A key organiser of the independence march in Edinburgh this Saturday has called on the Scottish National Party (SNP) to use its mandate to demand a second independence referendum.
All Under One Banner’s (AUOB) series of marches for independence in the last five months has seen more than 100,000 people on the streets. AUOB’s Neil Mackay told Socialist Worker, “The SNP needs to use the mandate—now is the time.”
Edinburgh could be the biggest march yet. It comes ahead of an SNP conference where a long-promised “precise timetable” for a second independence vote was supposed to be announced.
Leaders of the party made clear in recent weeks that wouldn’t happen. Instead an SNP “day of action” was organised last weekend.
This should be a warning to independence supporters.
Brexit has fired up arguments for another independence referendum since the divergence in votes north and south of the border in the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum.
One recent poll even suggested support for independence could rise after Brexit.
Yet Scotland’s 62 percent Remain vote masks underlying opposition to the EU, not least in the independence movement.
At the same time as voting Remain, Scots were also 66 percent “Eurosceptic”, according to data from the British and Scottish social attitudes surveys.
This poses a problem for SNP leaders who want to link independence to EU membership.
They have spent more of the last two years arguing to remain in the EU than to leave Britain. They have joined the chorus of pro-market politicians trying to force a second EU vote on people.
Nicola Sturgeon has even engaged in the kind of rhetoric she would have rightly criticised as “Project Fear” in 2014.
Last month she said that Brexit is like “jumping off a cliff with a blindfold on and having no idea where the landing place is”.
Neil argued, “Another EU referendum would be highly damaging for the independence movement.
“It just helps solidify the British state, and why would we want to do that? We should break up the British state. We need to have indyref2 in the next year.”
In March last year Sturgeon said a second independence referendum should be held by spring 2019.
A Holyrood vote that month backed her timetable. Within two months the SNP general election manifesto said it should be “at the end of the Brexit process, when the final terms of the deal are known”—a formulation that is open to interpretation.
Is that after 29 March 2019—the official exit date? Is it after the “transition period” is over, 21 months later? Or even after a suggested second transition period ends in 2023?
We shouldn’t let the Tories at Westminster decide when the vote is.
People in Scotland have the right to decide and have given a clear mandate to the SNP —Sturgeon’s so called “triple lock”.
As Neil said, “The Tories are weak and divided. It’s now or never.”
Labour scores own goal
After Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “not ruling out” a Labour government agreeing to a second independence referendum you might think Richard Leonard had been thrown a lifeline.
But the Scottish Labour leader spurned an opportunity to break down a barrier between his party and many of its former voters in Scotland.
Instead of putting clear distance between Labour and the Tories on this question Leonard argued that Labour should rule it out in its manifesto.
If it won the next general election that would give Corbyn “a mandate to oppose a second referendum”.
In effect he put Scots’ right to decide in second place to a manifesto that could struggle to receive the backing of a majority of voters in Scotland.
Some 170,000 people who voted SNP in 2015 switched to back Corbyn last year.
But Leonard’s comments—if there was to be a snap election in the coming months— make it harder for him to increase that tally.
We say no more nukes here
Hundreds of people gathered at the gates of Trident’s nuclear base on the Clyde late last month to urge governments around the world to ban nuclear weapons.
The protest came at the same time as two revealing reports.
There is overwhelming opposition in Scotland to nuclear weapons.
Despite this local government pension funds, universities, and financial institutions are investing billions of pounds in their production, according to a new divestment report.
Nine local government pension funds hold shares worth nearly £300 million across 14 nuclear weapons companies. The report found that universities in Scotland also hold shares, with the University of Glasgow investing a staggering £1.6 million across 11 nuclear weapons companies.
The British American Security Information Council also released a new report highlighting the fact that the programme to renew the Trident system would cost over £110 billion.
This far outstrips the Ministry of Defence’s allocated budget of £41 billion that was deemed “not fit for purpose” by National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee assessments this year.
Nuclear weapons are an obscene waste of money that suck up vital funds that would be much better spent on our public services.
Trident should be scrapped altogether.