Explaining the obvious

The following was posted by me as a reply to a comment on Bad ideas and worse ideas. I thought it might usefully be offered to a wider audience.

Your “reservations” are based on a false idea of what #ScottishUDI is. And don’t start your standard whining about it never having been explained unless you can explain how come so many other people understand it perfectly.

It’s not even as if an explanation is really necessary. Once a few basic truths are recognised, #ScottishUDI follows as the inevitable and only conclusion. All that is required is to stop and think about it for a while. Not, as you have so evidently done, decide that it is wrong and then try to justify that conclusion.

We must have a referendum. That is a basic truth. That referendum must serve as the exercise of our right of self-determination. That is a basic truth. A Section 30 referendum cannot serve as the exercise of our right of self-determination because the process itself denies the popular sovereignty on which our right of self-determination rests. Yet another basic truth.

We then ask what are the criteria for a referendum which serves as the exercise of our right of self-determination. It must be binary. The options must be discrete, defined and deliverable. It must be impeccably democratic. It must involve ONLY the people of Scotland, their elected representatives and democratically legitimate institutions AT EVERY STAGE. All basic truths.

The next question is how do we go about holding this referendum? By this time, it should be obvious that the right kind of referendum can only be authorised by and held under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament. A crucially important basic truth.

Here we have arrived at the point at which all supposed routes to independence converge. The point at which the Scottish Parliament has to do something which is unlawful within the legal and constiutional framework which armours the Union. Simple logic dictates that if there is no lawful way to proceeed within that framework and the right of self-determination is absolute and inalienable then it becomes necessary to step outside the framework which constrains in any way the exercise of that right. More basic truth.

The rule of law must hold. Democracy and, indeed, civilisation depends on it. So the conduct of a referendum must occur within some legal framework. What other legal framework might there be but the same legal framework which identifies and guarantees the right of self-determination ─ the UN Charter and relevant Declarations. We must step outside the local (British) framework while staying within the international framework. All basic truth.

So, we need a particular kind of referendum. This kind of referendum can only be done by and through the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Parliament is denied the relevant competence by the British state using the power afforded it by a grotesquely asymmetric political union. How can the Scottish Parliament acquire the competence it needs? Only be taking that competence. Asserting it.

This is #ScottishUDI. It is not, in fact, an outright declaration of independence. It is a de facto declaration of independence because once a parliament has competence in all constitutional matters the nation is effectively independent. But crucially, it is not an explicit declaration of independence. It is an assertion of a particular competence ostensibly for the purpose of facilitating the exercise of our right of self-determination ─ there being no other way the exercise of this inalienable right would be possible.

The British government then has two choices. It can accept the new reality. Or it can mount a challenge to the actions of the Scottish Parliament in asserting its competence to facilitate the exercise of our right of self-determination. If the former, the British will try to attach conditions and caveats to their acceptance of the new reality. This must not be permitted. For reasons which I wish I didn’t have to explain but am resigned to having to do so, just not here and not now. If the latter, the British state will have to go to court (ICJ not UKSC) and openly state some things that it would prefer it didn’t have to say out loud and which once stated aloud would all but guarantee a massive majority in favour of ratifying a proposal to dissolve the Union. Again, the sort of arguments the British would have to make in open court and why it would prefer not to are things which should be obvious and which have been described in some detail on numerous occasions, but I fully expect a demand that I explain them again for the benefit of those so intellectually indolent they’d rather use my brain than test their own.

It’s all there. All the basic truths of the matter. Every day I see more and more people coming to similar conclusions because thay have actualy started to think about the issue for themselves rather than latch onto some pre-packaged ‘solution’ offered by politicians and other political actors. This shift may be happening solely within the relatively tiny ‘echo-chamber’ of independence activists. But this matters because these activists are the ones who will take the arguments to others. It is a tiny bubble only in a realitive sense. In practical terms, it is all the people who matter in terms of mounting a campaign. It is the people who have to be persuaded first. It is, therefore, a cohort whose importance is out of all proportion to its size.

My hope is that a tipping point will be reached at which the slow dawning will turn into a flood of illumination such as not even Nicola Sturgeon wll be able to ignore. That is the only hope for Scotland’s cause.

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34 thoughts on “Explaining the obvious

  1. An excellent rationale.

    And if I may suggest with respect to the ratifying/confirmatory referendum this will necessarily entail the exclusion of any British influence, interference, or involvement of the British/London government in setting the terms of reference covering inter alia the question posed, answer options, voter franchise, timing of the plebiscite and vote counting inspectorate.

    Without this the process will be gerrymandered and the referendum lost before the campaign has begun.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Obviously, foreign interference must be circumvented as far as possible without compromising the democratic credentials of the process. But we have to recognise that it is not possible to completely exclude the British state. This is not North Korea. We can’t prevent the BBC transmitting propaganda. We can’t stop British newspapers being distributed in Scotland. We can’t police the web to prevent people accessing or being accessed by British Nationalist propaganda.

      We can, however, completly rid the formal process of direct British influence. To pursue the Section 30 process is to INVITE that interference. Which is madness.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yes, the propaganda is inevitable and unavoidable.

        It is the terms and conditions of the referendum itself that we can control to the exclusion of London/foreign/outside tampering.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I might add that the counting should be done by an independent body. Maybe brought in from Norway, Ireland or some external country.

        If this isn’t the case we would have gerrymandering of our own to worry about with Scottish unionist counters fiddling the figures

        Just a thought

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Scotland are perfectly capable of running a referendum. It’s the gerrymandering of the count that worries me. There was evidence of that in 2014. That’s why I would like to see an independent body do it with no skin in the game


            1. There was no evidence of interference with the count in 2014. None whatsoever. None of those claiming that the count had been ‘rigged’ could explain how that might be done. Anybody who has actually attended a count and knows about the checks that are in place would ever suggest that there was any ‘rigging’.

              The conspiracy theorists who claim the count was interfered with such as to affect the outcome can be caught out with one simple question ─ what is the minimum number of people that would be required in order to do this?


    1. They have to. Because if we don’t force them to then I can gurantee that the British will move to close this avenue. We don’t have time to fuck around with partisan politics. Every single person who wants Scotland’s independence restored should be demanding #ScottishUDI before the next UK general election is called.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Agreed , P , but how do we ” force them to ” ? Given we #ProudMalcontents constitute a small % of the overall YES support and the SNP/Gov is so dumbly intransigent in it’s insistence only it’s views are worthy of consideration , seems to me only actual electoral damage will suffice to disabuse them of that conceit – not merely the threat of such damage , at least in the time available before the next UKGE . When any individual or group has/have lost the plot as comprehensively as this SNP/Gov , the likelihood of it acknowledging any threat , let alone acting on it , is remote .

        The rise of a rival Party – or Parties – could do it , but , short of some rapid , substantial increase in support for ALBA and/or other pro-Independence Party – and I have to agree with you that is unlikely in the short term , our options to force a change in direction on the SNP are severely limited / non-existent .

        I think part of the problem we face is there IS a substantial non-SNP aligned * dissident * demographic , as witnessed by blogs like your own , WOS , BB , YFS et al and the BTL commentary that support and contribute to them ; but it’s kind of fragmentary , lacking a unifying voice and momentum sufficient to breakthrough the perceptual stranglehold the SNP has on public / MSM discourse on the subject of Independence . If that were to change , if a coming together of all the disparate dissident voices were possible , then there may a chance to apply the requisite pressure on those content to maintain the status quo . Or , should it prove necessary ( my belief is that it will be ) eject/reject THIS SNP completely

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The only possibility is mass demonstrations. When the likes of the AUOB marches were principally addressing Westminster and the Tories, Nicola Sturgeon could coopt the activity to her purposes while otherwise ignoring them. If the same numbers were targetting her, it would be a different story. We can also hijack the power of the British media. They would love to report on ─ and exaggerate ─ ‘anti-Sturgeon’ demonstrations. If we were rigorous about controlling the message ─ banners, speeches etc. ─ we could prevent the demonstrations be actual ‘anti-Sturgeon’ events. For example, all banners must have only the messages implied by #DissolveTheUnion, #NoSection30 and #ScottishUDI. Speakers could be given briefing notes and ask to keep to the topic ─ no anti-Tory rants.

          It can be done. It should be done at or just prior to the SNP’s ‘special’ conference in Edinburgh on 19 March. Imagine 20,000 people outside the EIIC all chanting demands for action. Imagine the media coverage. Imagine the questions being put to Sturgeon. Imagine the media giving dissenting voices an airing as they ask spokespersons for the demo about demands and about #ScottishUDI.

          Liked by 6 people

  2. There is nothing in that I did not know. Nothing that contradicts my own description of the process. And nothing that addresses the reservations I listed on other threads. It’s not even that you dismissed them, you just ignored them …. again.

    It appears the process is good, the process is pure, you must never question the process, here endeth the lesson.

    You are assuming there will be no public backlash against a UDI nobody voted for being foisted on them. You assume the only issues raised by unionists/Westminster to oppose the UDI will be constitutional and work in Yes’s favour …. despite numerous articles you’ve penned claiming such constitutional issues have made no difference to polls. You are apparently ignoring any social, political or economic unionist arguments/mischief that will flood every media outlet between UDI and confirmatory referendum. You are assuming the Scottish electorate will dutifully vote Yes in the eventual referendum despite being plunged into uncertainty by an action they had not consented to.

    Process has taken precedence over people. People have a tendency to dislike that. Best get their favour before you go declaring a UDI. A UDI that does not give unionists months to undermine the Indy case before an unnecessary referendum.


      1. I disagree with you and I question your thinking …. therefore I must be stupid. It cannot possibly be because I’ve identified risks involved with your preferred process as that would be to question your infallibility.

        To expand what I said above, the true believer accepts unconditionally that the process is good, the process is pure, you must never question the process, here endeth the lesson.


        1. “It cannot possibly be because I’ve identified risks involved with your preferred process”

          Me Bungo Pony.

          Is that it, there’s risks crossing the road, there’s risk in all walks of life every day, so why should implementing UDI be any different, taking control where once that wasn’t an option, allows you a wider scope to make decisions, what do you think the foreign government of Westminster has been doing for centuries, slowly but surely taking control of Scotland.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. MBP has not identified risks. It has made up some scare stories on the basis of its abject failure to understand the process. It has no desire to understand the process. Because an understanding of the process shows the scare stories to be profoundly silly.

            What is imoprtant to bear in mind is that nothing MBP says about #ScottishUDI can be taken seriously. It is intent on misleading people on the matter. Best ignored.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I understand the process perfectly well Peter. I also see possible flaws in the form of dangerous assumptions in it. You seem to believe that seeing such possible flaws can only mean I haven’t understood it. Such is the immensity of your ego.

              You appear to believe your “de facto UDI” (your words) will set off a domino effect, with one event inexorably leading to the next, ending in a win for YES in the confirmatory referendum. People, apparently, can have no affect on the process, be they Unionist or Indy, because the process is flawless. Utter hubris.

              You have become so obsessed with your own “process” you have blinded yourself to any other possible avenue to independence, and also the effect your “process” will have on the lives of ordinary people. The people you are assuming will vote the way you expect them to in your confirmatory referendum.

              Your “process” exists in an ivory tower, unsullied by the real world where people live. It ignores people stuff because that raises questions about the assumptions at its heart, and that would never do.


              1. Of course Robert, that is the only possible reason for questioning “The Process – blessed be”.

                And now I/”it” have been dehumanised. Historically not a good sign.

                I completely get the logic of “The Process – blessed be”. It’s the effect it will have on the lives and thoughts of real people plunged into uncertainty without any indication of their consent I attempt to draw attention to. People who will subsequently be subjected to a barrage of Unionist propaganda like never before in the months of legal wrangling, legislative process, practical organisation and campaigning that will be necessary in the lead up to the confirmatory referendum/”unionist Get Out of Jail Free Card”. Peter may dismiss this as scaremongering, I call it inevitable reality.


    1. Once there was a country called Scotland.
      In that country there was an Independence party called the Scottish National Party.
      Sadly, they are both about to disappear.

      Unless we feckin fight.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good article Peter, action lies with Holyrood not Westminster.

    This backs our right over a foreign country’s parliament.

    “UK domestic law is entirely irrelevant. The Kosovo Opinion of the International Court of Justice makes crystal clear that the domestic law of the state being seceded from, is not the determining factor as to whether a secession is illegal.”

    And we are already half-way to independence assertion is all that’s required by Holyrood.

    “But while the right of self-determination of peoples in international law is crucial in the case of Scotland, and while Scotland undoubtedly qualifies as a “people” because it is a long established historic nation with its own legal system, culture and institutions, there is one overwhelmingly important criterion for recognition grounded in pure realpolitik.

    It was long accepted as the only criterion for recognition that a state had factual, practical control of its own territory. That position has become softened by more principled considerations since the second world war, but the actual control of the territory claimed remains the most important factor in gaining international recognition.”

    “Why did Catalonia fail where Slovenia, Kosovo and the Baltic states succeeded?

    Because realpolitik rules in practice, and the Slovenians, Balts and Kosovans had obtained actual control on the ground of the land they claimed. The Catalans had not.”

    UDI is a must to get the ball rolling.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The only flaw in Peter’s plan is that there’s no mention of the SNP, only Holyrood. I believe that’s the source of MBP’s anxiety.

    Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy would appear apt:

    “In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals that the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The only flaw in Peter’s plan is that there’s no mention of the SNP, only Holyrood. I believe that’s the source of MBP’s anxiety”.

      No Stuart, the source of my “anxiety” is that there is no mention of the people in “Peter’s Process – praise be”.

      And I am not part of any bureaucracy of any sort. That is just another lazy malcontent trope.


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