THE Glasgow MSP James Dornan has announced his candidacy for the SNP depute leadership, and has stated that as depute leader he’d press for an independence referendum to be held early in 2019. Previously, other leading figures within the SNP such as Pete Wishart have argued for delaying the referendum until after 2021, and said that the party should first “renew” its mandate in that year’s Holyrood elections.

I disagree with Pete’s argument, as I’ve already written in this paper. The SNP already has its referendum mandate – that mandate has already been approved and passed by the Scottish parliament. It needs to be used before Scotland is wrecked by the madness of the Conservatives’ blind rush into an ill thought out Brexit designed solely to placate the right-wing Little Britain nationalists of that party.

It would be an error for the SNP to go back to the people of Scotland in 2021 asking for a renewal of a mandate that they already possess and which they had chosen not to use. Many who lent their votes to the SNP in 2016 because the party stated in its manifesto that they would hold another independence referendum if Scotland was taken out of the EU against its will. Those voters will be asking themselves why they should trust the SNP to go ahead with an independence referendum during the next parliament when they had a mandate and the necessary votes in this one to do so, but decided not to. There are many others who would vote yes for independence, but who wouldn’t vote for the SNP in a Holyrood election.

I’m not an SNP member, and am not endorsing anyone as a candidate for deputy leadership of that party, but James Dornan is correct in his assessment that an independence referendum needs to be held sooner rather than later. The people of Scotland deserve the right to have their say on the unfolding disaster which is Brexit, and they deserve to have that say before the Tories’ red-white-and-blue empire-nostalgic idiocy has destroyed thousands of jobs, livelihoods, and opportunities.

For all that the Brexiteers chant the mantra that Brexit is the will of the people, it’s not the will of the people of Scotland. Scotland voted against Brexit by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Opinion polls conducted since the Brexit referendum have proven that Scottish opinion is only hardening against Brexit, this country is not becoming reconciled to it. Despite that, or more likely because of it, Theresa May’s government continues to refuse to listen to Scottish concerns.

It’s a national scandal that the British Government didn’t introduce amendments to Clause 11 of the EU Exit Bill to the House of Commons in order to ensure that the Bill met with the objections of the Scottish Parliament. The Brexit Bill threatens to undermine and overturn the entire basis of the devolution settlement, yet Westminster is proceeding with this without bothering to take into account the concerns of the administrations in the devolved nations. You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder whether the decision not to introduce the amendments into the Commons but to kick them up to the Lords had anything to do with the fact that there’s no SNP representation in the unelected chamber.

Scotland is on a hiding to nothing asking the Conservatives for a say on Brexit. The Conservatives have a vested interest in ensuring that Scotland doesn’t have a say. Scotland will get the form of Brexit that the Tories decide suits the Conservative party. Whether it suits Scotland doesn’t even enter the top 10 of Tory considerations. It probably doesn’t figure in their calculations at all. So Scotland needs to remember what generations of Scottish mammies and grannies have always told us, if ye want something done, ye need tae dae it yersel. If Scotland wants a voice on Brexit, we need to sort it out for ourselves. Westminster isn’t going to do it for us – that ought to be clear by now to even the most obtuse Daily Mail reader.

The UK is supposedly to leave the EU in just over a year’s time. Depending on how negotiations go the British Government will either be taking us into a transitional period, or we’ll be crashing out of the EU without a deal. Irrespective of which scenario transpires, Scotland’s economy and place in the world is going to be negatively affected. The devolution settlement is facing a threat that could potentially destroy the principles agreed to by the Scottish people in 1997 – yet without any vote, without any consultation or consent from the Scottish Parliament. It’s hypocritical of the Conservatives to demand that independence supporters respect the results of the 2014 referendum when they are hell bent on disrespecting the 1997 one.

Opponents of independence may be hoping we have forgotten what they promised us in 2014, but we haven’t. We remember that we were told not to trade the security and stability of the UK for the uncertainties of independence, but as a part of the UK Scotland will be facing unprecedented uncertainty and insecurity. We remember that we were told that the only way in which Scotland could guarantee its place in the EU was to vote No, but as part of the EU Scotland will be being dragged out of Europe against its express will.

The next independence referendum should be framed as Scotland giving itself the opportunity to have its own say on Brexit, and that means it must be held near the date when the UK leaves the EU. My own preference would be for Scotland to hold a referendum shortly before the official Brexit date as by that time we ought to have some idea of what is in store. That means a referendum in Spring 2019. A Yes vote in that referendum means that Scotland can then negotiate its own relationship with the EU, and protect Scotland’s interests in a way that the British Government has no intention of doing. It also means that Scotland will be able to look to the EU to put pressure on the UK to respect Scotland’s interests in the way that the EU is protecting Irish interests. The British parliament and British nationalists aren’t going to do this for Scotland. We need tae dae it wursels.