Citizens’ Assembly: WTF?

Regardless of who chairs it, I am yet to be persuaded that this Citizens’ Assembly can serve any useful purpose. What is it supposed to do? On this occasion, the “WTF?’ in the title of the article means ‘What’s This For?’.

Nicola Sturgeon apparently hopes it will “lay a foundation that allows us to move forward together, whatever decisions we ultimately arrive at”. But I’m no closer to understanding exactly how she hopes yet another talking-shop will achieve this. Or even what that little gobbet of Politicese actually means.

What seems to be missing from the comparison with Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is the fact that it was tasked with examining and debating an issue of policy. The question of Scotland’s constitutional status is an issue of principle. The starting point for debate on this issue must be that independence is normal and that the Union is, therefore, anomalous. The debate is not about a choice between or among policies on the basis of their relative merits. It is solely about whether there can possibly be benefits to Scotland deriving the Union which compensate for the grotesque democratic deficit and the denial of Scotland’s sovereignty.

Look at the language!

The assembly will bring together a randomly selected group reflecting Scotland’s population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and social class, to discuss giving powers to Holyrood.

The first part of that is all very well. But GIVING powers to Holyrood? That’s devolution! Devolution is dead! The constitutional debate long since moved on from petitioning Westminster for more devolution set about with fiscal and political traps intended to undermine Scotland’s government and parliament. The debate now is about how the British state justifies continuing to withhold powers that rightfully belong with the Scottish Parliament. And how long the people of Scotland are supposed to tolerate the affront to democracy and dignity that the Union represents.

How does Nicola Sturgeon see that debate proceeding in a Citizens’ Assembly?

There is no nuance to the constitutional issue. It is a binary question. Either the people of Scotland are sovereign, or sovereignty rests with a disreputable and increasingly despicable rabble at Westminster. There is no question of degree. There is no debate to be had about to what extent and by what means sovereignty is pooled. The Union expressly excludes the pooled sovereignty which is the very foundation of democracy. You cannot have the Union and have popular sovereignty. The two things are mutually exclusive. Incompatible. Irreconcilable. You choose the Union, you forfeit the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. That is the price that the Union demands. The only question is whether we are prepared to continue paying it.

What is the Citizens’ Assembly supposed to discuss? What is it for?

And before anybody attempts a glib answer just bear in mind that the Citizens’ Assembly cannot hold meaningful discussions about matters of policy in Scotland after the restoration of our rightful constitutional status. It can have no authority to formulate policy for any existing party, far less any party which might come into existence only after independence. It certainly cannot bind any future Scottish Government. If it is no more than a policy forum then it is entirely redundant.

What the Citizens’ Assembly looks like is a giant focus group. But what it is supposed to be focusing on remains a mystery.

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3 thoughts on “Citizens’ Assembly: WTF?

  1. Bang on target, Peter. Independence is a matter of principle not policy. Ireland is an independent country. Iceland is an independent country. The governments of these countries gave their citizens the opportunity to discuss a policy issue. After we regain independence, we can do likewise. Until then, the focus should be on actually achieving independence. This proposal strikes me as more procrastination. Personally, I would go with the usual meaning of WTF.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The SNP’s problem is its obsession with ‘inclusiveness’ and holding a second indyref as the only two fundamental aspects of said independence, but, as you say, all this has been covered already. I actually believe that ‘inclusiveness’ is fundamentally exclusive in its propensity not to achieve independence. Not because ‘inclusiveness’ is a bad idea, as an idea, as an ambition, as a final destination, but it cannot be held to be both necessary for a democratic path to independence and yet hold within it the very seeds of anti inclusiveness that drives the UK, as a political state and the Union, as a means to ensuring we remain within that state.

    At the end of the day, that is saying that, if enough people are not open to ‘inclusiveness’ and, by implication and extension, independence, then there is no democratic way to achieve independence for the 50% who do want it. In other words, we are allowing those whose reasons for voting NO were, in 2014, and presumably remain, self-centred and EXCLUSIVE, to set the agenda. The SNP do not say to them: look, you are being selfish and standing in the way of a perfectly legal, democratic and moral constitutional right of the Scots to have independence; what they are telling these people is the exact opposite. They are saying: you have every right to stand in our way. They don’t. If they cannot be beaten at the ballot box because they are far too reactionary and selfish to stand aside (doesn’t that description equally fit the monstrous Tory party that has brought us to this impasse?) then we have to look for an equally legal, democratic and moral way out of the Union before it destroys us, as it must if it is to continue.

    Looking for nice and profoundly sound ways not to have to challenge your opposition is utterly counter-productive and counter-intuitive.


  3. Please – Not another talking shop to be reported on by our foreign controlled media and their SNP bad payroll scribblers.


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