Monday, March 5, 2018

#ScotRefBefore2021

I had an exchange with Peter A Bell last night about his "#Referendum2018" hashtag, the frequent use of which he thinks is an important tool to establish support for an early independence referendum.  I told him that I wished I could get behind that hashtag, but I couldn't, because I believe 2018 has already been timed out as a possible date for the vote, and that 2019 or 2020 are now much more probable.  I suggested something like "#ScotRefBefore2021" as a better alternative.  He replied (and this was not a surprise because he's said it many times before) that I might as well opt for #ReferendumNever, because if there isn't a referendum by the autumn of this year, the British state will take some unspecified action to make a vote impossible to hold, or unwinnable.

I think on its own merits the #Referendum2018 thing is harmless enough.  It's pretty obvious that its adherents are heading very shortly for a 'Free by 93' moment, but that's not the end of the world.  However, it becomes more problematical when anyone who doesn't sign up to the 2018 date is told that they effectively oppose an early referendum.  That creates a needless split among people who are essentially on the same side of the debate about timing.  The real debate is between those who think the SNP's mandate for a referendum before the May 2021 election should be honoured, and those who either don't think that or are extremely sceptical.  A unity of purpose among the supporters of a pre-2021 referendum is important, because as we've seen, we'll need to make our case against at least a few well-known and influential people within the SNP who are minded to allow the mandate to expire.  The last thing we need is some artificial division among ourselves over the exact date.  I also worry that Peter is getting himself so boxed in with his insistence on the absolute necessity of a September 2018 vote that he might give up on campaigning for a referendum when he finally accepts his preferred timing isn't going to happen (and that moment can't be far off).  He might even react angrily towards those of us who are continuing to push for an early referendum, which could be rather unhelpful at a time when the prize may be closer than ever.

#ScotRefBefore2021 is just a suggestion, and it may be too unwieldy.  But please, let's come up with a more inclusive hashtag than #Referendum2018 - one that we can all get behind full-bloodedly, and hopefully get trending.

51 comments:

  1. I actually agree with Peter, but your point about a 'Free by 93' moment is a fair one. There's no need for a date just yet, and I think it's still a bit premature to call in the banners. The problem is that damage is already being done to Scotland by the Brexit drag. University staff and research budgets are heading to the EU, EU nationals are leaving, essential foreign nationals are still being spitefully deported by the Home Office, and businesses are wondering whether to leave. Some are leaving.

    And potentially, so are UK nationals like me. I'm torn between the desire to stay and fight for Scotland's independence, or get out of the UK now before things get a lot worse. And economically and politically, they WILL get worse. I've started applying for jobs in the EU because I don't want to be stuck, post March 2019, in a sunless Tory version of Erdoğan's Turkey. I actually want to stay here - this is my country - but there's realistically only so much prevarication that can be tolerated about your own future. I can no longer save any money to buy a house because food prices are rocketing. I'm ready to have kids, but I don't want them to grow up in a futureless Brexit UK where they will be priced out of higher education and have no NHS. I worry greatly about where this country is headed. And in the absence of any concrete indy plans, I can only assume there will be no indy and plan for the worst. And I can't be the only one!

    Waiting until the UK is out of the EU is a very dangerous gamble. The Tories are ruthless, authoritarian ideologues with a contempt for democracy, a desire to ban social media sites such as this one, a willingness to fabricate news and no problems commiting violence for their own enrichment, and Scotland is an oil country. If you think they will let us go just because people might vote for indy (in a vote they will delegitimise in every way they can) then you maybe need to look at the formerly British-run oil countries in the Middle East and see what their democratic aspirations were worth. The Tories will burn Scotland to the ground before they let us go, and once we're out of the EU, we are in the same isolated position as the pro-democracy Turks are today, with nobody to stop the US Republican/Tory carve up of our resources (and the removal of Holyrood). Once the UK is out of the EU in March next year, there will be a power vacuum that only dark things will come here to fill.

    I realise that a vote before March 2019 is problematic and there are lots of 'known unknown' variables still playing out there. But it's the 'unknown unknowns' post 2019 that worry me more :(

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    1. The problem is, though, that even if you support a referendum in March 2019 (and I think that wouldn't be a bad call), Peter would inform you that you've "given up" and that you actually oppose a referendum and are happy to let the British state trample all over us.

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    2. I agree with you anonymous (you get around, don't you?) that Peter has boxed himself in. I also agree with James that there is a danger of Peter giving up if there is no referendum this year (though, perhaps like the Mormons, he might come to the conclusion that he was wrong about the date, and just set another one), which would be a loss to the movement as Peter does a great deal of good work, and for that I admire him greatly.
      However, he does have an Achilles heel - he just doesn't like others who don't agree with him, and has great difficulty engaging with it. Basically, too often, Peter's view is that if you don't agree with him you must be wrong because you haven't agree with him. I have found this myself on more than one occasion (one of them was actually about dog ownership) and James has found this for himself.
      Independence provokes a wide range of views, but even if we restrict ourselves to those views which are positive about it, we really do need to understand that, like anything in the future, there is material uncertainty. This is not - as Peter too often presents it - a doctrine of defeat or despair, but of the need for us all to participate in a wide ranging debate to identify the commonalities and significant points and to agree certain propositions that we can all rally round. Peter thinks he knows what these are already.

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  2. How about #ReferendumNOW

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  3. On the National site there is a suggestion that EU citizens will lose the franchise at Brexit, i.e. spring 2019:http://www.thenational.scot/news/16064300.EU_nationals__to_lose_their_right_to_vote_in_post_Brexit_indyref2_/
    They were lied to in 2014, told to vote No to stay in the EU. They know better now and we need their votes, which is another reason to agree with Peter above and have the referendum before we leave the UK.

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    1. We're leaving the EU (presumably) in March 2019, not in September 2018. Even after that, there's likely to be a transition period in which EU law will continue to apply.

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    2. Note likely, may not happen, up to EU not Westminster.

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  4. Hi James, I saw some of the discussion on Wings' twitter feed. I'd have to say I can see both sides of the argument and probably sit somewhere in the middle.

    I believe an Autumn 2018 referendum is possible, but only if its called in the next couple of weeks. That would need a reasonably firm trigger, something like Westminster enacting the EU Withdrawal Bill with a devolved powers grab. I don't think Westminster will give us that excuse (although, on current form, they might just be that stupid) so Autumn 2018 and is most likely to time out as a date.

    However, I believe that any delay beyond Spring 2019 risks not being able to have a referendum at all. I think we can already see the 'unspecified action' from the UK taking shape. They'll likely pounce on today's report that EU citizens will be disenfranchised during any transition period, which would start Yes some 200,000 votes behind. After Spring 2019, as Brexit begins to bite, I can see Westminster enacting a raft of emergency powers, or ministers using their Henry VIII powers, to 'protect and strengthen our Union of nations'. That would probably immediately include stripping Holyrood of any powers to hold a 'divisive' referendum of any sort.

    Of course, there's nothing to prevent Westminster from refusing to agree to a referendum now, or simply ignoring any result Catalan style. However, I think that will be harder to do before spring-19 and before then they'll still be diverted with negotiating Brexit and selling the deal (or no deal) to the population.

    You're right to highlight the problems of getting an Autumn 2018 referendum off the ground. However, I wouldn't dismiss to quickly Peter's concerns of the difficulties of going beyond Spring 2109 (waiting beyond the next Scottish elections is a complete non-starter, I agree). The window is narrowing and I hope that the SNP leadership recognise that and are on top of it.

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    1. If Peter's cut-off point was Spring 2019 rather than Autumn 2018, I think he'd be on much stronger ground. But as I noted above, he's going around telling anyone who supports a Spring 2019 referendum that they've "given up".

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  5. March 2019. Consultative ref held by Holyrood, same eligibility as Sept 2014.

    1. Should Scotland remain in the EU single market, custom union? (Yes/No).
    2. Should the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood be able to call and hold a referendum on independence at a time of it's choosing without reference to Westminster? (Yes/No).

    Let's choose a battle we can win and send a meaningful result to Westminster and the EU...

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    1. Scotland is Not in the EU, Great Britain is and Scotland is part of it.
      And Edinburgh Has no power to call any Indy vote

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    2. State of this.

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  6. What's wrong with #ScotRef? We have to trust the Scottish Government to decide the best time to call a referendum. They are in the discussions and have access to expert legal advice, after all. There's too much at stake to get it wrong.

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  7. I first joined the SNP in 1964. I desperetely want a second Independence Referendum. However, I cannot support a referendum in 2018 because I think we need to allow the grassroots Yes campaign to get going across the country. Like many other times during the past 52 years I am guarded in my support for the current leadership group (not specifically Nicola Sturgeon). However, I am encouraged by the grassroots movement and I think this year should be spent working our socks off in whatever community you belong to to win IndyRef2.

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  8. Hi James,

    I worry that if we wait until after March 2019 then as others above have said we won't get a referendum and there will be no legal recourse to the EU. We will be trapped in the UK legal system and they will simply tie us up forever as Madrid is doing to Catalonia. They will keep us tied up until they can make sure Scotland is so fucked economically that independence will become almost an impossibility. The thought of decades more of London rule fills me with dread.
    X_Sticks

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    1. That's fine. But will you please help get the message across to Peter A Bell that he needs to adjust his cut-off point from September 2018 to March 2019. This "September 2018 or bust" stuff is utterly counter-productive, because it's already clear that September 2018 isn't going to happen.

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    2. 'they' should announce March 2019 in Sept 2018.

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    3. Trying to change Peter's mind is a bit like trying to stop a supertanker! In any previous 'disagreements' I have been summarily dismissed. He's not the most open-minded person I've come across ;). Agree Sept is nigh on impossible in all sorts of ways. I trust Nicola and her advisers are very aware of the situation, although there are some who have been proposing 2020 or 2021 for indyref2 and I think if that's the plan we will certainly be screwed unless they know something I don't.

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  9. We should have another referendum on whether the Scottish Parliament should remain.
    The Scottish MP'S at Westminster could easily run our business and the savings could boost the NHS and alleviate poverty in Scotland.

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    1. State of this.

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    2. You're giving the game away, dear. You're becoming too obvious a wind-up lady. Reel it back in a bit and we'll all get more laughs.

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    3. Anon are you the knob that used to do the Cox & May regular routine?

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    4. Iain I do like a wind up but not on this occasion. Are you Jocks so thick that you pay your taxes after working hard to a bunch of unnesesary politicians.

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    5. Yes Westminster

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    6. You nat sis if you had any credibility would not stand candidates for Westminster. The Sinn Fein IRA stand candidates who take the money but not their seats. All hypocrites lining their pockets with taxpayers money.

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    7. ...unnecessary... D.

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  10. Peter Bell is one of the indy writers I respect most (along with your good self, James) and he is very insightful indeed. But... once he locks on to an idea there is no budging him. So, James, where does that leave you? I agree with your analysis here but your and Peter's last spat on Twitter was one of the final straws that pushed me off that particular medium. Can I suggest that you, by all means, register your opposition to his (or anyone else's) views but don't waste your time and energy battling anyone who is on our side in this matter. Time is going to prove your or Peter right (or both wrong) so what is the value to furthering the Independence cause by trying to prove yourself right (as he is doing) before the event? Let it lie, man, let it lie...

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    1. I'm somewhat bemused by your comment, because you're basically in agreement with the central thrust of the blogpost (ie. that we must avoid artificial divisions between people who essentially agree with each other), and yet for some reason you think I shouldn't have written it. Does that mean you shouldn't have written your own reply? Let it lie, Hugh, let it lie!

      As far as my last "spat" with Peter is concerned, from what I recall that mostly consisted of him chucking foul-mouthed abuse at me, and then telling me I was weird for thinking that was inappropriate. I'm relieved to say he didn't do anything like that last night.

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    2. Sorry, didn't express myself as clearly as I would have liked. I thought your article here was excellent but perhaps your repeated comments to various posters to "tell that to Peter" (or words to that effect) were unnecessary.

      I remember your last spat with Peter as your describe it; good to hear this one wasn't so acrimonious.

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  11. Realistically we would need 3/4 months minimum for a decent campaign and we certainly don't need much more than that. The principles are well established now, and Independence as a concept (whether you agree with it or not) is no longer a strange idea. That was one positive at least from the Independence campaign. So we aren't starting from zero.

    What this means is that the very latest that a September Ref can be called would be May or June. But would we be in a more informed state by then? Or will we still be in this limbo between the EU/UK positions? It's hard to say at this point.

    However, by September, things MUST be clearer and it should be more than possible to see exactly what the impact of the UK Brexit position will have on the UK and Scotland. Then a Ref call would be a genuine response to the negative position the WM govt. is taking us.

    So I am guessing a call for IndyRef2 by the Autumn with a date set for early March 2019. That would allow the Scottish position to be part of the transitional arrangements and I would expect the EU to opt for allowing iScotland some form of "associate" membership or "holding position" pending the expulsion of the UK in March 2021 and Scotland's formal acceptance as a full member state at the same time.

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    1. March 2019 is the perfect time for Scotland's collective voice to be heard by Westminster and the EU institutions referendum facilitated by Holyrood on single market, custom union membership and the ability of Holyrood to decide for itself on timing of indyref2. We need more constitutional polarisation on what exactly Holyrood can and can't do outside the Scotland Act and by the will of the people as constituted, time to pick sides.

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  12. On a related issue a friend has just emailed the following stats:

    “Of the 181,000 non-UK EU nationals living in Scotland, 30,000 (16%) were under 16 years of age. Of the 152,000 non-UK EU nationals aged 16 and over: o 115,000 were in employment (75.9%) o 7,000 were unemployed (4.8%) o 29,000 were inactive (19.3%)”…excerpt from ScotGov docs

    If this is the case and given that this group would be very likely to vote Yes to remain inside the EU are they being excluded from the polls of voting intention for the next indyref?

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    1. On that basis if foreign nationals are allowed to vote in our elections then all citizens living in Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be given the same right.

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    2. State of this.

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    3. If the vote takes place before March 2019 then anyone living in Scotland would have a vote based on the same electoral basis as IndyRef 1. That is the SG position as far as I am aware. So, YES these people would have a vote.

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  13. I find Peter Bell infuriating and inspiring by turns. His firmness of purpose is admirable, but swerves too often into dogmatism, and as you say he has a tendency to be abusive. However I can't see him giving up the struggle just because he finds he has a made prediction that was out by a month or two. Opinions that are very firmly expressed are not necessarily as firmly held.

    I think we will need people with his certainty when it comes to the crunch. And it will come to a crunch. As anonymous above notes, the Tories will not let us walk away on the basis of a referendum result. That's just a starting point.

    Suggested hashtag: #usethemandate

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  14. An early referendum is wanted by many if not all independence supporters the sooner the better for me.No but,s hows that,all I say is timing is vital and I don't think we,as the general supporters of independence,are not privy to all the facts I do wish we were as that would ease the minds of us older ones us who have waited all of our lives for freedom maybe now I think we should have dug up the old swords and had a "Highland Charge"from the central belt still I have hopes for my dreams.

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  15. autumn 2018 is better simply because campaigning is easier during the long summer evenings. A Winter campaign (with Xmas and hogmanay in the middle, bad weather, people not coming out to meetings, meetings having to be cancelled because of snow etc) would be much more difficult and really arduous for activists

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    1. PS Forgot to add - Indyref2 absolutely has to be held before Brexit Day. Otherwise as others have said - it will probably never be held and in any case Scotland's EU nationals will be disenfranchised. I incline towards autumn 2018 before the Withdrawal agreement is drawn up and setting off on the rounds for ratification. EU countries +Westminster need to know if Scotland will be included in the UK or not before setting out to ratify a treaty. They won't be best pleased if they have to change it and re-ratify 6 months later

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    2. Hold the referendum on the 12th of July when hundreds of thousands of Unionists are out celebrating. Then get the Coatbridge Irish brigade mob tae the pollin stations ensuring the Celik are not playing and job done.

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    3. State of this.

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  16. I agree with Peter Bell - the timing is actually out of our hands. In October 2018 the true extent of the hard Brexit plan will be revealed and the state apparatus will swing swiftly into action to stifle any, and all, dissenting voices (this means you). For those of you expecting our venerated GB democracy to save us... remember one year back.

    What if someone told you a story about how the Tories would shrug off #ToryElectionFraud, call a snap GE and lose their majority but cling on to power with a hefty bung to the DUP and, despite scandal after scandal, still be in power, rewriting recent history, reinventing Brexit every day, attacking the 'GF Agreement' and all still with TM at the helm? You'd think they were mad because, obviously, democracy doesn't allow that kind of stuff to happen.

    September is the last time we'll be free enough, though not permitted, to find a way to dissolve the union and declare Independence for Scotland. #Brexit is a #Coup.

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    1. Father O'HooliganMarch 6, 2018 at 1:43 AM

      Coatbrig Papists demand hard border with Airdrie and Larkhall.

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    2. State of this.

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  17. 2021 will be a whole 7 years on from 2014. Nearly a decade of unrelenting tory rule including being dragged out of the EU against our will.

    Highly appropriate: "The Seven Year Itch"!

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    1. Whenever it is, like Carles Puigdemont, let us not be afraid of any elections or referendums. Unlike the British Tories who only want either when they think they will win.

      No British nationalist wants another Indyref2, simply because of the 45% and rising fear that they will lose and their precious oil/gas/whisky/gin/nuke dump etc. will be lost to them.

      Cameron only allowed Indyref1 in 2012, as the British Establishment thought it was 'a bit of a wheeze' where it could humiliate Salmond.

      They won Indyref1 narrowly and only on a vow & many other promises all since reneged upon and upon fears to jobs, economy and pensions which have all come true now thanks to Brexit and voting to stay shackled to the Tories.

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    2. We have had unrelenting Nat si Tartan Tory rule with their continuing Blue Tory policies..

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    3. State of this.

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  18. I think 2018 would be far better than 2019, but 2019 would be much better than 2020, which again would be a lot better than 2021 or later.

    So yes, I agree. 2018 would be perfect, but 2019 sounds more likely, and we have to remember than perfect is the enemy of good.

    Here are some more suggestions:

    #ScotRefSoon

    #ScotRefBeforeBrexit

    #ScotRefASAP

    #ScotRefWhileWeCan

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  19. Noam Chomsky said “We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas."

    I am not quite sure why there is a fixation of sorts with Peter Bell and his involvement before and beyond any date he has fixated upon for a second independence referendum.

    I would argue that there are only one or two individuals of significant influence, outside the SNP to worry about in that respect and would emphasise Chomskys contention.

    We need to be concerned most with the generation of ideas to achieve our goals.

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