Alyn Smith says “Scotland cannot be dragged out of Europe against the wishes of our people“. Meanwhile, the article notes that the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill passed its second reading in the British parliament with a majority of 124 and that this “means the UK is on its way to finalising its divorce from Brussels by the January 31 deadline”.
Which is it?
It seems odd to say this after the half-arsed slapstick of the UK Government’s handling of the Brexit process, but I have a fairly good idea of how Scotland will be dragged out of the EU with the rest of the UK at the end of January. I have absolutely no idea how Alyn Smith proposes to prevent this. He says it cannot happen. But gives no clue as to what might stop it happening.
Alyn Smith is in good company. As recently as August 2019 Ian Blackford Tweeted “I will not allow Scotland to be dragged out of the EU against its will”. This is typical of the SNP leadership’s rhetoric on the matter of Brexit. But there is, as yet, no substance behind the fine sentiments.
In this, we find echoes of the party’s statements regarding the refusal of a Section 30 order. It is declared ‘unsustainable’. But at no time are we told what is to prevent Boris Johnson from continuing to refuse a Section 30 request. Or, indeed, simply to ignore the request indefinitely.
The refusal of a Section 30 order is denounced as undemocratic. But so is the imposition of Brexit. And, just as the latter is proceeding despite the protestations, we are offered no explanation as to why the former will not do likewise.
Our First Minister is famously determined to ensure that everything the Scottish Government does as it pursues Scotland’s cause is in accordance with what the British state defines as “legal and constitutional”. That is her “gold standard”. Here’s the thing! By that same “gold standard”, imposing Brexit on Scotland is perfectly “legal and constitutional”. Refusing a Section 30 order is not contrary to any British law or constitutional provision.
Within the Union, it is constitutionally perfectly legitimate that Scotland’s 62% Remain vote should count for nothing. That is the principal effect of the Union. Within the Union, Scotland’s needs, choices, priorities and aspirations must always be subordinate to the interests of England-as-Britain.
Similarly, there is nothing in Section 30 of the Scotland Act (1998) that provides for the Scottish Government requesting a transfer of powers to hold a referendum, far less anything compelling the British Prime Minister to do so. Or even to respond to a request!
Boris Johnson is adhering to the same “gold standard” that Nicola Sturgeon has adopted as her guiding imperative.
To define either or both the imposition of Brexit or denial of a Section 30 order as illegal and unconstitutional we must refer to the very body of international declarations and conventions which Nicola Sturgeon insists are superseded by the “gold standard” of the British state’s self-serving laws and unwritten constitution.
It’s a puzzle, right enough!
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24 thoughts on “Gold standard for the goose…”
Alyn Smith MP (Stirling, Scottish National Party)
skip past the introductory waffle to 12:17:21
“in what you call your victory today lie the seeds of a far greater defeat.”
“may I suggest some festive reading for you all- the history of Czekoslovakia. Start around january 1991 and see what happens”
“what is being done to us today is a grave injustice that will not stand and ill have consequences”
“today will not be the end of this matter”
“Scotland is a European Nation, and Scotland will be heard.”
So there you have it. Judge him on his actions not his words (he implied but did not have the courage to _actualy_ _say_)
and Best Wishes for the Festive Season and all to come thereafter. 😉
Shacking up with a racist student half his age?
Running away from the EU Parliament for £70,000pa x 5 years?
Raising his eyebrow?
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The Withdrawal Agreement still requires to proceed through its stages in the Commons and the Lords in January, thereafter, and it is thereafter, it requires the agreement of the European Parliament, and there are indications that concerns over how EU citizens in the UK are being treated may yet need to be resolved, and if not … well,the Fat Lady may be on stage …
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The scene is set for a no-deal Brexit.
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I think if Scotland drifts out of the EU with the UK in January. Then that point will prove there is no plan B . We are actually fucked!
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That’s the big worry. Once Boris Johnson ‘gets Brexit done’ he will be turning his attention to the ‘Scottish problem’. Bear in mind that the British establishment doesn’t just want to stop a new referendum, they want to ensure that there is no possibility of a referendum EVER!
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If Englandistan and its unionist minority in Scotland tries to shut Holyrood, strip powers or permanently deny referenda rights its going to escalate from civil disobedience to, quite rightly, taking all steps to destroy Englands grip. Does WM want a repeat of Ireland?
Something that puzzles me but has not been mentioned in any MSM outlet that I have seen; Johnson has just stripped out key components of the deal he negotiated with the EU, passed it through a now compliant Westminster …. and the EU are supposed to be happy with this?? What has been passed is not what was negotiated and campaigned on during the election. Johnson has reneged on promises to both UK voters and the EU. Surely the EU will dismiss this “deal” as nothing to do with them and will either insist on further negotiations on the Withdrawal Bill or assume (correctly) that the UK government is acting in bad faith and “throw” us out without a deal and with the worst possible trade conditions. Or have I read this wrong and the UK can alter the deal fundamentally without seeking the permission of the EU?
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You haven’t read it wrong. There is a very good chance that things will pan out much as you describe. We have long been aware that Johnson has no interest in avoiding a no-deal Brexit, even if he isn’t actually pursuing it. The EU won’t be throwing the UK out without a deal, however. That is how the British will try to portray it. But the ball has always been in the UK’s court. It was the UK that initiated the process. And the UK had the option of stopping that process at any time. The EU may have held all the cards in negotiations. But they have been more than accommodating to the British side. No blame whatever attaches to the EU if/when it all goes turd-shaped.
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Nicola and the SNP Mandarins seem to have some kind of intellectual blockage. They hold 2 contradictory views: 1. the People of Scotland are sovereign; 2 Westminster Parliament is sovereign. What is preventing them from seeing the contradiction? Is it that they do want independence, but just not now? If so, why not now? Is that they fear the retribution of the British state? Is it that somehow they have become agents of the British state to keep Scotland in subjection – talk and rail against Westminster injustice, but don’t act against it?
I’m confused and really in despair about the SNP gaining us independence. Perhaps that’s the problem. We are depending on the SNP to gain us independence. Under the present leadership’s collusion with the British state by demanding a S30O Scotland will never become independent. The people ourselves must act. Years ago I heard a speech by Christine Grahame MSP in which she said something like this: when the people of Scotland take to the streets independence cannot be gainsaid- we’ll have our independence.
Peter, would you get together with Craig Murray, Stuart Campbell, the AYOB leaders and any other competent people and form a committee to organise a Scottish Sovereign People’s Convention with the goal of withdrawing Scotland from the UK?
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Add a few more to that list: Calton Jock, the Grousebeater, the Wee Ginger Dug. I would also suggest Lorna Campbell who contributes here sometimes.
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Like Mr Bell’s, my health is not what it was. Mentally, I’m fine (at least, that’s my opinion; there will be those who might disagree) but physically, it’s a case of mebbes aye, mebbes naw, these days. I think we have to keep on nudging the SNP leadership towards the goal, but, having been involved with the party for a very long time, it would sadden me no end to see it sidelined now by a new independence party, but experience and history tell us that this will happen if they are perceived to be dragging their feet too much and for too long. I also think that we need to allow them some breathing space to see how Johnson will jump, but, if there is no progress by the Spring of 2020, something will give. Of that, I am certain.
I have watched Nicola Sturgeon’s progress through the party and she has always struck me as a passionate independista, but she is also cautious. Nothing has worked so far with these right-wing Tories, and I fear it won’t in the future. I do believe the tipping point will come in the early part of next year, whatever Johnson decides. If he does a Cameron on the FM, as the latter did on Mr Salmond, we are b******d, if you’ll pardon my French because we need several hundreds of thousands to convert to gain a convincing YES next time, and time is simply not on our side. It could come in an avalanche. Or we could lose again. We must start to be realistic about the prospect of losing a second indyref and map out other routes. The fundamental problem with getting a hurried second indyref is that it would satisfy international legalities and stymie an escape via the Treaty. The UN Charter gives us only self-determination, but no roadmap of how we achieve it. That is why resiling the Treaty has always seemed to me to be the only remotely possible route now, after the Brexit result.
In the FM’s shoes, I’d turn down a hurried referendum and opt for the international courts because we would almost certainly lose again in those circumstances, as we would have little time to campaign and prepare and the British State would bring out all its big guns to train on us and blow us away. Unfortunately, we took ‘inclusiveness’ for others – a decent, fundamentally liberal thing to do in any other circumstances – to the point where we, basically, excluded ourselves, tripping over our own tongues to tell those who voted against our self-determination in 2014 that they were heroes and heroines. They weren’t. They were a mix of the inherently and irredeemably selfish and self-centred, the imperialists, the dithering, the perennial don’t knows, the scaredy cats and the don’t cares. They voted for the status quo and against normalcy. It might be better next time, if there is a next time. Or it could be the same, or worse. One thing is certain: if we don’t leave the UK very soon, Brexit is going to be horrendous for all those who have few protections against the economic winter that is coming, and that will not necessarily translate into an increased YES vote; more likely, people will hunker down and try to shelter from the icy blast as well they can.
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I agree that there is a very great danger that a second vote regulated by Section 30 will be lost. The dirty tricks departments and propaganda machines will go into overdrive. Which is why if referendum there must be I favour a different sort, something along the lines of what Mr Bell advocates.
I also believe your strategy should be tried, and certainly not ruled out. In fact I believe many strategies should be tried. All at the same time. Keep the British state busy in a manner suggested recently by George Kerevan.
Amongst the many ideas emerging about what we should now do, scattered about the discourses are phrases like: “the only way to secure independence is …” and “x’s idea to do y will not work because …”. The truth is however we don’t know until we try. Sticking to a single path no matter what is political suicide.
My health is also not brilliant – I have a terminal disease that I stubbornly refuse to allow to terminate me. But my mind is sharp and active and I will use it as a weapon against the evil idiocy of the British State for as long as I draw breath.
My suggestion about gathering together significant bloggers and internet commentators is absolutely not intended as the start of a new party. Rather as a “think tank” or strategic forum, by which many lines of attack might be coordinated.
But can you resile from an international treaty if you are not a sovereign state Lorna? The parliament which passed the Acts of Union was undoubtedly a sovereign one which had recently passed the Act Anent Peace and War amongst others in defiance of Queen Anne’s ministers and was leaning in a defiantly republican direction at the urging of Fletcher of Saltoun and Lord Belhaven, leading polemicists in the Country Party, but the current Scottish Parliament is only a devolved administration.
You can’t claim the current Scottish institutions of government have the same status in international law as was held by the Scottish Privy Council and Three Estates in 1707. For instance, they controlled the military establishment in Scotland and the supplies of gunpowder in Edinburgh Castle. Holyrood has no such military oversight today. It has no control over Rosyth, Faslane, Lossiemouth. It has no legal power or military capacity to declare war on a foreign state. So who would do the resiling?
That was what Fletcher of Saltoun meant, after the conclusion of the Treaty, when he proclaimed, ‘And so shall we dance round and round for ever in this trap of our own making’. You can legally negotiate away your sovereignty, but once you have surrendered your sovereignty, you cannot legally negotiate it back again by the same route as you surrendered it. It’s like a lobster trap; you can get in but you can’t get out.
You can still recover your lost sovereignty, but unless the British authorities voluntarily agree to free you, out of the goodness of their hearts, it would require a revolutionary act like the defiance of the American colonists in setting up their Congress in 1776 and issuing their Declaration of Independence.
Therefore, ‘resiling from the treaty’ would de facto be an illegal revolutionary act no different from UDI.
I like the idea of resiling from the Treaty. But I cannot see by what Jesuitical casuistry it would require to argue that having voluntarily surrendered our sovereignty, that we have the same rights as we had then. Fletcher saw that very clearly and in the aftermath declared bitterly that Scotland was ‘fit only for the slaves that sold it’.
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I have said long enough now, we need a new political Party for Independence.
We had no real choice the other week, but to vote SNPi n Scotland.
However. the SNP insistence, they must bow to Westminster, leaves us no choice, either, to demand a new approach.
Scotland can withdraw from the Union. It doesn’t need Westminster permission to do so. .England isn’t asking Scotland’s permission to leave EU.
Our MPs could simply walk out of Parliament, and stay out.
But presently SNP is not doing anything of real substance, at this moment in time.
Now, it would be great, if the First Minster cold surprise us all with something that stops us leaving EU, and that does challenge UK Govt, But just now, we don’t see anything.
And as Peter says here, grand words are nice, but they are doing nothing to stop us being taken out of EU. They are doing nothing to stop the UK Govt do as it pleases, wherever it pleases, in Scotland.
That servile approach isn’t good not enough any more. Never was in fact, and is not acceptable in this dire situation.
We are fast loosing patience in fact.
For health reasons, I’m not getting involved in any new projects. I cannot be as reliable as is generally required.
Why did Nicola allow Boris to wait until new year to reply. She should have said “I want an immediate reply”.
It shows a weakness. If there is a plan B , surely you would implement it asap.
Or has she struck a gentleman’s agreement , off the record.
The FM has no authority in the matter. The PM isn’t even required to read her letter, far less respond to it promptly. That’s the “gold standard”.
True Peter, but she could have taken no reply as a rude objection, and then proceeded stage left!
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Season’s greetings to you and yours, Mr Bell.
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Thank you, Lorna. Reciprocal felicitations.
That has always been one of the Unionists’ arguments, BC, and that would be the case with the Convention, I think, and also because the Convention applies only to modern treaties. However, there are mechanisms for the resiling/dissolution of older treaties and where the states involved no longer exist as they once did. The crucial point is that both Scotland and England were independent, sovereign, nation states when the Treaties were created, and they have never been ruled upon or ‘sound’ in law, as far as I am aware. If we don’t try every avenue, we will find the exit slammed shut and gated. The UN itself can appoint a tribunal to deal with an older treaty or non-UN bodies can do the job.
A lot of research requires to be done now, not later – now. Much of it has already been done, of course, but there is still some wee way to go, and we must have the very best constitutional brains helping us to win through. I’ll be very, very disappointed if this is not being done as I write. The Charter of the UN allows for breaches of a Treaty, where those are the grounds, or part of the grounds, for a case, to resile. Once again, this is an area where the Unionists have just spewed out whatever it says on the surface without digging and delving deeper, and we just all accept it. Nanny Britannia knows best. Well, she doesn’t. It’s way past time now for thinking for ourselves. We must be careful, however, to not choose several different ways of leaving the Union at once, I think, and try to activate them all at once; we must decide how we are going to approach the problem and choose the best way forward.
If Johnson refuses a S30 order, we have good grounds for claiming that there is no legal way via devolution, via Westminster or via the domestic courts to escape, and that is absolutely contrary to our human rights. That is also one of the main reasons why I’s give the claim of Right and the Scottish people’ sovereignty a wide berth: that can be undermined too easily by Westminster and the domestic constitution. We need to take the whole argument out of the hands and ambit of Westminster and Whitehall, and we need to understand that, with resiling of the treaty comes automatic international recognition, as well as a good poker hand when it comes to negotiating our withdrawal from the UK. No doubt the British State will try to convince the international community of its spotlessness but they can all see the ordure clinging to its rear end like that of a sharnie coo. It is sailing close to the rogue state wind already.
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