Former SNP MP George Kerevan told demonstrators that a majority for independence can only be achieved by campaigning for it
- Grassroots rally outside of Holyrood demands the SNP immediately seek a second independence referendum in the wake of this week’s defeat of the UK Government and Theresa May’s narrow survival of a No Confidence vote
- At First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon confirms to Patrick Harvie that she will give details on the potential timetable for a second referendum, regardless of whether Article 50 is extended and departure from the EU is postponed
PRO-INDEPENDENCE demonstrators rallied today [17 January] outside of the Scottish Parliament to demand the immediate triggering of a second referendum on Scottish independence by the Scottish Government.
While activists chanted and sang outside the legislature, Sturgeon confirmed during First Minister’s Questions that she would soon be offering further details of her thinking on the timetable for such a vote, saying that it was “essential” that the people of Scotland be offered an alternative to “the chaos of Brexit”.
Responding to a question from Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie, Sturgeon also confirmed that she would make public these promised details whether or not Article 50 was extended, and thus the ultimate departure date of the UK from the European Union was postponed.
This follows Sturgeon’s announcement on Wednesday that she would say more on the matter of a second independence vote in “a matter of weeks”, while also stating that her immediate priority was a People’s Vote on Brexit, a position detailed by the Scottish Government’s Brexit minister Mike Russell in a ministerial response to the Westminster ‘meaningful vote’ on Wednesday.
However, SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil today argued on former first minister Alex Salmond’s RT TV show that “the people of Scotland have waited long enough”, and encouraged Sturgeon to name a date within “a month or two’s time.”
Addressing the assembled demonstrators outside Holyrood, the journalist and former SNP MP George Kerevan, while acknowledging that the rally was intended to put pressure upon Sturgeon, said: “We should not see what we are doing here this morning as being negative. We’re helping Nicola; she needs to know we stand behind her when she presses the button [to trigger a second referendum].
Addressing the concerns of some within the independence movement that a second vote should not be triggered until polls suggested a pro-independence majority, Kerevan continued: “Politics does not work by waiting for something. We won’t get over 45 per cent unless we campaign for it.”
Speaking to CommonSpace prior to his address to the assembled demonstrators, Kerevan said: “My worry is that Nicola is keeping her fingers crossed that the demand for a ‘People’s Vote’ for a second EU referendum will fail, in which case I think she would have no alternative but to trigger a second Scottish independence referendum.
“I think we are seeing the worst crisis of the British state for over 100 years, and there is no better time for Scotland to seek independence.” Former SNP MP George Kerevan
“I think we are seeing the worst crisis of the British state for over 100 years, and there is no better time for Scotland to seek independence. We should not be helping to defend and save the British state.”
Asked whether the independence movement was ready for a referendum campaign, should one be triggered in the immediate future, Kerevan said: “I think the movement has been ready for about a year. They’ve been reanimating the Yes branches right across Scotland, the [Scottish] Independence Foundation has been pumping money into grassroots initiatives… all sorts of things have been happening. They’re straining at the leash to get going.”
Regarding a possible People’s Vote, Kerevan said: “I think that will fail. To have a second vote on EU membership, you would need the Westminster parliament to change. I think it is also utterly vital in Scotland not to waste too much time on that project.”
Asked what he thought the SNP’s strategy should be in the event of a General Election, Kerevan responded: “I think we have to be tactically flexible. Again, the Tories are going to fight tooth and nail not to have a General Election. If there’s an election, I think that’s fine. Here in Scotland, I think we [the SNP] will take seats from Labour and from the Tories.”
Kerevan also stated that, if the SNP and other pro-independence parties were to win the majority of the Scottish seats in a General Election, then “that would be a mandate for independence.”
“If we get support for a second legal [independence] referendum, that’ll be fine, but I don’t think it’ll be any easier with Labour than with the Tories.” Former SNP MP George Kerevan
Kerevan went on to say that, if a General Election was to deliver a Corbyn government, securing a second independence referendum would, in his opinion, not necessarily be any easier than under the Conservatives.
Discussing the possibility of a supply-and-demand deal with Labour, or the kind of ‘rainbow coalition’ speculated upon in 2010, Kerevan said: “When I ran as an SNP candidate in 2010, that was part of our position, and in fact we could have blocked a Tory government. We wouldn’t have had a majority in Westminster, but Labour, SNP and the Lib Dems could have stopped the Tories coming to power. So, we wouldn’t have had the kind of austerity we’ve had.
“I’ve nothing against working Labour at Westminster. In the present circumstances, I’m not sure what Corbyn’s position would be – he tends to be a bit sectarian and formal in these matters. I know there are people in the close Corbyn leadership team who have written of Scottish Labour as antediluvian, so we do have some sympathies there.
“If we get support for a second legal [independence] referendum, that’ll be fine, but I don’t think it’ll be any easier with Labour than with the Tories.”
WHERE NEXT FOR BREXIT? CommonSpace Live Show Thursday 17 January 7pm, on Facebook