I don’t do faith

Nicola Sturgeon may be “a believer in the power of democracy”, but her confidence that any British Prime Minister might accede to her ‘demand’ for a Section 30 order requires that they share her belief. Nothing that’s happened in British politics over the last thirty years or so persuades me that democracy has much to do with it,

The people have already demonstrated their desire for a referendum. The Scottish Government has a ‘triple-locked’ mandate. What is it about another mandate which makes the British political elite’s opposition unsustainable? They’ve been sustaining that opposition rather well up to now. What is it about yet another SNP election victory that is going to change their attitude? The First Minister declines to explain. So we are left with empty rhetoric.

Not granting a Section 30 order is both preferable and easy for the British Prime Minister. It doesn’t matter who the incumbent is, the role of British Prime Minister requires that the holder of the office be absolutely committed to the preservation of the Union. The notion that Jeremy Corbyn could be an exception would be naive in anybody. In the First Minister of Scotland it is positively outlandish.

Given that the British Prime Minister – whoever it may be – is bound by the imperative to preserve the Union; and given that they can so easily prevent a new independence referendum happening, to believe that they won’t is entirely a faith position. It is a belief of the same order as being absolutely convinced that you will win the lottery this weekend because… well… just because.

I don’t do fantasy politics. I don’t do faith positions. I don’t believe in magic. If something happens which appears to defy nature or logic, I want a rational explanation. I invite Nicola Sturgeon to explain what it is that is going to make her demand for a Section 30 order irresistible.

From where I stand, the First Minister’s strategy relies entirely on the goodwill, god grace and good faith of the British Prime Minister. Or some fluke by which the British Prime Minister fails to stop a new referendum despite this making no demands on them whatsoever. Or magic. I’m not seeing anything here that I’d be prepared to gamble Scotland’s future on. Evidently, Nicola Sturgeon sees something I don’t. What is it?

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8 thoughts on “I don’t do faith

  1. I don’t do faith either, and strangely am with Rees-Mogg on the use of the word “hopefully” which for me betrays a lack of forethought and planning. In fact my only acceptance of the sentiment is in the almost holy song “Sae will we yet”, “we’ve trusted aye to Providence – and sae will we yet” I defy you to listen to this song and not have a tear in your eye, but it is no basis for political direction.
    However, despite recognising that independence may not be achieved via the “section 30 followed by referendum” process, this is the plan we’ve currently got and we should all get 100% behind this plan for the duration of the election campaign.

    Here’s why. What we are seeing now is part of a process, the current plan may not ultimately work, and we all know that there are other ways to achieve our goal of Independence. It is important in my opinion to stress-test the strategy that is allegedly acceptable to the inhabitants of Westminster, if only to be able to claim that we gave it our best shot as and when it fails because of refusal to accept our democratic right. It may just succeed of course, in which case job done.

    So the current strategy is maybe correct, maybe not. However, the adoption of this strategy demonstrates credibility to two key groups of people.

    The first is group is fellow Scots who are swithering about their support for independence, and who need to understand that all efforts have been made to follow what they regard as the “legitimate” route to independence.

    The second reason for following this path is to demonstrate fully to other independent nations in Europe and beyond that we attempted to follow a recognised route to independence, sufficient to guarantee their quick and ready recognition of our status as an independent country achieved by alternative means.

    And there is a third reason for getting stuck into the work required to maximise our presence in westminster following this election. The whole situation is so unpredictable that we just might end up with a hung parliament, with the SNP holding the balance of power – how sweet would that be ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to agree that we must resign ourselves to the fact that, when the party leader and First Minister commits to a course of action, she acts on behalf of all party members and the entire nation. I know she is not going to change her mind on this. Not even if she were to suddenly realise that those expressing concern about the Section 30 process actually have a point. The irrevocability of the commitment is a big part of the problem. She has left no wriggle-room. She has ruled out all other options.

      I’m not sure how adopting a highly questionable strategy “demonstrates credibility”. I’d tend to think it does the opposite. But it is certainly true that many people believe the Section 30 process to be the only legal and constitutional route. Why would they not believe this? Nicola Sturgeon, Mike Russell and the rest have put a lot of effort into persuading people that there is no other way. Other elements of the party have worked hard at discouraging anybody from questioning this ‘One True Way’. Which is yet another part of the problem. Having so categorically ruled out any course of action other than the Section 30 process – effectively declaring them illegal and unconstitutional – how can you then claim that committing to the Section 30 process was part of a plan that involved switching to an alternative course of action that is, by your own account, illegal and unconstitutional? What does that do for credibility?

      The SNP leadership has also done a great job of convincing people that the default position of the international community is to deny recognition to a nation which has newly restored its independence by way of an impeccably democratic process unless and until the British political elite signal their approval. Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues have all but denounced as heretical the notion that the legal validity of the process by which independence is restored might be founded on the body of international laws and conventions guaranteeing the right of self determination. People who, in one breath, loudly proclaim the sovereignty of Scotland’s people, in the next insist that it is ludicrous to suppose that the democratic legitimacy of the exercise of our right of self-determination could possibly derive from that sovereignty alone.

      Obviously, we must strive to get as many SNP candidates elected as we can. But, if we’re grown-up and realistic about it, we do so recognising that both our voting for them and their presence at Westminster are symbolic. An important and powerful symbolism, but symbolism nonetheless. There is only a remote chance that the SNP group at Westminster will – on paper – hold the balance of power; and almost no chance at all that they will be allowed to use that power to advance the cause of independence. We know as a matter of absolute fact that the British parties will always combine to defend and preserve their precious Union.

      We don’t send SNP MPs to Westminster to represent Scotland’s interests – the Union ensures that Scotland’s interests cannot be effectively or adequately represented within the UK. We send SNP MPs to the parliament of England-as-Britain mainly to fill places that would otherwise be taken by Unionist politicians who will actively betray Scotland’s interests if that is what partisan loyalty and service to the ruling elites of the British state demands.

      ‘Hopeful’ is actually a very good word to describe the strategy being pursued by the Scottish Government. It is entirely based on hope. Hope that the British Prime Minister will respect the undeniably demonstrated democratic will of Scotland’s people. Hope that, if permission is graciously granted, the British political elite will behave honourably in negotiating the arrangements for a referendum. Hope that the British political elite will recognise and respect a Yes vote. Hope for all the things that experience has taught us we really shouldn’t rely on.

      Personally, I am left only with the hope that it might still be possible to restore Scotland’s independence despite the strategy adopted by the First Minister. Because that strategy can only work if, purposefully or otherwise, the British establishment allows it to work. And I know of no reason why they would do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What is the point in going with a plan that is unlikely to succeed?
    There is not sense in that.
    Especially, if there is no backup.
    This country cannot afford to wait around years more for Independence.
    And it has to be said, the present SNP plan, is not giving us too much in way of confidence that it is going to work.
    We already have a Legal route to Independence, via the Treaty of Union, and Parliament in Edinburgh revoking it.
    That is what the SNP leadership should be doing.
    They should have done it in summer 2016, after the Brexit vote, and still had 56 MPs out of 59.
    Those MPs should have walked out of Westminster back then, and along with the Parliament in Edinburgh, declared the Treaty of Union, null and void, and no longer in effect.
    SNP has waited and waited far too long.
    It might suit the leadership, and the MPs and MSPs, to wait around for as long as they feel they need to, but Scotland cannot wait around any longer.
    The waiting time is over now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “They should have done it in summer 2016″… “Declared the Treaty null and void.”

      2016, two short years after losing Indyref1, whereby 55% of sovereign Scots indicated that they wanted Scotland to remain part of the Union? In 2016 it was clear that this was still the case. How do you think that majority of Scots would react to Nicola Sturgeon declaring the Treaty null and void? Just sit back, keep mum and do nothing about it? I don’t think so. They would react as we would react to a minority of Unionists stating, following our Independence, that they’re making that (relative paperwork) null and void and in doing so Scotland will become part of the Union once again.

      We need to hold a referendum, and win it, to bring this Union to an end, imo.


  3. Gordon – take your points but WEWWA – we are where we are – creative processes almost need to come up with wrong answers which at the time seem right, in order to provide stepping stones to what ultimately proves to be the right answer – see Edward de Bono on lateral thinking etc.

    However – we need to permit space for these stepping stones to be developed/explored in order to create a number of paths, and I’d suggest that the time/space for that to happen is after dec 12th, irrespective of the result. That space is not available just now , but we need to be sure it is utilised from Dec 13 onwards, Happy Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, Geoff! But this is nonsense. The “stepping stones” have already been selected. The path has been absolutely determined by effectively blowing up all stepping stones other than those of the Section 30 process. It doesn’t matter what space opens up or what stepping stones are developed, the First Minister has disallowed use of those stepping stones or exploration of that space.

      It speaks to the folly of committing to the Section 30 process that, in striving to rationalise this decision, rational people such as your good self must resort to secret plans and mysterious processes described entirely in euphemism and metaphor.

      Those stepping stones that you refer to cannot be explained in realistic detail because the are drawn from a space of infinite possibilities. That space doesn’t exist. It is the space we call magic. here is no magic.

      Liked by 1 person

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