Our first priority

One can hardly argue against the kind of improvements to our existing democratic institutions and processes suggested by Joanna Cherry. However, we should acknowledge the potential difficulty this presents in the fight to restore Scotland’s independence.

“Use the powers you have!” is a well-worn line used by Unionists. On the face of it, Ms Cherry would appear to be agreeing with them. Furthermore, she also seems at first glance to be promulgating another Unionist line in suggesting that the Scottish Government has failed to use the powers that it has under devolution. Or at least this is how her words are likely to be ‘interpreted’ by anti-independence propagandists.

You and I may know what Joanna Cherry is saying is very much more nuanced than the version Unionists would have us believe. But given that Unionists have at their disposal the power of the British propaganda machine it makes sense to be mindful of their ability to manipulate public perceptions. There is a strong possibility that some significant part of the electorate might take the view that if things can be made better under devolution, why bother with independence?

This dilemma has echoes of the problems arising from confusing/conflating matters of policy with the constitutional issue. Normal political discourse will inevitably consist largely of debate over future policy in any and all areas. But as I have long argued, this debate must not be allowed to muddy the constitutional waters. Too often, policy matters are discussed as if they were part of the core issue of Scotland’s constitutional status. They are not. When we finally do have a proper independence referendum it will decide no matters of post-independence policy. It cannot do so. A pre-independence referendum cannot preempt the choices that the people of Scotland will make in post-independence votes. The referendum cannot be prescriptive in any matters of policy. Discussing things like currency and defence and welfare within the constitutional debate merely serves to obscure the key issue – the single issue that will be decided by the referendum.

A similar problem arises if the fight to restore Scotland’s independence is diluted and deflected by discussion of the kind of reforms Joanna Cherry urges. Yes! It is possible that we could make our democracy better even with the constraints of devolution. But the constraints of devolution are the constraints of the Union. And the Union is anti-democratic. It is anti-democratic because it denies the people of Scotland the full and proper exercise of our sovereignty. No improvements to our existing arrangements can be regarded as truly democratic unless they are instituted with the authority of the sovereign people of Scotland. This is not possible in the context of a political union which imposes on us a doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty that by definition annuls the principle that the people of Scotland are the ultimate source of legitimate political authority.

No reform of our democratic institutions will alter the fact that those same institutions can be swept out of existence with a wave of Britannia’s hand. We may tinker with our arrangements right now. But genuine reform can only be achieved once Scotland’s independence has been restored. Restoring our rightful constitutional status need not necessarily be first in a chronological sense. But it must always be our first priority.

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12 thoughts on “Our first priority

  1. The death of Devolution probably started on 19th September 2014 with David Cameron’s EVEL announcement on the steps of Downing Street, was hastened by the Smith Commission whitewashed recommendations being passed into law in May 2015 and turbo-charged by the Brexit vote and its long and winding never ending aftermath.

    The fudge of Devolution – for, in the best of British ‘traditions’ that is what it is – is not worth arguing about. It is clear to me that the British intend to neuter the Scottish Parliament until it really is only a talking shop to which the 1000th cut will finally be administered with the institution being closed down due to it being an ‘unnecessary cost’ and replaced in totality by the colonial “UK Government in Scotland”.

    All focus must be on the restoration of Scotland’s full-self government and statehood.

    I’m sure Joanna Cherry knows all this.

    Quite why she is discussing the improvement of Scotland’s ‘democracy’ within the context of the UK at this time is not clear to me.

    Liked by 11 people

  2. Maybe JC is thinking that a return to a more democratic and less centralised party structure would help focus the SNP machinery more sharply on gaining independence. There would be less diversionary activity such as GRA if the concerns of the ordinary members were at the head and heart of party management. Bit late in the day , now that the appointed have been anointed as gatekeepers to the party powerhouse .

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Not just a bit late, impossible to correct without a wholesale metaphorical slaughter of those who enabled this to happen: the gender ideologues and the foot draggers, both a massive menace to democracy and reality on all counts. They need to be ousted and replaced with people who are both for independence and for decent human rights for all without encroaching on any one group’s pre existing rights. That’s how it works. Anything else is a waste of time and effort because this stuff, because an insistence on continued ‘devolution’ and the GRA reform is a non-starter.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The devolved government in Holyrood has served a useful purpose in that it has proved that, given the chance, the people of Scotland will always elect socialist governments and reject right wing policies. It has also demonstrated that Scotland has plenty of able politicians who can provide better governance than Westminster – even under the constraints of being a devolved branch of Westminster.

    However, the SNP, both at Westminster and Holyrood, have probably delayed too long now in reacting to the taunts and outrages of the Westminster regime and their policies.

    Nicola Sturgeon and her government in Holyrood are decent administrators. Ian Blackford, Mhairi Black, Joanna Cherry and Pete Wishart may be decent orators, but they have sworn allegiance to the English Crown. Can they or will they ever deliver independence?

    What authority does the English Supreme Court have in Scotland? We have our own legal system which must surely have the authority to decide the legality of a parliament sitting in Scotland, elected by the people of Scotland asking it’s people their view of our relationship with a neighbouring country?

    The dogs in the streets will soon be barking that every ‘legal’ avenue to independence will be closed down one at a time as Scotland is subjected to death by 1,000 Tory cuts.

    Independence needs more than carefully planned legal walking-on-egg-shells. It has to be taken because it cannot be won in a contest with Westminster – that is a fool’s errand and why are we trying to ‘win back’ something that was never ceded except in the minds of the Westminster establishment?

    The SNP’s arguments are becoming more a sign of acceptance of UK gaslighting than a way of getting us the hell out of Dodge!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Republic: although Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey have given sterling service, it will take a really big name in the party now to shift to ALBA or one of the other independence parties, or just to come forward and call out Sturgeon and her cohort, to actually move the logjam forward. That nary a one has done so says much for her iron grip and for the self-interest of the SNP MPs and MSPs. If the brightest lights were to move away, the paucity of intellect and the malign influence of Stonewall on, and the ‘woke’ brigade infiltration into, the SNP would become obvious to all but the most loyal of loyalists.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think your article is far too uncritical of Joanna Cherry’s proposals and postures , I think you have been uncommonly kind , throughout her article she highlights repeatedly that Scots are sovereign YET throughout the past 8 years she along with her fellow collaborators in the vichy SNP SG have done nothing , nada , zilch to challenge ANYTHING WM does or decides to do AGAINST Scotland

    She talks about the democratic deficit and how we should be working to improve the situation in the future , MY question for Joanna is what the hell have you and your fellow collaborators been doing for the last 8 years , have you all just materialised in the last rain shower

    She successfully challenged the blonde buffoon proroguing WM for which he was left red faced
    and outraged YET after that success she just sat back down in amongst the rest of the Putrid Pervs and their audience

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The SNP elites of today are not nationalists, for if they were nationalists then Scotland would already be independent.

    As you rightly suggest, Peter, the first and only priority is liberation of the people.

    Liked by 2 people

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