I might despair less if, while they “brush off Tory claims a Section 30 order would be blocked“. the SNP leadership showed some sign of recognising that the problem isn’t the request being denied, but the request being made. The right of self-determination is inextricably bound up with sovereignty. The people of Scotland are sovereign. Therefore, we ‘own’ the exclusive right to decide the constitutional status of our nation and to choose the form of government which best suits our needs. To request a Section 30 order is to allow that the British state has the legitimate authority to deny our right of self-determination. Requesting a Section 30 order is tantamount to declaring that the people of Scotland are NOT sovereign. Because sovereign people don’t need permission to exercise their sovereignty.
Even if we set aside this utterly unanswerable reason for eschewing a Section 30 request, there is at least one more compelling reason for doing so. It might not be refused. The politically astute course for the British state to take would be to grant the request, thus giving the British government a significant say in the technicalities and practicalities of the referendum. A Section 30 order having been requested and granted, a new ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ would then have to be negotiated. By taking the Section 30 route, the Scottish Government would effectively have agreed that the referendum could not proceed in the absence of such an agreement.
We can be sure of two things. We can be certain that the British side would hold the Scottish Government to this undertaking not to proceed without an agreement. And we can be certain that the British side would do everything it could to ensure that there was no agreement. This wouldn’t be difficult. The British would simply have to insist on terms that the Scottish Government could not possibly accept. The exclusion from the franchise of 16 and 17-year olds, for example. Or a new version of the infamous ‘40% rule’.
I might despair less if, while evidently determined to contrive the righteous grievance of a Section 30 refusal, the SNP leadership showed some sign of recognising that control of the process would be a very high price to pay for this political bauble.
My heart lifted a little when Nicola Sturgeon announced the intention to legislate for a new independence referendum in the Scottish Parliament. My heart sank again when it became clear that the legislation she has in mind would involve a denial of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and a failure to seize control of the process by which we might exercise our right of self-determination.
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