Passion, patience and respect

Nicola Sturgeon sets out the next steps for Independence

There is no denying the unhappiness at the First Minister’s speech this morning by those who had built up their hopes and anticipated a date being given for the next independence referendum. But would today really have been the best time to announce a date when the media are consumed by street parties in England and ‘keep a light on’ events across Scotland?

Today the First Minister kept the pressure up on Boris Johnson and the Westminster Tory government by adding more building blocks to the route to independence, setting out how unionist politicians would be included in a constitutional convention to discuss the future envisaged for Scotland. To build a new, progressive Scotland our First Minister believes we need to take as many people as possible with us on that journey.

New Scotland papers will come out in the spring to put flesh on the bones of how we see an independennt Scotland, how we can shape it into the country we want it to be, and answering the questions those yet to be persuaded ask.

Given the number of media people from across Europe in Edinburgh today, the First Minister’s speech may also have been to reassure other European countries that we intend to gain our independence by legal means and to gain their support. Pilar Fernandez who works with some of the media in Scotland, tweeted: “In Spain the message has been well reported so far & the headlines are clear: Scotland want to do things right. They respect the processes of negotiation, legitimacy & legality. So, all cool.” Spain, of course, seen in the run-up to 2014 as a stumbling block to Scotland gaining EU membership, has said it will accept an independent Scotland provided the process is legal. This is the attitude of other EU countries.

Pilar Fernandez’s comments on how the First Minister’s speech was reported in Spain and elsewhere can be viewed here.

Holding a consultative referendum was not ruled out, but the First Minister warned that would end up in court and there was no guarantee we would win, which would leave us further back along the road than we are now. But she did not rule that out if Johnson kept refusing the right of Scottish people to determine their own future.

So for now, it’s back on the streets, holding more conversations, and working to increase the 51% in favour of an independence. But let’s not be despondent. The First Minister concluded by saying:

“History tells us that change often comes quickly after many years when the obstacles seemed great.

Or as the great Nelson Mandela said – ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’.

In Scotland I believe we are on the cusp of such a moment.

The full speech can be viewed here.

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