Labour MPs and a former Tory aide are among those who accept you can’t be a ‘fair-weather democrat’, writes Angus Robertson.
It’s only a few days have passed in Scotland since the general election landslide for the SNP, but already the tectonic plates are beginning to move. Previously, other parties claimed there was no demand for a second independence referendum, then promptly lost most of their seats. The SNP won the election in Scotland with a higher percentage of the vote, with a higher percentage of seats won and by a larger winning margin over the losers than the Tories at UK level.
It is the fourth back-to-back parliamentary election victory with a clear manifesto commitment to a second independence referendum. For the avoidance of doubt, it’s worth reviewing what the 2019 election manifesto stated: “A vote for the SNP in this election, therefore, is a vote to endorse the following position: the people have the right to choose their own future in a new referendum on becoming an independent country; it must be for the Scottish Parliament not Westminster to decide when an independence referendum should be held and the SNP intends that it will be in 2020”.
Perhaps given the scale of the landslide SNP victory, there is now a growing cross-party consensus that such a vote must take place. Calls have come from the president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Alison Evison. She said: “It’s straight-forward to me: democracy must be at the core of all we do. Recently it has become fragile and we must strengthen it again. We can strengthen it by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes and that must mean a referendum on independence.”
‘You can’t be a fair-weather democrat’
Labour’s shadow Scottish minister Monica Lennon MSP said: “If Boris Johnson isn’t prepared to grant this request he should allow the Scottish Parliament to decide... the future of Scotland must be decided by the people of Scotland.”
Her view was endorsed by defeated Labour MP Ged Killen: “Agreed. I campaigned on a promise to vote against indyref2, but I lost. The SNP made massive gains on a promise to hold another referendum and, as democrats, we must accept it even if we don’t like it.”
The former Conservative head of communication Andy Maciver says that: “You can’t be a fair-weather democrat. You can’t demand to get Brexit done because voters asked for it whilst demanding that Indyref2 is continually rejected despite voters asking for it.”
However Boris Johnson and other senior Tories in Westminster have already come out and confirmed their opposition to a democratic vote in Scotland.
They say they won’t allow Scotland a say on their future, even though the people voted for it. The truth, however, is that everyone knows it is coming.
In the meantime, there is encouragement and good advice for independence campaigners from former Labour minister Malcolm Chisolm who believes there are “many thousands of No voters open to possibility or probability of voting Yes”. He is correct to say much rests on a welcoming approach towards those taking their first steps towards independence. People should be encouraged to take a look at the Yes Scotland campaign at www.yes.scot, sign the pledge, follow on social media and join the campaign.
In recent days, the number of signatures has nearly reached half a million. Indyref2 is coming.