THE chance of Nicola Sturgeon getting a second independence referendum this year is likely to be “nil”, one of her MPs has said.

Kenny MacAskill has urged the SNP to work rapidly with other parties to “build on the anger” felt in Scotland towards Boris Johnson’s new Tory government.

The former SNP Justice Secretary said his party should cooperate with Labour and “avoid triumphalism” over its defeat in order to confront an administration “the Scottish people loathe and fear”. 

He said bringing Scottish elected politicians and parties together was now “essential”, perhaps in a new constitutional convention of the kind that gave rise to Holyrood in the 1990s.

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill urges parties to exploit anti-Tory ‘anger’ in Scotland 

He said the goal should be a united demand for Scottish independence, or at least unity on the right of the Scottish people to choose their own future. 

“It can be the basis to show the world that it’s not one party, but the people who are demanding it,” he said.

Mr MacAskill also said there should be protest marches, and hinted at peaceful civil disobedience of the sort seen against the Poll Tax in the 1980s.

There could be “individual actions by groups and a variety of tactics”, he said. 
Writing in the forthcoming issue of the Scottish Left Review, the East Lothian MP said the SNP should “avoid triumphalism” over Labour and pointless, “poisonous” name calling.

Calling for “unity on the Left”, he said: “We face an attack upon the social infrastructure of our country. 

“The welfare state and even the NHS are in Johnson’s sights, whatever pledges he has made. Far from rolling back the gig economy, it’s likely to morph into something larger.

“Bringing Scottish elected politicians and parties together is essential. Whether that’s a constitutional convention as before, a convocation of elected parliamentarians from both chambers or a wider gathering can be discussed and agreed.

“Whoever calls it and whoever attends, it must be held soon. Building on the anger that currently exists rather than allowing despondency to settle in is required. 

“It must address the high-level constitutional challenge and seek to create unity either behind independence or just the Scottish people’s right to choose their own future. It can be the basis to show the world that it’s not one party but the people who are demanding it.”

He said the new forum could compliment more direct forms of protest.

“Marches there are going to be and rightly so. The anger that exists needs led and channelled, not simply be allowed to dissipate. That is a key role for the left and goes far wider than simply elected representatives. 

“Showing continued opposition will be essential to maintain morale at home and doing so collectively and harmoniously will be essential. 

“As with previous campaigns such as the Poll Tax, it needn’t preclude individual actions by groups and a variety of tactics being used. 

“But agreement around [the] central tenet of Scottish democracy is essential. 
“That will also provide opportunities to show the level of opposition in Scotland to a global audience.

 “So it’s time for unity. Structures need established and tactics discussed but the political sectarianism that has blighted Scottish politics must end. To paraphrase now’s the time for all good people to come to the aid of the country.”

READ MORE: Scottish independence case needs 'gentle persuasion' according to SNP MP 

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has also backed a new cross-party constitutional convention. 

He said: “With Britain’s now imminent departure from the EU, it means we need an urgent plan for the devolution and decentralisation of repatriated powers. Exiting the EU should not bolster the centralised British state. It must mean new powers at a Scottish and local level and be backed with new demands for active regional policy and investment.”

Mr MacAskill, who left the Scottish cabinet when Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister in 2014, also gave short shrift to her call for Indyref2 in late 2020.
“The likelihood of a referendum in the short-term is slim. Indeed, more likely nil,” he said. 

In the same issue, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars was even more blunt.
“Everyone with any political nous knows that Nicola’s demand for indyref2 in 2020 is play acting to up the grudge feeling when Johnson says no. 

“How the activist gallery to which she is playing don’t see they are being led up the garden path beats me.”

He also accused Ms Sturgeon of undermining her claim to have a mandate for Indyref2 by muddying her campaign messages in the election and shifting away from independence. 

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon never went for an unambiguous vote for independence, using the softest language on indyref2 with a formula that it was right for Scots to make a decision about our future. Something difficult for any reasonable person to disagree. 

“Then, she changed tack, and made the last lap all about stopping Boris and Brexit. 

READ MORE: SNP says it is country’s party for business

“So another election goes by and the SNP sought ‘remainer’ Unionist votes, thus undermining the claim to have a mandate for indyref2. 

“Another chance missed to build the independence vote.”

He said that would help Mr Johnson refuse Indyref2, leaving Scotland “stuck”, and the SNP with more MPs, but who would only “demonstrate their impotence” in London. 

Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “The arrival of a new year doesn’t seem to 
have eased the tensions at the top of the SNP. 

“If anything the divisions are growing deeper. “And  as the party of government in Scotland continues to tear itself apart over constitutional issues, our 
schools, hospitals and infrastructure suffer.”

The SNP was asked for comment.