So, the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) has issued its judgement and it is that the Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the competence to authorise even the pretendy referendum that Nicola Sturgeon proposes. This was, you will recall, a referendum that had been stripped of all its legal and constitutional effect so that it was no more than a glorified opinion poll. We were told that it would have political effect. But there was never any logical, rational reason to believe that. It was, in the words of Anthony Salamone, an “empty” vote. It was empty. It was pretendy. It was a mock referendum. And now the highest British court has ruled that the Scottish Parliament, elected by the supposedly sovereign people of Scotland, lacks even the clout to authorise a mock referendum. The judgement is an insult to the people of Scotland and to democracy itself. But it is no more than was expected. Should we be angry? Of course we should be fucking angry! But at whom?
Should we be angry at the judges? Perhaps. But they didn’t make the law. They merely interpret it. And it must be said that they have interpreted it correctly in the context of the British state. If it seems contradictory to say that the judgement is an insult to democracy but nonetheless correct in the limited sense I have stipulated, then this demonstrates a failure to comprehend the true nature of the British state and the Union – which is ultimately what the judges were interpreting. The Union has always been anti-democratic. Of course, democracy wasn’t even a consideration when the Union was imposed on Scotland. But its essence has never changed to accord with democratic principles. It could not do so because democratic principles would be at odds with the overarching purpose of the Union. That purpose is to give England a permanent and overwhelming advantage in the relationships of power with Scotland and other additions to the Union. Or, to put it another way, the purpose of the Union is to put Scotland at a permanent disadvantage. The UKSC has done no more than take due cognisance of the purpose of the Union. So there’s little point in directing our anger at them. If you address a question to a British court you are always going to get a British answer.
Should we be angry at the British state? Well, of course! We have every cause to be angry at the British state. I’m not about to catalogue the reasons here as everybody reading this will already be well aware of them. But, yes! We should be angry at the British state. But should we be angrier still because of this UKSC judgement? Has it given us a new reason to be angry? It is hard to see any such new reason. This is just imperialistic business as usual for the British state. Nothing has been changed by the courts judgement. All the judges have done is state the reality that has always been since the imposition of the Union. Scotland is subordinate to England-as-Britain. That is the law. The British law. If we accept the legitimacy of British law regardless of how anti-democratic it is then we have no right to complain when we are treated as inferiors. If you hope that the British state will treat Scotland with respect then you will always be disappointed.
Should we be angry at the Scottish Government and our First Minister? Aye! This is where most of our anger should be directed. Who addressed a question to a British court knowing it could only elicit a British response? Who has been pursuing (albeit with vanishingly little vigour and no discernible effect) a process for restoring our independence which is critically dependent on the British state exhibiting the kind of respect for Scotland that the Union makes impossible? Who has been trying to fob us off with a mock referendum because she ran out of excuses for postponing any action at all? Who has brought Scotland’s cause to the dire place in which we find it?
The SNP and its apologists will now try to direct your anger towards the judges and the British state. If you care about our nation’s future you will resist the blandishments. You will direct your anger at the people who have engineered this situation entirely for party political purposes and without regard for Scotland’s cause. Only when the First Minister and her government and her party feel the lash of the people’s anger will they act for Scotland. Remember this when you attend rallies tonight.
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