I do not consent!

Only 100% committed to a new referendum!? Come on, Gillian Martin! Surely you can do better than that! I’m pretty sure Keith Brown or Angus Robertson would have given us at least 110% assurance. Alyn Smith might have gone as far as 200%. But he’s the guy who says ‘we’ve never been closer to independence’. So he’s likely to say pretty much anything.

It’s the wrong question, anyway. There was always going to come a point where the question of whether there is to be a referendum would become secondary to the matter of when that referendum would take place. I hesitate to say that Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t keep kicking that can down the road forever. She might well mock me with her can-kicking skills. But assuming that is not one of her super-powers then the effort of keeping the referendum in sight but not within reach would eventually become greater than the gain was worth.

Focus has already started to turn to the date. There has long been a sizeable part of the Yes movement that insists Sturgeon name the date. But we’re now moving on to the bit where focus turns to the actual date rather than the naming of it. This is where it becomes a bit obsessive. Remember the hoohah about the date of the first referendum? Remember the storm of speculation? Remember how that reached its apogee with The Sun’s ‘revelation’? They got it wrong, of course. But they sold a lot of newspapers, so what does right or wrong matter?

This is a problem. Because the more people are obsessing about precisely when the referendum will be held the longer it will take them to start asking about the details of the referendum itself. And that matters most of all.

In fact, the when of the matter pales into insignificance relative to the how. How will the proposed referendum be organised? How will it be framed? How will it be authorised? How will it be overseen? How will it achieve a decision and not merely a result that fuels endless arguments about what that result actually means in terms of next steps?

In other words, the questions of process that professional politicians and allied trades are forever telling us we should trouble our silly plebeian minds about. Which, if you think about it, is the best argument possible for making it the principle preoccupation of plebeian minds not as silly as some would suppose. Or hope!

What we know of the intended process is summarised nicely by The National’s Chief Political Reporter, Kathleen Nutt.

The First Minister’s policy is to seek the UK Government’s agreement to hold a second vote, as happened in 2014.

That’s all we need to know to be very worried indeed. The ‘plan’ to do everything just the way it was done a decade ago is supposed to offer the reassurance of familiarity. Here is a process that we all (with the obvious exception of younger voters) remember very well. It is a process, moreover, which has been hailed (mostly by professional politicians and allied trades) as the ‘gold standard’ of Scottish independence referendums in 2014. Which is all it can be the ‘gold standard’ of since every independence referendum is unique. Not only unique among all independence referendums everywhere else, but unique also within Scotland and the UK. This must be so, as not only do circumstances change in whatever period of time separates two ostensibly identical referendums, but the constitutional context itself also may change. It certainly has in Scotland’s case.

Generally, folk might think of the constitution as something that is fixed. Or, sufficiently fixed that amending it requires some high-level action. Not so in the UK, however. There being no written constitution to constrain the British government and it wielding the powers afforded it by the Union, Scotland’s constitutional arrangements are pretty much whatever the British political elite says they are. If we, the people, get a say at all it is according to a process entirely controlled by the British government (nominally by the British parliament) and its agents in Scotland. We may be given a choice. But the British government ultimately decides what the options will be and sets the terms under which the choice is made. And, of course, this being the British they reserve the right to alter the options and change the terms at will.

That is the ‘gold standard’ of democracy to which Nicola Sturgeon has committed Scotland.


In my maybe not so silly plebeian mind alarm bells are ringing loudly and constantly. More loudly as my conviction increases that Sturgeon really is going to try to replicate the process of the 2014 referendum with as few modifications as she can get away with. She appears, by her own account and on the word of those authorised by her to speak to the matter, determined to compromise the sovereignty of the people of Scotland by requesting a Section 30 order – thereby acknowledging the sovereignty of the British parliament and relegating the people of Scotland to the status of subjects of the ‘Crown in Parliament’.


She seems intent upon inviting the British state’s involvement in and interference with and influence over the exercise of the right of self-determination which is the sole and exclusive province of the people of Scotland.


She is set on a course which cannot lead to a free and fair exercise of our right of self-determination by the people of Scotland who alone have the rightful authority to determine our nation’s constitutional status and who alone have the right to choose the form of government which best serves our needs, priorities and aspirations.

We are being asked to accept a process which necessarily means that our choices will, in this as in all else under the onerous imposition of the Union, be subject to moderation by the British political elite.


Even if the degree of moderation by the British were to be infinitesimal, it would be unacceptable. It would, in fact, be a democratic outrage.


It is by any criteria that might reasonably be applied, unacceptable that the First Minister of Scotland should even consider such a course of action, far less commit to it on our behalf.


I see what Nicola Sturgeon says she intends to do and…