by Joe Middleton
(Swans - September 11, 2006) Independence First, the non-party political referendum campaign, independence1st.com, recently wrote to both the UK Government and the Scottish Parliament asking for a democratic referendum for the people of Scotland on independence.
The replies were swift. The Scottish Parliament replied: "Schedule 5 to the Act (Scotland Act 1998) defines matters which are reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament. The Government of the United Kingdom is therefore responsible for considering any fundamental changes to the existing devolution framework in Scotland."
The Scottish Office in London replied "It is worth noting that in the UK political system the UK parliament is sovereign and it is for Parliament to decide whether or not to hold a referendum on any particular issue -- and what the terms of any referendum should be."
Of course these answers are pretty much what we expected. The Scottish Parliament just wants to pass the buck down south, while the Westminster Government does not even recognise that there is a problem. In England Parliament may be sovereign, but in Scotland the people are sovereign.
These answers are obviously not acceptable. The question is what are we going to do about it? In Independence First's case we plan to do quite a lot about it and we hope the readers of this article will help us.
While Independence First has probably not impinged on the public consciousness yet, we have been quietly and carefully doing something very important. Uniting the entire independence movement behind our campaign, something which we hope will be obvious on 30th September when we organise our first march for independence through the centre of Edinburgh and ending outside our temporary parliament.
While opinion polls are always variable post-devolution there has been a definite trend towards stronger support for independence. Indeed if the question of EU membership and the monarchy is removed the polls show a pretty clear majority in favour of independence.
The Scottish Green Party have expressed official support for the campaign and will be speaking at our rally on the 30th September. The Free Scotland Party, the Communist Party of Scotland, The Scottish Enterprise Party, The Celtic League, The Scottish Independence Party and the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement have all also given official messages of support. Tommy Sheridan MSP, the SSP's Carolyn Leckie MSP and Alan McCombes, SNP MSP's Stewart Maxwell and Sandra Whyte, independent MSP Campbell Martin (who is speaking at our rally) all support the campaign as well.
The Scottish Independence Convention, whose meetings IF representatives attend, is also officially backing our pro-democracy march and rally on the 30th of September. In short then every single Scottish independence supporting party and pro-independence political organisation have backed our strategy of pushing for a democratic referendum by the people, here in Scotland.
Independence First will distribute 10,000 leaflets in the major population centres in Scotland before this march. The Federation of Student Nationalists and Young Scots for Independence have agreed to contact their text referendum supporters list in support of the march.
We hope a strong turnout will provide the much needed boot up the backside the Scottish executive requires to take the independence debate seriously.
To attempt to show the enormous latent support for independence we have also launched an e-petition through the Scottish Parliament. The petition reads as follows:
Petition by Neil Caple (National Convenor), on behalf of Independence First, calling for the Scottish Parliament to consider and debate what moves it could make to ensure the early presentation of a referendum on self determination to the people of Scotland.
The petition is available at the Scottish Parliament web site.
In the expectation that none of these efforts will actually have any effect on the unionist led executive we will also attempt to influence the actual outcome of the next election. In the next few weeks leading artists, writers and musicians will endorse a one million pledges for independence campaign.
This campaign will call for one million Scots to give their support to parties which support independence in both the first and second votes. We believe this is enough to swing the election in favour of independence and is also an amount which is well within the reach of the pro-independence parties.
Our campaign includes people from all walks of life, political activists and people who have no interest in traditional politics whatsoever. We have one thing in common: we all agree that without independence nothing substantial can be improved about Scotland. For this reason no matter what our political views we have decided to not be divided by any political policy and concentrate all our energies on turning up the pressure for a referendum on independence.
Next year we have a golden opportunity to make this happen. The three hundredth anniversary of the treaty of union is a perfect time to reconsider whether the British state suits our interest any longer.
We don't think it does and we believe a democratic referendum will prove the Scottish people as a whole think the same.
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