So we know now that the Queen is going to be safe after Brexit. Isn’t that nice. It’s just a shame that the rest of us are going to be royally screwed. Contingency plans are in place to evacuate the Royals in the event of civil unrest after Brexit. I thought she already spent most of her time in Norfolk, which let’s face it is about as far from civilisation as it’s possible to get. Anyway, the biggest threat to her safety is the refusal of her family to wear seatbelts or be bound by the Highway Code.
There are also plans in place to cope with shortages of food and medicine and the government is readying the army to go onto the streets to keep the populace in place. It’s all a very far cry from the sunlit uplands and Brexit representing great and exciting new opportunities. When they told us that Brexit was going to open up a whole new exciting vista of opportunities we didn’t think that they meant opportunities for looting and rioting.
This is the quality of intellect that is possessed by the British establishment. “We are worried that there may be civil unrest because of Brexit. We need to make plans to evacuate the queen so she isnt attacked.” “Think we should reconsider?” “No, Brexit is the will of the people.”
This is the magnitude of the crisis that the British state has got itself into, yet still we have obstensibly serious commentators insisting that it’s a “fact” that there can be no independence referendum until after the charges against Alex Salmond have been resolved. We are told that we must wait, silently and obediently, until the legal case has been settled one way or the other.
Actually, it’s not a fact at all. For three very good reasons.
Firstly there is the reason that the crisis of Brexit is so huge that it is a moral and political imperative that the people of Scotland are able to express their views on it. What British nationalists are arguing is that the people of Scotland cannot have their say on the most important political crisis to afflict the British state since WW2, because of some unrelated legal questions affecting a prominent individual. That is clearly a nonsense.
People in Scotland know that their jobs, their futures, their opportunities, and their livelihoods are not at risk because of any allegations of sexual impropriety made against a former First Minister. Their futures and livelihoods are at risk because of Brexit and the failures of the British state. Brexit is a massive and all-consuming crisis. It is an existential crisis of the British state and the British political establishment. The response to it cannot and must not be determined by the short term difficulties of what is essentially a personal matter. That would be a betrayal of democracy and the prioritising of the needs of an individual or a political party above the needs of the country. That’s the kind of mindset which led to the mess of Brexit in the first place.
Secondly there is the reason that the question of independence is far bigger than the personal legal issues faced by any one individual, legal issues which have nothing to do with the question of independence. The independence vote in 2014 was not “Alex Salmond’s referendum”, despite the best, and repeated, efforts of the British media to insist that it was. Independence is about the future of Scotland, not about the future of one man. No one denies that Alex Salmond was, and is, a hugely important and influential person in the independence movement, but this movement is not his creature. To delay a future independence vote because of the current legal issues being faced by Alex is to concede that that independence vote is after all “Alex Salmond’s referendum”. That personalises the case for independence. It makes it about one man, when it is really about over 5 million of us.
And thirdly there’s the reason that the wheels of justice turn very slowly. I have no idea what might happen with Alex Salmond’s legal case. It may be months before the Procurator Fiscal’s office decides that the case should be heard, if indeed that is what the Procurator Fiscal decides. It may be months after that before a date is set for the court case. And if there is a court hearing that hearing could potentially take many weeks, if not months or years. We do not suspend democracy because of criminal allegations made against an individual, allegations which, let us not forget, are not of a political nature. We are being told that democracy in Scotland must be suspended for an indeterminate period, so that legal matters which have no impact upon the lives of the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland can be decided.
There’s another, related, argument which the time it takes for legal matters to be settled throws up against the lazy assumption that no revisiting of the independence vote is possible for now. Complex criminal court cases are often delayed or postponed. However until the matter is resolved, the case remains subjudice. This means that there is in fact a political argument for pressing ahead with a vote on independence before any possible trial takes place, because as long as the matter is subjudice the British nationalist parties will not be legally permitted to reference it in their campaign. They cannot bring the subject up, and no one can speak about the issues it raises.
If the court case against Alex Salmond creates a political reason for influencing the timing of a referendum on independence, it doesn’t create a reason for delaying. It does the opposite. It creates a reason for pressing ahead with an early referendum.
Whatever happens with Alex Salmond’s legal difficulties, the arguments for independence remain unchanged. The truth is that the very same people who are now saying it’s a “fact” that there can be no referendum until this legal issue is settled are the very same people who don’t want an independence vote to be held at all. After this legal matter is concluded the opponents of independence will just find some other spurious reason why Scotland can’t possibly be permitted to have its say on Brexit and the place and role of Scotland within the UK. We must not listen to them.
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