It’s being reported in The National today that the SNP councillor Christopher McEleny, leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council, has called on the Scottish Government to give the British Government a deadline for another independence referendum. He has suggested that Boris Johnson should be given until Easter to accept demands for a Section 30 order, and that if he refuses after the deadline then alternative steps should be taken.
He’s right, perhaps not on the details of the timing, but certainly on the general principle. Boris Johnson is not going to accept demands for another independence referendum unless it is made clear to him that the political cost of refusing is greater than the political cost of agreement. Johnson is most certainly not going to accept calls for another independence referendum when support for independence is at 50% or over in the polls. The more that support for independence grows in the opinion polls, the greater the incentive Johnson will have to refuse agreement for another referendum – all the more so if he believes that he can continue to refuse and see the Scottish Government do nothing in response. He will have nothing to lose by refusing and everything to lose by agreeing. We’ll just see the same arrogant fnaugh-fnaughing from him from now until Jacob Rees Mogg develops a taste for hip hop. Actually sorry, that’s unfair on Jacob. We now know that Jacob is an ordinary person just like everyone else, because he tweeted a photo of himself in his office eating crisps. Although the photo also apparently shows that he shares his office with Death.
Anyway, it’s simple logic. The only way to make sure that Johnson agrees to cooperate is by giving him a reason to. That means giving him something to lose, which can be achieved by ensuring that he sees there is a political cost to refusal. Eventually the Scottish Government has to make sure that Boris Johnson understands that the only hope in hell he’s got of resisting Scottish independence is to win another independence referendum. Yes, of course we need to continue to make the case for independence. Yes, of course we need to keep building public support for independence. And yes, of course the more that we successfully do these things the more likely it is that there will be majority support in Scotland for alternative strategies. But we are still left with the core issue – at some point, Johnson’s refusal to agree to another referendum must be tackled head on.
The good news is that according to the much misrepresented opinion poll which was published this week, it appears that there is already a solid majority of support within Scotland for another indepedence referendum within the next few years. There is already a clear majority of support for the view that a decision about holding another referendum should be for the people of Scotland, not the British Prime Minister.
There are a number of ways to force Johnson’s hand, all of which are perfectly legal and constitutional despite the media’s favoured framing of “illegal” or “wildcat” referendums. Naturally the anti-independence media is very concerned to create a widespread public opinion that the only legal route to independence runs through Boris Johnson’s agreeing to a Section 30 order. But that’s not true, and the Scottish Government must first and foremost ensure that the Scottish public understands that it’s not true, that Scotland is not and will not consent to be a passive victim of Boris Johnson’s political convenience.
One of Chris McEleny’s suggestions is for the SNP manifesto for the Holyrood elections to contain a clear commitment to hold a consultative referendum even in the face of a refusal from Johnson. A yes result in that ballot would then give the Scottish Government a mandate to start independence negotiations with Westminster.
Critics of this position have argued that a consultative referendum without a Section 30 order risks putting the independence movement back. They say that it would be boycotted by the anti-independence parties, and could be ruled illegal by the courts. It is highly likely that one of the anti-independence parties in Scotland would indeed take legal action against the Scottish Government if a consultative referendum was to be announced, but that legal action wouldn’t represent a reverse for the independence movement at all. If the consultative referendum was ruled legal, then the anti-independence parties would have no grounds for a boycott. That would be a clear win for the independence movement.
However it would also be a win for the independence movement if a consultative referendum was ruled illegal. In that case it would prove that the oft-stated claim that Scotland is a free partner in a voluntary union was a lie – and that in turn would simply provide a cast-iron justification for a plebiscite election instead. Those whose position was fundamentally undermined by a ruling that a consultative referendum was illegal would be those who claim to be unionists. They’d then be forced to justify how they can continue to claim that Scotland is a voluntary member of a union when Scotland is not allowed to decide for itself to continue in that union, after the people of Scotland had expressly voted for a Scottish Government with a policy of holding a consultative referendum. And crucially, they couldn’t use legal means to block a plebiscite election.
The point that needs to be made is that the key to independence unlocks a door in Holyrood, not Number 10. All routes lead to a vote on Scottish independence, and the more that Boris Johnson and his enablers in Scotland continue to block or forestall that vote, the more difficult it’s going to be for them to make a case for the UK when the vote finally – and inevitably – happens. So it’s a good idea to give the British Government and its little helpers in Holyrood a deadline. At some point, Boris Johnson’s bullheadedness must be taken by the horns.
The British nationalists and their enablers must be forced to acknowledge that their continued block on the democratic will of the people of Scotland comes with grave consequences for their own parties and their own position. The longer that they continue to act as a fatberg in the pipe, the more the pressure will rise and the more likely it becomes that they’re going to be swept away down the drain of history. They need to understand that the deadlines that they’re given are deadlines for their own efforts to prevent independence, and it’s their own intransigence which will be their undoing. The clock is ticking on the British nationalists’ attempts to prevent independence.
The dug had to go to the vet yesterday to have a tooth taken out – a procedure which requires a general anaesthetic in dogs. It went fine and he’s home now and fully recovered, although he spent most of yesterday evening being especially grumpy and unsteady on his feet.
His only issue is mild arthritis. He’s started on an anti-inflammatory to help with the joint pain, and I have also started giving him a daily supplement which is supposed to help joint function.
The good news is that the vet did a blood test and was very pleasantly surprised to discover absolutely nothing of any note. She remarked that this is extremely unusual in a dog of Ginger’s age. He is an exceptionally healthy dog for his 13 years and apart from his mild arthritis he has the constitution of a much younger dog. So we can expect that he’s going to be around for a good few years to come.
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