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By Jason Michael
Now is not the optimum time for another independence referendum says Pete Wishart. We have more support now than we have had in almost three centuries, but now is not the time? I’m not buying this defeatist nonsense.
Pete Wishart and I have two very different experiences of Scotland. Responding to James Kelly’s call for the SNP to use the mandate he wrote in this month’s iScot Magazine: “Holding a second referendum only to lose it because the Scottish people weren’t ready would be the worst possible national tragedy.” He’s perfectly entitled to his opinion and I respect him for taking the time to share it, but my opinion of his opinion is that he is talking out of his arse. When we read that in England alone Westminster’s austerity cuts to health and social care have directly contributed to some 120,000 unnecessary deaths since 2010, then it’s clear losing a vote isn’t the worst possible national tragedy. Some things are considerably more important than winning or losing a political campaign. Mr Wishart would do well to remind himself of this.
When he writes that we must wait until that magical – never before heard of in politics – time when we have the “optimum conditions for success,” what I hear is the suggestion we put it back on the long finger. No time will be optimum. The British government, knowing where support for independence is in the polls, is making it its business to make sure this mythical optimum moment never comes. Does Pete really think we can hang around on this and that the Brits, glad of the chance, will down tools and have a wee tea break with us? When he complains that in the last general election his majority dropped, what I saw was that he still has a majority.
Pete Wishart (@PeteWishart) April 03, 2018
People voted for the SNP in 2017 knowing full well that it promised another crack at the whip. Sure, we lost some seats. But we remained the majority. We lost voters, but we know they never switched sides. Maybe we are losing voters because of the SNP’s apparent reluctance to move. We have asked for the consent of the Scottish parliament to put another referendum to the people and that consent has been given. It has been put on ice, and now we are hearing that we have to wait until the time is right. The time will never be right. It is only in the crucible of a campaign that we must work to make the conditions right. Had we said this back in 2012 Pete Wishart wouldn’t be sitting on a cosy green bench in the London parliament right now.
Somewhere along the line he has gotten the impression that if we lose another referendum our goose is cooked. Who told him this? How can it be that a man we elected to represent us in Westminster is labouring under the false assumption that democracy is a once in a lifetime event? We can hold an independence referendum every six months if we so choose. I am not saying that we should. I am merely pointing out that this is how a real democracy works, and if it is the case that we are not allowed a third – not allowed – then we can be sure we’ll be having a third.
He appears to have another qualm about the Yes-Leavers. We are to imagine that they are now only semi-attached to the independence movement, but he is confusing the movement with the SNP. Yes voters who backed Leave in the EU referendum are still independence supporters and the next independence referendum will not be a vote on EU membership. It will be a vote on independence. In another independence referendum Yes-Leavers will not be transformed into No-Leavers. They will continue to support independence to ensure that an independent Scotland can decide whether or not it wishes to be a member of the European Union.
Peter A Bell #Referendum2018 (@BerthanPete) April 03, 2018
We must surely add to this number many No-Remainers who appreciate the damage leaving the EU will do to the Scottish economy. Pete Wishart gives the impression that only the Yes side will be losing support. In the real world, however, this is not how politics works. People will of course change allegiances leading to and throughout the next referendum, but when it comes to the mathematics of winning the vote this fluctuation is unimportant. What counts is that, on balance, when all the votes are counted, support for independence is greater than support for the union. The case is made and at this moment in time we are set to begin a campaign with the highest level of support for secession there has ever been in Scotland. Does Pete Wishart think this will remain this high outside of a campaign indefinitely?
Granted, Pete Wishart is not the Scottish National Party. He’s an MP, he’s a good guy, and he’s one of our own. I like Pete Wishart, but I disagree with him here. Still, he is not the voice of the SNP. He is entitled to his opinion, but if the SNP continues to sit on its hands; waiting for some special window to open in history just for us, and by so doing it squanders this triple-lock mandate for another referendum, then I will be looking for another vehicle to independence. I’m not owned by the SNP. I owe the SNP nothing. I support the SNP because I want independence. That is the only reason I support the SNP, and I will support whatever party can make it happen.
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