Pete Wishart just doesn’t get it! He is totally hung up on party political rivalries and blind to matters of fundamental democratic principle. His complaint about John Major’s recent Gordon Brown-style intervention in the constitutional debate focuses entirely on what the UK government would do were there to be a confirmatory vote on dissolving the Union after the divorce deal is finalised and utterly fails to address the issue of the British state’s right to be involved in the process by which Scotland exercises its right of self-determination. Worse! He concedes that to them that right as if is were something that should simply be accepted as the political reality. As if it was an established and unchallengeable truth that Scotland’s right to choose the form of government that best addresses our needs, priorities and aspirations is subject to the whims of the British political elite.
When there will be a future independence referendum is something that will be agreed by both the Scottish Government and the UK Government. It will have nothing to do with people like John Major.
That John Major neither has nor should have any say in the scheduling of a new constitutional referendum in Scotland seems to be as obvious to Pete Wishart as it is to everyone except John Major. But from Wishart’s perspective this is only because Major is no longer the British Prime Minister. Were he still the British Prime Minister it seemingly would not occur to Wishart to question John Major’s authority to decide when – and if! – there will be another independence referendum. It doesn’t cross Wishart’s mind that the supremacy of the British state might be a contentious matter. The sovereignty of the British parliament is taken for granted no matter how vigorously the sovereignty of Scotland’s people might be asserted.
I wonder if Pete Wishart has ever asked himself why the matter of when there will be a future independence referendum must be agreed by both the Scottish Government and the UK Government. I wonder if he has ever wondered why the British political elite should have any say at all in the matter. He seems clear in his mind that people who do not live and work in Scotland have no say in the matter. These are the grounds on which he rejects John Major’s intervention. But he seems perfectly content that a parliament which is not elected by people who live and work in Scotland should have (at least) as much say in the matter as the Scottish Parliament – which is elected by the people who live and works in Scotland.
The people of England – such as John Major – have no say because they are not the people of Scotland and so have no direct or relevant interest. But the parliament overwhelmingly elected by the people of England does have a say despite the fact that it does not represent the people of Scotland who, according to international laws, conventions and accepted precedent, have the only direct and relevant interest.
Despite the former Runrig keyboard player’s presumably musical ear, this does not strike a discordant note with Peter Wishart. His objection to the idea of a confirmatory referendum subsequent to a Yes vote is entirely about the practicalities of how the British will exploit that follow-up referendum. Yet he appears to have no objection to granting the British the authority to demand the follow-up vote that they are expected to exploit. There is neither mention nor so far as its possible to tell consideration of the democratic principle involved. The principle of self-determination. The principle that it is for the people of a nation to determine the constitutional status of that nation and choose the form of government that they want free of any external interference.
As a devotee of the Section 30 process Pete Wishart not only is prepared to tolerate external interference, he is eager to invite it! While reserving the right to be outraged by the British state’s exploitation of that invitation.
Although it will inevitable (and dishonestly) be presented as such when the inevitable whining starts, this is not a ‘personal attack’ on Pete Wishart. It’s not all about him, no matter how much he imagines it must be. By his own choice and public statements Wishart has come to represent a particular faction within the independence movement. A faction which, were it not for the fact that it includes almost the entire SNP leadership along with the party managers who do their bidding, would be considered a bunch of oddballs. Were we talking about the right of self-determination in relation to some country other than Scotland; or even if we were discussing it as a general principle, it would undoubtedly be considered ‘unconventional’ to suggest – never mind insist – that the ‘self’ in self-determination should include another country. It would surely be regarded as outlandish to hold that the people of a neighbouring nation should be part of that ‘self’. And every bit as bizarre to allow that the government of this neighbouring nation should have the final or any say in the whether, when and how of the exercise of this hypothetical country’s right of self-determination. And yet this is precisely the eccentric proposition that the faction represented by Pete Wishart asks – nay demands! – we accept.
It’s that mindset thing again! Pete Wishart, and even more regrettably Nicola Sturgeon, think it perfectly normal and acceptable that the government of England-as-Britain should be intimately involved in the process by which Scotland exercises its right of self-determination. They regard the supremacy of England-as-Britain as the ‘natural order’. A ‘natural order’ they want to change. Let there be no doubt about that. Let’s have none of that pish about them being undercover agents of the British establishment. But the ‘natural order’ nonetheless. Something not to be seriously questioned or even considered all that much.
They take as their starting point the legitimacy of the Union which entrenches a grotesque and patently anti-democratic asymmetry of power. Wishart would undoubtedly protest this observation were he not inclined to shut out all dissenting voices. But how can it be otherwise? Excepting that he consents to the implications and effects of the Union even while purporting to oppose it because of the implications and effects, how might Wishart so offhandedly and with apparent equanimity state that “a future independence referendum is something that [must] be agreed by both the Scottish Government and the UK Government”?
Scotland’s independence will not be restored while this mindset prevails in Scotland’s government. So long as we are led by colonised minds Scotland will remain subject to British imperialist domination.
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