Angus MacNeil is right about one thing. The dynamic of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election needs to be transformed. But Plan B doesn’t do that. It alters the dynamic a bit. It adds a little zest where that would otherwise be absent. But transform? No! Welcome as the proposal from Angus MacNeil and Chris McEleny certainly is in the desert of ideas that is the SNP’s current approach to the constitutional issue, it is but a sip of tepid water when what what we need is several buckets of icy water to wash away the dust that has settled on Scotland’s cause over six years of near total inertia.
Plan B is, at best, a half-measure. It is exciting and appealing only because it stands in contrast to a Plan A which in a desert analogy now stretched well beyond its safe operating limits would be the equivalent of drinking our own urine. Plan A is bad. Plan B is merely a bit less bad.
Ask yourself this. What is it that makes Plan A so hard to swallow? What else but the Section 30 process! The ‘requirement’ to obtain the consent of the British Prime Minister to exercise our basic democratic right of self-determination. What does Plan B not rid us of? Correct again! The Section 30 process! All that makes Plan B slightly easier to swallow is the addition of a little sweetener in the form of pretending that the election which we may be allowed is the referendum that has been prohibited. What Plan B does not do is reject the asserted authority by which the British state prohibits the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination.
Plan B accepts and affirms that asserted authority. It does not challenge the British state’s claimed right to veto our inalienable right of self-determination. It allows the superiority of the British state. It wraps us in the mantle of Scotland’s subordinate status within the Union in exactly the same way and to precisely the same extent as the pusillanimous Plan A. Plan B isn’t Scotland getting up on its hind legs and roaring defiance at bully Britain. It is no more than Scotland making a rude gesture to Nanny Britannia as we meekly comply with her imperious strictures. It is Scotland saying we’ll settle for second best since we’re not permitted to have what every other nation and people on the planet considers theirs by absolute right. It is not Scotland saying to the British political elite that we will take what is rightfully ours despite them.
It’s not enough! Plan B simply does not go far enough. It is a mouthful of brackish water scraped from the mud in a dirty tin can when simply by dint of being a nation Scotland has paid for a long, cold pint of crisp Peroni in a sparkling glass dripping with condensation.
I often hear it said in relation to yet another Section 30 order request that there is no harm in asking. Really? Read what Section 30(2) of the Scotland Act (1998) says.
Her Majesty may by Order in Council make any modifications of Schedule 4 or 5 which She considers necessary or expedient.Scotland Act 1998
Is that not a political statement? Is it not a very powerful political statement with profound constitutional implications for Scotland? Does that one short sentence not encapsulate everything that the Union means for Scotland? Read it again! Is it not perfectly fair and reasonable to paraphrase that statement as saying that regardless of anything that is agreed England-as-Britain reserves to right to alter the terms of that agreement unilaterally and in any way it chooses at any time it pleases? Who decides what is “necessary or expedient”? I’ll give you a clue. It’s not Scotland! This is the British Prime Minister wielding the powers of absolute monarchy. It is a reaffirmation of the essential purpose of the Union – to ensure Scotland’s subordinate status in perpetuity. To enshrine Scotland’s inferiority in what we are supposed to recognise as our own law. If that is not a political statement then neither is the UN Charter or the US Declaration of Independence or any of a thousand speeches by Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi or Dr Martin Luther King.
Given that Section 30 is a political statement, how can compliance with its terms be anything other than a political statement? Section 30 is, in essence, a restatement of the English/British doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. It must therefore be a denial of the Scottish/democratic doctrine of popular sovereignty. The two doctrines are irreconcilable. The former holds that legitimate political authority derives from a divinely ordained monarch and is properly exercised by a political elite. The latter maintains that the people are the only source of legitimate political authority. To even grudgingly accept – never mind eagerly embrace – the Section 30 process is to forsake the very things that are the foundation of Scotland’s cause.
To request a Section 30 order is to compromise the very sovereignty that we are supposed to be trying to defend!
The only political statement that is in keeping with the democratic values to which Scotland aspires is one which explicitly and unambiguously renounces the Section 30 process. Scotland’s cause is rejection of the Union. How might that be compatible with validating the malign spirit of the Union distilled to a single sentence? In what possible sense does continuing to concede the legitimacy of the British veto on our right of self-determination “transform” the dynamic of the coming election? It remains a British dynamic. Doesn’t true transformation require that we establish a Scottish dynamic?