Nicola Sturgeon insists that the process – which she has yet to identify – by which Scotland’s independence is restored must be “legal and constitutional”. Her view appears to be that the international community is eager to avoid recognising Scotland’s status as an independent nation and that they will therefore seize on any excuse to refuse that recognition. She and it must be allowed, many others take the view that recognition by the British state is a prerequisite to recognition by the international community. This might be the case were Scotland a colony and the British state the colonial power. Although the principle of “equal rights and self-determination of peoples” as stipulated in Article 1 (2) of the Charter of the United Nations would surely be cited to dispute this. As would a host of other UN Declarations and international conventions. Basically, international law prohibits interference by the “administering Power” in the exercise of the right of self-determination.
I am constantly perplexed and, let’s be honest, not a little disgusted, by people who claim to think of Scotland as a nation denied its rightful status but who stand ever anxious to question the ‘legality’ of whatever the Scottish Government and Parliament might do to restore that status while never questioning the legality of anything the British state might do to prevent it.
When Nicola Sturgeon says that the process by which independence is restored to Scotland must be “legal and constitutional” she is, of course, referring to British law and the British constitution. She is saying, in effect, that independence can only be legitimately restored by a process that remains entirely within the legal and constitutional framework devised and evolved for the preservation of the Union. If that is not what she means, then she would do well to better explain her position.
At some point, almost certainly within the next four years, the British state will ‘reform’ the legal and constitutional framework such as to make independence illegal. They may even go as far as to make it illegal to campaign for independence, effectively outlawing the SNP and Alba Party. Personally, I don’t think they will. Not because they are likely to be pricked by a democratic conscience, but because they will have no need. They will be able to rely on Nicola Sturgeon’s absolute commitment to abide by British law.
If Nicola Sturgeon should protest that this would constitute a change of circumstances and hence justify a reevaluation of her approach to the constitutional issue, others might well point out that we’ve been there before. We’ve had such “meaningful” changes. If Nicola Sturgeon at this point declares that she will not allow this binding of Scotland to a ‘reformed’ Union, many of us will recall how she and her government assured us they would never allow Scotland to be dragged out of the EU against the will of the people. We all know how that worked out.
Whatever the outcome of the 2024 UK general election the winning party will spend the following 2 years finishing the job of ‘neutralising’ the Scottish Parliament. The SNP/Scottish Government signally failed to prevent us from being dragged out of the EU – mainly because they didn’t try, being too preoccupied with trying to stop Brexit altogether. How much less likely is it that the SNP/Scottish Government will be able to prevent the imposition of a ‘Madrid solution’ on Scotland when Holyrood has been reduced to the status of whipping boy for the UK Government in Scotland?
It’s not too late. Although it very soon will be. The situation calls for bold, decisive action. Nicola Sturgeon must accept that there is no route to independence that does not pass through a point at which there is direct and acrimonious confrontation with the British state. If she acts now, she gets the advantage of choosing the matter on which confrontation will happen. That matter must be the competence and status of the Scottish Parliament. In part because the process by which independence is restored requires that the Scottish Parliament already has the powers of the Parliament of an independent nation. This power is not given. It can only be taken. If it is given, it is false. It must be taken. And once taken, it must be held with determination and tenacity.
Another reason for picking this particualr fight is that the people of Scotland can be expected to support her in a fight to save our Parliament.
We no longer have to wonder about the path to independence. If there ever were alternatives then these have already been closed off by the British state. If any should remain, these will be sealed by the binding.
The First Minister must repudiate the Section 30 process as an illegitimate constraint on Scotland’s right of self-determination. Having done this, the process of restoring Scotland’s independence may commence.
- Assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of its democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people
- Recall Scotland’s Members of Parliament from Westminster to sit on a National Convention with Members of the Scottish Parliament and such representatives of civic society as are deemed appropriate by the Scottish Parliament for the purpose of overseeing the drafting of a Constitution for Scotland
- Propose dissolution of the Union with England subject to approval by the Scottish Parliament and ratification by the people of Scotland in a referendum
- Hold referendum on the question of the Union under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament and subject to oversight and management by the National Convention and such bodies as may be appointed by the Scottish Parliament
Bold, decisive action supported by the people of Scotland? Or the binding? Choose!
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