With the refusal of the UK Government to grant a Section 30 order to allow for the holding of a binding second Scottish Independence Referendum all but certain then the next best route for the Scottish Government to take would be to hold an advisory referendum.
But with tweets from some Tory MSPs today stating that Nicola Sturgeon is “plotting an illegal referendum” we can clearly see the rhetoric that the Unionists and their supporters will use against us.
However I can reveal today that legislation has been in place for over forty years that does in fact provide a way for an advisory referendum to be held.
Section 87 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 provides:
(1) A local authority may conduct, or assist in the conducting of, investigations into, and the collection of information relating to, any matters concerning their area or any part thereof and may make, or assist in the making of arrangements whereby any such information and the results of any such investigation are made available to any government department or the public.
(2) The appropriate Minister with respect to any matter may require a local authority to provide him with any information with respect to that matter which is in the possession of, or available to, that local authority in consequence of the exercise of any power conferred by or under any enactment.
Now you may be thinking Marky that doesn’t mention anything about referenda, fear not though.
A House of Commons Library Briefing Paper entitled “Local Government: polls and referendums” clarifies the matter for us. (Link to download pdf).
Chapter 1.2 of the Briefing Paper states “Further legislative provisions exist which can provide the basis for conducting a local referendum.” and goes on to detail the relevant legislation applicable to England, Wales and Scotland stating “and in respect of local authorities in Scotland by section 87 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.”
As I mentioned this would only be an advisory referendum which the UK Government does not have to respect the result of, but given the precedence set by the Brexit referendum (which was also just an advisory referendum) I fail to see how they could argue against the result in a Court of Law (or indeed in the court of International opinion).
Food for thought folks!!