A new independence referendum has always been “undeniable”. The deal between the SNP/Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party alters nothing. How could mere party maneuverings have an effect on one of the most basic principles of democracy – the right of peoples and nations to choose the form of government that best serves their needs, priorities and aspirations? As an ancient nation, Scotland has always had the right of self-determination. A right which is inalienable, making Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks about an “undeniable mandate” for a new referendum a statement of the blindingly obvious.
Scotland has always had the right of self-determination. Arguably, we had this right 314 years ago while our nation was being sold from under us by a ‘parcel o’ rogues’. Since the right of self-determination is vested in the people, so long as there has been a population which identifies as Scottish then that people possessed the right of self-determination. It’s just that in the absence of democracy, they were unable to exercise that right. It was a right they held in principle only.
One would think, therefore, that as we now live in an age of democracy, our right to decide the constitutional status of our nation and the form of government we want would be something the people of Scotland could take for granted. Not so, however! In that sense if no other, Scotland still exists in pre-democratic times. Where once it was the rule of absolute monarchs which denied us the exercise of this inalienable right, now it is the British state wielding the powers of ‘the Crown in Parliament’. It’s almost as if the age of absolute monarchy had never quite entirely passed. Brigadoon-like, anti-democratic rule by an aristocracy emerges from the mists of history not every hundred years, but every time the people of Scotland presume to contemplate the exercise of our right of self-determination. Wielding the powers of an absolute monarch, the British Prime Minister simply says no!
There have always been those in Scotland who are content to accept the denial of a fundamental democratic right which was from its inception and remains to this day both the purpose and effect of the Union. The ‘parcel of rogues’ is as self-perpetuating as the aristocracy. There has always been in Scotland a clique or tendency which for reasons of sectarian or ideological tribalism or a self-serving desire for the favour of established power and preference within the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state, stands in defence of the anti-democratic Union and by necessary implication against the people of Scotland.
That you cannot serve and defend an anti-democratic constitutional device such as the Union without betraying the people whose democratic rights are thus withheld is, to borrow the First Minister’s term, undeniable.
This does not, of course, make every No voter or even every Unionist in Scotland a traitor. For the most part, those who in 2014 voted to continue to allow the anti-democratic monarchical rule enshrined and preserved in the Union were quite genuinely persuaded that they were acting in the interests of Scotland and its people. Or they were woefully unaware of the true implications of granting the British ruling elite even greater licence to do with Scotland as they found expedient without regard for our national interest or the the welfare of Scotland’s people. The traitors are those who by lies and deception and disinformation so persuaded these No voters or prevented them from making a properly informed choice. There’s your ‘parcel o’ rogues’!
Burns called them a ‘parcel o’ rogues’. Today, we call them British Nationalists.
Nicola Sturgeon is not a British Nationalist. Nor is she a Unionist. And it is even more unlikely that she is some kind of ‘sleeper’ agent secretly working for the British state to undermine efforts to restore Scotland’s independence and remove the abominable limitation of Scotland’s democracy imposed by the Union. Which leaves her choice of language and the mindset it reveals in want of an explanation.
I get the impression of a colonised mind. The colonised mind has internalised an attitude of cultural inferiority or subordinacy or inferiority – a belief that the values, attitudes and priorities of the coloniser are inherently superior.
The colonised mind comes to rationalise its colonisation. To accept that the reality imposed or inculcated by the coloniser is normality. To embrace it as the reality that must be subscribed to. To adopt it as the standard to which everything must conform.
The colonised mind is persuaded that however unsatisfactory its condition may be that condition is a fact of life with which it must cope – or be deemed to have failed.
Nicola Sturgeon feels the need to state the obvious fact that the Scottish Government has an “undeniable mandate” because at the very least her mind is open to the idea that it can be denied. There is, her rhetoric would suggest, a part of her mind into which the idea of British superiority has insinuated itself. Her lawyer’s training – and the frame of mind which bid her enter that profession – inclines her to abide rigidly by the rule of law. The British state makes the law. Sturgeon is powerfully disinclined to breach that law. Hence the otherwise inexplicable commitment to the Section 30 process – which is simply the Union’s denial of Scotland’s democracy distilled to a few words in the Scotland Act.
Her Majesty may by Order in Council make any modifications of Schedule 4 or 5 which She considers necessary or expedient.Scotland Act 1998
Which translates as ‘the British state shall dispose of Scotland in any way it pleases’.
There is a part of Nicola Sturgeon’s mindset which subscribes to the asserted superiority of the British ruling elite. Her mind is at least partially colonised. Or so we might reasonably assume from her behaviour since becoming the de facto leader of Scotland’s independence movement. Only a (partially) colonised mind could contemplate accepting the implications of the Section 30 process. A process which, we must remember, is not as it was for the 2014 referendum. Much as Sturgeon and her loyal admirers like to suppose it possible that the British political elite might be as relaxed about a referendum as they were ten years ago, it is a certainty that they will not be.
To some perhaps significant degree, the minds of everybody in Scotland have been colonised by England-as-Britain. It must be so. Three centuries of inculcation cannot be entirely without affect. Having scrutinised my own mind as well as I am able I find no evident trace of colonisation. I can hardly be unique. There must be many others whose minds are so minimally affected by the propaganda of ‘Britishness’ that they are effectively not colonised at all, or have been largely decolonised. Such uncolonised or decolonised minds were much in evidence yesterday outside the Scottish Parliament.
The uncolonised mind would never consider the Section 30 process acceptable. The decolonised mind has come to reject the Section 30 process having previously consciously or unconsciously accepted it and the principle of the sovereignty of parliament (so long as it’s Westminster!) which informs Section 30. I am inclined to think that Nicola Sturgeon’s mind has yet to be fully decolonise. She needs some help with that. Which is what the White Rose Rising/Now Scotland demonstration at Holyrood was all about.
The name White Rose Rising is a reference to the Burnet Rose, which according to National Records of Scotland “has become a symbol of Scotland, celebrated in song and poetry“. The ‘White Rose of Scotland’ was a badge used by the Jacobites and came to symbolise opposition to the Union. There is also in the name a more tenuous, tangential allusion to Portugal’s Carnation Revolution in 1974, which may be regarded as the precursor to the various Colour Revolutions in Eastern Europe, the Arab Spring and even Scotland’s Yes movement. White Rose Rising recognises that in order for Scotland’s independence to be restored the people of Scotland must first cast off the colonised mindset.
We must stop thinking of independence as something that would be nice if only the British state would let us have it and start to think of independence as something fundamental and essential which is being withheld by a British ruling elite whose purposes we dare not assume are at all benign. As Nicola Sturgeon herself says,
We must defend our parliament against UK Government power grabs that are undermining the very principles on which it is founded. And as we do so recognise that the best way not just of protecting this parliament from Westminster but also equipping it with the full powers it needs to build a fairer more prosperous country is to make this parliament independent of Westminster.Nicola Sturgeon says Greens deal gives ‘undeniable mandate’ for indyref2
Who but a British Nationalist fanatic could disagree with this sentiment?
Some will doubtless argue that, since I am taking her rhetoric as a true(ish) indication of her mindset, then this surely proves that I am wrong to doubt that Sturgeon’s may be afflicted with a partially colonised mind. The problem with that is that we have heard similar rhetoric so often over the past seven years and it has proved to have so little substance. It is not easy to take such statements as seriously as I dearly wish I could.
But let’s assume for a moment that the above statement is a true reflection of Nicola Sturgeon’s attitude – as her admirers will doubtless insist. Would this not validate White Rose Rising’s aim of ‘persuading’ our First Minister to adopt a more robust and assertive and – dare I say it? – a more confrontational approach to the constitutional issue? Does the use of such language intimate that Nicola Sturgeon is at least a lot more persuadable than many have allowed? Surely this is an encouraging sign for White Rose Rising and the whole Yes movement? Surely we should take heart from this?
Perhaps! And with caution! As I said in response to a generously complimentary comment on a blog article from Bill “The Reframing Man” Mills,
The rather tarnished and dull silver lining is that there is only one way forward. So there’s no dilemma. If we want to fight for the restoration of Scotland’s independence we have to be strong enough to influence the Scottish Government. Since there’s nothing else to be done, we might as well at least give it a try.
The earlier quote from Nicola Sturgeon may give a wee boost to hopes that she may yet turn out to be the leader Scotland’s cause needs. How might we protect the Scottish Parliament and make it independent of Westminster so as to equip it “with the full powers it needs to build a fairer more prosperous country” other than by declaring the competence of our Parliament in constitutional matters? What could Nicola Sturgeon possibly be talking about here other than repudiating the Section 30 process and asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of its democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people? Which is exactly what was set out in the original Manifesto for Independence and precisely what White Rose Rising is asking
Again, I urge caution and insist that we must continue to apply the pressure which White Rose Rising and Now Scotland and others are attempting to bring to bear on the First Minister. The above statement may sound like it might intimate the bold, decisive action that we hope for from the Scottish Government. But we must bear in mind that the deal she’s struck with the Scottish Green Party makes her all but invincible, politically speaking. She can pretty much do as she pleases. We must hope that what pleases her is what would also please those o’ uncolonised mind. And what will as I said in my speech yesterday “…set Scotland on a new course! A course that will take us to the dissolution of the Union and restoration of Scotland’s independence!”
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