Courtesy of Peter A. Bell:
The British parties dread having to fight the 2016 Holyrood elections on a platform of opposing an independence referendum. They did that in 2007 and 2011, and they are painfully aware of the outcome. They would much prefer that the issue was not a topic at all. That way, they could avoid awkward questions about why they are yet again setting their face against something the public wants. And possibly even more difficult questions about how they propose to block a referendum for which the Scottish Government has a decisive mandate.
There is a simple solution that seems to have evaded Gordon Wilson. The SNP should include in their 2016 manifesto an affirmation of Scotland’s right of self-determination and a commitment to another referendum IN PRINCIPLE ONLY. That is to say, without any commitment to a specified schedule.
This is not only desirable but essential. Absent such a commitment, the SNP will stand charged of abandoning the cause of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. More importantly – since “SNP accused…!” headlines no longer have the impact they may once have had – absent an explicit affirmation of the right of the people of Scotland to determine the constitutional status of their nation, backed by voters, unionist efforts to erode or even abolish our right of self-determination will be given a boost.
Simple and elegant. All through 2007 and 2011, the Unionist parties relentlessly badgered the SNP for a date, time and weather forecasts for an independence referendum, all the while working to prevent a referendum from happening in the first place. As soon as the SNP were elected, they changed tact, and not only demanded the referendum take place, but demanded the SNP have the referendum when they, not the SNP, wanted it – i.e., when it suited them.
As I’ve argued, we must continue to argue for independence. Independence can only happen through the mandate of the people of Scotland – that is, through a referendum. Therefore, we must continue to argue for a referendum on independence, on the basis that the people of Scotland alone have the right to dictate the terms of such a plebiscite. The Westminster parties will do everything in their power to stop that from happening, and history has shown that even fighting it has cost them dearly at the polling station.
We’re not going to let those opposed to the very idea of independence dictate where and when it’s going to happen – nor should we let our own cause tear itself apart over disagreements over the timing.