We asked 10 prominent writers 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

Willy Maley, academic Don’t believe the mainstream media – these are dark times for Unionism

The National:

IN Scotland, the three Unionist parties have among them yet again won fewer seats than the SNP at a General Election, despite the increasingly desperate corporate media bias in their favour and the rumoured “dark money” injected into their campaigns.

They spun voter uncertainty over Brexit as uncertainty over indyref2, as shady a ruse as blaming the public sector for the shambles made of the economy by the banks. And this time round, as well as the remnants of New Labour, easily dismissed as Red Tories, the SNP also had to contend with the “Corbyn Factor”, the ghost of Old Labour manifest in a more plausible form than Gordon Brown’s broken Vow.

Thankfully, the Yes Movement as a whole is a rich and diverse body, a vibrant presence amidst the aimless staggering of the zombies.

It’s true that some supporters of independence who had fled from Labour’s sinking ship returned, albeit temporarily, to cling to the wreckage and lend moral support. But it’s clear they were acting in solidarity with their southern neighbours, not from any desire to exhume the corpse of Scottish Labour.

The fact remains that after an election designed at least in part to reverse the SNP’s astonishing 2015 General Election performance, Nicola Sturgeon is still in pole position. Conversely, Theresa May’s failure to secure an overall majority at Westminster has seen the Tories, now reverting to their full title of Conservative and Unionist Party (CUP), reaching out to Unionist bedfellows even more extreme than Ukip.

Bear in mind that it was the devil’s pact with Farage that signed Cameron’s death warrant. The prospective deal with the DUP is equally ill-judged.

It threatens the Good Friday Agreement and, by extension, the Union itself, and will intensify calls for a referendum on Irish reunification. In another twist of the tale we could also be facing a further referendum on Brexit – “BrexitRef2”. Whatever way you look at it, the Union is a busted flush.

Willy Maley is a Scottish literary critic, editor, teacher and writer, and currently Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Glasgow.


Dennis Canavan, former Yes Scotland chair

The National:

IF Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale really think last week’s General Election result has killed off the demand for independence or the demand for indyref2, they must live on a different planet.

The SNP are understandably disappointed about losing seats but the fact remains that, over the past year, the people of Scotland have returned a majority of pro-independence parliamentary representatives, both at Westminster and at Holyrood. So the demand for independence has not gone away and the demand to let the people decide by means of another referendum will not go away.

The exact timing of indyref2 will depend very much on how the Brexit negotiations go. For many people, the full implications of Brexit have not yet sunk in. If it looks like we’re heading for a hard Brexit, with detrimental effects on the economy, employment and freedom of movement, that will increase demand for indyref2 to enable an independent Scotland to negotiate its own relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.

In the meantime, the people of Scotland are yet again saddled with a government we did not vote for. If Theresa May and her DUP accomplices try to impose more austerity, then support for independence will grow.

The chaos at Westminster raises questions not just about the stability of the UK Government but also about the stability of the UK itself.

Whatever the future holds, campaigners for independence must not simply sit back and wait for things to happen. We must immediately work harder than ever to win more hearts and minds for the cause of independence so that, when the starting gun is fired for indyref2 , we are ready and raring to go.

During the General Election campaign we were repeatedly told that politicians should concentrate on bread and butter issues rather than constitutional ones but constitutional change can help to deliver the bread and butter. Independence is not an end in itself. It is a means towards building a fairer Scotland and one that will play its full part in the international community to help build a better world. When we succeed in getting that message across, we will win a famous victory.

Dennis Canavan is a former Labour MP, Independent MSP and Chair of Yes Scotland (2012-14)


Isobel Lindsay, activist: Opposition to indyref2 proves that the Unionist parties know they could lose

The National:

IN any study of migration, it is routine to look at push and pull factors – the discontent with the current place and the attraction of the new one. Even if you are unhappy with where you are now, you are unlikely to move unless you have some confidence that you have somewhere better to go. There is considerable evidence that, historically, it is the pull factors that have been the more important in determining Scotland’s migration losses.

How does this relate to the independence campaign? A referendum campaign predicated primarily on Brexit being nasty is unlikely to succeed. However, a campaign can succeed which puts Brexit and other discontents in the predominant context of a strong vision of what an independent Scotland could do, and a clearly presented case showing how the transition, governance and the economy would work. We need a strong “pull” campaign. What happens with Brexit is largely out of our hands.

There may be some Westminster votes where the SNP group can make a difference but this is unpredictable and depends on what others do. Ruth Davidson wants other parties to be involved in the process so that responsibility for any messy outcome is spread. While being a big issue, Brexit is a reactive one and we need to focus much more than has been done on the pull factors: what could be our new economic opportunities with indy, what is the new international role for?

How can we transform the quality of life here, how would we create a high-participation democracy, and what are the practical nuts and bolts for a new independent state? Some of this work has and is being done, for example by Common Weal, but it needs to be greatly expanded .

As tends to happen with all parties in government, the SNP have become uncomfortable with open debate, too centralised and rather closed to big thinking. But however down people may feel, it is important to remember that the opposition is genuinely frightened of another indyref.

If they were confident Scotland would vote No, they would welcome another referendum but they are desperate to put it back in the box because they know from last time that once out there it is not in their control.

Part I: Mike Russell, Victoria Lindsay and Ruth Wishart

Part II: Colin Fox, Maggie Chapman, Andrew Tickell and Catherine R Schenk