THIS letter proposes that the political parties in favour of independence should adopt as official policy: “A legitimate mandate for independence exists should over half of the total valid votes cast in the constituency ballot of a Scottish Parliamentary election be cast in favour of pro-independence parties.”

It must now be believed by all reasonable individuals that neither the current UK Government nor any imagined future UK Government have any intention of granting a Section 30 order and agreeing to a Scottish independence referendum. Therefore the Scottish people must be allowed to express their right to self-determination through other democratic means, of which Scottish Parliamentary elections are by far the most appropriate option.

The other potential options of an “unauthorised” referendum or a UK General Election both have serious issues. An unauthorised referendum will most certainly be boycotted by both Unionist parties and Unionist voters, and if not overseen by the appropriate legal electoral authorities will be portrayed as lacking oversight and legitimacy. We must also imagine how it would look if an unofficial referendum was called, only one side turned up, and the Yes vote was lower than the No vote in 2014 – this would verge on farcical. Mobilising individuals for a vote they will be told continuously by the media “won’t count anyway” will be a more difficult task than many imagine. A UK General Election is also not an appropriate option because unlike the 2014 referendum or Scottish Parliamentary elections it bars voting by both EU citizens and 16- to 18-year-olds.

Conversely, a Scottish Parliamentary election cannot be boycotted by Unionist parties and holds the same franchise as the 2014 referendum. Unionist parties simply cannot boycott a legal national election they normally take part in because they fear the result, nor can they question the legitimacy of the electoral process or the electoral system as they themselves have happily consented to these at all previous Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Indeed a Scottish Parliamentary election may be superior to all other options for expressing Scotland’s right to self-determination. This notion that a nation can only determine its independence through a one-off referendum, as opposed to other democratic events, should in itself be questioned. Imagine if by some miracle a Section 30 was actually granted but a referendum was lost by some false promise or underhand tactic that is only later revealed and as a result Scotland is locked in the Union for another 20, 30 or 40 years. This is clearly unacceptable. The people of Scotland have a right to self-determination and if more than half of the voters at anytime freely choose the path of independence it is their eternal right to be granted it. Pro-independence parties adopting this policy at Scottish Parliamentary elections, as this letters sets out, assures the people of Scotland this eternal right.

We all know the adoption of this policy will be claimed by Unionists as “illegitimate”. Good. Let them go to every debate, TV appearance and parliamentary session and say “even if over

50% of Scottish voters favour independence we won’t let you go”. Let that mentality be exposed over and over again. Adopting the policy set out in this letter would leave the Unionist parties deeply unsettled.

They will be in the position of over the next two year having to continually oppose the right to democratic self-determination while simultaneously defending the merits of a Union that is becoming more chaotic and ungovernable by the day. Let us put them on the back foot.

This Unionist position can’t hold. More than 50% of Scottish voters voting for pro-independence parties in a free, open and legal democratic election can’t be ignored by Westminster or the international community (point of note: before false parallels are drawn, the pro-independence parties in Catalonia did not received more than 50% of the vote in their elections following their 2016 referendum). We as movement need focus, clarity and a date. Nothing will be gained from waiting. May 2021 gives us one year to prepare and then one year to campaign for a historic victory. Not a victory that gives us “another mandate” or a victory that acts only as a “consultation”, but a victory for independence itself.

Now it is well understood that all debate in the independence movement is portrayed as strife by Unionist media, this letter though is simply a voice supporting a position we know that pro-independence leaders are already seriously contemplating. This letter calls for supporters to join in the call for the adoption of this policy by pro-independence parties.

It is hoped that by the end of May 2019 pro-independence party leaders will come together and either a) endorse this position, b) put it to their whole party membership to vote upon, or c) at least give clarity by dismissing this position. A movement coming together and agreeing on this position right now is far better than filling the next years with waiting and aimless discussion. Adopting this position can literally jump-start the independence movement within a matter of weeks, but only if we move with conviction.

If you support this position please share this article on social media. Several thousand social media shares by independence supporters and campaigners can push our movement to seriously debate and consider this position. This letter obviously welcomes the criticism, support and debate that will now hopefully emerge. The support or voice of campaigners, bloggers, social media pages and elected positions is also called for.

John Stewart
Address supplied