We asked 10 prominent writes, and figures in the independence movement to give us their thoughts on where we go from here. Send us your responses for a letters special in Monday's newspaper to letters@thenational.scot​

Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party: We cannot advance independence if we attempt to disown it

The National:

THERE was a punk rock band I used to follow in the 1980s called The Redskins. They had a lyric that went: “If we stop running they can’t chase us.”

Those words came to mind several times during the General Election as I watched SNP candidates repeatedly shun the independence cause. Labour, LibDem and Tory candidates feasted on their refusal to talk about, far less make the case for, self-determination.

The result? The SNP suffered their biggest electoral reverse ever. They lost 21 seats and held another 12 only by the skin of their teeth. Majorities measured in tens of thousands two years ago were reduced to tens this time.

So, what lessons can be learned? First, that the case for independence cannot be advanced by disowning it.

Secondly, the First Minister’s announcement of indyref2 in April was, as the Scottish Socialist Party warned at the time, a huge mistake.

It made Scotland’s EU membership the priority and reduced independence to a Brexit bargaining chip.

Thirdly, the SNP presented themselves as just another “establishment” party and Jeremy Corbyn outmanoeuvred them with ease. The result saw them defeated by the Tories in rural strongholds and outflanked by a timid Scottish Labour Party boosted by Corbyn’s radical politics which they spent two years attacking.

However, some good can come of this setback. It is time more serious thought was given to our strategy for victory. It’s time to end the cheerleading and the shooting down of those who honestly question the SNP’s tactics.

Where do we go now? We need to make the case for independence afresh. And better.

We need to ally our case for constitutional change to concrete proposals that eradicate Scotland’s grotesque inequalities – poverty pay, zero hour contracts, housing shortages etc. The SNP Government needs to make the issues facing Scotland’s working-class majority its priority and thus build capacity into the case for independence.

Building such a case backed by action is the way forward. The Yes movement needs to explain that independence is not divorced from the day-to-day realities facing voters.

Independence remains the only sure way to avoid another Tory government we did not vote for.

The process of re-examination is now crucial.

That is why the Scottish Socialist Voice is hosting another of its successful forums to bring the left together to examine where we are and how to win majority support for self-determination.

Next Saturday, June 24, I will be joined by Alex Neil MSP, Scottish Labour’s Alex Rowley MSP, the eminent economist Margaret Cuthbert and EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan to consider: “Where the movement for an independent socialist Scotland goes now?”

The event kicks off at 10am in the Unison Offices, Bell Street, Glasgow, and is open to the public. Tickets are available via Eventbrite. I hope to see you all there.

Colin Fox is Scottish Socialist Party national spokesman


Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens: Make the case for an internationalist nation

The National:

SO much has happened in politics recently that it seems as though any certainties are short-lived. The snap General Election was a surprise, but more surprising are the noises from Theresa May’s government that austerity is dead.

One thing is certain, however: the legacy of the last decade of economic insecurity and precarious work for the majority as a consequence of austerity will be long lasting.

Austerity has destroyed people’s lives, increased the poverty gap, and normalised the demonising of immigrants and those who rely on social security.

But more than this, it has created a culture where politics is distrusted, where the state is seen to hamper progress.

People are now more distant from power and decision-making than they have been for over a generation. The General Election may have changed some of this, but continuing claims of divisiveness from Scottish Unionists and Tory/DUP deals mean we in Scotland are going to have to work even harder to deliver positive change.

The Conservatives called a European referendum they could not win. They called a General Election they could not win.

They are not fit to govern.

After the decade of failed austerity, this lays bare for all to see the obvious crisis at the heart of the British state, and the crisis at the heart of the British establishment. With no further opportunities (like snap General Elections!) to distract people from the realities of Brexit, it will become clear that these crises are deepening.

The next parliamentary term is going to be difficult for us all, with Brexit consuming almost all of the time at Westminster and lots of the Scottish Parliament’s time too.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the outcomes of Brexit will probably involve most of us getting poorer.

And the UK Government’s response to this is likely to be a reduction in regulations and safeguards. In this of all weeks, we can see just how dangerous this approach is.

And so we need, now more than ever, to make the case for an internationalist Scotland; a Scotland that invests in public services; a Scotland that is not afraid to tackle inequality by redistributing wealth. And I still believe that independence is the only way we can deliver this.

Independence offers us a better country. It will allow us to maximise Scotland’s position as a world leader in renewables while the UK wants us to get fracked.

It will allow us to play a full part in influencing international approaches to peace-building and peace-making. And it will allow us to change our politics for the better: to turn away from a system designed to protect the rich from the world, and create a system that opens its arms to the world.

As the British state and British elite fall apart, Greens will continue to protect workers, human rights and the environment.

We will continue to fight for a different kind of politics. We will continue to stand in solidarity with the demonised and dehumanised. And we can only achieve this by rejuvenating the movement of solidarity and social, environmental and economic justice that grew up in 2014.

I look forward to joining all who wish to fight for a better Scotland for all.

Maggie Chapman is Scottish Green Party Co-convener


Andrew Tickell, journalist and law lecturer: Time for hard thinking – not political games

The National:

SOMETIMES, it is the tiny moments that are revelatory. The location? The House of Commons. The date? March this year. Theresa May is batting away questions, and the SNP MP for Aberdeen South took to his pins.

“The UK has one of the worst-performing currencies in the world, it has a trade deficit of £133 billion, and a national debt approaching £1.7 trillion,” he said, enjoying the moment. “Can I ask the Prime Minister, does she really believe the UK can afford to be an independent country?”

The SNP benches erupted, savouring May’s gooseberry face. Tory MPs hollered back, and Callum McCaig sat down, confident he’d landed a zinger. Many Nats seemed to agree. The clip was widely circulated online.

But for pause a moment. Think McCaig’s quip through. If the Prime Minister had been nimbler on her feet, she could have silenced him with one simple observation: “The worst-performing currency in the world? Would that be the pound you insisted an independent Scotland would retain in 2014?

The currency the leadership of your party still seems to back?”

In the grand scheme of things, one SNP MP’s cheap gag at PMQs matters little – but the debating society laughter from the rest of the Nationalist benches disturbed me. Anybody with an ounce of strategy in them ought to have seen McCaig’s remarks for what they were: dumb tactics. Being rude to May can’t be an end in itself. It can’t be worth it when it involves – apparently unwittingly – sawing through a core plank of your own policy platform.

The incident was symptomatic of the challenges the Westminster group have faced, sucked into the morass of parliamentary tactics, Angus Robertson played his role deftly. But what, precisely, did the stinging performances at PMQs actually achieve?

When Scottish Labour dominated the Commons benches, the SNP dubbed them “the Feeble Fifty”, able to bandy warm words with the government, but able to achieve very little to mitigate Tory rule. How do you then explain it when they are your 50, and they look spirited, but are ultimately just as feeble as the Labour MPs they replaced?

It is a political challenge which no amount of sloganising about being a “strong opposition” is able credibly to overcome.

Sigmund Freud was right about the return of the repressed. Things you tuck away in your unconscious have the bad habit with catching up with you. For the SNP, the 2014 independence referendum remains unfinished business. The General Election, for the first time since 2014, seemed haunted by its memory.

In the cold light of retrospect, the 2015 result looks an exercise in escapism. You can understand why it felt intoxicating, why it was psychologically fulfilling for folk battered by disappointment, but it was ultimately an unhealthy distraction. The return of the 56 did not transmute disaster into triumph – it just helped repress the reality of the experience and the political and psychological challenge it always represented.

Optimistically, patiently, seriously: it is time to excavate those dark corridors. Buoyed by a considerable fund of Short money, the new Westminster group are in a unique position to do the hard thinking about what Scottish independence, in the context of a post-Brexit Britain, might mean. What is needed now is a strategy rooted in serious analysis – not a journalistic churn, reactive, unsystematic, surviving by their wits day by day.


Catherine R Schenk, academic: Political shocks offer a chance to refresh the independence case

The National:

THE international political landscape has had some shocks over the past year: Trump’s election; Brexit; the victory of Macron and En Marche in France; the Conservatives as the second party in Scotland.

The public have repeatedly surprised pundits and the political elite – voters are less predictable, more willing to switch allegiance and even to embrace new and untested leaders with enthusiasm.

This international phenomenon is linked to the prolonged economic impact of the global financial crisis on government budgets and spending, on employment and on people’s expectations (or fears) for the future. It provides an opportunity to refresh the argument for independence in Scotland, perhaps in a more socially and economically radical way.

Whatever the terms of Brexit, the UK’s place in the global economy will have changed fundamentally by 2019, but the EU will also be a different institution without England. Drawing Scotland closer to the new European Pillar of Social Rights would be a way to demonstrate a distinctive Scottish identity in the UK and also make friends in Europe. If Scotland more closely resembles a small European state than the rest of Britain after 2019, a confident Yes vote is more feasible.

During the General Election campaign, the distinction between Westminster and Holyrood was not always clear and many voters in Scotland were responding to promises made by Corbyn and May on devolved matters such as the NHS, housing or education.

Even after almost 10 years of devolved government, the dominance of England-based media continues to cause confusion for some voters. As new powers over income tax, social security, employment support and the management of the Crown Estate arrive at Holyrood over the next year, the distinctive policy agenda for Scotland needs to be made clearer.

One way to do this would be to create a more “devolved” presence for the SNP at Westminster, perhaps by increasing the role and visibility of the new party leader there, Ian Blackford. This could help to ensure the Scottish public appreciate both the distinction between Westminster and Holyrood agendas and also why constitutional independence is still needed.

Catherine R Schenk is Professor of International Economic History, University of Glasgow

Part I: Mike Russell, Victoria Heaney and Ruth Wishart

Part III: Willy Maley, Dennis Canavan and Isobel Lindsay