Choosing sides

Five years ago mine was one of very few voices warning of the British Nationalist threat to Scotland’s democratic institutions. It seemed obvious to me that, not only did the ‘One Nation’ project require the emasculation or closure of the Scottish Parliament, but that the political culture growing in England could not tolerate the continuing existence of a contrasting and competing political culture in Scotland. An effort to eradicate Scotland’s distinctive political culture would be inevitable. Such distinctiveness is anathema to British Nationalist ideology and contrary to the interests of the forces which have put Boris Johnson in power.

I mention this not by way of saying “Ah telt ye!” – although I reserve the right to do so – but by way of highlighting how significant it is that my warnings are now being vindicated by politicians as senior as Mike Russell.

I just responded to a Tweet from a businesswoman saying that, only a week or two ago, she would have considered my anxieties misplaced and my calls to action “extremist”. Her views have changed. People are waking up to the true nature of what I refer to as the British state, or England-as-Britain. By which I mean those forces which have co-opted Boris Johnson to serve their interests. The very forces which, by means of the Union, have foisted Johnson on Scotland in the same way as they have imposed on an unwilling nation Brexit and austerity and much besides.

Please do not imagine that those forces will be discouraged by this growing awareness of their purposes and intentions for Scotland and the rest of what they regard as the periphery of their domain. Do not imagine they will be in any way deterred by Mike Russell’s warning. Just as these forces see democracy and the law as things to be flouted or circumvented, so they see democratic dissent as something to be suppressed. From the British Nationalist perspective, the most effective way to suppress the wave of democratic dissent rising in Scotland is to eliminate the Parliament which gives a voice to that dissent. It is the obvious thing to do if your purpose and intent is the eradication of Scotland’s distinctive political culture, along with all those aspects of Scotland’s national identity which are not considered exploitable.

Gratifying as it is to see our political leaders recognising the real and imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy, this is worthless unless it is backed up with action. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell have now acknowledged the reality of this threat. Many other politicians and commentators will surely follow. We need to know that they are prepared to effectively address this threat. We need to know that they are ready to do whatever is required to counter the threat. And we need to back them to the hilt as they confront the might of the British state.

Scotland’s Unionists are faced with a choice. It is important that those of us who long since realised the true nature of the Union should be mindful of how difficult this choice is going to be for many who have maintained a lifelong loyalty to the Union. But choose they must. Scotland is in jeopardy of a kind that it has faced only rarely in it’s long history. Jeopardy such as might sensibly be regarded as unprecedented. Sometimes, you just have to pick a side. Sometimes the choices are just so stark that there can be no compromise; no middle way.

The choice now confronting everybody who calls Scotland their country is between the Scotland we know, the Scotland we aspire to, the Scotland we hope to bequeath to future generations; and a Scotland pressed into serving those forces which put Boris Johnson in power.

What side are you on?

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The Niemöller effect

A small thing. Easily dismissed. Scottish Civil Servants being peremptorily and unilaterally excluded from meetings with the EU is the sort of thing that it’s easy to make little of. It’s can readily be portrayed as no more than the petty squabbling of jealous bureaucrats. But, of course, it is much more serious than that.

Apparently minor incidents such as this are part of a process by which Scotland’s democratic institutions are sidelined and undermined in preparation for being dismantled completely.

The people of Scotland need to understand that the right-wing coup currently taking place in England-as-Britain will not be considered complete until Scotland is completely absorbed into a new British state given over entirely to the malign forces which put Boris Johnson in power.

This is an accelerating process. We do not have the time that some imagine when, even if they recognise what is happening, they make the mistake of thinking the process is going at a steady pace. In fact, it is exponential – or something close. Each incident is portrayed as being isolated and inconsequential. But they are all connected. Each one facilitates others. Each one exploits the complacency that follows acceptance of earlier incidents. When the public is inured to the little things, those malign forces move on to bigger things.

We might call it the Niemöller effect, after German theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller who famously said,

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

They are coming for the Scottish Parliament. We cannot afford to be complacent.

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Scotland’s has a Parliament

So, our First Minister has at last caught up with those of us in the Yes movement who have been warning for years that Scotland’s democratic institutions are in jeopardy. Or, more likely, she is finally prepared to speak publicly about the likelihood of the Scottish Parliament being ‘suspended’. I find it hard to believe Nicola Sturgeon was oblivious to the threat. But it is easy to understand why, as a senior politician, she might have been reluctant to admit any concerns. It’s not that long since talking about the Scottish Parliament being closed down would have called down a torrent of mockery and condemnation from the British establishment for ‘scaremongering’.

Now, it is those who try to deny even the possibility who open themselves to mockery. It is those who try to dismiss the threat who must be condemned. The threat is real. The threat is imminent.

All of which creates a major problem for the British parties in Scotland. What does Richard Leonard say now? How does Ruth Davidson rationalise Boris Johnson’s unceremonious attack on the British democracy that she holds to be sacrosanct? If anybody was listening to Willie Rennie, what sort of simpering drivel would they hear? How do any of them defend a Union which places Scotland at the mercy of Boris Johnson and whatever form of unthinkable worse that is yet to come?

England has chosen its path. As Stu Campbell points out on Wings Over Scotland

The UK has a democratically-elected government which is currently due to run until the summer of 2022. And that government has a mandate to deliver Brexit, in any form, come what may.

It’s a common cry from Remain-supporting politicians and media alike that Johnson has “no mandate” for no-deal. But all leaving personal opinion aside, it’s simply impossible to support that argument.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the UK parliament voted overwhelmingly – 498 to 114 – to enact Article 50, the mechanism by which a member of the European Union leaves the organisation. The terms of Article 50 are clear, and stipulate a no-deal exit unless a deal is done. The EU has already granted the UK two extensions on the timetable, which have produced absolutely nothing.

Scotland has no right to interfere with the choices made by the people of England. And no capacity to do so even if such interference could be justified. There have been opportunities to stop the Brexit madness and to avoid the hard-right British Nationalist coup currently underway. Voters in England have spurned every chance to choose differently.

Ii is time for the Scottish Government to leave England-as-Britain to its own devices. However noble you may consider the efforts of Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford to have England’s voters draw back from the abyss, it is now time for them to acknowledge that the effort is doomed to fail – because the people of England don’t want it. They want what they’re getting. However anathema it may be to most of us here in Scotland, what is happening in London right now is precisely what the majority of people in /england voted for.

Scotland has made different choices. It is time the Scottish Government focused on ensuring that those choices are honoured.

Many of us realised that the Scottish Parliament’s future started to look perilous in 2007, wth the first (minority) SNP administration. When the voters broke the system to elect a majority SNP government in 2011, the fate of the Scottish Parliament was sealed. The British establishment was only prepared to tolerate devolution so long as the Union was not compromised. It was only a matter of time before they found a way to end the ‘experiment’.

The only way to avoid Scotland’s democratic institutions being dismantled is for the Scottish Parliament to assert its primacy on the basis of its exclusive democratic legitimacy. The Scottish Government must propose that the Scottish Parliament declare itself the sole voice of Scotland’s people and agent their of democratic will. It will then be for the people of Scotland to vote on whether to #DissolveTheUnion in order that Scotland should should be able to choose and follow its own path..

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It is all so fragile

My wife and I are working our way through the first series of the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale at the moment. It makes for disturbing, and at times harrowing viewing. Thought-provoking on many levels. And the thoughts it provokes can be dark, indeed. Comparisons will doubtless be deemed invidious. But, as a study of power relationships, it is for me very reminiscent of Orwell’s Animal Farm. But The Handmaid’s Tale is very much more affecting. It will make you angry. It will make you afraid. It will lead you to despair of humanity. Because, for all it’s extremes, Atwood’s vividly imagined dystopia is horribly credible.

One of the things that struck me as most frightening about the TV dramatisation was the the way in which the descent into this dystopia is portrayed as happening almost unnoticed by people intent on the pursuit of what quickly come to seem ludicrously trivial gratifications. It was this, too, which put me in mind of Animal Farm. Each stage in the process of moving from democratic civilisation to barbaric totalitarianism appears, in isolation, perfectly reasonable. Or a passing phenomenon. Later, extraordinary measures are deemed necessary to deal with exceptional circumstances. Acceptance of each step in the process paves the way for tolerance of the next. Until there is no way back. Too late, the realisation dawns that what has been so casually squandered can never be recovered.

How fragile it all is!

Could this happen in real life? Is it already happening? If Margaret Atwood is right, we may be unaware. We may already have accepted too much. We may already have developed the tolerance which will allow our rights and freedoms to slip away from us. Not wrenched from our grasp, but given up without demur. Almost as if we were relieved to be freed from the responsibilities which are the necessary corollary of those rights and freedoms.

Brexit looms! Scotland is about to be forced out of the EU against the democratic will of Scotland’s people. That is serious. It is an outrage. And yet we see in the meek acceptance or dutiful rationalisation of this outrage precisely the dumb, fatal complacency that is so powerfully conveyed in The Handmaid’s Tale. We see the same failure – or refusal – to look beyond and beneath immediate events. As ever, we are distracted by talk of economic consequences. Brexit will destroy jobs! Brexit will cost each of us £2,456.76 per year! Brexit will mean empty shelves in the supermarkets and delicatessens! We are constantly encouraged to focus on those gratifications that we have yet to see as ludicrously trivial. Will we learn before it is too late?

Will we lift our eyes and see beyond Brexit to see the dismantling of Scotland’s democratic institutions and the decimation of our public services and all the other extraordinary measures that will be deemed necessary to deal with exceptional circumstances? Will we look beneath the seemingly benign bungling and entertaining eccentricities of the British political elite foisted on us by the Union and discern through the fog of media distortion a regime with motives hardly less malign that that portrayed by Margaret Atwood?

Will we remember that, only a few short weeks ago, the idea of the UK Parliament being prorogued to allow the British executive a free hand would have been, if not unthinkable, then hardly the topic of serious political discourse? Will we realise that the mere fact of the ‘suspension’ of democratically elected parliaments being discussed is part of the process by which the public consciousness is prepared for the actuality? Today’s fodder for political anoraks imperceptibly metamorphoses into tomorrow’s inevitability. And it’s somehow OK because we knew it was going to happen.

Will we think to follow this chain of developments even further? Perhaps to the invoking of the Civil Contingencies Act, with all that this entails? Or will we tell ourselves, and each other, that there is no chain; no connection; no linkage leading from one to the next? Will we see only isolated developments, each of which can be comfortably ignored or readily rationalised?

Will we all wake up one day to find ourselves in a world of nightmares, and wonder how it could have happened?

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Beware Brits bearing gifts

Discussion of a ‘Wings Party’ standing for regional seats in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election is, of course, entirely an academic exercise. And a bit of a distraction. There are far more pressing concerns; such as whether there will actually be any Scottish Parliament elections in 2021. Losing the pro-independence majority at Holyrood is a worrying prospect. But it pales into insignificance next to the possibility (probability?) that we may have lost the entire Scottish Parliament by 2021.

On first reading Stuart Campbell’s article outline his thinking, I thought it sounded very plausible. But long experience has taught me to be wary of plausible-sounding schemes. The whole RISE/’rainbow parliament’ thing that so nearly lost us the pro-independence majority in 2016 was dangerous mainly because it was made to sound so plausible. The difference – and it is an important one – is that RISE had no support base at all, while a Wings Party would, on paper at least, come with a substantial level of support built in.

There’s also the fact that RISE was promoted by persons of what we shall generously term ‘limited credibility’. Certainly far less credibility than Stuart Campbell has acquired over years of offering analysis which manages to be coldly forensic despite his evident passion for Scotland’s cause.

That passion is evident in causes other than independence. Some of which are bitterly controversial within the independence movement. I don’t see this as detracting from Stuart Campbell’s credibility in any way. Whether or not one agrees with his views, there can be no doubt that they are sincerely held, and strongly argued. Many focus, not on those views or his arguments in defence of them, but on the manner in which he expresses himself. This is a familiar evasive tactic commonly deployed by those who have come to the debate ill-equipped to deal with the content of opposing arguments and are, therefore reduced to attacking the superficial aspects of presentation.

As much as I will say about the Wings Party proposal at this time is that it is somewhat more persuasive than the RISE fantasy. What we must bear in mind is that you cannot game the voting system for the Scottish Parliament elections. All you can do is gamble with it. The RISE thing asked us to take a ridiculous gamble where we stood to lose something of incalculable worth with a chance of winning that was as close to zero as makes no difference. Many took that gamble because they were so dazzled by the magnificence of the prize as to be unable to see how unattainable it was.

The best that can be said of Stuart Campbell’s idea is that it constitutes less of a gamble than the RISE folly. How much less nobody can say as there are too many factors which cannot be clearly discerned at this distance from the 2021 Holyrood election. And, in any case, there are matters which demand our immediate attention. Matters of vastly greater importance than some tactical voting ploy in an election that is more than 18 months away for a Parliament this may well have been ‘suspended’ by the British state as the ‘One Nation’ project is rolled out.

Which brings me to a concern that has been growing in my mind since the publication of Stuart Campbell’s interview in The Times. Being ever mindful of the real and imminent threat to Scotland posed by juggernaut of rabid British Nationalism, I am ever watchful for signs of the British political elite’s devious doings. They no longer try to conceal their efforts to delegitimise the Scottish Parliament; marginalise the Scottish Government and demonise the SNP. It is no longer possible to sensibly deny the British state’s intention to dismantle Scotland’s democratic institutions and destroy Scotland’s distinctive political culture. Although some seem intent on dumbly disregarding this purpose.

I have always considered the fourth component of the independence campaign – the Yes movement – to be impervious to attack by the forces of anti-democratic British Nationalism. There is no formal structure; no hierarchy, no leadership that can be targeted. But suppose a target could be created. Suppose the power of the British media could be deployed to associate a particular personality with the Yes movement. Suppose an association between some ‘celebrity’ figure and the Yes movement could be contrived that was so strong as to make it possible to implant in the public consciousness the notion of this figure being the ‘official’ representative of the Yes movement.

When I see Stuart Campbell being interviewed by The Times and making appearances on British TV and radio, I ask myself why. Why is this happening? Why him? Why now? And I don’t like the answers I come up with.

I do not for one second suppose that Stuart Campbell thinks of himself as the figurehead of the entire Yes movement. I don’t think he seeks such greatness. But he may well have this greatness thrust upon him.

I rather think Stuart Campbell may not be the sort of person who welcomes advice. I recognise, too, that he is not a stupid man and that the advice may be entirely redundant. Nonetheless, I would counsel him to beware Brits bearing the gift of recognition. They will use you if they can. They will set you up as the ‘poster-boy’ of the Yes movement in the hope that, when they bring you down in a welter of vicious smear stories, the Yes movement will also be damaged.

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Getting assertive

I wonder if our First Minister is aware of the Precautionary Principle. In the context of the duties and responsibilities of the Scottish Government in the current situation of constitutional upheaval, the Precautionary Principle may be stated thus,

Where there exists a threat of serious or irreversible damage to the nation’s interests, lack of total certainty concerning outcomes outwith the control of policy-makers shall not be used to justify postponing measures to prevent such damage.

This might be more succinctly expressed as,

First do no harm or by inaction allow harm to occur.

There can be no doubt that Scotland being forcibly taken out of the EU represents, at the very least, a threat of serious or irreversible damage to the nation’s economic interests as well as our political, social and cultural well-being.

(In fact, it is the Union which poses this threat by affording the British state the power to impose policies such as Brexit on Scotland; but the First Minister has inexplicably chosen to hang the entire independence cause on the Brexit peg, so we shall go along with that for the moment.)

Given the real and imminent threat posed by Brexit, the Precautionary Principle holds that the Scottish Government’s uncertainty about the precise details of the outcome cannot excuse failure to act to prevent Scotland suffering harm.

It may be argued that the duty of the Scottish Government to prevent harm to Scotland extends to preventing harm to neighbouring or other territories where this may impact Scotland. But, to whatever extent such a duty exists it is overridden by a duty to respect the democratic will of the people of those territories. There is not, and neither could there be, an inalienable right to suffer no harm. People have a democratic right to vote against their own interests. Governments may only intervene to mitigate the harm.

It may further be argued that, given the nature of the devolution settlement, the referendum in 2016 was a UK-wide vote on UK membership of the EU; and that, being still part of the UK, Scotland is bound by the result every bit as much as the rest of the UK (rUK). This argument relies on three assumptions or contentions –

  • That Scotland is not a nation in any but the most trivial sense of that term.
  • That the Scottish Parliament is merely an annex to the UK Parliament.
  • That the Scottish Government is merely an adjunct to the UK Government

The first of these assumptions or contentions may be discounted without discussion. The UK Government recognised Scotland’s status as a nation when the UK Prime Minister signed the Edinburgh Agreement prior to the 2014 independence referendum. This fact alone makes it impossible for the British state to now dispute Scotland’s status as a nation.

The remaining assumptions or contentions are less easy to discount. It can readily be maintained that the Scotland Act 1998 makes the Scottish Parliament effectively no more than an annex of Westminster, and the Scottish Government no more than an adjunct to the British executive. But bear in mind that this is a matter of constitutional law. And that, unlike criminal law – which works best by being rigorously obeyed – constitutional law works best by being constantly challenged.

There exists something which we might call the democratic imperative. An existing constitutional settlement, however thoroughly enshrined in law, may be subsidiary to this democratic imperative. That is to say, the imperative to uphold fundamental democratic principles may carry more weight than the need to abide by the letter of constitutional law. It must be so. Otherwise there could have been no social or political progress. We would still be living with absolute monarchs, warring empires and exploited colonies. (To a greater extent than we are!) Women wouldn’t have the vote and employment rights would be a matter for discussion at secretive gatherings of ‘dangerous radicals’.

All these things changed because the democratic imperative was brought into play. Because the reformed condition had greater democratic legitimacy. Women have the vote because that is more democratic than them being prohibited from voting. The demand for workers’ rights was, and remains, a demand founded on the democratic imperative. Greater democratic legitimacy outweighs lesser democratic legitimacy and the constitutional provisions which maintain that lesser democratic legitimacy.

The Scottish Parliament has democratic legitimacy. This is irrefutable. The manner in which it is elected and the way it operates gives it unimpeachable democratic legitimacy. Compared to Holyrood, Westminster has no democratic legitimacy in Scotland. The fact that Scotland elects 59 members of the UK Parliament is all but meaningless given the grotesquely asymmetric nature of the Union.

If the Scottish Parliament has democratic legitimacy then it follows that the Scottish Government does too. Only in extraordinary circumstances does a system which confers democratic legitimacy on the parliament give rise to an administration whose democratic credentials are seriously questionable. The British political system may be an example of those extraordinary circumstances.

That the the Scottish Parliament is superior to Westminster in terms of democratic legitimacy is not a matter of controversy. That, despite this, it continues to be inferior in terms of constitutional law is a matter of great controversy. There are only two ways in which the conflict between democratic legitimacy and constitutional law can be resolved. Either the UK Parliament concedes the complete authority of the Scottish Parliament in Scotland – which is not going to happen; or the Scottish Government asserts that authority in defiance of the constitutional settlement.

The Precautionary Principle demands that the First Minister of Scotland act immediately to prevent the harm that will be done to Scotland, not only by Brexit, but by the impact of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism. The only way to do this is by asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the grounds of its democratic legitimacy. That this will entail dissolution of the Union and the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status may be considered a bonus.

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Read the words!

If I am cynical about British Labour it’s for good reason. This is a party of back-stabbers who have no qualms about turning their blades on voters should self-interest demand it. They betrayed Scotland for their precious Union before. They will do so again. They colluded with the Tories in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign because of their mutual interest in maintaining the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state. Those structures have not changed. Nor has the shared imperative of the British establishment parties to keep a political system which serves them well, even as it fails the people in all manner of tragic ways.

In an otherwise rather silly column which imagines British Labour supporting independence, Kevin McKenna notes that their operation in Scotland hasn’t changed since the British parties lost control of Holyrood. Discussing what he persists in calling ‘Scottish Labour’, McKenna observes that British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) “has been in retreat for 12 years”. It is a commonplace of Scottish political commentary that this retreat has been into a bubble of bitter resentment towards both the SNP and the voters who had the effrontery to rob BLiS of what they regard as their entitled status in Scotland. A resentment so corrosive that neither rational nor creative thinking can survive.

It’s difficult to know whether the resentment which has paralysed BLiS for all that time also infected the rest of the party, or whether the resentment is simply more concentrated in BLiS, them being more directly affected. What we can know for certain is that, in terms of policy, there is but one British Labour. If BLiS didn’t adapt to Scotland’s new political and electoral reality in 12 years, neither did British Labour as a whole.

The question that arises is why would British Labour change now. If, indeed, it has genuinely changed in the ways that many seem to suppose are implied by John McDonnell’s ‘promise’ that British Labour would not block a new Scottish independence referendum.

I look at this ‘promise’ with the jaundiced eye of my cynicism and I smell deviousness and duplicity. This is, of course, the hallmark stench of British politics. But the stink seems particularly strong around John McDonnell’s comments. My first thought is that this is a ploy to split the pro-independence vote in Scotland. A ploy which, were it effective, would serve both to undermine the independence movement and weaken the SNP. There is obvious advantage here for both British Labour and the British Nationalist ideology it shares with other British establishment parties.

So what! I hear some in the Yes movement say. If BLiS drops its dogmatic opposition to anew independence referendum this only strengthens the mandate to hold such a referendum. But that mandate requires no strengthening. It is already as strong as it needs to be – and then some. And British Labour are not in power at Westminster. They are not in a position to decide whether the British parliament should grant gracious consent allowing Scots to exercise the fundamental right of self-determination. So John McDonnell is giving us precisely nothing with his ‘promise’ not to block a new referendum even if we are naive enough to suppose that promise would be kept should it be put to the test.

McDonnell is aware that a large proportion of traditional British Labour voters in Scotland support the restoration of Scotland’s independence and that many of them have been ‘lending’ their votes to the SNP knowing that this is the only way to achieve that objective. He will know, also, that many of those people are itching to get back to voting as their fathers did and their fathers before them. They feel a certain loyalty to British Labour – or to the values which British Labour once represented – and they will seize on any excuse to return to the fold. John McDonnell’s ‘promise’ provides that excuse.

This still leaves the question of why McDonnell has decided to make this ‘promise’ at this time. But we’ve already seen that the ‘promise’ isn’t worth much even if taken at face value. And its value gets increasing dubious the more closely we scrutinise it. Let’s remind ourselves of his precise words.

The Scottish Parliament will come to a considered view on that and they will submit that to the Government and the English parliament itself.

If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum that’s for them.

We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That’s democracy.

There are other views within the party but that’s our view.

Note the final sentence. That’s a get-out clause if ever there was one. Who is he referring to when he says “our view”. How are we to be sure that view prevails against those “other views within the party “. Note what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say that this is now official arty policy. His words can easily be interpreted, or portrayed, as implying that the matter is being debated within the party. There is nothing conclusive there. Nothing anybody should be clinging to.

Perhaps even more significantly, note the use of the future and future unreal conditional tense. The Scottish Parliament “WILL COME to a considered view”; “they WILL SUBMIT that to the Government”; “we WOULD NOT block something like that”; “we WOULD LET the Scottish people decide”.

At no time does John McDonnell acknowledge the existing mandate. At not time does he recognise that the Scottish Parliament has already “come to a considered view”. Nowhere does he mention that this “considered view” has already been submitted to “the Government and the English parliament [sic]”. To do so would be to respect the authority of the Scottish Parliament. Which no British Nationalist politician can or will ever do.

Nor will they respect Scotland’s people. John McDonnell also says,

“If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum that’s for them.”

He refuses to allow that the Scottish people have already made known their choice in this matter by voting for parties with a clear manifesto commitment to holding a new referendum.

It may be thought that John McDonnell is taking a bit of a risk with this ‘promise’ to break with British Nationalist dogma and respect democratic principles. What if British Labour does end up in power and all the conditions he stipulates are met? Wouldn’t that make it awkward for British Labour to renege? Which brings us, finally, to an answer to the question of why this ‘promise’ is being made now.

John McDonnell is a professional politician and so is not inclined to take risks where the cost would fall on himself or his party. Therefore, he must have reason to be sure that British Labour will never be put in the position of being expected to honour his ‘promise’. He would only make such a promise if he was confident that the Tories were about to apply a ‘final solution’ to the Scottish problem.

John McDonnell is undertaking to respect the Scottish Parliament. not now but at some unspecified time in the future, because he is as certain as he needs to be that there will be no Scottish Parliament by that time.

He is undertaking to respect the democratic will of the people of Scotland, not now but at some unspecified time in the future, because he is confident the Tories have a plan to ensure that the people of Scotland are prevented from ever deciding the constitutional status of our nation or choosing the form of government that best suits our needs.

John McDonnell is attempting to deceive the people of Scotland in the name of preserving the Union. Don’t be fooled!

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