AS the stew of the SNP’s self-made difficulties simmers on, to the mortification of ordinary members like myself who in recent years have come to expect less and less from the party, it may be useful to warn of the crucial aspect of an impasse that might be approaching, but which could still be avoided with the appropriate action.

Reporting on the Redfield and Wilton poll, the astute commentator James Kelly points out that from the Scottish voting intentions for the next UK General Election, the SNP would lose its majority of Scottish seats at Westminster (by the substantial margin of 34 to 25). For the cause of independence, that would be not a mere misfortune, but a catastrophe.

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The delusion of the SNP, which it has succeeded in inculcating into most of the population, has been to ignore the significance of the Union parliament, and to rely exclusively on the notion of a referendum. Since that can only come about with London’s cooperation, it has effectively handed the UK Government a veto on Scottish independence.

Sturgeon’s belated conversion back to a Westminster vote, announced in June last year, was not acted upon, and she has now departed and is replaced by a First Minister who has reverted to the suicidal path of referendum only, presumably demonstrating that most members share his belief.

Well we’re not going to get a referendum (certainly for as long as we claim one is necessary). The only way Scotland will achieve independence is by a democratic vote of its people, and the only way such a vote can be held is in a general election (Westminster or Holyrood) under an independence manifesto.

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If independence wins, the only way Scotland could take the step of leaving at its own hand is by a majority of the Scottish members of the Union parliament seceding and thereby taking Scotland out of the Union (ie a direct reversal of the process which took us into the Union in the first place).

That is not to say that in practice it would have to be done that way, because the very vote for independence would itself lead to a negotiated exit, if the alternative was to be straightforward secession. London has never maintained that Scotland cannot go if it so wishes, and indeed has always (when put to it) said that we can. Only the SNP claims, insanely, that London is stopping us.

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But without a majority of Scottish seats, that step could not be taken, since there could be no threat of secession. So even if the SNP had a change of heart after an abysmal result at Westminster next year, and subsequently redeemed itself with a roaring democratic vote for independence at Holyrood in 2026, the UK Government could ignore it, since the Union would be secured by our powerless minority at Westminster. And there is nothing Scotland could do about it, since it is we ourselves who would have put that minority in. So long as we lack a majority of Scottish seats, independence would be dead.

That is the danger Scotland risks unless the new First Minister changes course, to fight the coming General Election on whether Scotland chooses independence, thereby ensuring a result which reflects the strength of Scotland’s desire to leave the Union (and hopefully, indeed, a democratic majority), and not merely its support of the SNP. Otherwise he will fail Scotland and betray the movement.

Alan Crocket

SO no civil servants are to be allocated to Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn. Therefore, I presume no civil servant shall be allocated to Sunak as he he is Minister for the Union. Goose/gander?

M Ross