Last time round, in 2012, the Scottish and British governments agreed on a Section 30 Order. In the Edinburgh Agreement arising from this the negotiated terms and conditions of an independence referendum were laid out, giving the Scottish people – for one day – the freedom to decide the constitutional future of their country. It is altogether likely the Scottish government feels that the best way forward from here is to seek another Section 30 and, in effect, have another referendum in the form and likeness of the 2014 referendum.
An announcement that an announcement is coming is, however, a welcome development. It is a relief. For too long the independence cause has been bogged down in a waiting game. The movement on the ground has gone stir-crazy, and things aren’t exactly much better up the political chain. At Westminster our SNP MPs – a good few of them at any rate – have splashed out on all the People’s Vote merchandise in the vain hope that being a team player for the benefit of Remain England – the minority of the English electorate – will improve our chances on bettering Scotland.
It would be all too easy for me to sit back here in Dublin and comment on social media that this is what’s needed, expecting someone else to answer the call and hit the road. But that would make me part of the problem, another keyboard worrier unwilling to actually act. I don’t want to be that person and I know I don’t need permission: If not me, then who? If not now, then when? So, I have determined to hit the road – to do what I can do to convince people the time is short, to empower people to get back into formation, and to persuade others to do the same.
This is our moment. We have no time left; no time to wait on a signal that might never come, might not even be planned. Action makes things happen, and this is our time to act. We are a democracy, and in democracies the people call the shots and not the elected politicians. We set the agenda and make them dance to our tune. We don’t have a single moment to lose. If we want independence now, and if we don’t want to leave this unresolved for our great-grandchildren to fight anew, now – today – is the time to move without permission.
Time is fast running out. On 29 March, eighty-five days from today, these conditions will be realised when the United Kingdom leaves the EU – and most likely without a deal. If we are to guarantee independence in our lifetimes, then the time to act is now. Nothing, of course, is impossible, but the likelihood of yet another opportunity like this presenting itself within the next fifty years is slim to none. We have a threefold mandate under the present conditions to call another independence referendum, and time on this is even running out.
The vision of independence is one of a through road on which power is brought back to Scotland, enabling us to tackle the problems neither Westminster nor Scotland’s unionists have any interest in addressing. The bottom line is that we can do nothing to better Scotland without first returning state power to the country. We may be able to see the problems we face. We might even see the causes of these problems. But there is precious little we can do to change things without first winning independence and in so doing taking the power we need to effect the change we want.
Scotland and Ireland have much in common. They are countries of about the same size and population with a long history of English domination. When England wobbles, Scotland and Ireland quake. In both Scotland and Ireland, regardless of their social and cultural proximity to England, there is an acute awareness of the badness of Brexit. Both instinctively understand that it threatens the fabric of their society, and both are aware of the extent to which England is working to draw them in to the misery of its awful situation.
This deal will never pass through the Commons, meaning that the UK is – barring a miracle – headed for the hardest of all possible Brexits. Farage and Boris Johnson’s dreams have come true, and now the knives are out for the fall guy – Mrs May. Just now, as I write, the news is breaking that the Palace is in talks with the Cabinet Office. Reports from The Times are saying that the Conservative 1922 Committee has received its 48 letters, which means May’s tenure as PM and leader of the Tory party is about to be put to the vote.