The viability test

If Plan A can work, then why are its proponents completely unable to explain how it will work? If the Section 30 process is a viable route to independence then it should be possible to describe each step in that process. Those steps should individually be credible and in aggregate lead to a free and fair referendum. Why is it that none of those who insist that the Section 30 process must adhered to are able or willing to lay out the process that they have in mind when they refer to that process? Why is it that nobody who claims that Plan A will work is prepared to even respond meaningful to any enquiry about the details?

All we know about Plan A – the Section 30 process – from direct observation is that it has a near perfect record of failure. The only time it even came close to working was 2014. But even though the 2014 referendum happened, the circumstances were totally different. Those circumstances will never arise again. We have to consider whether Plan A is viable now. And since 2014 Plan A has only failed. Requests for a Section 30 order have either been refused or they have not been made because refusal was a certainty. Plan A falls at the second hurdle. The first being persuading the Scottish Government to request the Section 30 order in the first place.

We either know or, mindful of the precautionary principle, we must assume from the available evidence that Plan A is bound to fail. The usual thing would be for the proponents of the plan to seek to persuade others of its viability. The absence of any meaningful effort to make a case for Plan A stands as further evidence that it is not viable. Simply asserting that it is the only ‘legal and constitutional’ process does not constitute a case. It is perfectly possible for a process to be both ‘legal’ and ‘constitutional’ and still be totally unworkable. Besides which, the onus is on the advocates of the British state’s “gold standard” to clearly demonstrate that the Section 30 process is ‘legal and constitutional’. And that it is the only process that is ‘legal and constitutional’. Otherwise, their claim is mere empty assertion.

Plan A’s proponents repeat like some kind of religious mantra the claim that refusal of a Section 30 order is “untenable”. But what does that even mean? I know that the word ‘untenable’ means unjustifiable and/or indefensible. But what does it mean in this context? Suppose we accept that continued refusal of a Section 30 order is, indeed, ‘untenable’. Suppose that it had shot straight to the top ten of the most ‘untenable’ things ever. Suppose it is now holding the number one spot despite numerous challenges from accomplished exponents of the unjustifiable and indefensible such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and the Israeli government. In what way does this make Plan A viable?

The insistence that continued refusal of a Section 30 order is ‘untenable’ is intended to suggest that the British Prime Minister is bound to back down. But why would they? Why should the British Prime Minister be in the slightest bit troubled by the fact that their position is unjustifiable and indefensible when there is nothing in law that requires them to justify or defend that position? The language is intended to imply that the position of denying a Section 30 order cannot be maintained indefinitely. But the reality is that it can be maintained indefinitely – and beyond. We know, or must assume this from the evidence. That evidence being the effortless ease with which the position has been and is being maintained.

The British Prime Minister’s refusal of a Section 30 order only becomes unsustainable – rather than merely ‘untenable’ – when there is a cost pursuant to that refusal which is greater than the benefit derived. There is no cost. The benefit is massive. Unless that changes, Plan A cannot sensibly even pretend to be workable.

If it is so certain that Plan A is not viable, why propose it? Why insist on it? That is for the advocates of Plan A to explain. But we might wonder why those who propose an alternative approach might demand that Mike Russell start the run up to the permission hurdle immediately. Why else but to demonstrate to the voting public that Plan A falters even at the first hurdle of getting the Scottish Government to submit a request, and so strengthen the case for their Plan B. Whether the Scottish Government refuses to submit a request or submits a request that is refused, the need for an alternative is more obvious and persuasive.

At this point we may postulate a position which is both untenable and unsustainable. If Mike Russell refuses to act on the demand to submit a Section 30 order he will be in a position that cannot be justified or defended and which could be electorally very costly for the SNP. And if the request is submitted only to be treated as contemptuously as its predecessors, Plan a is once again shown to be unworkable. Which is good news for Plan B.

But is Plan B good for Scotland’s cause? That’s a separate topic. It will be up to Angus MacNeil and Chris McEleny to persuade us that Plan B is viable. They’ll have to do a lot better than the proponents of Plan A.

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26 thoughts on “The viability test

  1. The “Twa Auld Heids”, myself and Dave Llewellyn, will record a discussion with Chris McEleny this Saturday, for viewing, all being well, via Independence Live channels next Tuesday.

    Immediately after the video, and when the points raised and discussed have been aired, a poll will be added to gain, we hope, an initial reaction to what has been discussed. That will be in addition to any posted comments that anyone wishes to make.

    To avoid that one aspect (the poll) being way over simplistic, we have invited representatives from various Yes Groups from across Scotland to take part in a further meeting and video, which we hope will appear as soon as possible thereafter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It would be good to know that a range of views will be represented. As I have pointed out, there is a danger that those who have recognised the utter pointlessness of Plan A will latch on to Angus and Chris’s Plan B as an alternative. And it isn’t. It’s not so much an alternative to Plan A as a supplement to it. It does not reject the Section 30 process. So it is not a solution. It’s value lies solely in the fact that it represents a challenge to Plan A.

      The danger is that other approaches to the constitutional issue will now be sidelined in favour of Plan B in the same way that Plan B has been sidelined in favour of Plan A.


  2. Section 30 [the gold standard] has been tried just the once. And it failed. Not for any reason specific to the Section 30 process, but because we did not get the numbers. There is no great reason to think that we might lose with a Section 30 referendum whereas we might win with a referendum under another process.

    I want to see one more time of asking with a Section 30. I won’t be much disappointed if we don’t get it, because we have other options.


    1. What do you mean by ‘the Section 30 process’?

      In 2014, the process was to accept a Section 30 order that was offered. Since then, a Section 30 order has been asked for at least twice.

      Whatever this mythical ‘Gold Standard’ process is, it is not the same process through which the Referendum of 2014 was held. There is a huge difference between accepting something that is offered and requesting something that will never again be given.


      1. You are perfectly correct. I was making precisely this point when I wrote,

        “But even though the 2014 referendum happened, the circumstances were totally different. Those circumstances will never arise again.”

        When I refer to the Section 30 process I mean the process as it has become since 2014. A process which relies on the goodwill and good grace of the British establishment. A process which is, therefore, nonsensical.

        But we should be clear that it is not only nonsensical because the permission it requires will not be granted by the British state. It is nonsensical also because even were that permission to be forthcoming the process still could not lead to a free and fair referendum. The very fact of external influence renders the process invalid. And that is just as true if the external interference has been invited by the Scottish Government.

        And all of this is before we get to the issue of how so much as asking for permission compromises the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. That sovereignty is NOT up for negotiation. A referendum secured at the cost of any compromising of popular sovereignty is a referendum bought at too high a cost for something that is ours anyway.


  3. I’m wondering if, in their discussions with our FM, the EU has said that she must get a Section 30 before they’ll recognise Scotland as an independent country. If this is the case, surely the EU would recognise that by not being granted a Section 30 after asking three times, Scotland can hold a referendum without one, with their acceptance of the outcome that Scotland is an independent country.

    And no, we shouldn’t have to ask permission from another country. The above is just a thought.


    1. It’s an important thought! Specifically when you start bringing “international recognition” onto the multi dimensional chess board involved.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why does everybody imagine that “international recognition” is an issue? It isn’t. I keep thinking people will get better at spotting propaganda. But I suppose if they did there would be no propaganda.

        If you’re thinking outside the British box then you’re not fretting about whether Scotland will get international recognition but wondering how much sympathy the British state might garner. Reframig starts in your own mind. Otherwise, how can you hope to convey it to other minds?


    2. I think that this is essentially the case. The EU [while the UK was a member of the EU] would only accept and cooperate with Scottish Independence if it was achieved ‘constitutionally’ within the framework of the member state [the UK] because they would not want to be seen to engage in the break up of a member state.

      While we are in the transition period, I would expect that to still hold, although more weakly. But once that is finished, I don’t think that the EU will hold to these niceties. For that reason, although I agree that an extension to the transition period is entirely sensible, if Scotland were clearly minded to vote for Independence, it would be better not to have the extension.

      Overall, I don’t see the 2014 Section 30 order as ‘permission’, I see it as an orderly consensual agreement to test Independence in a civilised way – and much as I detest Cameron, I do respect him for that. However, the refusals of subsequent requests are quite valuable in showing that the voluntary union, postulated by Thatcher and upheld by Cameron, is not a reality and that the Section 30 is transitioning to ‘permission’.

      If Holyrood 2021 is not a plebiscite election [and produces an Indy majority], then I am prepared to do one more time of asking for the Section 30 and then to tread our own path when [not if] it is refused. Overall, I think we will be better placed with another refusal in our pocket. In fact I want a 3rd refusal.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What really bothers me.
    Why oh why with all the SNP politicians, the only thing they seem
    To ask is , we need a planned route.
    Don’t they know.
    This bugs me, especially when folks are coming up with answers.
    Has any of them asked the EU and the UN folk if they recognise a specific route skirting the Engerlish parliament.
    Onwards and upwards


  5. According to Indycar Gordon, a second request for a section 30 order is, after all, part of a cunning plan, a plan more cunning…etc.

    It seems that as well as persuading the majority of our own population of the desirability of ending the union, we must also persuade the rest of the world that we left no stone unturned in our efforts to secure a ‘bloodless’ resolution to these issues of state.

    It appears the SNP are playing the ‘long game’ and are betting on the miseries of no-deal Brexit – job losses, recession, food shortages, lack of medicines – following on from Britain’s bungling of the COVID19 emergency, to have Scots ‘running to the polling stations.’

    If this is the cunning plan then it is not without its risks and the SNP leadership could be accused of profiteering from human misery as much as the Tories. Bereft of imagination themselves, they now depend on the Tories driving the Scottish electorate into their wimpish arms.


      1. The World according to Ting A Ling………..most of us are feckin idiots

        Ting A Ling makes sense most of the time but now again he lobs a childish tantrum into the dialogue and if you question his motivation he justifies it by saying:

        ‘it’s my blog and I will say what I want and if you don’t like it Fuck Off.

        Excuse my ignorance but I was under the impression that the indy blogs belonged to all of us.
        What a feckin idiot I am


  6. Lions67, whilst I totally agree with your final comment, I don’t recognise what you’ve said re Gordon Ross. I regularly listen to Gordon, and he’s as desperate to see an end to the SNP paralysis as the rest of us, which is why he’s joined the ISP.

    As well as internal pressure, the SNP now also need to feel an external pressure. They need to feel the anger of much of the wider Yes movement.

    England is moving at pace towards its destiny, which will include dismantling the devolution settlement and locking Scotland into a unitary state forever.

    We need to move at the same pace to get out, while we can.


  7. THERE IS NO CUNNING PLAN in place to progress Scotland’s Independence. Whatever ‘cunning’ exists within the SNP hierarchy it is being deployed to frustrate the aspirations of ALL who would seek Independence and the tragedy is that it is not being openly challenged particularly within the SNP grassroots membership.

    The movement for Independence must now seriously consider taking the initiative away from the proponents of the charade that is portrayed by this Section 30 nonsense. Nicola Sturgeon has previously sought mandates to deliver the case for Scottish Independence to Westminster and has reneged on each occasion to fulfill that obligation placed on her in the office of First Minister of Scotland.

    Whatever the outcome of this present pandemic holds the approaching scenario of a no deal Brexit will UNDOUBTEDLY massively impact the UK and as a consequence the government at Westminster will seek to enact emergency powers legislation which in all probability would lead to the emasculation of any political mandate held at HOLYROOD.

    The people of Scotland must wake up to this oncoming political Tsunami. NOW IS NOT THE TIME to wait for a day that there is no rain forecast. Scotland’s future lies in the hands of her people and of necessity cannot be entrusted to some amorphous clique embedded within the portals of BUTE HOUSE.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Responding to jim4indy I do agree what you say about Gordon Ross and I think Peter Bell’s ‘pish’ comment is typical of what he says about all of us who don’t have a giant all-seeing brain like his. Except, his giant brain is wasted on producing insults instead of progress.Shame because most of us agree with him most of the time. Double shame that he will probably either insult or ignore my opinion.

    Gordon on the other hand actually sees enough to predict future events which often prove accurate. I started following him when he foresaw that Brexit would fall apart around the Northern Ireland issue. It did and it still remains unresolved.

    We hear nothing about this still undetermined issue on the news now (how odd).

    Nor do we hear how this particular issue will scupper any UK trade deal with the US. The Irish influence in US politics is huge and any threat to the Good Friday Agreement by the UK will probably prove fatal.

    I wonder if the EU is simply now providing the brainless Bojo administration with enough rope to finally hang itself over the North of Ireland issue?

    I agree that Tory England is moving at a typically reckless pace towards something-or-other, probably disaster.

    There is a danger of Scotland being outflanked by mad idiots and I doubt the SNP leadership see the danger of dealing with an unpredictable, ruthless and ‘could not give a f***’ enemy intent on a power grab.

    We are dealing with unprecedented events in many ways. The outcome is unpredictable, my best guess is that this clusterfuck will be good for Scotland and speed independence.

    The only thing I would say for sure is; if a majority of Scots decide they want independence, there is no law, no order of parliament, no military might, no historical precedent to stop it happening.

    When independence is the settled will of the people, it will happen.

    Until then it is all froth and bubble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Or maybe it’s just that Indy Car Gordon is talking pish. He has form. He told all his avid and apparently rather gullible listeners that the passing of the Referendums Bill meant the Scottish Government no longer ‘required’ a Section 30 order. Just a few days ago I made some comments about the pop-up parties and their cunning plans – criticism and questions – only for the entire thread to disappear after I wrote a lengthy response explaining the major issues with these new list parties. This is not the behaviour of a sensible or honest individual.

      You would do well to learn that your disagreement with or disapproval of a comment doesn’t define the motives of the person making that comment. If I say something is pish it’s because I have good reason to consider it pish. And that is certainly true in the case of the highly imaginative theory that Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to Section 30 is part of some brilliant ‘long game’ strategy. You don’t need a “giant all-seeing brain” to figure this out. You just need to use the one you have. Think! Ask the probing questions!

      If the commitment was merely a ruse, why would she paint herself so completely into a corner with it? If it were some kind of ploy, why would she commit so absolutely and irrevocably? If she were planning on rejecting the Section 30 process at some point, why has she left herself no get-out? If the long-term plan is to have Boris Johnson forced by public opinion to relent and grant a Section 30 order, in what way does the ‘long game’ differ from the short one? And why would a supposedly clever politician adopt a ‘plan’ that is critically dependent on something totally outwith her control?

      I could go on. But perhaps you’d like to try some of that thinking for yourself. Take my word for it, you’ll find it more rewarding than petulant knee-jerking.


    2. Regard Northern Ireland and Brexit, ……next to everybody with any sense, could see how that was never going to go the way London wanted it.
      Everything from the Peace Process, to trade, and international relations, and internal UK relations.
      It seems that in Scotland, all these issues were raised during the Brexit campaign in 2016.
      They paid no attention to it in England, and the pro Brexit lot simply ignored it completely.
      Some us debated those points in newspaper Forums.
      I wouldn’t say Gordon Ross was any way unique in his predictions.
      However, he does have a forum, via his web Links, which gives his opinions a wider audience.
      But he is simply telling it as it is, regards NI, and that others have already been pointing out.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I do think about these things every day and that is why I follow this blog and others. I have read what you have said about pop-up parties and I will watch developments with interest. I’ll be interested to see if your predictions are as accurate as Gordon Ross or even Indytruck Davy who saw COVID19 becoming a pandemic in December.

    I don’t believe Nicola Sturgeon has ‘painted herself into a corner’ over Section30. If she has she’ll just slip out of that corner when it suits her purpose. She’s a politician. They are all slippery, slithering. slimy slugs. Boris Johnson paints himself in and out of corners every week.


  10. We don’t have to ask for anything we should just do it. Put it to the people who were born in this country, we don’t need to ask Westminister for anything. So camoan Nik, instruct the CEO’s of every Local Authority in Scotland to conduct a vote and just get on with it. The niceities can be worked out later


    1. No, an ethnic franchise is unacceptable. It has to be people who have made their lives here and who will be citizens.. Quite why PAB likes this, I don’t understand.


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