A NEW INDEPENDENCE PARTY – IT’S NOT WORTH THE RISK.

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There has been a bit of talk about the formation of a new independence party on social media.

People frustrated in what they see as ‘wasted’ SNP votes and angry at observing unionist politicians securing ‘unelected’ places on Scottish Parliament seats. They believe that the list can be ‘gamed’ and that all these ‘wasted’ SNP votes could find themselves going to independence candidates swelling the numbers of independence MSPs and helping deliver that killer blow to the union.

They have recently been joined by a small but vociferous group on social media who are impatient that no independence referendum has yet taken place, and frustrated at what they see as a lack of commitment from Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership. To them it is necessary to have a new party to pursue the independence agenda more aggressively and keep the SNP ‘honest’.

The obvious electoral risks of pursuing that objective is outweighed in what they see as electoral opportunities. The fact that we already have an indy majority and have had since 2011 doesn’t seem to reassure them and the fact that the Greens already exist as an established independence  list party ignored. Instead the ‘right’ type of party/parties are required to maximise the independence vote. 

And so far there seems no end of possible vehicles for this potential new party. Early contenders are Wings Over Scotland, the newly formed ‘People’s Alliance’, the more obscure Scottish Independence Referendum Party and most recently a group called the Independence for Scotland Party has been approved by the Electoral Commission. Add to that the more established Yes parties including Solidarity and possibly SSP/RISE, and together with the Greens, we begin to see a never ending bounty for the discerning indy list party seeker.

Given the plethora of possible parties some arrangement would be an absolute essential for any of them to have even the remotest chance of success. But in classic Judean Popular Front style some of the personalities involved with these nascent parties have issues with each other just as much as they have concerns with the the leadership of the SNP itself. For example, the one party most likely to emerge is a Wings Over Scotland Party, and its main figure, Stuart Campbell, has been toying with the Yes movement for some time as to his intentions. Loved by his supporters, Campbell remains at best a marmite figure even amongst those on Twitter less obliging towards Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Consumed with an obsessive crusade against the already shelved Gender Reform Act one would have to presume that if he did reach for the rosette he would not exactly be a ‘unifying’ figure to those impatient with current arrangements.

And that brings us to what platform would this/these parties stand on? Where there have been conditional ‘assurances’ that they would exist to support the SNP a number of agendas inevitably have started to appear. For example, a more aggressive approach to independence would be an absolute priority. Anything from UDI to legal challenges, to directly confronting Westminster will surely feature on any leaflet. The first test of any hope of success will rest on whether the general Scottish public is in tune with the impatience and frustration observed on parts of Twitter.

The second main platform (perhaps bizarrely for those who see independence as an exclusive priority) would be an apparent firm opposition to any sort of gender reform. This would have to be an absolute minimum if Stuart Campbell is to be involved. Economic issues are also unlikely to go unnoticed and there will be an obvious interest in Foreign policy. It is therefore possible that this would bring these list parties into conflict with the SNP. Instead of ‘assisting’ the SNP they could find themselves in opposition, perhaps even siding with unionists to stop the SNP getting their way on things they don’t like.

But perhaps we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here because we have to ask if there is any real appetite for a new party beyond the fringes of social media? In the last opinion poll the SNP secured 54% for Holyrood with satisfaction ratings of 71%. The Scottish people seem to like what the SNP are doing just now and particularly approve of our First Minster. For the list, 45% indicated that they would vote SNP with 8% for the Greens. Any new and unknown party would have to campaign hard against established, popular indy parties just to get noticed in a Scotland     relatively content in how it is governed. We only have to look at the example of RISE at the last election when they secured a paltry 0.5% of the vote.

But it is the damage that all this could do to the wider independence cause that is the main issue of concern. Just as we are winning new recruits to independence with support nudging into the majority along could come several parties campaigning against each other and risking all sorts of division. For all the clever theories about ‘gaming’ a PR system the real risk is that instead of increasing independence representation new parties fighting the SNP and the Greens for list votes could deny us that indy majority. And it might just be me, but I’m not particularly sure the public will be all that comfortable with an overt attempt to ‘game’ a Parliamentary election. Our proportional Parliament is by no means perfect but it is so much better than first past the post Westminster. In Holyrood elections most parties come close to securing the actual votes cast in total for each party. I remember when Labour were dominant and suggested standing as ‘co-operative’ candidates to increase their number. I recall the outrage that was expressed by us, and others, to that quickly shelved proposal. Lastly, if these parties did manage to depress the SNP overall vote this would be grasped as a ‘victory’ for the unionists who exclusively view SNP votes as independence votes. 

In the last 2 elections we secured an independence majority so why would we want to risk it all as we prepare for an election which could be critical to our prospects of securing independence? We have an indy majority just now. Let’s not do anything that risks losing it. 

WITHOUT THEIR ‘NO TO INDYREF2’ IT COULD BE A LONG, HARD ELECTION FOR THE TORIES

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I admit it (sad as it may seem) I’m a keen student of the Scottish Conservatives. Having had them as my main and only credible opponent in Perthshire I find them a fascinating, eccentric and curiously dishevelling political organisation. I observe them scrupulously and am always keen to understand what they are up to and where they are at. After all these years I think I can confidently say that I have got to know them reasonably well. For example, at the last General Election I was able to tell that I was more or less safe when I saw that they were re-running the same campaign as 2017. I think I can say (with all due modesty dispensed with) that I knew well before they did that they had no chance. In the end I increased my majority from 21 to 7,550 and secured 51% of the vote. 

They now have a new leader and they are quite rightly excited about their prospects at the next Scottish election. They certainly don’t lack ambition. They have said that they intend to become the next Scottish Government after May next year. And to be fair, for them, they have had a few successful years. They have overtaken Labour and have become the main opposition in Scotland. Two years ago they secured 13 MPs and for a while it seemed that their upward trajectory had real momentum. They were dynamically led and managed to almost distance themselves from the traditional Conservative image with all the negative connotations associated with what had became something close to a toxic brand in Scotland. 

Unfortunately, a couple of minor things came along which brought this progress to a shuddering halt. One, was the election of a deeply unpopular (in Scotland anyway) Conservative Prime Minister in the shape of Boris Johnson. Secondly (as a consequence) the departure of the Scottish leader who had presided over this modest success. The first electoral test they faced under these new circumstances was calamitous. They lost more than half of their Westminster representation and saw their national vote share plummet. 

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So what now for their chances as they go forward?

I think that it would be uncontroversial to suggest that their new leader is not exactly imbued with the charisma of his predecessor. Jackson may be many things but a font of charm, he most definitely is not…

The one policy that has come to define the Scottish Conservatives in the past few years has been their absolute and determined opposition to a further referendum on independence. They have pretty much made this their exclusive domain and are more or less defined by stopping Scotland deciding again. I collect all their literature (again, sad, I know) and every single leaflet I have had since 2015 is at least 2/3rds is devoted to this ‘no to’ message.

So what is the first thing they do under their new regime? Well, almost incredulously, it is to dispense with the one thing that has underpinned any modest electoral success that they have had in the past few years. The Scottish Conservatives have ‘ruled out’ an independence referendum so will now no longer be able to campaign against it.  No more field posters asking us to ‘say no to indyref 2’ no more ‘vote for us to stop another referendum’. Campaigning against something they have ruled out would render them ridiculous and more critically would have them concede that a referendum is still a possibility.

Losing this means they will have to do something different and that looks like a hysterical and sustained assault on the SNP’s record. Attacks on education, the health service, policing will now descend into the apocalyptic. They rightly calculate that the media will pick up on this supersonic ‘SNPbad’ armageddon with them telling us that only by voting Scottish Conservative will this be put right.

Only, there’s maybe a couple of obvious flaws in this plan. The first is that the Conservatives are actually in power in the UK and everyone can see what they are like in Government. All the Scottish people need to do is observe what’s happening in England and compare and contrast that with Scotland and come to their own conclusion about who is performing better. If they want, they can even have a cursory glance at their disastrous ‘Council of Chaos’ in Perthshire to see how Tory stewardship works in Scotland. 

The other problem is probably more of an issue for the Tories. People actually use public services in Scotland. For any criticism to work it has to chime with the day to day experience of our fellow Scots, most of whom are relatively satisfied with our health service, our schools and the fact that Scotland is now a safe place to live in. Yes, the Scottish people want better public services but they also get it that it’s the Tories who have introduced austerity and devastating cuts to the Scottish budget. The Scottish public know that the SNP Government are trying their best under difficult circumstances and the 45% who voted SNP just a couple of months ago suggests that they trust the SNP to deliver. Screaming at the Scottish public that they should be appalled at our hospitals, schools and police service will just alienate the Tories even further from the Scottish pulbic. 

The Tories, being Tories, will also have their own ideological agenda to pursue and that is likely to involve cutting tax and eroding the very public services that they are so unhappy with. With no ‘no to indyref2’ to campaign on they will have to have real policies which will be forensically scrutinised. Then there is the little matter of Boris Johnson, the real boss, who will continue to do things in which Scotland is unlikely to approve of. 

Without their ‘no to an indyref’ message this could be a long, hard election for the Scottish Tories, particularly in a Scotland where the constitution will define our politics like never before. Losing your only horse in the race before the starting shot is not a good start. 

It looks like their ‘mini revival’ may be well and truly over. And, ironically, they will only have themselves to blame for that.

 

 

AN ‘ADVISORY’ REFERENDUM IS NOT CONSEQUENCE FREE

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What a few months it has been for the independence movement. After the SNP’s incredible victory in December we have seen the first clear example of sustained majority support for independence with 3 polls in a row showing Yes in the lead. Out on the doors we are finding more people than ever considering independence and our Brexit opposition has brought us to the attention of a whole new swathe of Scottish public opinion. It certainly now feels like we are approaching the tipping point where support for independence is becoming the new consensus. Independence has never been closer and the only people that can now beat us is ourselves. 

What the Tories and the unionists are counting on is for the independence movement to be consumed with impatience, frustration and fragmentation. The Tories are looking for anything to get them off the independence hook and are hoping beyond hope that we embark on a strategy that will alienate our new support and confine ourselves to illegality and unconstitutionality. They counted on aggressively opposing a further independence referendum to bring Scotland to heel. Instead what has happened is that support for independence has risen with every Johnson denial of our democracy. They are now looking at us and observing with satisfaction what they see as the seeds of division. 

Where our new support for independence has been hard won it remains tenuous. Our new recruits have come mainly from former No voting remainers and they are looking to see if we are worthy of their continuing support. Talk of UDIs, ‘dissolved unions’ and wildcat referendums terrify them half to death and pursuing any such strategy could very well return them back to the Nos.

Just now all the talk of is of an ‘advisory referendum’. This is now being presented as a cost free strategy to break the deadlock. The suggestion is that the Scottish Government simply legislate to hold a referendum and in doing so provoke a legal challenge from the UK Government. The supporters of this approach suggest that nothing will be lost if this is judged illegal and that all could be gained if successful in court. I’m afraid that the suggestion that this course of action would be consequence free is simply fanciful.

Let’s look at what would in fact happen if the Scottish Government went down the ‘advisory’ referendum route. Firstly, there wouldn’t be a Brexit type drama at the Supreme Court, instead there would just be the UK Government continuing to say their usual ‘No’. Their strategy would be to boycott the whole process and refuse to engage and acknowledge any result. They would not dirty their hands on a legal challenge on something they refuse to even countenance. Instead, they would leave that to any number of unionist groups who would be positively salivating at the prospect of having independence declared ‘illegal’.

If somehow a legal challenge fails and an ‘advisory’ referendum goes ahead it would no doubt be won (given that there would be no ‘No’ proposition). It is in what happens next that we enter the unknown and where things could get really messy. Firstly, we would need to win over 50% of the total electorate as the boycotters would claim ‘victory’ with anything less. This is a huge threshold to achieve and would have to be done with co-operation from unionist local authorities who may not be particularly well disposed to participate in such a referendum. 

Then what happens with this ‘victory’ with or without such a majority? The view from supporters of the ‘advisory’ referendum route is that this would make the UK Government engage, though why they would then when they won’t now, remains unexplained. Much more likely is that the UK Government would just decide to change the law as they did with the Scottish Government’s Continuity Bill and retrospectively declare any poll illegal.

With the UK refusing to accept the result we’d be right back to roughly where we are having indulged in a one sided supra-opinion poll that may or may not have given us a useful result. More worryingly there could be pressure to use the result as a mandate for independence and simply declare UDI with all the Catalan style consequences and impacts on our international standing. In the meantime the people of Scotland will be observing all of this and we can only start to imagine what their reaction might be.

Then there is more than a good chance that any advisory referendum is declared ‘illegal’. You could just imagine the whoops of joy from the unionists. A court case would have turned independence form a political cause into a legal one and we could well have confined ourselves to our own designed legal cage. 

An ‘advisory’ referendum is therefore anything but consequence free. It is something that could set us back significantly and could also unleash a range of forces that could quickly escalate out of control. 

If I believed for one minute that this or any one of the number of ‘Plan Bs’ being considered would get us to our goal easily and quickly I would back it, and them all, in a blink of an eye. But none of them do, and this was always going to be hard work. I can also understand all those who want to grasp at ‘anything’ and who feel we should ‘just do something’. But this is about securing our nation’s independence and we have to keep our patience and constraint and not set out along a route that could be playing in to our opponents hands and could set us back years. 

With majority support in place there is a feeling that things could in fact move on quickly and this is all likely to come to a head at next year’s Scottish election. If we win that with a clear majority for independence then there will be no available grounds on which the UK Government can legitimately continue to oppose. If they do then the ‘section 30’ road may indeed be running out. It is at this stage we consider all options to progress our cause. What we have to demonstrate to the international community is that we have tried everything possible to secure our independence legally and legitimately in the face of a belligerent and non compliant parent state. 

Right now we are winning and the Tories know that they can not continue to hold out. They are praying for our discipline to break – do not oblige them

THE SCOTTISH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED

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When I was first elected in 2001 as part of a group of five SNP MPs I never thought it would be possible for an SNP MP to ever chair a select committee in the House of Commons. Following our landslide in 2015 when we became the third party of the House I became the first SNP MP to be confirmed as a committee Chair. With our 47 MPs in this Parliament the SNP will once again assume the Chair of two select committees.

I will therefore be throwing my hat in the ring again to continue to build on the the work that has been achieved on the Scottish Affairs Committee and hope to continue to innovate in the way that work is being done. 

When I assumed the chair in 2015 the credibility of the committee had never been lower. During the independence referendum the committee inexplicably adopted a position in the debate immediately alienating large parts of Scotland and excluding a number of key stakeholders. My first job therefore was to unite the committee, rebuild its credibility and make it a proper cross party body of scrutiny, representative of all opinion in the House. This involved patiently listening to our stakeholders and reassuring them that the Scottish Affairs Committee would be there for all Scotland. It also meant taking the committee round Scotland to engage meaningfully with the people of Scotland and listen to what they wanted from the committee.

Four years later and the reputation of the committee could not be higher. It is now seen as a key interface between civic Scotland and Westminster and through our innovative reports and inquiries it is by far the most reported parliamentary 8D3A641F-7E77-4A6C-A20D-D7A13C358D16_1_201_acommittee in Scotland. Having conducted inquiries into fair work, bank closures, Scottish agriculture, oil and gas, problem drug use and the creative industries, the committee is now an indispensable part of the national debate in Scotland. In the hothouse of Scottish politics under my chairing nearly all reports have been unanimously agreed and the Scottish Affairs is the best attended committee in the House. 

I have ensured that at least once a month the committee meets in Scotland for one of its regular sessions. More than that I have ensured that we have regular public engagement events pioneering town hall type meetings all over the country. 

I was also keen to build on relationships with colleagues in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Affairs Committee is therefore the first committee at Westminster to undertake joint work with committees in the Scottish Parliament when we conducted joint sessions into the transfer of welfare responsibilities to Scotland. 

This article appears in the House Magazine. 

THE ‘PEOPLE’S VOTE’. A CAMPAIGN DOOMED TO FAIL.

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There has surely never been a campaign so inept and ineffective as the campaign for a ‘People’s Vote’. Outplayed and outsmarted at every turn it was as if the whole campaign was designed to fail. Where the hard Brexiteers had a simple clarity to their ‘get Brexit done’ message the ‘People’s Vote’ offered nothing other than a sort of half hearted ‘stop Brexit’, which required doing the whole miserable EU referendum all over again and hoping for a different result.

Not only did the hard Brexiteers totally outplay the ‘People’s Voters’ their overwhelming success  saw them secure the hard Brexit they always craved. So total has been their victory that they are now in a position to inherit the Brexiteer bulls eye of a ‘no deal’ if the ‘deal’ eventually offered isn’t sufficiently hard enough for their insatiable anti European appetites. Where the hard Brexiteers successfully recognised and manipulated the means to deliver their hard Brexit (the Conservative party) the ‘People’s Voters’ made next to no progress in having their policy adopted save from the hapless Liberal Democrats (of whom more to come). Following the 2019 General Election the Brexiteers victory over the ‘People’s Voters” was total, brutal and absolute. 

And it could have been so different. Following the surprise result in the EU referendum there was a stop Brexit campaign there for the taking. Stunned with their success the Brexiteers were initially paralysed in knowing what to do with their prize. A minority UK Government meant that Parliamentary opportunities were aplenty and very quickly the UK public was coming to its senses in realising the scale of the mistake they had made. A solid ‘stop Brexit’ campaign from the outset could have derailed the whole project and strangled this disaster at birth. Instead what happened was that Parliament voted to trigger Article 50 on a three line Labour whip setting the clock to take the UK out of the EU in stone. Some of the leading lights of the ‘People’s vote’ incredulously voted for or abstained on this madness crippling any future campaign to stop Brexit that they themselves would seek to lead.

A campaign was required, one that would lead the increasing stop Brexit voice with a clarity of message uniting the UK in opposition to this disaster. And that is when the ‘People’s Vote’ presented itself in all its middle class, metropolitan horror. From the very first celebrity endorsement it was apparent to anyone that this was a campaign doomed to fail. Almost self congratulatory in its self styled ‘People’s’ exclusiveness the ‘People’s Vote’ offered nothing to leave voting communities save promising only to do this all over again. And the journey that it took us on in trying to win a rerun of the referendum was almost inexplicable. When challenged to describe what would be on a rerun ballot paper they hadn’t even thought through what the possible options would eventually be. Instead an imaginative range of barely credible propositions were presented in line with the ‘People’s Voters’ assessment of the current political situation. It even got to the stage that the vote they sought no longer became a stop Brexit vote and became instead a ‘confirmatory‘ vote on the Tory deal. Worse than that they even started to support a ’confirmatory’ vote without a clear option to remain. It was at this stage that I parted company with the whole exercise and broke the SNP whip to abstain against voting for this increasing nonsense.   

It was just about then that the anti Brexit UK public took the whole initiative into their own hands with the quite incredible revoke petition. This petition quickly became the fastest growing and most signed petition in UK history and seemed to totally stun the ‘People’s Voters’. Could stopping Brexit now become a real feature in the campaign to actually stop Brexit? Well no, the ‘People’s Voters’ representatives in Parliament simply ignored this petition refusing to back the various revoke amendments that I and my colleague Angus Macneil continued to put forward in Parliament. Revoke remained a forlorn and unloved concept even when the ‘Scottish case’ brought by SNP colleagues and others ruled that Article 50 could be unilaterally revoked by the UK Parliament. Bizzarely, only the initial founders of the People’s Vote concept, the Liberal Democrats, grasped the opportunity and became a party of revoke, only too late, and half heartedly. Stung by the criticism from their former comrades in the People’s Vote campaign they laughingly tried to hide from this new found policy to much ridicule and eventual electoral pain. 

And yet the ‘People’s Voters’ limped on with no majority in Parliament and up against a Conservative party that had found its Brexit mojo. I don’t think that it came as a surprise to anyone when the People’s Vote campaign finally collapsed in acrimony consumed by its own contradictions before the final General election ignominy. 

The anti Brexit voice throughout this whole miserable experience could not have been more poorly served and let down. This failure was even achieved when nearly every opinion poll suggested that there was a clear stop Brexit majority just waiting to be properly led. A failure to provide any message clarity and a failure to try and secure an effective route to secure its ambition was only the start of the People’s Voters manifest mistakes. The lessons for the SNP are manifold and will have to take another blog to explain properly. Needless to say I had profound issues with the SNP going anywhere near this campaign and wrote about my reservations at length. 

We are unlikely to see a campaign as inept as the ‘People’s Vote’ ever again and we can only feel sorry for the majority of the UK public who still oppose the UK leaving the EU. It is this majority who will now have to suck up the whole impending Brexit mess. 

Out played and not up to it, the ‘People’s vote’ was simply the worst of campaigns. 

A TALE OF TWO ELECTIONS

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Well, that was some result, wasn’t it? 48 seats and 45% share of the vote. 2017 now seems like another era. The SNP are closer to where we were in the landslide of 2015 than where we were in 2017 and everything has changed once again.

What was behind this shift and what does it tell us about where we are going? I had a front row seat in this political spectacle having successfully defended what was the most Tory/SNP marginal in the whole of the country. We went into this election a mere 21 votes ahead of the Tories and came out of the experience with a majority of 7,550 securing 51% of the vote. 

There are the obvious things. Brexit and the character of the Prime Minister himself were key. These played out miserably for the Tories and it is little wonder they rarely mentioned either of them. What they did want to talk about, in fact the only thing they talked about, was the constitution. They made this election about ‘stopping’ another indyref and every piece of literature from every candidate majored on this. They honestly believed that all they had to do was to rerun the same campaign from 2017 and they would secure the same result. They could not have been more wrong.

Their big mistake was to believe that Scotland 2019 was exactly the same as Scotland 2017. It was a huge mistake that cost them more than half their MPs and has left them in a situation which will be all but impossible to recover from. 

Firstly, let’s deal with 2017 because a lot of nonsense has been talked about that election and what was and wasn’t done by the SNP. The conventional wisdom is that independence wasn’t put to the electorate hard enough, that somehow we were running away from our core message. This view starts and ends with the belief that the Scottish public were just sitting in eager anticipation waiting to be sold an enthusiastic indy message by SNP candidates. It then follows that because this wasn’t forthcoming large sections of our support simply stayed at home instead. Where it is an appealing and convenient view it is total bunkum.

What actually happened is that the First Minister had just announced that we would be seeking a further independence referendum – the starting gun to securing our place in Europe as an independent country. It was the first step in a process of taking the case to the Scottish people and interlinking the Scottish response to Brexit with our national ambitions. It was a case that was going to take a while to properly marshal and would require a detailed case to be put. Then Theresa May called her election and took everybody by surprise. We were completely blindsided and unprepared with the result being we couldn’t even give a referendum away. 

Exactly at that point we were dealing with an electorate experiencing a deep rooted constitutional fatigue following a bruising Brexit experience and who just wanted all talk of referendums to go away. The Tories immediately seized on this mood and ran an efficient and devastating campaign of opposing that referendum. 

And it was hard election. Particularly for candidates in seats like mine where there was a historic Conservative organisation which had a core support to build upon. Even amongst our own support stopping any more constitutional upheaval had a resonance. The amount of times I was told ‘I voted for you in the last election, I even voted Yes to independence, but this time I am voting Conservative to stop another independence referendum’. It really was the worst of times.

Fast forward two years and things couldn’t be more different. Scotland has looked over the Brexit cliff edge and it does not like what it sees. It now recognises that independence is a necessary life boat to spare us from this impending UK disaster. It is collectively concluding that Scotland could be better and be so much different to Brexit Britain. Yes, we lost some support from SNP supporters who favoured Brexit, but we have gained so much more. Remain voters impressed with our commitment to retain our place in the EU and even soft Tory voters were prepared to offer us their support. I was seeing quite remarkable things in my canvass in areas that I had previously written off as Tory no-go areas.

Our job then is to hold on to that burgeoning support. It is fragile and is yet to be fully convinced. It wants to believe and we have to accommodate it. Talk of illegal referendums, UDIs, dissolving unions and trying to game or trick our way to independence will send all these aspiring recruits running back into the arms of the union case. The Tories are hoping beyond hope that we now blow it through impatience and alienate this new support that is coming our way. Instead it should now be all about gentle persuasion, about convincing and understanding. There is a real sense that we are in the end game of Scotland’s participation in their union. It really now is only ours to lose. We now have the opportunity not just to win it but to win it well and put it beyond all reasonable doubt and question.

This is now our task and we have got to show that we are up for it. I can’t wait. 

Dear Constituent – thank you for writing to me concerning the many issues to do with Brexit.

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Dear Constituent

Thank you for writing to me concerning the many issues around Brexit. At the time of writing this response the future of the whole chaotic project remains uncertain. I will endeavour to write to you again when things become clearer but this is what I have been doing on your behalf as your Member of Parliament in the past few weeks.

My immediate priority has been to stop the prospect of a no deal Brexit. A no deal departure would be the worst possible outcome bringing significant economic disruption, raising concerns about food supplies, medicines and the availability of fuel. In Parliament I have supported the successful efforts to secure the Benn Act which would legally oblige the Prime Minister to seek a further 3 month extension denying him the prospect of a quick no deal departure. I have also supported the actions in the Court of Session and the Supreme Court to have the suspension of Parliament declared unlawful. I was pleased when this was successfully upheld and I was able to return to Parliament to work on your behalf.

What underpins my whole approach to Brexit is the desire of this constituency to remain in the European Union. My view is the best deal we have is the deal that we currently enjoy as a full member of the European Union. Perth and North Perthshire did not vote for this Brexit and I have taken that as the mandate to oppose any deal that would make my constituents worse off.

The next few weeks will determine the conclusion of this divisive project and we should know what the future of Brexit holds. The Prime Minister is still determined to leave by the 31st of October with or without a deal – though he is yet to explain how this is possible with the legal constraints of the Benn Act. Beyond that there will almost certainly be a General Election which will in all intents be a ‘Brexit election’. I will be standing again as a strong and determined voice against Brexit and I hope to continue to make the case against Brexit if successfully returned. 

Thank you for getting in touch and I look forward to writing to you again. 

Pete