Much like fellow SNP member, Richard (http://scotsandindependent.blogspot.com/2008/05/u-bendy.html), I have also delayed posting on developments regarding an independence referendum.
However, my delay was for slightly different reasons than Richard has given. I was not waiting for the dust to settle or confusion to lift so that I could offer a better quality analysis of events. No - I think my hesitation has been more due to disbelief!
Who could have predicted such an astonishing U-turn from Wendy Alexander? This is the woman who has for years told us again and again that the people of Scotland did not deserve the right to choose their own future in a democratic referendum. For her, such an opportunity was a mere distraction from the 'real' issues. She subscribed to the patronising view that Labour - and the other unionist parties - were better placed than the people of Scotland to decide what was in our best interests.
Suddenly, in a cynical and desperate attempt to 'outflank' the SNP, she has given us exactly what we want. We want the people of Scotland to be given the chance to have their say on the future of this country, in a democratic referendum on independence. The people of this country have never had the opportunity to choose independence in such a vote, and it is long overdue.
And the difference between the Labour Party and the SNP on this issue is this...
Labour want to rule Scotland and prevent us from flourishing as an independent nation. Their sudden conversion to a referendum is not because they have discovered their democratic credentials - this is about political survival and self-interest. The SNP, on the other hand, understand it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to govern Scotland, and we want both to give people the information they need to make a decision about independence and to offer the opportunity to make that decision in a referendum. The SNP argues the case for independence, and also for our right to choose our own future.
In our manifesto, on which we were elected last May, we pledged to put a bill before the Scottish Parliament on an independence referendum following wide consultation with the people of Scotland. That's exactly what we are doing with our National Conversation. So, we will indeed put our referendum bill before the Scottish Parliament. And now, with Labour's support (well Labour in Scotland anyway) that bill will pass and a referendum will be held.
Labour are now committed to supporting a referendum. The fact that they will subsequently be going round the doors telling people to vote 'No' is another matter, and I can't wait to hear the shoddy and vacuous reasons they come up with for opposing independence. I think people are fed up of being told that we, as a country, are too small, too poor and too stupid to run our own affairs. They are starting to see through the lies they have been told by generations of unionist politicians, more interested in their London fortunes than the people of Scotland.
Of course, I am just speculating about Labour's position on the independence referendum itself. At the rate Wendy seems to change her mind, she may well be advocating independence by then too! Bring THAT on!