I understand the urge to dramatise the situation, but the issue of a second referendum really isn’t as problematic for the SNP as The National makes out. For a start, the fact that RISE has committed to another vote is of vanishingly little consequence. Voters are astute enough to be aware that, much like British Labour in Scotland, RISE can promise absolutely anything, secure in the knowledge that they will never be called upon to deliver. The only significance of their position on a second referendum lies in the opportunity it provides to make comparisons with the SNP. Comparisons which are spurious because the SNP has to formulate policy in the expectation that it will be in government.
Then there is the question of a mandate, and the notion that this too is problematic for the SNP. It isn’t. Given the party’s unequivocal commitment to independence – and it is totally unequivocal, no matter how much the sensation-mongering media like to pretend otherwise – then it follows that any mandate afforded the party by the electorate includes a mandate to progress the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence. Since that process requires the explicit consent of the people of Scotland, then a mandate for the process must, by the dictates of logic, include a mandate for that which is crucial to the process.
Finally, in an effort to build the dramatic tension, we are presented with a false dichotomy. Commitment to a second referendum – in or out of the manifesto? But that is not the choice facing Nicola Sturgeon. It is not a matter of whether there is or isn not a commitment to a second referendum. As we have seen, that is implicit anyway. To the extent that the matter is problematic at all, it is down to the form of words used. And that is hardly a problem at all.
All Nicola Sturgeon has to do is ensure that she keeps her options open. She need only resist pressure from those who would reduce every issue to simplistically stark alternatives. Does anybody seriously doubt that this is well within her capabilities?