Scottish independence movement needs a real strategy if it is to succeed – Kenny MacAskill MP

Simply announcing that you intend to hold a referendum’s not a strategy for independence, especially when neither a date’s specified, nor any other plans detailed necessary for it to progress, let alone succeed.

Nicola Sturgeon's strategy seems to be to hitch a ride on the electoral success of Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill (Picture: Jane Barlow/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon's strategy seems to be to hitch a ride on the electoral success of Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill (Picture: Jane Barlow/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Instead, the latest clarion call from the First Minister echoes the trumpeting that “Scotland won’t stand for Brexit” made by her Westminster colleague Ian Blackford, yet Scots still are forced to do so and because of the inactivity of their elected leaders.

That was followed by loud protestations from senior SNP members that “Boris will blink” in the face of the party’s electoral success. For sure the SNP have achieved the latter, but the Prime Minister remains resolute on the issue and stony-faced in the face of police investigations, let alone the SNP.

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Now the strategy seems to be to clutch to the coattails of Sinn Fein, hoping that they’re hurtling towards a United Ireland and the break-up of the United Kingdom.

But there’s no sign that will happen anytime soon and indeed historical evidence to the contrary. The result of the Irish election was certainly historic, but the Northern Ireland Protocol and cost of living remain the dominant issues.

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A century ago when the original United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland broke up, the Irish Free State was established but not a Scottish equivalent, or even a Scottish Parliament. And that despite Westminster being flush with newly elected Independent Labour Party MPs from Red Clydeside and beyond in Scotland, all committed to Scottish Home Rule.

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As the Good Friday Agreement made clear, and to be fair British governments had earlier enunciated, there was “no selfish strategic or economic interest” in Northern Ireland.

That cannot be said about Scotland where oil and gas and now renewables are a vital resource and Faslane a defence interest. That’s why the strategies of ‘wait and see’ or ‘it’ll just happen’ are doomed.

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For Scotland to proceed to independence – as it should given the manifest failure of its British rulers and the diverging of social and economic interests – requires strategy not simply wishful thinking. And it requires achieving by ourselves, albeit with good wishes from others, and by taking charge of our own destiny.

It can be done as the pillars of the British state are rocking but more than vacuous statements are needed and certainly much more than a regurgitation of the Growth Commission. That was dated and uninspiring when launched and is now a positive turn-off. It’s time for a strategy that links constitutional change to the major issue of the day.

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Linking constitutional change with social and economic advancement’s essential and in that Scotland has never been better positioned. The early SNP was propelled by an oil-and-gas campaign at a time when many were in poverty. It was as much the hope as the prospects that drove people to change their vote.

Now, the situation’s even more stark and the plight of even more has never been bleaker. Energy-rich Scotland sees so many Scots fuel poor. Linking those two issues should be the key to driving forward Scotland’s cause. Pointing out the perversity of people being able to see oil-and-gas installations or turbines, onshore or off, from their homes, yet are unable to turn on their heating.

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Practical policies not vacuous statements are needed.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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