The arrogance and hubris that ends the UK

arroganceandhubris
There’s a very important point which has been raised by Ruth Davidson’s return from maternity leave. It’s an issue she raised which was also raised by David Mundell, and one whose implications have – entirely predictably – not been explored by the Scottish media. Both the Scotland Secretary and the leader of Ruth Davidson for Ruth Davidson’s Ruth Davidson party have insisted that not only should the current British Prime Minister refuse to accede to a demand for a Section 30 order for a Scottish independence referendum, but so also should the next British Prime Minister. They go even further, and have stated baldly that this refusal should continue past the next Scottish elections in 2021, and indefinitely into the future.

This is nothing less than a fundamental and unilateral rewriting of the political understanding of Scotland’s constitutional place within the UK. It is, in effect, a constitutional coup and a direct assault upon Scottish democracy. Ruth Davidson and David Mundell have just told us that it doesn’t matter who Scotland votes for. It doesn’t matter if Scotland elects a parliament elected with a clear and unambiguous mandate for a Scottish referendum, the Conservative government in Westminster will make that decision, not the people of Scotland. Scotland’s votes will be subject to a veto from a government elected by the rest of the United Kingdom. What we’re now being told is that even if Scotland votes for pro-independence parties by a massive majority, it will be vetoed by English and Welsh Conservative votes, and by DUP votes.

Ruth and David’s statements have gone largely unchallenged by that Scottish media that likes to tell us that it speaks truth unto power. Although as we’ve discovered is that only holds when the power concerned is an SNP led Scotttish government, and the truth is a Labour or Tory press release. Yet what their statements represent is a theft of the democratic will of the people of Scotland. Until now, it has always been understood that Scotland is willingly and freely a part of the UK, that it remains so subject to the consent of the people of Scotland – with the crucial implication that the people of Scotland have the absolute right to withdraw that consent. That was the basis upon which the 2014 referendum was fought, it was a point which opponents of independence were eager to agree to.

Yet now we discover that the Conservatives have unilaterally decided that it is no longer the case. It is now no longer for the Scottish people to decide the form of government best suited to their needs. That decision is for the Conservative party to make, and the Conservative party will make that decision as and when it suits the interests of the Conservative party.

It wasn’t so long ago that Ruth Davidson was saying that the Westminster government shouldn’t block a Scottish referendum, even though she personally didn’t want a referendum. Referring to the possibility of an independence referendum because of the outcome of the Brexit vote, in an interview in July 2016 Ruth said that “constitutionally, the UK government shouldn’t block it.” It was only a short while before that that she had stated that the way to get a referendum was for the pro-independence parties to get a majority at the ballot box, and then secure a majority in the Scottish parliament. That’s democracy, said Ruth.

It now appears that Ruth has decided that her party’s veto is more important than democracy, and she’s not being held to account for that undemocratic volte-face by a Scottish media that’s far more interested in gushing interviews about how motherhood has changed her. The British nationalist media in Scotland is not challenging her, not questioning her change of mind, not exploring the constitutional implications for Scotland. It’s not just Ruth Davidson and David Mundell who are undermining Scottish democracy, they’re being helped along by a Scottish media which is increasingly unfit for purpose. Holding power to account doesn’t just mean finding a succession of SNPbad stories, guys and girls.

The fact that Ruth Davidson and David Mundell were both insisting within days of one another that there should be a blanket and indeterminate refusal to allow an independence referendum for the foreseeable future, by the next UK Prime Minister and well past the next Scottish elections, clearly shows that the line was agreed between the two of them. These are not off the cuff remarks in interviews, this is a planned and coordinated strategy. The new harder line is a marked departure from “now is not the time”, a line which although infuriatingly patronising, at least seemed to leave open the possibility that the time would come at some point. The line is now “the time is never”.

A Scotland which is being told by the ruling British party that it is subject to a veto on its desire to ask itself about its future within the UK is not a Scotland which is a free agent. Davidson and Mundell’s shift in stance means that we are certainly no longer in the union that we were told we were a part of in 2014, and that we’ve been told for generations that we’ve been a part of. The Conservative party has now unilaterally ripped up the Scottish Claim of Right. They have destroyed any pretence that Scotland is freely and of its own will a part of the UK. Because if that will can never be questioned or tested, then it does not exist.

By making such a fundamental change to the nature of the UK and to the understanding upon which Scotland is a part of it, the Scottish Conservatives have created a new significant change in circumstances which justifies a new independence referendum. Do we want to be a part of a state in which our democratic will can be so casually brushed aside in the interests of a party which has only minority support in Scotland? That was not what anyone voted for in 2014. That is not what anyone understood as the nature of this so-called precious union, this supposed family of nations.

This hardline new position is born of hubris and arrogance. Arrogance because the Conservatives believe that the only legal route to a referendum is via a Section 30 order, because they have a confidence, perhaps misplaced, that the courts would rule in their favour against a referendum without the order. Hubris because they seem to believe that they will always be able to rely upon votes from elsewhere in the UK to overrule the democratic will of the people of Scotland. It is profoundly undemocratic and it will be their undoing and the undoing of the United Kingdom. This time they have overreached. This will not end well for them.

I have always said that the United Kingdom will be ended, not by Scottish nationalists, but by those who claim to love the union. Ruth Davidson and David Mundell are proving me right.


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Fantasies from the Ruthiverse

ruthsplan
Get out the red white and blue bunting. Arrange the Great British patriotically themed street parties. Bake a cake in the shape of a tank. Huzzah and hurrah! Ruth is back to save the union and to tell us that we can’t have a referendum, not now, not before 2021, and not afterwards.

Ruth is angry that Nicola Sturgeon is calling for another independence referendum. In the Ruthiverse this is because the SNP is failing on policing, education, and health. It certainly has nothing to do with a British state which is failing on everything, up to and including basic competence in government, and which has abjectly failed to fulfil the promises and commitments which it made to the people of Scotland in 2014. Oh no.

Ruth wants us all to believe that we’d be far better off entrusting her with control of Scotland’s police, education and health systems, because the Conservatives are making such a fine job of dealing with them in England. If you define “a fine job” as meaning running them into the ground and provoking a crisis on a scale unlike anything we’ve seen in Scotland. Ruth wants to import all the same failed policies into Scotland. In all this she is assisted by her chummy relationship with the Scottish media pack, a media pack which not so many years ago she herself was a part of. For the Scottish media, holding Ruth to account means taking a cheeky photo of her as she poses with a barnyard animal. Anything to disguise the fact that her party is an ethical desert notable only for its opportunism, its ruthless pursuit of its self-interest, and its hypocrisy.

In a lovely cosy soft soap interview on the BBC, billed as Ruth telling us how motherhood had changed her, it was all fluffy bunnies and bonhomie. Ruth told us that she wants everyone to come together. Because that’s what the Conservatives are most noted for, bringing everyone together, reaching out across party divides, seeking consensus, and building bridges. And in the exact same way Ant McPartlin is most noted for his contribution to road safety.

It was in very marked contrast to any interview with just about any SNP politician you care to mention. There was no interruption, no insistent repetition of questions, no holding to account, and certainly no bitter hollow laughter at the sheer and utter gall of a Conservative politician preaching about the evils of division. There was no attempt to interrogate Ruth on her change of mind. It wasn’t so long ago that she acknowledged that it was for the people of Scotland to decide when they wanted a referendum. Now she thinks it’s for the British government. It was all terribly polite, terribly douce, and a terrible failure from the BBC. We have Hello magazine for that sort of thing.

However it’s Ruth’s remarks on Brexit that really unmask the intellectual vacuuity at the heart of the Davidson project. Ruth wants everyone, leavers, remainers, Norway plussers, and no-dealers, to coalesce around a common Brexit position. She doesn’t say what that position might be of course, because it doesn’t exist. She can’t even get Scottish Conservative MPs to support her, and they were elected as representatives of the Ruth Davidson’s Ruth Davidson for Greater Ruth Davidson Party. They were, let us not forget, supposed to vote in a bloc to defend Scotland’s interests within the UK. It was Ruth herself who assured us of that.

On Brexit, what she’s really saying for Scotland is that she wants Scotland to put up and shut up and to accept whatever it is that Westminster decides. She has nothing positive to say, no policy initiatives, no concrete suggestions. It’s fine that Scotland has no input on Brexit. It’s OK that we haven’t been consulted. It’s just dandy that the British government has used Brexit as an excuse to undermine the devolution settlement and to rip up the explicit promises it made not to change the powers of Holyrood without Holyrood’s express consent. Ruth is fine with all that because Ruth doesn’t want agreement. She wants submission. Her proposal for dealing with the divisions that she claims so exercise her is to demand abject surrender. Everyone needs to compromise except Ruth and the Tories.

Ruth asserted that she doesn’t want to be Prime Minister, and won’t be throwing her hat in the ring for Conservative leadership. That’s because a remain supporting Scottish lesbian has precisely zero chance of securing the support of the English nationalist reactionary Brexcrementalists who make up the majority of Conservative party membership. Ruth may be deluded about her own capabilities, a delusion in which the Scottish media fully collaborates, but even she recognises that she’s never going to lead the UK Conservatives and will never be prime minister. Instead, she’s focussing her efforts on a goal which is every bit as much of a fantasy. But then it can’t be a fantasy because the Scottish media keeps telling us it’s a serious prospect. And to be fair, it is true that it’s not a fantasy. It’s a bad joke that wouldn’t even grace a Christmas cracker. Ruth wants to be the next First Minister of Scotland.

Realistically, my dug has a better chance of becoming the next First Minister than Ruth does. She leads a party which has already reached its ceiling of support and which is set to lose votes hand over fist because of its mishandling of Brexit and its appalling management of public services in England. We get the English news on the telly in Scotland Ruth, your party made sure of that. We can all see what a poor job your colleagues are doing.

We see the ill effects of Conservative rule in Scotland too, the foodbanks, the increasing poverty, the growing gap between rich and poor. We see the demonisation of the poor and the normalisation of deprivation. We see how the UK has become an international laughing stock, insecure, unstable, and marching blindly into an unknown future where the vultures of the Brexit extremists threaten to sell off what’s left of our public assets and privatise what’s left of our public services. That’s the future you promise us Ruth, and we’re not convinced by your cheery grins and your homely anecdotes about how motherhood has changed you.

Even if, by some miracle, the Conservatives do manage to become the largest party in the 2021 elections, who is going to go into coalition with them? There are not enough Lib Dems, and not even Labour is that stupid. But back in the real world, the Conservatives in Scotland are facing huge losses in the elections to come, and no amount of fantasies from the Scottish media ruthiverse are going to save them.

Ruth is yesterday’s news. Very soon even the Scottish media will have to add her to the long list of saviours of the union who couldn’t even save themselves.


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The way out

thecage
There’s been some commentary in the weekend papers to the effect that Scotland isn’t going to get a referendum before 2021, and possibly not after that, because the British government is going to remain implacably opposed to a Section 30 order. They suggest that what Nicola Sturgeon has done with her announcement this week is an attempt to let down the party faithful, because the only way in which she will go for a referendum is with a Section 30 order. Since there is no current sign that the UK government is going to allow one, then we’re never going to have a referendum, or at least we’re not going to have one any time soon.

David Mundell in an interview this weekend doubled down on the refusal from Theresa May, and suggested that no Conservative government would ever grant a Section 30 order under any circumstances at all. Clearly, David is talking way above his pay grade here. Although to be honest David would be talking way above his pay grade if he suggested chocolate hobnobs instead of bourbon creams as the biscuits to go with the tea and coffee at cabinet meetings. Such a profoundly undemocratic stance might play well with the Tory party faithful in Scotland, and the green ink SiU ranters who infest the comments sections of Scottish newspapers, but in the real world it’s an admission that Scotland isn’t in any sort of union at all and is merely a possession of the British state. It would not survive an election in which Scotland returned a strong majority of pro-independence representatives with a direct mandate to negotiate independence.

In his article for the Herald this Sunday, Ian McWhirter dismissed any possiblity that there might be any attempt at UDI, a referendum without a Section 30 order, or a de-facto referendum by turning Scottish elections into a plebiscite on independence in the event of a persistent refusal from Westminster to engage with a Section 30 order. However that would seem to concede that Scotland cannot have a say on independence unless Westminster is disposed to allow it, and if Westminster is never disposed to allow it then Scotland is effectively trapped within a dysfunctional UK forever, no matter what it wants. Ian doesn’t offer any way out of that trap. Certainly diehard opponents of independence want us just to have to put up with it indefinitely. However that is not a situation that Nicola Sturgeon, or any SNP leader, is going to tolerate.

Certainly a Section 30 order is, as Nicola Sturgeon herself called it, the gold standard. It means a referendum that is recognised by Westminster, in which the anti-independence parties participate fully, and whose result would be accepted by both parties. That means a result in favour of independence would be recognised by the UK, and equally importantly would be recognised by the international community. However there is also the reality that the more that support for independence increases in the opinion polls, the less likely it is a British PM is going to be disposed to grant a Section 30 order. No Prime Minister wants to go down in history as the British Prime Minister who broke up the UK.

Suppose there’s never going to be a Section 30 order, how do we get out of the trap that opponents of independence tell us that we are in? Ian is correct that there will be no UDI. There are those on social media who insist that the Scottish Government has the right to rip up the Treaty of Union and walk away, making a declaration of independence without any further ado. That’s not going to happen. The reason it’s not going to happen is because there is currently no clear democratic mandate for it to happen. The current Scottish Government was not elected on a mandate to unilaterally declare independence, it was elected on a mandate to hold a referendum should there be a material change in Scotland’s circumstances within the UK. We’ve not had that vote yet. No third country would recognise Scottish independence under those circumstances, and in independence, it’s international recognition that really counts. But worse than that, UDI without a clear democratic mandate would risk the British government taking action to impose its rule on Scotland by force. That is in no one’s interests.

We need a clear and unequivocal democratic mandate which says that a majority of the people of Scotland want independence. There can be no declaration of independence or recognition of Scottish independence until that happens. So ignore the UDI-ists on social media. They are angry and frustrated, with good reason, but they’re not proposing a realistic path to independence.

The next possibility is a referendum without a Section 30 order. Those who say that such a referendum would be illegal are making a political claim, not a legal statement of fact. No one has ever tested the legality of such a referendum in the courts so no one knows whether it’s illegal or not. However the fact that the Scottish government doesn’t seem to have any plans to introduce a court case to test the legality suggests that they have no plans to go down that route. The reason is not so much to do with legality, and more to do with the practical reality that a referendum without a Section 30 order would most likely be boycotted by the anti-independence parties. If opponents of independence don’t participate, it becomes very difficult to ensure that the referendum produces a meaningful result.

If Scotland was a country which had a media which was as evenly balanced on the subject of independence as the population at large, then a referendum without a Section 30 order might be a worthwhile route. We might then have a chance of getting a result that would clearly show that independence would have won even if opponents had participated. We’d have a good chance of a very high turnout. However in order to put the result beyond any doubt, we’d need a result which would show that a majority of the entire electorate wanted independence, and not just a majority of those who turned out to vote as in a normal ballot. With anti-independence parties boycotting the vote, they’re going to claim that everyone who didn’t vote voted no. No normal ballot ever gets 100% turnout, so we’d be up against an artificially high threshold.

Even so, this strategy might still be worthwhile if we had a representative media, but that’s not the Scotland that we live in. We live in a Scotland which doesn’t have a flourishing domestic broadcast media. Worse than that we live in a country where every single print newspaper bar one is opposed to independence. Should there be a referendum without a Section 30 order, even one which had been proven to be legal by the courts, it would be boycotted by the anti-independence parties. All that we’ll hear in the press and on the BBC will be the constant insistence that there’s no point in voting even if you do support independence, because the referendum result won’t be recognised. The vote will be dimissed even before it’s happened.

That leaves turning the next Holyrood elections into a de-facto plebiscite on independence. That shouldn’t be left to the SNP alone. It should only take place with a pan-independence alliance, formal or informal, ensuring that all parts of the independence movement are recognised. Not just the SNP, but also the Greens, and the minor parties as well as the non-party grassroots movement. That would require cooperation and collaboration to ensure that the pro-independence vote is not divided, and a mutual agreement that pro-independence parties and organisations were standing on the sole mandate of ensuring that Scotland has a right to determine its own future, even without the consent of Westminster.

Ian McWhirter ruled this out, as he seemed to believe that it would turn into UDI. However that’s not actually necessarily the case. The real value in turning the next Holyrood elections into a de-facto plebiscite on independence is to create political pressure on the British government that it cannot ignore. A pro-independence result in such a ballot would provide a clear and unequivocal mandate which would allow the Scottish government to ask third countries to recognise Scottish independence and to put pressure on the British government to negotiate. It internationalises the dispute, precisely at a time when the UK will – if Brexit occurs – be seeking to make trade deals and to agree a future relationship between itself and the EU. There will then be immense international pressure on the British government to resolve the situation. This is, after all, not Spain. Successive British governments have explicitly recognised that the people of Scotland have the right to decide for themselves what the political future of Scotland should be.

More importantly, a win for pro-independence parties under such circumstances produces a domestic democratic result which has political effect, it cannot be ignored like an opinion poll can be ignored. It would force the British government to the negotiating table, and would force them to consent to a Section 30 order – because the alternative would be a Scotland which already possesses a democratic mandate for independence. Scotland would then go into an independence referendum having already voted for independence and facing British nationalist opponents who are trying to defend a UK which had to be forced, kicking and screaming, to recognise the democratic will of the people of Scotland. We’d be in an incredibly strong position. We be campaigning against a union that had killed itself and had revealed its true colours as a unitary state which regards Scotland as a province.

What it is important to remember is that we’re not there yet with any of the scenarios detailed above. We have not got to the end of the Section 30 road. This current Prime Minister who is notable only for her instransigence is being predictably intransigent, but Theresa May won’t be around much longer. Given the disposition of the Conservative party membership, she will be replaced by someone who is even more hardline on Brexit than she is. That will only boost support for independence in Scotland.

There will almost certainly be European elections, there may well be a snap General Election and the independence parties are poised to do well. If there is a General Election, the SNP will certainly increase its representation. It could even well end up holding the balance of power.

In those votes it’s hugely important that supporters of independence turn out en masse to support independence parties. It’s only by increasing the number of political bums on parliamentary seats that we can demonstrate that there is an appetite in Scotland for independence and a demand for a referendum. In the short term, the priority is to put pressure on the British state for a referendum. We can do that by continuing to campaign, to persuade, to convert people to the cause of independence, and also by ensuring that pro-independence parties have increased representation in all of the ballots that take place between now and 2021. We can do that by continuing to point out that a British state which refuses to allow Scotland to decide on its own future is a British state which doesn’t recognise Scotland as a partner in a union, but which regards it as a possession.

The crucial point however, is that one way or another, Scotland will have a vote on its future, and we do not require the permission of the British government to do so. There is no trap, only a failure of imagination. There is a way out. The campaign has already begun.


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They ain’t seen nothing yet

snookered
On the weekend of the SNP party conference, The Times newspaper published a poll commissioned from YouGov which shows that even before an official campaign for independence has begun, while we’ve been subjected to a constant barrage of SNPbaddery in the overwhelmingly anti independence media, support for independence continues to rise. When you remove the 10% who don’t know, 49% of the Scottish electorate want independence, 51% are opposed. There’s a 3% margin of error in opinion polls and this result is within that margin, so support for independence is now statistically tied with opposition.

I don’t know if the poll questioned 16 and 17 year olds, who aren’t able to vote in UK elections or European elections but who will be able to vote in a Scottish referendum. If it didn’t then the true support for independence could be even higher.

The poll also confirmed what Scotland in Union’s shooting itself in the foot poll earlier this week showed, that the SNP are set to dominate Scottish elections and will make substantial advances on their current position. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that the SNP could hoover up four of Scotland’s six seats in the European Parliament. The new poll also shows that pro-independence parties are set to increase their showing in the next Scottish Parliamentary elections, and we will end up with an even larger pro-independence majority in Holyrood. Other polls have shown that if there is a snap UK General Election, the SNP is likely to make huge gains at the expense of Labour and the Conservatives. They could pick up as many as 16 seats in Westminster. So much for peak SNP, so much for people being fed up with talk of independence.

Some might say that even though British politics are in a state of near collapse, that we have a British government notable only for its venal ineptidude which is consuming itself with its short term party interests while the future of the UK more uncertain that it has ever been in the post WW2 era, that it’s shocking that support for independence isn’t even higher.

At this juncture I’d comment on the SNP party conference which is taking place in Edinburgh this weekend, but the broadcast media has decided that the conference of the largest political party by far in Scotland isn’t worthy of live coverage. It isn’t being shown live anywhere on that broadcast media that’s so keen to give us wall to wall coverage of the Tory or Labour conferences, constant Brexit vox-pops from leave voting areas, and Nigel bloody Farage. Yet again, the new BBC Scotland channel was put to the political test, and yet again it has failed. On Saturday afternoon it was showing the snooker instead, a snooker contest which is also being broadcast on BBC2. If the BBC thinks snooker is more important than the political future of Scotland, the only thing that’s being snookered is the BBC’s reputation.

One of the biggest reasons why support for independence isn’t higher is because the media in this country sees its role as speaking truth unto power. It’s just that the truth they want to speak is what the British establishment says it is, and the power that they want to speak it unto is the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. They don’t want to ask the British government why it thinks it has the right to deny Scotland a say on its own future even though the Scottish government has a mandate for a referendum. They don’t ask the British government why it can point to its own interpretation of opinion polling to claim that there shouldn’t be a Scottish independence referendum while at the same time ignoring all the opinion polling that shows that most people in the UK want a referendum on the EU. Nowhere will Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media hold the British government to account for its double standards.

If you want an explanation as to why support for independence isn’t higher, there you have it right there. Even though half the population of Scotland support independence, we still struggle to get our message across via a media that’s hell bent on silencing us when it’s not trying to defame us as anti-English racists or searching desperately for another SNPbad story.

It’s a media which is determined to depict independence as a purely party political issue, and believes that if it can scream about some perceived shortcoming in an issue which is within the remit of a devolved administration headed by the SNP, then that throws the entire question of independence into doubt. It ignores what ought to be an obvious and self-evident truth, that an independent Scotland will be a democracy, and other political parties will be available. It ignores the fact that even though the SNP is by far the biggest and most influential political party pressing for independence, the grassroots movement comprises people of all parties and of none.

It is then a testament to both the strength of pro-independence arguments and the organisation and commitment of the Scottish independence grassroots movement that we are succeeding in cutting through the constant media barrage. We’re not only maintaining our position, we are making inroads, and we are doing so despite the fact that there is no date for another independence referendum, despite the fact that the media is ranged against us, despite the fact that most people don’t want to engage with political issues until they have a pressing reason to.

Once there is a certain date for a referendum, many more people who are supportive of yes will start to campaign. Many more people who are unsure about the issues will start to investigate them. Those groups which already exist will see a boost in their active membership and will engage in much more activity. Back during the last referendum campaign, the independence movement had to construct itself from the ground up, this time we have a head start. This time we have thousands of activists who are experienced and knowledgeable.

No wonder the British government and the Conservatives are so desperate to prevent a referendum happening. No wonder BBC management is so concerned to ensure that its viewers in Scotland won’t see anything. It’s because opponents of independence have nothing to compare to the grassroots independence movement, and they ain’t seen nothing yet.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast – 26 April 2019

In this week’s edition of the dugcast (because we’re fed up with ducks now), The National’s editor Callum Baird and I talk about Nicola’s big announcement, the failure of BBC Scotland when it faced its first big Scottish political moment, the launch of the SIC’s new Voices for Scotland initiative, and The National’s subscription drive, its commitment to the indy movement, and how you can get a stuffed toy Wee Ginger Dug of your own.

 


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Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.

Things which are predictable

prison
Well no one saw that coming, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. David Lidington,Theresa May’s bag-man, came to Scotland today because the UK government felt that a spot of patronising was in order following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement yesterday. David wanted to let us know that the British government is not going to grant a request for a Section 30 order, adding for good measure that the 2014 referendum had settled the matter for a generation. So that’s you telt, Scotland. Tories that Scotland didn’t vote for know better what Scotland wants than you do.

I’ve said this before, but it’s an important point which the British media in Scotland and in the rest of the UK is hellbent on ignoring, a Scotland which has to ask permission in order to ask itself a question about its future within the UK is not a part of any kind of union. If it is true that Scotland cannot ask itself what sort of nation it wants to be without the permission of a Conservative Prime Minister that Scotland didn’t vote for, and that Prime Minister refuses despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament has a mandate to put the question to the people, then there is no union, because there is no consent.

The fact is that the people of Scotland voted for a Scottish government which promised a referendum on Scotland’s place within the UK should there be a material chance in circumstances. That decision was ratified by the Scottish Parliament which voted for a referendum. The SNP then won the General Election in Scotland in 2017 by any definition of the term. The fact that Ruth Davidson’s Ruth Davidson’s Party Vote Ruth Davidson increased its seats is irrelevant. It still lost. So there have been not one but three democratic ratifications of the will of the people of Scotland to have a say about their future.

The change in circumstances has occurred. Scotland is being taken out of the EU against its will, and moreover that’s happening without Scotland being given any input into the kind of Brexit that the British government plans to deliver. Even worse, the British government has used Brexit as an excuse to unilaterally undermine the devolution settlement. This is not the UK that Scotland voted to remain a part of in 2014. Now that British government is insisting that it will refuse to allow the people of Scotland to have a democratic say about this markedly different set of circumstances in which Scotland finds itself.

You cannot on the one hand assert that Scotland is a partner in a union, a member of a family of nations, while on the other hand insisting that the largest part of that supposed union has, solely by virtue of its size, an effective veto on whether the other parts can ask themselves about their role in that supposed union. Because that’s precisely where we are now. You don’t get to preach the virtues of union while you act like Scotland is a possession that you alone have proprietary rights over. If the British government is insistent that it will not consent to Scotland having a say on Scotland’s future, then the British government is conceding that the UK is not a union at all. It’s a prison. It’s a hostage situation.

We’re also hearing the constant mantra that a referendum without a Section 30 order would be a wildcat referendum, or illegal, or somehow illegitimate. That is not true. The only truth is that no one knows whether an independence referendum without a Section 30 order would be legal or not, because the matter has never been tested in the courts. Anyone who insists that it would be illegal is voicing a political opinion, not making a legal statement of fact. But if that is the opinion that someone is voicing, then they need to be asked just what sort of “union” they believe Scotland to be a part of, because it’s clearly not anything that permits Scotland to ask questions of itself without the permission of a Prime Minister Scotland didn’t necessarily vote for.

In any event, there is absolutely no legal prohibition on pro-independence parties turning any future Scottish election into a de-facto referendum on independence. One way or another, Scotland will have a say on its own future, and it does not require the permission of Theresa May or a Tory – or Labour – government to do so.

Right now we have a British government whose sole strategy is the fervent hope that it can persuade enough MPs to change their minds in order to get Theresa May’s Brexit deal through Parliament. It’s a hope that was already forlorn months ago, and everyone who is not Theresa May recognises that it’s now hopelessly forgone, forfeited, forfallen down a stank and never to be retrieved. The only people who are allowed to change their minds in the UK are MPs, and not even when there’s any meaningful change in circumstances. Hypocrisy, thy name is Tory.

Of course the real reason that the Conservatives don’t want another Scottish referendum is because they are terrified. They know that there is no guaranteed majority in Scotland for remaining a part of the UK. They know that with every passing year, the demographics turn even worse for them. Let’s get real here, if the Conservatives were convinced that a Scottish independence referendum would result in a substantial majority against independence, they’d be the first to be demanding one happened as soon as possible. Then Ruth could pose on a tank as the saviour of Britain. The real reason they don’t want a referendum to happen is beause they’re afraid of the result. Which makes them both hypocrites and cowards.

Back in the real world, it makes absolutely no difference what Theresa May says. Her premiership hangs by the most slender of threads. She is not going to be the Prime Minister very much longer. She has zero authority and even less credibility, even amongst her own party members. So really, who cares if a prime minister who is notable solely for her intransigence has decided to be intransigent. She won’t be around for much longer, and likely neither will this Conservative government – nor will Theresa May’s so-called precious union. It has been destroyed by British nationalists themselves. The end of the UK is as predictable as Theresa May’s refusal to cooperate with a Section 30 order.


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Support The National’s 10,000 steps campaign – and get your own Wee Ginger Dug!

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The National launches ‘10,000 Steps’ Independence Campaign

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared that indyref2 should take place before 2021 – and Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper is going into campaign mode. We need to make sure we’re in as strong a position as possible to influence the national debate – and here’s how you can help.

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We all know that the best way to convert voters to independence is to focus on issues which matter the most to them. As a national newspaper, we’re often focused on the big issues – but we’d love to employ a journalist who can work with Yes groups to create articles with a local focus. This could be “10 reasons to vote for independence if you live in Aberdeenshire” (for example).

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