The speech that never was

I was due to address the hundreds of Yes activists who attended the rally outside the Scottish Parliament on Saturday afternoon (1 February). Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties I was unable to make that speech. The following is what I had intended to say.

I don’t want to be making this speech. Or, to be more precise, this is not the speech I want to make. I would prefer to make a different speech.

It would be much easier to make one of those speeches in which I say something rude about Boris Johnson and everybody laughs.

Or perhaps a speech in which I say wise-sounding things about Boris’s position being “unsustainable.

Maybe a speech in which I go for resounding rhetoric about how we’ve “never been closer to independence.

But I can’t make those kind of speeches. I can’t dismiss Boris Johnson as a buffoon because he’s a buffoon who wins. Stop laughing at him – or raging at him – for a moment and think about it. He’s got everything he wanted.

People will point to him losing the court case on proroguing of parliament. But even then he got the delay and distraction he wanted.

Boris Johnson is now the British Prime Minister leading a Tory government with a substantial majority that has been purged of his opponents. And he’s ‘got Brexit done’. If that’s buffoonery, we could do with some in the Scottish Government.

Nonetheless, Boris is irrelevant. He will not be delivering independence for Scotland. Our independence will not be restored via Westminster. Why would I waste my energies trying to undermine his credibility. He has none. Why would I talk to him or about him when he has no business interfering in Scotland’s constitutional debate?

Boris Johnson doesn’t have a vote in a Scottish independence referendum. Other, that is, than the effective veto afforded him by the Section 30 process. And he’s already used that vote. By his own rules, he shouldn’t get to vote again until everybody who was alive for the first referendum has died.

I can’t talk about Boris Johnson’s position as being unsustainable. Because he is sustaining it. The reality is that it costs him absolutely nothing to keep on refusing a Section 30 order. If anything, it wins him favour among the constituency from which he draws the bilk of his support – the proudly ill-informed British Nationalists.

I can’t talk about how we’ve ‘never been closer to independence’ because not only is it not true, it’s a stunningly stupid claim to make. I could make a very strong argument that we were closer to independence in 2015 – when the SNP enjoyed an unprecedented and possibly unrepeatable landslide in the UK general election and we should have had our eyes firmly fixed on a referendum in September 2018.

And we certainly aren’t closer to independence than we were at 7am on the morning of Thursday 18 September 2014 when, for the next 15 hours the people of Scotland held in our hands total political power.

Regardless of the fact that the people of Scotland ultimately decided to hand that power back to the British political elite does not alter the fact that, as the polls opened on that day we were only 15 hours away from independence. Nobody can sensibly make the claim that we are closer now than we were them. Those who do are treating us as fools of the kind that will be influenced by a bit of witless, vacuous political rhetoric.

The best that can be said of the time since the first referendum is that the independence campaign has stood still. Which is not to say that Yes activists have been idle. Far from it! The Yes movement has been working as hard as ever. We’ve had a series of marches and rallies which attracted huge support. And scores of Yes groups the length and breadth of Scotland have been busy organising and keeping the momentum going for a new referendum

The trouble is that all this effort was to no avail so long as the Scottish Government was more concerned with stopping Brexit than with working to ensure Brexit couldn’t be imposed on Scotland.

The cause of restoring Scotland’s independence has made not one millimetre of progress in the five years since the first referendum. Despite the fact that circumstances were almost ideal and the British government was almost daily providing opportunities, no progress was made. All those opportunities were squandered. The ideal circumstance were not exploited.

Which brings me to the First Minister’s speech yesterday morning [Friday 31 January] in which she had promised to set out the “next steps” for the independence campaign.

As it turned out, she announced no steps at all. Just more running on the spot. To say the speech was disappointing would be an understatement. It may well have been the most important speech of Nicola Sturgeon’s political career. Although she gave no indication she was aware of this.

I shouldn’t have been disappointed. Having spent the period leading up to the speech trying to damp-down expectations because I knew there was nothing significant that the First Minister could say, the reality should not have been an anti-climax. But it was.

I expected little. I got nothing. I should have expected less when the speech was moved from the Wednesday to Friday, when the various events marking Brexit would provide a distraction. But, cynical as I was – and remain – I still held a glimmer of hope that Nicola Sturgeon would give the Yes movement something. Even that small hope was dashed.

The fact is that the approach to the constitutional issue adopted by the First Minster has failed.

A few days ago I watched as people celebrated a poll showing Yes at 51% and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about when the polls should have been at least ten points higher.

The approach taken by the Scottish Government has failed to gain a significant lead in the polls despite the most propitious circumstances. If you don’t exploit opportunities offered by Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister and Brexit being imposed on Scotland, your ‘strategy’ has failed by definition!

The approach is still failing. Despite all the fine rhetoric about a referendum in 2020, those who look at the situation absent the rose-tinted spectacles recognise that the chances of such a referendum are vanishingly small.

Even the superficially appealing idea of a new independence convention loses its sheen when one realises that it is at least two years late. It loses even more of its polish when one views the announcement in the context of all the other initiatives that have been announced over the past five years only to fizzle out like a damp squib.

The approach taken by the Scottish Government was always bound to fail. Serious concerns about Nicola Sturgeon’s unswerving commitment to the Section 30 process have never been addressed. The fatal flaws in this approach have been identified. But, if the First Minister heard those concerns there is no evidence that she heeded them.

My time is short today. So I will mention only one of these fatal flaws. Nicola Sturgeon’s entire approach to the issue, as typified by her commitment to the Section 30 process, is critically dependent on gaining the full, willing and honest cooperation of the British government. That is never going to happen.

No British Prime Minister will ever facilitate or cooperate with a process which might result in the dissolution of the Union. Should they choose to grant a Section order – and there is no way they can be compelled to do so – it will only be because they know that the process can be sabotaged at a later stage.

The independence campaign has been driven into a cul-de-sac. The engine may still be running. But the vehicle is going nowhere. Nicola Sturgeon insists that this is the only route to a new referendum and independence. But it is not a route at all. It could only become a route if the British political elite could be persuaded to demolish their own house and build a road. But even if they could be persuaded to do this, they would insist on putting a series of barriers across the road

It’s not clear where the Yes movement goes from here. But the one thing that we can take from Nicola Sturgeon’s speech is that, if we are to make progress, it must be despite the Scottish Government rather than in company with it.



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9 thoughts on “The speech that never was

  1. I have been awaiting your response. Thank you.

    I agree. In our house there is much wailing a gnashing of teeth. We wonder about the great big elephant in the room. The fact is we are dealing with the British Empire here.

    Nobody outside a few free thinking bloggers and activists believes that this is anything but the embodiment of evil. Most public commentators hold onto a great deal of delusional opinions about democracy being perfectly embodied in the current system and the law being set in stone, deferring always to established power. There is no real language available to talk about certain things, except as in the past, before we were a proper democracy.

    The struggle will no doubt continue. Half of the population and rising is unlikely to be persuaded by the desultory five million quid publicity campaign apparently set to infest this country in a couple of weeks. I worry more about what the MI5 is up to, stirring up shit. There are divisions aplenty to prise apart now, much anger that can be turned to advantage, hordes of slithering hacks ready to regurgitate what they are told about events as they are unfolding. We are in for an unprecedented campaign of misinformation, fake news, emotional blackmail, downright threats and propaganda.

    The only glimmer of hope I can see in this context is that the world’s press will be upon us, the more that stories of what is actually happening here get out, the greater the chance, however remote, of international recognition. European powers will also be very interested in what is going on here and might be willing to use Scotland as a bargaining chip in their own way. After all, we would be a valued member of the EU, and more than a few European politicians and bureaucrats would love to smear some ordure on the petty ugliness of British Nationalism.

    In other contexts, you are right. The campaign will now not involve the Scottish government, at least, until such time as it contains people with the balls to stand up to the the actual systems of power and privilege that enable Cummings, Johnson and their ilk to get away with this shit.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Nicola is trying to desktop a revolution. A lawyer afraid of breaking the so called law of Westminster.

    We will never progress with the SNP, unless she and Murrel go. She is stubborn. Stubbornness always ends in tears. Why? Because you stop listening to other people. You miss whats staring you in the face.

    I believe she is now so determined to prove her strategy is right. That she is in real danger of letting the unionists win at Holyrood 2021. People are abandoning her party who have propped it up for decades. She doesn’t care!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The DUP thought that working by Boris’s rules would benefit them.

    The SNP are trying to play by Boris’s rules. It’s time to stop letting Westminster decide how we use our democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “… the Scottish Government was more concerned with stopping Brexit than with working to ensure Brexit couldn’t be imposed on Scotland.”

    The SNP became is its actions The North British Anti-Brexit Party. Even last week Alyn Smyth said that we must stop Brexit to save the UK. (Not a quote but the gist of what he said).

    The English Parliament of the UK has legislated that it is Sovereign. It does not say that it’s sovereign over the whole UK, including Scotland, but that seems to be what is intended. By continuing to claim that only the permission of that Parliament or the English Government of the UK can Scotland have a legal referendum, Nicoal Sturgeon and the SNP mandarins, are acceding to that claim. They are according the Westminster Parliament Sovereignty over the People of Scotland. In spite of citing The Claim of Right, by it’s practise of according Sovereignty to Westminster, it’s denying the Sovereignty of the People of Scotland in Scotland. I think they should change the Name from The Scottish National Party to, not the North British Anti-Brexit Party because it’s too late to do that, but to The North British Westminster Sovereignty Party.

    I find myself wondering if the Scottish Government’s seeking a S30O it itself illegal. Under International Law the Westminster Government has no authority in the matter of Scottish independence. Even the Government of the UK says so.

    “5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of
    the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect
    of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor
    State‟s law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

    5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration
    of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are
    fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of
    the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be
    predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
    which the secession is occurring.

    5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim
    independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international
    law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional
    authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative
    institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond
    the scope of already conferred power.” (Viz. REQUEST FOR AN ADVISORY OPINION OF THE
    INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ON THE QUESTION “IS THE UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE BY THE PROVISIONAL INSTITUTIONS OF SELF-GOVERNMENT OF KOSOVO IN ACCORDANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW?”
    “WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM” https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/141/15638.pdf)

    So, are Nicoal Sturgeon and the SN{ mandarins actually breaking International Law and acting illegally by seeking their permission to hold a referendum?

    There may be good reasons not to have a referendum, but waiting for Westminster’s permission to have a referendum is not one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The SNP became is its actions The North British Anti-Brexit Party.” should read, The SNP became by its actions The North British Anti-Brexit Party.

      Like

  5. You’re right, Scotland has been driven into something by the SNP but I would argue that it is not a cul de sac but up shit creek.

    The SNP legal route was never going to lead us to independence and the SNP MPs and MSPs know that. A fair number of them have, after all, studied and practised law.

    The SNP fired up the Scottish people for years, emphasising our sovereignty, including that speech Nicola Sturgeon gave on 31 January hoping that people pressure would change Westminster’s mind – maybe by shaming them or appealing to their better natures! But this sovereignty argument seems to me to be a red herring.

    Legally Scotland is snookered under the British Constitution. We were in 1707, and always will be, outnumbered at Westminster and the Constitution is a reserved matter. In addition, the Treaty of Union holds Scotland in this accursed Union in perpetuity.

    Westminster simply will not agree to a Section 30 order. We can’t force them to and we can’t shame them into it. When our resources run out and we are a burden on the British State then England will dump Scotland like a hot potato.

    I believe there are only 2 ways that this situation can play out:

    Either Scotland is forced to become fully absorbed by England and our chance of ever getting out of this Union is lost forever and we accept that fate (yikes!) and stop agitating, or,

    We take the route Craig Murray often writes about i.e., leave Westminster forever and unilaterally dissolve the Union taking our chances with the International Community as per the British Statement on Kosovan Independence referred to by steelwires above. Something the SNP leadership would balk at.

    That Eagles’ song – Hotel California – could have been written for the pickle Scotland finds itself in – ‘you can check out any time but you can never leave’. Legally we are our neighbour’s prisoners in perpetuity. The 50 or 60 skint individuals who sold Scotland out in 1707 have a lot to answer for.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If devolution didn’t exist. The section 30 wouldn’t exist. So in the above case how would Scotland get independence?

    Devolution is the trap here!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I shall cite this LAWFUL TREATY OBLIGATION until im blue In the face to all that listens….

    pursuant to the claim of right. cite ends.

    claim of right in existence at time of treaty of union was 1689 claim of right Scotland……. in that claim of right page 43 of the legislation.co.uk website, it states;

    That for redress of all greivances and for the amending strenthneing and preserveing of the lawes Parliaments ought to be frequently called and allowed to sit and the freedom of speech and debate secured to the members.

    the only parliament that “out to be frequently called and allowed to sit….” is the pre union Scottish parliament. the union parliament did not come into existence until 1707…. so

    our political representatives elected in elections, have the unalienable right under treaty, to recall the Scottish parliament to find remedy and deal with all grievances of Scottish interest and laws……

    as peter says correctly…. the POLITICAL ENTITIES have meandered the movement into a cul de sac where potential violence could occur in any attempted escape by the people AGAINST SNP party policy….

    the LAW IS CLEAR. the constitution is CLEAR. the UK HAS a founding constitution which asserts Scottish MPs unilateral right to recall the Scottish parliament at any time to deal with remedy and grievances of the people……!!!!its the political will that is missing!!!!!!, lacking, being curtailed by Nicolas hegemony and tactics in the Nicola Sturgeon Party….

    when the court case litigants begin to fail in their summation of Scottish sovereignty VS Westminster maybe they’d like to give me a call and i’ll do a better job of defending the LAWS OF SCOTLAND in the supreme court than wolfe or even sturgeon and cherry….. none have ever dealt with this pertinent fact of Scottish law and constitution or chose not to disseminate that information to the sovereign people, never once have ANY of them described exactly why “the people of Scotland are sovereign over govt, parliament and monarch”

    ffs I met mhairi black and gavin newlands in separate occasions in my taxi and neither had a clue about the above constitutional facts… newlands wouldn’t accept it as a route he’s a hair in Nicolas armpit… but mhairi …. i notice she put paint to the idea of a consultative non section 30 order indyref almost like someone said into her ear once “you are the MP, not an SNP MP,…. if they sacked you from SNP you’d still be an MP of Scotland….. every one of you could ignore the SNP and Nicola, and represent us as our MPs regardless….. ffs you could quit the SNP then the next day walk out of Westminster enmass and recall scotlands pre union parliament as per the treaty, to deal with all remedy and grievances…. etc etc”…. watching a fresh out of uni poltical student graduate and new member of parliament whip a phone out and google search things their politics course never taught them, really makes you smile lol.

    in conclusion, everything exists to democratically remove Scotland from Westminster…… the #SNPShitebags don’t want to, and like kicking cans ….. time for another party to hold these fu**ers feet to the fire….. oh how id love to see tommy Sheridan and pat lee in Holyrood shutting down SNP tactics on indy as pussyfooting around an empty well while thirsty as the british boil our water away behind us.

    snp shat it on Wednesday, shat in on Friday….. hid under a dark sheet since 2016s constitutional crisis, and said nothing when we needed our welsh neighbours FM to deconstruct westminsters attack on Scottish sovereignty for us because the SNP didn’t see or didn’t fu**in care……. im totally done with the SNP tbh. if indyref2 doesn’t come in one form or another by dec2020 SNP have no more votes from me…. i was more ardent SNP defender than even peter Bell, we came to head a few times on comment threads over their tactics ….. and if people like me and Peter can be turned against the pussyfooting slowly slowly catchy monkey bullsh** from sturgeon and Co on Scottish independence……. well, there isn’t many other louder warning signs that youre about to lose in Holyrood 2021 without a massive change of tactic, rhetoric and policy, either direct indy is called for in Holyrood 2021 election or SNP will hand Scotlands devolved legislature to a coalition of british nationalist parties and cretins…… greatest ever defeat from the jaws of victory tactical failure i have ever seen from the #SNPShitebags.

    cant rock the boat…. fu** off the SNP sat in their hands on Scottish issues as the tories stabbed the fu** out of the bottom of the boat….. this boat is sunk…… when it lands on the bottom of the fascist britnazi seabed of small state corporate island inc with no NHS but plenty of deadly US chicken… the #SNPShitebags will be just as much at fault as the scumbag tories they sat and watched stab fu** out of the boat….

    i thought the british shot all their ammo in 2014….. and since then the SNP has walked along throwing away our silver bullets. fu**in idiots.

    Like

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