Don’t ask! Take!

3. The prospect of an even more hard-line Brexiteer now becoming PM and threatening a no deal exit is deeply concerning. Added to the experience of the past three years, this makes it all the more important that Scotland is given the choice of becoming an independent country.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 24, 2019

That’s my emphasis on the above Tweet from Nicola Sturgeon; part of the First Minister’s characteristically gracious but pointed statement responding to Theresa May’s much-anticipated resignation announcement. I highlight it as an example of the kind of talk that brings me to the verge of despair. The kind of talk which tells of a mindset that is totally inadequate for the purpose of taking forward the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence.

Power is never given. Power is only taken.

This is not just an iron law of politics, it is inescapable logic. The power to bestow is merely the prettily painted face of the power to withhold. The converse of, and stolid attendant to the power to give is the power to deny or deprive. The power to take. Thus, power that is given is not real power at all. It cannot be when the acquisition of it is conditional on the consent of another and the ongoing possession of it depends on the other’s continuing approval.

The very act of requesting power acknowledges the other’s superordinate status. And, by necessary implication, the subordinate status of the petitioner. One only asks if one is prepared to accept refusal. And if refusal is unacceptable, then asking is pointless – unless the purpose is to signal weakness.

Why would we ask for something that is ours by absolute right?

This mindset has to change. The ‘petitioner mindset’ demeans us all. It begs the question, can we really call ourselves a nation if we allow that our nationhood is in the gift of what is, for all relevant purposes, a foreign power?

Nations don’t ask if they can be nations. Nations assert their nationhood. Independence is the starting point. The normal condition. The default status. It is anything other than independence which must ask permission to pertain.

The predecessors of today’s British political elite were ‘given’ power over Scotland by the grasping, self-serving, corrupt antecedents of today’s ideological Unionists. Ever since, the Union has served as a constitutional device by which the sovereign people of Scotland are denied the full and proper exercise of their sovereignty. That sovereignty remains ours. It is inalienable. We no more require Westminster’s consent to exercise it than we require their permission to breathe.

We must, as a matter of the utmost urgency, rid ourselves of the insidious notion – inculcated over more than three centuries of domination that has been sometimes brutal, sometimes subtle – that the supremacy claimed by the British state over Scotland is rightful. It is not! It cannot be! And it must be forcefully rejected!

Scotland looks to our elected leaders to assert and affirm the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. Not merely as a form of words in some declaration, but in fundamental practical ways. We look to our elected representatives and the only Parliament with democratic legitimacy in Scotland to defend our inalienable rights by their every word and deed.

Nicola Sturgeon is clever, astute, principled and determined. She is, without question, the most fitting political leader for Scotland at this time. But we need her to be, not just clever, but bold. Not just astute, but decisive. Not just principled, but fervent in pursuit of those principles. Not just determined, but assertive, even aggressive in demanding respect for the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and Scotland’s status as a nation.

We will get behind you, Nicola. But not if you are standing at England’s door with a begging bowl.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t ask! Take!

  1. The way I see the next few months going. Bojo beomes Tory leader. GE is called in September/October. Scotland votes SNP & Green. Englands votes Tory as the MSM are scared stiff of Jeremy Corbyn. Scotland yet again ends up with a tory government it did not vote for. And so it goes on, the only way to break this cycle is Independence. Then the voting public in Scotland at our elections get he government we vote everytime. Disband the Union.


    1. Why would a Tory Prime Minister call an election when he (or she) doesn’t have to and the Tory vote is plumbing depths which make the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entry look like a triumph?


  2. Mr Bell,

    Your article has impelled me to examine the constitutional basis for the presumed authority of the British parliament. I’m no expert in this field so I stand ready to be corrected by those who are more knowledgeable about these things.

    It appears that basically the authority of Westminster is founded in the Restoration of the Monarchy in the late 1600s and its ramifications into the 1700s during which the Parliament seized to itself all the powers previously claimed by the King under the doctrine of Divine Right. For this to go on indefinitely, there still has to be in existence a king, or queen, so that the power to be stolen continues to exist.

    The doctrine of divine right was never allowed in Scotland as is proved by the Declarations of Right both old and recent which affirmed that the power of the throne in Scotland is derived not from the divinity but from the consent of the people alone. These declarations have been accepted unequivocally by the parliament in London. By extension, the power of the British parliament in Scotland is, and must be dependent on the consent of the people of Scotland. The status of Scottish MPs, as representatives of the Scottish people, in the British parliament is very, very different from that of their fellows from the rest of the UK.

    Now comes the question, ‘Who, then, can express the consent or otherwise of the people of Scotland?’

    The Edinburgh parliament exists, as we are well aware, at the whim of the British parliament so that while it presents a useful forum for political and social expression for affairs Scottish, it lacks the ultimate power to defy, if necessary, the British parliament successfully.

    Might it just be that the unique constitutional status of the Scottish members of parliament, being full and lawful representatives of the people who live in Scotland, makes them the vehicle for insisting that the will of the Scottish people be heard and obeyed? Surely if they are prevented from representing fully the interests and wishes of their Scottish electors in the British parliament, then they must have the right to repeal the Act of Union of the 1707 Scottish parliament and disassociate themselves and their country from the British parliament.

    I am mindful in putting forward this opinion that the Union of 1707 brought about a joining of parliaments (primarily concerned with affairs of trade) and NOT the creation of a single nation state.

    My apologies for going on at such length, but the present state of the constitutional arrangements we are forced to live under is such a maugre that it gives me a headache. Jotting down a few thoughts provides temporary relief. 🙂


    1. Thanks for you thoughtful, and thought-provoking, comment, Phil.

      First, let me say that I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the authority of the Scottish Parliament. That authority may not be enshrined in law, but it may go one better by being irrefutably founded on a mandate from the people. The Scottish Parliament has democratic legitimacy. Constitutionally, that may trump the Scotland Act. What is required is that the authority of the Scottish Parliament be asserted. The Scottish Parliament declares itself the sole and exclusive voice of Scotland’s people, and dares the British establishment to move against it. Which is precisely what is going to have to happen at some point if Scotland’s independence is to be restored.

      This will not – cannot – happen within a framework of law designed to preserve the Union. Or, at least, assuming the existence of the Union and the primacy of Westminster. For independence to be restored, British law must be broken.

      There’s a bit of a Catch-22 with regard to your suggestion that Scottish MPs “have the right to repeal the Act of Union”. That argument is based on them being members of the British parliament. But all members of that parliament are, supposedly, equal. It is a unitary parliament. So, the members from Scottish constituencies cannot have extraordinary authority not shared by all other members. I’m sure you see where this is going.

      In fact, to the extent that there is a quandary here, it is one which is rather easily resolved by means of a National Assembly – an assembly of all nationally elected representatives. This combines the authority of MPs (and MEPs?) with the newly asserted authority of the Scottish Parliament to create a democratic body with the unquestionable power to dissolve the Union.


      1. I would agree, that both the MPs at Westminster, and the MSPs, at Edinburgh, should be those who force/can force the end of the Union.
        Alas, the MPs are trying their very best, not to be seen as upstarts, and thus meekly go along with the Establishment way of doing things, presently.
        That is not the way to go about it.
        There is no point in SNP leaders constantly telling us how bad the present situation is for Scotland, unless they are going to act to stop the chaos we see around us, and the damage it is doing to out country, at every level.
        As for Labour, and Lib Dems, especially the Lib Dems what are they gonna say, if we get a carefree idiot like Boris Johnson in charge of our country (Scotland, that is) aNd it doesn’t even have to be BJ, but someone similar?
        Will they still rant and rave, about how they want to stay in Europe, but want to stay in UK more?
        They can’t have both.Same applies to those in Labour, but as Labour has betrayed Scotland so much, they are beyond hope!
        I can’t see them proving me wrong, I have to say.
        But waiting and waiting for whatever London gives us, is out of the question, now.


  3. I don’t think treaties written 300 years ago are of any importance to the UN. The world has completely changed and so has the UK.

    What is important is us declaring independence and then it being recognised by the UN.

    Peter is right. If we keep asking WM will keep laughing at us. A country like England will never do the right thing. The English are a bully nation. Its what they do.

    You must take action against a bully, not complain about their bullying. They enjoy being obnoxious colonists. We are their serfs remember.

    They don’t see us as equal on any level. So we must not expect kindness or human decency.

    We are equal , but equality doesn’t come from the oppressor. It is taken back by the oppressed.

    Its no different to Malcolm X or Luther King. They first had to be hated by the establishment, in order to fight them.

    The SNP are trying to get independence by not upsetting the establishment. That is called meekness. Its bold and brave that wins the fight.


  4. “…I don’t think treaties written 300 years ago are of any importance to the UN. The world has completely changed and so has the UK…”

    Unfortunately, or, perhaps, fortunately, the Treaty of Union is an international treaty, and, 300 years old or not, the international community will, indeed, take notice of it. It is the document that actually underpins the UK because it created the United Kingdom of Great Britain. If it ignores the Treaty, it repudiates the Union anyway, and it cannot do that without a ruling and, if it is a positive one, as it will be, international recognition will come as part of the parcel. If the Treaty falls, the Union falls. That is where we must start to pull out the supporting struts. If the treaty exists, if it is an international treaty, if it underpins the UK (and, having read it and reread it many times, from both a legal and political angle, I cannot see how it cannot be otherwise and despite the best efforts of Crawford and Boyle) then we can infer politically and legally, from 1707 onwards, that England (or rUK) has been acting ultra vires in almost every one of its dealings with Scotland: it has broken almost every Article unilaterally; and it has subverted the very spirit, let alone the legal facets, of the document since 1707. Devolution does nothing to change that; indeed, the subverting of devolution by making Westminster the arbiter of constitutional rights, with the Supreme Court backing the wholly English constitutional principles, the Treaty is being broken again, unilaterally, by England, because it has no competence to limit Scotland’s constitutional rights. That is what infuriates me – the fact that we sit back and beg for scraps when we have been conned for 312 years. This con is the biggest of the lot, and enabled the burial of the McCrone Report, yet another con in a long, long line of con tricks perpetrated against the Scottish people by its co-signatory to the Treaty. We could end this Union tomorrow without a pre independence referendum. We would be de facto independent, awaiting de iure independence and a ratifying referendum, and, while we wait for the international courts’ rulings, we could be putting in place all the institutions we will need to set up the Scottish nation state, defunct for 312 years. It can be done.

    Liked by 1 person

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