The truth is that there cannot be one ‘gold standard’ process by which the people of Scotland exercise our right of self-determination and restore Scotland’s independence. Every situation is different. No two constitutional arrangements are ever identical. There cannot be a set of ‘rules’ which are universally applicable and ideal.
What we can have are general principles. In fact, we do have general principles. The general principles of democracy as codified in various international laws, conventions and accepted norms. Anything approaching a ‘gold standard’ must adhere to those principles. It must acknowledge and abide by those international laws, conventions and accepted norms.
The Section 30 process and actions associated with it are actually in breach of those laws, conventions and norms. The Section 30 process fails any test of democratic legitimacy. It is not democratic. It is anti-democratic. As is the Union from which it derives.
It is for this reason that we must repudiate the Section 30 process. Both Plan A and Plan B fail in this regard. Neither rejects or eschews the Section 30 process. Both embrace it and give it preference.
The obvious conclusion from all this is that we need a process by which the people of Scotland can exercise our right of self-determination which IS democratic. Which DOES comply with international laws and respect conventions and conform to norms.
For reasons just as evident we cannot expect that such a process will be formulated and implemented by the British state. Who does that leave? Us! The sovereign people of Scotland and the democratically legitimate Parliament we elect and the duly mandated Government of our choosing. We create the process!
That process will be deemed ‘illegal’ by the British state. ANY process which facilitates the free and fair exercise of our right of self-determination will be deemed ‘illegal’ by the British state. There is no path to independence through a legal and constitutional framework which is designed to protect and preserve the Union. How could there be? The very idea is risible!
If we truly want to bring our government home then we must first bring home the power to exercise our right of self-determination. So long as we leave that power in the hands of those who are determined to deny us our democratic rights then there is absolutely no hope of restoring Scotland’s independence.
Power must be taken. Power is never given. Therefore, to ‘request’ power is nonsensical. Whatever is given in response to such a request it will most definitely NOT be power. Another way of saying this is that we must assert power. Power doesn’t just come to you. You take it and then you defend it against any who would take any part of it from you without your consent.
It all starts with asserting the competence of the Scottish Parliament in all constitutional matters. If you don’t start from here you must ultimately come back to it. Whatever ‘Plan’ you adopt if it doesn’t include asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of its exclusive democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of the people of Scotland then it barely qualifies as a plan. At some point, establishing the authority of the Scottish Parliament will have to be tacked on.
Paint for yourself the rosiest of pictures. Whatever ‘Plan’ you favour, imagine that it has surpassed your expectations. You now have a Scottish Government with a mandate to hold a referendum, or maybe you have a Scottish Government mandated to open negotiations with the British government preliminary to declaring independence. Whatever your ideal outcome is, nothing can be done with that outcome unless the exclusive legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament has been asserted. A referendum will have to be authorised. Negotiations will have to be under the auspices of a Scottish Parliament which has competence in constitutional matters. The Scottish Parliament must be the instrument of the sovereignty vested in the people of Scotland.
My argument is that if this is the prerequisite for anything to happen in terms of restoring Scotland’s independence we should attend to that first. Rather than make the 2021 Holyrood election a plebiscite on independence, make it a plebiscite on the status of our Parliament. Win that – better still win it conclusively, and the rest falls into place.
There’s the choice for you! British legality or Scottish democracy. Nicola Sturgeon has gone for the former. She’s wrong! She’s clutching at fool’s gold!