I’m wrong, no harm befalls Scotland’s cause. But if I am even half right and nobody pays any heed, the consequences would be dire. We have to be prepared for the worst no matter how desperately we might hope it plays out differently. And, importantly, nobody who knows anything about politics and Scotland’s situation can say that my grim view is unrealistic.

      As for the rest, as you are also aware I am extremely dubious about the whole notion of a plebiscitary election. It’s a binary issue. An election cannot be binary – other than in the quite unimaginable circumstances where all parties agree to make it binary and stick to that agreement. Daft as I consider the idea of trying to make the next UK election a plebiscite, it’s dafter still to use an election with the restricted franchise that applies to Westminster elections. As you imply, to then set a qualified majority is nothing short of madness.

      To the dispassionate observer, it must look as if Sturgeon is setting us up to lose. I can’t imagine this is the case, however. Never attribute to malign intent that which can be just as readily explained by prideful stupidity. I find it interesting that Sturgeon only came out with her >50% comment in reaction to talk of a majority of seats sufficing. She didn’t mention this when proposing a plebiscitary election. My suspicion is that it was a moment of madness. On the spur of that moment, the thought struck her that a requirement for more than half the popular vote would serve as a goad in the flanks of the Yes movement. She then said the words without thinking through the implications.

      Whatever the truth of the matter, we now face a referendum in which we win nothing if we win but lose everything if we lose and/or a plebiscitary election in which we face precisely the same prospect but we go in with a crippling handicap. And still there are those who hail Sturgeon as some kind of political genius!

      It is massively unlikely that the SNP membership will force Sturgeon to back down on the >50% thing. Apart from anything else, the internal workings of the party are now so completely controlled by the leadership and senior management that there is no process by which the members might have a say in the matter. Even if they did, the party is now mostly given over to unthinking loyalists who simply won’t go against Sturgeon. Something else I think you know only too well.

      I am firmly persuaded that Scootland’s cause has never been in greater jeopardy. I dread the coming two years. A feeling made all the more painful by the knowledge that it could all have been very different. Sturgeon has made a complete arse of things.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Well that’s cheered me up.
    Reminded of Mark Renton’s rant in Trainspotting “It is shite being Scottish…”

    This is why I am not going to spend any energy campaigning until the trigger has well and truly been pulled.

    I am keeping my powder dry, my enthusiasm in a box and I refuse to burn myself out or become despondent with all this shit.

    I am Yes to my core, I don’t know any British nationalists anymore. I don’t have that one more person in my life to persuade/nudge to independence. I have done that (successfully, and more than once), they are now my pals, or they have fucked off. I am not in the position to do so anyway, as I think that after eight years of this shite if they have not figured it out for themselves I can’t save them.

    Don’t burn yourself out Peter.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I’m an ex-member of what used to be a meritorious political party and my reasons for cancelling that membership would be too much to cover in this little space; in fact, political beliefs and behaviours also meet the same restrictions here! Individual choices are crucially important to political freedoms and probity… And thank goodness that this has been at the heart of Scottish politics for centuries! and in the modern world, if you’d like to join Salvo and declare that the Treaty of Union is no longer fit for the secure and good governance of Scotland, go to Join Salvo

    Thanks for your time,

    Ewen

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Holy shit, Peter, give us a break!

    You must lead a miserable existence when your thoughts lead you inexorably to the very worst case scenario on a Sunday morning…and you’re an atheist into the bargain – you can’t even look to escape into a blissful afterlife!

    It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

    The referendum being sought by the Scottish Government carries the same significance as the last one. If Yes wins – and I believe it will by a landslide – the world changes.

    Have faith, man!

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    1. I don’t do faith. Because I’m not stupid. Living in a world of delusion may suit you. It is not something I am capable of. And be absolutely sure that you are inhabiting a fantasy. That is why you are incapable of actually refuting any of the points I make. My thoughts only lead me to that “worst case scenario” because I think. Were you to do likewise, you would inevitably come to the same conclusion. So you choose not to think. Again, that may suit you. But I simply can’t turn off my intellect in that way. That is why I can’t do faith.

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    2. Unless SNP Leadership rapidly changes its position on this proposed Referendum, that is, make it more than a mere “Consultative Vote”, then as Peter points out, a YES win gives us next to nothing of any worth, as London will simply ignore it.
      They didn’t dare ignore Brexit in 2016, as that is what the Kingdom of England voted for. And to find a way to ignore it, such as pointing to the fact Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against leaving EU, or the narrowness of the Leave vote itself, and then to having a new General Election, would have destroyed the tory Party, and that was not gonna happen. Tho it might just have been damaged well enough when Cameron resigned, had Labour not set out to destroy itself instead!
      SNP blew it back then by not walking out of Westminster, and amidst that turmoil in London between tories infighting, and Labour at war with itself, we could have gotten Independence, but SNP didn’t do anything, but allow us to be taken out of Europe!

      The only way we make London respect anything, is when we challenge them in a meaningful way. We have to force them. For as we have seen all too many times, playing by London rules, and hoping London would ever be reasonable, and cooperate with Scotland has been utterly futile.
      London sets its own rules as it so chooses. We all know that, and it changes the rules when it fancies. We know that as well. SNP should know that too.

      So while SNP has made these mistakes, and continues to make them, we must hope, or must try force SNP to change policy and insist YES means Independence, and do as London does, change its position as suits it, on what kind of Referendum this is to be, or what a majority of SNP MPs would mean at any UK General Election.
      We have to confront London, and their collaborators in Scotland.
      There is no way to Independence, otherwise.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I don’t really give a shit what London thinks or does. I care what the people of Scotland think and do.

        I know London will arrogantly ignore the result of another IndyRef or plebiscite election. That’s the whole problem – but we will know for sure that we are in the majority and it will fire us up.

        If London ignores a plebiscite, we must declare our independence, keep all of our elected politicians here in Scotland and go to the UN as a country being colonised.

        We know Nicola Sturgeons will balk at this, so we must find our MLK.

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  5. Faith isn’t stupid. The denial of it is, IMO. It’s beyond thoughts, you can’t reach it by thinking about it. If you take the trouble to see beyond thoughts – which are constructs – you will experience a different consciousness and enlightenment. That’s where true intelligence abides. Politicians and businessmen tend to be clever but not intelligent. Clever is selfish and transient. Intelligence is inclusive and eternal.

    What you describe is the worst case scenario and I can see it as a definite possibility. As I’ve said before, my worst fear is that the Scottish people don’t grasp the opportunity this time around. If they don’t then the scenario you describe is what we face and you are right to point it out.

    However, the light is still flickering, we have to make sure we win the plebiscite.

    Then we need to get rid of Sturgeon and find someone who can make that victory count!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What opportunity? You really don’t understand the situation at all. There is no opportunity here other than to set the cause of independence back by decades. You just don’t get it. I suppose incomprehension and the delusions of faith positions go hand in hand.

      Faith is belief AGAINST evidence. It is futile to use rational arguments against a faith position because faith is reinforced by contrary evidence. There is no greater faith than the faith that persists despite conclusive contrary proof. The faithful succumb to an ecstasy of pride when they continue to believe despite incontrovertible proof that they are factually wrong.

      I only do rational arguments. So I will waste no more time on someone who has forsaken rationality in favour of mindless faith. That’s you on my ignore list.

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      1. The rational argument says that going hell for leather for a UDI when half the population does not currently support independence is utter madness and highly unlikely to work. The rational argument says that you ensure you have a majority of the population supporting your position before you risk a UDI. But you don’t do rational in respect of UDI. You only do faith in its ability to deliver, despite the blindingly obvious risks.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Untrue Peter. I know practically word for word what your opinion …. I mean …. #ScottishUDI means. Unless you’re keeping something hidden, for the eyes of only the most trusted of cult devotees, there is not a lot to it. Like so many people fervently invested in their own opinions, you are blind to their shortcomings and risks. So fervently invested you see anyone who does not agree with every word as simpletons only deserving of your abuse.

            I have listened to your views and, contrary to your abusive claims, taken them on board and incorporated them into what I believe is the way forward. However, because my beliefs also incorporate the Scottish govt’s views, and see neither precludes the other, I become the target of your ire. It is not me who is unable to modify my view based on rationality, practicality and reality. It is you who has become fossilised in your view; unable to adapt to the real world or appreciate the council of others.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s quite likely that the half of the population that don’t support Yes will need to wake up to what’s coming and fast. That a Scottish Government might have a little trouble finding it’s feet, particularly in fiscal matters, once independence is achieved is one thing. However a No vote in the immediate future will definitely be signing the population up for a whole host of changes that will be needed to “Make Britain Great Again”. A great many of these changes will likely have your average No voter feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Now the time for people to really decide what they want because they might just get it.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. A failed UDI that was called without having recorded a Yes victory in a referendum/plebiscitery election will have the same effect on steroids. A UDI without that victory behind it takes the Scottish people for granted. People don’t like being taken for granted. You will have basically spoken for them, put their world in flux, and expected them to be grateful for your presumption. We need that definitive proof the majority of the Scottish people want independence, and that despite it the UK govt have ignored it, before risking (and it is a risk) a UDI.

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              1. The only real difference between you and I on this subject, Peter, is that you want a UDI before you ask the Scottish people (now hacked off by your presumption) whether they want independence or not, while I want a UDI as an option, should it be needed, after the people have confirmed they want independence and been denied by UK govt intransigence. Your option needs a “brave” and difficult referendum after a UDI has been declared while mine just requires the UDI. No subsequent referendum necessary.

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                  1. My understanding of your opinion …. sorry …. of #ScottishUDI, is that the Scottish govt simply declares a UDI, then legislates for a self executing referendum on whether the people actually want independence. If there is more to it than that, then please explain. So far, you have declined/deflected from answering what comes after. You have stated the UK govt will have no part in it, which begs the question “who do we negotiate the apportionment of assets, etc with”, and you have refused to acknowledge the UK govt may be less than ready to just roll over on this. So if you have more to add then please do so. I’m sure we’re all agog with anticipation.

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                    1. The glaringly obvious point that continues to elude you is that it is not possible to have a referendum which serves as a formal exercise of our right of self-determination until AFTER the Scottish Parliament (NOT the Scottish Government) asserts the competence to authorise such a referendum. The asserting of this competence is therefore a de facto declaration of independence without being in any way similar to the only form of UDI less thoughtful individuals are able to imagine.

                      #ScottishUDI is the only way independence can be restored because it is the only way to have a proper referendum. It is NOT preempting that referendum. It is facilitating it. It is not supplanting a referendum. It is enabling it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. So pretty much as I described it then. Just stated with the conviction/faith of its author.

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                    3. MBP: only a ratifying referendum is necessary for democratic and legal legitimacy – NOT, emphatically NOT a pre independence referendum of any kind that can be wrecked by those whose self-interest lies in frustrating the people who want independence. Well over 50% of all Scots who voted, voted for independence. A minority of Scots voted NO. I mean born Scots. The self-interest of those who voted NO in 2014 – Scottish Unionists, rUK voters, EU voters and foreign nationals – speaks for itself. They had the right to vote however they liked. However, in international human rights and in international law, they did not have the right to thwart the legitimate interests of the indigenous population, and if that happened again, I would not like to predict the consequences. When you speak of ‘the people’, who do you mean? People who have come to Scotland recently in full knowledge that a SNP government, pledged to independence, was in power, and, therefore, meaning that they were in full knowledge that independence was always on the cards? Those people? They are deemed in international law to be ‘colonists’ or, at best, a malign influence on the politics and self-determination of another people. If you are perfectly happy to allow your next door neighbour to decide everything about your life, your job prospects, your future, your children’s future, etc., then come back on here and we might entertain your depressing comments. You have no right to declare how others might vote or why they should limit their horizons to suit you. Your attitude leads inevitably to conflict of a kind that no one wants to see. Confronting the UK government and allowing it to respond negatively, as it will, allows the rest of us who want independence to break free of the constraints of the Union that you place upon us by challenging the UKG to either give in gracefully or to make its case in international law. That it has no case in reality is precisely why it is so bullish and threatening. What do we do? Lie down and think of England?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. While not disagreeing with the points you make regarding the electorate, I remain baffled as to why you raise the issue in regards to me. I’ve never expressed any opinion regarding the make-up of the Scottish electorate on this site (to my knowledge) and, as I said, I broadly agree with your argument.

                      Like

  6. You are right, you can’t defeat faith by rational argument. It’s well above that.

    You have proved me right in something – I ignored my own advice to myself to not get into an argument with two types of people – atheists and royalists! You can’t reason with them, they always think they are right and other people are stupid and they always spit the dummy oot the pram!

    However, being intelligent – I’m not falling out with you. You have a right to your opinions and I respect that.

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  7. You make an excellent point, Stuart. I, for one, am sick to the back teeth of those who, through utter selfish self-interest, have condemned the rest of us to this purgatory under the Tories. They have no moral, legal or constitutional right to do so a second time since they had no right to do so the first time, and, if they do, I wouldn’t like to answer for the consequences because I have rarely seen so much anger in so many people. Unlike the Thatcher years, this is a bubbling cauldron of rage and alienation I, personally, have never encountered before, and I lived through the worst of Thatcher. I have said over and over that this is very similar to Ireland pre 1916. Most of that population did not support secession until they actually encountered the brutality of the British State for having the temerity to think that they might want a different life. We have had but glimpses of that brutality to date, but we have encountered that utterly selfish self-interest of so many rUK voters that it should act as a warning: some of them may not be above calling on Westminster for help as the Irish Unionists did. I keep hoping that they and the Scottish Unionists will see on which side their bread is buttered and throw their lot in with us, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. An attempt to make people believe that a General Election had been turned into a magical-realism version of a single-issue referendum…. Here’s what that would look like:

    Cost of living crisis? Independence!
    Record inflation? Independence!
    NHS crisis? Independence!
    etc, with no end at all.

    I think that would convince a few zealots, but for it to work it would have to convince most of the electorate. In the unlikely event of any success, it would just be a means to justify subsequently holding a real referendum.

    Anyway, that’s what the clamour for a ‘plan B’ always amounted to, if anyone bothered to think about it (there was little thought).

    UDI? I think that would put Scotland in an even worse place than Kosovo (Kosovo isn’t recognised by about half the World), because I think pretty much every country wouldn’t be interested unless it was firstly recognised by the UK. The UK isn’t a recently created Serbia. It would be even less likely to work than the Catalan referendum.

    If you want Scottish independence, you win a recognised referendum. End of. The rest is hot air.

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    1. We can simply point out to those anti Scottish politicians who go an about “Cost of Living Crisis” such as in Labour, we can do precious little of worth about it, without being Independent.
      So that means Independence!
      We can point out, there is precious little we can do about energy costs, until we are Independent.So that means Independence!
      It is actually truly insulting to hear those politicians come out with stuff about focusing on present problems, created by Westminster rule, they know are by mainly Reserved matters and powers, over which Scotland has near zero control.

      Regards places like Kosovo, Scotland is a country,and is recognized as such.
      We are not some bit of someone else’s country that wanted to break away for whatever reason.
      We are our own country, but have allowed another country to rule over us.
      That “Union” suits that other country more than it ever has done us.
      To use a favorite English political slogan, We take back our county.

      With Independence, there will be no UK. It ceases to exists!
      England will have no choice but to accept our Independence, just as it had no choice but to accept Irish Independence.

      As for a recognized Referendum, well how would ever manage that when England’s politicians declare they will never “allow” us one?

      The only way to Independence and protecting our country, and dealing with all those above issues, is to take Independence ourselves, otherwise we get nothing.

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    1. No. It requires the world to accept the post UDI Scottish Govt has the legal capacity to make the subsequent determinative referendum “legal”. Of course, that would require them to accept the post UDI Scotland was already independent which begs the question, “why would you need a subsequent referendum?”. That’s the trouble when you put the cart before the horse, everything becomes absurd.

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    1. What do you imagine happens? If you’re looking for certainty you’re in the wrong universe. But the #ScottishUDI route reframes the issue in such a way that it will be very difficult to vote No. We’ll be asking a different question.

      Watch support for Yes soar when real action is taken. Action inspires. You want support, give people something they can get behind.

      Liked by 2 people

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