As things stand, Scotland falls

I realise Shona is trying to smile through the pain here. Using humour to cork her bottled anger. But I’m obliged to take her to task for a particular comment. She writes,

Perhaps Johnson imagines the MP for Orkney and Shetland is in fact in favour of bypassing the referendum process and going for UDI?

I can’t let that one slip by. It just isn’t the case that UDI means “bypassing the referendum”. UDI – or more precisely and to avoid just such confusion – Scottish UDI is simply another route to a referendum. An alternative to the Section 30 process which is so greatly admired by both our First Minister and any British Nationalist you might care to mention. The Section 30 process that Nicola Sturgeon refers to as the “gold standard”. She’s almost correct. The Section 30 is the BRITISH gold standard. That’s why it’s in the Act of the British parliament which serves to justify the withholding of powers which rightfully belong with the Scottish Parliament.

Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 is a constitutional catch-all in case anybody found a loophole elsewhere in the legislation by which Scotland might challenge the Union. It’s there to give the British Prime Minister authority to strip even more powers from the Scottish Parliament. It’s there as the British state’s safeguard against the Scottish Parliament becoming troublesome. It’s there to reassure those who thought devolution would put their precious Union in jeopardy.

It’s there to maintain the pretence of a democratic route out of the Union within the legal and constitutional framework of the British state. It’s actual purpose is to allow the British Prime Minister an effective veto over the right of self-determination which, according to international laws and conventions, cannot be denied or constrained.

Failing an outright veto, the Section 30 process (NOT the legislation but the established process) affords the British state a role in Scotland’s exercise of the right of self-determination such as is deprecated by international laws and conventions. A role which can all too readily be used to sabotage the entire exercise.

It’s easy to see why the Section 30 process might earn the “gold standard” accolade from those who are determined to formalise the 313-years of annexation by having Scotland subsumed into a ‘Greater England’ called Britain. It’s not so easy to see why the Section 30 process is so favoured by the de facto figurehead in the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. Not easy at all. Impossible, in fact.

A thought occurs. Nicola Sturgeon is reputed to be a smart lawyer. Given the true nature of the Section 30 process, I’m prepared to venture a small wager that had she been involved in the negotiations she would have fought tooth and nail to have Section 30 removed. Now, she all but signs a pledge to it in her own blood. Section 30 hasn’t changed. What has?

Maybe it’s the weight of the irony that’s getting me down. Or maybe it’s reading comments from within the Yes movement which help to feed and amplify and propagate the British Nationalist / Nicola Sturgeon line that Scotland pursuing withdrawal in the more normal way would be “illegal and unconstitutional”.

The Section 30 process will not work as a route to independence. That is not its purpose. That would be totally contrary to its purpose. It follows, therefore, that there must be an alternative process. A process entirely made and managed in Scotland under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament and other of Scotland’s democratic institutions – even if those institutions have to be created.

It is this alternative process – actually the ‘default’ process to the extent that there is such a thing – which is referred to as #ScottishUDI. At the very heart of that process lies a referendum. Far from #ScottishUDI bypassing or foregoing or excluding a referendum, it is entirely built around the principle of popular sovereignty. It is NOT as liars on both sides of the constitutional divide maintain, a means of preventing the people of Scotland from having the final say. #ScottishUDI is the only way the people of Scotland will have their say.

Section 30 is all about denying and curtailing democracy. #ScottishUDI is all about enabling and facilitating democracy.

It hardly matters. As we move into the end-game of the constitutional battle, the process of locking our ancient and once-proud nation into a Union which defines Scotland as an integral part and mere region of an indivisible and indissoluble British state, is considerable in advance of any moves towards independence. Which is inevitable because there are no moves towards independence. Nicola Sturgeon remains immovably wedded to the Section 30 process. Unless and until she and her party and her government explicitly vacate and renounce their absolute commitment to that process there can be no moves towards independence.

It appears that the lady is not for turning.

Things can change. As I’m sure someone will point out under the illusion that uttering such banalities makes them seem wise. But, as things stand, Nicola Sturgeon is not going to be persuaded from the folly of committing to a process which is critically dependent on the full, willing, unstinting and honest cooperation of the very people most determined to ensure that Scotland never regains her self-respect never mind her independence.

Those people are winning.

To prevent the British Nationalist juggernaut crushing Scotland out of existence, the Section 30 process must go! Or Nicola Sturgeon must go! But only if she is replaced by someone who is prepared to face up to the reality of Scotland’s predicament.

That is not going to happen.

It’s not going to happen because there is nothing and nobody to make it happen. The only possibility of ‘persuading’ Nicola Sturgeon to abandon the Section 30 process was a unified Yes movement. And there’s as much chance of that as there is of Nicola Sturgeon unilaterally declaring Scotland independent.

As things stand, Scotland falls.

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24 thoughts on “As things stand, Scotland falls

  1. I like to agree to the most points, however I see Nicola Sturgeon role differently.
    You say rightfully that Nicola Sturgeon is a smart lawyer. I believe she’s using Section30 as a diversion, to show the WM contempt for Scotland and gain more support. Opinion polls in January / February show that the strategy was right as more YES vote could be counted.
    But Nicola Sturgeon seeks a clear YES – best a 2/3 majority – befor she makes the next move. She also seeks the international acceptance for the Scottish UID To gain the international support Nicola Sturgeon was visiting several country and for sure there was talk about Scotland’s independents.
    Of cause Vovid19 stopped all this, but showed the world that Scotland has a capable FM.
    Nicola Sturgeon mentioned in a speach to hold a national assembly of all elected representatives this year. This would be the next move and the start for the ScottishUDI followed by a Referendum – as you say, it is the Default Plan.

    I see Nicola Sturgeon as a strategist and she is playing her independence-chess-match against WM.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard that argument many, many times. But if she had such a devious plan in mind why did she commit to the Section 30 process in a way that makes it extremely difficult to do a U-turn? She didn’t have to say the things she did about it be the only ‘legal and constitutional way’. If you and all those others were right, she was effectively declaring illegal and unconstitutional the very thing she was planning on doing.

      That makes even less sense than committing to the Section 30 process at all!

      As for the stuff about gaining more support, when? Where is it? There was supposed to be a Brexit bounce. Still hasn’t happened. There was supposed to be a Boris bounce. There was supposed to be repeated bounces from the way Scotland was being treated by the Brits. Nope!

      The fact is that none of that works for you unless you make it work for you. A little thing called campaigning. Sitting back and letting your opponents get on with it doesn’t even sound like a strategy. Once you’ve endured with saintly forbearance innumerable slaps on every cheek you have, people start to think you enjoy it. They start to think you deserve it. They start to think the slapping is just part of the game. They lose interest. There is no incremental effect. The public’s attention span is way too short.

      That thing about not interrupting your enemy when they’re making a mistake is a pile of lumpy pish. If you don’t exploit your enemy’s mistakes then nobody will even know they’ve made a mistake. And what if the mistake is to shoot you in the head?

      Who the hell wants independence by a sympathy vote, anyway? Or as a consolation prize for coming second in the political slapping contest? Or as compensation for having to endure abuse that you actually didn’t have to endure?

      Power is not given. It sure as hell doesn’t fall out of your arse as you’re bending over to get kicked AGAIN! Power is taken! There must be an act of taking.


      1. Why she committed to Section30 ?
        Until she explains her self, we are left with speculation.
        Maybe her commitment to Section30 and the “silence” around any plan “B” from the SNP leadership is only to keep Boris Johnson in a false sense of security while she prepares the field for an UID.
        After a national assembly that demands Independence, she could withdraw her commitment easily.

        I can’t see any other explanation.


      2. Here, here there comes a point where we have to stand up for what we believe in. And stop pandering to the Westminster establishment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Why do you always choose Friday as your day for an upbeat message, Peter?

    As usual, I can’t fault your argument. However, what changes politics? Events dear boy, events!

    I do admire Nicola Sturgeon and her star is in the ascendant over her government’s handling of the COVID19 crisis.

    Johnson and Cummings, however, are on the opposite trajectory given their performance in what can only be described as an ongoing healthcare debacle. Some English based analysts are already pondering Johnson’s fate. The Tory party are ruthless and as soon as Keir Starmer’s Labour Party start to make a dent in their lead, the knives will be out. It seems they are already being sharpened.

    J & C have a gift for winning public votes and for screwing up completely whilst in office. They may not see out the year in Downing Street.

    Scotland may be far down the list of the Tory party’s priorities as we approach the winter. This is even more likely if they see another spike in the epidemic as their careless, headless chicken approach to government would portend.

    So, I would suggest, we may be up against a dithering prime minister fighting for his political life, when we come to the end of this year. This could be a relatively easy fight if Nicola pays any heed to the way the wind is blowing.

    I do not think Nicola Sturgeon is intransigent. There may be value in her allowing her enemy to think this and then blindside him. I also believe she will emerge from this well-handled national emergency transformed, confident and impatient.

    What Nicola really needs – like she needs oxygen -is the confidence that the majority of the nation will back her when she and her government strike for independence.

    When the polls show consistent and clear majority support for independence and when the people are clearly and loudly demanding the final showdown; we will see if she has the stomach, the wherewithal and the ambition.

    She needs to win the battle in Scotland first and needs to know she has won. After that, the rest will take care of itself.

    “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not events. Actions! Macmillan was making excuses, not waxing wise.

      Nicola Sturgeon has, in my experience and to the best of my recall, been likened to a samurai warrior, a military commander, a chess master, a professional poker player, a fox, a fly and a top exponent of too many sports and arts to mention. The one thing she is rarely likened to is the leader of a national liberation movement.

      While it might be nice to have all those other things, it’s appropriate leadership that we really, really need.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m agreeing with you, Peter. I am just saying things are not as bleak (yet) as you seem to think, although I accept you have heard it all before.

        When I say events cause changes, I mean they present opportunities. A good leader will take advantage of these occasions.

        I am also saying is that I believe before the end of this year we need to see what Nicola Sturgeon is really made of. The fight for Scotland’s future is definitely heading for a climax.

        The final showdown should be at a time of her choosing and she needs to win. That is how she will be judged.

        I want this fight to be won before Brexit.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I am a realist. With a pretty good understanding of politics and people. I find no cause for optimism. No reason for hope. I challenge anybody to describe a credible process by which we get from here to independence. Or even to a referendum. Those who don’t understand the terms “describe” and/or “process” should refrain from wasting my time and testing my patience with wishful fantasies.


    2. Lions 67 – might I suggest we are up against a dithering First Minister, a quality not lost on the Westminster brigade who are quite happy to play along with the Section 30 fallacy as it contains no threat to the established order.

      It might well be the case that Nicola Sturgeon will emerge from this current pandemic with enhanced credentials however, her administrative nous quite clearly does not extend to campaigning for Scottish Independence and her intransigence in this regard can no longer be seen as some form of tactical wizardry.

      It is I believe the case that the IDEALOGICAL commitment to PROGRESS Scottish Independence is not present currently within the ranks of the SNP policy controllers and we must understand that Nicola Sturgeon is a key player within that cohort.

      With regard to winning battles, many miles have been tramped since 2014 in the quest for Independence without any form of leadership emanating from the official SNP and under the continuing stewardship of Nicola Sturgeon NONE WILL BE FORTHCOMING. To win any campaign it is necessary to do just that CAMPAIGN AND TO BE SEEN AND HEARD CAMPAIGNING. Any backsliding in this regard by the SNP is to hold the principle of Scottish Independence in CONTEMPT.

      The SNP do not hold the monopoly of thought in regard to the principle of Scottish Independence and it ill behoves the hierarchy to think otherwise.


      1. Robert, I share your pain. I would find it hard to argue with anything you say.

        I reported in a previous contribution to this forum that I had recently written to my SNP MP to specifically ask when the SNP were going to deliver the end of this union. I received a reply from a parliamentary assistant which pretty much confirmed our concerns that this will depend on a referendum, sometime after the next Holyrood elections and it conveyed no sense of urgency and dodged the questions I asked about plans B through Z. This would tie in with your concerns above.

        I am trying to give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt during this epidemic. She is a good leader and seems more than a match for anything the Tories can throw at us.

        If you read what I say, I stress that I feel a sense of urgency and that we need to see what this SNP administration is made of before we crash out of the EU on Hogmanay.

        If there is no further movement on this most critical issue by September, then I think the frustration of independence activists may boil over and serious and urgent questions need to be asked of this Scottish government. Then I will believe that the leadership is dithering and swithering and looking unfit to break the deadlock and win the prize.

        I totally agree with Peter A Bell’s mantra, ‘ Independence, nothing less and nothing else.’

        I may be an eternal optimist but I strongly believe two things:

        1. Independence will come. I believe it will be decided within the next year.
        2. It won’t be given to us. It is up to us to go out and take it back.

        It may get nasty but that just may be the price we have to pay. It just requires enough of us to do what needs to be done.

        England is fighting to hold on to a possession. We are fighting to preserve our country.

        In that scenario, I fancy our chances.


  3. It used to annoy me, but I’m now very happy to see Section 30 referred to as the “Gold Standard” – a monetary system abandoned in the 1930’s because it placed too much of a constraint on the ability to positively manage the economy. The Gold Standard was abandoned as no longer fit for purpose, Section 30 should be abandoned for the same reason.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. You have a good conceit of yourself, Mr Bell.

    If you see no cause for optimism and no reason for hope, what are you about then? Are you the Private Frazer of pro-independence bloggers?

    I think several contributors today have made sensible points only to be rudely insulted.

    Winning the hearts and minds of the people is key to the process. You’re not helping in that respect today.

    I’ll come back when you’re in a better mood.


  5. “It’s not so easy to see why the Section 30 process is so favoured by the de facto figurehead in the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. Not easy at all. Impossible, in fact.”

    Like it or lump it, the motivation seems clear enough to me. Not everyone is at all convinced that UDI would work, or at least go anything like smoothly, whereas with a S30 order in place all that would be required would be a majority in favour in Scotland for Indy to go ahead smoothly and perhaps even peacefully. That at least would be the hope. Having agree to the process, Westminster would be hard pressed to find grounds to oppose Scotland’s leaving of the UK … which is not to say they wouldn’t try …

    So the thinking goes, I presume, that only when all attempts to do it England’s way have failed or been blocked, could any more drastic unilateral move be justified.

    TBH I’m surprised you can’t see the logic here, even if you disagree with attempting this route.


    1. There is no logic involved in committing to a process which cannot possibly provide the outcome that you seek. You seem to be labouring under the delusion that Section 30 exists for the benefit of Scotland’s independence movement. You appear to believe that it’s purpose is to afford us a democratic route to independence. So naive!


      1. Simply that to take enough people with you, you need to exhaust all legal/constitutional remedies before risking outright rebellion.

        I’m well aware of the purpose of S30, but the point is that it does exist and is a part of UK law.


        1. Who defines these “legal/constitutional remedies”? Do you suppose there to be some limit to the number of hoops that can be manufactured? I’ll give you a clue. It’s always one more than we are able to jump through. Why would anybody believe there could possibly be a route to breaking the Union within a legal and constitutional framework developed for the purpose of preserving the Union? It makes no sense.


          1. You may well be correct, but how do you imagine you can convince a majority of that POV? Not to mention gain international support for outright ‘rebellion’ ? Worked well for Ireland didn’t it? They’re still stuck with the resulting mess, not to mention the cost, several generations later.


  6. I see Peter Wishart is at it again!
    He ahs another scribble in The National today
    I really think this MP hasn’t a clue about the Treaty of Union, and what it means.
    He is concerned about being compared to Catalonia!
    Sorry, Pete, but Scotland is a totally different country, I mean Pete, Scotland is a country!
    If MP Wishart is so ultra cautious as he sounds, he shouldn’t be in the SNP.
    Lib Dems might suit him better, or Labour!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The course of action should in large part be determined by that which your opponent fears the most. As in poker or any confrontation one tries to keep that hidden.
    One thing I’m certain about is the colonial establishment, the real authority behind Scotlands subjugation, fear UDI, a risky ‘all in’ move, considerable less than a protracted legal and constitutional battle which over time is more likely to throw up factors outside their direct control.
    In my opinion, as one with some personal knowledge of colonialism, UDI would fail. Its a landscape familiar to the Whitehall powers and one they already have contingencies in place for.
    UDI would be the blue touch paper to violent unrest, which after distortion by a hostile MSM, which would paint a public picture that justified draconian measures on a Northern Ireland scale, troops would patrol our streets. Something they would feel quite comfortable with. martial law. direct rule from london, unfettered access to all north britains resources and as cameron said ‘all dreams of Scottish independence shall remain dreams’.
    Annihilation, enslavement, assimilation … the three destinies of the defeated.
    After 300 years of assimilation via colonisation … the natives of Scotland are unlikely to have a backbone robust enough and large enough to stand with AK47 across the M8 and A1 … for that is surely is what UDI would need to succeed.


    1. What UDI? It’s not a single tightly defined thing. It’s different in every case. You have decided to define it as something that won’t work. The Scotland of your overworked imagination is not the Scotland the rest of us live in.


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