The phrase “once in a generation” does NOT appear three times in the Edinburgh Agreement. It doesn’t appear at all in the Edinburgh Agreement. It doesn’t appear anywhere in any legally binding document relating to the 2014 referendum.
How difficult would it have been to check before making this claim? It’s bad enough that we have British Nationalist mouthpieces like Alister Jack lying about this without The National joining in.
Did it not occur to Andrew Learmonth or whoever wrote the last three paragraphs that if the Edinburgh Agreement DID contain three instances of the phrase “once in a generation” then the British Nationalists would actually have a point?
FYI – The White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future‘ contains two instances of the phrase “once in a lifetime OPPORTUNITY”. There is no mention of a once in a generation EVENT. Nor could there be. For reasons that should not need to be explained to anyone who understands the fundamental principles of democracy.
It would be good to think this woeful error might be rectified. But it almost certainly won’t. There will, however, be numerous complaints about the fact that I have drawn attention to the blunder. I wonder how many times the article will be quoted by BritNat trolls.
Rather than the now routine outrage at some British politician’s lies it might have been more interesting and thought-provoking to consider why this phrase is being so enthusiastically weaponised by the British political elite and their lackeys in the British media. Nobody imagines they actually believe there was a solemn undertaking that the referendum would be a “once in a generation event”. As if anybody would commit to a term so vague as to be meaningless. So why are people like Alister Jack and his boss so keen to get that phrase into the media at every opportunity?
They are not, of course, addressing the SNP when they say this. Or the Yes movement. Surely everybody in the Yes movement is aware that there talk of a “once in a generation” clause is all lies. (With the exception of the folk at The National, obviously.) Nor are they addressing the lie to the people of Scotland. At least, not directly. They are talking for the benefit of the media. They are hoping to manufacture truth by means of repetition. If something is said often enough it becomes as familiar as things that are generally accepted as true. It takes on the aspect of truth through usage. Perhaps sufficiently to be indistinguishable from truth in the minds of those who don’t think to deeply about what they read in the media.
Which still doesn’t explain why the British Nationalist are working so hard to imprint on the public consciousness the idea that the SN promised there would not be another referendum for whatever number of years pops into Alistar Jack’s head when he’s spouting the “once in a generation” lie for the 43rd time since breakfast. Why would they bother with this given the other manufactured truth about Scotland needing Westminster’s permission to exercise our right of self-determination?
Thinking back, deployment of the “once in a generation” thing by BritNat trolls had begun to decline. It was always a lie that must lose its potency over time. There’s little point in bringing it up when a generation has already passed. So to some extent this may just be a case of the British Nationalists milking the lie while it still has some potential to influence voters.
But there may be more to it. It may indicate that the British government is less certain of their power to just say no to another referendum. They may be having some doubts. They may have perceived the possibility of a challenge to the British state’s asserted veto on Scotland’s right of self-determination. Not from the SNP, of course. The party remains committed to the Section 30 process by which they recognise Boris Johnson’s authority to overrule the sovereign people of Scotland. Why the self-styled party of independence would compromise the sovereignty of Scotland’s people is a question for another time. Right now, we’re asking why the British would suppose they need a backup for a power which is supposedly absolute.
Maybe the British are listening to the Yes movement more than the SNP is. Which wouldn’t be difficult given that the SNP has totally blanked all dissenting voices in both the party and the wider movement. They just ain’t listening. But the Dom Cummings-like advisers to the British political elite just might have been paying attention to the growing clamour for a different approach to the constitutional issue. They will have gamed to implications.
The British state’s strategists charged with preserving the Union will have asked themselves what happens if the campaign to force the SNP to adopt a Manifesto for Independence succeeds. They will have thought through what happens if the Scottish Government renounces the Section 30 process and decides to create its own democratic process by which the people of Scotland can exercise their right of self-determination in a free and fair referendum. Maybe they’re a bit uncomfortable with the conclusions.
If the ideal scenario were to play out and the outcome of the 2021 election was an SNP administration with a massive mandate for a Manifesto for Independence – a clear majority of seats and over 50% of the popular vote on both ballots – what options would the British have? They could challenge the Scottish Government in court. But they would have to argue that the British Prime Minister really does have the legitimate authority to overrule even the kind of popular mandate described above. They would effectively be arguing that it doesn’t matter what the people of Scotland vote for, the ultimate power to decide rests with the British Prime Minister. That’s not an enticing prospect for the legal team involved. Although the thought of the fees might make it less daunting.
If the British propagandists were casting around looking for something to buttress the argument that democracy doesn’t exist in Scotland then they might well light on the idea of the Scottish Government being in breach of an agreement. It’s not much. But it’s difficult to see what else they might have.
What we should be asking ourselves is this. If the British are so worried about the SNP / Scottish Government renouncing the Section 30 process, why is the SNP still refusing to even allow proper discussion of possible alternatives? Why is Nicola Sturgeon so determined to do what the British want her to do and so reluctant to do the things they fear?