Pillows against cannon

The Common Green is Craig Dalzell’s blog

I agree with everything Craig Dalzell says in his interview with The National, with two very important exceptions. The first regards his views on campaigning for a referendum on independence, rather than campaigning for independence itself. The second concerns his insistence that we should be campaigning for independence.

We always had two battles to fight over the past five years. Obviously, we had the fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. But before we could hope to properly engage in that battle we had first to affirm, secure and defend our right of self-determination. This was always where our opponents were going to attack. Because the British political elite continues to think as an imperial power.

To preserve the integrity of the homeland, the imperialist mindset is to always fight wars on someone else’s territory. That is why empires expand. Their borders are regarded as their weak points. The point at which the homeland comes into contact with the other and so is at the greatest risk of contamination. The impeccable logic of self-preservation demands that a ‘buffer zone’ be created to protect the sacred homeland. So, new territory is acquired by treaty or conquest or both. Or simply by disregarding the other’s sovereignty and daring them to object. Bullying, in other words.

To the British ruling elites, the Union represents the homeland. They would prefer not to engage in battle on that ground because to lose would be catastrophic. They are especially reluctant as an earlier skirmish which they thought they’d win easily almost cost them dearly. The innate defensiveness of the imperialist mindset means that they will seek to fend off any potential threat to the Union before it reaches their doorstep. Specifically, they will seek to deny and nullify Scotland’s right of self-determination – simultaneously undermining our sovereignty, this being inextricably entwined with the right to choose our constitutional status and form of government.

The mistake – and such it surely was – was to mount a campaign to get something we didn’t have (a referendum) rather than a campaign to protect something that was already ours (the right of self-determination).

For similar reasons, we should not have been campaigning for independence but against the Union. Such a campaign would have dovetailed nicely with the fight to protect our most essential sovereign rights as both the threat to the latter and the injustice of Scotland’s treatment at the hands of the British state both trace back to the same source – the Union.

By engaging in a campaign for independence we made independence the disputed concept which our opponents wanted it to be. Independence is normal. It is the Union which is anomalous. It is the Union which should be the disputed concept.

In every way, the defenders of the Union and established power have chosen the ground on which to engage with Scotland’s independence movement. Most particularly, they lured us into the valley of death for any campaign, economic argumentation. Those who insist we should continue to fight on this ground tend to do so because it is their turf. It’s where they feel comfortable. It’s the only place their weapons work. They are distinctly uncomfortable with the hand-to-hand combat of political campaigning on a constitutional issue.

Craig Dalzell seems like a decent chap. He has interesting things to say about the hypothetical economic policies in a hypothetical independent Scotland. But he is sadly lacking in his appreciation of what it will take to get us there. Any threat to the Union is, for the British political elite and potentially for established power, an existential threat. Their response is to either absorb the source of that threat – Scotland – or to crush it. Their existential threat becomes our existential threat. The battle is a constitutional fight for life. Perhaps, for Scotland at least, a fight to the death.

When asked why we lost the 2014 referendum, the short answer I usually give is that we took a pillow to a sword fight. I read and hear all this urging to continue doing what we’ve always done in the hope of a different – and better – outcome, and I despair. In the 2014 referendum campaign, we took a pillow to a sword fight. In the interim, we have allowed our opponents to rearm with guns. Meanwhile, we look set to go into battle with no more than a laundered, stitched and re-stuffed pillow to flap at the muzzles of British Nationalist artillery.



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Know thine enemy!

It’s not deluded Unionists we need to be concerned about. Rather, it is those individuals in influential positions within the independence movement who imagine that Boris Johnson’s denial of Scotland’s right of self-determination is “utterly unsustainable”. Or that “the Tory position will not hold”.

For a start, it is not a “Tory position”. It is the position of the British state. It is the position of all the British parties, no matter how they dress it up in the hope of deceiving voters in Scotland. This is not a party political issue. Scotland’s predicament would be the same no matter who was occupying Downing Street.

For some time now I have been expressing concerns about the Scottish Government’s approach to the constitutional issue. In doing so, I have stated that Section 30 of the Scotland Act (1998) is not there to facilitate the granting of new powers to Holyrood. It is there to allow the British Prime Minister to alter the competencies of the Scottish Parliament in whatever way he chooses. In an attempt to refute this point, an apologist for the Union claimed that the British Prime Minister could not fiddle with the list of reserved powers without first getting the nod from the British parliament.

According to this Unionist, the assertion that the British Prime Minister could ‘revise’ the powers of the Scottish Parliament at will was false because the Tories won’t always have a majority at Westminster. But, as I then pointed out, the British parties WOULD always have a majority at Westminster. Approval for stripping powers from the Scottish Parliament will always be a mere formality in the parliament of England-as-Britain.

Alyn Smyth is guilty of the same erroneous thinking as those who go on Yes marches with banners and chants demanding “Tories out!”. Ours is not an anti-Tory campaign. It is an anti-Union campaign. To lose sight of this is to forget the whole point and purpose of the Yes movement. Of course, it would be great to ‘get rid of the Tories’. Just as it would be wonderful to get rid of Trident. But these are secondary aims. They are contingent on the restoration of Scotland’s independence. It is this that must be the focus of our campaign. And of the efforts of our elected representatives.

Every bit as misguided as the idea that the Tories are the problem rather than the Union – and probably more dangerous – is the notion that the British establishment’s position is “unsustainable”. It is deluded to suppose that this position “will not hold”. The reality is that the British political establishment can not only maintain its anti-democratic denial of Scotland’s right of self-determination, it can also implement whatever measures are deemed necessary to ensure that the people of Scotland are never allowed to chose the form of government that best suits our needs.

This is not to say we should just give up. We must not succumb to pessimism or be daunted by the armour which protects established power. But we must properly appreciate the nature of the forces defending the British state’s structures of power, privilege and patronage. Those defences are not going to crumble under a barrage of righteous outrage however rousing the rhetoric of SNP MPs.

Scotland’s cause cannot rely on the British establishment having a change of heart. If Scotland’s independence is to be restored then it must be restored DESPITE the fervent opposition of the British political elite. Not because we’ve shamed them or won them over. The British state has no shame. And no heart.



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All the policies anybody could want!

It’s not often any thinking person finds cause to agree with the odious Jackie Baillie, but she is perfectly correct in reminding her bosses that ““Scottish party policy is very clear”. It is very clearly as arrogantly anti-democratic as Tory policy on the matter of Scotland’s right of self-determination. As dogmatically anti-democratic as the policies of all the British parties. They all state emphatically that their policy is to deny Scotland’s democratic right of self determination. Each is as anti-democratic as they others.

Where Baillie bids farewell to reality and departs for the land of dumb delusion is when she says,

… Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK party must accept.

This is just wrong. There is no ‘Scottish Labour Party’. There is only the British Labour Party. The entity calling itself the ‘Scottish Labour’ is, in fact, ‘British Labour in Scotland’ (BLiS). Not being a party, BLiS has absolutely no policy-making powers. And no party may present different policies to different constituencies. That’s the law! One party! One policy! The reality that Jackie Ballie has lost her tenuous grip on is precisely the opposite of what she asserts. British Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a matter for British Labour. And the pretendy wee party in Scotland must accept that policy.

It gets weirder. Because, notwithstanding Ballie’s tantrums, British Labour’s policy on the matter of a new independence referendum actually accords with that of BLiS, even though there is no need for it to do so. British Labour’s 2017 election manifesto spells it out in no uncertain terms. In a section titled – with unwittingly hilarious irony and characteristic hypocrisy – ‘Extending Democracy’, we find the following.

Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum. It is unwanted and unnecessary, and we will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the UK. Independence would lead to turbo-charged austerity for Scottish families.

British Labour Manifetso 2017

Evidently, democracy isn’t to be extended as far as Scotland. That passage could have been written by Jackie Baillie herself. Or any British Nationalist ideologue from any of the British parties. So what is she making such a fuss about?

It seems she’s upset about some remarks made by one of her many superiors which, on the face of it, appear to state another British Labour policy which is perfectly clear. Former Scottish Labour Party chairman Bob Thomson points out that McDonnell’s position is “a restatement of existing, long-standing Scottish Labour Party [sic] policy”. He reminds all concerned that policy dates from the 1989 Claim of Right,

…which was signed by every Labour MP – including Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling – except Tam Dalyell and endorsed by the annual conference of the Scottish party.

Bob Thomson goes on to explain,

This position has never been rescinded. There is also a lot of hypocrisy from Labour MPs and MSPs who support a second referendum on Brexit but oppose a second referendum on independence, the democratic principles are the same. (emphasis added)

The particular and relevant “democratic principle” to which Bob Thomson refers is stated in the opening words of the 1989 Claim of Right.

We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs…

Claim of Right 1989

This is as explicit an acknowledgement of Scotland’s right of self-determination as we might wish for.

Remember what I said about “One party! One policy!”? Well, it seems I was wrong. Because British Labour clearly has two policies (at least) on the matter of Scotland’s right of self-determination. John McDonnell says one thing, backed-up by British Labour’s extant endorsement of the Claim of Right. Jackie Baillie says the opposite supported by British Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto. British Labour simultaneously acknowledges and denies Scotland’s right of self-determination.

Confused? You will be! Because, while the position referred to by John MCDonnell must take precedence over that stated by Jackie Baillie – he speaking for the real party while she speaks for a bit of the pretendy one (don’t ask!) – that isn’t British Labour’s true position. Their true position is the one stated by Baillie. The anti-democratic position which denies Scotland’s right of self-determination is the reality behind the soothingly democratic facade presented by McDonnell.

As I wrote at the time,

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!

Read the words!

You could devote time and effort to untangling this web of lies and deceit. Or you could simply accept that it is a web of lies and deceit and that this is all you need to know.



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Section 30 is not Scotland’s salvation

I wonder if those who say things like “we are not at the end of the Section 30 order road” have ever stopped to think about what a Section 30 order actually is. When I hear people insisting that a Section 30 order is absolutely required for a referendum on restoring Scotland’s independence to be ‘legal and ‘binding’, I tend to wonder if they have considered what a Section 30 order is for and why this ‘loophole’ was made part of the Scotland Act 1998. After all, we know that the core purpose of the legislation is, not to empower the Scottish Parliament, but to keep it in check. We know that the devolution experiment never had anything to do with addressing the democratic deficit imposed by the Union or improving Scotland’s governance, but was always about creating a new and superficially more democratic framework within which powers could be ‘managed’ without the risk of compromising the Union. So why would the legislation include a provision for granting additional powers to the Scottish Parliament?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. As becomes immediately clear when one reads the relevant text at Section 30(2).

Her Majesty may by Order in Council make any modifications of Schedule 4 or 5 which She considers necessary or expedient.

Scotland Act 1998

Expressed in a less legalistic, and more forthright, fashion what this says is that the British Prime Minister – currently a malignant child-clown named Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – can alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament whenever they want and in any way they deem “necessary or expedient” for their purposes – that purpose being ever and always the preservation of the Union. I think it’s fair to say that Section 30 isn’t sounding like quite the boon to Scotland some seem to suppose it to be. It is simply another device by which the British state may rein in the Scottish Parliament. Or, at least, that was the intention. Belt and braces legislation. Just in case there were any loopholes which might allow Holyrood more power than was intended, Section 30 allows the British political elite to quickly patch up any chink in the armour protecting the Union.

You may be asking how, if the purpose of Section 30 is to provide extra protection for the Union, did it come to be used to secure a ‘legal and binding’ independence referendum in 2014? To understand how this came about you need know just one thing – Alex Salmond is a lot smarter than David Cameron. Alex Salmond played Cameron like the proverbial old fiddle. He knew his opponent and was keenly aware that he could rely on a mix of hubris, arrogance and ignorance to enable him to extract what he wanted from the then British Prime Minister. And what he wanted was, not the Section 30 order itself, but the Edinburgh Agreement that accompanied it.

Of course, the drafters of the legislation never envisaged Section 30 being used in this way. They assumed the Scottish Parliament would always be controlled by the the British parties; who would never do anything to jeopardise the Union. That’s the way the electoral system was set up. Not, as some imagine, to keep the SNP out, but to keep some combination or permutation of British parties perpetually in. Another safeguard for the Union. You may be starting to discern a pattern.

Alex Salmond is a brilliant political operator. A master of the art of keeping open as many options as possible and a man who can calculate, on the fly, all the values in a complex trade-off. Setting a precedent by requesting a Section 30 order was dangerous because, on the face of it, this might limit the options available in the future. Remember that, in 2012, Salmond had little reason to suppose that a referendum could be won. He was pretty much bounced into going for it because, in 2011, the Scottish electorate broke the voting system in a way that not even Alex Salmond could have predicted. He had to declare the referendum. And he would do his utmost to win it. But he was also planning for the loss and looking to get as much out of the whole exercise as he could.

Aware that the precedent-setting risk involved in requesting a Section 30 order was at least mitigated and almost certainly negated by the unlawfulness of any attempt to deny the right of self-determination, Salmond figured the trade-off was worth it to secure the Edinburgh Agreement and, crucially, formal recognition of Scotland’s right of self-determination by the British state. Asking permission from Cameron must have grated severely on Salmond’s Scottish sensibilities. But, ever the pragmatist, he got on with doing what was necessary.

So, to summarise – the purpose of Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998, is to afford the British Prime Minister the legal authority to unilaterally and arbitrarily alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament. So much for the ‘most powerful devolved parliament in the world’!

Alex Salmond used the Section 30 procedure to manipulate David Cameron into formally acknowledging Scotland’s right of self-determination as part of a subsidiary plan to ease the way for a new referendum in the event that the 2014 vote went the wrong way.

Salmond realised that this could not set an awkward precedent as the Section 30 procedure would always be trumped by international laws and conventions relating to the right of self-determination. Which does not mean that we should take the British government to court – whatever that may entail. What it means, and what Salmond no doubt intended, is that the British state is powerfully deterred from taking the Scottish Government to court. It is highly unlikely that any constitutional court, including the UK Supreme Court, would uphold the British government’s right to exercise what is effectively a veto over Scotland’s right of self-determination. To do so would be to strike down the Charter of the United Nations. No constitutional court would risk its credibility in this way. No judge would want that on their Debrett’s entry, or their Wikipedia page.

The question, therefore, is not whether we are “at the end of the Section 30 order road”, but whether we should be on that road at all.

Some insist that a Section 30 order is required to make a referendum legal. This is the colonised mind speaking. Note how such people constantly fret about the legality of what Scotland does and its bearing on independent Scotland gaining recognition by the international community. Note how they rarely, if ever, think about questioning the legality of what the British state does. They never ask how a law prohibiting or constraining a fundamental democratic right can possibly be valid. The British political elite has only to assert a power, and the colonised mind unthinkingly accepts it. The superiority of the British state is mindlessly assumed.

What matters in relation to the right of self-determination is, not formal legality, but democratic legitimacy. So long as the process by which the right of self-determination is exercised can be shown to be open and democratic, any law purporting to prohibit or constrain that right cannot itself be legitimate. Especially when that law is imposed by a parliament and a government which itself lacks even the semblance of democratic legitimacy. Who says so? Well, among others, the British government. It is stated with great clarity and concision in the British government’s statement(s) to the International Court of Justice inquiry as to whether the declaration of independence by the provisional institutions of self-government of Kosovo was in accordance
with international law.

5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor State‟s law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
which the secession is occurring.

5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond the scope of already conferred power.

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

It is abundantly clear that there is no necessity to follow the Section 30 procedure. So the question becomes one of what, if anything, makes it desirable to do so? And that is a far more difficult question, because it concerns subjective judgement Personally, I just hope that those ‘influencers’ who are advocating for the Section 30 procedure have actually thought it through. And, if our elected leaders are opting for the Section 30 procedure, I feel entitled to demand to know why, and to be assured that they have fully considered the kind of implications outlined in a previous article.



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Challenging power

The National asked Scotland Secretary Mundell and the Scotland Office to comment. In response, a UK Government spokesman said: “The role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is to champion Scottish interests at the heart of government and to strengthen Scotland’s place in the UK. With the Scottish Government proposing an unwanted and divisive second independence referendum next year, that role is more important than ever.”

Scrap Mundell’s role and the Scotland Office, says MPs’ report

Let’s just take a wee look at the above excerpt from Kirsteen Paterson’s article. The first thing we note is that when The National approached Mundell and the Scotland Office for comment it was the UK Government which responded on their behalf. That alone tells us all we need to know about the role and status of Mundell and the Scotland Office. They are no more than a front for the British state in Scotland. Their voice is the voice of their masters in London. They most decidedly do not speak for Scotland in any way.

Imagine you were talking to a couple and asked the woman’s opinion on something only for the man to respond on her behalf. What would that suggest about the man’s attitude to the woman? Would it suggest an attitude of respect?

Despite the Scotland Office being part of the British establishment, it is clearly regarded as inferior by the British political elite who operate David Mundell as a ventriloquist operates his dummy. Why? Could it be because they are nominally ‘Scottish’ and the Union dictates that Scotland must be subordinate in all things and at all times?

Now, in the light of what we know about the nature of the relationship between England-as-Britain and Scotland as presumed by the UK Government, let’s examine the statement made by the UK Government because Mundell was not trusted to speak. It begins with the patently false assertion that “the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is to champion Scottish interests at the heart of [UK] government”. We know this to be false. The true role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is made totally explicit in the fact that he works for something called ‘The UK Government in Scotland’. And, of course, by the way Mundell disports himself. No dispassionate observer would ever suppose Mundell was making any effort to “champion Scottish interests” even if said observer was unaware of the fact that Mundell has absolutely no mandate from the people of Scotland.

Mundell is quite open about his ambition to trample all over the devolution settlement and re-impose direct rule from London. That’s what is meant by the term “UK-wide common framework”. How can contempt for the Scottish Parliament be in Scotland’s interests?

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Mundell is also the power behind the throne occupied by Ruth Davidson as ‘Queen of the BritNats’. He is at least her equal in his determination to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. He does not champion Scotland’s interests in the British state, he champions anti-democratic British Nationalism in Scotland.

Which brings me neatly to my main point – Scotland’s right of self-determination which is inalienable and, notwithstanding the dictatorial rhetoric of Mundell and Davidson or the macho posturing of Tory leadership candidates, cannot be denied. Go back to that ‘His Master’s Voice’ statement from the UK Government again. Note the claim that the Secretary of State for(?) Scotland has an “important” role in a new independence referendum. Let’s scrutinise that claim.

If, as is evidently assumed, the UK Government represents the superior party to an asymmetric political union then, according to well established principles of international law, the Secretary of State for Scotland – being an agent of said superior party – can have no role whatever in the process by which the right of self-determination is exercised.

See, for example, the ‘Principles Guiding Relations between Participating States’ which form part of the Helsinki Final Act, adopted by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975. Principle VIII states,

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development.

Helsinki Final Act

The British state cannot have it both ways. If it is a superior entity asserting the power to impose policies on Scotland regardless of the will of Scotland’s people as expressed by the Scottish Parliament, as well as the authority to deny or constrain Scotland’s right of self-determination, then it cannot also be a participant in the process by which the people of Scotland “in full freedom” determine “their internal and external political status”. This would clearly constitute unlawful “external interference” and a breach of internationally recognised principles.

The power and authority over Scotland which the British state asserts must be robustly challenged. When it is, it will surely be found to lack any standing in law as well as any democratic legitimacy.



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To kneel? Or to stand?

greer_harvie_greens.jpg

For all Partick Harvie’s fine words, the tremulous vacillation and pathetic submissiveness exhibited by Ross Greer reminds us that there is only one political party that is, by virtue of its binding constitution, unequivocally and unconditionally committed to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status – the Scottish National Party.

Whilst all support for the cause of independence is, of course, very welcome, those who are dedicated to this cause simply cannot afford to rely on politicians who so meekly accept the asserted superiority of the British state in what is supposed to be a political union in which both (all?) parties are equal.

The right of self-determination – as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations – is vested wholly in the people of Scotland, to be exercised entirely at their discretion. Scotland’s electorate has provided the Scottish Government with a mandate to hold a new referendum and, by necessary implication, the delegated authority to decide how and when that mandate will be exercised. This mandate has been affirmed by the Scottish Parliament. The only Parliament with democratic legitimacy in Scotland. The only Parliament which truly represents the democratic will of Scotland’s people.

And that is an end of it!

No organisation or entity has the legitimate political authority to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. No law or regulation can be valid which denies or unreasonably constrains a fundamental, inalienable democratic right.

The British state’s claim to ultimate authority can only be enforced if we, the people of Scotland, voluntarily submit to their imperious diktat in the manner suggested by Ross Greer.

A new independence referendum is ours to demand. Independence is ours to take.

As Ross Greer has so amply demonstrated, only the SNP can properly and effectively serve as the political arm of Scotland’s independence movement. Where others bow before the self-proclaimed superiority of the British political elite, Nicola Sturgeon – as Scotland’s First Minister and as Leader of the Scottish National Party – is bound by a solemn and binding duty to defend Scotland’s democracy.

At a time when Scotland’s democracy is under severe and imminent threat from a rampant British Nationalist regime in London, every true democrat in Scotland must examine their conscience as they ask themselves whether they should kneel alongside Ross Greer, or stand behind Nicola Sturgeon.



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Scotland’s voice

Once again, David Cameron’s first instinct is to deliver a contemptuous slap in the face to the people of Scotland.
After the referendum, it was talk of English votes for English laws (EVEL) and his decision to arbitrarily impose conditions on delivery of the infamous “vow” signed up to by the British parties in the panicky final days of the referendum.
The Smith Commission itself was a further slap in the face for Scotland. A rigged talking-shop charged with rationalising the withholding of powers from the Scottish Parliament while maintaining the pretence of honouring the “vow”.
The entire 2015 UK General Election campaign was one long slap in the face for Scotland as the British parties vied with one another in a contest to find who could best pander to the basest and most ill-informed prejudices of their target voters in England.
And now, Cameron responds to Scotland’s unequivocal affirmation of its distinct political identity with his his own contradictory affirmation of a “One Nation” dogma that disdainfully declares irrelevant and unworthy the democratic voice of the people of Scotland.
How should we react to this. With anger? Of course! But not with rage. Our anger is righteous. But it must also be controlled. It must be directed. It must energise a movement to defend the fundamental democratic rights of Scotland’s people against a British state which sees those rights as an inconvenience; an obstacle to the “One Nation” (Greater England) project; and a threat to the very structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.
We must put our trust the people we have elected. We must recognise that our SNP MPs will have the difficult task of working within a corrupt, archaic Westminster system which does little more than pay lip service to their right to be there. And do so while maintaining the principled pragmatism that helped them win an unchallengeable mandate from the people of Scotland.
We will not always agree with everything that our representatives do in our name. But we must allow that compromise is part of democracy and that it is sometimes necessary to grit your teeth and tolerate some discomfort for the sake of achieving a greater objective.
But while we support those who now speak for us in the British parliament, we must never lose sight of the fact that, ultimately, it is our voice, the voice of the people of Scotland, which takes precedence. Sovereignty is ours. We merely lend it to our elected representatives in order that they can use our power to serve our interests.
If the British parties in Scotland, and particularly British Labour, had remembered this essential truth they might have fared better. As it is, they lost sight of their role. They forgot their place. And they have been chastised for it.
We have replaced those who failed us with those in whom we have faith. I do not for one moment doubt that those 56 SNP MPs will prove themselves worthy of our trust – even as I recognise that they are human and subject to the same flaws and frailties as any of the rest of us.
As the people of Scotland continue to speak with the powerful collective democratic voice that is the proud legacy of the aspirational Yes movement, we should be wary of undermining our MPs with petty squabbles that will be spun by the British media as major divisions. Criticism should be considered and constructive. That seems no less than obviously sensible.
But continue to speak we must! There are important battles to be fought on many fronts to secure social justice and sustainable prosperity. Much of this campaigning will be, to a greater or lesser extent, in tune with what our elected representatives are doing on our behalf. It will lend strength to their efforts to steer the UK Government away from such follies as continued austerity and the squandering of resources on weapons of mass destruction.
Some of the campaigning will not be so helpful. So be it! We can live with a diversity of views. We are enriched by diversity. It is to be hoped only that such campaigning should not put unreasonable pressure on SNP MPs to deliver something they cannot.
There can be no turning of the other cheek. We must meet Cameron’s arrogant scorn with a response that is resolute but measured. The more he refuses to accept the reality of the new political landscape, the greater must be our effort to put that reality beyond the denial of everyone but the most blinkered bigot.
The starting point must be an affirmation of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland and of the right of self-determination that this implies. Let there be no mistake, these things are under imminent threat from the British establishment. We must raise our voice in determined defiance.
Part of this defiance is a movement called Referendum 2018. Its initial aim is to demand that all parties standing candidates in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections should include in there manifestos an affirmation of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and of Scotland’s right of self determination.
The longer-term aim of  Referendum 2018 is to be a focal point for the popular demand for a second referendum on the issue of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status which will inform and influence party policy on the matter.
I urge everyone who respects fundamental democratic principles and values Scotland’s distinct political identity to sign and share the petition –
You can also support the campaign on Facebook –
And Twitter
Use the hashtag #Referendum2018