Scotland's Verdict

by Martin Gostwick

Scotland's overwhelming support for another independence referendum (IndyRef2) in the General Election has been met with the same obtuse rejection by the new London Tory government as its predecessor.

The refusal to grant the enabling Order (Section 30) was broadcast even before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had submitted a detailed 38-page democratic case to Prime Minister Johnson. He demonstrated his contempt by studying his mobile phone in the Commons when the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford was speaking on the election result.

The stage is now set for a prolonged struggle by the Scottish Government, the Yes movement, and most of the electorate at large, to achieve that second plebiscite.

The first step has already been taken with Holyrood on 19 December passing the SNP Government's Referendum (Scotland) Bill by 68 votes to 54. The Bill empowers the referendum being held as soon as the Section 30 Order is assigned. Sad to say, only two of Labour 23 MSPs supported the Bill. The rest voted against.

This was in spite of urgings from some former senior Labour figures, such as ex-First Minister Henry McLeish, ex-Opposition leader Kezia Dugdale and the current Labour president of the Scottish Local Authorities Convention (COSLA) and the two MSPs.

They advised the party that they had lost all but one of their 7 MPs in the election partly because of their continued opposition to IndyRef2, just as the Tories lost 7 of their 13 MPs, and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lost her seat for the same reason.

Ms Dugdale's points were particularly striking. She said opponents of another referendum needed a new argument for staying in the UK "which isn't rooted in Queen and country Unionism." Now, no new Labour government was in sight, and Britain was being taken out of the EU.

For the benefit of Scarlet Standard followers, let me make clear that the endless Tory-led Unionist refrain that the 2014 vote had been a "once in a generation" decision is utterly invalid. No Yes spokesman had promised or agreed that the vote would be treated at such. It was spoken of in the sense of urging the Scottish electorate to take that opportunity. The new mandate is based on completely changed circumstances, the principal one being the enforced departure from the EU

despite Scotland voting 62 per cent for Remain.

A mass, continuing public campaign by the Yes movement is certain to follow. What form it will take will emerge in the New Year.

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