• John Mortimer

The SNP Cannot Claim Referendum Mandate from Devolved Election

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Predictably, Sturgeon has announced that a second separation referendum will form part of the SNP’s manifesto for the May 2021 Holyrood elections. Rather worryingly, many unionists now seem to be fixated with haggling over the franchise for this hypothetical poll.

In doing so, they concede the most fundamental point that all unionists must maintain: that a devolved election simply cannot deliver a mandate for separation or for a separation referendum. The Union is a reserved – and not a devolved – matter. This is explicitly stated in the Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I, as demonstrated below:

You can read it in full at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/46/schedule/5/part/I

Regardless of whoever wins next year’s Holyrood election, they can claim only a limited mandate on devolved matters. The scope of these devolved matters is nonetheless quite comprehensive, and includes health, education, policing, welfare and employment, to name a few. But the Union is not amongst them.

If our democracy is to mean anything, we must maintain the rule of law and address all matters in their proper place and through the agreed democratic channels. As the Scotland Act 1998 explicitly states, the Union is not up for debate in a devolved election.

Unionists must not indulge the SNP by fighting next May’s Holyrood election over a second referendum on a for/against basis. We must state in a clear, unified and forthright manner from the outset that the Union is not up for question next May, nor can it be put up for question should the SNP form some form of government.

The Union is a reserved matter, and as such a devolved election simply cannot deliver a mandate for separation or a separation referendum. Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party calls on all pro-UK parties to join us in affirming this core, fundamental unionist principle.

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