16:14 GMT28 February 2020
Listen Live
    UK
    Get short URL
    by
    250
    Subscribe

    Independence sentiment has been energised by the result of the December general election. The circumstances for a second independence vote seem to have coalesced, as the Conservatives won a majority in spite of Scottish votes, nationalists swept away unionist seats, and the UK is all but certain to withdraw from the European Union at January's end.

    More than 8,000 strong were projected to turn out to Inverness' March for Freedom on Saturday, seeing the highland town flooded with streams of blue banners as people came to demonstrate in favour Scotland having a second vote on its independence from the United Kingdom in 2020.

    Despite receiving the brunt of this year's winter, the highland capital wasted no time in sending a message to Westminster of a popular demand for a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK.

    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands
    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands

    Independence demonstrations have taken an increasingly assertive posture since the December election, which saw Boris Johnson sweep away the opposition throughout the UK, with the exception of Scotland, on the calling card of "Get Brexit Done".

    The prospect of endless rule of the Conservative Party in Westminster and a Scottish National Party emboldened by a new super majority in Scottish parliamentary seats has intensified the national dialectic.

    The march began at Walkers Park at 1pm sharp, with the archetypal bagpipers and drums leading the way the demonstrators embarked through the town and across the River Ness and onto the banks where key speakers were there to greet them.

    A small contingent of unionist counter-protesters turned out to oppose the march. Heckles of "democracy" could be heard from the band of Union Jack flying supporters of a united kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    Unionists in Inverness
    © Sputnik / Jason Dunn
    Unionists in Inverness

    As the caravan of Indyref2020 supporters came to its conclusion, they convened around a series of speakers representing the independence cause.

    Most notably was Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, who issued a direct message to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

    "If you think this is over, you better think again Boris", Blackford announced to a roar from the crowd.
    The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons, in London, Britain January 8, 2020.
    © REUTERS / Handout
    The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons, in London, Britain January 8, 2020.

    He hit out against the Tory government, calling the 1997 devolution settlement "the first step towards full statehood", while claiming that Westminster ripped up the agreement that it had made with Scotland.

    Answering accusations that the SNP are acting in contradiction to their own promises that the 2014 independence referendum would be a "once in a generation" vote, the nationalist leader declared that Scotland only voted to remain in the UK on the promise that they would retain full rights as European citizens.

    He evoked the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, which outlines the Scottish people's right of self-governance, not just from England but from the King of Scots himself. 

    Blackford demanded that Johnson respect the will of the Scottish parliament and agree to a second referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.

    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands
    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands

    Nothing more brazen an example could be made for the independence movement's post-election firmness than the presence of the independence biker division, emblazoned with Scottish saltires as they thundered through the small town ringing for a new era. 

    One of the bikers was 63-year old Nigh Holmes, who was happy to outline his reasoning for turning out on the rare dry winter afternoon.

    "Boris Johnson has backed himself into a corner where he's now having to make statements that are clearly in breach of United Nations declaration of Human Rights Article 15, United Nations declaration on the right of minorities, the United Nations resolution 1512 on decolonisation, and he's making statements that are in breach of all of those declarations, against international law, getting around him is going to be quite easy", Holmes said.

    "It's very unlikely that we are not going to get a referendum", he summarised. 

    When asked if Scotland should follow the post-Soviet and Yugoslavian example and simply declare themselves independent without a referendum, Holmes said that he would be happy to see that come about, but it would be a "minefield" to secure any legitimacy.

    "The English have always decided the outcome of their own elections, they've never need Scottish votes to create a government. When Blair won his landslide he won it with votes in England, not with votes in Scotland."

    "Any time that it's actually made a difference, the way Scotland has voted, is extremely rare. If England can't elect Labour, then there can't be an English Labour government", he said, after being asked if Scottish independence would subject English non-Conservative voters to perpetual Tory government.

    "Boris Johnson knows nothing about this country.. he needs to come up here and see for himself, but he'll not be welcome and wherever he goes we'll make a noise."

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected a request last week by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to hold a second independence vote in 2020 on the basis that the UK needs no further tumultuous and divisive referendum campaigns and that Scotland had already held a vote in 2014 on that question.

    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands
    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands

    In the 2014 referendum, the Highland authority, within which Inverness' votes were counted, voted just under 53% to remain in the UK.

    The British government has argued that despite the SNP's sweeping victory across Scotland, that there is no mandate for a second independence vote.

    On 14 January, Boris Johnson responded to Nicola Sturgeon's appeal in a letter, saying that he will work to uphold the results of the previous vote and oppose the "political stagnation" of the last decade, which he claimed is a result of prioritising separating the UK over Scotland's public services.

    ​Despite claims by the SNP leadership that their sweeping of the Scottish political landscape in the December 2019 general election indicates a mandate for independence, Professor John Curtice, who teaches politics at the University of Strathclyde and is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre of Social Research, challenged that view on Tuesday, citing two separate opinion polls.

    "While 42% said that they supported the idea, as many as 50% indicated that they were opposed", Curtis said, referencing an Ipsos MORI poll.

    "Meanwhile, Panelbase reported that only 38% backed the idea of holding a referendum before the next Scottish Parliament election, while as many as 51% were opposed."

    "On the basis of this evidence, it is difficult to argue that there is a clear majority support for holding a referendum on the timescale proposed by the Scottish government", he concluded.

    Scotland voted 62% to 38% in favour of remaining in the European Union, a division within the union which has proliferated feeling of discontent with Westminster.

    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands
    Freedom March for Scottish Independence in Inverness, the Scottish Highlands

    A Tale of Two Majorities

    The SNP argue that this represents a change of circumstances since the 2014 referendum, and that Scotland should have the means to return to the European Union as a sovereign nation separate from the United Kingdom, which is poised to leave the bloc on 31 January.

    The British election results seemed to show a national fatigue for further referendums, with Boris Johnson's Brexit-backing Conservatives trouncing Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, who went into the election offering a confirmatory referendum.

    The Scottish National Party however, bolstered its position, securing 48 seats in the House of Commons and 45 percent of the Scottish vote - sweeping away unionists of all shades, including former Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.

    Since the ascension of the SNP as Scotland's major representative in 2015, however, the direction of travel has become increasingly disparate from that of England's.

    If the unstoppable force of Sturgeon SNP's succeeds in breaking the immovable object of Boris Johnson's Westminster government, the UK could find itself soon embroiled in the midst of yet another historic referendum campaign.

    Related:

    Sturgeon Warns Boris Johnson: You Can't Hold Scotland in Union Against Its Will
    11 January 2020 is Scotland’s Democracy Day – Demand the Right to Choose
    UK Parliament to Block Scotland's Independence Aspirations to Preserve Integrity - Johnson
    Labour 'Needs Substantial Political Figure' as Leader to Recapture Popularity – UKIP Scotland Leader
    Tags:
    Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson, indyref 2.0, Scottish independence
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via SputnikComment via Facebook