Jonathon Shafi posted an interesting thread on Twitter today.
It’s based on a Scotsman article by Euan McColm (who is no friend of Scottish independence, but he is normally well-connected). Jonathon provides a few interesting quotes in his thread:
“The new fundamentalists who demand a referendum will, says one Sturgeon ally, have to show exactly how they are going to organise a referendum that’s recognised as legal and would allow for Scotland’s return to the EU.” “If they cannot do this then, in the words of this particular campaigner, “they can shut up or f*** off”.”
“There’s something problematic about the idea of going to the courts to try to force the UK gov to give us the power that goes beyond the pointlessness of the exercise.”
The thread concludes that SNP sources are basically briefing that an indyref in the next five years is not happening, and it’s hard to disagree.
It seems that Scotland is stuck in an endless cycle, keeping the SNP in power without getting independence. Basically we’re seeing the following:
- The SNP wins the election.
- The SNP don’t do anything about independence and instead spend their time on other projects, many of which might not be to the liking of a lot of their voters.
- Many of the members and voters get fed up and start talking about setting up a new party because they’re so fed up with the SNP.
- The SNP spends a lot of time saying that voting for this new party (or for the Greens) could lead to wasted votes, and that the only way to get independence is to vote SNP. Just this last time, and after independence has been won, of course people are free to vote for other parties.
- People hold their noses and vote SNP in spite of everything.
- Go back to (1) and repeat.
Can this cycle be broken? In a democracy, no party can rule forever, so of course the SNP will lose power one day. There’s a huge risk, however, that when this happens, it won’t be a pro-independence party taking its place – especially if the vast majority of independence supporters have refrained from challenging the SNP to keep the hope of independence alive.
So what can be done? I can think of two approaches: Either a large number of independence supporters should pledge not to vote SNP unless the manifesto contains a commitment to independence that is so firm that they cannot wiggle out of it, or people from the independence-now wing of the party will have to take control over the party, getting rid of all the lukewarm independence-mañana apparatchiks in the process.
I fear neither will happen and that we’ll get another five years of demoralising independence postponements as a result. So long as the SNP leadership feel they can rule forever, it’ll always feel safer and more sensible for them to kick independence into the long grass, especially if doing so is practically guaranteeing that all their internal critics will keep voting for them.