The other UDI

For many years now – since long before the first independence referendum – I have been warning that the ultimate aim of the British state is to lock Scotland into a ‘reformed’ Union, unilaterally altered and imposed on Scotland without consultation or consent. A Spanish-style constitution which proclaims the UK to be a single nation ‘indivisible and indissoluble’. There is nothing particularly controversial about this warning. Nobody who understands the nature of the British state and the purpose of the Union will find anything untoward in the suggestion that jealous Britannia would seek to tighten her grip on Scotland’s throat. Politically, it is the obvious thing to do. It is the obvious way to solve the ‘Scottish problem’. Think of it as the other UDI – a unilateral declaration of incorporation.

What I had failed to realise – or at least failed to acknowledge – until recently is the extent to which the British establishment has already achieved its aim of binding Scotland inextricably to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state. The independence movement in Scotland has always operated on the understanding that its goal was achievable by means that were entirely ‘legal and constitutional’. It has always been assumed that there was a legal route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence and that it was our responsibility to find and follow that route. Lately, I have come to the realisation that this ‘legal and constitutional’ route was always a myth.

I now see that my warnings about the British state’s intention to close down what we understood as the democratic route to independence were sadly belated. That route had long since ceased to exist – if it had ever existed in the first place. Although I had long insisted that there was no path to independence through the legal and constitutional framework developed under the pressure of the imperative to preserve the Union, I didn’t fully appreciate the implications of this. I am now fully aware that if we are to defend Scottish democracy we must step outside the bounds of British legality. We must do so as a matter of urgency. But not so precipitously as to lose touch with the democracy that we seek to defend.

Although this thinking developed over a number of years, it was punctuated by moments of clarity. Moments such as that which occurred to me when arguing that the referendum being proposed by Nicola Sturgeon is a mock independence referendum. If Yes wins, the result will be dismissed on the grounds that the referendum is merely consultative and that, had it been a ‘real’ independence referendum people would have voted differently. If Yes loses, the referendum will be deemed a decisive vote which must be honoured. Again, this is no more than ‘normal’ politics. In making this argument it suddenly occurred to me that the 2014 referendum was the same. We know that the No vote has been proclaimed by British Nationalists as the last word on the constitutional issue. Or at least the last word for whatever length of time the British state chooses. The moment of clarity was when it dawned on me that had the vote been Yes in 2014, the British would have behaved in very much the same way as I foresee them behaving in relation to a Yes vote in Nicola Sturgeon’s mock independence referendum proposed for 2023.

In 2011 I and I suspect the entire Yes movement went into the referendum campaign convinced that a Yes vote would mean independence being restored. Precisely how the one led to the other might not have been entirely clear, but we were not giving much thought to such things back then. How naive we were! I venture to suggest that I speak for pretty much the entire Yes movement when I say that we thought the Edinburgh Agreement meant that the British state was obliged to accept and respect and act on the result. This belief seems foolish in the light of the British state’s conduct over recent years.

The fact is that the 2014 referendum was no more a formal exercise of our right of self-determination than the First Minister’s proposed 2023 referendum will be – if it happens. The 2014 referendum may have been a closer approximation of a proper constitutional referendum than the 2023 version. But it would have been no more effective in taking us to independence.

I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to me sooner. I recognised the existential nature of the constitutional issue for both the British state as it understands itself and Scotland as we know it and would wish it to be. So quite why I imagined the British would feel bound by the Edinburgh Agreement is difficult to understand. I guess I just didn’t think it through. I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past eight years. I see things very differently now.

There is no legal way out of the Union for Scotland. There is no way out of the Union for Scotland that will not be deemed illegal or unlawful or illegitimate or invalid by the British ruling elite. This was true in 2014 no matter how blind we were to the truth. It is, if anything, even more emphatically true today. The ‘legal and constitutional’ route to independence declared indispensable by our First Minister, doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because the imperative to preserve the Union trumps everything and the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty allows it to do so.

If the Union is an existential issue for them, independence is an existential issue for us. If preservation of the Union is an imperative for them, restoring independence is an imperative for us. If the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty is essential for them, the principle of popular sovereignty is essential for us. Why is their doctrine more weighty than our principle? Why is their imperative more pressing than ours? Why is their existence more important than ours? Only because they say so! That is all! They say so! Nothing more than that!

Where is our voice? Where is Scotland’s voice? Where is the voice stating that Scotland’s principle of popular sovereignty shall not be outweighed by England-as-Britain’s doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty? Where is the voice declaring that Scotland’s imperatives shall not be subordinate to the imperatives of any external power? Where is the voice insisting that Scotland’s existence shall not be sacrificed on the altar of British imperialist pretension?

Where is Scotland’s voice?

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20 thoughts on “The other UDI

  1. @Peter … I’ve resisted until now, but it’s maybe time that you took an interest (critical or otherwise) in an initiative entitled “The Declaration of an individual Sovereign Scot”. Happy to meet and discuss.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have looked at this Mike. I think you know that I have. I ask one question. Can “The Declaration of an individual Sovereign Scot” lead to the process of restoring Scotland’s independence being initiated within the next two years or before the next UK general election, whichever is soonest? If the answer to that question is anything other than a totally unequivocal YES, then I’m afraid it doesn’t matter how good the idea is – it’s not what we need.

      I hasten to stress that this is not an objection to the project per se. Other than to the extent that they divert and diffuse energies which might be better used, I can hardly oppose any effort with the intent of restoring Scotland’s independence. In principle, the more the better. I fear, however, that given the urgency of our predicament and the nature of the opposition, if we don’t focus all our energies on a single immediate and rapid course of action, we are doomed.

      Scotland’s cause is running about five years late. That’s a lot of time to make up in only a few months.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “totally unequivocal(ly) YES”?

        At every rally to date for well over a year now, and at all the rallies to come, and now adding Yes Groups/Stalls – across Scotland, that is precisely the question I am asking my fellow Scots.

        I can report to date that increasing (and for me significantly increasingly) numbers are answering with a “totally unequivicocal YES”, exercising their claim of right, and signing their Declaration, and perhaps most importantly doing so now…

        Scotland’s voice?

        (Suggestion perhaps: Keep listening!)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Comes from listening to stories about spiders, but I’ll leave you in peace, and save the remainder.

            See you on the journey.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Scotland’s voice is not to be found within the current Scottish Government.

    There is a fair chance, however, that it will be broadcast loudly at the SSRG Conference in Dunfermline this coming weekend where you and others will be speaking.

    Be sure to shout!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Tempted to say … at last!

    I’ve got so much I want to say on this issue but eight-plus years of frustration has clogged up my powers of expression, so I can’t get it out.

    All I’ll say is that it’s good to see one boomer liberal seeing the light.


  4. Having failed to convince on your “pretendy referendum” spiel, you are now indulging in Alt-History. It was understood and agreed, in full view of the World, that a YES vote would have led to Scottish Independence in 2014. The entire NO campaign was based around that fact. The World engaged with the process in that belief. Had the UK govt reneged on that well documented promise, making fools of both Scots and the international community, the ramifications for it would have been serious.

    Scotland got devolution in large part because of international pressure. In the 90s, the Russian govt, at international level, highlighted Western states like the UK who were denying territories under their jurisdiction the right to self determination while at the same time supporting every territory under Moscow’s jurisdiction to secede. The Council of Europe agreed and insisted countries like the UK do something about it.

    Click to access DevolutionandtheLabourMyth.pdf

    Tony Blair’s “progressive” govt (remember the shiny days of Blair, before ….) reluctantly decided to implement the hundred year old Labour policy of a Scottish Parliament as a result. He certainly did not need to do it for electoral reasons. Scotland was solidly Labour and, even if Scotland had voted 100% Tory, he would still have been PM on English seats alone (as is so often the case in UK Elections, Scotland’s votes count for absolutely nothing).

    International support is absolutely key to getting Scottish independence. A UDI results in independence. You do not declare a UDI then tell the UK and international community to talk among themselves while we decide if we really want it or not. It’s an absurd situation to be in. You decide if you want it, then take all measures available to achieve it. But whether it is “referendum then UDI” or “UDI then referendum”, it is what comes afterwards that is important. That is, how is that decision made reality. Scottish independence MUST lead to us becoming a full member of the international community, not another North Cyprus. That requires us to take not only the people of Scotland with us, but the international community too.

    In my opinion, “referendum win – then UDI if needed” is a surer way of achieving it.


    1. And how do we manage to get that Referendum, when English Prime Ministers keep saying we can’t have it, and they won’t (ever) allow it?
      As for trying to compare Scotland with North Cyprus, errrm, as has been pointed out previously, Scotland is a country. We are not some bit of England.
      I’ve noticed a tendency with some ppl, to try compare us with Yorkshire for example. Others just love pointing out London is bigger, and London voted to stay in Europe, too. Well, so what?
      London is not a country, and neither is Yorkshire!
      And apart from that, are we not s’posed to be “Equal Partners” in a Union?
      But it turns out, so “Equal” we get English politicians determine our future!!!
      We didn’t see too much of that “equality” when it came to Brexit, or with anything else.

      As for International recognition, and what England thinks, it doesn’t matter what England thinks.
      It won’t be up to them.
      It is not for England to declare to the rest of the World, it cannot have Scotland as its own country just because London is in a big bad huff!
      Sure, they won’t like it, just as they didn’t like Irish Independence, and there is still folks in England who still don’t like it, but that’s just too bad.
      No one expects England to be happy or be too nice about things, but when it’s reality, they will have no choice in the matter.
      But it only becomes reality, when we make it so, for ourselves, because as we have seen, hoping London is gonna help us get there, is pure fantasy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “And how do we manage to get that Referendum, when English Prime Ministers keep saying we can’t have it, and they won’t (ever) allow it?”

        We have a plebiscitery election instead, as stated by the Scottish Govt.

        “As for trying to compare Scotland with North Cyprus, errrm, as has been pointed out previously, Scotland is a country. We are not some bit of England.”

        I just knew that would be used to deflect from the very real point being made. A premature UDI that left Scotland in international limbo would not be a good thing. North Cyprus is in that international limbo. That is the only comparison that can be drawn.

        “…. it doesn’t matter what England thinks.”

        I’m not sure why you are bringing this up. I didn’t mention England’s thoughts. But you’re right, it doesn’t matter what England thinks. However, like it or not, we will have to negotiate with them if/when the UDI is acknowledged by the international community. The idea that, somehow, England is removed from the equation by a successful UDI is nonsense. It just changes the starting point of the inevitable negotiations. If the UDI is not recognised by the International community, then “what England thinks” becomes a real problem. They will have carte blanche to do whatever it takes, politically if not “violently”, to bring Scotland back into line. That could be anything from simply dissolving devolution entirely to troops on the streets and mass arrests. They have form on this.

        “Sure, they won’t like it, just as they didn’t like Irish Independence, and there is still folks in England who still don’t like it, but that’s just too bad.”

        Again, you inexplicably concentrate on England’s opinion as if I mentioned it, but whatever. The Irish still had to negotiate with the UK Govt though. Hence the existence of Northern Ireland and membership of the Commonwealth (which subsequently changed) among many other agreements. To reiterate, a UDI does not magically remove England from the equation. Until we reach full independence on the World stage, we will have to deal with England. That is simple, unarguable reality.


  5. There are plenty of people speaking up for Scotland including the author of this article and many other online activists, our elected independence-minded representatives and, not least, the people of Scotland who consistently vote in the majority for parties who support the independence cause.

    The British nationalists are a bigger population, they own the mass media, and so their voice is louder than ours. They may assume that they have the power to change things to lock us into a ‘Spanish-like constitution’ but, unless we as a population are really sound asleep at the wheel, is this alarming situation inevitable?

    I agree that there is no legal way out of this situation that Scotland finds itself in. When I lived in England during the Thatcher years, my left-leaning friends – in the Tory stronghold where we lived – knew completely why the IRA had adopted the tactics they had in their war against British strategy in the north of Ireland. They knew the IRA had to force the point because otherwise the Brits would quite happily keep you at the negotiating table from here until doomsday whilst maintaining the staus quo.
    The IRA had to adopt tactics which the British termed illegal. They were fighting a war and they knew it.

    I’m not advocating the use of violence or other paramilitary acts to regain Scotland’s independence but sooner rather than later, Scotland needs to force the issue by UDI. This is an existential war.

    Personally, I would prefer that action to be backed up by a plebiscite at whatever democratic event comes first. Unionists will shout ‘We are the Parliament and we say no!’ We will shout back, ‘We are the people and we say yes.’ We know that is what will happen – we need to be determined that, having had our say – we will now take back our country.

    I also think that now is a good time to bring this to a head. It’s leaders are beyond parody. It is the laughing stock of the world. It’s rich elite who ran out of countries to plunder and lost an entire empire within about a century, have now turned to consuming their own country.

    Who will have the courage to lead us?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Well, Peter, I believe that you you are NOT the only person in Scotland questioning today’s political situation. I’d lost faith in the SNP after Alex Salmond’s time had come to an end; what had been a meritorious political party began losing more than that merit… Instead, I’m now encouraging many others to think of; and this is certainly much, much more promising!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The name was presumably chosen because the “salve jure cujuslibet” Act (1663) in pre-Union Scotland underpins the Claim of Right and specifically recognises the right of people to challenge any legislation that was passed in the Scottish parliament that they felt prejudiced or compromised their freedoms. (This option, open to all folk, was known as ‘salvo’).


        Liked by 1 person

  7. “… The moment of clarity was when it dawned on me that had the vote been Yes in 2014, the British would have behaved in very much the same way as I foresee them behaving in relation to a Yes vote in Nicola Sturgeon’s mock independence referendum proposed for 2023… ”

    The moment of clarity came to me, Peter, in 2013, when the Crawford and Boyle Report was published. Although, ostensibly, it pertained to successor state status (in the EU) in the event of a YES vote, it was a clear and loud warning that nothing we did or said would make any difference to England as the UK’s belief in its God-given right to crush all opposition to its will, and, to that end, all the Unionist parties are identical and act and speak as one.

    “… There is no legal way out of the Union for Scotland. There is no way out of the Union for Scotland that will not be deemed illegal or unlawful or illegitimate or invalid by the British ruling elite. This was true in 2014 no matter how blind we were to the truth. It is, if anything, even more emphatically true today… ”

    The unvarnished truth. The British State driven by England as the UK will oppose any move to change the status quo. Even if the likes of SALVO and SSRG present water-tight cases based on Scottish constitutional precedent, we will have a fight on our hands. That is why they should go ahead and present their case. We must bring this to a head so that all Scots and the all those in the wider world can see what so many refuse to see: we are prisoners in a Union that a majority of us (native Scots) utterly repudiate.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes , Peter , it’s later than – too many – people think . While Sturgeon and her troupe of bit-players have been fiddling , the English State has been mining ( in both senses of the word ) Scotland and has not the slightest intention of * allowing * our country to escape it’s possessive clutches . You’re completely correct … won’t matter a damn if we * win * a Referendum , G.E or SE , it will find a way to deny the result and – what should be – the inevitable consequence ie …the end of Union .

    We just need to observe how every contestant in the England’s Got No Talent Tory Leadership contest where unanimous in only one thing – how they would not countenance another Indy Ref .

    Then Richie Rich stating , * pledging * ( HA ! ) the UK will be energy self-sufficient by blah blah blah , where do we think this energy is going to come from ? Well , one guess .

    Liked by 1 person

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