Incredible! Joanna Cherry acknowledges that the British political elite is gaming strategies to delay and/or avoid a new constitutional referendum in Scotland. She does so completely without surprise, deeming this no more than what one would expect. She cautions that “we should not cede power to these people”. She advises that “they are devious and unprincipled”. Then this,
The campaign to secure a second independence vote should of course seek to achieve the gold standard of a second referendum based on a Section 30 Order as that would be by far the easiest route.Joanna Cherry: Salmondites? Sturgeonites? It doesn’t matter when we work as one
Like I said. Incredible! That such patent nonsense should come from what is rightly recognised as one of the sharpest minds in the Yes movement illustrates well the extent to which the “leadership orthodoxy” has pervaded the movement and infected even those we’d least suspect of being susceptible to such foolishness.
Don’t cede power to these people, she says. Only to almost immediately insist that we should do just that by adhering to the British state’s ‘gold standard’ means of hindering and preventing the exercise of Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination. They are devious and unprincipled, she warns. To which we might add ruthless, duplicitous, dishonest, amoral and a few other adjectives that are best left off your CV. And yet her sage advice is that we allow such low characters significant influence over and direct involvement in the exercise of our right of self-determination.
One would surely expect that a referendum based on a Section 30 order would be “by far the easiest route”. If those strategies for putting off a vote or avoiding it altogether should fail, why wouldn’t the British government then seek opportunities to sabotage the process while showering itself with plaudits for respecting democracy and blaming the Scottish Government for the failure of the process to produce a free and fair referendum? What remains to be explained is why we would cede to the British government which asserts that it is best for Scotland and best placed to decide what is best for Scotland, significant power over the process by which we are supposed to choose the form of government which best serves our needs, priorities and aspirations.
Why would we empower their deviousness? Why would we pander to their lack of principle? Why would we facilitate interference in our constitutional referendum by what, if we heed Joanna Charry’s advice, we must regard as an unfriendly foreign power? Am I missing some impenetrably cryptic irony here?
If we attend to what Ms Cherry herself says as well as taking due account of what the British political elite has done in the past; is doing now; and openly boasts of intending to do in the future, then throw in the leaked advice on spoiling strategies, the unavoidable conclusion is that we must avoid the Section 30 process as we would a virulent and lethal virus. And yet Joanna Cherry manages to avoid this conclusion without apparent effort. She manages to conclude that the Section 30 process is the wondrous epitome of democracy that only a dwindling few people persist in believing it to be. She manages to conclude that the entirely disreputable and repulsively sleazy British political elite are the very people we want pawing over our referendum like a sweaty Hollywood film producer with a wannabe starlet.
The suggestion that the SNP should be formulating strategies for securing a new referendum in a way that matches the subversive plotting of British Tories without emulating their unprincipled methods, seems like pure genius when set beside the idiocy of adhering to the Section 30 process. But think about it! The only reason we would need the kind of convoluted and highly confidential strategising that Ms Cherry advocates would be to counter the subversive plotting that is facilitated by the Section 30 process. Take the Section 30 process out of the equation altogether and the strategy to be adopted by the SNP becomes obvious – and without any need for secrecy. Quite the contrary. The sooner and more openly the party adopts this strategy the better.
Renouncing the anti-democratic Section 30 process and declaring the intention to create an alternative and impeccably democratic process entirely within Scotland’s democratic institutions would effectively obviate the strategies being considered by the British political elite. Joanna Cherry says it herself.
This does not mean we should ape their behaviour but nor should we predicate our entire strategy on the assumption that they will do the right thing when their past behaviour suggests quite the opposite.
We must predicate our strategy on the assumption that what is suggested by their past behaviour is totally accurate. We must assume they will do the wrong thing whenever possible and to whatever extent they are able. It follows therefore that we should be seeking and adopting strategies which minimise their power to affect the exercise of our right of self-determination. Adhering to the Section 30 process does the diametric opposite! It puts at their disposal the very power we ought to be denying them. That is why it is so incredible that Joanna Cherry of all people should be commending such a self-evidently self-harming course of action.
Sad to say, Joanna Cherry’s column is littered with incomprehensible contradictions. My heart leapt a little when I read the following prior to reaching her declaration of faith in the “leadership orthodoxy” of pursuing a process that is critically dependent on the good grace, good intent and honest dealing of a British political elite known for anything but.
… the SNP must secure a second vote for independence in circumstances which will meet with international approval and therefore the all-important international recognition, the strategy for doing so should not be one-dimensional.
I read on eager to discover what might be the other dimension that Joanna had in mind. Instead, I found surrender to Albion’s perfidy. Apparently, the only way to be sure of that “all-important international recognition” is to compromise the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and accept the subordinacy of the Scottish Parliament despite its undeniable democratic legitimacy. I’m sorry, Joanna, but if that is the price of international recognition then the cost is too high.
But it need not be. The key phrase here is “international approval”. That is a very different thing from ‘British approval’. As conditioned as we may be to suppose that the former must be contingent on the latter, there is no rational reason why this should be so. The British state is not held in such high regard that the world hangs on its every pronouncement. Nor is it so powerful as to intimidate any but the meekest of nations.
The default position of the international community is not to withhold recognition from newly independent nations. They need a reason for doing so. Non-compliance with local laws designed to subvert the democratic process is unlikely to be considered sufficient cause. When we talk of international approval it is not the technical legality of the process by which independence is gained or restored that is being assessed so much as its democratic legitimacy. Especially so when the technical legalities are the product of a regime which has set its face against democracy in its determination to prevent independence being gained or restored.
So long as we ensure that the process which we create and follow is immaculately democratic the international community will have no cause to bear Scotland the kind of ill-will which might prompt withholding of recognition.
Of course, there may be other reasons for refusing to recognise Scotland no matter how democratically legitimate the process is. You will hardly be shocked to learn that trading of favours is not unknown in international affairs. It is quite commonly a case of you scratch my back and I’ll supply you with the arms you need to suppress democratic dissent in your country. Broken and diminished as it is, the British state may yet have favours it can call in. It is always a possibility. Even in the far-fetched event that we find a way to restore Scotland’s independence while breaking none of the British state’s laws, it could still happen. So what? Are we to be deterred from acting to restore our independence by fears such as this? Is being prepared to face such challenges not part of what it means to be an independent nation?
Is our independence of such small value as to be worth pursuing only if we are assured of no problems on the way?
And how likely is it that the British state would call in those favours anyway? By the time it became an option to be considered, Scotland would already be independent – or well on the way to being independent. At which time the priority for the rump UK would be to secure the best ‘divorce’ deal possible. It would not be in their interests to further antagonise a neighbour whose goodwill (and resources) they require.
By all means let’s bring together the best minds in the independence movement. But let it be to design the ‘home-grown’ democratic process by which we restore Scotland’s independence and strategies for the reframed campaign that this entails.