Social media and blogs have been full of articles about the SNP – how they have not done things the author thought they should do, how they are failing the independence movement, etcetera. And, of course, the inevitable push back from the party faithful about “creating division” and “causing dissent”, urging us to unite behind the party because only they can deliver.
What both sides are missing, however, is that the SNP are only part of the independence movement – an important part, maybe – but not the whole movement. In many ways they are disadvantaged by the situation they find themselves in – on the one hand, dealing with the day to day management of government in Scotland and on the other, an increasingly fractious independence movement.
While there may be many criticisms of the way things have developed since the last referendum, this is not a blame game but, perhaps a time to recall what Nicola Sturgeon herself said in a recent television interview: “this is not a matter for the government in England or Scotland to decide – it is for the Scottish people.” And one of the big problems we face is that, with an almost universally hostile mainstream media and, to date, unreliable opinion poll evidence, it is hard for us to determine exactly how much support there is for independence. No matter what the support may appear to be, at the ballot box we seem to be unable to pass the halfway point in support for independence-supporting parties.
This is where the Digital Scottish Covenant comes in.
Our purpose, initially, is to enable every eligible citizen of Scotland to express their sovereign will through signing the Covenant. The previous covenant attracted two million signatures, all through the efforts of 1200 volunteers. We are aiming for as many as possible with 3 million the ultimate target.
Some, of course, may observe that the first covenant went nowhere – ignored by Westminster, the only follow-up was a case brought in the Court of Session in 1953. But our follow-up is different. With the evolution of the signatory process, we shall form a People’s Assembly which will express the will of all signatories with the ultimate goal of calling a Convention of MPs, MEPs, MSPs and representatives of local authorities and business groups. In this way we can demonstrate the sovereign will of the Scottish people and do it in a way which is legal, both domestically and internationally.
Should the decision be to dissolve the Treaty of Union, full authority would then be conferred on the Scottish parliament and government to negotiate the details of removal from the United Kingdom.
The convention may discuss and vote on other constitutional matters as the members of the People’s Assembly see fit and final agreement can be legitimised through elections on 6th May 2021. Matters of transition will be decided by negotiation with Westminster but, whether or not the English government wish to co-operate in an orderly transition, should the convention agree, independence will take place.