Robert Leslie, the SNP candidate who will be contesting the Orkney constituency in May 2021 for the SNP has welcomed his party’s proposals for a post-pandemic independence referendum.
Robert Leslie says that Orkney can only benefit economically, socially and politically from being part of an independent Scotland.
The proposals were launched at a £6 a head virtual SNP National Assembly on Sunday 24th of January but were published in The National and The Sunday National .
Robert Leslie is among around 1000 SNP members registered for the online forum, where the independence referendum plans, along with other strategies and tactics were discussed.
Robert Leslie said:
“Back in 2014 almost 33% – or a third of those who voted, backed independence. Given the shambles of Brexit and the increasingly dysfunctional way in which the United Kingdom is operating, I suspect that a significant number of the 62% who rejected the opportunity for Scotland to run its own affairs seven years ago may have other thoughts this time round.
“For that reason, I welcome the fact that a majority for independence at the coming election will trigger another referendum – no matter what Boris Johnson says.
“There are many ways that Orkney can benefit from independence, not least by having decision making closer to home. A fundamental example is energy policy, retained at Westminster and no longer fit for purpose, punishing Orkney rather than rewarding us for having the greenest electricity in the UK, and leave us with higher fuel poverty levels than anywhere else.
“I want to see Orkney’s energy work for Orkney’s people, giving everyone access to affordable warmth, and that means taking control of these policies in Scotland.
“The news this weekend that nuclear warheads have been convoyed in and out of Scotland even during the pandemic, is another reason for us to go our own way. A historic United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons came into force on Friday after being signed by 51 countries. It is supported by the Scottish Government, but opposed by the UK Government. An independent Scotland would get rid of these weapons of mass destruction and turn the ‘Bairns not Bombs’ slogan into a reality.”
At the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections the SNP returned as a minority government but with the elections of Scottish Greens there is an independence supporting majority. All ideas of holding an independence referendum were put on hold by the SNP as they campaigned to ‘Stop Brexit’. Scotland voted 62% to Remain in the EU and over the last few months 20 opinion polls have shown a majority of Scots would vote for independence.
The 11 point plan states that a referendum on independence would not be held until the end of the pandemic. In 2014 Scots voted 55% to say No to an independent Scotland. Since then there has been a momentous change in Scotland’s future with leaving the EU and the removal of powers previously devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Boris Johnson has a comfortable majority UK Government but there are only 6 Tory MPs in Scotland out of a total of 59 ( SNP 47, LibDem 4, Labour 1).
The 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections will be critical in determining which direction of travel Scotland wishes to take.
Michael Russell, Constitutional Minister in the Scottish Government said:
“I firmly believe that Scotland’s referendum must be beyond legal challenge to ensure legitimacy and acceptance at home and abroad. This is the surest way by far to becoming an independent country. “
There is a court case ongoing on this very issue. The Peoples Action on Section 30 brought by Martin Keating is being heard by Lady Carmichael and very soon will deliver its opinion:
that the Scottish Parliament has the power to legislate for the holding of a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country, without requiring the consent of the UK government or any further amendment of the Scotland Act 1998 (the “1998 Act”). Peoples Action on Section 30
The court case has been brought by an individual using crowdfunding. It is not backed by the Scottish Government or the SNP.
Michael Russell said that the pandemic will be the number one issue for the SNP and the Scottish Government but that the May campaigning message will be that ‘ the people of Scotland must have the right to decide how best to rebuild our country.’
“The choice of two futures has never been clearer – growth and prosperity as a full member of the EU or stuck with a Tory government we didn’t vote for and Brexit decline.
“If the SNP is returned to office at the vital Scottish Parliamentary elections in May and there is a pro-independence majority at Holyrood, there can be no democratic or moral justification whatsoever to deny people in Scotland their democratic right to choose a better future.
“The referendum should be held after the pandemic, at a time to be decided by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. The SNP believes that should be in the early part of the new term. “
The Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats in Scotland are all against hold a referendum on Scottish Independence.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame