Theresa May has called the election to give her a proper Brexit mandate. If the Tories are as successful as the polls suggest, then she’ll get what she wants. That mandate will of course come entirely from England (and Wales). Michael Gove, hoping for a government job after the election, was going about today saying that this England-provided mandate will also apply to the issue of Scottish independence, but of course he knows that’s daft. It was a token effort and he knew it.

In the end, when it comes to contested constitutions, democratic leaders have to pay some attention to credibility and to what the international community thinks. So just as the international community will see the sense of May getting a proper mandate from England on Brexit, it’ll unequivocally accept that on exactly the same basis an SNP winning the majority of seats in Scotland again gets it’s mandate for a new referendum on its own terms. Theresa may will accept this. Most Tory MPs really aren’t bothered about Scotland in any case. For them, it’s all about the EU and a place in English history. That’s just the way it is.

Some SNP folk are a bit nervous that they might lose a seat or two and this might somehow enable a Tory Party with a seat or two in Scotland to continue to prevent a referendum, but it really won’t. Imagine a UK prime minister saying – ‘the people of Scotland have spoken. We have one seat, the SNP has 50-odd. So, no mandate for a referendum, then’. That would of course hamper her own post-election claim for a new Brexit mandate with, perhaps, 40% of the vote. So it won’t happen.

Understandable pre-election nervousness is leading some SNP supporters to argue that there’s no need for an independence referendum – just a majority of Scotland MPs. But this would confuse support for the SNP with support for independence, thereby ignoring and alienating  a fair minority of independence supporters. And if the SNP wins most seats but with less than 50% of the vote, it would mean that a UK government could legitimately say that a minority was dictating to a majority (because on those terms only SNP voters would count).

So independence-supporters need to stay calm. There’s no reason to imagine, in any case, that there’ll be much action in Scotland. If Labour keeps up its ultra-unionist position, it’ll likely lose Edinburgh South since Tories there aren’t going to vote for Corbyn to balance out the votes lost to the SNP. The Tories might improve their share of the popular vote, which will concentrate the minds of non-Tories about exactly who the enemy is. Alistair Carmichael might be the beneficiary of a wee Lib Dem resurgence? There might be a wee change somewhere or other due to local circumstances, but otherwise there really isn’t much room for change.

Scottish Labour should rid itself of the Daily Mail stamp and reject its ultra-unionism. It’s unbecoming, frankly, that the party should be so in the debt of a right-wing, Greater-Englander paper which is going to spend the whole campaign kicking Labour’s head in. Labour should encourage candidates to take their own position on an independence referendum. That might not help much for now, but it might help set up a reasonably coherent raison d’etre in an independent Scotland. Yet as long as it has a Daily Mail guy calling the shots in the press office, along with former press guys/Gordon Brown staffer taking Daily Mail money today, it’s hard to see how that can happen. For now, in any case, the pollsters say that just a sideshow.

For independence supporters, it’s essential to keep the eyes on the prize. Most are SNP folk of course, and it’s only natural that they shout for their party for the next few weeks. There won’t be independence without a referendum, though. And that few extra percent needed at the referendum will come from non-SNP folk who want the best for Scotland and aren’t put off independence by unreasonable aggression (cough, cough…) just because they might support another party in June.

Well, here goes anyway. There’ll be short posts here each day here for the duration of the election period. Do check them out!





20 Responses to Today, on the side, Theresa May accepted Scotland’s likely independence
  1. I agree with your point which is sensibly and clearly made.

  2. Eric – did I imagine it or did the sole Labour MP in Scotland ask Tories to vote for him to stop the SNP from winning the seat ? It’s come to this, the LP in Scotland not simply hand in hand with the Tories or in bed with them, but proposing marriage!

    • Yes, that’s right. It’s fine for a local MP to look what whatever vote he can get. But the problem for Scottish Labour is that it’s letting the anti-SNP message define it rather than an anti-Tory one. Meanwhile, the Tories are talking Labour’s place as the main opposition in Scotland because they’re getting the unionist vote. Labour would do better to stress social justice rather than ultra-unionism.

  3. Forgot to add that this might be over before it begins, if Labour MPs* decide not to vote for Christmas.


  4. There doesn’t have to be a referendum. We know that because plenty of countries have been recognised by the UN without one. The question is – when would UDI be appropriate.

    When independence supporting parties have a majority of MPs, MSPs, MEPs, and there is 60% or greater support in opinion polls?

    Nothing will ever be enough for the control freaks of the UK establishment, so we would have to rely on recognition from other independent countries. You would hope that if the Scottish Government decided to go down the UDI route, they would have previously secured support from at least one other country.

    I’m absolutely in favour of UDI if/when the time is right. Otherwise it will have to be a referendum, with all the problems that entails.

    But UDI – With the right ‘events, dear boy’ we could be free of the Great B May-hem before the year is out.

    • I’m sure that’s true in theoretical terms. And Thatcher certainly didn’t foresee the SNP dominance when she referred to a majority of SNP MPs being enough. But I think it would be very hard to persuade what still seems to be a majority of people in Scotland (although that’ll move across the other way shortly) that it was legitimate to take them out of UK without referendum.

  5. Pretty much bang on Eric. Once one filters out the weird and wonderful on FB it looks as if that’s the mood amongst everyone. Look forward to your writings.

  6. Pretty much Eric.

    From the tone of the FMs response earlier and the attitude displayed, I’m not sensing any desperation. In fact if anything I’d guess quite the opposite.

    The SG have had a very long time to anticipate the political, legal and constitutional means to achieve independence under most eventualities.

    The loss of a few seats won’t dent the clearest electoral mandate in the UK and certainly won’t alter Holyrood’s recent vote. I suspect the PM knows she can’t prevent a Scottish referendum and fears that the second vote under current circumstances will not deliver a victory.

    It seems more likely that today’s action by May is about securing Conservative dominance of England’s electorate for the foreseeable future and delivering a body blow to Labour from which it may take more than another decade to recover.

    A mandate to secure the only Brexit possible at this point and forward the eventual aims of the GRB and the enactment of the Henry VIII clause.

    Now that is a scary thought.

  7. When I heard about the snap GE I was all for making it the referendum on independence. As the day has progressed and I’ve heard Nicola’s reaction I see that is unlikely to happen. The SNP are naturally cautious and I’m sure they have already thought about how they’d react to a snap election.

    I do think now is not the time for an election, especially when the Tories are potentially going to be dragged through the courts for electoral fraud. Labour and the SNP should vote against the dissolution of parliament because of this and let the Tories stew as the court cases take place. They’ll be villified by the press and the BBC but that would be no different to now.

    • Yes. I think Labour might have been wise to vote against the dissolution and prevent it quite legitimately for a while until they might be in better nick. But as I say in the wee piece, it’s hard for an opposition not to at least abstain when the sitting government wants to throw the towel in.

  8. Eric, I was intrigued by the article’s title but I didn’t see much follow-up on that in the text itself.

    I just don’t know what to think. I remember when you came out for Yes last year you were sure that Yes must have surged to 60% immediately after the EU referendum, but of course it hadn’t. Most people with any sense are seing the logic of independence and saying so, but it seems an awful lot of people still aren’t seeing it.

    My own view is that there was a fear factor over Brexit that spilled over into the independence question. People saw the immediate negative reaction to the Brexit vote, the fall in the pound and so on, and maybe thought in their hearts, if there had been a Yes vote in 2014 would it have been like that? Reeling from Brexit, do ordinary voters have the confidence to grasp independence or will they be so afraid of further uncertainty and possible isolationism that they’ll hold tightly on to nurse?

    As you say, we have to keep our heads and see how this plays out. I’m beginning to think that independence may emerge as an endpoint from a wholly chaoric situation. Just as German reunification emerged from the chaos of 1989, or indeed the Baltic states from the fall of the Soviet Union. There may be a tipping point where things just snowball, but at the moment I don’t know what it will take.

    If it does get to the point where this is all about blood and soil nationalism, though, I think the union will lose. The hardcore British nationalist proportion in Scotland is only about 30%. In 2014 the No side needed a lot of people whose primary identity is Scottish and who would be quite comfortable with an independent Scotland – indeed I know some who actually wanted it in their hearts – to make up that 55% for the win. Hence Project Fear.

    If the fear factor is, at worst, equal on both sides, and the No campaign is trumpeting union jackery no surrender, I think they’ll lose. But it’s all terribly uncertain and do I have time to fit in a nervous breakdown about now?

    • Support for independence DID reach 60% in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. It was actually 62% I believe. It quickly settled back again, but that leap was there.

    • All of this is super food for thought, Morag. Thanks very much. I hope people will move rationally towards independence as a means of moving beyond the madness provoked by the UK government, and much else. Worth noting today’s ST poll giving Tories 32% of vote. Along with a perhaps half or more of the remaining unionist party vote this puts the immovable No vote at over 40%. This is why I always stress the importance of present Labour/Lib Dem voters as their move to Yes will be the balance needed. I should say that while the ST poll is interesting and likely sound, it’s inferences about SNP seats look very ‘bigged up’ in the headline. In the actual article is says seats like Angus Mc have a ‘low’ chance of changing hands. I think the Tories will get 1-5 seats depending what happens in those two SNP/indy seats.

  9. I believe Jeremy Corbyn would go into coalition with the SNP and LD. LD can hardly go into coalition now, despite Farron’s wish, with Tories and retain anti-Brexit stance. That’s a relief. Just hope Tory majority doesn’t happen again for the sake of all who are not rich and could never pay Richard Branson et alia for their health care. If for nothing else, be it concern for the poor because of deliberate Tory policies since 2010 or for the disabled whom they’re hounding to death also, vote Labour in England!

  10. I wonder if the Liberal Democrats may take back some of the seats they lost to the Tories in the 2015 election. They seem to have been doing a little less badly in the polls.

    I’m not entirely sure that Mrs May will be much, or any better off after this. Indeed she may cause the Labour Party to ditch Mr Corbyn and chose a right wing Blairite who will fight tooth and nail for an end to Brexit even if it means co operating with the SNP.

    As for Gove, you’re more likely to know about him than I. I’ve never met the man, but I can’t help thinking that he says a lot of things before he thinks them through. This may, of course, be his Daily Mail wife speaking.

  11. Look forward to them Eric.


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