Big boots!

Time for another teaser, Nicola? A wee shillin’ in the meter tae keep the independence pot warm on that back burner? Something ‘fresh’ that the faithful can point to as they shout down the doubters and the dissenters and the folk in the cheap seats who just want this pantomime to end? Behold! Verily Nicola hath spake unto ye saying “Aye! Jist hing oan, eh! Gonnae no’ gie me a hard time, eh? It’s oan ma tae-dae list, FFS!”. If we just #WheeshtForIndy another six months or so then for certain maybe something will happen all being well. How could it possibly be clearer?

What is it that’s lacking? What has Nicola Sturgeon been holding off for all these long, wearying years of postponement, procrastination and promises? What does she need that she doesn’t have? Or that she hasn’t had, but let go? What conditions must exist for her to act?

Much of the delay can, of course, be attributed to Sturgeon’s long-held conviction (some might say delusion) that the British state in the odious person of Boris Johnson would come around. That he would relent. That he would experience some kind of democratic epiphany and overnight change from fanatical devotion to the Union to an equally fervent commitment to democracy as it is normally understood. It is only lately that Sturgeon’s belief in such a magical transformation has seemed to waver a bit. Perhaps because she realised that what she was hoping for was not merely the metamorphosis of Boris Johnson, but the transubstantiation of the British state. Maybe it finally dawned on her that the transmutation of shite to gold was a more promising project.

Now, she says she will unilaterally pass legislation at Holyrood and dare UK ministers to challenge it in court. Which is what she was always going to have to do given that her Plan A couldn’t even find the starting blocks. Assuming she is sincere about this and assuming she has the nerve for such confrontational politics and assuming her revised plan is any better than its predecessor and assuming she and her colleagues are sufficiently resolute and assuming this is a near-complete list of assumptions, maybe we’re getting somewhere.

Let’s say Nicola Sturgeon has at last realised the folly of pursuing a process which is critically dependent on Boris Johnson possessing all the fine qualities he isn’t known for. Let’s say she now recognises the true nature of the British state. What does she require in order pursue a less fantastical process? What would be on her checklist of things that are essential as she goes into battle with the British political elite. As well as things that she would just prefer to have.

Such a list would include things like a mandate from the people of Scotland; a substantial and sustained lead for Yes in the polls; a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament; a pro-independence Scottish Government with a secure working majority; fair treatment from the media; strong evidence that the Union is bad for Scotland; an army of campaigners ready to be led into battle; new shoes etc.

Is there anything on that list that she doesn’t have? Or could have if she asked? Or has had but lost? She has a mandate. It’s not the mandate that she should have. It’s not the mandate that she should have been given in May whether she wanted it or not. But she has an adequate mandate. The British will not accept that it is adequate. They will not accept that she has a mandate at all. They were never going to accept that she had a mandate. Unless she’d been given a ‘supermandate’, of course. That is to say, a mandate that not even the British could claim was non-existent or insufficient. We, the voters, had it in our power to provide such a supermandate. Had the Yes movement united in an effort to create that supermandate it would very likely have succeeded. But much (most?) of the Yes movement declined this opportunity. They had better things to do. Or they’d given up doing anything.

Despite this failure, the mandate box is ticked.

The substantial and sustained (for a while) lead in the polls is one of the things the Yes cause had and now doesn’t. It wasn’t a sustainable lead because it wasn’t built on greater acceptance of the need to end the Union but on the popularity of Nicola Sturgeon. Popularity that was always fragile because the electorate is a fickle beast and none too clever. What the 58% recorded in 2020 tells us is that there is an appreciable chunk of the electorate which can be swayed with the right kind of appeal. An appeal to emotion. It wasn’t Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s economic facts and figures which captured that extra ten points. Those ‘case for independence’ arguments have been around for a decade and more. For the last seven of those years the polls haven’t moved – apart from that spell in 2020 when Yes got a boost courtesy of Sturgeon’s presentation skills. The polls jumped not because of information supplied to voters but because they were made to feel something. They were engaged and enthused not by what Nicola Sturgeon told them at those briefings but because she made them feel important and involved and just a bit safer. It was feelings of trust and confidence and security that did the trick, not graphs and charts and reams of statistics.

There’s a rather obvious lesson to be learned there. The fact that support for Yes has fallen back again suggests that lesson has not been learned. A substantial and sustained lead in the polls is quite readily attainable if the correct approach is adopted.

Sturgeon has a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament and a pro-independence Scottish Government with a secure working majority. So we can tick those boxes. There could hardly be stronger evidence that the Union is bad for Scotland. That evidence is piling up as never before. The fact that this alone isn’t bumping up the polls tells us that this evidence in not being exploited to its fullest. The British government is unquestionably doing its bit for Scotland’s cause. Somebody else isn’t.

Fair treatment from the British media will not be forthcoming. They are the BRITISH media. That is all anybody needs to know on that subject.

That brings us to that army of campaigners ready to be led into battle. Which is arguably the most interesting item on the list of prerequisites for a start to the process of restoring Scotland’s independence. It is certainly in the column headed ‘squandered’. Most people reading this will remember the Yes movement as it was in 2013 and 2014. What a wondrous thing it was! Massive! Dedicated! Unafraid! Cheerful and at times joyous! And effective – up to a point. That point being That point being 44.70% of the popular vote on a turnout of 84.59%. A point significantly short of victory.

Readers will recall also how the engagement and enthusiasm of the Yes movement grew and spread in the wake of that result. The Yes army was probably at its strongest in 2015. That level of voter engagement couldn’t be sustained. But it was given a boost by the EU referendum in 2016. The momentum was still with Yes into 2017, but started to diminish in the second half of that year following what was widely portrayed as a poor performance by the SNP in the 2017 UK general election. Had the independence campaign been given another boost prior to and during the 2017 UK general election campaign then the stage would have been well set for a referendum in September 2018 – before the UK was due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. No such boost was forthcoming. The Yes movement went into decline and has never recovered.

Some will complain that the foregoing is an overly simplified account. I agree. But it’s sufficient for our immediate purpose. The army of campaigners ready to be led into battle is the main thing missing off that list. We now know what Nicola Sturgeon lacks. We know what she’s waiting for. She needs a massive public clamour for action. She needs to be able to point to this massive public clamour and say that she has no choice but to take bold, decisive action. She needs to be provided with justification for dropping her foolish commitment to the Section 30 process. She needs that mass public clamour to legitimise the unilateral action she now not-quite-promises.

You’ll excuse me oozing a bit of glee as I point out that the #WheeshtForIndy mob could hardly have got it more wrong. The restoration of Scotland’s independence is radical politics writ large. Radical political campaigns are not quiet affairs. Not if they hope to succeed. They have to be audible. And visible. And tangible. They must have effect. They must have impact. They must be felt. They must be felt even by those who are customarily disengaged from politics.

By definition, radical political campaigns don’t parrot any party line. They need the effective political power only government can provide. But they are not there to serve the government. They exist to effect change of a kind that established power is decidedly averse to. Radical political campaigns are not owned by political parties. They are not extensions of political parties. They stand outside the normal democratic process because you can’t kick a politician’s arse if you’re standing up close to them. And if radical campaigns are for anything they are for kicking political arse.

The Yes movement needs to get its arse-kicking boots on. Because there are arses begging to be kicked.

I daresay Nicola can afford those new shoes. Quite right too! She is our First Minister. That office must come with remuneration commensurate with its importance to Scotland. But while she goes for style, the Yes movement must choose its footwear by weight.

I shall not get into the maladies that have afflicted the Yes movement over the last four years in particular. If you are reading this then the chances are you are already all to familiar with the factionalism and tribalism and the rest. It’s pointless blaming any individuals or groups or organisations or parties for the condition of the movement. We are all part of the movement so we are all in one way or another part of the problem. I cling desperately to the conviction that this problem has a solution. I remain persuaded that the Yes movement can create that public clamour mentioned earlier. I harbour no illusions about turning the clock back. The Yes movement has left its formative years behind just as we all do. Just as there is no choice but to work with the Scottish Government we have, so there is no choice but to work with the Yes movement as it is. Forget about trying to heal wounds and stop internecine squabbling. Once factionalism and tribalism take hold there is no cure. Certainly no cure that can be effective on the relevant timescale. Whatever the Yes movement does now will have to be done despite the divisions. It has to be something that is totally disconnected from the causes of those divisions – real or imagined.

First of all, we need ‘proof of concept’. The Yes movement must demonstrate that it is capable of action in the name of a common purpose. The movement must do this as much for its own benefit as for the effect of the action. We have to demonstrate to ourselves that we can still combine when it counts. That is the thinking behind White Rose Rising’s #SaltireStrikesBack action. Only a group such as White Rose Rising can be the agency for this action because the group is very purposefully and most emphatically not affiliated to any party or associated with any agenda. The group prides itself on being entirely focused on the constitutional issue. It boasts that it it is rooted in a campaign against the Union that has existed at least as long as the Union has. It is merely the latest manifestation of the people’s fight to end the Union and restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

The idea was to develop an action which could attract the kind of mass participation of which a public clamour is made. Not everybody can march. Not everybody can attend rallies or do streetwork. Everybody can put a poster in their window. We can all use our windows to participate in a demonstration. We can all display our national flag. The only matter remaining was the question of when would be the right time to ‘experiment’ with this kind of demonstration.

When COP26 starts on Sunday 31 October the eyes of the world will be on Scotland. Boris Johnson is determined that all those eyes will see is the Union flag. The manner of our response hardly needs to be explained. For every Union flag Boris and his agents stick on Scotland, we display ten Saltires. Or a hundred. Or…. You decide!

It’s as simple as that. Get hold of a Saltire flag or poster and on the morning of Sunday 31 October put it in your window or some other place where it will be seen. There’s no rule about how many Saltires you can display. Plaster the entire exterior of your house with them if you want. Use your imagination.

That’s all there is to it. If it works, the world will see a nation asserting its identity in the face of imperialist-style efforts to impose an alien identity. Nicola Sturgeon will see the potential for the public clamour she needs. Perhaps most importantly, the Yes movement will see what it can do. What it can be.

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15 thoughts on “Big boots!

  1. “You’ll excuse me oozing a bit of glee as I point out that the #WheeshtForIndy mob could hardly have got it more wrong.”

    As far as I am aware you were the first person that questioned the timidity and deferential approach of Nicola Sturgeon and the present SNP leadership.

    Thank you.

    You are excused!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Peter: no one could accuse you of timidity and undue deference. If the Scottish government wonl’t even challenge the Supreme Court’s ruling, let alone the right on an imposed illegal Supreme Court to make that ruling at all, then, maybe 2080/90? The next millennium? We are on a hamster wheel to nowhere and Nicola Sturgeon and her allies have no intention of getting there – ever. Their every utterance, their very move, their every fibre speaks loudly: we will do nothing. Remember, this legislation that was summarily dismissed by the SC of UK was voted on unanimously by the Scottish parliament, by all parliamentary representatives of the people – the Scottish people.

    It doesn’t actually matter what the Scotland Act says, because Westminster will ensure that it is interpreted in accordance with English Constitutional Law, an illegal action contrary to the Treaty of Union. Ergo: 1) the Supreme Court is an illegal imposition carried on from the imposition of the HoL as Scotland’s highest civil court of last appeal against the Treaty agreement of 1707; 2) the imposition of devolution on Scotland without similar devolution on England is illegal according to the Treaty; 3) the Treaty is an international agreement which underpins the original UK of GB, and cannot be ruled upon in any manner in domestic law; 4) the Scotland Act has been bent out of shape in order to accommodate, an allow for the domination of, English Law, which is also in direct contravention of the Treaty; 5) if the Treaty is no longer extant, then neither is the Union, because no domestic legislation can supersede the Treaty, and, if the Treaty is breached, so is the Union which it underpins and which cannot stand in these circumstances.

    What part of all that does the Scottish government not understand? What part of that allows it to state, through John Swinney: “we will obey the Supreme Court ruling”? AS Scotland duly elected, democratic and legitimate government, it has a duty of care to do what is in the interests of both electors and the whole of Scotland, and also to put its own raison d’etre into policy. It has not done so in seven years, but has sought, always, to defer to, and collaborate with, Westminster and English Constitutional Law against the best interests of its people. Not one in those years has it grasped the thistle and done what it says on the tin. Its Vichy tendencies become more and more apparent every day that passes.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have always wondered about the shoe thing with Sturgeon………will she do an Imelda Marcos and open a ‘shoe museum?’ Imelda’s museum has app. 3000 shoes and it is an nice little earner for her in retirement.

    Is that her secret retirement plan. Forget about swanky jobs at the UN or anywhere else for that matter. All she wants and really really, really wants are her shoes……..

    According to Ernest Becker in his book ‘The denial of Death’ The obsession with shoes has to do with death…….mmm

    And then of course you have the Twin-Sets?


  4. There’s an interesting thread from a guy who’s a Prof of Law and Chairman of the Faculty of law at Cambridge:

    characterised perhaps by this:

    Overall, this judgment seems highly problematic to me. It reads the devolution settlement improbably narrowly; it employs unconvincing reasoning to get to that outcome; and it characterises the HRA’s constitutional effects in indefensibly broad terms.

    There’s another thread from Katie Boyle (Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law @StirLaw), McCorkindale is all over it as well, and of course my route in was the usual source – Aileen McHarg.

    My first reaction on the ruling was basically “Well, fair enough, the ScotParl is seeking to restrict the UKParl on what it can legislate”. I try hard to be impartial so as to better see hopefully, what the “reality” is, and it’s becoming obvious I was too fair, and rather than being impartial, erred on the side of the UK Government.

    So, by way of over-compensation for that and back to our side again, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the UK Government has made its biggest mistake so far, the UKSC has show its bias to all and sundry, and when people talk about “Contitutional Crisis”, without any clarity about what that really means for everyone, this really is precipitating a Constitutional Crisis, and one hopefullly which the Scottish law practicioners will get fully behind, There’s been signs of courage over the last 3 or 4 years, perhaps finally ScotLaw is finding its b*lls (non-gender specific ones).

    In which case, waiting till Covid is no longer a distraction would have been well worthwhile – bearing in mind the vote for Devoution in 1997 was 74.6% YES, and support has increased over the last 20 odd years. Note particularly the panicked scrambling of the Holyrood Tories. Bless.


    1. Mmm, had to put an asterisk into b*lls! Anyways, that was long enough so I’m adding this separately:

      Bearing in mind that Curtice hangs out there at times. And there’s this tweet from them:

      The Bill also imposes new government controls over the Electoral Commission and packs the Speaker’s Committee – which scrutinises the Electoral Commission – with another government appointee.

      UK Gov is going too far, and that’s just ongoing work since Cameron who was the last of the semi-democrats, through May, to Johnson who’s good for a laugh and not much else.


    2. Sorry. I’m being a pest, but at times I like to react and perhaps change my mind, or develop the argument. And I missed this article by Cherry on the Thursday, which covers some parts, but perhaps has a different final part of the journey to my route:

      So yeah, the S30 route is still the easiest in my mind, and “forcing” it is therefore desirable. But running the Bill through Holyrood and then trying to run the Ref without it if neccessary, and “daring” the UK Gov to take the Bill to court and have Royal Assent denied will show that it is keeping us undemocratically kidnapped, and that is my route – quicker than waiting for the next election. Because that really is untenable for the UK Gov, or the people of the rest of the UK, and could be an end to a Tory Government – which is of far more importance to the Tories than Scotland. It would probably increase support for YES as well. Nobody wants to be a prisoner.

      I think Sturgeon is going that way, but while International awareness is important, she might need to push this to the people of the rest of the UK for them to pressurise the Tories – perhaps via opinion polls but also their legal experts (like Elliott above). Courts do pay attention to academic papers. Ironically Strimmer’s route to PM is via supporting Scotland’s right to self-determination, something that hasn’t yet penetrated his underused peabrain.

      That’s it from me, I won’t darken your doors again. Not till next time.


      1. As Lorna has already noted above,
        The Treaty of Union, is now Null and Void!
        Destroyed by the UK (English) Government.
        It has breached the Treaty any number of times, but the UK Supreme Court is the catalyst, in a number of ways.
        It is quite infuriating to see the present SNP Government in Edinburgh, bow to this illegal imposition upon Scotland.
        We could and should end this Union tomorrow, by withdrawing our MPs from London, and declaring the Union to be over.
        We could do this, simply by virtue of the breaches in the Treaty made by London.
        But as it looks, SNP is too scared, too timid, too whatever, it seems.
        It is an unacceptable situation.
        It has to change, and fast.


        1. Seeking to end the Union on the grounds of alleged breaches is so obviously a monumentally bad idea that I’m baffled as to why people persist in peddling the notion. The clue to why it is a dreadful idea is the word ‘alleged’. I’ve seen it suggested that Scotland should list all the breaches of the Treaty since its signing so as to strengthen the case. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that every single one of these claims will be challenged by the British state. It would be a simple matter for them to keep the issue in court for many years. Possibly many decades. With no other action possible while the matter is ‘sub judice’.

          It’s a great example of making a task massively more difficult than it need be. There is no need to specify any grounds at all. We don’t have to explain why we want independence restored. We need only restore it. That it is the will of the people is sufficient. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be credible.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Peter: the Treaty underpins the Union. The Union cannot, in international law, be dissolved without also dissolving the Treaty. There are two parties to it, not just the Scots, but also the English. It is fundamentally an international political contract, and, as such, must be resiled in the right court – the international court of the UN – and, as a contract, breaching by one party to it, is a fatal flaw that sees the contract fall. That is why a plebiscitary election is a far better idea than a referendum, being the very primary source of our democracy, and resiling the Treaty thereafter (after negotiations which will also be affected by the Treaty). The thing is, Peter, that the English jurists and Westminster and the HoL understand all this very well. Why don’t the Scots? Why do you think Cameron, even though he never invoked it, because we lost the referendum, commission two eminent professors of constitutional law to produce the Crawford and Boyle Report to state that Scotland had been subsumed? No legal challenge from the Scots or the Scottish government. Collaboration as per after we lost the referendum. Had we won, we would have had to fight tooth and nail to show that we had not been subsumed in order to negotiate our withdrawal from the Union and the assets and liabilities that would accrue on withdrawal. He understood very well what was at stake. Do you really believe that Westminster won’t invoke C&B if they need to? Do you think they don’t hold the Treaty in reserve? Without the Treaty, there is no UK. No domestic legislation can supersede it. The Acts of Union are secondary legislation, not primary, and they are subject to the Treaty. However, if the HoL gets its way, England will try to renegotiate it as a domestic Act, thus placing it well within their English jurisdiction and the Supreme Court whose ruling has just stated that Westminster’s sovereignty is virtually unlimited, and, in relation to Scotland and to Scots Law (supposedly protected for all time with in the Treaty terms) actually unlimited. Do you think the SG would comply? I suspect that they might, and that a future Unionist party in government almost certainly would. Also, part of the continual breaching is to try and erode confidence in the Treaty by replacing, they think, it terms with domestic law. They are wrong. The Treaty is still alive and still extant, as better and cleverer people than I have evidenced. It’s time the English government, aka, the UK government, was told that.


    1. I don’t want to spend the next fifty years in court arguing about the Treaty of Union and whether this or that constitutes a breach sufficient to….

      It doesn’t have to be complicated and legalistic to be credible. It can be as simple as a declaration of the Scottish Parliament’s primacy. The Treaty and all the rest just falls away. And no need to spend a lifetime arguing about it in court.


  6. The problem with ending the Treaty of Union unilaterally, similar to a UDI, is international recognition and in no particular order, Macedonia, Kosovo and Somaliland are examples – there are more. It could take decades and the problem with that is getting finance, memberships, trade. The easiest route is with agreement with the UK (rUK) Government.

    One far out possibility I posted elsewhere long ago, would be UDI on the sole basis of holding a confirmatory referendum, and then with that in the bag, reverting to the “normal” channels of negotiation. It could put pressure on the UK Gov – and be a quicker route than the above one to get international recognition.

    There is a thing here though; the UK Gov refusing the S30 and taking the ScotGov to the UKSC is not going down very well with those who take an interest in these things – and not just in Scotland, but also in the rUK. It includes most constitutional experts as Aileen McHarg tweeted earlier today. From that point of view, the more the pressure and “disappointment”, the more there is an understanding from the academics, organisations, legal and constitutional bods – and that in itself could reach a tipping point. Ultimately the UKSC would have to take notice, as would the UKG. Perhaps that’s all the “secret plan”!

    From that point of view this 2021 paper which I found indirectly through a btl posting on Wings last night, on the centre for constitutional change website:

    “from Questions of Sovereignty: Redefining Politics in Scotland?

    is interesting, though quite long. Possibly worthwhile a read though:

    Click to access 1467-923X.12958.pdf

    I’d say that the Electoral Reform and the CCC are basically Unionist; in favour of devolution but not Independence. In the terms of the paper though, they may well be sovereigntists, or semi-sovereigntists. If they are realising that Devolution is not being respected, but in themselves are very supportive of the Scottish Parliament, then perhaps the momentum really is towards inevitable Independence.

    Hope this isn’t a duplicate, signing in via WordPress seems to be hit and miss and I have to add a line so as not to say “this appears to be a duplicate” – and repost.


    1. “The problem with ending the Treaty of Union unilaterally, similar to a UDI, is international recognition and in no particular order, Macedonia, Kosovo and Somaliland are examples – there are more. It could take decades and the problem with that is getting finance, memberships, trade. The easiest route is with agreement with the UK (rUK) Government.”

      The colonised mind. Quite incapable of appreciating that anything done with the “agreement” of the British state will not be independence. Totally willing to unquestioningly accept the crap about “international recognition”. It fair maks a thinking man weary!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s about reality Peter, not rhetoric.

        Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008.[146] As of 4 September 2020, 112 UN states recognised its independence, including all of its immediate neighbours, with the exception of Serbia.[147] However, 15 states have subsequently withdrawn recognition of the Republic of Kosovo.[148][149] Russia and China do not recognise Kosovo’s independence.[150] Since declaring independence, it has become a member of international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank,[151][152] though not of the United Nations.


        North Macedonia officially celebrates 8 September 1991 as Independence day … The withdrawal of the Greek veto, along with the signing the Friendship agreement with Bulgaria, resulted in the European Union on 27 June [2017] approving the start of accession talks, which were expected to take place in 2019, under the condition that the Prespa deal was implemented and the country’s name was changed to Republic of North Macedonia.


        In May 1991, the SNM announced the independence of “Somaliland” and the formation of an interim administration whereby Abdirahman Ahmed Ali Tuur was elected to govern for a period of two years. [and from another wiki] … Somaliland, officially the Republic of Somaliland, is an unrecognised sovereign state in the Horn of Africa, internationally considered[11][12] to be part of Somalia.

        So that went well.


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