It’s being reported by the BBC that within the next few weeks Theresa May expects the Scottish Government to ask for a Section 30 order in order to hold another Scottish independence referendum, and that the Prime Minster has already decided to refuse.
If we have to beg London for permission just to ask ourselves the question, then that is the greatest argument of all in favour of Scottish independence. Westminster tells us that Scotland is a valued partner in a family of nations, but not so valued that it’s going to allow Scotland to decide its own future. If you keep your loved ones chained. If you refuse to allow them the autonomy to decide for themselves where they want to live. If you are determined that you and you alone have the sole right to choose where and how to live, then you don’t have a loved one. You have a hostage. You have a prisoner.
When you have a UK government minister who justifies the refusal by saying that “Once you’ve hit the iceberg, you’re all on it together,” you move from a rhetorical hostage situation to a literal one. Especially since the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to steer away from the iceberg in the first place. Especially since the great majority of the Scottish people’s elected representatives have spent the past two and a half years warning about the iceberg and offering strategies to either avoid it or minimise its impact, warnings and strategies which the British government has wilfully ignored.
With Theresa May’s refusal we can add the Scottish Claim of Right to the long list of Westminster lies. The Westminster Parliament voted in favour of the Scottish Claim of Right which asserts that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. Yet Theresa May appears to believe that she has a veto on that. There was no rider in the Claim of Right. There was no clause saying that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs as long as that was OK with Theresa May. Indeed, the Scottish Claim of Right was formulated in the first place due to the implaccable opposition of an intransigent Conservative Prime Minister with little support in Scotland to the notion that Scotland might seek a form of self-government. Here we are, 30 years on, the tragedy of Thatcher repeating as the farce of May.
There can be few more effective starting points for a second Scottish independence referendum campaign than a Conservative British Prime Minister telling Scotland to shut up, be quiet, and get back in its box. This is going to be the cornerstone of the next independence campaign. Scotland is trapped within a state which refuses to allow Scotland a voice at the top level of government, which is taking Scotland out of the EU without permitting Scotland to influence the form or shape of Brexit, and which refuses to allow the people of Scotland to decide their own future. The message of the next independence campaign is going to be that given these circumstances, Scotland is not in a union at all. Scotland is the subordinate province of a unitary British state.
Others within the British government say that another independence referendum must be resisted because it would be a “distraction”. So there you go Scotland. Your future is a distraction from the important business of ensuring that blinkered British nationalists get what they want. Dunno about you, but I’d quite like to have a government for which the future of my country was its prime concern, and not merely an irritation to be sidelined and avoided.
All of this would be horrendous at the best of times. However as the UK is heading towards the uncertain and stormy waters of Brexit, led by a clueless Conservative party which has been taken over by right wing free market extremists, it becomes a moral imperative for the people of Scotland to get a vote on our future. The United Kingdom in which we currently reside is not the United Kingdom which we were promised in 2014. And it’s only set to get worse.
Theresa May’s time as Conservative leader will end sooner or later, probably sooner, and her Ukippified party will elect a new leader who is a hardline Brexiter who will take an axe to what remains of our public services. Then Scotland will face a hard right Conservative government which we didn’t vote for, which is pursuing the hard Brexit policies which Scotland has rejected, and which is channelling Margaret Thatcher in its refusal to listen to the demands of Scotland’s elected representatives and the mandate that they possess from the Scottish people. That’s really not going to be a good look if you’re an anti-independence campaigner and you’re trying to persuade voters in Scotland that we’re a valued partner in a union of nations.
A refusal to grant a Section 30 order from this most intransigent of Prime Ministers was always to be expected. However in order to deal with the refusal, the Scottish Government must first say that it wants a referendum. Only then can we progress beyond the current paralysis and move into the next phase of the campaign, one which will be centered on the democratic deficit that Scotland faces within the UK and preparations for either a consultative referendum without Westminster’s consent, or for transforming the next set of elections in Scotland into a plebiscite on independence.
Meanwhile the SNP has announced that while it has decided to take on board most of the recommendations of the Growth Report, it has decided to move forward more quickly with the adoption of a new Scottish currency after independence. Retaining the use of the pound sterling will now be a temporary measure, similar to how sterling was retained by the Irish Free State until the introduction of the punt. This is a very good move, not least because the arse is likely to fall out of sterling after Brexit and then following Scottish independence.
It’s also a good move because it’s only with a currency of our own that the Scottish government will have the economic freedom of movement to break free of the UK’s ruinous financial policies. It’s a good move because it means we no longer have to pay heed to the British nationalist trolls who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The greatest argument of all for Scottish independence is that as part of the UK Scotland isn’t allowed to decide what’s best for Scotland. We’ve got a struggle ahead of us. The British state is not going to give up its control over Scotland easily. But the tide of history is carrying us forward. All they have are threats and scare stories. We have the vision.
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