October 10, 2018


The road to independence is under repair : Nicola Sturgeon may be laying the ground for a snap election to give her an unimpeachable mandate for a new poll (kenny farquharson, 10/10/18, The Times)

Two years ago in this newspaper I suggested Ms Sturgeon should embrace the idea that two referendums were required for Brexit and two for independence also. It was, I said, a potential game-changer for the nationalist cause.

Think back to the 2014 referendum. Many Scots voted "no" simply because there were too many unanswered questions. If the referendum had instead been on the principle of independence, leaving the questions to be answered in subsequent negotiations and ratified in a second vote, the result could have been very different.

Admittedly there are problems with this approach. It would incentivise the UK government to be obstructive in negotiations in the hope that a messy final deal would be rejected by voters. Nevertheless, in the here and now, it could have the virtue of freeing up a political logjam.

This week's second significant development is a little bit harder to pin down, but something is definitely shifting in SNP attitudes to how it gets past Theresa May's stubbornness about a new vote on independence. Some serious thinking is clearly going on about this impasse.

Mike Russell, the SNP's Brexit minister, is no hothead. He is Ms Sturgeon's trusted envoy on the most important issue of the age. In Glasgow this week he spoke tantalisingly of the need for a new response to Mrs Mrs May's obstinacy.

"There has to be a healthy discussion about the...democratic way in which Scotland could say it wishes to make a choice," he told a fringe meeting on Monday. In a platform speech yesterday Mr Russell added: "We are not powerless. Democracy makes us powerful. And we can devise the tools and strategies that give us power, and hope, even in the darkest of times."

Posted by at October 10, 2018 4:02 AM