The telling phrase

I read a large number of newspaper and blog articles every day as well as a great deal of research material and far more below-the-line and social media comments than can possibly be good for me. As I read – and particularly when reading what politicians write and say – I’m always looking for the telling phrase. The bit that says something significant. Often, there’s nothing. Occasionally, there’s so much that it becomes difficult to prioritise the texts and chose which may be worth commenting on. Mostly, it’s possible to find something that I consider meaningful, even if it can be difficult to convince others of the fact.

Not for anything like the first time, the telling phrase in this report comes from Joanna Cherry. Arguably more than any of our other elected representative, and certainly more than Angus Robertson, Joanna Cherry has a propensity for offering the kind of insights that we hope for from our politicians. One such may readily have been taken for a throwaway remark. The kind of phatic rhetorical filler that politicians deploy when they are trying to run down the clock to deny an opponent the chance to speak or an interviewer the opportunity to ask what might be an awkward question. Others may consider it a statement of the obvious. In fact, it is an acute and extremely important observation which highlights a truth that is not widely enough recognised. She says,

[T]he movement for Scotland to be an independent European nation can only be realised from Holyrood…

That’s it! That’s a key point. Scotland’s independence will be restored by way of Scotland’s Parliament. Not consequent to the intervention of any external agency such as the EU or the UN. Not through the ponderously grinding mill of the courts. Certainly not courtesy of the Wicked Step-mother of all Parliaments. Only by way of action in and by the Scottish Parliament will the aspiration to normalise Scotland’s constitutional status be realised.

This should be axiomatic. Holyrood has exclusive democratic legitimacy in Scotland. Only the Scottish Parliament can truly claim to speak and act for Scotland’s people. When you think about it, it’s plainly apparent that if Scotland’s people are to assert their sovereignty then it can only be through the Parliament elected by Scotland’s people. When jealous Britannia says ‘No’ through her worm-tongued mouthpieces in Westminster and Whitehall, how shall Scotland’s people defy the arrogant, grasping crone but through their own democratic institutions?

Joanna Cherry sees this. Perhaps Angus Robertson does too. But while he was making sly, petty comments about her availability, Joanna was the one who gave us the telling phrase.



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17 thoughts on “The telling phrase

  1. Peter … in the conclusion of another of your pieces – you asked “Why?” Why would anyone support what has now been termed the “Alliance for Independence”.

    These are the opening remarks I will make in a post tomorrow on the Alliance page – they form my answer as to “Why?”.

    ” It took hundreds of years to re-open the Scottish Parliament – how important is that Parliament to you? Will it eventually be where the battle for Scotland’s Independence is won or lost? I believe it is, Scotland’s independence will eventually be won in our Parliament, by MSPs, chosen and elected by the Sovereign people of Scotland, where those MSPs have one single determination which is to win that final battle and set Scotland free to detemine its own future. For me it is then and ONLY then is it about political parties! That is why I support an “Alliance for Independence”, which can include All parties either as actual members or just as supporters, it can include Yes Groups, and it can include every individual across the length and breadth of Scotland who is Yes!”

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  2. I absolutely agree that it is in Holyrood that independence will be won or lost. Let’s not forget that it can be lost there, too. I can think of few instances of recent independence where the UN and the courts have not been involved at some stage. The Union – that is, the UK – was made/created by the Treaty of Union, a legally drawn-up international treaty between two independent, sovereign states. There is not getting past that, and there is no getting past the fact that the Treaty must come into play at the negotiation stage, if not sooner, however we gain our independence. Anyone who believes that Westminster and Whitehall will surrender assets and resources without recourse to international law is deluded. International agreements have been reached on many issues that will form much of the negotiations between Scotland England, and the Treaty Articles, and our previous status as an independent sovereign state will have to come into play, also – as it must for England, as well. If the Treaty created the UK in the legal sense, it must also be used to uncreate and end the UK, in the legal sense. Politics alone cannot defeat Westminster and Whitehall’s claims on Scotland, just as the EU referendum result cannot influence, politically, the negotiations with the EU.

    The politics can only ever have a small influence on the legal aspects of the various treaties and how the UK actually leaves the EU and whether it will manage to renegotiate new trade deals. These will be in the form of international contracts and will be legally-binding. If the UK leaves the EU with a NO Deal, the UK will be subject to international legal penalties and its reputation for bad dealing will go before it. It might not believe that this will matter because it is intent on trading mainly with the US, but, again, the legal ramifications of simplistic political decisions are far, far greater and nuanced and far-sighted than politicians usually can manage to see at any given time. Legal draftsmen and women are trained to see beyond tomorrow and the obvious. Lawyers do not have the name of being devious for nothing, and they are also trained to cut through the obfuscation of politics to get to the essential truth of a situation. That is why a combination of politics and law is essential, and, crucially, where both the politics and the law are sited, is fundamental to any independence bid now, after Brexit. Joanna Cherry knows this. She knows that it is in Scotland that Scottish politics are strongest, but it is also where the law is strongest, too, and where it can be utilised to both national and international effect. I believe that we will need the innate skills and talents of both Ms Cherry and Mr Robertson, so, whoever is not selected, should be selected quickly for another seat – in Scotland – if we have not held a second indyref and won it by 2021, of course.

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    1. Lorna, you have hit hte nail on the head. Under the International Treaty of 1707 we are a sovereign nation in a particular relationship with another nation. We therefore have the right and indeed the obligation to our people to say how that relationship will work now and in the future. To this end we ought to declare our de facto status under the treaty and initiate negotiation with England. Over the past three centuries we have seen this treaty bound in the vellum and red ribbon of English law and this will no doubt be used as an obstacle to renewal of the relationship but we are either a sovereign state under a treaty or we are a colony of England. We cannot be both. By declaring our status as we understand it to be we will force the UK parliament to agree or declare us a colony. Ms Cherry and her fellow lawyers should be able to put this into action and thus bring to an end the hiatus we are suffering at present. You will notice that I have not used the word “independence” because a sovereign state is not dependent but can choose the level of interdependence it wishes to have with any and all players on the international stage.

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  3. If the necessary progress is to come chiefly via Holyrood as you suggest, Peter – and why not, if promoted with verve and vigour? – then you also have to recognise that this will inevitably lead to a constitutional clash in the courts. Unless UKGov mysteriously gives way without a fight. What are the chances, eh?

    Come as it surely must now, the long-dodged constitutional showdown should also be prosecuted here at home, in the Court of Session. Where the learned jurists have their own direct stake in Treaty-guaranteed autonomy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Peter sorry for this , it is directed to Mike Fenwick Hi Mike is there a website up and running yet , unfortunately I don’t do faceplook or twatter

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  5. I saw that phrase too and I too thought, “Finally!” Since Brexit ‘happened’ at end January, I have thought Joanna wasted in WM as that is not where the battle will be. And had wished her up here… So to read that phrase, it gave me hope that we will be sticking our hands in our pockets again for a VERY worthwhile crowdfunder… I do have extra pennies this month. I look forward to getting rid of them in a good cause.

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