A conversation about a future which has already been decided from the top won’t encourage people to talk. Genuine consensus must emerge from the bottom up.
Whether or not Scotland can legally hold a referendum without the consent of Westminster has provoked much debate. Ciaran Martin argues that the answer to this question does not really matter: regardless of the legality of any referendum, it is unrealistic to think that Scotland will leave the Union without the consent of Westminster. This makes the key question a political one, which the courts cannot resolve.
“Opportunities for Labour arise from an SNP that excels in performative politics but fails in policy performance. The respective and competing nationalisms of Edinburgh and London governments are shrill and limited in their understanding of self-government. You cannot ‘take back control’ by focusing on empowering London or Edinburgh at the cost to all else. Labour has some way to go but with an independence referendum unlikely any time soon it does have some time.”
‘The risks are higher for the Greens than they are for the SNP. Voters are likely to see any failure of government as Green failure too. And with only two ministers, their ability to effect meaningful change is limited. They may find themselves carrying the can for any mistakes without ever having been in a position to take a different path.’
“today’s numbers set the starting point for a discussion about the choices and challenges that need to be addressed by those advocating independence or new fiscal arrangements. It is not enough to say ‘everything will be fine’ or ‘look at this country, they can run a sensible fiscal balance so why can’t Scotland?’. Concrete proposals and ideas are needed.”
“A move from unilateralism to deliberation suggests negotiation. So, if last week’s pardons counts as a concession by the Spanish executive, what will the Generalitat have to concede in return?” asks a Barcelona-based commentator of the pardon of nine leading Catalan politicians.
‘So, whilst the rhetoric may have softened, the constitutional paradox remains. Scotland can leave if it has a lawful vote to do so, but there is no way of having a lawful vote. For now, anyway. And there is no plan to have a plan.’
‘If the 2021 Holyrood election is remembered as a turning point it will be because it was the catalyst for a referendum. The manifesto and style of politics adopted by the SNP do not suggest that Scotland is about to be transformed in any way comparable to critical elections of the past in terms of public policy.’
‘It is perhaps under-recognised by many in the independence camp just how much support there was for the Union in 1707 among middle-class Scots. That support was based on a hunger for opportunity. But Brexit has reversed that – it means a big reduction in the degree of opportunity that Union with the rest of the UK once offered.’
“If the polls have been consistent on anything, it is that the next Parliament will consist of an overall majority supporting a referendum. The absence of clear, agreed rules on what constitutes a mandate for a referendum means that the battle of the mandates will prove at least as contentious as the election itself.”