Pioneers wanted!

Traveller, your footprints
Are the path and nothing more;
Traveller, there is no path,
The path is made by walking.

Antonio Machado

We commonly talk about the path or route to independence. People will refer to this or that path. They will insist that their favoured route is best. They will decry other paths as too rugged and potholed or leading in the wrong direction. It is a powerful idea; the image of a well-signposted road leading to a desired destination is very alluring. All we must do to reach that destination is choose that road and go where it takes us. The path need not be straight or smooth. It is accepted that if a place is worth going to then it is worth making some effort to get there. The path may be winding, rutted and steep but the need to reach that destination – or the imperative to leave the place you are – make even an arduous journey worthwhile.

We speak, also, of people making the journey from No to Yes. From rejecting the idea of restoring Scotland’s independence to embracing that aspiration wholeheartedly. People describe that journey. They describe the path that led them from one place to another. They tell of the obstacles they had to overcome. They tell of the things that urged them on. They acknowledge the people who have helped them on their journey. The people who have pointed out the path and given directions as required.

But what if there is no path. How would people make that journey from No to Yes if the independence movement had not pioneered a route. How might they even contemplate the sojourn if they were unable to see the destination or the path leading there? There being no path, how might they even know that such a journey was possible? Even if they could imagine the journey, the absence of any path would mean they had no starting point.

Now consider that there is no path to independence. No route by which Scotland’s rightful constitutional status might be restored. Suppose that the destination can be seen well enough, but that there is no apparent way of getting there.

I came close to this conclusion back in January when I wrote an article titled Shackled! which, with your indulgence, I shall quote at some length. The opening paragraph should give a feel for the piece.

If you know where you want to go but need to figure out how to get there then you also need to know where you are. Only when you know the starting point and the end point can you begin to plot a course from one to the other. I say “begin” because identifying the start and end points is only part of the task. Arguably, the easiest part. Because plotting a course between the two requires that you take account of all the points that lie on your proposed course. You need to know where all the obstacles and potential bottlenecks are. You need to know as much as possible about everything that you may encounter on your journey.

The point I was making in that article is that the Section 30 route is most definitely not the path to independence. I described it as,

…nothing more than a device by which the pretence of democracy could be maintained. A way of keeping alive the hope and belief that Scotland has a democratic route out of the Union. The Section 30 process is a lie.

I was put in mind of this article as I ploughed my uncomprehending and incredulous way through British Labour MP Ian Murray’s mind-bendingly, jaw-droppingly deranged responses to Michael Kettle as he was interviewed for the Sunday Herald. To venture into this article is to step through the looking-glass, go down the helter-skelter and out the back of the wardrobe. About a third of the way through I began to be genuinely concerned for Mr Murray’s mental well-being. At the two-thirds mark I started to fret for Mr Kettle. By the end I was seriously worried that I might be adversely affected by what I’d read. Some things are so detached from reality that in reaching for such sense as might be found one fears for ones own grip on sanity. You have been warned.

When it was suggested that if the SNP won an overall majority in next year’s Holyrood poll, it would insist it had a mandate to demand a second referendum, Mr Murray stressed how this would become a “ridiculous” proposition in 2024, three years after the Holyrood elections, if Labour took power.“By that hypothetical, Keir Starmer would take the Labour manifesto into government and then rip up everything he has talked about on radical federalism to give somebody a referendum he disagrees with on the basis of a mandate that could be less than 50%,” argued the Shadow Scottish Secretary.

Please take a moment to cautiously try and get your head around this. It’s as if he’s talking about two things each and either of which can be whatever he needs it to be for the purposes of whatever argument he’s utterly failing to make. Foolishly, Ian Murray tries to clarify this puddle of murky pish.

He added: “You can’t say one half of the equation has a mandate and not the other. The mandate for Keir Starmer, if he becomes PM in 2024, would be to deliver on the manifesto commitment of the radical federalism that he wants to try and achieve.”

Apparently, you “can’t say” exactly what he then goes on to say. He says that his half of the equation must have a mandate and the other half can’t even if its numbers are bigger. Whatever mandate the SNP is granted by the Scottish electorate that mandate is outweighed and overruled by whatever mandate British Labour might get from voters in England-as-Britain. Plug whatever numbers you like into Ian Murray’s “equation” and the result is always the same – Scotland loses!

Take the most extreme scenario you can imagine. Suppose the SNP, standing on an explicit independence manifesto, wins every single seat in the Scottish Parliament at the next Holyrood election. Suppose that in the following UK general election British Labour suffers the loss of its sole remaining MP (A tragedy for them made measurably less traumatic by the fact that this happens to be Ian Murray.), while the SNP again sweeps the board and takes all 59 seats with 100% of the vote on a 100% turnout. (Shut up! I’m making a point!) Suppose further that by some quirk of the British political system British Labour actually manages to ‘win’ that UK election despite getting precisely no votes in Scotland and with only 35% of the UK-wide vote. Apply the ‘Murray Maths’ and what do you find? There still isn’t a mandate for a new referendum and it is “ridiculous” to think there might be!

Heads they win! Tails we lose! Even if it’s a double-header!

Stu Campbell has emptied out some more of Murray’s big box of inanities and poked them with his forensic stick if you feel like delving deeper into the murk and mire of a monumentally muddled mind. (Murray’s mind, that is. Lest there be any misunderstanding.)

There is only one conclusion to be drawn from all of this. Within the Union there is no democratic route out of the Union. Because the situation which Ian Murray has tried to explain, or tried to avoid explaining or whatever, is the same regardless of which of the British parties holds power in London. It’s just that the other parties have more sense than try to explain this. And far more sense than try make it sound like democracy. Look at the fool Ian Murray has made of himself as he attempted this.

Back to that article of mine from January.

Without a process by which Scotland can get out of the Union at will it can no longer be maintained that Scotland remains in the Union by consent. Consent that cannot be withdrawn as readily as it is given isn’t consent at all.

Without an accessible process by which consent can be freely withdrawn Scotland’s status cannot be that of a party to a political union freely entered into and continued. Rather, Scotland must be regarded as annexed territory. Scotland must be regarded as having been annexed by England by stealth over the period since the Union was first imposed on us. Either the Treaty of Union was, in reality, a Declaration of Annexation, or the terms of that treaty have been unilaterally altered by or on behalf of England over the last 313 years.

There is no path, There is no route. Scotland is trapped. Shackled to England-as-Britain and whatever corrupt, incompetent bunch of imbeciles manages to pauchle the reins of power in that increasing foreign land. As Antonio Machado says, the path must be made by walking. There is no path we can take, Therefore we must make our own path.

Scotland’s situation is unique. Scotland’s circumstances are unprecedented. Anybody who claims to be able to show us the path out of the Union is a liar and a fraud. No such path exists. It remains to be constructed. Which is good news for us. It means there are no constraints. Or no more than are imposed by the basic principles of democracy. There is no map. There is no defined procedure. The process by which we restore Scotland’s independence will have to be devised anew. We start from scratch. Let no-one tell you this or that is ‘illegal’. How can there be precise and detailed rules for something that is being done for the first time ever?

We must forge our own path. We don’t need lawyers. We need adventurers! Trail-blazers! Pioneers!

By walking the path is made
And when you look back
You’ll see a road
Never to be trodden again.

Antonio Machado

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55 thoughts on “Pioneers wanted!

  1. You keep saying that we don’t need lawyers, Mr Bell, so I must take it that you rule out the Treaty route? No independence has ever been achieved without legal intercession. The former colonies won their independence under the auspices of the UN Charter. I just cannot understand why you are so averse to having our constitutional rights teased out in full and follow them to their logical (and legal) conclusion. Politics alone have not worked. They can take us only so far, and it is politics that have left us paralyzed in the status quo. Every single thing almost that England-as-the-UK does now – has always done, but it is getting worse – is contrary to the Treaty. Devolution itself is contrary to the Treaty because it is unilateral as far as Scotland is concerned and because it is in direct opposition to the partnership that is the Union as it was meant to be. England has no devolution. Nothing we do politically or constitutionally in the UK will work because everything in the UK is tied up with England-as-the-UK. What we have not tried is the legal route via the Treaty, the UN charter on self-determination and the UN charter on human rights. Okay, we might not get the desired result – personally, I believe we will, but that is my opinion – but what do have we right now? Zilch. After 13 years of the SNP in power in Scotland.

    You keep saying that we need pioneers. Yes, we do. Pioneers who will take that Treaty apart and show the world that we have been treated as a colony, that we have extensive rights that are consistently denied and usurped by the other signatory to what is, in its essence, a contract. That is illegal. Totally, fundamentally, illegal, and, alone, would be enough to destroy any contract between two individuals. Our sticking point is that we do not have a government that will push the Treaty line or the lack of self-determination (now independence rather than devolution) or the utter lack of human rights on this issue. That is the real problem. Do we need a DeValera or a Michael Collins? Perhaps, but we should be aware of what that would mean: force of arms; armed conflict. We can scream from the rafters that we have a Claim of Right, that we have mandates, etc, but these are subject to the “British’ (English) constitution, with the SG suggesting that we collect yet another mandate in 2021.

    The stark truth is that nothing was learned in 2014, or, if it was, it was kept under wraps. Four, discounting the EU residents, many of who have returned home, MINORITY groups (Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, rUK voters) coalescing around one issue only – anti independence/colonialism – have managed to keep control of the independence debate because we are all too scared to say or do anything that might be construed as un-PC. In the end, that is what has brought us low, that self-made trap of another pre independence referendum – again because we feel good about being ‘democratic’ and ‘nice’ to those who would never in a million years extend the same decency to us. I am very close now to not voting ever again, so disgusted have I become with the whole issue of independence, or lack of it. In a nutshell, we have allowed the Unionists to hog the moral high ground, to keep control of the independence debate and to deny us our rights under the Treaty, under the UN Charter on self-determination and under the UN Charter on human rights. This is nothing short of appalling. All they need to do is sit tight and do nothing. Yes, we need a Messiah now because we have messed the entire thing up for ourselves. Remember the last time we had trail blazers, pioneers and adventurers. We had Darien – which led to the Union because we allowed our big neighbour to call the shots politically, as per. Our big neighbour encouraged Spain and The Netherlands to attack us, threaten us, and our big neighbour itself cut off all supplies from its American colonies, and this while we shared the Crowns. Darien was a disaster precisely because we underestimated the malignancy and self-interest of our big neighbour.

    Too many in Scotland – Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and rUK voters – support that big neighbour, whatever that big neighbour does to us. If you have ever been an observer at a rape trial, you will understand how the system favours the (alleged) perpetrator, the bully, the stronger. It is not enough to say that this, that and the other is perpetrated against us, we will have to prove that we have right on our side, we will have to make a watertight case for independence. There is no way to do that except by: a) a sudden and overwhelming movement from NO to YES which nothing, not Brexit or a pandemic has achieved (we require around 500,000 NO voters to change sides); b) by force of arms; c) by taking our case to the international courts and bringing irrefutable evidence that we are being shafted regularly, consistently and without a thought for our rights. The third way will halt Brexit in its tracks, too because it would be illegal according to international law to continue to force us out of the EU while our case was on-going. We need to confront England-as-the UK, the British State, and refuse to be intimidated by the howls of Unionists who give not a toss for our rights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lorna, I hold no great hope for going to any international court. There is only one way, get the numbers.

      A section 30 would of course be the gold standard, but we are not getting a section 30 from Johnson and I read Murray [Ian] as saying he will do his damndest to ensure that a Labour administration will not give one either, because they have a federalisation plan for the UK. Never mind they will take a UK wide mandate and impose it on Scotland. Murray makes arguments which not many in his party could really stand by. Most of those who would are, I suspect, actually in Scotland.

      The value of a Section 30 is that the rUK would then be signed up to respect an Indy vote. This was important while the UK was still within the EU, because at that stage, recognition of Indy Scotland by the EU would depend on recognition by the rUK. Now that the UK is shuffling out of the EU, I doubt that a Section 30 has much value.

      At some point, we may have to do as the Republics of the former USSR did [or former Yugoslavia for that matter]. I did answer your point on this on the previous thread, but I don’t know if you have been back there.

      Peter does not know the path out and says it has to be constructed. Curmudgeon and old git he surely is, but on that he is right. Craig Murray did a podcast which was perhaps overly long for a modern podcast, but does outline the path according to the arguments of the British Government re the independence of Kosovo.

      Today we have Westminster making an international comic spectacle of itself with the stupid social distancing lobby votes. We have Trump acting up outside a church in Washington waving a bible and looking for all the world like a very bad dystopian film. It is depressing. It also means that ‘normal’ remedies and routes to independence may not be available.

      But remember Ireland. It got its independence in the chaos after a pandemic, taking from 1921 to 1937 to transition fully to independence. We could do without the bloodshed and the division. Our route may however be quite similar.


      1. Re “No need to read further.”

        Bell’s colon-ized and closed mind. You are not a thinker, you limit yourself to all the independent thought capability of a knee.

        A section 30 does have value. But it is not the only way. as you would see if you read the rest. You have yourself admitted that you do not know the path, so it is pig-headed idiocy on your part to dismiss other people’s thoughts which are taking us beyond a Section 30. I would commend Craig Murray’s podcast to you


        1. Anybody who thinks the Section 30 process is the “gold standard” is an idiot. Doubly so now that we have conclusive proof that it is not. The Section 30 process is exactly as I have described it. It has “value” only for those who are determined to preserve the Union at any cost.

          Didn’t I decide I was going to ignore you? Evidently, it was a wise decision. And one I should adhere to more rigorously.


      2. оптик: any referendum would be a trap if it is held prior to independence. It appears, prima facie, that the Scotland Act allows the SG to hold a consultative referendum, but I can almost guarantee that that will not be the case when it hits the courts in the UK. Nothing else that has been presumed in the SA has been upheld because of the sovereignty of parliament. Basically, if the Westminster parliament (to all intents and purposes, now the ad hoc English parliament) says it is unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional, and only flagrant illegality (such as the proroguing of parliament) and illegality which applies also to England, would stand a chance. You talk of Ireland, but the Irish Free State was independent in all but name. Yes, it took a number of years to off-load the Crown, and remember, there was still NI separated from the rest of the island, and a brutal and psychologically damaging civil war had taken place. We are nowhere near that phase. Nowhere. And Ireland was not looking down the barrel of the Brexit gun. It is Brexit that makes our departure absolutely essential now. Nothing has shifted that 2014 NO vote to any great extent, and even The National is forced to quote people who had once been Unionist but who did vote YES in 2014. They are not going to come round, not in the huge numbers that we need. That is why the Treaty is crucial. Because it circumvents the need for their ‘permission’ and gets to the legal heart of our relationship with England – which, you would be a fool not to see, has been one of abuse, beatings and keeping hold of the pursestrings, the family budget to which both have contributed. In other words, it is a classic case of domestic abuse – physical, mental and psychological – and a perversion and subversion of the marriage vows (the Treaty). It is time to go or we will end up regionalized within a fascist state from which we will be forced to take up arms to escape, just, as, sometimes, wives have resorted, in desperation, to braining abusive husbands with frying pans to escape the cruelty and malignancy that rules their lives.


      3. Lorna: “They are not going to come round, not in the huge numbers that we need.”

        Then if we can’t get a democratic mandate for Indy, should we not wait until we can? I am all for Indy, the domestic violence analogy is taken as read. But if you would upend the treaty without having the numbers, that would leave us lacking in moral authority to rule, it would leave us with little option but to game democracy to retain independence. In short, without the numbers, it would make us a new kind of tory in an Indy Scotland. I could not go along with that.

        As for brexit, the die is cast. Continuity of EU membership is desirable, but the route to achieve that is even more difficult than the route to independence [partly because the UK has already left]. So why make a difficult problem even harder, when we know that independence is now probably the easiest route by far to EU membership?


    2. “You keep saying that we don’t need lawyers, Mr Bell, so I must take it that you rule out the Treaty route?”

      I don’t rule out anything? But constitutional reform is a political matter. It comes about initially, primarily and ultimately through political action. The lawyers inevitably get involved at some point. But they do so in the service of political action. The idea that legal action of some kind might come first just makes no sense. Lawyers have no agency in matters of constitutional reform. They merely act for the political entity which does. In this instance, the Scottish Parliament.

      Neither can I take seriously the idea that the Scottish Parliament, would ask the lawyers to ask a court if it was OK for Scotland to restore its independence. Why would they do that? More to the point, why would any Scottish Government set on taking action to restore independence propose such action? Why would they not just go directly to independence?

      Even more to the point, why would the electorate vote for a party which proposed such pointlessly circuitous route? How would you sell this to the electorate? Why would you even try? Why not just sell the idea that the Scottish Parliament has agency in the matter?

      I don’t rule out anything other than magical intervention. I just don’t see the point in making things more complicated than they need to be. And I would be very wary of taken the constitutional issue out of politics and handing it to a court. The people decide. Not some court to which we won’t even have access until after independence is restored.


      1. Yes, I can see where you are coming from, but we are not part of a country that defeated us in war and enveloped us. We are part of a state that was set up legally, by lawyers. Some of the Commissioners and all the draftsmen were lawyers. The politicians only ratified the Treaty (primary and international law) by signing the Acts which translated the Treaty into domestic law (secondary legislation). They did not set up the UK of GB – lawyers did, at the behest of Queen Anne. There was no political movement towards creating an incorporating Union as such in 1707, although there had been talk, on and off, of such. The Scottish people did not want the Union. The lawyers who drafted the Treaty, basically the founding document of the UK itself, did so in a way which explicitly and implicitly created a protective shield around Scotland and her interests. From the day the UK was instituted, England and then England-as-the-UK has systematically, consistently and without even a nod to Scottish rights, breached that Treaty at will, always in its own self-interest, precisely because it has a far greater number of MPs who can always outvote ours, even if many of them were not Unionist already. That is what politics have done for Scotland.

        There is simply no way to break out of that straitjacket politically except through overwhelming number of NO voters turning to us or by force of arms or by law, coming full circle. The Treaty requires, firstly, to be ‘sound’ in law, in Scotland, then taken to the international courts. Bringing a case would automatically halt Brexit for us until adjudication. If we lost, that would be it, and conflict would ensue. If we tarry long enough to try and gain the permission of the Unionists (and who ruled that their 50% is of greater import than ours?) it will end in conflict, in any case precisely because there is no political solution. Just as Ireland and almost every other colony that has escaped British rule has discovered. We are also in the unique situation of being the host for England-as-the-UK’s biggest toy, Trident; we are their first line of defence; we hold the bulk of all UK resources, etc. They will never let us go politically. The little demonstration yesterday of their power to command and ours only to obey shows amply why a political solution alone cannot extricate us. If they can force the Scottish MPs to attend Westminster to vote, in the middle of a pandemic – and Heaven help the SNP MPs if they do go crawling back, because they will have lost all authority to act on our behalf – what would they do if we really threatened their world status and hegemony? I’m none too sure that they are not already trying to provoke a backlash which would justify, in their imperialist brains, an occupation of Scotland so that Brexit goes smoothly when a NO Deal is the only way forward for them. How much easier for England-as-the-UK to just take us all over and be a Greater England? I am a realist and and a pragmatist, Mr Bell. Independence and the SNP are in my heart, but my head tells me that this is going to be one helluva fight, and we cannot rely on former NO voters. My head tells me that the Dominic Cummings of this world are there for a reason.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A section 30 order is the gold standard. Peter need read no further.

        Lorna: “The politicians only ratified the Treaty (primary and international law) by signing the Acts which translated the Treaty into domestic law (secondary legislation). They did not set up the UK of GB – lawyers did, at the behest of Queen Anne. There was no political movement towards creating an incorporating Union as such in 1707, although there had been talk, on and off, of such.”

        The old curmudgeon is right on this one. The political precedes the legal. Lawyers only implement what their clients pay them to implement. There is no symmetry here that what started legally will be ended legally. The politicians instructed the lawyers to do the Acts and Treaty of Union, then they paid the lawyers before they were allowed to sign hat they had paid for. Yes the lawyers were in charge, but only of getting their fees.

        So the union started, the politicians had the will and the lawyers wrote their stuff. And so it will finish, the politicians [this time on behalf of the people] will have the will and only then will the lawyers write their stuff.

        Lorna: “There is simply no way to break out of that straitjacket politically except through overwhelming number of NO voters turning to us or by force of arms or by law, coming full circle.”

        Yes, it all comes down to the numbers. Without the numbers, we are down to force of arms. If we do the law without the numbers as a less squeamish alternative to force of arms, we will ultimately be boxed in and law will be a waste of effort.

        We may have to go at this in the manner of the Irish. If Starmer wins in ’24, one would hope that he would do so on a mandate for constitutional reform. Suppose he is able to govern with SNP support and wants to implement federalism? Dirty word, I don’t like it, I don’t want it. But suppose that part of the price of federalism is a constitutional guarantee that Scotland is entirely free to make its own choice to leave the federal UK whenever it chooses? Would you take that and bank it or would you force the UK to stumble on, gambling that the shambles would get us the numbers before the tories went full on Mein Kampf?


    3. Not for the first time I find myself nodding vigorously in agreement with a statement you have made in response to a post by Peter .I share your mounting disaffection with the SNP’s timid , nicely nicely approach ( as does Peter ! ) and agree also with the thrust of your argument as the route which offers the best hope of success . Please don’t become so disillusioned as to abandon the hope of Independence , if was never going to be easy , as we all knew , and strong , coherent , passionate voices like yours are needed more than ever .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry, wanted to say, too, that we are being subjected to on-going, low-level political and economic warfare by Westminster and Whitehall, the UK media, some elements of the business community and elements within Scotland itself, all on behalf of the British State and vested self-interst. Day-in, day-out. Trying to wear us down. Still we insist on being ‘nice’.


  3. If only NS could take this onboard and wake up to the realisation that no matter the capitulation , subservience or cringe shown to the WM establishment they will NEVER aquiesce to a sect30 AGREEMENT to honour a referendum outcome . UDI is the only method capable of sabotaging WM intransigence , LET THEM FIGHT THEIR CASE IN THE INTERNATIONAL COURT , and if people fear the Catalan or military response that will show the WORLD what we have been dealing with

    Fear has won nothing , the tories ineptitude , corruption and contempt of normal people carries on REGARDLESS of public outcry , the tories and previously liebour didn’t give a shit what the general public thought of their incompetence or corruption they carried on until the next GE where they hoped enough people had forgotten what they had done or the people were stupid enough to vote them back in which is at least 50% of the time

    NS is doing that right now with the GRA and HATE CRIME BILL she has and is ignoring the massive opposition to these policies even though it MAY cost her and the party the next HR election but it is to her a calculated risk , either vote for her and the SNP to get a reasonable competent government , or vote yoonionist and suffer the avalanche of shite which Scots will DEFINITELY SUFFER , the ideal BLACKMAIL situation

    If she is happy to ignore her outraged voters against these policies , why is she so afraid of the yoonionist outrage and spittle flecked response if she declared UDI

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…If she is happy to ignore her outraged voters against these policies , why is she so afraid of the yoonionist outrage and spittle flecked response if she declared UDI…”

      That has always puzzled me, too, Robert T, but I think it stems from exactly the same attitude that the SG has taken since 2014: placate, pacify, pander to, the NO voters until such time as they are overwhelmed by kindness and leave all their vested self-interest behind and vote YES. Not this side of eternity, then, and piggy wiggies might fly! As for the GRA, etc., I believe this is a human rights issue. It has to be implemented. That is not at issue. What is, is that these things need to be implemented in ways that do not infringe the pre-existing rights of others. They require legal and social models to work out how others might be affected.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As I stated in a previous contribution to this forum; I have now written to my SNP member of the WM Government to ask why the SNP appear to be taking such little action in the face of continuing and growing affronts to Scottish democracy by the parliament in which they sit,

    I also asked a simple question; when are the SNP going to deliver on independence?

    I received two prompt and quite lengthy and very polite responses from a parliamentary assistant and not the MP himself.

    The response was, I am afraid, entirely bland and totally as would be predicted by the discussion in this forum today.

    ‘The SNP will deliver on independence when a majority of Scots vote for it in a referendum.’

    ‘We mustn’t go down the route of UDI, look what happened in Catalonia/Kosovo/Taiwan.’

    ‘We must not step out of the rule book and play into the hands of the British state who will paint us as troublemakers’

    I got the impression that some SNP MPs and their staff are actually quite happy to ride the WM gravy train and are really in no hurry to deliver what they were elected to do.

    I also have a sinking feeling that it’s a section30 order or bust as far as my SNP MP is concerned and that there is no plan B.

    I am starting to have severe misgivings about the SNP’s ability to ‘find a course’ out of this intolerable, outrageous and dangerous situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My mistake, I should have said SNP member of the WM parliament! Of course, they play no part in government!


  6. I was also interested in comparison with Ireland a century ago.

    When Padraig Pearce declared UDI on the steps of the GPO building in O’Connell Street on Easter Monday 1916, most of the population of Dublin and possibly the country of Ireland did not share the views of the rebels and feared the (British) English backlash.

    Like Scotland today, perhaps the well-heeled, gainfully employed and able-bodied did not fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation.

    The self-interested unionists would have found themselves on the wrong side of history.

    However, it was the viciousness of the (British) English backlash, including the executions at Kilmainham Gaol that tipped Irish opinion over the edge and galvanised the people into action.

    Scotland needs that now. It needs the fire in the belly of the people.

    In Scotland the people are sovereign. When they decide it is time, no political (or even legal) force is capable of stopping independence and progress.

    Politics is really, empty rhetoric when all is said and done. The will of the people fired into action will overcome any obstacle, even force of arms.

    Entitled English politicians will not present a significant threat.

    This, coupled with international law, looks a formidable weapon to defeat English imperialism.

    But we probably do need a pioneer now. A hero to lead us to the promised land. A 21st century Bruce or Wallace or even Burns.

    I thought NS could do it but I hae ma doots.


  7. An excellent article, so how do we make it happen? How do we get together and actually make it happen? I honestly don’t know, but you are a clever thinking man who has been actively involved for years (I have not and am still learning but ready to do whatever is necessary). People like you and Craig M and Stuart C know so much and have so many ideas. We need leaders like you, not NS. She is a great politician and possibly a great FM, but she is not leading us to independence.


    1. If I may, LB, I think that we have to act as the people. We need to crowdfund a constitutional and legal way out of the Union by employing at least two eminent constitutionalists to work out all the ways we can go, those that are closed to us, the tricky paths and the less tricky ones. This does not rule out a joint political-legal case for escaping the Union. Almost everything that England-as-the-UK does is contrary to the spirit and legality of the Treaty. The very first thing to do is have the Treaty ‘sound’ in law, in Scotland. This need not take long because we do not have long before we are welded into that One nation State so beloved of fascist Tories. We have a problem, though, in that, in constitutional law, as in other kinds, acquiescence can be as powerful as challenge. In other words, we have brought a great deal of our misfortune down on ourselves by allowing England-as-the-UK to call the tune at every opportunity. Why should they believe that we would seriously challenge then now? That little demonstration on the ‘attending Westminster in person’ was a case in point. They were throwing their weight around. If our SNP MPs go cringing back there like beaten dogs, it will be up to the people themselves to take our case further, however we do that. I, for one, will never forgive them, or the SNP, if they crawl back on their bellies.


    2. Thanks for the feedback. It’s much appreciated.

      By “we” I assume you mean the Yes movement including SNP members. You ask what we should do to make it happen. To persuade/force the SNP leadership to adopt an approach to the constitutional issue which isn’t totally reliant on the full, willing and honest cooperation of the British state. It’s a good question. I hope I can do it justice.

      First of all, there’s what we must not do. Then there’s what we should not do unless there is no choice. Finally, there is what we need to do.

      We must not succumb to factionalism. The Yes movement is strong because it is united. It only has strength to the extent that unity is maintained. The greatest threat to this unity is not the British propaganda machine and the ‘dark arts’ of the British state and its agencies, but pressures from within. Almost without exception, these pressures arise from disagreements about matters of policy which are not directly relevant to the constitutional issue. Restoring Scotland’s independence is a matter of principle. If we’re talking a policy, we’re not talking about independence. We must value diversity. But not to the extent that it is allowed to become division.

      We must not divide our forces. This is the British state we’re up against. A political order in terminal decline. A cornered beast. If our effort is diffused, it will fail. As it failed in 2014. We must not make the same mistakes again.

      We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by some deckchair shuffling exercise. Juggling personalities and parties is a waste of time we don’t have and effort we can’t afford to squander on such pointlessness – unless we have no choice. Replacing Nicola Sturgeon is unquestionably the major example of personality-juggling. I will not get into why it’s a bad idea other than to mention the obvious fact that resources expended in this way are not available for more important tasks. and there is no guarantee it would solve anything. Anybody who is a credible prospect for Nicola Sturgeon’s job is likely to be no less difficult to persuade of the need for bold, decisive action outwith the legal and constitutional framework designed for the preservation of the Union. We could end up back where we started.

      Having said that, I accept that it may be necessary for Nicola Sturgeon to go. She may very well feel that she cannot now go back on all that stuff she said about the Section 30 process being the “gold standard”. It may be that she just doesn’t want to do the job we want her to do. That is to say, the job of de facto ‘leader’ of the independence movement. As Scotland’s First Minister she has been and continues to be superb. In her role as leader of the independence movement she has failed abysmally. Regardless of the inane rhetoric of some SNP politicians and their parrots in social media, we are further from independence now than at any time in the last decade.

      Nicola Sturgeon should go if she must. I would prefer that she didn’t. I would prefer that she turn her extraordinary political skills to the task of restoring Scotland’s independence. But if she can’t do that, then she should step away from the role of leader of the independence movement.

      It doesn’t matter who is First Minister or leader of the SNP, we must put all our efforts into persuading them to adopt a Manifesto for Independence. A document which sets out a course of action which for the purposes of annoying the people who most need to be poked with a stick I have called #ScottishUDI. Basically, this involves rejection of any role for Westminster in the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination. Adoption of the Manifesto for Independence – which is totally separate from any party manifesto – implies commitment to action through the Scottish Parliament to end the Union subject to a referendum entirely owned and managed in Scotland. In accordance with international laws and conventions, the government of England-as-Britain must be excluded from any role in this referendum and prohibited from participation in the campaign within Scotland. No external interference!

      This document – this Manifesto for Independence – is not yet drafted. I had hoped to have some work done on it this week. But I’m writing stuff like this and venting my ample spleen of Twitter instead. I should also be honest enough to admit to commit myself to a project which will only have any relevance or impact if it wins mass support. And I mean MASS support. It needs to be backed by something close to the entire Yes movement or it’s dead in the water. I can’t take any more failure. I no longer have the heart or the stomach for it. That’s just the honest truth of the matter.

      It can be done. We can get the independence movement out of this cul-de-sac and back on track. We can generate the necessary momentum to power our way to independence. But it absolutely requires unity, focus and discipline of a kind that the Yes movement cannot achieve without sacrificing things that may be valued more than independence – such as diversity and the autonomy of groups. The Yes movement must become a campaigning organisation. A movement and a campaign are very different things.

      A campaign must be built around a single easily defined and credibly achievable goal. The common aim of all independence supporters isn’t independence, ironic as that may seem. Independence cannot be the common ground because independence means different things to different people. There is no such thing as a campaign for independence. There can be no such thing as a campaign for independence. There can only be a plethora of campaigns for a range of differently defined independence. The common aim of everyone who wants Scotland’s independence restored is the end of the Union. That is what we should be campaigning for. It cannot be a unified campaign unless it is a space where policy debates are excluded.

      We must prepare for such a campaign. We cannot hope and would not wish to completely silence discussion of policy. But we must strive to turn down the volume to the lowest point possible. We can be sure that, as in the 2014 campaign, our opponents will use policy disagreements to foster division in the movement and doubt in the electorate. We can’t afford to let them do that.

      I suspect that you are saying to yourself this is all very well but what should the Scottish Government do. What exactly should the process be. The answer is that it doesn’t matter much what it is so long as it is what the Scottish Government chooses. They have to select the ground on which to make a stand. They have to pick the fight they can win. They have to choose the moment to defy the authority of the British state. But defy it they must! There is no route to independence which does not involve confrontation. It is vital that the Scottish Government be on the front foot when that confrontation occurs.

      It is unlikely that there will be a lack of issues on which to defy Westminster and assert the competence of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of its democratic legitimacy. As opposed to Westminster having none. This is what I mean by effective political power. The power to take a particular action. The Yes movement is strong. We are many. But we have no way to, for example, refuse a legislative consent motion and follow that up with a motion to dissolve the Union subject to a referendum. Only a political party can do that. And the only political party that can do it is the SNP.

      And this is my final point. We must use the SNP. No other lever is suited to or capable of doing the job. If the SNP isn’t doing the job, it’s because we are not forcing it the way a lever needs to be forced. We must simultaneously support the SNP in order that the party can win the effective political power that we need AND force the party to use that power in the way we want.

      I hope this goes some way to answering your questions.


      1. Excellent reply Peter : I may not agree with everything you say at all times but your commitment is never in doubt .

        Liked by 1 person

  8. оптик: I am not arguing, nor have ever argued, that the political does not come first. What I am saying is that there is not a political route open to us for as long as we are willing to play the Unionist game as politics. Politics could well take us to conflict. What I am saying is that we are uniquely (almost) blessed in the fact that we have the Treaty, and the Treaty affords us a legal way out of the Union. Ergo, that is both politics and legality. The Treaty is crucial to our future well-being because it must be resiled in order to break the Union and to negotiate our way out, including keeping our assets and resources. No one seems to understand that England-as-the-UK will try to use the Treaty itself to take from us what is legally ours. The is what I would do in their position if I was like them, which, thank goodness, I’m not. They are going to need what we have – that is the sole reason, apart from making themselves appear bigger on the international stage, that they hang on to us; it is not out of love – and they will take it if they can, if we let them. I know that international law governs most of national assets these days, but the point is that, if we cannot show that we are, IN LAW, in international law, an equal partner in the Union, as only the Treaty can provide evidence for, we are in a dark place, believe me. England-as-the-UK has everything to lose and nothing to gain by not using the Treaty. That should tell us why it is all as important to us. They have already breached its terms on numerous occasions in their own self-interest, never ours, so a fight is coming anyway to try and claw back what they have stolen from us, what they imposed on us and what they have always intended for us. I feel like ripping my hair out because I cannot get this across. THEY WILL USE THE TREATY AGAINST US in the independence negotiations, however we try to escape the Union, so we need to pre-empt them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Section 30 order is the gold standard. Peter need read no further. But if that route is not open to us, we must take another.

      The treaty of union is long in the tooth now and the only route out it offers is the section 30. The reason it is the gold standard is that until the transition period and negotiations are over it is the only route likely to be accepted to get back into the EU – which seems to be of great importance to you. The reason we have to consider playing the unionist game is because we are in the UK union. Section 30 is the unionist game.

      But as time marches on and the UK marches out of the EU, the section 30 has less value to us, because with the UK out of the EU, the EU has no duty to the UK to be respectful of its internal affairs. To an extent, our problem here is that the EU already recognises Scotland as part of a member state and what we need is for the EU not to recognise us and then makes its mind up about us afresh and recognise us in our own right. [Craig Murray podcast very relevant].

      We do not have to do anything in law. Being a country is about having a territory you control and being recognised. Let others bring the law against us if they must, but taking our own legal case forward at this time is a waste of effort. What we need is some sort of democratic mandate for being independent.


  9. Thank you both for your replies. Despite being pro-independence (or anti-unionist) all of my life I have not scratched beneath the surface before and blindly trusted the SNP. The trial of AS brought me to Craig M as I searched for the truth of what was going on (although I have some experience of the SG myself so I knew he had been set up somehow). From there I am now immersed in the various sites, blogs and chats on the Yes movement. My biggest worry since reading all this information is what an independent Scotland will behave like when there is so much discord amongst all of us who want the same thing. I agree we need to focus and forget the petty squabbling.

    I honestly believe that NS should be behaving as the leader of our country and not following in the wake of England, waiting to be thrown scraps here and there and basically doing as she is told. I believed in her at the start, I really did, but she turned her focus inward to the SG administration and messed that well and truly up instead of keeping focussed on what her job really is as leader of the SNP. I hope she has some grand plan as she is a truly skilled woman, but given the reply that lions67 (above) got it doesn’t sound like it.

    I feel your pain Peter, constantly being knocked back, disappointed. You and others like you must be weary, and some must be sht scared right now. But WE need you, that much has become clearly obvious to me.

    I don’t have the experience, knowledge, or skill that you and many others demonstrate but you can be assured of my support…for Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I see that my latest post has been eradicated. So be it. As I said in another thread, Cassandra and Sisyphus. It is your blog an I have no right to complain, so I won’t except to say that I will come back and remind you, in the nicest possible way, of course, when they use the Treaty against us and we are well and truly KFD.


    1. Lorna, I think you’re right. The only way forward is to have the Treaty sound in law. There won’t be another independence referendum. I’m not sure how to kick-start the process though. No mainstream bloggers etc seem to want to take it forward.


    2. Stop doing that! Posts are never “eradicated”. Like most people who have WordPress sites I leave comment moderation to Akismet. Sometimes I don’t get around to checking the pending folder as often as I maybe should. But I’m doing other stuff. Your accusations of censorship are ignorant, wrong and offensive.


      1. Good Heavens, Mr Bell, I was not trying to be offensive in the least. I was trying hard to add a lighter note. I don’t run a blog, so, no, I don’t know anything about WordPress sites. My writing days are long past. I am sorry to have annoyed you, and for that, I apologise, but I really did not have anything in my post to incite Askimet or whatever to moderate. I am afraid that I am ignorant of many things on-line, but ignorant, in general? No, I don’t think so. You need mens rea – that’s a legal term – to have the necessary will to be offensive. I don’t have that either. You may rest assured that I won’t be annoying you again on your own blog. Yes, I understand that you have other things to do, as do I. I apologize again.


  11. оптик at 11.01, We don’t have time to wait until “Keir Starmer wins in 2024”. He probably won’t win anyway and he certainly won’t bring in any bill for a federal structure. Labour have been promising a federal structure for more than 100 years. Lorna means that we have to have the Treaty sounded in international law. It has been breached many times and I don’t think Scotland can be held to it. We are running out of time. After brexit, I believe that the Scottish Parliament will be emasculated and that we will be subsumed into a region of a Greater England.

    Scots who voted “no” in 2014 were a minority who were bolstered by rump UK voters and students/EU nationals (most of whom have now left Scotland) and the UN takes a dim view of non-indigenous people taking part in constitutional votes such as the 2014 one. We do have the “numbers” and will certainly have them after people realise the real position – that the Scottish Parliament may be emasulated or disappear. The SNP isn’t the party it was years ago and don’t have the drive to take it forward. The party doesn’t have a leader.


    1. I am not particularly arguing that we do wait for Starmer. In a way, I think that Starmer with the ‘f’ word will be a bigger problem to us. Even the dogs in the street in England know that the union is in problems and after the stupidity with the Alton Towers queues for Westminster to vote, I think that Labour will be obliged to offer some serious constitutional reform – I am beginning to think the only way they can lose is if they don’t rise to the challenge but offer on going more of the same.

      There is no point in going to law over breaches of the treaty of union. Can you tell me whether this has been breached: “XII. ‘That, during the continuance of the Duties payable in England on Coals, Culm and Cinders, which determines the thirtieth Day of September, one thousand seven hundred and ten, Scotland shall not be charged therewith for Coals, Culm and Cinders consumed there, but shall be charged with the same Duties as in England, for all Coals, Culm and Cinders not consumed in Scotland.” The legal remedy for breach is not rescission of the contract, it is an order for specific performance. Great, we take the treaty of union to law and we get reform of tariffs on Coals, Culm and Cinders. We might actually get more out of Starmer, albeit, not exactly waht we want.

      What we must do is get a democratic mandate to leave the union and then leave.


  12. As the Treaty is an international Treaty and subject to international law we could have it sounded in the International Court of Justice (UN). I understand that they have Tribunals which will sound old treaties. As Lorna says, the Treaty is still extant and England will try to use it against us in any independence negotiations. The Treaty supersedes devolved law, particularly in relation to the constitution and shows that we were to be a partner and not a colony or subsidiary. The Acts of Union were just legal devices to translate an international treaty into domestic law, but England has breached the treaty on numerous occasions. There will be a long list, but secretly moving our maritime boundary and EVEL are probably breaches. As far as I know the court has already decreed in other cases that a treaty may be resiled if there have been vast changes. Apart from the breaches, brexit against the majority of the populace here constitutes such a change.

    We would also be able to show that England acting as the UK is acting ultra vires. They actually seem to believe that the UK consists of England and three satellite states. We are a co-signatory not a subordinate. There are no articles to show that England was granted sovereignty over the other states with Scotland becoming an English region. I don’t think England/UK would win a case. Their hold over us is smoke and mirrors.


    1. This is chicken and egg stuff. Find me a case in which the UN has looked at a treaty dispute between a sovereign state and a non sovereign unit. There is your first hurdle, to get the ICJ to accept that Scotland has standing to bring a case. They will just say it is a ‘domestic’. So we get ourselves sovereign status, in order to be able to have the argument at the ICJ. But once we get the status to stand before the judge, we have got what we want anyway.

      It works in reverse too. If we leave the UK, and the UK tries to take us to court, they will have to argue that we are sovereign to make us a defendant.

      As you say, their hold over us is smoke and mirrors. So we just need to get the numbers and leave.

      Law is not helpful here. Barristers will tell you that in a civil case, it is better to be defendant. If we take this stuff to court as complainant, we are only doing so because we are not confident. We do what we do in the knowledge that we are right in law and let others try and take us down.

      As for breaches leading to a ruling that the Treaty is null and void, that is naive. If it is anything like a contract, the legal remedy for a breach is an order to stop doing whatever the breach is. The treaty stands.

      Do we have inherent sovereignty? If we do, we should use it. No need for ICJ.


      1. What I am saying is that England is acting ultra vires as “England as the UK”. We are are a co-signatory so it wouldn’t be a sovereign state against a non-sovereign one. This is the crux of the problem, that we have pooled our sovereignty. Yes, we have inherent sovereignty but, in order to use this, the SNP would have to make a unilateral declaration of independence in the Scottish Parliament, triggering the Article of the Treaty which states that either signatory can leave at any time. The Treaty isn’t null and void, it is extant. We would be asking the court to rescind it on the grounds of the breaches and England’s intolerable behaviour re the maritime boundary, locking us out of the brexit negotiations etc. The SNP has lost its way and will not use our inherent sovereignty so a group of citizens will eventually have to go to the international courts. This is the only way to avoid a Northern Ireland situation.

        There will not be another referendum. The First Minister has backed us into a corner with the Section 30 nonsense. We wouldn’t get a majority based on the ridiculous wide open franchise the SNP seem to be committed to anyway as we are being kept in the union by rump UK voters; a situation that the UN would take a dim view of. The franchise on constitutional votes is usually restricted to those born in the constituent country.


      2. While we might be a cosignatory, the UK is Scotland and England plus other bits. Neither Scotland nor England have standing at the ICJ. There is no need to go to any court if we go down a unilateral route. It is for others to take us to court if they want to stop us. You do not ask courts to rescind contracts. You rescind them yourself and argue your case in court if the other party disagrees.

        Do you not get this? If Scotland and its people are sovereign, they have all the competence they need to rescind the treaty. By saying that it should go to court, you are denying the sovereignty of the Scottish people. You are saying that you do not believe we are sovereign. It is an admission that you have lost and a court is only fairly transparent smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that we do not believe in ourselves.

        As for your assertion “The franchise on constitutional votes is usually restricted to those born in the constituent country.” well, demonstrate this to be the case because I don’t believe this to be an international norm. You are actually settling for second best.

        If you seek to disenfranchise people resident in Scotland under UK freedom of movement and win Independence which you would not otherwise win, you would be constructing a narrow ethnic state and you really do risk a Northern Ireland situation. I do believe that in the case of division of territories, the norm is to permit everyone citizenship in at least the successor state in which they normally reside. Alienating people not born in Scotland is definitely the wrong way to go on this.


      3. And another thing. Attempting to separate out rUK people and not let them vote would highlight ethnic differences that would be better left alone. If people become divided into those who were allowed to vote and those who were not and we get independence, you then have an ethnically identifiable 2nd class citizenship. It would not take much for a belligerent neighbour to march in after a fight in a pub somewhere to ‘protect its citizens’


  13. Peter and others I understand your reluctance to the legal route just now , but as Lorna has stated on many occasions the FIRST benefit would be that brexshit would be HALTED for Scotland , THAT would create an enormous legal stushie with ALL the parties involved , WM , SG , and the EU , WM would have to challenge it’s competence and sovereignty , the SG and the SNP would either have to challenge it or support it , either way we would know who we can depend on , the EU would then either throw us out ( doubtful as there is no previous situation examples ) or they would accept that the situation MUST be paused for Scotland until a legal determination is reached , if the situation is paused for Scotland with the ruk still able to leave , WM will be furious but will have no option but to carry on with Brexshit , if the ruk is forced to remain in the EU until the outcome on Scotland’s future is determined 17.4 million Brexshiteers will be apoplectic with Scotland and Scots and may force WM to disown us . Now that would be worth all the effort


    1. I think it is entirely fanciful that brexit would be halted, let alone that a legal stushie would follow.

      But if there were such a stushie, involving the EU, that might be the last thing they would want. It is quite plain that the EU have had more than a plateful of the UK. They want brexit done, they do not want more grief falling out of this. So, be careful what you wish for. That stushie, if you could get that far, might just convince the EU that Scotland is just as disruptive as the rUK. It would do us no favours.

      We need the numbers, we need a democratic mandate to leave and we should leave. Initiating court action, you have demonstrated, just leads to inflicting turmoil on people we would hope would be our friends.


      1. As I understand it the UN takes the view that permitting people from the state that the other nation wishes to “secede” from shouldn’t be permitted. It is the norm that on constitutional matters you would have to be born in the constituent part. If it came to it and it was going to court, legal advice could be taken. Your assertion that everyone here should be granted citizenship here is another matter entirely. I was talking about the vote. However, we are being too “nice”. The large English vote in 2014 should have been challenged. Their “No” vote was almost as a homogenous group and, by doing that, they have made it an ethnic issue themselves. Anyone who went round the doors campaigning could tell you that the majority of them here see Scotland as a region of England. They are so ignorant that they don’t even know there is a treaty or, in some cases, that the law is different.

        I’m afraid they see us as they saw the Irish before us, as an inferior group. We don’t have to allow them to vote under UN rules, nor do we have to allow them citizenship. As I have said, they have brought it to this themselves. A non-indigenous group don’t have any right in international law to stymie the rights of the indigenous people in a nation. They made it an “ethnic” issue when they voted to thwart the people of a country they are guests in. You misunderstood what I said about a northern Irish situation. That will come if a rump UK votes try to stymie us again. If we win, we don’t have to allow them citizenship so they won’t have a right to live here. It’s as simple as that. I am tired of being “nice” and being pushed around in my own country. As far as them being “our friends” they are not a friendly nation and have no friends. They will try to make trouble for us no matter how we leave the failed “union”.


        1. You are wrong about the UN. In any case the idea of a franchise restricted on grounds of ethnicity is contrary to Scotland’s tradition and anathema to Scotland’s people. It is not even up for discussion among people taking a thoughtful approach to the constitutional issue.


    2. There is no “legal route”. It exists only in the imaginations of those looking for magical solutions. The constitution is a political issue. It will be dealt with in the arena of democratic politics, or it will not be dealt with at all.


      1. I just don’t believe there will be another pre-independence referendum. The First Minister has backed us into a corner with the Section 30 nonsense. I don’t believe that the SNP will make any move towards independence through the Scottish Parliament either as the party was moribund before this virus started. I’ve been following Lorna Campbell’s posts on various sites and I think she’s right about having the treaty sounded in law and rescinded. The referendum route has been blocked by our own First Minister.


      2. Bailey: “I just don’t believe there will be another pre-independence referendum.”

        A section 30 order is the gold standard [Peter can stop reading]. It does 3 things,
        [1] It gives us a democratic event showing the mandate for Indy
        [2] It gives us a guarantee from the rUK that our choice will be recognised
        [3] As a consequence of [2], it ensures that EU member states will have no problem recognising Indy Scotland out of respect for the UK as an EU partner

        Now that we are out of the EU, [3] is less of an issue, but for the fact that there are ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU. Going Indy right now without a Section 30 and therefore UK consent would complicate those negotiations for the EU. Note that I am NOT saying that Scotland needs consent to go Indy, only that to go Indy without that consent at this stage would cause EU stated problems, when they all have enough on their plates. Do we really want to cause difficulties for EU states during negotiations, when waiting a year or so would deal with the problem?

        Once the UK – EU negotiations are done, then reason [3] disappears

        Reason [2] is nice to have, but not essential.

        Which just leaves [1]. There is an absolute need for some kind of democratic mandate for Independence. [Plus some goodwill from the losers, so don’t spaff that away by disenfranchising the resident English]

        Going to Law does not cut it. It is a distraction which if you tweak it actually says we have to have permission for Indy. I am aware that Peter is opposed to a Section 30 on these grounds. I can see his point, but I think that the guaranteed acceptance of a result s worth the price, because the section 30 order does not compromise our position in the way that going to law would.

        Lorna is entirely sincere and I give her credit for a lot, but the argument on law is a blind alley. Peter hates me saying that the Section 30 is the gold standard – but as I have clarified above, I don’t think it is the only way. The mistake would be to think that the Section 30 is the only way. Lorna, I think, resorts to the Law argument, because she is bought into the idea that the Section 30 and a referendum is the only route to a democratic mandate [but she may wish to clarify].

        Independence is a political act. Lawyers never decide anything. It is not their role. Their role is to implement agreements on behalf of their clients and to uphold those agreements by argument – in court if necessary. The legal always flows from the political, never does it go in the other direction.

        Thus we need a democratic event to deliver a mandate for Independence. We need lawyers to provide the legal structures for independence. The last thing we want is lawyers to litigate over the treaty of union, because all they can do with that litigation is enforce provisions relating to Duties on Coal, Culm and Cinders.

        We don’t want fairness over Coal, Culm and Cinders or over anything within the union. We want out of the union. And if we have our mandate, we should leave. Let it go to court after we leave, if anyone is minded to take us. But keep it out of court.

        As for Nicola Sturgeon, I am very critical, because as the AS trial shows, careerists and managerialists with no genuine interest in Indy seem to have a lot of sway in the party. But at the moment, we cannot definitively say that a referendum has been blocked, nor can we say that the SNP is moribund. I believe that the party is solid for Indy at the grassroots in most areas and it would be a brave or foolish party leader who would fail to take notice sooner or later


  14. оптик at 19:00 – I am not denying Scotland’s sovereignty. What I am saying is that the SNP has failed to take the unilateral route. You say that a court isn’t asked to rescind a contract. They can be asked to do this and can certainly be asked to rescind an International Treaty. The SNP has failed in its raison d’etre and will not act unilaterally. If we did as you are suggesting, without the treaty being sounded in law, England would become aggressive. The reason Lorna and others are suggesting the court route is that the eyes of the world would be on England and it takes the military route away from them while the treaty is being sounded in court.

    Your other post was about “ethnic differences”. As I said before, we only have to allow people born here to vote on constitutional votes under UN rules. Rump UK voters made it an ethnic issue themselves by voting as a homogenous group. You suggest that there would be trouble from rump UK people after independence. Are you seriously suggesting that we would have to allow an ethnic group from outwith Scotland to stay here when they are causing trouble? We don’t have to allow them to stay. Your point about England putting troops in after that is fanciful. We would be an independent country. What would other nations think? You say England may be belligerent. You are correct but, once we have left the “union” they won’t get away with as much. They have always been belligerent. That’s why they have no allies.


    1. Bailey: ” As I said before, we only have to allow people born here to vote on constitutional votes under UN rules.”

      Well. come on then, give us a reference to those rules. At the moment you are only asserting.

      There are plenty of ethnic English in Scotland who can see right through the British State and many have arrived post 2014 on the strength of the promises in the Scotland’s Future Indy manifesto re nationality. There are groups like English Scots for Yes. Do you really want to kick these people in the teeth? For the sake of an ethnicly pure state? That is a seriously bad road to travel. Don’t go there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not saying it will be an “ethnically pure state”. The franchise would be a means to an end. Norway doesn’t allow anyone born elsewhere to vote on constitutional issue and nor do most states. It is actually unusual for “residency” to equate to the franchise anywhere else. The wide open Scottish franchise is unique anywhere in the world. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. Your stance that everyone should get to vote is at odds with the UK government who didn’t allow EU Nationals to vote in the Brexit vote. That is because it didn’t have to. The ridiculous open franchise in 2014 was a breach of the UN Charter on colonialism (and like it or not, that is how we would be viewed although we are supposedly an equal partner as there is an Administrative body (Westminster) which we have to adhere to).

        The 2014 No vote was deconstructed into demographic groups by Edinburgh University and various psephologists and it is a cold hard fact that rump UK voters swung the vote to No. You talk about English Scots for Yes. That group is tiny and completely unrepresentative. The reality is that most English people here see us as a region of England and they will note No again to protect their privileged position here. You state that we shouldn’t go down that route. Every other country does.

        We won’t get another pre-independence vote anyway because the First Minister (who is clearly not a strategist) has back us into a corner with the nonsensical Section 30 requirement. We will have to go down the international court route, rescind the Treaty and take it from there. There will then be a post-independence vote but we will have to look at the franchise for that. We don’t owe anything to people who have just arrived here.


  15. Bailey: ” The ridiculous open franchise in 2014 was a breach of the UN Charter on colonialism ”

    Have you read it? Would you care to explain how it is in breach? [Would you like a link to it?]
    There is nothing in there on a quick read which says that only people born in the territory get to vote on constitutional issues.

    I am not sure what happened in the break up of the old USSR, but I know that there was a significant amount of internal displacement between republics at the behest of Stalin. Your proposal would have had a quite cruel effect of disenfranchisement on people who had been moved from their republic of birth. I am sure that this did not happen.

    I would be entirely surprised if the UN ever condoned a situation that people who were full citizens on a territory before an act of Independence would not be accepted as full citizens in any process of Independence or would not have the absolute right to remain citizens of the independent territory.

    If your proposals are not intended to make an ethnicly pure state, then they certainly are a gerrymander. Scots born and English born alike come in Indy minded and unionist flavours and you just cannot go dispossessing people to get your own way. You have to convince them. Your ideas are no more and no less than an invitation to ethnic and political strife in an Independent Scotland


    1. The problem is they are not persuadable. They see us as an English region. Their reasons for coming here are entirely selfish and a lot of them despise us and our history and culture. In another ten years we will be like Wales where independence through a referendum is nigh on impossible now because there are too many settlers who see it as an extension of England. You say that they come in both flavours of opinion. The problem is (and the 2014 vote bears this out) that unionists outnumber the open-minded 10 to 1.


      1. The truth is that only a few people are persuadable, Scots birth or English birth. Almost everyone who moves anywhere does so for their own benefit, Scots or English. I doubt that many have moved to Scotland since 2014 without being aware of the Indyref and of the possibility of Scotland becoming independent. Yet still they come, mostly [post 2014] in my experience wanting independence.

        Your proposal is effectively for an ethnic state. You deny this, but what you want is ethnically based gerrymandering. The most likely consequence is that Scots, who for the most part have an outgoing attitude, will think of the consequences for their English born neighbours and will reject independence as an ethnically based state. You will also hand the moral high ground of inclusivity and non racism to the unionists and the loyalists.

        And if by some mis-chance you get a vote for an independent Scotland on an ethnic franchise, you will set in stone an ethnic division which will blight the country for generations.

        Take a look at Czechoslovakia, which split in the 1990’s [dissolved by its parliament]. Everyone was given the choice of nationality based on their territory of residence or on the territory of their birth. It was entirely peaceful and the 2 successor republics, Czechia and Slovakia are at peace with each other and with the world. They did not let ethnicity get in the way.

        Now take a look at Yugoslavia, riven by ethnic [Serb, Croat, Albanian] and religious [Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim] tensions for generations. When they broke up, the tensions spilled over into armed conflict with ethnic cleansing and genocide.

        Now you are proposing to introduce an ethnic element to our split of the British State. The record in Ireland is very little better than Yugoslavia. It still echoes 100 years later with a divided community in Northern Ireland, with low level violence and the occasional murder continuing to this day.

        For all kinds of reasons, your proposals would be seriously bad for an independent Scotland and will be destructive to any Indyref. Don’t go there.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. If Scotland has a tradition of letting all and sundry vote for ideological reasons then that is one of the reasons we are still locked into a union which doesn’t work for us. No other country has such a tradition of shooting themselves in the foot. The UK didn’t allow EU citizens to vote in the brexit vote because no country has to let everyone vote on a constitutional vote. We are holding ourselves to a higher standard than other countries and that is why we are in this situation.


    1. So you are opposed to high standards?

      When you look at the brexit referendum and the effect it has had on EU citizens lives I think it is very arguable that they should have had a vote. These are not just fruit pickers who fly in for a season and out again. These are people who have chosen to make their lives in the UK and in Scotland on the understanding that they were free to do so. They have enriched our streets with shops selling produce we do not normally see, they have enriched our workplaces and our lives with their presence. Certainly, they should have had a vote on brexit.

      Your argument that Scotland should do something, however wrong it is, because the UK has done it is spectacularly poor. If we are going to do the things that the UK does, then what exactly is the point of independence?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The problem is that the “high standards” will leave us with nothing. We wouldn’t have got a vote on the constitutions of any of the EU countries and most EU citizens voted against Scotland ending the union. I was on a Yes stall at one point and got sneering contempt from a German man and Polish woman. They believed the British media that we wouldn’t have any currency. As far as I know, neither are still in Scotland but they were part of the No vote. The exclusion of non UK citizens in the brexit vote was the world norm. Also, do you really think that if the boot was on the other foot that we would get a vote if we were Scots resident in England and England wanted to end the union.


      2. I think EU citizens in Scotland have learnt from their mistake. Those that made the mistake that is. And I don’t think you should be overly influenced by one German man and one Polish woman.

        What you are offering with an ethnically defined franchise is a deeply unattractive Scotland and to argue that England might do it is no justification at all. We want to get away from Britishness and you are making a big mistake to start the journey by embracing what you think the English may do. Scotland is loads better than that.

        Liked by 1 person

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