• Jack O'Neil

Greater democracy is at the heart of what we're trying to achieve, our plans should reflect that

Boris Johnson, whether we win a majority in 2021 or not, won’t grant a section 30 order – that much has been made clear.


Any respect the Conservatives had for democracy and Scotland’s right to choose went out the window in 2016 with Brexit.


The question we must now answer is how do we respond?


For decades our party policy has been, quite rightly, to achieve independence through a referendum. That policy must be our first option because, unlike the Tories, we do respect democracy.


But needing a section 30 order to even hold a referendum not only puts us in a tricky position, it lays bare for all to see how farcical our democracy is as part of the UK.


The very fact we need to ask permission to hold a vote on our own future, and the fact it can be refused, is a democratic disgrace.


We can hope and pray that Westminster changes their tune but that if they don’t we need backup plans.


It should be said that Nicola Sturgeon has fought her entire life for independence and has obviously put a great deal of thought into this. I have no doubt the Scottish Government are planning for a refusal of a referendum but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage in open discussion as to how we best approach achieving independence.


At conference last year I was against the so-called ‘Plan B’ motion. Like many others I saw the Prime Ministers position as unsustainable but if there’s anything we’ve learned about Boris Johnson it’s that his respect for democracy is almost non-existent.


This doesn’t mean I support the motion going to conference in November. As it stands I’d be very reluctant to vote for it.


If we’re to seriously consider this motion we need to assert that winning a majority of seats shouldn’t, on its own, be taken as a vote of support for independence. We won a majority of seats in 2011, 2015, 2017 and in 2019 but only recently did polls start to consistently show majority support for independence.


A move like this only works if we have the backing of our people.


If a referendum is to be refused as we expect – a direct attack on our democracy – then it’s more important than ever that we champion the basic principles of that democracy. Our Plan B, or indeed C, D OR E, shouldn’t be to pursue independence with a majority of seats, but rather with a majority of votes for pro-independence parties.


Only then can we rely on having the support of the voters when we attempt to enter independence negotiations and seek support on the world stage.


As young Scots we’ve spent our whole lives listening to Westminster telling us what we can and can’t do. The time has now come for us to show people what we can do, and top of that list is to assert that Scotland’s future is not in the hands of Boris Johnson, but in the people who live and work here.


This pandemic and the difference in responses from the Scottish and UK Governments have only further proved why we desperately need our independence. We can’t afford to mess up this time.


Greater democracy is at the very heart of what we’re trying to achieve with independence, our plans from A-Z should reflect that.