The key phrase in what Henry McLeish says is “the Westminster government has paraded its constitutional authority”. This is precisely what has happened, and is happening. The British political elite is asserting ultimate constitutional authority in the hope and expectation that it will not be challenged. The constitutional rights of the devolved parliaments are being steam-rollered by the loudly and constantly proclaimed supremacy of the British state, along with the democratic and, quite possibly, the human rights of the people of these islands.
Henry McLeish is to be applauded for what is without doubt his most insightful and valuable intervention to date. We might wish only that he had been more forthright and forceful in his calls for a challenge to this asserted constitutional authority.
It is a call which echoes what is being urged by increasing numbers of people in the Yes movement. Especially by those who have always been wary of the unfortunate tendency to hitch the independence cause to the Brexit process rather than dealing with it as a matter of fundamental constitutional justice.
While Henry McLeish takes a studiously legalistic approach, others – myself included – see the issue more in terms of a generalised mindset. I contend that we must rid ourselves of the mindset which has us acting only within the frame of established power. We must reframe our actions in terms of our own power. We must do, rather than be done to. We must act, rather than be acted upon.
The people of Scotland are sovereign. The Scottish Parliament represents the will of Scotland’s people. The Scottish Government acts in accordance with the will of the Scottish Parliament. That, and that alone, is the foundation and core structure of Scotland’s democracy.
The right of self-determination, as guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations, is vested wholly in the sovereign people of Scotland, to be exercised entirely at our discretion. The Scottish Government, acting under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament, is the agency by which we exercise our sovereignty. Only the Scottish Parliament has democratic legitimacy in Scotland. Only the Scottish Government acts with the democratic consent of Scotland’s people.
The people of Scotland have the absolute and inalienable right to choose the form of government which best serves their needs, priorities and aspirations.
Only the people of Scotland have the rightful authority to determine and constrain the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
When a sufficient number of us say we want to exercise our right of self=determination, no power on the planet has the authority to deny us. Only the Parliament and Government that we elect is authorised to be the arbiter of what constitutes a sufficient number. There can be no veto over our right of self-determination.
The Scottish Parliament speaks for the people of Scotland. When that Parliament decides that the existing political union with England must end, the Scottish Government must act on that decision. It must act to dissolve the Union, subject only to this being ratified by plebiscite.
That’s it! No mention of Westminster or courts. Why would there be. What is described above is, in outline at least, the necessary and sufficient process by which constitutional reform is effected in Scotland. Anything else is external interference. Which is explicitly prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations.
It is all and entirely about us. We decide! We, the people, decide! That is the beginning and the end of all democratic politics. The people are the sole source of legitimate political authority. The constitutional authority paraded by Westminster is without substance. It is a spectre conjured by the apparatus of established power. It is a phantom which evaporates upon being confronted.
Henry McLeish would have us confront the constitutional authority claimed by the British state with the power of the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention on Human Rights. Fine! Nothing wrong with that! But, our circumstances being dire and demanding urgency, I suggest we immediately confront the phantom constitutional authority of the British state with the power of the sovereign people of Scotland.
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7 thoughts on “Confronting phantoms”
I see no reason we cannot (Scottish parliament) suspend the Treaty of Union because it has been breached, and then have have a Scottish election on whether or not we reinstate it or renegotiate it..
Seeing as the Treaty has been suspended, then no foreign controlled or funded party should be permitted to stand. Obviously the various forces of the right and left would need a month or two to form Scottish parties before an election.
Obviously in this interim period, all revenues due to Scotland should be paid to Scotland, or business licences would be revoked (eg oil 🙂 ).
Why go through all that hassle? Why claim that the Treaty of Union has been breached only to be forced to spend the next twenty years in various courts trying to prove (a) that there has been a breach and (b) that the breach is sufficient to void the Treaty? Why do all that when you can simply end the Union as a matter of constitutional choice?
Get rid of the mindset that we have to qualify for independence in some way. Purge yourself of the notion that we must pass some legal or economic test. We don’t! We simply have to choose independence. We don’t have to explain ourselves to any external power.
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Big tick for that comment.
If Mrs May can casually ignore what 62% of Scots voted for. Then we can just ignore the psychobabble emanating from number 10. I never quite understood why the SNP were arguing for a watered down Brexit. To me they should be respecting that 62% of Scots when asked voted to remain full EU members. The question was not what type of EU deal we wanted. It was simple ,the status quo or leave.
We voted for the status quo and I want that respected. Single market, soft Brexit, free movement…..da da da. The red lines were shifting sands. The confusion was caused by arguing over a type of deal that Scots knocked back.
This is why we are in this half way house. If there is another GE in October which seems highly likely. We will be no further forward by December. The SNP need to announce the referendum before the Tories announce the GE. Recent history showed what happens when they press the trigger first.
The SNP were in the unfortunate position of having to satisfy the result of the 2014 and 2016 referendums. Difficult to do when they are seemingly contradictory, but that was the puzzle that they were faced with. Thier solution was to offer a second indyref when the details of the Brexit deal was known, a not unreasonable decision. In the meantime however the British State is moving to consolidate its stranglehold on the levers pf power by emasculating the devolution settlement and setting up an alternative UK office in Scotland. Clearly they have no intention of respecting the will of the Scottish people who voted for devolution twenty years ago.
Peter is quite correct with his comments at 16:47 above, we need to purge ourselves of the mindset that we have to ask permission. We have legal authority on our side as has been restated in Westminster recently that the Scottish people have the right to choose their form of government, and that is what we will do, and nobody is going to stop that happening. Least of all Westminster and its faux Sovereignty. Roll on October, the reckoning is coming.
So if Scots alone can decide the form of government we wish to have should we have a multi option choice put to us? Say we voted to have all powers returned except foreign affairs and defense. Would we just be devolving those powers to westminster and paying for them accordingly ? If westminster doesn’t agree with the result or follow through then they lose their legitimacy in full and we are fully independent. Maybe devo max should have been on the ballot paper in 2014, it would be a short step to full indy which we would no doubt be taking right now.
A multi-choice referendum is a contradiction in terms. Referendums are problematic enough when there’s a clear binary choice.