“We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.” - Nelson Mandela
There is a clear and straightforward route to independence, although the parties each for their own reasons would have you believe there isn’t.
The current Holyrood parliament would end if there is no First Minister for two weeks. The rules around appointing a First Minister are contained in the standing orders of the parliament and they are complex.
Fortunately, the Scotland Act 2016 devolved the standing orders of the Scottish Parliament to Holyrood, and these standing orders can be amended by an absolute majority. The pro-independence parties in Holyrood have an absolute majority.
So, the simple process is changing the standing order related to appointing a First Minister to require an absolute majority, and then Humza resigns. There will be no First Minister appointed within the two week deadline and a Holyrood election will follow. Sounds easy, so why aren’t they doing it?
The Holyrood election would be fought as a plebiscite election. All independence supporting parties would have a statement declaring it a plebiscite election as the first line of their manifesto.
The statement would be something similar to “This is a vote for Scotland to be an independent country, and a declaration of independence will be made at the first opportunity after this election”.
An independence mandate could be defined as pro-independence parties win the majority of constituency seats and the majority of list votes. The important point is that the mandate must be unquestionable and internationally recognised.
I suggest Humza Yousaf announces this plebiscite election for September 19th this year.
Everything else is just noise.
Neale Hanvey presented a 10 minute rule bill to the Westminster parliament which would have permanently transferred the right to call an independence referendum to the Scottish Parliament. This is to a parliament that has for the last eight years consistently refused to pass the temporary power to call an independence referendum to the Scottish Parliament. Giving the bill no chance of success.
Ash Regan has proposed a bill in the Scottish Parliament that would hold a referendum on whether the Scottish Parliament should have the right to declare and negotiate independence, this would be a precursor to a vote on independence. We would still need another vote to gain a mandate for independence.
We could have this referendum on the same day as the plebiscite election. This would reinforce the independence mandate. But a reminder the electoral commission takes at least six months to prepare for a referendum that is six months prior to the campaign period, so if we want this referendum this year, they all need to get a move on.
These bills raise the Alba party’s profile and wrongfoot their opponents. First, the unionists in Westminster and now the SNP in Holyrood, are unlikely to support the referendum bill because firstly it is a vote about a vote and secondly it wasn’t their idea.
Angus McNeil has long advocated the plebiscite election route and he is right. The leaders of the independence parties should all back his plan. It is the only sure way to independence we have left and if we miss this chance; with the likelihood of a unionist Holyrood in 2026, independence is lost for a generation. The time is now.
A September 19th plebiscite election has a number of advantages for the SNP. First, things are not going to get better for them between now and May 2026.
General election polling is not looking good and the loss of seats means the loss of the short money so a lot of unhappy ex-MPs and staff.
The fiscal framework, how much Scotland receives back from Westminster, is financially disastrous for Scotland as Robin McAlpine sets out here. What on earth is Scotland doing accepting this fiscal framework? | RobinMcAlpine.org.
The ferries still won’t be built nor the A9 dualled. The Green tail will continue to wag the Yellow dog with a series of risible, expensive policies that ultimately fail but not before trust and confidence in the Scottish Government is lost.
The proposed plebiscite date is likely to be before the expected humiliation in the general election so the SNP will have all their MPs and all their cash. And in the unlikely event the general election is called before September, then an upcoming vote on independence will likely save SNP seats.
So why doesn’t Humza call this election? He might fear he will have to resign if the result goes against. But of course, he will not lose, with a good campaign and decent leadership the people will vote for independence. The people are ready, we have been ready for years, we just need the chance to vote.
The problem isn’t getting the right result, the problem is; "What Next?"
The inevitable confrontation with Westminster and the Scottish leader or leaders must be able to face them down, to out manoeuvre and out strategise both at home and internationally.
We have spent far too long obsessing over how we get the independence mandate and too little time thinking and planning what next. How do we bend Westminster to our will and once Westminster concedes what is our negotiating position?
Achieving independence is a process, first, there needs to be a clear expression of democratic will. This we can obtain via the plebiscite election.
Then a declaration of independence by the MSPs shortly after the plebiscite election. A declaration of independence doesn’t make a country independent, but it is clear intent.
Then we invite other countries to recognise Scotland, this will require agitation at home, and diplomacy abroad and if necessary, using the international courts.
Post declaration of independence it will be difficult as we cannot assume Westminster will accede to our will. In which case we will have to make life as difficult as possible for them. We will have to be prepared for turmoil, civil disobedience, demonstrations and using our MPs to cause disruption at Westminster.
If we hold our nerve, eventually the pressure at home and abroad will cause Westminster to accept our independence and get on with trying to disadvantage us in the divorce settlement. We’d not be out of danger and Westminster would make it as hard as possible for us, but this is what we have to do.
We have distracted ourselves for ten years refusing to face up to the fact that Westminster will never make the mistake they made in 2012 again, we will never get another chance for independence unless we are prepared to face down Westminster and win.
That is our task, who is up for it?
“So come all ye at hame wi’ Freedom, Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom.”