Almost there!

I might consider Nicola Sturgeon’s new-found fighting spirit more convincing if she hadn’t previously intimated that the Section 30 process was the only ‘legal and constitutional’ route. She seems to have changed her position on that. It turns out those of us who have always insisted that a Section 30 order was not necessary were right all along. So maybe we are also correct when we say that the Section 30 process is not only unnecessary but anathema. Now that Nicola Sturgeon has conceded that a referendum authorised by the Scottish Parliament is perfectly legitimate, she must now explain why she insists on yet another request for a Section 30 order.

I don’t like it when politicians treat us as if we are too stupid to notice their brake-burning U-turns on previously held positions. I don’t like it when they treat us like we’re incapable of understanding the complexities of the situation. I really don’t like it when they make out the situation is a lot more complicated than it really is just so they don’t have to explain themselves. I understand perfectly the implications of what Nicola Sturgeon is now saying. Just as I understood why her earlier position on the viability of a non-Section 30 route wrong and, to coin a term, unsustainable. It was always glaringly obvious to me that the Section 30 route could not possibly lead to a free and fair referendum and that this being so if Nicola Sturgeon was to honour her commitment to delivering a free and fair referendum then the only alternative would be a referendum held entirely under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament. Thus, it was bloody stupid to state with such finality and absolute certainty that the Section 30 process was the only ‘legal and constitutional’ route and so necessarily imply that a referendum held entirely under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament must be ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.

Having so graciously given this weapon to our anti-democratic opponents she can hardly complain if they use it. Which they surely shall.

But we are where we are regardless of how we got here or what a ludicrous length of time it has taken. Having now acknowledged that a referendum sanctioned by the Scottish Parliament is possible Nicola Sturgeon has finally caught up with those of us who reached that conclusion five or six years ago. We can only hope that it doesn’t take another five or six years for her to realise that even asking for a Section 30 order is an even worse idea than effectively declaring all your options bar one ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ when under no pressure to do so. Even worse than issuing a ‘cease and desist’ order to the entire independence movement when there was no need to say anything at all about the independence campaign and when this meant squandering an opportunity of incalculable value.

Best not expect that the #WheeshtForIndy numpties will learn any lessons from this. The ones who accused us of betraying the cause if we didn’t meekly accept the position that Nicola Sturgeon has now reversed will continue to demand unquestioning acceptance of her giving preference to the Section 30 process even now that she has allowed that the alternative is perfectly feasible. We have to wonder whether she would ever have experienced this epiphany had the dumb party loyalists succeeded in silencing all dissenting voices. But they’re dumb party loyalists. So I don’t anticipate them to so much as falter in their efforts to suppress all questioning of the leadership’s wisdom.

It is the people who learn from the past and strive to apply those lessons in the present who shape the future. By definition, defenders of the status quo are the enemies of progress. I shall continue to express such concerns about the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue as I feel are warranted. I shall continue to criticise positions which I reckon hinder the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. I won’t be silenced.

In that spirit, I now demand an explanation for Nicola Sturgeon’s continued preference for the Section 30 process when, by her own account, there is an evidently more amenable process available. If it is possible to have a referendum process entirely made and managed in Scotland, why does she still insist on inviting the involvement of those who are vehemently opposed to there being any process and who may therefore be assumed to be intent on ensuring the process fails.

I am aware of the argument that says we’re not asking permission but ensuring cooperation. I see that argument for the specious crap it is. If you maintain that a course of action cannot proceed without the cooperation of an external agency then that external agency’s refusal to provide cooperation becomes an effective veto on that course of action. If once you’ve realised that the course of action can proceed perfectly well without either consent or promise of cooperation, you still insist on asking for consent and/or promise of cooperation, that needs to be explained. Why!?

You have a choice. On the one hand you have a process that allows the people of Scotland to exercise our right of self-determination in the unfettered manner required by all international laws and conventions and approved by the international community. A process entirely independent of any external control and excluding external interference to the greatest extent possible. A process formulated and implemented in Scotland in accordance with our laws and informed by our distinctive political culture. A process that puts our Parliament at the centre of our democracy.

On the other hand you have a process which invites an external power known to be implacably opposed to your aims to burden the exercise of our right of self-determination with all manner of conditions and constraints. A process which invites the external interference in a definitively internal matter that is prohibited by international laws and conventions. A process that is critically dependent on cooperation of a kind that there is absolutely no rational reason to suppose might be forthcoming. A process, moreover, which compromises the sovereignty of Scotland’s people – trading that sovereignty for worthless assurances.

Which do you choose?

If you’re Nicola Sturgeon, you choose the latter. If you’re pretty much anyone other than those incapable of doing anything other than taking uncritically adopting her choices as their own, you choose the former. Those who choose the former are entitled to an explanation as to why the latter is being chosen for them.

There are other questions, of course. Questions that must be asked and realities that must be pointed out however much it upsets the #WheeshtForIndy mob. Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘revised’ position on the legitimacy of a referendum sanctioned by the Scottish Parliament has wider and deeper implications which should be part of Scotland’s political discourse. Nicola Sturgeon expects us to be content with her new position as stated as if we are incapable of understanding these implications. We are supposed to simply trust her when she says there will be a referendum regardless of a Section 30 order being refused again. Just as we were supposed to trust her when she said Section 30 was the ‘gold standard’ and the only ‘legal and constitutional’ way. Apparently, we were right to question her judgement then. Let’s not be deterred from questioning her judgement now.

Probably the most significant implication of what Nicola Sturgeon now says about holding a referendum solely sanctioned by the Scottish Parliament is that this cannot be stated without asserting the competence of the Scottish Parliament in this most fundamental aspect of Scotland’s constitutional arrangements. Why isn’t she explicitly asserting that competence? Is she afraid that if she does – or if we figure it out for ourselves – we will demand that this be reflected in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2021 Holyrood election? Is she unprepared for the confrontation with the British state that this would certainly provoke? Is all the talk of being ready to face a legal challenge no more than bluster?

Asserting the sole and exclusive competence of the Scottish Parliament in the matter of our right of self-determination is a game-changer. It is the game-changer. That is why it is the number one item on the #ManifestoForIndependence – repudiation of Section 30 being there only to correct a previous error. It follows that giving this prominence in the SNP’s election manifesto is also a game-changer. Because that means a very strong probability of a Scottish Government with a mandate – potentially a ‘super-mandate’ – to take this essential first step on the road to a truly free and fair referendum and hence to the restoration of Scotland’s independence.

By adopting even this one aspect of the #ManifestoForIndependence Nicola Sturgeon would make a plebiscitary election redundant and the so-called list parties even more obviously pointless than they already are. She would give the party membership and the entire Yes movement something to rally around. She would ensure a landslide victory for the SNP in May so as to give the Scottish Government a massive mandate to seize for our Parliament the status that it deserves and thereby seize for it the powers that should rightfully rest with the only Parliament that has democratic legitimacy in Scotland.

Asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of the impeccable democratic legitimacy it derives from the sovereignty of Scotland’s people is the bold and decisive action that Scotland’s predicament demands. Nicola Sturgeon is almost there. And yet still has a long way to go. Let’s encourage her on that journey.


21 thoughts on “Almost there!

  1. Your reasoning is sound, as it usually is, Peter. Boris has told us in the last of his 5 point plan to prevent independence that if the SG asks for cooperation he’ll use that cooperation to scupper independence. “Finally, if there is a referendum one day to control the timing and terms of the vote.”
    If Nicola Sturgeon insists on asking for a S30O after being told this by Boris, then we’ll know for certain that she really does not want independence.

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  2. I hope you are correct about Nicola Sturgeon’s apparent epiphany on the Scottish Parliament route to holding a referendum and, thus, to Independence land itself.

    But I remain to be convinced.

    There is too much waffle around ‘when the pandemic is over’ in the so-called plan published last weekend. That’s the 11 point(less) plan circulated widely in the press which apparently undermined discussion of alternatives at the National Assembly just 2/3 days later. The never ending get-out clause is there front and centre … which can be used as a parachute once elected in May.

    Where is the passion for the primary objective of the SNP that NS so evidently feels, and reserves, for matters such as the ‘T’ element in the LGBTI abbreviation? You know: the overarching aim expressed in article 1 of the constitution of the party which states that it is the “right of the people of Scotland to self-determination and national sovereignty”!

    I may be wrong – I fervently hope so – and I will vote SNP 1 & 2 come what may at the election so as to minimise the possibility of a pan-Unionist government being formed.

    But it’s last chance saloon for the current SNP leadership. And probably for Scotland’s Cause as well.

    NS can be hero or villain. Which is it to be?

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    1. That is the problem. Too many people “remain to be convinced”. Nicola Sturgeon brings to the constitutional issue precious little of the confidence she has inspired by her handling of the public health crisis. Which means she has to work a lot harder than she might in order to persuade anyone. So far, she hasn’t put in the necessary effort. But she only got to where she is because she was being pushed. Let’s keep pushing.

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  3. Nicola sturgeon has shown her true allegiance through the corona virus challenge. She is but a puppet for the globalist agenda. If the one world government gets further established there will be no independence, not just for Scotland, but for any country. Removing sovereignty from countries and making them all part of a huge, borderless centrally controlled monstrosity can be seen in the EU. She is dangling the referendum carrot because élections are looming. She is discredited further in my eyes by her disgusting treatment of Alec Salmond. She should resign and be tried along with swinney, fir crimes against humanity

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  4. Peter, what is your opinion of Mark McNaught’s Digital Covenant? Also if we fail to secure independence in the forth coming parliamentary session will there be another chance or do we also lose our parliament to westminster?

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    1. On the face of it, the Digital Covenant is an excellent idea. But it’s like so many other things in that it’s running between 2 and 10 years late. I recall doing the calculation of the rate at which they’d have to register signatories to reach their target before the British Nationalist juggernaut crushes our democracy. From memory it was about 40,000 PER DAY!

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      1. I agree, I signed the convention when it first came out and had to do it twice due to glitches. I hadn’t worked out how many would have to sign per day but did realise it would be a large enough number to make things difficult for a new system of recording intentions.
        I still think it’s worth signing though not least because it also provides a built in secure electronic voting system.
        On another note you have successfully puled me back from the brink of splitting my vote.

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  5. Looks like a negotiation tactic. Let’s negotiate through an S30 ..if not, we can be independent without one!

    Much like the Brexit-No-Deal threat?

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    1. There is always the risk that this tactic might work. The S30 order may be granted. And then we’ll be stuck with it. We’ll be trapped in a situation where the process by which we exercise our right of self-determination will be significantly under the direct influence of a foreign government. Boris is only going to say yes if he knows the process can be sabotaged. Be careful what you wish for.

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  6. I may be missing something tactical in your argument, apologies in advance. The strategic aim is independence by some form of voting mechanism. Insisting the Scottish Parliament has constitutional supremacy in matters of self determination, boils down to an argument about constitutional legitimacy – would that be correct? I think this then ends up in Court, delaying any movement towards independence. Would a plebiscite not attenuate the possibility of Court action, because it’s not directly about constitutional supremacy? Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for exerting our rights, but I would rather we moved quickly and not end up in a lengthy legal process.

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    1. It’s always going to end up in court. There’s no way to avoid that. We have to ensure we have the best case. We have to ensure that the battle is fought on ground of our choosing. Ground that favours us. I don’t think you understand the significance of asserting the competence of the Scottish Parliament in constitutional matters. It is effectively a declaration of independence. But three things (at least) make this preferable to confronting the British directly on the issue of independence.

      Firstly, it is highly likely that more people will vote for the Scottish Parliament than for independence. This could be framed as a vote to ‘save’ the Parliament. It could also be framed as a vote to reduce the power of the Tories in Scotland. There’s an advantage just in the fact that it is different from the arguments voters have been hearing for the last ten years.

      When the British challenge it in court it will help our case if there has been a massive democratic vote for the action. But the main reason for making it about the Scottish Parliament is that it’s a very easy position to defend. And something that is very difficult to argue against. The British would have to come to court arguing that Westminster has greater democratic legitimacy in Scotland than the Parliament we actually elect.

      Finally, making it about the Parliament leaves the question of independence untouched. The fight to restore Scotland’s independence can continue unaffected by a contrary decision by the court.

      It should also be mentioned that this is something that has to happen anyway. Even if there is a referendum and a massive Yes vote the people’s will cannot be implemented absent a Parliament with the necessary power. That power has to be asserted. It cannot be acquired in any other way. Unless it is taken it is not real power. It would be useful to have the required power before a vote on independence.

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  7. I do understand the implication of our Parliament asserting our constitutional rights. And I accept, to a degree, that this makes it easier to retain support, because it could be framed as an argument for our Parliament and constitutional right. However, it’s proximity to a declaration of UDI, and the consequent potential for external and hostile reframing and action are legitimate considerations. The media and unionists would frame it as an unlawful UDI in all but name; indeed, it is already evident that the SNP acted to hinder our constitutional right being asserted (s30 case), which would be utilised in framing accordingly.

    With respect to framing, asserting our constitutional position doesn’t appear to resolve the necessity for a confirmatory referendum, in which, I suspect, the unionists will not participate, because they consider it unlawful – ultra vires. A plebiscite at an election may cover this. We also have to think about the nation post independence; in this respect, there are ample opportunities for the British state to exploit and the risk of aggression from within is a legitimate concern; it’s not as if this hasn’t been done before.

    What about actions………..I have no faith, none, in the integrity of the British state: the reframing will, if necessary, be used as a pretext for action. I understand the need to be bold at this stage, to take risks; but let us game and risk manage any potential actions and consequences accordingly.

    At this stage, the plebiscite, to me, ‘feels’ a more palatable approach, with fewer potentially traumatic consequences. However, I am very open any alternative approach, we’ll argued.

    Under any circumstances, I agree with the well argued position of Breeks on Wings: the constitutional position is the fulcrum and should have been thoroughly researched and laid out long before now. In that respect, I understand and appreciate completely your approach.

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    1. You are fretting about a confrontation that has to happen. If we’re not prepared to face that confrontation then we should just give up on hoping to restore Scotland’s independence. Of course the British will call it “unlawful UDI”! The same could be said of anything we do outside the framework that they impose to prevent us doing anything. There is nothing inherently or necessarily “unlawful” about UDI. You hope to avoid the need to respond to the term being used a pejorative. You can’t possibly avoid every challenge the British put up. If our independence is to be restored then at some point you have to be prepared to stand your ground. What I am suggesting is that while we still have the ability to do so we should choose ground that is easy to defend. You keep deferring the confrontation and eventually you must confront you opponents of ground of their choosing. And you lose as a result.

      I have never suggested that what I have proposed would obviate the need for a referendum. Neither would a plebiscitary election. What I have said is in the article.

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  8. I hope you aren’t offended – I’m actually testing my arguments against your position, to eventually arrive at a more considered decision on my part. I haven’t fully decided yet what my position is.

    My current thoughts are to minimise the confrontation, not to defer it; we have to carry the majority of our nation with us. I understand we will be in a confrontation – if we utilise an approach with possible linkage to UDI, we might have less support to bank on (appreciating this is about framing the argument and being able to keep our chosen frame front and centre). I’m neither frightened nor unsupportive of a UDI approach, but I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest it might be viewed in a more conservative manner by many of the people we need for a majority. I have no idea if it’s an overall game changer or not.

    I don’t think a plebiscite at the election would necessarily require an additional referendum (hence my comment – I wasn’t stating your position didn’t require another referendum – I could have placed it more appropriately in the narrative). I suggest we make it crystal clear that the list vote is to be considered as a vote for independence (including all independence supporting parties in that approach – appreciating they’d need to be onboard with that). This won’t prevent any confrontation or court action but I don’t think it’s as potentially controversial. Additionally, de facto, it asserts our constitutional position; it in effect states through action what our constitutional position is. Let WM then come to us to argue we can’t do it.

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