I’d like to thank Dave Coull for the following, which was originally published as a comment on Scot Goes Pop. I republish it here, with his kind permission, as it provides timely and valuable context for discussion of UDI.
In August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. War is something done by Declaration, because it does not require the agreement of the other party. However, when it was announced that there would be an Armistice from the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, this was an “Announcement”, not a “Declaration”, because Germany had agreed.
When I declared my house a smoke-free zone, that was a Declaration. I did not consult my neighbours. I did not ask anybody likely to visit my house if that would be okay. I just declared that, if they were visiting my house, and they wanted to smoke, they would have to go outside.
Declarations are ALWAYS “unilateral”. Saying “unilateral declaration” is like saying “wet water”. The first word is superfluous.
So, what’s the point of this stupid expression?
The expression “UDI” was invented in 1965. It did not exist at all before that year. I was in my mid-20s, and I was already a “veteran” of five years in the British armed forces, when the expression “UDI” was first invented. I can remember the exact circumstances of it being invented very well. There was a lot of talk in the press and media about a “Unilateral Declaration of Independence” by the racist government of the apartheid regime in Rhodesia.
Rhodesian “UDI” did in fact happen. But in the end the country got into such a mess, they had to ask the British Government to step in to help to sort it out. As a result. “UDI” carries connotations of both illegality and failure.
But, of course, there have been other Declarations of Independence. Most famously, the one whose anniversary gets celebrated every Fourth of July. That one doesn’t carry connotations of illegality and failure. Why not?
The answer to the question, “why not?”, is because, although the British Government refused to recognise that Declaration of Independence to begin with, it nevertheless succeeded. Within ten years, a lawyer from Boston, Massachusetts, was presenting his credentials to King George as the first Ambassador of the USA, and even lawyers in London were producing proofs that it had all been perfectly legal all along.
But of course it was “unilateral”. Declarations are ALWAYS unilateral. “UDI” is like saying “wet water”. It’s a bloody idiotic expression, and the only reason for using it is to link a Declaration with the Rhodesian failure, instead of with the American success. Stop it. Stop playing the game according to rules laid down by agents of the British State. Stop talking about UDI. It’s stupid.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.