The backlash against Boris Johnson’s refusal to recognise the support for a second independence referendum is growing. Even those who do not support independence are increasingly speaking out against any Tory bid to block the vote. Here are three voices who recently added their support to the arguments in favour of holding indyref2.
1: Michael Sharpe, former Labour Party general secretary
Michael Sharpe has urged Labour’s leader in Scotland Anas Sarwar to rethink the party’s opposition to a second independence referendum.
Writing in the Daily Record, Mr Sharpe urged Mr Sarwar: “Change must start by standing up to the UK Party and unquestionably affirming that sovereignty lies with the Scottish people.’’
Scottish Labour’s dismissive stance on self-determination cut the party off at the knees
He said the Labour party in Scotland “still doesn’t get devolution”. He added: ‘’ With the constitution still the prism through which Scottish politics is viewed, Scottish Labour’s dismissive stance on self-determination cut the party off at the knees …’’
Mr Sharpe, who left the general secretary job in December, warned that the hardline stance on indyref2 of the party’s current hierarchy is scuppering its chances of a revival.
He argued that separating Scottish Labour from the UK party is also crucial to the party’s future success. He wrote: “As recent polling suggests, Anas Sarwar must distance Scottish Labour from the Keir Starmer leadership.’’
Will Labour listen to the words of advice? A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: ‘’Scottish Labour’s relentless focus continues to be coming through Covid and our national recovery.”
That will be a ‘’no’’ then.
2: Matt Qvortrup, professor of political science at Coventry University
Mr Qvortrup, who has been described as ‘’an expert on nationalist movements around the world’’, wrote in the Times recently that the Conservative threat to attempt a block on an independence referendum in court had made Britain more like Spain, which sent riot police to prevent an independence referendum in Catalonia in 2017.
He said: “Just like Catalonia the British courts will declare the Scottish referendum illegal. This will be a gift for Sturgeon. Imagine a bunch of posh, mainly English lawyers blocking the will of the Scottish people in the unelected Supreme Court in London.”
Mr Qvortrup may not be a supporter of independence but he knows the inevitable result of standing against democracy. He tells Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he would stoke an upsurge in already strong support for a second independence referendum if he attempted to stop it.
John Burnside, writer, poet
John Burnside was moved to abstain in the 2014 independence referendum. He could not bring himself to vote against independence but was worried that if Scotland left the UK ‘’the cynical and increasingly xenophobic brand of Toryism that had already taken root there would only gain in strength’’.
I suspect that the best way for Scottish folk to help our brothers over the Border is to break the ties that have bound us together for three centuries
Writing in the Guardian recently he says he would now vote for independence the first chance he gets.
Mr Burnside wrote: ”Now, however, I suspect that the best way for Scottish folk to help our brothers over the Border is to break the ties that have bound us together for three centuries, and let fate take its course. Perhaps we can provide some kind of example of an honourable attempt at a civic society …
‘’I am not so naive as to pretend that Scotland hasn’t got a long way to go if it is to establish a just society. Still, we have to start somewhere, and I have to think that such a start can only be more hopeful if it is not muddled by interference from a toxic but far more powerful neighbour.’’