Section 30 won’t work

Great argument from Stu Campbell at Wings Over Scotland. Unfortunately, he comes to the wrong conclusion. We don’t need a Plan B. We need a better Plan A.

The problem with a creating a Plan B is that this assumes you’re going to get a second bite at the cherry. The attitudes and behaviour of the British political elite strongly suggest that this is not a safe assumption. We would certainly be wise to proceed as if we anticipated getting only one shot; if for no other reason than to eliminate any residual complacency and replace it with the necessary – and unquestionably warranted – sense of urgency that is currently missing from the Scottish Government’s approach.

What is the common factor in all these electoral calculations which lead to “OUTCOME: NO INDYREF”? Section 30! The problem is not the electoral arithmetic but the Scottish Government’s insistence on adhering to a process which, As WOS has shown, leads in every conceivable, barely conceivable and inconceivable scenario, to “OUTCOME: NO INDYREF” and, therefore, no independence.

Any outcome which doesn’t lead to the Union being dissolved in the very short term provides the British establishment with opportunities to create new and increasingly intractable obstacles to restoring Scotland’s independence. If we don’t get Plan A right, you can just forget the rest of the alphabet.

There is no route to independence through the twisting and shifting pathways created and controlled by the British state for the purpose of protecting and preserving the Union. Quite why anybody would think there might be is a total mystery given that this involves disregarding such a glaring contradiction. If we want independence, we must break the Union. And if we are determined to break the Union then we must be prepared to break the rules imposed in the name of and for the sake of the Union. Why is that not obvious?

There is another common factor in all the scenarios Stu Campbell has prepared. The all lead, not just to “no indyref”, but to the inevitable conclusion that the Section 30 process must fail. And when it fails, we are right back in the position of having to break the rules to break the Union. So why go through all that crap just to end up right back where we are now except with new difficulties to overcome in order to attain our goal?

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18 thoughts on “Section 30 won’t work

  1. Hi Peter,

    I am typing this quickly before I rush out… so it may not be so logical as your crafted pieces … But you’ll get the gist. 🙂

    As you are well aware, the Scotland Act 1998 left overriding control in Westminster hands. In effect, they can legislate over Holyrood and there is little can be done about it. And the EU Withdrawal Act returned legal powers to Westminster, making it impossible for devolved administrations to keep alternative parts of EU legislation. So, Westminster has indeed, got us by the ‘short and curlies’.

    Most of us agree that the S30 is just a piece of process, and even in the 2014 referendum it was questioned by the HOL if any individual PM had the right to agree S30, as it affected the whole of the UK. It is not worth getting excited about.

    And of course the whole thing skirts around the question of democratic deficit, which is best illustrated by this very case. How can a UK parliament legislate or apply fairness in any argument around Scotland’s right’s to anything that leads to increased devolution, self determination, independence… including holding a referendum.

    From the absolute beginning (the Cunningham-Cook intervention in the 1979 referendum) there was always Westminster ‘games’ to do / get what they want. It’s pretty amazing when you compare the margin of EU referendum, and the percentage of Brexiters over the total electorate, to the 1979 numbers. By these Cunning-Cook standards, the EU referendum should be Remain. Westminster will always assume the advantage for those in power. Even when events are patently undemocratic.

    I agree S30 should not be ‘begged for’ … It’s an entitlement, not a negotiating card. However, I do think we should follow ‘due process’ one final time. In any case, even after a S30 the UK Government could refuse or delay independence for a long time.

    However, the ‘once in a generation’ argument that is regularly repeated, tells you that it’s ‘all the Unionists have’. Everyone understands (no matter how dense they claim to be) that there was ‘significant and material change’ that makes Scotland’s request legitimate.

    On the other hand, to not ask for a S30 (in effect, a temporary change to devolved powers) would make any Referendum by Scot Gov. illegal. Unionists would indeed jump on this.

    I have maintained all along, that there are problems with ‘fire in the belly’ support for Indy, versus the appetite to break any laws. That’s not just about the SNP, but about the average person in the street. Years ago there would have been ‘Home Rule’ daubed around 🙂 but now Twitter and Social Media dilute this strength of purpose.

    So, I have meandered. Suffice to say that things are still shifting under us at Westminster. I do believe we are right to fight ‘No-deal’ (although I think it will happen anyway)

    As for Stu’s five options. I don’t think it matters. In one sense, NOTHING leads to Independence at the moment, except rampant English Nationalism.

    The UK is burning under Boris. Trump is causing concern in USA. Farage is the propellent.
    I say give them time, divisions in the UK will be insurmountable.

    Scotland needs to ‘keep the heid’, ‘Steady as she goes’ and be ready to fight at the ‘right moment’ and not a second before. We are not ready for UDI, an ‘illegal’ referendum, or a mandatory census right now. We should not give the OO and the likes to take to our streets, anymore than they already have.

    The SNP and all YES groups should get well prepared for a GE and the manifesto should include

    1. Independence, including a plan and dates of when it will happen.

    2. A commitment to stay in or renter the EU.

    3. A EU referendum in 2025 for Scotland (That is fair to all people)

    If we get this in the GE, there is indeed a good fight to be had for one, not to be Brexited. Assuming, we avoid ‘No-Deal’ or to at least enter negotiations with the EU.


    1. I refer you to my response to Craig Murray.

      As to the argument that independence is going to follow from “rampant English Nationalism”and the shambles of British politics, that is just wrong. Scotland’s independence will only be restored by a Scottish Government acting through the Scottish Parliament with the support of the Scottish people.

      “Scotland needs to ‘keep the heid’,…”

      The mix of complacency and timidity in the paragraph that starts thus just pisses me off. Crap like that would have me despair for our nation were it not for the fact that I’d spent the weekend here in Perth with thousands of people who know this is the time for bold, decisive, urgent action.


      1. Keeping the heid has done absolutely zilch thus far for us, I agree, Mr Bell. I think that the SNP has been extraordinarily negligent in its whole approach to independence since 2014. It learned nothing of value from the result except to pander to elements that will never agree to independence, whether they are in the Scottish Unionist/British Nationalist faction or the rUK/British Nationalist/English Nationalist faction. These two factions united are what prevents us from getting anywhere. What are they? They are, together and apart, the Union. Without the Union, they have no basis from which to operate except as anti democrats. The Union must be brought down to bring them down. There may well be ordinary, well-meaning voters among them who are worried about their future, who might, if we have another hundred years, be persuaded to vote YES, and, when we gain independence, we are going to have to reconcile and welcome all these people into an independent Scotland, but, right now, they block any peaceful resolution to independence because, let’s face it, they didn’t give a stuff how we felt, what our future would be, when they voted NO last time. We will not get a S30 Order. They won’t take the chance this time. They mean to destroy all means to independence via a second referendum. Johnson never had any real intention to head for a NO Deal unless it was totally unavoidable; it was a very clever bit of gamesmanship; and what looks like a back-down, is his winning stroke. I think the SNP has backed itself into a corner – again.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Re:”“Scotland needs to ‘keep the heid’,…”

        The mix of complacency and timidity in the paragraph that starts thus just pisses me off. Crap like that would have me despair for our nation were it not for the fact that I’d spent the weekend here in Perth with thousands of people who know this is the time for bold, decisive, urgent action.”

        So everyone in Perth was not for ‘keep the heid’ Really?

        I shall be in Edinburgh and I am for ‘keep the heid’. And ‘keep the heid’ does not stand in opposition to bold decisive and urgent action.


        1. I can assure you that very few people attending the Perth AUOB March & Rally shared your complacency and timidity. And even fewer were silly enough to equate a sense of urgency with ‘losin’ te heid’.


    2. “On the other hand, to not ask for a S30 (in effect, a temporary change to devolved powers) would make any Referendum by Scot Gov. illegal. ”

      For the nth time this is simply FALSE. There is no requirement in law to seek an S30 in order to hold a referendum. It was a device suggested by Cameron to facilitate a frictionless process during negotiations for indyref1. Not having one would not make “any [r]eferendum by Scot Gov. illegal”, as spiritmac asserts.

      And by whose lights, were it to be found illegal, would it be so found? You mean those of the English state. The whole point is that those rules are ultra vires. It is not within the gift of the English state to grant such permission nor within its power to withhold it. The people of Scotland are sovereign and only they have the right to determine by whom they shall be governed.

      The United Kingdom of Great Britain is a legal and political entity formed by the Union of two and only two countries – the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England (incorporating Wales). It was created by a bilateral internationally recognised treaty. The sovereign entity of either country has the ability to dissolve this union.

      In the case of England that would be the Crown in Parliament. In the case of Scotland, sovereignty is in the ancient and permanent keep of the People. It so happens that this arrangement is in perfect alignment with international law, and the UN charter that recognise that a People subjected to domestic or foreign domination have the inalienable right to self-determination regardless of any laws, rules, or restrictions, imposed upon them by their oppressors.

      With respect to the UK and the fiction of the continuing state:
      There can be no continuing state of an extinguished voluntary union of two nations. It is on its face a daft proposition.

      Consider the tautology: When the Union is dissolved, the Union ceases to be.

      After a YES vote Scotland will not treat with the UK but with England.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Spirtmac -We don’t need an EU referendum. Scotland voted 62% to stay. We also returned 3 SNP MEP’s to Europe. The polls indicate EU support is now over 65%. The EU is not an issue for the majority of Scots.

    However the union is!


    1. Big Jock, After Independence I doubt we can use the argument ‘…we voted Remain in 2016’, therefore we should automatically join the EU…..we cannot use the basis for this argument if we negate the result of the 2014 Referendum. After Independence a referendum should be called to ‘rejoin’ the EU…..we should not presume EU support when we are an Independent nation.


      1. @George Parker @Big Jock

        Don’t muddy the waters. Surely any decision on EU is a discussion for Scots to decide themselves. Right now the focus should only be INDY and getting that sorted.

        YES should fully own that these debates will happen and never fear an open debate on any decision Scotland faces after INDY. The point is that it will be Scots who debate it and decide the way forward. What gets the Union press and rUK politicians is that very point – those decisions will have nothing to do with rUK or the vested money interests. Isn’t that the whole point of INDY?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s not how it works. Assuming we are still in the EU, if Europhobes want a referendum on EU membership then they will have to campaign for it just the same as we had to campaign for the 2014 referendum and as we are campaigning now for a new one. Europhobes want to skip the part of the process where they have to convince enough voters of their case to persuade the Scottish Government that a referendum is warranted. It is easy to understand why they want to circumvent this requirement. They know they don’t have the necessary arguments. I have listened at length to those who want Scotland to leave the EU and they sound exactly like the Mad Brexiteers who created the current shambles. The majority of the people of Scotland didn’t fall for that pish in 2016. They’re a lot less likely to fall for it now.

        We have every right to assume that the people of Scotland want their country to be part of the EU. That’s how they voted in 2018 and polling shows that support for EU membership has increased since then.

        Personally, I will be happy to consider voting to take Scotland out of the EU when anti-EU campaigners provide me with the basic elements of any political proposition – a persuasive reason; a viable plan; and a credible alternative. In 40 years and more of listening to assorted numpties railing and ranting against the EU, I have heard none of these things.


  3. IMHO the S30 request route is for International ears, NOT for us locals. Without going through this process then there is always the risk that other Countries will say we did not exhaust all options and therefore not give us International recognition. At the end of the day International recognition is what matters, without it no country will be independent, no matter the circumstances.

    Look at it this way, if we are denied we can say we asked and were refused, it ticks another box from an International perspective.


    1. I refer you to the response I gave to Craig Murray and the thousands of words I’ve written explaining why you are wrong to be so complacent about the Scottish Government committing to the Section 30 route.


    2. Why is there such a to-do about Brexit from the EU perspective, Kangaroo? Well, apart from the loss of the revenue, obviously? If we do exit without a deal, it is almost certain that the EU will take the UK to the International Court for recompense because – and this is the clincher – the treaties that the UK has signed up to in the EU are international treaties and the international court and the UN itself abhor the breaking of international treaties that could lead to war and/or trade wars. That is why it was absolutely imperative for Cameron to have the Crawford and Boyle Report which assumed Scotland’s subsumption by England as its starting point. For starters, that was a massive boob as it was comprehensively destroyed by eminent Scottish jurists who argued that the Treaty, like all treaties, is international in nature; then it was compounded by the realisation that, according to the Treaty of Union, both Scotland and England would be successor states. Enter the second boob.

      Cameron capitulated and never used it. The thing about paying the piper to play your own tune is that, if it is wrong, the tune, you are finished. The C&B tune could not have been more wrong. If the YES movement wants a constitutional specialist to advise it, I think that Ian Campbell, of Liverpool University, would be the one I would choose, but crowdfunding and effort are required to have the Treaty ‘sound’ in law and then, a case made that Scotland has been treated with contempt that has subverted the Articles of the Treaty beyond retrieval; and that England did not subsume Scotland and had, therefore, no right to do what it has been doing; and that its doings have been ultra vires. Mr Bell is correct. Without challenge, the government will continue to assume it is the dominant force e in the UK and we will continue, after Brexit, or even if there is no Brexit, to be subject to its rampant English Nationalist agenda and its existential crisis of confidence coupled with its contradictory overweening sense of arrogance and entitlement that will be the ruin all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nothing’s wrong with Scots Law. Isn’t it the case, however, that any law anent constitutional matters can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which is a Court of English Law?


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