WE have known for some time that the new Scottish independence referendum would have to be held before March 2019. We knew as soon as the EU referendum result was announced that #ScotRef would have to be before Scotland was finally dragged out of the EU in imperious disregard for the democratic will of the Scottish people. And we knew the moment Article 50 was invoked that the two-year negotiation period would expire on March 31, 2019.

Brexit falls on All Fools Day – April 1, 2019. How appropriate. And how characteristic of the general ineptitude of the Tory clown troupe currently running the British circus that they couldn’t even work out this unfortunate juxtaposition.

That EU nationals living in Scotland will be denied a vote after that date is highly significant. Not least because such denial is so out of keeping with Scotland’s political culture. But, offensive as this may be to those of a democratic frame of mind, it is not the most pressing reason why a referendum must happen sooner rather than later.

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I have long maintained that September 2018 will end up being deemed the appropriate time. Nicola Sturgeon has, rightly and cleverly, avoided being pinned down on its scheduling. She has declined to link it to a particular date or a specific event. Whatever misleading spin the media may apply, the timing of the referendum is associated only with the point at which the outcome of Brexit negotiations is clear.

Who decides when that outcome is clear enough? Nicola Sturgeon! The First Minister has effectively said we’ll have the referendum when she says we’ll have the referendum.

All that remains is to work out how much lead time will be required before the point of the UK’s unceremonious departure from the EU. Given the amount of goodwill that exists, six months seems to offer time enough for Scotland to sort out an arrangement by which it can remain in the EU as an independent nation. Hence, September 2018.

But Nicola Sturgeon has to reserve the option of bringing the referendum forward. And she will delay announcing a date as long as she possibly can. To understand why, we must acknowledge a hard truth about the nature of the British state: it favours democracy only so long as democracy favours it.

The British establishment’s reasoning goes as follows: Scotland’s independence campaign represents a threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The strength of the Yes movement, combined with the effective political power of the SNP and the authority of the Scottish Parliament creates the potential for the independence campaign to succeed by the democratic route. Therefore, while efforts continue to disrupt the Yes movement, discredit the SNP and delegitimise the Scottish Parliament, the British state must prepare a contingency plan for closing down the democratic route to independence.

The Brexit process requires that the UK be constitutionally redefined. At the very least, it creates an opportunity to do so. It would be foolishly naive to imagine that the British political elite will not take full advantage of this opportunity to devise a way of locking Scotland into the Union. If nothing else, we can safely assume that they will look to litter the democratic rout with legal impediments and procedural hindrances.

Quite simply, if we don’t have the new referendum by September 2018 at the latest, EU nationals in Scotland may not be the only ones who are not allowed to vote. If the British state succeeds in denying our fundamental democratic right of self-determination, none of us will be voting.
Peter A Bell
via thenational.scot


Sound bites by Scottish Labour fail to hide true agenda

A SPOKESMAN for Scottish Labour claims they are for a “jobs-first Brexit” (Labour urged to form a unified front over Brexit amid series of contradictory statements, The National, August 5). Kezia Dugdale wants tariff-free access to the single market and retention of the benefits of the single market and customs union.

But nowhere do they say how that can be achieved. Also, it is ultimately dependent on the EU and the 27 member states. Access means accepting the four freedoms.

A “jobs-first Brexit” is a meaningless sound bite to mask Corbyn’s hidden hard Brexit stance which does not differ from Theresa May’s position. It does not lay out whether the four freedoms, a red line for the EU, will be in place and what other concessions Labour would accept to have tariff-free access.

Does Labour down south have a position on what deal they would pursue and when they would walk away on no deal is better than a bad deal? It seems Labour in Scotland has no view on that either. But it is a mere branch!

To attack the SNP for picking a fight with Labour instead of the Tories is a bit rich for so-called Scottish Labour. At the last election they were vocal brothers in arms with the Tories in tactical voting on the Union ticket.

They got what they wished for, a Better Together Tory government at Westminster as the Union for them is paramount at any cost, even at a cost of the formation of a Labour government in coalition with other parties.

So to hide their apparent incompetence, Labour in Scotland mouth drivel like a “jobs-first Brexit”!

What Kezia Dugdale seems to forget is that the Scots voted to remain in the EU. That would give us automatic tariff-free access and more within the EU including a seat on the Council of Ministers with veto where we could shape our future from within. But Scottish voters always come last for the Unionists.
John Edgar

WHY is it left to Vince Cable to state the obvious? Where’s Corbyn? Where are any big hitters in the Labour Party?

The only thing currently stopping decent Brits crawling round the floor with embarrassment is the “bigglier” “badlier” mess on the other side of the Atlantic creating a handy distraction.

News that some EU countries think the UK mess over Brexit is some sort of ruse, a “cunning plan” simply adds to the sense of farce.

But if the fact that over 60 per cent of leavers don’t care about the economic state of the country as long as we leave doesn’t bring folk to their senses, listen to the top table Leave campaigners. Gove openly stated that free movement of people would continue after March 2019.

So what is going to happen when the xenophobes don’t get the one thing they actually wanted and the economy is screwed?
Amanda Baker

ONE of the many disadvantages of growing old is that one loses the capacity for being surprised. When you have seen almost everything happen before, especially in politics, it is difficult to be shocked at much that happens.

So I cannot claim to be even mildly astonished that the British government, having stolen their votes, is selling the Scottish fishing communities down the river again.

Though I suppose it is a touch strange that it has happened so soon after the election. That does seem remarkably blatant.

But my principal feeling is one of sadness that so many voters in those communities were gullible enough to believe the Tory propaganda.

I hope they now remember the old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”
Peter Craigie

THE rural and fishing community will find that the Scottish Conservatives will let them down: they do not have the power to put Scottish industries first. Gove has set the agenda, for example opening our fishing waters to Denmark.

Also our meat industry needs to export beef to America: to replace their hormone injected product. Who will be the voice for Scotland? We cannot let our industry fail