Mike Russell is, of course perfectly entitled and unquestionably correct to point out the inane inconsistencies and contradictions in Boris Johnson’s most recent semi-coherent maundering on the subject of Scotland’s right to hold a constitutional referendum. But Mr Russell misses the most important point of all. While Boris Johnson is surely free to hold and express such views as he may be capable of forming – and is under no moral obligation to ensure that those views make any kind of sense – the fact is that his pronouncements on this matter are no more than the opinion of one individual. An individual, moreover, who has given no cause to suppose their opinions should be afforded any respect beyond the obligations of common courtesy. An obligation which is disputed.
The essential point here is that Boris Johnson has no say – either as a citizen of England or as the British Prime Minister – in the matter of whether or when the people of Scotland exercise our right of self-determination. He has no rightful authority in the matter. It’s really none of his f****** business!
The choice of whether and when to exercise the democratic right of self determination belongs entirely and exclusively to the people of Scotland. Indeed, how might it be otherwise? For what manner of inalienable democratic right is it which may not be exercised but with the consent and honest cooperation of a third party? Would anybody, Boris Johnson included, seriously contend that an individual’s exercise of the right of freedom of expression might, on each and every occasion, be conditional on gaining the permission of some unconnected person who must also be allowed to influence what is being expressed?
The way Mike Russell has formulated his response to Johnson’s remarks risks validating the latter’s claim to rightful authority in the matter. For the avoidance of such unintended implications no opportunity should be missed to explicitly put on record the total absence of any such authority. Perhaps by pointing out that it really is none of his f****** business!
Mike Russell is also correct when he states that,
If the people of Scotland vote for a referendum in the election in May then there will be one, and just as soon as it can take place.‘I’m not waiting till I’m 102’: Michael Russell slams PM’s ‘daft’ indyref claims
An election may not be the only means by which the people might express a wish to exercise their right of self-determination, but it is undoubtedly a very powerful way of doing this. The democratic legitimacy of a choice expressed in this manner cannot be challenged without casting aspersions on the fundamental principles of democracy. But Mr Russell has missed a crucial point here as well. (Although I suspect he is well aware of it.) That point being that the people of Scotland can only vote for a referendum in May’s election with confidence that there will be one in timely fashion, if an undertaking to this effect is included in the manifesto of one of the parties contesting the election.
Needless to say, having given this undertaking to hold a referendum within a specified time-frame the party must then get elected and form a government strong enough to overcome any obstacles or hindrances which may be placed in the way of them honouring the mandate provided by voters. As things stand, only the SNP is in a position to do this. Other parties may include an appropriate undertaking in their election manifestos, but only votes for the winning party give their full weight to the mandate.
The conclusion is clear. Mike Russell may be correct to say that the people of Scotland can vote for a referendum in the Holyrood election. He declines to add, however, that for them to do so the SNP must go into the election on a very explicit and quite unambiguous manifesto commitment to a process which will deliver a free and fair referendum at the earliest possible date. He might further have noted that, as things stand, the party of which he is President has given no such commitment.
In principle. if the people of Scotland vote for a referendum in the election in May then there will be one, and just as soon as it can take place. But the principle remains merely academic and without political effect unless and until it is made concrete in a party manifesto. For Mike Russell’s statement to be more than empty rhetoric the SNP has to adopt a Manifesto for Independence. Voters must then afford this the most conclusive mandate possible. Only thus will the people of Scotland be able to compensate for Mike Russell’s earlier omission by telling Boris Johnson in no uncertain terms that it really is none of his f****** business!
9 thoughts on “None of his f****** business!”
I have a lot of time for Mike Russell, he is near the top of the class in talking the talk. But 2021 needs to be the year of “walking the walk” for ALL of us in the SNP and the wider Independence movement, so couldn’t agree more with today’s article Peter.
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Thanks, Geoff. I totally agree with you regarding Mike Russell. And I have a feeling his best is yet to come. Retirement from government is going to free him to speak his mind more freely. I want to hear that!
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Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
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How you can continue to invest your beliefs and support the continuous obfuscation and delays foisted on us by NS and the broader SNP hierarchy is beyond my comprehension
Honestly , Russell and the rest of the hierarchy know what we want and how to go about it , but they continue to issue this pish in the hope that we believe they are working their socks off , when as any REAL independence supporter knows they are can kicking , diversion creating , illusion promising , all in an effort to continue salary collecting and pension padding , if they had ANY intention of going for indy they would have done it LONG AGO
As you well know it is not bozo and his clown circus who are holding us back , it is Sturgeon the ringmaster with the failed juggling act
I don’t do belief. I do reason. And reason tells me the only hope we have of saving Scotland is to force the SNP to commit to a #ManifestoForIndependence. If anybody knows of an alternative then I’d be delighted to hear about it.
What really worries me is the phrase:” As soon as it can happen”.
That could mean 6 months or 6 years! Until the SNP name the date , then absolutely no one will believe they are serious. Salmond was very specific. He knew when he was having the referendum , and he basically told WM he had decided the date. Now that is confidence!
What we get from the current SNP leaders are open ended speculative statements. Nothing is certain, when it absolutely should be certain. If they want a majority, then they must provide us with certainty on the referendum.
Otherwise they are in danger of a repeat of 2017, where motivation to vote was at an all time low.
I don’t think it’s advisable to insist on something so specific as a date. So long as they are committed to a process then there can be some flexibility. The process itself ensures that there can’t be procrastination. All that is necessary is to define certain key steps in the process. Each step defines the timeframe for the next. For example, once you’ve asserted the competence of the Scottish Parliament it’s not going to be possible to delay a proposal to dissolve the Union. Having seized power you are obliged to use it – or lose it.
The important things are absolute clarity about the process and an unbreakable commitment to initiate that process. Once it’s started and is headed in the right direction, momentum takes care of the rest.
It’s a dance. One unfamiliar, often confusingly benign to those inexperienced in realpolitik. The “Highland Charge” is not always effective.
Mike Russell is in conversation with Voices for Scotland on 27 January. I would like him to respond to your article.
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