Another SNP conference, another self-congratulatory back slapping session where actual debate is verboten. Having done it’s best to keep alternative routes to independence off the agenda, Plan B slipped in anyway, before being led off to a sub room and quietly strangled. It’s the leaders way or no way, end of discussion.
Let’s be brutally honest. The current SNP hierarchy appear more than happy to park independence campaigning in favour of a gradualism which makes the progression of a glacier look like quicksilver in comparison. It seems to me that many are happy to settle for an extended period in government over achieving the ultimate aim of the SNP which if I remember correctly was independence for Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon let slip on the Andrew Marr show that she hasn’t asked for a Section 30 order, despite previously indicating that she had. With support for the union falling to only 50% she should be chapping on the door of the UK Prime Minister demanding a referendum, not leading us up the garden path. Theresa May indicated she would refuse a referendum, as had Boris Johnson, and that line will be repeated ad infinitum. So assuming that consent is not forthcoming what will she do? She might as well stamp her foot or act like Violet Elizabeth Bott from Just William who threatened to “scream and scream until I’m sick”. It changes nothing.
On the Marr show Nicola Sturgeon said that she was not considering a Plan B as she wanted a process that was legal and showed majority support. She also said that there wasn’t a quicker or easier way to independence. Let’s be perfectly blunt. No one within the independence movement is looking for a way to bypass or cheat the democratic system. We’ve seen in Catalonia how that has panned out and no one wants to see the same here. But making a manifesto commitment in a general election to seek to negotiate for independence on reaching defined thresholds, be that seats or voter percentage is not cheating the system, it is using the system to defeat those who would deny us our democratic vote. Up until the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement that was the accepted route to independence – and it’s no less acceptable today. In fact the only person making it unacceptable is Nicola Sturgeon herself! Who in their right mind would back themselves into a corner and allow your opponent to control the terms of your exit? Even Jo Swinson has cottoned on to this with her commitment to cancel Article 50 if the Lib-Dems win, because even though unlikely it is a democratic route to achieving her aim.
By not committing to such a manifesto pledge The SNP can still campaign in all elections to attract people who would support their continued governance but not independence. That may have been a fairly reasonable tactic at one time, but no longer. We are too far gone down the Brexit path to be playing around with an eye on future election results years down the line. If the SNP continue to prioritise their long term governance goals over independence itself, then don’t be surprised when those most committed grass roots activists go elsewhere.