by Rab Bruce’s Spider

It was very disappointing, although not really all that surprising, to hear that the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blakcford, has said that IndyRef2 might be delayed beyond 2023 because of the Ukraine crisis.

Now, I can fully understand that the SNP may fear attracting accusations of bad faith if they were to begin an IndyRef campaign while the war continues, but I think we should all know by now that it really does not matter when IndyRef2 is announced. Whenever it happens, the Unionist media will loudly proclaim that it is the wrong time because of all the other things that need attention.

In my view, now would be an ideal time to begin the campaign. We have on record Boris Johnson’s assertion that every country should be free to choose who governs it, and at a time when democracy is under threat, surely that is when we should show how it should be done.

It is always easy to find excuses to delay, but I don’t think the war in Ukraine is one of them. After all, it is not as if we could hamper the UK’s sanctions regime against Russia or their project to help Ukrainian refugees. The whole world has noticed how inept and callous the UK Government is and how little it is doing, and an independent Scotland could surely do much better.

Of course, even if IndyRef2 was announced tomorrow, we would not become a normal country for some time, and I sincerely hope that the Ukraine war will be over before then. This raises the question of just how long Ian Blackford thinks the war will go on. Is IndyRef2 to be delayed indefinitely? Because one thing you can be sure of is that some other crisis will occur before too long.

Whether you are one of those people who now believes the SNP have no intention of ever calling IndyRef2, or whether you still believe they plan to go through the process properly and sensibly, I hope you will agree that even Covid is not an excuse for delay. Yes, it remains serious, but it did not prevent the Scottish Parliament elections, and I doubt that it will affect the upcoming Council elections, so I cannot fathom why it should be cited as a reason to delay IndyRef2. It is perfectly possible for campaigners to chat to people on their dorrsteps with a little bit of social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

I have heard one SNP supporter claim that now is not the right time because there are other things the Scottish Government needs to focus on , such as energy bills, the NHS and so on. I would argue instead that an independent Scotland would be far better placed to tackle these issues than we can while we remain under Westminster control.

So what can we do to tell the Scottish Government that we want to become a normal country sooner rather than later? Well, wherever you stand in the IndyRef debate, I hope you will use the Council elections to make a statement. With the Single Transferable Voting system, all Yessers really ought to rank the pro-Indy Parties at the top of their lists. Whether it be SNP, Greens, Alba, ISP or whoever, if they are pro-Indy, put them as your first choices. I really do hope that the silly in-fighting so visible on social media will not carry over to these elections. Would a Yesser really vote for a unionist Party ahead of another pro-Indy Party? If they did, I would suggest that independence is not high on their list of priorities. Not only that, this sort of squabbling is precisely what the Unionists want, so let’s use our votes sensibly. It should not be a case of giving the SNP yet another mandate for IndyRef2, it should be about telling the world that we want to become a normal, self-governing country.

I fully expect the SNP to do well in the Council elections because I don’t think the likes of Alba and ISP have managed to gain much traction in the wider public, nor do most people seem to have latched onto the GRA reform issue. So the SNP will probably still be the largest pro-Indy vote winners by a considerable margin.

But they cannot take our continued support for granted. Yes, there are large issues in the world, but there always have been, and there always will be. Instead of playing it safe to avoid media accusations of poor judgement, we should instead have arguments ready to counter those accusations. Taking the Ukraine war as an example, we could point out that an independent Scotland as part of the EU would be able to do far more to help Ukraine than we ever can as part of the UK whose Government has been utterly compromised by Russian dark money.

Now is the time to show the world that Scotland can be a normal country with a much more empathetic outlook than the cruel UK Government. We really cannot afford to be chained to Westminster much longer, and the SNP need to start looking at opportunities instead of finding excuses for further delay.