Am I the only one who sees the problem with this?

For some reason I have stopped receiving notifications of new posts on some blogs that I follow. It’s probably some setting that I’ve changed somewhere which has had unintended consequences. Unfortunately, life doesn’t have an undo feature and my memory isn’t as efficient as my clipboard manager (Ditto), so resolving the issue will have to wait until I have the time. Or until I have the inclination. Whichever is longer.

The point is that I’ve missed numerous articles that I would normally have read and have only today started to catch up on. A process that was hindered as I was brought up short by the very first thing I read – apost by Stu Campbell on Wings Over Scotland from a couple of days ago. The title strongly hinted at the content – The SNP Manifesto 2021. By the Reverend Campbell’s own account the principal content of the article is what he suggests should be the SNP’s “entire manifesto” for the 2021 Holyrood election.

The proposed text begins excellently enough,

We believe that the Scottish people are sovereign, and we hereby announce our intention to declare Scotland independent and submit that intention to the will of the people in this election for their approval.

We might quibble with the lack of any mention of ending the Union or the democratic legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament. We may have serious doubts about the feasibility of pretending an election is a referendum. But it cannot be denied that the spirit of the thing is spot on. Nothing that commences with an affirmation of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people can be to harshly criticised.

What a pity then that the Reverend Campbell almost immediately commences to pish all over the popular sovereignty that he has just acknowledged. Am I alone in seeing a number of problems with the following.

Should the UK Government wish, we are willing to confirm that mandate via a referendum, to be held no later than three months from the date of the election, on the same question as that used in 2014. If no such referendum is requested or conducted, the declaration of independence based on the election result will automatically be considered to stand.

Let’s start at the beginning with good ol’ Stu’s exceedingly generous offer to allow the British government an immediate veto on the result of the plebiscitary election that he has proposed. He munificently grants the British government the ‘right’ to demand that a referendum be held to confirm the result of said plebiscitary election. Admittedly, this would make a novel change from the British state insisting that the people of Scotland should be prohibited from exercising their right of self-determination. But the novelty value wears off very rapidly.

Why? The King of Questions! Why would we make such an offer? Why would we grant such power over to what is in the context of the constitutional issue a ‘foreign power’? And an unfriendly foreign power at that!

Why would we, in one breath assert the sovereignty of the people of Scotland and in the next allow that the British state has the rightful authority to question the choices made by the sovereign people of Scotland? What kind of ‘sovereignty-lite’ does the Reverend Campbell envisage? Is this conditional sovereignty conceptually similar to the idea of ‘managed democracy’? I think we should be told before we commit to anything.

On the subject of committing to stuff, we next have the Reverend Stu deciding the question to be asked in the referendum being held to pander to the British state’s claim of sovereignty over the sovereignty Stu claims for the people of Scotland. No, I haven’t got my head around that yet either. Stu Campbell suggests that, with no consultation or consideration, the SNP should commit to asking the same question as was asked in the 2014 referendum. Here comes old Kingy again! Why?

Why would we ask the same question again? Never mind (for the moment) the question of why we would commit to this in advance, why would we want that question on the ballot again? The question largely dictates the form of the campaign. Do we want a rerun of the 2014 referendum campaign? Or do we want a new referendum with a fresh campaign?

Why would we want the same question and the same campaign? Are all or indeed any circumstances the same now as at the time of the 2014 referendum campaign? Has nothing changed?

Why would we not take the opportunity to put into practice the lessons learned from the first referendum campaign? Would the first lesson not be that we shouldn’t have a question which establishes ‘independence’ as the contentious issue? Having had a referendum campaign in which the idea of ‘independence’ was bombarded with questions, would we not wish to use the opportunity of a new referendum to reframe the entire constitutional issue in such a way as to put the Union under intense scrutiny?

This is some seriously shallow thinking from Stu Campbell. The term ‘colonised mind’ is not something I would normally associate with someone who is capable of the kind of forensic journalism that is his forte.

What may be the worst thing about this proposed SNP manifesto, however, is the fact that while the British state is afforded the ‘right’ to demand a referendum apparently the people of Scotland are not to be so privileged. It seems that there will only be a confirmatory referendum if the British government wants it. Otherwise, the election is to be held to be an adequate expression of the democratic will of Scotland’s people. The Reverend seems to imagine he has contrived the very acme of mandates.

An absolutely clear, impeccably democratic mandate that the international community would have no reason to object to.

I can’t speak for the international community, but I can find many reasons to object. An election – even a ‘plebiscitary election’ – cannot be a satisfactory substitute for a single-issue referendum. The result, and therefore the mandate, cannot possibly be “clear” when it derives from an election which whether the fans of plebiscitary elections like it or not, will involve numerous issues. There is no way to prevent other parties bringing all manner of policy issues into the pre-election debate. It may be said that the people still know what they are voting for when they vote for this manifesto. But I am not at all sure that the international community would regard it as “impeccably democratic”.

The bullet points of a Manifesto for Independence have been offered.

  • Renounce Section 30 process
  • Assert competence of Scottish Parliament
  • Recall MPs to join MSPs in National Convention
  • Propose dissolution of Union subject to referendum
  • Call referendum entirely made and managed in Scotland

It is no secret that numerous SNP branches are working on resolutions to be submitted for consideration at the party’s conference in October. A number of these resolutions are based on these bullet points or something similar. The idea is to have the SNP commit to a completely new approach to the entire constitutional issue. And to a course of action which will immediately start the process of restoring Scotland’s process while ensuring that this process is kept entirely within the orbit of Scotland’s democratic institutions.

The people of Scotland are sovereign. The Scottish Parliament alone has democratic legitimacy in Scotland. The two facts are the basis of a process which will make the restoration of Scotland’s independence possible, if the people of Scotland so choose. Only by adopting a Manifesto for Independence which embraces such a process can the SNP gain a mandate to restore Scotland’s independence which is clear and impeccably democratic.

13 thoughts on “Am I the only one who sees the problem with this?

    1. Therein lies the problem, even intelligent folk who should know better make the mistake of asserting that the English government has dominion over Scotland and its sovereign peoples. The English establishment, regardless of whether they call themselves the UK government, have no authority over Scotland bar that which the Scots grant them. When sovereignty is asserted, as the English government did with the EU and the EU exit bill, no foreign body has any right or legal power to oppose it. It is disturbing how many Scots genuinely believe that the English government can do as it pleases and end any treaty it so desires but fail to acknowledge that Scotland has the same right and can do likewise. No referendum necessary. One wonders how many would try to convince Scots in the 1700s and 1800s to use a referendum as the means of asserting their right to their statehood. I can just imagine the blank faces as the argument is put to them before erupting in laughter.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree that their must be no British involvement in the process. Nothing good can ever come of that. They will lie, the will cheat, they will distort, they will gerrymander and a myriad of other forms of perfidy.

    Ideally the question in 2014 would have been ‘Do you wish to dissolve the Union’ with two options – ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ – as possible mutually exclusive answers.

    However, I think that changing the question now may lead to some confusion among the electorate (although ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ responses would effectively mean the same thing).

    We would just have to make sure that we don’t get dragged into ‘what does Independence mean?’ questions from the other side in terms of the economics etc.

    Or, if we do, the answer is “it means the end of the unequal Union, the restoration of Scotland’s self government and the end of the democratic deficit built-in to the UK”. They would have to explain what is unfair about that.

    So we battle them on our territory – the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to choose our own form of government, make decisions in our interest and set our own priorities and values.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wondered why you had not commented on the WoS post. You and Stuart just need to get together on this. Hopefully, there is no history preventing that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A working group : Peter, Stu Campbell, Craig Murray etc. An invitation to Alex Salmond. An allied front to publicly interact with Scotgov/ The SNP on this. Time is of the essence.
      Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh constructed and staffed swiftly with 3000 British civil servants ready to administer The UK Internal Market BILL etc.
      Come on Scotland,
      its show time !
      #iScotland #letsgettae 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I been thinking similar – what a powerful force that would be , all working in concert to achieve our goal !! Rather than fighting each other n the SNP . The SNP Leadership would have to show willingness for such a plan though , without being preemptively negative , hard to see them doing so


  3. I did note that inclusion when I read the piece a couple of days ago , at that time my thought was ” aye , fair enough , if we won the HE on such a manifesto we’d surely win a subsequent referendum ” but reading your post now I have to wonder about the wisdom – or need . to include that at all


  4. As posted BTL on WoS yesterday, but relevant in light of the discussion here:

    To amplify Stu’s “Declaration of Bath”, how about the following as a starter for ten to ask all prospective pro-independence MSPs (and/or MPs) to affirm before May 2020:

    “In accordance with our ancestral Claim of Right and the primacy of popular sovereignty as confirmed by our forebears in the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 we affirm that the Scottish people are sovereign.

    We hereby declare and assert the irrevocable preeminence of Scotland’s parliament in all decisions relating to the fundamental rights, prerogatives and constitutional future of the Scottish nation.

    Acting on the express will of the Scottish people by majority vote at any election, their representatives are empowered to take all necessary steps to protect, promote and strengthen that sovereignty.

    Accordingly, any parliamentary majority representing the majority of voters in a General Election elected on a platform in favour of the exercise of self-determination is to be considered:

    – an automatic mandate to withdraw from the Treaty Of Union,

    – the declaration that Scotland is once more an independent state; and

    – a request to the international community for recognition in accordance with the UN Charter guaranteeing the right of all peoples to self-determination.”


  5. The only referendum I want to see after such an election is to decide to accept the negotiated separation deal and asset divisions or we go for no deal and start with a clean sheet. This would be done under the auspices of the Scottish government and there would be no input from anyone outside or financed from outside Scotland.


  6. The reason for the formulation seems plain enough: change as few factors as possible and the chance of any confusion (or trumped up confusion from UKGov/unionist media) is minimised. The more such a manifesto pre-emptively addresses any complaints from the opposition the fewer avenues of attack said opposition is provided.

    I suspect Stu was also emphasising his support of independence separately to his concerns about the current SNP leadership, where that has been a position he’s been attacked on frequently recently, and also, very neatly in my opinion, encouraged SNP constituency votes in an article that might do a little to repair the infighting between various independence websites that’s been sadly prevalent lately.

    In short, I read it as Stu’s pragmatic view on the best manifesto for attaining Scottish independence in the context of the present day.

    Your concern at the dilution of sovereignty in the proposal is understandable, people could doubtless argue for hours on whether Stu’s approach is optimal, or if his pragmatism has misread the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We can minimise our opponents’ “avenues of attack” all we might and they’d still be legion as they can just keep on making up new ones. There is altogether too much focus on such ultimately pointless defence strategies and woeful neglect of our own “avenues of attack”.

      Liked by 1 person

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