AN SNP MP has penned an amendment which would ask the party’s Special Democracy Conference to call for Holyrood to be dissolved and the resultant election used as a de facto independence referendum.

Angus MacNeil has asked for SNP branches to support his effort, which would change the motion proposed by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee almost in its entirety.

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In January, the NEC published a motion calling on the party to agree to “contest the next UK General Election as a de facto referendum”.

In a second, watered-down option, the NEC suggested the next General Election could be used instead to campaign for an “agreement for a transfer of power to enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum”.

Saying it wanted to “enable the fullest possible debate”, the SNP chiefs called on members across Scotland to submit motions, or amendments to their motion, which can be considered at the Special Democracy Conference.

MacNeil has taken up the offer, and submitted an amendment to the NEC’s original motion that would delete the original almost entirely.

The NEC motion begins: “Conference restates the SNP’s founding belief that the best future for Scotland is as an independent nation.”

The Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP’s amendment would delete everything after this line, and insert the following text:

Conference notes that:

  • 1. Paragraph 81 of the Supreme Court’s decision states that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to use ballot boxes for a referendum on independence, as the “referendum on the question envisaged … would undoubtedly be an important political event.”
  • 2. The Supreme Court further stated, “A clear outcome … would possess the authority, in a constitution and political culture founded upon democracy, of a clear expression of the view of the Scottish Electorate” and would “have important political consequences relating to [both] the Union and the United Kingdom Parliament.”
  • 3. The Supreme Court therefore felt, not for legal but for political consequences, bound to block a referendum originating in the devolved parliament due to the effects on non-devolved matters, namely the current “Union”.

Therefore, given the acceptance of a “political culture founded upon democracy”, Conference resolves to use the self-same ballot boxes, at an election event to gain the “view” of the people and their democratic “authority” on the matter of independence for Scotland, noting that Courts in the democratic world do not block elections.

Given the current reality of Westminster blocking a referendum on independence, Conference resolves that the people shall speak at an election, with “authority” on independence; and a majority of votes for the SNP and other parties stating a clear pro-independence position in their manifestos shall be regarded as the authoritative view of the people on independence in the event of a majority of such votes combining for independence.

Conference also notes that there are three ways to trigger an early Holyrood Election:

  • 1. Resignation of First Minister to trigger – as per The 1998 Scotland Act;
  • 2. Two thirds of the current MSPs voting to dissolve Parliament – as per The 1998 Scotland Act;
  • 3. Amending the standing orders or legislation using Scotland Act 2016 [Sec3] to cause an election by simple majority – as per The 2016 Scotland Act [Sec3(1)(a)]

Conference therefore resolves that the next election or elections should now logically be used for independence and the first such opportunity should be an early Holyrood Election, held on or around 19th October 2023 brought about by option 3 above, namely through the 2016 Scotland Act enabling a majority of MSPs at the Scottish Parliament to bring about an election.

The Special Democracy Conference will be held in Edinburgh on March 19. It was called in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that Holyrood did not have the power to legislate for a second independence referendum without Westminster consent.