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SNP lay out ‘roadmap’ plan for second independence referendum

Scottish Independence has been a consistent talking point in British politics since the SNP took majority control at Holyrood, and after the failed attempt in 2014, Nicola Sturgeon has officially proposed a do-over. 

Assuming that the SNP maintain their majority come the May elections with IndyRef2 as a part of their manifesto, there’s a good chance the Scottish people will see their second referendum within a decade by the end of 2021.

Despite the statements made by the likes of Boris Johnson that the Scottish Independence Referendum was a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, it would be wrong to say that this move for another go is unwarranted. 

Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic are only more points to add to a long list of grievances and it’s perhaps only more reinforced now that Scotland is a liberal country overseen by a conservative government.

The roadmap, published on January 24th by Michael Russell MSP, is not a plan to ‘get independence’: instead, it is a plan to ensure that Scotland have the right to call a referendum and make a choice on independence. 

It is bold and direct, with a concise message: if a pro-independence majority comes from the Holyrood Elections in May, we are ensuring our right to vote.

The SNP have provided three options to Westminster. Parliament can either accept that if the SNP retain power in May, they are entitled to a right to vote on independence under 1) the Referendums Bill and the Scottish Elections Bill, both of which were made law in 2020, and 2) the Section 30 order. 

Or, they can reject a second Scottish Referendum in a legal battle against the SNP.

The roadmap, which is itself a statement of power the Scottish people did not see in 2014, was a risky move that came with consequences. 

A focal point of news is whether the next Scottish election will even be legitimate.

A discussion with a university student revealed acute concern for the democratic process, both now and further down the line.

“I just hope the roadmap doesn’t lead to a situation like Catalonia where results of any future referendum lack legitimacy and bitter legal cases follow,” he said. 

“The Scot Tories have already said they’ll boycott any referendum held without Westminster’s approval.”

There is real worry about legality with the roadmap, although point seven of the document declares legitimacy as key:

7. The SNP Scottish Government continues to maintain that a referendum must be beyond legal challenge to ensure legitimacy and acceptance at home and abroad. This is the surest way by far of becoming an independent country. 

“It should be held after the pandemic, at a time to be decided by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament…”

Another student spoke about their indifference to the politics in light of the Covid-19 pandemic:

“She [Nicola Sturgeon] also hasn’t handled the COVID-19 situation well at all and has blamed uni students constantly for the numbers going up… 

“I can’t say I believe this will prompt many younger people to vote in favour of her party’s ideas. As for independence itself, I’m indifferent to either outcome…”

Another student stated: “I think that being part of Great Britain is a terrible deal for us, we get absolutely shafted… having our vote count for fuck all. It’s a bad system. 

“That being said, I don’t trust SNP in the least anymore, even after voting for them in the last election. They’ll do anything to make us independent.

“It’s a terrible plan for us to go independent without literally every precaution being put into place, and I don’t believe we have the competency to pull that off.”

 Polls since June of last year show a growing support for independence, averaging around 53 per cent.

If the SNP want an independent Scotland, their next roadmap will likely need to address answers to the questions they avoided in 2014, relating to plans for healthcare, economy and education.

Image: Abby Gornall