Tuesday, January 23, 2018

An independence referendum in 2019 or 2020 is looking increasingly likely

Somebody with more patience than I have will doubtless work their way line-by-line through Gerry Hassan's latest update of 'The Article'.  There are the familiar highlights - the claims that Nicola Sturgeon was "out-manoeuvred by Theresa May" during the spring of 2017 (presumably by the tactical brilliance of May calling an unnecessary election and throwing her majority away) and that the SNP are too "proprietorial" about the indy cause and don't give enough space to "independent initiatives" such as Common Weal and RISE.  (It's an abuse of the language to call RISE an "initiative" - it was/is a fully-fledged political party set up with the intention of taking list votes from the SNP and possibly depriving them of an overall majority at Holyrood.)

What really made my jaw drop to the floor, though, was this passage -

"It is understandable that Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t taken a future indy referendum officially off the table. Not only does it work as a discipline on SNP and indy supporters; critically it acts as a hypothetical big stick towards the UK Government in relation to Brexit. Yet, what the SNP leadership has failed to point out is that there is next to no chance of an indy referendum in 2019 or indeed before 2021 (and before the next Scottish elections)."

There is of course a very good reason why the SNP leadership have "failed to point that out" - ie. it isn't actually true.  It's the polar opposite of the truth.  I have no doubt that there are people in the SNP, including at quite a senior level, who wish that the whole idea of a second indyref before 2021 would just go away so that they can get on with other things.  But all of the mood music suggests that those people have lost the internal argument and that Nicola Sturgeon is serious about the option of a referendum in 2019 or 2020.  That doesn't necessarily mean it will happen - she's made clear that continued single market membership is her main red line, so if that improbable outcome emerges from the negotiations, an indyref will presumably be off the table until after 2021.  But the fact that the party leadership have made no effort whatever to downplay expectations that an indyref will be called if Scotland is dragged out of the single market is highly significant.  The idea that this is just empty talk intended to function as a "discipline" and a "big stick" just doesn't stack up - they would have been far, far cagier with their language if they were secretly gearing themselves up for a massive climbdown this autumn, because they know full well what the consequences for SNP internal unity would be if members feel they have been led up the garden path.  If anything, the statements have only been getting bolder in recent weeks.

Now, it's true that the mainstream media (especially in London but also in Scotland) have been paying precious little attention to the SNP's public comments about an indyref, and will probably be completely stunned if and when the starting-gun is fired.  But on the balance of probability, that is what appears set to happen.

48 comments:

  1. I think a Sept 2019 or May 2020 vote is a strong possibility. It may be sooner if Brexit completely crashes and burns but I have feeling the negotiations will drag on for a bit.

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  2. Good writing, James.

    If we end up with a Norway/EFTA type agreement meaning single market/free movement of people then I'm not sure if we will see a second referendum.

    Anything less than that, and there will be one.

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  3. Agree with your take.

    Gerry thinks he has sight of the thoughts of the FM. Surely he's blind as a bat!

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  4. Poor Gerry, his insight seems to have failed him again.

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  5. " the claims that Nicola Sturgeon was "out-manoeuvred by Theresa May" during the spring of 2017 (presumably by the tactical brilliance of May calling an unnecessary election and throwing her majority away)"

    The more I think about it, the more I think that's the only reason the election was ever called - to wipe out the SNP majority & spook the SNP into calling off indyref2. The sheer amount of money all the parties pumped into Scottish seats combined with the No Indyref2 ticket & the generally terrible results in the rest of the UK suggest that Scotland is the only place where they did well - and even then, it was clearly not enough to remove the SNP majority.

    The fact Ruth et al have been blathering on about indyref2 being "dead" and the SNP being "crushed" is them desperately trying to make their wishful thinking reality. I say the more we make them think that's the case, the better - after all, how many times have we heard people say Alex Salmond would never call an indyref, until he called an indyref? Same principle at play.

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    1. A bit solipsistic. The polls when the election was called didn't indicate that the SNP majority was under any serious threat. The reason the election happened is pretty obvious - May's people had convinced her she was going to crush Labour.

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    2. Tories did well in Scotland due to No voters and Labour voters tactically voting. Still don;t think that is what drove May , she was looking at predicted 100+ majority....

      Enough to do what she liked with Brexit with no bother to overcome minor backbench revolt from wet Tory Europhiles.

      If the Scotland story even made it onto the table it was side player.

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  6. Gerry Hassan is an arse. He rattles on about big ideas for change and provides absolutely none himself. I think he is hedging his bets, and tending towards being a unionist agent. Deeply suspect man.

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  7. All that said, Gerry Hassan, while offering a lot to disagree with, also raises valid points that we dismiss at our peril.

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    1. Such as? As has been hinted at by others, it's always very unclear what he thinks the 'solution' to the 'problem' is in concrete terms. If he's tacitly calling for a sharp turn to the radical left, that's potentially very dangerous advice.

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    2. Independence for Scotland should not be the "Excuse" to try to create a socialist state, that comes AFTER Independence and based on what the electorate want. Independence is surely about Power. Who has it, who exercises it, whom can determine who has it (i.e. the Scottish electorate).

      Perhaps an independent Scotland elects a centre-right government? Perhaps it elects a "Radical socialist"one. But neither of these alternatives should be the narrative about why Independence is right and proper.

      Independence in and of itself is a legitimate goal, and afterwards the Scottish people will determine what kind of political Scotland they want.

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    3. Yes, such as wedding the cause of independence too close to the SNP. Independence has to have many voices, but they have to agree on the vision of it being a route to self-determination, dignity and continued prosperity. Independence needs to mean a lot of different things to different people. It has to overcome the smug, self-contentedness of being British. But most importantly, if the movement is controlled by the SNP, then it risks becoming a referendum on the SNP, who are, after 11 good years in office, nevertheless showing signs of attrition.

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  8. Seems to me Sturgeon is still indicating the same possibility as before, which is autumn 2018 or spring 2019. And the maximum leverage would in any case be achieved by at least setting the date before the Brexit date as that forces the EU-27 and the UK both to take account of the possible result as it affects the terms the UK would have negotiated, which would include Scotland. Otherwise it seems to me the Article 50 agreement would be invalid.

    I guess the actual date could be after Brexit itself as long as there's a transitional period, but the ref should be announced before.

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  9. Gerry Hassan - what a joke that man is. He has been spinning for years in an attempt to get "Labour voters" to return home. The latest offering is just more of the same. He has never been a supporter of Independence

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  10. Sturgeon has made pretty clear indications that an upcoming referendum is on the table. I don't see how anyone can question it who has read what she has said and tweeted. I doubt 2018. That would be a tight time frame although I see no reason for it to stretch into years as the last one did. But if it doesn't happen in 2019, assuming the worst with Brexit - which I do - I will be very surprised.

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    1. Would it be independence or independence in the EU? Seems some of your nat si pals just want independence!

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    2. Not independent enough ? That old canard makes a nostalgic comeback, not independent enough while in the EU so why not just stay with London taking all your tax money and grudgingly giving it back while you host their WMD's.....

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    3. Jocks get more per person from Westminster... Jockoland would collapse without the English taxpayer funding them... That is why you hate the hand that feed you...You would rather lose the massive trade with England than stay in the Union... The EU will not bail you out Jocko.

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    4. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHahaHaHahahahahahahaa.....

      Scotland runs at a profit you dunce. Why do you think the Tories in Westminster are so determined to hold onto it's purse strings?

      And Scotland ran at such an embarrassing profit pre-war (and pre-oil) that they stopped the reports on how much profit it ran at.

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  11. James, I think we need a running update on polling averages of support for independence and support for another independence referendum. It would help a lot of supporters deal with the grim YouGov polling that pops up occasionally.

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  12. "....the mainstream media (especially in London but also in Scotland) have been paying precious little attention to the SNP's public comments about an indyref"

    Oh I think they have been paying lots of attention. They just ain't letting on. The intense period of SNP bashing currently going on in the headlines and the TV screens gives the game away - they are very well aware and they are worried, very worried. They know what's coming. The little ploy seems to be ignore any reference to indyref2, pretend it ain't go to happen, and go into SNP BAD overdrive. :)

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    1. Stick tae fish an chips Luigi and wear your Mussolini badge wae pride.

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    2. I think someone may be worried today...

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  13. your analysis is correct, James ..... every time I read an article by Gerry Hassan it is always the same "SNP too timid ... no radical vision ... where is the inspiration ... a Party fallen into malaise etc." he points out all the "failings" but never once suggests the cure for these perceived short comings. For me Hassan comes across as the person who see's flaws in everything but equally is excused in offering solutions to anything ..... a contemporary Private Fraser (Dads Army) who constantly quotes "we're all Doomed ... Doomed a' tell ye" .... and his belief that NS will "bottle it" in respect to IndyRef2 is so facile it truly demonstrates his complete ignorance of our F.M. ... Nicola may indeed have flaws, but a lack of Moral Fibre & a spine ain't either o' them.

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    1. What would you say are her flaws?

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    2. Perhaps an English hater and wants to sell out Scotland to the EU beaurocracy.

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  14. Honestly, I think TM had to call the GE in order to regain the initiative from the SNP/Scotland was dictating. A reduced majority was collateral damage in a situation where the DUP could be relied upon. Now the MSP election is in front of the next GE (unless the cards come falling down) and all the Unionists need to do is eliminate the pro-indy majority and the whole thing is dead in the water. Brexit doesn't seem to have lit a fire in Scotland yet and you can guarantee the compliant press will downplay any hazards and promote and benefits (trade deals with US to sell salmon anyone...) if the SNP manage to somehow hold a referendum in advance of Holyrood elections I'm not sure on what basis they would be able to encourage enough people to vote for it. Sorry folks, hope I'm wrong.

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    1. Tories called election with polls saying 100+ majority....

      If damage to SNP was the goal it was not the primary one. I think May was worried about back bench rebellion on Brexit and hoped for big majority to move things through. That is why its such a shambles now..and why votes on Brexit are being avoided.

      Their strategy collapsed so they need to walk a minefield.

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  15. I disagree with the comments suggesting that buggering the SNP/Scottish issues was May's main motivation in calling the election. I think it might have been a factor. But definitely not the main one. I assume she was mainly looking to increase the Tory majority - which obviously worked out well for her, chuckle.
    Scotland just doesn't figure prominently in the thinking of the London-based political elite.

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  16. Gerry Hassan plays both sides of the fence too much for my liking. He's an expert in weaselly language that never quite says anything definite and his readers would see right through him if he wrote in accordance with the Oxford Guide to Plain English. I find his use of "meta-language" annoying and obfuscatory. It's designed to conceal the fact that he doesn't have a clear policy position on ANYTHING other than keeping his niche as the pseudo-intellectual other pseudo-intellectuals help to keep in a job. The term "Toom Tabard" occurs to me. I find it baffling as to why anyone pays any attention to him - his writing is 90% empty verbiage.

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  17. Where is Aldo, want to hear a Tory POV. Sure he thinks Indyref 2 never happening at all as YES cannot command a majority and a second defeat does IMO kill it.

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    1. You nat si fuds talk a lot about indyref 2 so just do it and stop yer constant jock moanin you are gettin worse than the Irish. We Brits are up for it and will trash you again at the polls.

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    2. If you're up for it, why do you keep voting for parties whose sole platform is opposition to a second referendum?

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    3. Silly jocko I vote Labour and not on a single issue

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    4. So the "Brits" are up for indyref2, but always vote against it. Talk about all mooth and no trooser.

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    5. We are wearing the troosers nat si bhoy and you lot of English haters are the mooth pieces and EU erse lickers.

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    6. Is this guy/woman the pet village idiot for this page?

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    7. He's the pet village idiot. Every page needs one.

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    8. Yep, that’s ours. We keep home here for our amusement. He also usefully cranks up the number of posts.

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    9. Hello Running Man. I'm going by the bookies' odds at the moment, which seem to suggest around a 27% chance of an indyref before 2021. So while it's possible there may be an indyref, it is unlikely. My personal opinion is that it will not be held as a 2nd referendum is too high stakes to lose.

      Aldo

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  18. It would be hard at this point for the Unionists to become more frenzied in their attacks. They are saving nothing, it would seem, for the referendum itself.

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  19. Where is your eurovision post? We in America are starved for news....UK pick to be decided soon....they announced finalists. Why does Scotland not get an entry? Does Ireland.?

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    1. Donald wears yer trossers is not PC. Maybe skirt!

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  20. Noted your tweet about Sarwar young James. Pity he did not speak out at the time and name the person.

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