If ten years, why not twenty? If twenty years, why not forty? If forty years, why not four hundred? It is not the period of time involved that matters but the arrogant sense of entitlement with which these British politicians assume they have the right to dictate that period. Such presumptuousness does not diminish with being pandered to. On the contrary, as we have seen over the past decade, the brazenness with which the British political elite denies Scotland’s democracy only increases as the Scottish Government continues to make concessions.
Why should Sajid Javid and the rest not feel entitled to dictate the terms on which we may exercise our right of self-determination when our First Minister and all our leading politicians acknowledge and legitimise their authority to do so?
By embracing the Section 30 process in a backwards-bending and utterly futile effort to be seen as reasonable by the British media and the ‘international community’, Scotland’s own political elite has fostered the notion that the sovereignty of Scotland’s people is negotiable. They have treated our sovereignty as something that can be traded away in an ongoing effort to avoid confrontation. Our politicians, along with most of the population, have been convinced and/or have convinced themselves that the only ‘legal and constitutional’ route to independence is one that is controlled by the British state.
Scotland’s politicians and people have largely fallen for a psychological con-trick that every parent tries on their children at least once in their young lives. The one where the parent appeals to the ‘maturity’ to which children tend to aspire while portraying the thing the parent wants the child to do as the option which is associated with ‘maturity’. The pompously paternalistic British establishment has convinced half of Scotland’s voters and almost all Scottish politicians that the ‘grown-up’ thing to do is let the establishment take care of things.
“Of course you’re a nation!”, they exclaim while tittering behind their hands. “Of course we respect you!”, they assure us in their best placatory voice. “Of course the Scottish people are sovereign! Of course you have the right of self-determination! Of course you can have a referendum!” All the right noises are made. None of the behaviour matches.
Our own politicians mirror this. They too will from time to time insist with a great show of indignation that Scotland is a nation; that the people of Scotland are sovereign; that we have the right to choose; that we will exercise that right. Ian Blackford has made this his stentorian speciality. But there is every bit as much of a mismatch between word and deed as is the case with their British counterparts.
Scotland is a nation in a voluntary political union with England-as-Britain. But we may only leave this voluntary political union with the consent and cooperation of England-as Britain. The people of Scotland are sovereign. But we’ll allow British politicians to overrule the will of the sovereign people if that is necessary to avoid confrontation. The sovereign people of Scotland have the absolute right to choose the form of government that best accords with our needs, priorities and aspirations. But we’ll allow the British state to dictate or significantly influence when and how that right is exercised – including what options are made available to us – if that’s what it takes to avoid confrontation. We demand the respect of the British state. But we’ll back away from doing anything to earn that respect.
Always there’s that ‘but’!
Haven’t you had enough of this shit? I know I have!
It is time our elected representatives took a very much harder line. It is actually long past time our politicians got on their hind legs and acted like they believe Scotland is a nation. It is time they stopped treating the sovereignty of Scotland’s people as a bargaining chip. It is time they stopped qualifying our right of self-determination. It is time they slapped the smug off the likes of Sajid Javid. Only by doing so will they force some grudging respect from the British political elite.
That’s metaphorical slapping, of course. It’s a sad reflection on the dire state of our political discourse that I am obliged to add such a disclaimer. What I’m referring to is not Ian Blackford crossing the Chamber to visit remedial violence on whichever British politician is delivering today’s ration of condescending crap. (Although that would make for a memorable and epically viral YouTube video, there is probably a downside which doesn’t immediately come to mind.)
What I’m talking about is a response to the arrogant entitlement that leaves no room for doubt about where our political leaders stand on the fundamental matter of sovereignty. It’s no use just saying the people of Scotland are sovereign. Our politicians have to start acting the part. They have to start behaving like the representatives of sovereign people. There can be no concessions. The people of Scotland are sovereign. There is no ‘but’ at the end of that statement. If you ever hear one of our politicians appending that weaselly qualifier it may be time for the slapping to get a bit less metaphorical.
I have come to the conclusion that there is only #ScottishUDI. There is no other way our independence will be restored. To be more accurate, I have decided that it is time for us to start saying out loud that there is only #ScottishUDI. I feel that I actually reached this conclusion some time ago, but only lately have come to realise that #ScottishUDI isn’t merely an option – not merely something that we might resort to if all else fails. I see now that all else is bound to fail. All else cannot succeed. Every route commended by this or that group eventually reaches a point at which the Scottish Parliament has to act in a way that the Union does not permit. The Union being the constitutional device by which Scotland is denied the full and proper exercise of its sovereignty. This means that if our independence is to be restored then the Scottish Parliament must assert the required competence. There simply is no other way by which the necessary power can be acquired. The notion that this power is in the gift of the British state is, on reflection, quite farcical. If it were in the gift of the British state it would be worthless. Power is only ever taken. That which is given cannot be real power.
To illustrate the foregoing let’s look at what our First Minister is proposing. Bear in mind that what is true of Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘plan’ also holds for every other conceivable route to restored independence.
There will be a referendum. I know there are still those who doubt her word. For present purposes, let’s just assume that she means it. There will be a referendum. The First Minister is quite assertive on this point. Not nearly assertive enough, however. There’s one of those ‘buts’ attached. You can feel it coming. There will be a referendum, but it will not be a formal exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination. There will be a referendum, but it will be “consultative and non-self-executing”. There will be a referendum but it will have no direct legislative or constitutional consequences. There will be a referendum but in order to avoid serious confrontation with the British state, it will have no effect.
Assertive. But not even close to being assertive enough. In order to properly represent the sovereign people of Scotland rather than pander to the bullying British state Sturgeon would have had to declare that there will be a referendum and it will be decisive and it will be entirely made and managed in Scotland entirely under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Parliament will assert the necessary competence and the British political elite will accept this or we will confront them in court.
When the Scottish Parliament asserts its exclusive competence in all constitutional matters this will effectively be a unilateral declaration of independence – but done in a Scottish way that is appropriate to Scotland’s circumstances.
The so-called ‘Plan B’ of a plebiscitary election is just more pandering to the obstreperous British state. The very fact of having a ‘Plan B’ signals a lack of determination to see ‘Plan A’ through. For “lack of determination” read weakness. Because the British certainly will. And they will exploit that weakness. The British political elite will accept the Scottish Parliament’s taking of the power to hold a real constitutional referendum – one that is decisive and connects to defined legal consequences – only if they are convinced the Scottish Government is not going to back down. By announcing a pretendy referendum and a ‘Plan B’ Nicola Sturgeon has told them that she is prepared to back down. She has made the preparations for when she backs down. She wants to avoid confrontation.
There is no route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence which does not involve confrontation with the British state.
There is no route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence through the legal and constitutional framewrok developed under the imperative to preserve the Union at any cost.
There is only #ScottishUDI!
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