The SNP Has No Democratic Mandate

“A mandate requires the SNP to make a clear commitment to hold another referendum in 2021 and secure a majority.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 20/01/2020 Available: [Accessed: 2020, Jan 21] 

I voted for Scottish independence in 2014 but I am weary of hearing about it. First and foremost, I am a democrat and that comes before my support for independence or for leaving the European Union. It also means, despondent though I was that the vote did not go my way in 2014, I accept that I lost and that a majority of my fellow citizens were not persuaded by the argument for independence. Therefore, I honour their perspective and believe it should be respected. Surely that is democracy?

However, this is clearly not an opinion shared by the Scottish National Party, whose Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, was in belligerent form at Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday. Responding to the letter, sent by the Prime Minister to Scotland’s First Minister, rejecting the call for a second referendum, Blackford labelled Boris Johnson as “a democracy-denier” and described his position as “undemocratic, unacceptable and completely unsustainable.”

The SNP, who I agree with on many things, are treading a dangerous line with the use of the word “undemocratic” when they have failed to accept the democratic vote of Scotland in 2014 and the democratic vote of the UK in 2016. Furthermore, they forget the 340,735 more people who voted to remain in the UK than voted to remain in the EU. It is precisely because of the way Scotland voted in 2014 that creates the democratic legitimacy for our leaving the European Union in less than a fortnight.

On the same day as Blackford’s outburst, the pro-independence newspaper The National published a front-page appealing for No voters “to come together to back #indyref2” with a double-page spread emblazoned with the eternally-optimistic headline: “IndyRef2 Still On For 2020.” Alex Massie, a few days earlier in his Sunday Times column, wrote: “It seems obvious there will be no referendum this year. Even if there were, the SNP has not yet prepared its case for a referendum campaign.”

And here we see the tip of the iceberg that could sink the notion of independence. Not only do I not believe the SNP have a democratic mandate for another referendum on independence but I do not necessarily think there is enough of an appetite among the people of Scotland for another referendum on independence.

However, the equally untenable claim by Conservatives that only 45 per cent of the electorate backed independence-supporting parties overlooks the fact that the two other independence-supporting parties in Scotland stood no candidates in December and very probably would have secured more than half the vote share if they had.

Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack, may say there are no circumstances in which they would consider another referendum but a democratic mandate requires the SNP to make a clear manifesto commitment to hold another referendum in 2021 and secure a majority. If they believe the people of Scotland should decide, then let us decide. If the SNP secure their majority, then no honest democrat should stand in the way.