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It’s time Scottish Conservatives stop sneering and engage with the SNP's vision of independence

3 min read

The Scottish Conservative Party needs to recognise the change taking place in Scotland and accept a referendum must now take place, writes Stewart McDonald MP.

Before writing this article, I bumped into David Mundell and told him I’d been asked to write a response to his, which outlined his opposition to a referendum on Scotland’s independence. I confessed that I hadn’t at that point read it and joked that I could’ve no doubt written it for him.

Oh, how right I was.

It was sterile, lazy and set against reality – it’s nothing personal, David, but you really must do better to understand the change taking place around you.

David says that he ‘rejects completely’ the mandate that the First Minister has claimed for a future referendum on independence. It’s this kind of language that suggests David has been asleep since the results came through and shows no signal of having stopped to do what politicians should do more of and ask himself if he’s really getting this right.

His article was full of all the usual gems. Claiming the SNP is obsessed with independence, that we’re manufacturing grievances and that we need to get on with the day job. Well, it seems the voters don’t mind any of these things.

In 2011 the voters of Scotland delivered a majority SNP result that delivered a mandate for our referendum in 2014. The result was 45% vote share and was accepted by the then PM, David Cameron. Last week voters gave the SNP 80% of Scotland’s seats at Westminster after and endorsed us with 45% of the vote. This is the system we have – however imperfect – and a referendum must now take place.

But as David focused a lot on our message of stopping Brexit and delivering a future independence referendum, he spent little time critiquing his own.

The Tory message in Scotland was as vacuous as it was barren. Their sole policy for the Scottish electorate was that voters needed to lend them their votes to stop a referendum on independence. Indeed, the only way it could be prevented, they said, was to elect Scottish Conservative MPs as a rebuke to the idea of a second independence vote. They failed. Spectacularly losing more than half of their seats.

I do not claim that all those votes for my party were an endorsement of independence in itself - that would be absurd. But as Boris Johnson proceeds with inflicting upon Scotland a Brexit that we have rejected at every turn, the last thing people want is their options being narrowed. A referendum on independence keeps our options open.

The Scottish Conservative Party enjoyed a small revival in 2016 and 2017 and they’ve done nothing but relentlessly disparage those who wish to see Scotland independent. This is now backfiring.

Now is the time for them to stop sneering, be alive to the change that’s taking place and change the damn record.

David’s article might have been predictable, but the Scottish election result was anything but. As a former Secretary of State for Scotland, he would do well get out his Britannic bubble and engage with those he’s losing to the SNP’s vision of independence in Europe.


Stewart McDonald is the SNP Member of Parliament for Glasgow South.

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