There may come a time when we support such a referendum if it is the clear will of a substantial majority of Scots. But we are guilty of very sloppy thinking if we go along with the SNP’s mantra that this election was a clear mandate for an Indyref 2. The SNP secured 45% of the vote on a platform of ‘Lock Boris out of No 10 and Stop Brexit’. The SNP clearly smashed it in terms of winning here in Scotland and have a mandate and responsibility to do everything in their power to stand up for Scottish interests at Westminster and resist Tory policies that would be devastating for ordinary people across the U.K. However, as I have argued many times before, referendums are not there to break a deadlock, like cutting a pack of cards. They are only appropriate to ratify what has become the clear will of the people in relation to a burning social, political or constitutional issue e.g. Divorce Reform in Ireland; the Good Friday Agreement; Scottish Devolution.
We keep falling into the traps set by the SNP. They were never going to welcome all the new powers delivered by the Smith Commission. According to them we had broken ‘the Vow’. We helped them secure a General Election when it wasn’t in Labour’s interest to face the electorate at that time. They never wanted a Labour Government elected for the U.K. because only a Tory Government serves their cause. Then we have allowed them to turn the Scottish result into a mandate for an Indyref 2 when that wasn’t the key issue.
The message of the election result for Scottish Labour should be - ‘Don’t react, resist’. If you want to draw any immediate conclusions from the election it would be to seize on the near 75% of the electorate who voted against the Tories. Now that is a mandate to oppose and resist the Tory Government. Scottish Labour should be calling for those who oppose the Tories to join in a Scottish Resistance, determined to use all the powers of the Scottish Parliament (and more where needed) and to work in partnership with our local authorities to make Scotland different and to protect people from the impact of Tory policies. The SNP have never really wanted devolution to work - again because it wouldn’t serve their cause or add to their politics of grievance. We should be shaming them into taking up the challenge to make devolution work to deliver a progressive agenda, stand as a bulwark against the Tories and as a beacon for the disillusioned Labour heartlands in England that lent the Tories their votes.