Notes for speech
Check against delivery
I’m not quite sure why I’m here. Usually, for events like this, they want speakers who’ll tell the crowd what they want to hear. That’s certainly not me. I tell it the way I see it – good or bad. Right now, there’s more bad than good. They usually want people up here who’ll tell you thing like “We’ve never been closer to independence!” Which may well be the most stupid thing ever said by any politician.
Which is remarkable, given that it was up against competition from the likes of Douglas Ross.
They want people who’ll tell you the UK is on the verge of collapse. Despite the fact that there is no evidence for that whatever.
They want people who’ll go on about how the British government’s position is “unsustainable”. Despite the fact that the British government has sustained that position without apparent effort for a very long time and continues to do so.
Everything that supposedly weakens our opponents when looked at through the eyes of a realist actually seems to have made them more entrenched in that supposedly unsustainable position.
Be honest! Have you seen the slightest indication that the British government’s opposition to Scotland’s cause might be weakening? Have you?
Or like me have you only seen them grow more determined to cling to their northern annexed territory the longer we continue the fight to restore Scotland’s independence.
Don’t be fooled! We are not closer to independence than we have ever been. The reality is that we are no closer than we were ten years ago. We could even be said to have gone backwards.
The UK Supreme Court judgement on Wednesday is held up as being yet another blow to the Union. Once again, the British government’s position is declared unsustainable, while the British government continues to sustain its position.
There has been a lot of anger directed at the judges. I don’t know why. All they did was state the truth of Scotland’s status under the heel of the Union.
Think about it! Essentially, what the judges said is that we cannot have an independence referendum without the consent of the British state.
Nicola Sturgeon has been telling us the same thing for years. She calls it the ‘gold standard’ of democracy. But when these judges say it, all of a sudden, it’s an insult to democracy.
It is an insult to democracy. It has always has been. It is an insult to democracy when the UKSC judges state it as their answer to a question put on behalf of the Scottish Government. It is an insult to democracy when Nicola Sturgeon presents it as the ‘gold standard’.
Put a question to a British court and you’re going to get a British answer. Why should we be shocked and angry at what the judges said when all they’ve said is what a British court was bound to say?
Referring the draft Referendum Bill to the UKSC has been portrayed as a deft bit of politicking on the part of Nicola Sturgeon. But does that claim stand up to scrutiny?
Hasn’t it given the Unionists exactly what they wanted? They now have a Supreme Court judgement to use as a weapon against us.
If you think it was a really clever move, consider this one point. Prior to asking the question, the Scottish Government could have introduced a Referendum Bill at Holyrood and taken it all the way up to Royal Assent. Now, it can’t. That possibility has been squandered.
Why? What did we get in return? We get told something we already knew. That the Union is inherently anti-democratic. The judgement was unjust because the Union is unjust.
We were told that it was inevitable that a Referendum Bill would end up being referred to the UKSC and that it was better to get it done and dusted. Does that claim stand up to scrutiny?
Think about it! The way it was presented, the Referendum Bill being referred now by the Scottish Government or later by the British government were treated as if it was six of one and half a dozen of the other. We were told that the British government was being wrong-footed by this clever ploy of getting in there first.
Did it look to you as if the British government stumbled? Did they appear unduly troubled by this cunning tactic? Forget what the headlines in The National said. Just think about the way the British government reacted. The reality is that they were completely untroubled by the referral.
The reality is that it was a win/win/win situation for the British government. There was no judgement the court could give which caused the British government any difficulties. Even if the proposed referendum had gone ahead, it was written into the legislation that it would have no effect. So why would the British government be bothered?
How much better would it have been to take the Bill through Parliament and put the British government in the position of wanting to challenge it but knowing that doing so would force them to argue that Scotland is not a nation; that the people of Scotland are not sovereign; that we do not have a right of self-determination; and the Westminster is more democratically legitimate than Holyrood.
The truth is that referring the draft Referendum Bill was an act of clumsy political ineptitude done for no purpose other than to look like something was being done. It was an act of political folly such as a government can only get away with if it is not subject to proper scrutiny.
And it was not an isolated mistake. The truth is that, while Nicola Sturgeon has been highly competent as a First Minister, as the leader of the independence movement she has been an abject failure.
I know there are a great many people who don’t want to hear this. They refuse to accept any criticism of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership. They will not tolerate any scrutiny. Well, these people need to wake up.
Whether they like it or not, they need to hear the truth. We need Nicola Sturgeon. We need the SNP. She is the First Minister. The SNP is the party of government. We absolutely need them because only they can act to save Scotland from a British Nationalist onslaught that is about to get massively more ferocious.
We need them. But we need them to do better. We need them to do more. We need them to do different.
Nicola Sturgeon’s whole approach to the constitutional situation has been a failure. It continues to fail.
We cannot afford to fail! Everything that we think of as Scotland is at stake. All our aspirations for the future are on the line. We MUST do better. We must rethink every aspect of our cause and our campaign. And we must do so now.
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