Clearly, the First Minister’s hope of “clarity and legal certainty in a timely manner” has been frustrated by reality. It was always no more than empty rhetoric anyway. An attempt to justify a plainly foolish ‘strategy’. The complex permutations described by Andrew Tickell are neither new nor newly discovered. It was always the case that “clarity and legal certainty” were not going to be found. I find it hard to believe that Nicola Sturgeon could be unaware of this. Readers will make their own judgement on the honesty of her claim to be seeking something that she knew didn’t exist anywhere other than in the delusions that her loyal followers are happy to embrace.
But all this concern about the legal and political implications of what the UK Supreme Court might proclaim on Wednesday morning is rather beside the point. What surely matters is the process itself rather than what the UKSC says about it. The court’s judgement will not affect the nature of the proposed referendum. It remains a total waste of time we cannot afford to squander regardless of the pronouncements of these judges.
Whichever of the outcomes Andrew Tickell lists actually comes about, the fact remains that even if the proposed referendum goes ahead it will not move us one millimetre closer to restoring our independence. Whatever happens with the referendum; whatever the result, we remain in precisely the same place as we are now. That is to say, awaiting bold, decisive action by a bunch of politicians who have shown themselves to be disinclined to be either bold or decisive even in the face of a real and imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy.
The truth is in the sub-text of Andrew’s article. It is not difficult to understand why he could not be more explicit. Because the truth is that there is no ‘legal’ route to independence. We need no word from the UKSC to know this. We need only understand the imperatives that bear on the British ruling elite and the options available to them in serving these imperatives.
Read this paragraph from Andrew Tickell’s column carefully.
As former Whitehall mandarin Ciaran Martin points out, if the UK Government wants to, then it has a range of legal tools at its disposal to frustrate the process, including a Commons majority to pass legislation to block a second poll. Power devolved is power retained, after all. Would the new prime minister be tempted to use the power Westminster has retained to stymie a poll which the Supreme Court says is lawful?
Not only is there no legal route to independence, there is no possibility of such a route. There is no possibility of a route that the British state will not declare illegal. And even if the British state did ‘allow’ a legal route to independence this would only ever be on the understanding that this route could easily be frustrated at some point.
So long as we accept the British state’s authority in constitutional matters, we cannot restore Scotland’s independence. The only logical conclusion is that we must reject the British state’s authority to deny the right of self-determination guaranteed to the people of Scotland under international law.
I quote Andrew Tickell at length.
Say the Court concludes that the future of the union is subject to a sweeping reservation. Say they find that organising even an advisory referendum lies beyond Holyrood’s reach. For independence supporters, this is perhaps the starkest outcome. Holyrood will be left with no legal means of asking Scots whether they think independence is the form of government best suited to their needs.
There are no appeals to be made, no international courts to be petitioned, no international jurisdiction which applies here. Political pressure is all that remains. But politically, this outcome would pose fundamental questions about the state of the United Kingdom: how voluntary can a union be when you’re told there’s no way out? Independence supporters already feel strongly about this issue. How would the public react?
Does anybody get the impression that the British political elite gives a shit about how the public react? Why would they? The power afforded them by the Union is absolute. It makes no concessions whatever to democracy.
Is not the Draconian, dictatorial power asserted by the British state sufficient reason in itself for the people of Scotland to assert the contrary? When the British state says ‘We have the authority to deny your sovereignty and override your democratic will!’, does that not make it natural and essential the people of Scotland respond by saying ‘No you bloody well don’t!’?
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