No thinking required

Picture the scene as a First Minister of Scotland that the people of Scotland didn’t vote for abases himself and the people of Scotland before a British Prime Minister the people of Scotland didn’t vote for by offering to trade the sovereignty and the dignity of Scotland’s people for a dishonest promise of honest cooperation in conducting a pointless exercise that is an ‘independence referendum’ in name only all for no better purpose than that he imagines the ‘optics’ of the thing will enhance his personal image. What you are seeing is an impression of how low Scotland’s politics has sunk.

We should not be at all surprised that Humza Yousaf took the first opportunity to beg Rishi Sunak’s permission to hold a faux independence referendum. In the short time he has been FM he has demonstrated that he takes his role as the ‘continuity candidate’ in the SNP leadership election very seriously indeed. If anything, he betrays the people of Scotland with even more thoughtless ease than Nicola Sturgeon ever managed. Whereas she exhibited no aptitude for strategic thinking, Yousaf looks to be blankly unfamiliar with even the concept of political calculation. Pleading for a Section 30 order is what it says in the SNP’s playbook. So that is what he does. No thinking required.

The mindless SNP loyalists will applaud this idiocy, of course. It is enough for them that the idiot is the leader of their party. No thinking required there either. They will cheer the fool to the rafters dependably oblivious to the fact that Yousaf is playing them. Not only is he casually compromising the sovereignty of Scotland’s people as if it were a matter of no consequence whatever, he is taking the SNP membership for fools. Which, by all appearances, he is perfectly justified in doing. He can be completely sure that the loyalists will choose to believe that this is their hero boldly pursuing the prize of independence; and just as sure that the quest will be fruitless. His supporters don’t want to know that Yousaf is only asking because he’s certain he’ll be rebuffed.

We better hope he’s right about that, at least. It is highly unlikely that Yousaf has thought the matter through sufficiently to realise how disastrous it would be for Scotland’s cause were Sunak to say yes. Fortunately for Scotland, we may confidently assume that Rishi Sunak is every bit as shallow-minded as Humza Yousaf. Even if it has occurred to the former (or more likely one of his ‘team’) that granting a Section 30 order would be a clever move for a British Prime Minister determined to be remembered as the saviour of the Union, of far greater concern will be the fear that doing so would allow his political enemies ─ outside the Conservative Party as well as inside ─ to portray him as pandering to those uppity Jocks. What’s best for the Greater England project cannot compete with what is best for Sunak’s image.

What was happening in that room when Humza met Rishi was not a battle of ideas, far less ideals, but a bit of handbags between two egos.

The unrelieved wrongness of the Section 30 process has been discussed at length by myself and others. It may be safe to say that a significant part of the Yes movement outside the SNP is entertaining grave doubts about it, if they have not already rejected it. That’s because, outside the SNP, such things are considered and discussed. Inside the SNP there has not been a new thought since at least 2015. Inside the SNP is like a a globe filled with an inert gas. It is not a place where novel ideas thrive. There is nothing to nourish fresh thinking even if such were to spontaneously occur despite all the precautions put in place by Sturgeon et al. The Section 30 process has been declared the ‘gold standard’. So that’s it! No further thinking required.

The Section 30 process is wrong because the people of Scotland are sovereign. Sovereign people possess an inalienable right of self-determination. For a First Minister of Scotland to request a Section 30 order is for him or her to validate the British state’s asserted veto over Scotland’s right of self-determination. Thus, it is a denial of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people by the very individual whose job it is to defend our sovereignty and the rights associated with it. Requesting a Section 30 order is an act of treachery. It remains so even if unwitting because Humza Yousaf sees no need to think about it. He’s not there to think. He’s the continuity FM. He’s there to do whatever Nicola Sturgeon would have done. Thinking is not required.

Humza Yousaf is no more prepared to lead Scotland’s independence movement than was his predecessor. He is just as averse to the confrontation that is unavoidable if the British state’s imperialist grip on Scotland is challenged. As he will not lead, so we must push all the more forcefully. As he will deny our sovereignty we must assert it all the more strenuously. As he will abandon Scotland’s cause under cover of futile and stupid gestures, so we must be all the more emphatic in saying we will not tolerate Scotland’s cause being abandoned. We must be loud. We must be visible We must be a physical presence looming over Scotland’s unworthy political elite shouting with one voice,

We’re not asking! We’re demanding! End the Union! End it now!

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25 thoughts on “No thinking required

  1. I suppose the one thing that Humza Yousaf has got going for him is that he is not Nicola Sturgeon.

    Yousaf is at least conscious of that as he admitted during the recent party leadership ‘contest’ that he was ‘no Nicola Sturgeon’ (to paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s searing dismissal of his vice-presidential rival in the 1988 US election).

    His reference, of course, was not one that disparaged Sturgeon and that indicated a departure from her timorous . Quite the contrary. His insight could not possibly imagine that he is seen – the those with eyes and ears and who are willing to use them – as the successor to the original 21st century version of John Balliol’s Toom Tabard.

    He doffs his cap and tugs his forelock dutifully while representatives of the British state like Rishi Sunak and the latest in the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family line pull his plonker.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with you totally. If I were a Unionist I would be lobbying for a Referendum. We would loose and the issue would truly be buried for a generation.
    Wendy Alexander was dead right Had they “brought it on” when she suggested it history would have been very different and we Independistas would have trouble being taken seriously.
    Now we have re-established the sovereignty of the Scottish people we need to think of other ways of regaining our independence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with everything you say here, Peter.

    The majority, I believe, of the SNP’s elected politicians at Holyrood and Westminster are going to continue to follow their leader up every blind alley he can find because it also removes from them the obligation to think in exchange for their fat salaries and perks.

    I think we need to make it clear – by writing to our MPs and SNPs – that unless they are prepared to take the steps necessary to end the union now, they won’t be receiving our votes in future elections.

    That is the only way we can exercise our sovereignty now.

    There has to be a big change and it has to be driven by us, the people. Our politicians do as we say or get the hell out of Dodge.

    I know the Unionists will use any dropping off of support for the SNP as an opportunity to declare a lack of support for independence.

    We have to forget about what the unionists will do. The Unionist propaganda machine could not stop the surge in support for the supposedly pro-independence parties in recent elections in Scotland.

    We were, instead, let down by the ‘pro-independence’ representatives we elected.

    Time to root them out!


    1. The problem with threatening to withhold votes from the SNP is that the threat has to be credible for it to be effective. For it to be credible, a significant number of voters ─ say 100k minimum ─ would have to speak with one voice. The prospects of that being possible look more dire by the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The SNP is now well and truly a party of devolution. Indeed, from the day NS took over, that is what it became, with the hich heid yins almost all being devolutionist with a long history of such a position behind them.

    Since 2014, a referendum has been out of the question. It begs the question: why do this unless it is to placate the membership who are still loyal – and, apparently, numbers joining or rejoining have climbed. Well, well, there is no legislating for bone-headedness. Perhaps it was after the S35 challenge? All from one group, then, if true?

    There is nothing to be done with the SNP unless they have a clear-out. Will they? Nope. Will they start behaving like a party in government? Nope. Will they grasp the concept of independence and the things that need to be done now to acquire it? Nope. Will they continue to pander to a group interest that few others in the general population has the slightest sympathy for? Yes. Will they eventually wither away? Yes.


    1. The SNP remains the party of government. The Scottish Government is crucial to any process by which Scotland’s independence might be restored. The SNP is the party of government. Restoring Scotland’s independence is a matter of great urgency. The SNP is still the party of government. That urgency imposes a timeframe running to no later than the declaration of the next Westminster general election. The SNP will be the party of government for the whole of this period and probably beyond. Failure to act before the next UK general election will result in Scotland’s cause facing new and massive obstacles. Only the Scottish Government can act to prevent this. The SNP is the party of government.

      The SNP is the party of government. Giving up entirely on the the SNP is a perfectly reasonable idea, so long as you ignore the fact that the SNP is the party of government. And everything else said above. Because … well … the SNP is the party of government.

      Did I mention that the SNP is the party of government?


      1. Who elected the SNP as the party of government?

        They were elected on a pledge to deliver a referendum – they blew it.

        If they continue as a party of devolution, they are of no use to us. They are a hindrance.

        You can’t say ‘End the union now’ and at the same time pay homage to a party of government who are hell-bent on maintaining the status quo.

        I am not ‘threatening’ to withhold my vote from the SNP, I am declaring my intention.

        I agree a significant number of current SNP supporters would have to do likewise to enact change but you have to start somewhere.

        So, I respectfully suggest we can start by asking the readers of this blog to start a campaign of writing to MPs and SNPs and doing as I propose.

        ‘From little acorns..etc.’


        1. Do you not see the ghastly error your dumb prejudice leads you into? What you refer to as me ‘paying homage’ to the SNP is actually no more than me stating facts. You don’t have to like the facts for them to be facts. Neither do I. So interpreting my simple statement of the facts as ‘paying homage’ is just fucking stupid.


          1. Prejudice?
            1. ‘preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.’

            My opinion of SNP politicians is not preconceived nor dumb, it is very much based on reason and on bitter experience.

            Okay, I accept you are not doing any more than stating a fact by reminding us that the SNP is the party of government at this time. A dead duck party in terms of independence if nothing changes – but the party of government nonetheless. How does stating that fact help the independence movement at this time? They are holding us back – the party of government or not. What can we do about that situation?

            Thanks for amending my only mistake today.


            1. Stating the facts that the SNP is the party of government AND that restoring independence is a matter of the utmost urgency is necessary because so many people even if they are aware of these facts at some level of their consciousness, nonetheless choose to disregard these facts while indulging in their fantasy politics and their craving for vengeance against the SNP. They will acknowledge these facts in one breath and in the next speak blithely of abandoning the SNP completely and/or replacing them with some supposed alternative in dumb disregard of the facts that (a) there is no practical way to do so before it ceases to matter, and (b) there is no ‘alternative’. I make absolutely no apology for attempting to maintain a grip reality while so many seem to consider facts optional.


      2. Yes, you did, Peter, and you are right, of course. The SNP government, however, is devolutionist and will do nothing that requires to be done to achieve our independence. They will waste 500K on a case for the genderborg but will do nothing to advance independence. Sorry, Peter, I get what you are saying, but you are doomed to be utterly disappointed. All I want now is for them to stay in government long enough for something else to be advanced by someone else because nothing else is now possible. We have three and a half years, more or less, to by-pass the SNP and move things forward. Yes, I know we have to be in government to push independence through, but the SNP is now a busted flush, has done sweet Fanny Adams since 2014, has derailed every effort to keep independence in the frame and, today, the leader at Westminster says we have to strengthen devolution. Why? Because the SNP is devolutionist. It is devolutionist because the party in both Holyrood and Westminster want it that way. The SNP was once a tiny party, reviled and laughed at in equal measure – much like ALBA and the other independence parties and groupings today, at the hands of the SNP. At its height, a referendum took place. Another party or movement will take over as the SNP wanes, and it will not want to strengthen devolution, but to advance independence – and this time, we will go. I wish it could be different, but the SNP will not take your advice. We both know that. They will do nothing to advance independence.


  5. Yes in general has to desist from demands of referendums, plebiscites or whatever. While the main (supposed) party of independence crashes and burns, and the rest of the movement spurns the votes of anyone who doesn’t sign up for their Corbynite agenda, any such attempt will inevitably fail and push independence back at least a decade.


  6. The thing is this. The Scottish Parliament, if we put to one side the “reconvenes” in 1999, is a creature of the Scotland Act. And as such it is bound by the Scotland Act, and this includes reservations about matters to do with the Union, and under the Scotland Act, one way of creating an exception to “reserved matters” is a Section 30. For that purpose on its own, there’s nothing wrong in itself with a Section 30 – it allows a Referendum BY the Scottish Parliament UNDER the Scotland Act.

    However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the “Sovereignty of the People of Scotland”, as this is above and beyond any mere Act of the UK Government – or the Scottish one come to that. WE are sovereign; Holyrood is not. And as far as we’re concerned in Scotland neither is Westminster, but that’s another story same as “reconvened” is.

    But there is nothing to stop US – the People of Scotland – organising and holding a referendum, and we can ask councils, the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, and even the egg marketing board if it helps, to organise, supervise, hold, and count the votes for our referendum.

    Hence “Sovereignty” and the “Section 30” are two totally different and independent things. In set theory terms, they do not intersect.


    1. It is until it isn’t. It really is as simple as that. If you hold that the people of Scotland are sovereign, and if you fully understand what sovereign means, then you must as a matter of undeniable logic conclude that the Scottish Parliament can only be “bound” by the people of Scotland. If the people of Scotland so wish, we can just shrug off the Scotland Act.

      It is not for the Scottish Parliament to prove that it has competencies. It is for the British state to defend its insistence that it has the rightful authority to withhold competencies. But to date no Scottish Government has had the backbone to challenge the British state’s asserted supremacy. As soon as they do, at the urging of the people, that asserted supremacy will collapse. It cannot be defended. It is contrary to fundamental democratic principles. If Humza Yousaf had the bottle to try it, he could topple the Union tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s worth going back to Aidan O’Neill’s legal opinion to Keatings (or at least to the solicitor Elaine Motion): (let me know if the URL doesn’t work)

        particularly section 4 on page 24, and this for instance:

        4.1 Although, in enacting the Scotland Act 1998, the devolved Scottish Parliament was undoubtedly established by the Union Parliament as a body to which decision-making powers had been delegated, that does not entail that the Scottish Parliament therefore owes its legitimacy to the Union Parliament (or indeed the UK Government).

        and this:

        4.3 The primary mechanism to affirm and maintain the democratic accountability of a democratic legislature consists in regular periodic elections (under a franchise which aspires so far as practicable to universal and equal suffrage) to determine the legislature’s membership and make-up.

        I’d go further, and say that elections – empower – the Scottish Parliament, and hence its powers should be virtually unrestrainable by external influences apart from that electorate itself.

        Unfortunately this line of attack wasn’t really used in the Keatings case. It also wasn’t used in the LA S34 case which is understandable as she was asking what her powers were under the Scotland Act itself, rather than pushing the boat out on electoral empowerment.

        So yeah, I certainly don’t dismiss the latent power of the Scottish Parliament to do whatever it wants within international law. Just as long as we, the electorate, have empowered it to do so. Which has of course already happened with Indy Ref 2.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It has competency, Peter, for a number of actions, as Westminster has conceded. Didn’t Jack concede that Holyrood has the competence to pass laws, which, as he explained, was the reason he did not use S33 instead of S35? The problem lies in its inability, supposedly, to challenge UK law. That is why a case before the international court should have been made many years back. I have never been in doubt that the Treaty was subverted in England’s interest, but who has ever challenged on those grounds? SALVO is certainly working towards doing just that. Establishing Scotland’s legal and constitutional right to actually vote to secede/resile from the Union should have been the very first step in any independence campaign. Secondly, Scotland terrestrial and maritime territorial integrity requires to be established in both domestic and international law, too. Lastly should come the political process to end the Union.

    If we do the first two, or even signal our willingness to do them by actually doing what SALVO proposes and taking our case forward to the UN and international court, seeking allies among the members, a vote against ending the Union by rUK voters, similar to that which occurred in 2014, they will be in breach of international law. The Scottish Unionists would do well to take on board that forming an alliance with rUK voters, with the specific aim of scuppering independence yet again, would automatically lead to a challenge in the international court (it is not legal in international law for non-natives to conspire to interfere adversely and quite deliberately in the stated aim of a nation to seek its independence). A petition to remove voting rights, on independence only, from non-Scottish residents who have not been resident for X number of years, to be decided, could also be drawn up, as a back-up measure.It’s not ideal, and, as a democrat, I do not like it, but needs must when the devil drives.

    As things stand, no rUK resident can have his or her vote removed because UK law stipulates that any UK resident may vote on any issue in any of the Union countries if he or she is resident and domiciled there. We need to think ahead, and even if we did not carry out our intention to petition for removal of the vote, it would still act as a shot across the bows that independence Scots are not going to stop wanting independence, and that we will do what it takes. Sensible rUK residents will see that dual citizenship (of Scotland and England/Wales/NI) makes sense for them and their families. If not, then they care nothing about Scotland and Scots, and the border lies due south. Independence has become an absolute necessity now, particularly since Brexit, not a dreamer’s folly, and nothing and no one is going to stand in our way.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “The section 30 process is wrong because the people of Scotland are sovereign. Sovereign people posess an inalienable right to self determination”.

    There has to be at least a majority of the people of Scotland who have considered, and decided, that they want independence. A method needs to be found of finding out what a majority of the people want. At the moment there is only an indication of numbers from polls of a small number of people, from which the indication is that a majority do not want independence. The actual position may be quite different, and the polls could be wrong.

    On the other hand, they could be wrong the other way, and even more people may not want independence, but it is all speculation without a way of putting it to the people, and a satisfactory way of dealing with the people who choose not to participate, which would be a very difficult area.

    If the sovereign people of Scotland decide that they do not want independence then presumeably their wishes shoud prevail, as much as we would feel scunnered by such a result.

    A decision for independence would not end the matter, as in the future a ‘Join the Union’ vote could prevail, so the wish of the sovereign people to go back to square one would have to be respected)

    A decision against independence would not be the end of the matter either, as the views of the people might very well change. But at least it would be the result (for the time being) of the wishes of the sovereign people.

    How to establish a system of assessing the sovereign will of the Scottish people is something I cannot work out, but I don’t think it is a good idea to assume one way or the other what it is in relation to independence. A precise method needs to be found. Neither do I think that permission needs to be asked from anyone before the sovereign will of the Scottish people is determined.

    As you will no doubt have concluded, I am struggling to find a way forward. Any help from anyone would be greatly appreciated.


    1. We have a “precise method” of establishing the will of the people ─ voting. All that is necessary is to ensure that the voting exercise is conducted in the correct way and, voila! You have the will of the people established for all constitutional and legal purposes. None can gainsay it. It’s the final word. At least until the next democratic event.

      The problem is that nobody is even talking about doing the referendum properly. No political party has as part of its manifesto a proper constitutional referendum. That is to say, a referendum that establishes the will of Scotland’s people with regard to the Union. Nobody is proposing a referendum which serves as and will be universally recognised as the exercise by the people of Scotland of our right of self-determination. Instead, we (not me!) speak blithely of an ‘independence referendum’ as if it was obvious what this meant because it could only mean one thing. In fact, it is so vague as to be meaningless.

      I frequently urge people to follow the logic. By which i mean, take such facts and safe assumptions as may be and being mindful of the implications of these, lay them out in such a way as to form a pattern. That patter is like an arrow pointing in a particular direction. Pointing towards a particular thing. Do this with Scotland’s present situation and you inevitable find that arrow pointing unmistakably and unwaveringly towards a process which for ease of reference, I have termed #ScottishUDI. You cannot make that arrow point anywhere else other than by removing from the pattern certain of the facts or the implications which link them to one another. The tendency, however, is for people to decide where they want the arrow to point and then select and assemble the facts in such a way as to point in that direction.

      Every journey or stage of a journey has a start point and an end point. Once these are established there are only a limited number of ways of getting from one to the other depending on the terrain which must be traversed. There may very well be only one way. Which doesn’t prevent people glibly pronouncing that there is always more than one way as if the were offering some precious pearl of wisdom rather than talking trite, mindless shite. Precious few people and absolutely none of our politicians properly identify either the starting point or the end point or the terrain which together define our ‘route to independence’. They start with a preferred route, and then try to sell it in the way estate agents sell properties. We need surveyors, not estate agents.

      Now! I am NOT saying that I am the world’s greatest ‘surveyor’ or claiming that the start, end and terrain is precisely as I have described. But if I am wrong it is for those who maintain that I am wrong to demonstrate that I am wrong. Thus far, nobody has. Having said which, nobody can really be said to have tried. Mostly because I am a person of no standing whatever and can easily be ignored by those who do have standing. So, #ScottishUDI it is! I am comfortable with maintaining that there is no other way. I shall remain comfortable with this assumption until either the facts change or it is demonstrated that I have failed to properly identify the facts as they stand.

      To restore Scotland’s independence we need a proper constitutional referendum and the only way we can have a proper constitutional referendum is if the Scottish Parliament asserts its authority to legislate for a proper constitutional referendum.


    1. Due to historical factors, the term ‘popular sovereignty’ is most commonly described in the context of the US Constitution (see linked article). But the PRINCIPLE is universal. That principle is essential to democracy. Democracy starts from the understanding that each individual is sovereign. Each person is the absolute ruler of their own self. The practicalities of living in human society, however, make the full and unexceptional exercise of this personal sovereignty effectively impossible – no man is an island. Aspects of exercising personal sovereignty must be subordinated to the functioning of the community – government. It is the manner in which the exercise of personal sovereignty is constrained for the purpose of maintaining a large, complex and generally beneficial community that determines whether that community is democratic or otherwise.

      Democracy is pooled sovereignty. It is the choice of individuals to link their own sovereignty to that of the the other members of the community in order to make the community work. In a democratic society each individual remains totally sovereign even though a large part of the effectiveness of their sovereignty is combined with that of others so as to get stuff done that needs to be done. Maybe we could all manage our healthcare, education and other services as individuals retaining full exercise of their sovereignty. But would we want to? Would it be efficient? Generally, we are content to exercise our sovereignty only through participation in the democratic process. Which for some (most?) people involves no more than voting once in a while, but for others it will be a fuller exercise of sovereignty through active membership of a political party or some form of political activism.

      The point here is that a person’s sovereignty cannot be taken from them. It is inalienable. It is part of what makes them a person. What CAN be taken from a person is their ability to exercise their sovereignty ─ basically, make choices. In some societies, the ability to exercise personal sovereignty is stripped away as completely as it might be using overtly coercive methods. We call this dictatorship or totalitarianism or some similar term all of which can be described as undemocratic or anti-democratic.

      But the capacity to exercise personal sovereignty can also be constrained by persuasive rather than coercive methods. In fact, it is usually the case that in undemocratic countries a combination of force and disinformation is used to limit the ability of individuals to exercise their sovereignty. In all societies there is a degree of coercion and manipulation alongside the subordination of personal sovereignty by choice (mediated by practical necessity). Democracy may be said to exist where the elements of coercion and manipulation are kept to a minimum. There is no perfect democracy. It’s only as good as we make it.

      Popular sovereignty is “the idea that the government is created by, and gains its power from, its people, and that it must operate in conformity to the will of the people”. ( In pooling our personal sovereignty we create government and in exercising our personal sovereignty in the ways that the pooling arrangement permits we ensure that the government operates according to our collective will.

      I would define popular sovereignty as the principle that the people are the ultimate source of all legitimate political authority. This sovereignty is inalienable. It cannot be otherwise being the aggregate of inalienable individual sovereignty. The sovereignty remains even where the full and proper exercise of that sovereignty is constrained by some device. For the purpose of discussion of Scotland’s constitutional issue, that device is the Union ─ both as an instrument in itself and in terms of all that stems from this instrument. The Union does not and cannot deprive us of our sovereignty. It can only limit what we do with our sovereignty. In order to regain the full and proper exercise of our sovereignty we must end the Union. Which may also be stated as restoring our independence.

      Sovereignty is not bullshit. It is a concept which can be differently understood according to context. But it is always fundamental to democracy and therefore crucial to Scotland’s cause.


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