The Conservative leadership candidates appear to be ruling out Scottish independence for all eternity, but if the UK refuses to talk, Scotland has a right to take action, writes Kenny MacAskill.
For the SNP, changing the independence mandate from a referendum to a general election would be nothing new.
Historically it was the position and politically, it’s to be expected as Tory PM candidates try to outdo each other in their refusal of Indyref 2, going from “not now”, to “no never” – the latter not even caveated by “within my tenure”, but instead the lifespan of the planet.
That’s entirely undemocratic and, facing that intransigence, alternatives have to be sought. Nicola Sturgeon’s previous call for a ballot was both premature and inept but there’s a mandate for one. Though, despite her protestations and even her legislation, I don’t see one coming next year.
But come it can, if the people of Scotland want it. If the UK’s position is to reject any Indyref 2, irrespective and anytime, then other strategies need devised. Now I don’t envisage a nationalist majority elected in a Westminster election convening as some version of the Dail Eireann, a century on from when Sinn Fein did so in 1919.
Moreover, despite all the trials and tribulations with referenda, they remain the best way to resolve major constitutional issues. Neither an election nor citizens’ assemblies suffice, only a plebiscite will ultimately do.
But if a referendum is refused then action needs taken. Another electoral mandate would ramp up the pressure, providing legitimacy for a consultative vote and further exposing Westminster. “Back in your box, Jock” simply isn’t acceptable.
In politics as in physics, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If the UK won’t negotiate, Scotland has the right to act.