The following is the text of a speech delivered at the
#AUOBEdinburgh March & Rally on 5 October 2019.
What is the best thing the SNP has done?
The party has been in government now for more than 12 years. Pretty much everybody bar the bitter, blinkered, bigoted British Nationalists agree that they’ve done a reasonable job.
The voters certainly seem well enough pleased. Ask most of them and they’ll say “SNP? They’re a’ right!”
Some might even wax passionate enough to say “They’re no bad!”
But what’s the single best thing they’ve done for Scotland?
You’ll all have your own ideas about that. But I’ve got my own particular favourite.
For a long time, if you’d asked me what’s the best thing the SNP ever did in government, I’d have picked getting rid of that demeaning ‘Scottish Executive’ title and becoming a real Scottish Government!
That was important. That sent a message to the British establishment. That told them “Hey! That’s the end of the pretendy! There will be no more pretendy!”
I wouldn’t pick that now. Not because it isn’t important, but because it led to something even more important.
The SNP administration back then didn’t just say they were a real government, they acted like a real government. So much so that now, nobody doubts it. We take it for granted.
Scotland has a real government and a real parliament. A government with a real mandate from the people. A parliament with real democratic legitimacy.
The British political elite don’t like it! But that’s the way it is. Successive SNP administrations have made Holyrood the locus of Scottish politics. That’s my candidate for the most significant thing they’ve done.
The SNP has brought Scotland’s politics back to Scotland. Now they just have to bring Scotland’s government back to Scotland. All of it!
And that’s where we hit a couple of wee snags.
Having very successfully made the Scottish Parliament the main arena for politics in Scotland, our political leaders now seem intent on moving the focus back to Westminster.
Brexit! I don’t have much to say about it. There isn’t much that need be said about it. There’s only three things people in Scotland need to know about Brexit.
- Brexit cannot be fixed. The British political elite have screwed things up in a manner that is remarkable even for them. There is no way to fix Brexit.
- There is no Brexit deal that can negate Scotland’s Remain vote.
- Brexit is not our problem.
So why the hell are our political leaders so obsessed with it? Why are they embroiled in what’s going on at Westminster? Scotland’s politics isn’t done at Westminster! It’s done here in Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city.
“Oh but we’ll be affected by Brexit!”, I hear people say. ”We can’t get away from it!”
Of course we’ll be affected! All the more reason our politicians should be here in Edinburgh working on solutions for Scotland instead of getting tangled up in England’s mess.
Scotland’s politics has to be done in Scotland. We won’t find solutions in Westminster. Westminster won’t act for us. Westminster won’t protect Scotland’s interests. We have to do that ourselves… here… in Scotland!
And that includes a new referendum on Scotland’s constitutional status. Why would we give Westminster an effective veto over our referendum?
Why would we let Westminster set conditions and make rules for our referendum?
Why would we accept Westminster being involved in any way in our referendum?
Yet that is precisely what the Section 30 process does. It moves vital aspects of our referendum out of Scotland and hands them over to Westminster.
Scotland’s new independence referendum must be entirely made and managed in Scotland. Our First Minister must seize control of the process. Our Government must legislate for the process. Our Parliament must have oversight of the process.
It’s our referendum!
It is our referendum and there must be no external interference!
It’s our right of self-determination, therefore it is our referendum!
It doesn’t belong to the First Minister, or to the Scottish Government, or even to the Scottish Parliament. The referendum belongs to the people of Scotland!
The legal validity of our referendum rests on a solid body of international laws and conventions.
The democratic legitimacy of our referendum derives from the sovereignty of Scotland’s people.
Our referendum has nothing to do with Westminster! And Westminster should have nothing to do with our referendum!
Let’s walk away for Brexit!
Let’s walk away from Section 30!
Let’s walk away from Westminster!
Let’s walk away from the Union!
Let’s bring Scotland’s government home!
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