Brexit still dominates the media, even though nothing of substance is likely to happen in the next few days or even weeks. So, a bit of space to reflect on one aspect of the other issue of major concern to us – Scottish Independence. I refer to the possibility of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI).
Some proponents of independence are in favour while others seem to want to rule it out completely. In this post I look at the circumstances in which a UDI may be the only way forward.
I start with emphasising that Independence will only happen when a majority of people living in Scotland have voted for this outcome. So, to be clear, I am most definitely not talking about imposing independence on an unwilling public.
There is probably general agreement that a referendum is the most appropriate way to determine if there is a majority in favour of independence. If the UK government were to agree to another independence referendum, as in 2014, this would almost certainly obviate the need for a UDI.
However there is little sign that this or any UK government will agree to this. 2014 was not the overwhelming endorsement of the U.K. that Unionists were hoping for.
If the UK government continues to oppose a referendum then the pro-Indy movement needs an alternative. Otherwise we are allowing Westminster a permanent veto on independence.
The alternatives seem to be 1. a referendum without the consent of the UK government; 2. using a Scottish parliament election as a substitute referendum. Both pose their own difficulties, a legal challenge against a referendum for example. However it would be extremely difficult for a UK government to stop a parliamentary election.
It is my contention that one way or another voters in Scotland will be given another chance to vote for independence. If there is a clear majority in favour of independence, what next?
The hope is that faced with this clear democratic expression of public support for independence the UK government would begin negotiations in good faith. This may well happen. However we need to seriously consider and be prepared for a refusal on the part of the UK government to accept a positive vote in favour of independence.
It is in this situation that I believe that a UDI needs to remain an option. I am under no illusions that a UDI would be a difficult option. It would also pose serious problems for the UK government. The threat of a UDI may be enough to demonstrate that people in Scotland are serious about securing independence. However if the UK government refuses to recognise a democratic vote in favour of independence then what is the alternative?
This is my challenge to those who want to rule a UDI out, what is your alternative?