C’mon! Be honest! Did you ever imagine yourself saying of anything uttered by Alex Cole-Hamilton, Jackie Baillie and/or Murdo Fraser, they’ve got a point?Holyrood committee chief faces rebellion over Alex Salmond inquiry
I started my day with the above comment on a report in The National about the three individuals named objecting to Linda Fabiani ruling out of order questions to Leslie Evans regarding the claim that some arrangement had been put in place to prevent Alex Salmond being left alone with women. It is indeed remarkable to find anyone from any of the British parties squatting in Scotland’s Parliament saying something which might even be considered sensible, never mind reasonable and valid. You may decide for yourself just how remarkable after reading the article.
Imagine my surprise when, having just been obliged to allow that three British Nationalist MSPs had been talking something akin to sense, I found myself inclined to say the same of the SNP Westminster group’s font of all thing drivel, Pete Wishart! The man who has been known to give British Labour in Scotland’s Jame Kelly MSP stiff competition when it comes to talking total pish had actually made some sensible points!
Alex Cole-Hamilton! Jackie Baillie! Murdo Fraser! And now Pete Wishart! Had I fallen down some kind of Lewis Carroll-type rabbit-hole when I rolled out of bed a 04:45 to rescue airing towels from the snatching gusts of Storm Kyle that had roused me with persistent door-banging? Should I return to bed in the hope that when I rise again the world might have returned to the sort of abnormality to which I have become accustomed?
But no! The weird phenomenon is not to be denied. The National’s report is accurate. And an understandably reluctant venture into Pete the Postponer’s musings and mutterings from Perthshire confirms that he has indeed made some very pertinent and quite well-argued points as he sets out his reasons for not contributing to the ‘People’s Action on Section 30’ fundraiser. Points, many of which I myself have made as I expressed my strong reservations about this ‘initiative’.
For example, he observes that, once initiated, legal actions tend to run and run. If lawyers aren’t exactly renowned for their imagination it may be because they exhaust their allotted portion on devising ways to prolong proceedings and, not in the slightest bit incidentally, keep the billable hours piling up. Which is fine if you’re a litigant with access to the trough that’s perpetually topped-up by taxpayers. Not so much when you’re depending on the generosity of the public. Not even when that public is the famously open-handed Yes movement.
Pete Wishart also makes the point that “there are many good reasons why both sides in this debate have left this issue unresolved”. Which is certainly true. Although he might also have agreed with me that the competence of the Scottish Parliament should be assumed on the basis of its exclusive democratic legitimacy, being the only Parliament which is actually elected by the sovereign people of Scotland. He might have acknowledged that it is for the Scottish Government to assert that competence. He might have insisted that the onus is on the British state to challenge that competence not the people of Scotland who most of all should assume the democratic legitimacy of their own Parliament. But he doesn’t. Which is a bit of a bummer and rather spoils that whole ‘rabbit-hole alternative reality’ thing we had going.
Mr Wishart’s main reason for withholding financial support from the ‘People’s Action on Section 30’, however, is the very high risk of failure and the problems this would entail. Martin Keatings, whose project this is, casually dismisses such concerns maintaining that because of the type of action it is, losing would leave the fight to restore Scotland’s independence no worse off. Everything to gain and nothing to lose! (If that little gobbet of snake-oil pedlar’s patter seems familiar it may because you’ve been listening to those alternative party evangelicals. Don’t!)
And Martin may be right – in strictly legal terms. It may be that, while the action being upheld would certainly give the independence campaign a boost – and satisfyingly confound those who insist that the Section 30 process is the “only legal and constitutional” way to have a new referendum – having the declaration rejected would not alter the law in any way. But here we encounter the problem so often associated with abstraction. Whatever the purpose for which something has been abstracted from its full and proper context, it must ultimately fit back into that context. The purpose of the abstraction must not alter the thing in such a way as to prevent it returning to its context. In this particular part of the multiverse we even have a version of Pete Wishart who acknowledges that the constitutional issue is a political rather than a legal matter.
I also fundamentally believe that where legal actions may at some time be required, Scottish independence will be determined by political means and not through initiatives in the courts.
I was both surprised and delighted to read this. Although I was to be disappointed again as it later turns out that this belief may not be so fundamental after all.
For the moment, however, lets stick with the very powerful point that regardless of how ‘neutral’ a negative result might be whilst the question is in the realm of law, it becomes a very different matter when brought back where it belongs in the political arena. In political terms losing the action would mean pretty much whatever the British Nationalists and their accomplices in the British media want it to mean. I confidently predict that the Daily Express headline will declare the outcome a fatal blow to Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘separatist’ ambitions. A sentiment which would be loudly parroted by the likes of Alex Cole-Hamilton, Jackie Baillie and Murdo Fraser.
With commendable understatement Pete Wishart suggests only that,
… securing a judgement that a Scottish designed independence referendum is ‘illegal’ might just gift them a boost to their moribund campaign.
Aye, Pete! The same kind of “boost” as a certain Victor Frankenstein gave to that collection of crudely re-purposed cadaver components. And with a no less gruesome monster as a result.
So far, Pete Wishart and I seem to be in agreement. Which remains the case even after I’ve pinched myself quite painfully enough to rouse me from a medically-induced coma, never mind a mere fantastical reverie. But only so far. Because he hasn’t yet rid himself of notions regarding the legality of a referendum “designed in Scotland”. He’s only got as far as putting single quote marks around the word ‘legal’. The illusion breaks down completely about half way through what purports to be an open letter to Martin Keatings.
Noting that despite his very great reservations the action might actually succeed, Pete Wishart reverts to type by insisting that “we would still require the UK to participate in a referendum to supply a ‘No’ case”. This after having twice referred to a “Scottish designed referendum”. By which I took him to mean a referendum entirely made and managed in Scotland. Why would Scotland “require” another country to participate in a Scottish referendum in which the Scottish people decide the constitutional status of Scotland? It has absolutely nothing to do with anybody furth of Scotland. It most certainly has nothing whatever to do with any government or parliament other than the Government and Parliament of Scotland. What Pete Wishart is talking about here is what international laws and conventions refer to as ‘external interference’. But where those international laws and convention prohibit such external interference our Mr Wishart boldly insists on it!
Why would we require the UK to “supply a ‘No’ case”? Why would we want it? Why would we permit it? Has Pete Wishart not deplored supposed Russian interference in Scotland’s democracy? In what way does the UK government have any more ‘right’ to meddle than the Russian government? Or any government other than the one elected by the sovereign people of Scotland?
It is for those sovereign people of Scotland whose preference is that Scotland remain bound to England-as-Britain in a risibly anachronistic; grotesquely asymmetric; blatantly anti-democratic and self-evidently untenable political union to “supply a ‘No’ case”! Nobody else! I am not so naive as to suppose we might totally prevent external interference in our referendum. But we sure as f*** shouldn’t be encouraging it!!!
There’s worse to come! Get a load of this!
… we would further require [the UK] to recognise any result to secure a legal basis to the referendum and to have it internationally recognised.
Having been so liberal with the punctuation that denotes the concept of ‘legality’ highly dubious at best, here he is back to saying that the permission/approval of the British state is necessary to make a “Scottish designed referendum” legal! How is this any different to saying the referendum is illegal without a Section 30 order? It’s the same old Pete Wishart after all!
Doubtless Pete Wishart would insist that he believes in Scotland’s right of self-determination. Knowing there is not the faintest chance of a reply I’d like to ask him who the f*** he thinks the ‘self’ bit of self-determination refers to? Is it Scotland’s right of self-determination vested in the Scottish people? Or is it some sort of novel, ‘non-specific’ right of self-determination open to anybody that Pete Wishart wants to invite along? Or anybody who wants to invite themselves along!?
He goes on to complain that the letter sent to him by Martin Keatings “barely made any sense”. Having encountered some of Martin’s muddled arguments on Twitter, I can sympathise. But is Pete Wishart’s ‘thinking’ any less confused? He’s all over the place here! No wonder he refuses to answer questions about his position when that position can slide around so disconcertingly in the course of a few short paragraphs. It would certainly explain why he has blocked me and countless others who have done no more than seek clarification. Something else, incidentally, that he has in common with Martin Keatings.
Which brings me to the jaw-dropping hypocrisy in Pete Wishart’s closing paragraph.
… those of us elected to secure independence for our nation have a responsibility to detail reservations we may have on particular plans and proposals and highlight some of the difficulties that might emerge from pursuing certain actions.
Wow! The hypocrisy is even more nauseating than the forelock-tugging deference to the the British political elite! If Pete Wishart was inclined to listen to anybody other than… well… anybody, I’d point out to him that Scotland’s democracy has not yet been sacrificed to his his pusillanimous acceptance of British superiority. It is not only those elected who have a responsibility to voice concerns and “detail reservations” on the plans and proposals advanced by anyone seeking to influence events and developments in Scotland. This being a democracy, that responsibility rests on every single one of us. In particular, it is the ‘ordinary people’ who have a right and a duty to critique the plans and proposal of those we elect to represent us and/or govern our nation. We all have a responsibility to scrutinise “certain actions” that might be pursued by those in power or advocated by those in positions of influence.
Few people are less entitled to talk about this kind of accountability than Pete Wishart. I cannot immediately think of any other individual who is so adamant that his own “plans and proposals” are not for questioning; or so persistent in shutting out those who presume to “detail reservations” about his views.
I started my day in a seeming flight of fancy about Alex Cole-Hamilton, Jackie Baillie and Murdo Fraser talking sense. Pete Wishart wasn’t long in restoring me to the real world where politicians have a powerful tendency to talk utter shite.
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