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Alister Jack: SNP majority “not mandate for second independence referendum”

ByJames Leahy

Feb 3, 2020

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has stated that he did not believe an SNP majority in the 2021 Scottish elections would constitute a mandate for a second independence referendum.

Speaking to the BBC, Jack stated that “it was a once in a lifetime, once in a generation vote.” He further pointed out that in spite of the SNP winning the majority of Scottish seats, “55% of voters” cast their votes for Unionist parties in the recent general election.

The Scottish Secretary established that he would advise Boris Johnson against granting a section 30 order that would transfer the powers necessary to declare a second independence referendum.

Jack further suggested that talk of a second referendum was harmful to the Scottish economy and had resulted in growth slower than that seen in England.

He argued against granting further constitutional powers to the Scottish parliament to hold referenda, invoking the concept of “neverendums,” the idea that independence referendums would be declared regularly until a nationalist victory.

Respecting the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012 was a key aspect of Jack’s stance.

He maintained that current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s signing of the document marked a clear commitment, citing language in the document which indicated that “everyone will respect the result” of the 2014 independence referendum.

Furthermore, Jack criticised the SNP for failing to accept the result of both the 2014 plebiscite on independence and the 2016 Brexit vote.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union forms a crucial part of the SNP’s campaign for a second independence referendum, with the SNP’s website stating that Westminster has displayed ‘contempt’ for Scotland in its pursuit of Brexit.

The prospect of an independent Scotland being able to join the EU is a major draw for a second referendum.

The SNP case is bolstered by the fact that Scots voted overwhelmingly in favour of staying the EU.

62% of votes cast north of the border were in favour of remain and none of Scotland’s 32 council areas had a leave majority.

A UK-wide Conservative government is an important aspect of the campaign for independence.

47 of 59 seats in Scotland went to the SNP in December’s general election, whilst the Conservative Party lost 7 seats from its 2017 total of 13.

However, some Unionist parties argue that this is a quirk of First-Past-the-Post voting and the SNP landslide is therefore unrepresentative of Scottish public opinion.

This is backed up by the fact that despite their dominance in seats, nationalists only received 45% of votes with anti-independence parties gaining the remainder.

The Tories’ lack of success in Scotland has not won them over to the nationalist way of thinking on a second referendum.

Boris Johnson recently rejected the idea of such a vote. In his letter, the Prime Minister declared that “another referendum would result in political stagnation” and would undemocratically reject the result of the 2014 vote.

Ian Blackford of the SNP responded to this, stating that the SNP maintaining their popularity in Scotland constituted a mandate for a referendum.

Blackford suggested that as the Conservatives had not been the largest party in Scotland since the 1950s, they do not have the legitimacy within the country to block a second vote.

Image: via Wikipedia