We have work to do

As Nicola Sturgeon prepared to make her statement on independence to the Scottish Parliament, a spokesscoffer for Downing Street put out a statement saying that the Prime Minister has “bigger things to deal with” than the future of Scotland. Well, if we’re that unimportant she won’t mind if we leave then, will she. I don’t know about you, but Scotland’s future is my top priority as it should be for everyone who lives in Scotland, and the fact that it’s so casually dismissed by a British Prime Minister is all by itself a pressing reason for independence.

The statement, so long awaited, so keenly anticipated, so important to the constitutional future of Scotland, so crucial for the shape of Scottish politics for the next couple of years, was ignored by the BBC Parliament channel and wasn’t broadcast live on BBC Scotland. BBC Scotland only broke into the coverage of the snooker it was sharing with BBC2 after the speech was over. This was the first big political test for the new Scottish BBC channel, and it failed. The statement wasn’t broadcast live on BBC Scotland, BBC1, BBC2, BBC Parliament, or BBC News. Clearly, the BBC agrees with Theresa May that there are bigger things to deal with. Bigger things like cheesy quiz shows, the snooker, and property porn. This constant marginalisation of Scotland is precisely why the need for independence has never been more important. The only place to see the speech live was online on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

The First Minister started her statement by noting that the existing devolution settlement is inadequate. This has never been more evident. Devolution is not able to protect Scotland from the malignities of Conservative austerity. It cannot protect Scotland from the injustices of Conservative immigration policies. Most importantly of all it can’t defend us from Brexit or even allow Scotland to have any say at all in determining the shape that Brexit takes. The existing devolution settlement can be brushed aside by Westminster when it suits the British government of the day, and that’s exactly what Theresa May has done. This British government has unilaterally changed the foundations of the devolution settlement, and has done so not merely without consulting the Scottish Parliament but against its directly expressed will.

Nicola Sturgeon correctly pointed out Brexit has exposed a deep democratic deficit at the very heart of how Scotland is governed. She pointed out that devolution in its current form is inadequate and the status quo is broken. That status quo has been broken by the British government and the British state. The chaos and confusion of Brexit was not inevitable. It’s been brought about by what she described as the “toxic combination of dishonesty and incompetence” which is now what passes for policy and strategy at the highest levels of British government.

Even now, as the UK has been given a brief respite from the deadline of ejection from the EU with no deal, Conservative politicians are far more interested in jockeying for position within their own party and seizing the leadership from Theresa May. Short term party interests rule. The wider interests of the UK as a whole are a secondary consideration. The interests of Scotland don’t even register.

Back in 2014, opponents of independence promised us a glorious future of stronger, better devolution within a safe and secure UK that was firmly a part of the EU. That’s now been destroyed, by British nationalists themselves. Nicola pointed out that not only is the future of the UK more uncertain and less secure than it has been since WW2, but devolution is also at serious risk of going backwards. In Brexit Britain as Conservative governments scramble to do trade deals they will seek further centralisation and the hollowing out of the powers of the devolved parliaments.

She then went on to say that the Scottish Government will introduce primary legislation within the year to allow a second independence referendum, and pointed out that a section 30 order was not needed for that legislation. There’s no point asking for a Section 30 order from a Prime Minister who might not be in office at the end of the month, leading a government that might fall at any moment.

However the First Minister acknowledged that the agreement of the UK government would be needed in order to remove any doubt about the legality of the referendum. Once the Bill is passed it would only require the transfer of power at a later date via a Section 30 Order to proceed to a vote on independence. She wasn’t so clear in her statement on how to get that agreement. Nicola believes that pressure from Scotland will ensure that the British government realises that it has no option but to allow Scotland to have its say. That British government won’t be one headed by Theresa May, so Theresa May’s refusal to engage with Scotland is as irrelevant as she is.

The crucial point is the determination that Scotland must have a referendum on its future within the lifetime of this Scottish Parliament. It is Scotland’s only escape route from the chaos and insanity of Brexit. And if it doesn’t then independence becomes the only question facing Scotland in the next Scottish Parliamentary elections. Those will then be elections fought against opponents who have proven themselves to be British centralists and not supporters of any sort of UK union at all, they will have proven themselves to be opponents of Scotland having a say in its own future. That’s not a good look if you’re trying to persuade Scotland that it will be a respected partner in a family of nations. If there is no agreement on a Section 30 order, the next Scottish elections become an effective plebiscite on independence. An effective plebiscite in a nation that has been told that it’s merely a region of a diminished and chaotic Britain.

An important announcement was the setting up of a Citizens Assembly so that there can be wide consultation and discussion about the kind of country that we want to be. With Westminster’s chaos and crisis this is exactly what we need, a reborn and reinvigorated Scottish Constitutional Convention searching for collaboration, consensus, and . Scotland is seeking a calm and measured assessment of its future, and seeks to present detailed and well thought out plans on how to get there. This is exactly the opposite of Brexit, an ill-defined and nebulous proposition which has been hijacked by the populist right for its own ends.

Nicola concluded, “What I hope we might all agree on after these past three years is that serious change is needed. To those who believe independence is not the right change, I say bring forward your own proposals.” And to be fair, Murdo Fraser has indeed brought forward his own proposals. He wants a Tory version of the federalism fairy. Unfortunately no one listens to Murdo, not least his own party.

The acting leader of the Tories, Jackson Carlot, predictably replied that a referendum would be divisive. If that’s all he’s got to say then he’s as well saying nothing at all. Scotland is not disposed to take lectures in divisiveness from the party that has given us Brexit. Brexit is divisive. Ending freedom of movement is divisive. Another EU referendum is divisive. Another UK general election is divisive. European elections are divisive.

So we’re on the way. The conditions for a ensuring that there is successful vote on Scottish independence have never been more favourable. We have something to work towards. But we have a great deal to do. There is pressure to build. Coalitions to form. Consensus to seek. Alliances to make. Persuasion to produce. Campaigning to plan. A future to create. We have work to do. We’re going to be busy.

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28 comments on “We have work to do

  1. crabbitgits says:

    Ya Dancer! Bring it on!! Great assessment of today’s statement Paul, thanks.

  2. Anne Martin says:

    Brilliant statement as ever from Nicola, what a brilliant politician that wee woman is!

    I thought that saying “What I hope we might all agree on after these past three years is that serious change is needed. To those who believe independence is not the right change, I say bring forward your own proposals” was inspired because the Tories in particular haven’t got an original thought between them.

    • CATHY says:

      agree! and all they could do was bang on about the country not wanting an independence referendum!!

  3. Seoc Colla says:

    Has England confessed to just how much of the UK has been given as collateral against its unstated borrowings? Is there anything left, apart from nuclear submarine wreckage and general dereliction?

  4. Maria says:

    “She wasn’t so clear in her statement on how to get that agreement”

    According to the Charter of the United Nations on Decolonisation,

    Article 3 states:

    “Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence”

    In my view, the excuse “Now is not the time” goes in direct violation of article 3 of the UN charter.

    Article 5 states:

    “Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom”

    In my opinion, refusing a section 30 order and the transfer of power to Holyrood to celebrate that referendum and implementing the result is in direct violation of article 5 of the charter of the united nations.

    The UK is a signatory of the United Nations Charter. I think refusing that Section 30 order or the transfer of powers to Holyrood will go in direct violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

    On the other hand, Scotland is one of the only 2 signatories of the Treaty of Union, an international treaty that can be unilaterally revoked. There is nothing that the Kingdom of England can do to stop Scotland dissolving that treaty. Scotland may like to have a section 30 order but it does not need one in the same way Cameron did not need one from the EU to hold EU ref. Should the current FM of England or the English cabinet deny a Section 30 order, what the Scottish gov and parliament should do is threatening with pass legislation in Holyrood for the immediate unilateral dissolution of the treaty of union. Scotland’s claim of right indicates that it is Scotland who decides how Scotland is governed, not the kingdom of England. If I was the FM of Scotland, I would give the English FM two choices in rather clear terms:

    “Or you issue immediately the section 30 order and you retain a slim chance of preserving the UK if YES does not succeed, or say goodbye to the UK for real because we will dissolve the treaty and the UK and will have a confirmatory referendum afterwards with international observers on our own terms. You choose”

    • xaracen says:

      Maria, you are correct.
      The UN Charter does more than disallow Westminster the authority to refuse any Scottish plebiscite on Scottish Independence, it also obligates the UK government to facilitate the expression of the right to self-determination, and no court in the UK can rule against such a UN-mandated plebiscite.

      The most they could do is argue that the people of Scotland don’t meet the criteria for ‘a people’ that possess that right, and may try to drag out the argument with the UN for years. But I can’t see the UN putting up with that, they’d come back with a definitive answer in two minutes, the short version being only two words long.

    • The Westminster Parliament, in July 2018, passed a vote, unanimously, that the Scottish people are sovereign. They, therefore, have the right to tell the Scottish Government to repeal the Treaty of the Union of Parliaments.

  5. William Habib Steele says:

    “To those who believe independence is not the right change, I say bring forward your own proposals” An invitation to Unionists to make more false promises and tell more lies. I seriously doubt that there will be a Scottish Parliament if Brexit occurs before the next Scottish Parliamentary elections. I seriously question whether the SNP really does want independence and wonder whether they are so content with all that they have achieved as a devolved government, protecting Scotland from the worst of Westminster’s acts and policies, that independence has been relegated to a fantasy.

    • Anne Martin says:

      I cannot understand how anyone can doubt Nicola’s desire for independence. She has wanted it since she was 16 years old and, in my opinion, it is her raison d’etre.

      • Molly McC says:

        I agree entirely Anne. I was just about to type the same thing in when your comment came up.
        At about the same time, her lovely voice came over the airwaves on CBC radio. Parts of her speech were broadcast.
        They might not be saying much on BBC (normal?) but here in Canada, she got airtime!
        Now to set that Date!

        Paul thank you again for a brilliant article!

    • A 5th columnist.

      • Wee Chid says:

        Why is it that anyone who is disappointed with the SNP nicely, nicely approach is labelled a 5th collumnist? Some of us are just getting a wee bit impatient with their never ending desire to compromise and please all of the people all of the time. I too see dreams of independence disappearing as WM tighten their grip and disolve our devolved parliament. I believe we may have missed the boat and that it might not happen in my lifetime.

  6. diabloandco says:

    She was challenging them to openly state how they would protect Scotland , knowing full well that they have nothing to offer.
    I don’t believe that the Scottish National Party is resting on its laurels , I don’t believe that they have given up or will give up their reason for existence.
    They are fighting on many fronts but their major opponents are not the ‘opposition’ party of the Lib/Lab/Con but the massed MSM and very especially the one with the loudest voice – the BBBC .

  7. Julian Smith says:

    How about, instead of a divisive Referendum, we hold a unifying Referendum? Suppose we change the question to “Should England be an independent country?”. I think that would get a resounding “Yes” from people in Scotland, England, Europe, indeed, the whole World.

  8. Robert Graham says:

    I watched her statement on the Holyrood channel i never realised this was the only outlet ,

    Maybe the BBC in Scotland will notice when a order is issued that all their properties in Scotland are subject to immediate inspection because of poor – Plumbing – poor Electrical work – poor Air quality you name it anything and everything to make their operations here bloody awkward , Petty i really dont care this lot do what they want when they want , well so can our government .

    Nicola Sturgeon made it clear today when she said give us all a view of your Union , let’s hear the unionists defence of their scabby Union . let’s hear it chaps ,sell us your bloody Union , I doubt if there will be many takers because we all know its dead , the only thing left it to bury the Corpse . .

  9. Jo says:

    I too was dismayed, when jumping through TV channels, and then radio channels, not to find any live coverage of the FM’s statement today. I ended up on Holyrood TV and got it there. That really is shocking.

    • Cubby says:

      BBC2 and the new BBC Scotland channel both showing the same snooker coverage from England when Sturgeon gave her speech. Who thought snooker was that popular in Scotland you needed the same coverage on 2 channels.
      I ended up watching it on Scottish parliament TV on my iPad.

      Britnats say we are always going on about grievances. Well thats because there are thousands of them. Only those suffering from jockholme syndrome don’t see it.

  10. Tom says:

    “it’s more important than ever that we support Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper.”

    In my case, I stopped buying The National after supporting it since launch, and also cancelled my digital subscription (also in place since launch). Yes, I supported the paper both ways, like many others must do.

    But the appointment of Angus Robertson and Andrew Wilson as so-called ‘columnists’ brought the end of my support for the paper. I don’t want to read propaganda week after week from senior SNP politicians presented as columnists in a paper that exists (or should do) to support the wider Yes movement, and not just SNP conservatives.

    So the paper’s big editorial endorsing Wilson’s Growth Commission proposals was entirely predictable. In itself not objectionable, although in my opinion a mistake.

    But here we had a paper working week after week with the party of government to persuade readers of the government’s Growth Commission agenda, and that is objectionable. And it was so blatant. Did they really think we wouldn’t notice?

    But I will miss Leckie and Kerevan on a Monday …

  11. Leonard says:

    I’m sorry but there is an overriding incoherence in the SNP’s current position.
    We must wait untill the polls have improved – but it didn’t stop Indyref 1 in 2014?
    The people are sovereign- but we must ask London for section 30 first?
    We will use our own pound- but let London set our Interest rate indefinately.
    We must stop Brexit – but that’s the material change for another referendum?
    So what is going to change the UK position on section 30 in just 18 months time? Corbyn?, or maybe a soft fluffy replacement for May? Whilst in post Brexit meltdown the UK will also risk Scottish independence…really?
    Nicola Sturgeon is trying to inspire people with process, and not a vision. There is no road map here only aspirations which will be brutally refused by the UK..then what, keep asking? Keep being ignored. Today’s announcement on an update to the previous announcement is nothing more than a sticking plaster to a greater problem that lies ahead, and it is all the SNP’s own making.

    • Lizzy55 says:

      You are correct and there are a lot of very angry snp members. All I can see is my party was given a clear mandate from the Scottish people to hold a referendum should brexit happen. When A50 was triggered there was a clear intention that brexit would happen. That’s when the focus should have seriously turned to independence. It didn’t. All Nicola and the snp are doing is kicking the can further down the road of inaction and neverdum. I’m disgusted at having to watch the mess of brexit unfold on the people of Scotland. We are losing our jobs, our Eu citizens, our chance to work in Eu countries, our economy and society and still we have no clear road map to Indy from the snp. Waiting months for a bill to clear then begging Westminster for a section30 is embarrassing and won’t work. We need clear direction and action not a flimsy statement to see her through conference. My only hope is that she will need the help from the greens to get her bill through parliament I hope they have the good sense to make her actually deliver independence before we leave the Eu.

  12. fman says:

    well played the SNP and the wider Yes movement. based on the general chit chat (outwith the bubble) with friends and such, that are just starting to, not, look to the sky when the “I” word is mentioned. i’m v.happy with that. tho i still want it, like yesterday.
    you cant stop being independently minded, but yer/we are just gonna have to chill, and get another 20%+ in that frame of mind. i can only see good coming from the current approach.
    nice one.

  13. Through the wonders of I Player, I tapped into Newsnight; Emily Maitlis anchor, NS’ speech and the funeral of Lyra McKee were the only items, clearly giving them jitters about Brexit, the Backstop, and the pesky Scots banging on about independence. Again.

    Like the ghost of Project Fear Past Bono’s bag handler Douglas Alexander, ran through a Reprise of Project Fear I:- England would not trade with us, we’d leave the UK and have EU ‘borders’ and laws imposed on us by Johnny Furriner rather than Johnny Bull Furriner?

    And what about a Scottish currency?
    And the price of oil has crashed!
    And if we think that Brexit is difficult after 40 odd years in the Big Union, how long would it take for Scotland to untangle from a 300 year Little Union with England?

    I have an answer to that one, Bono’s lap dog.
    One second after the announcement by the Returning Officer that Scotland had at last voted to be a ‘normal’ independent nation once more. That’s how long.

    From under what stone did they drag this wee chancer?

    He had his erse skelped by a 20 year old student in 2015, who has been more active and committed to the people of Scotland in a few years than this New Labour New Conservative Red Tory was for the previous 20 years.

    Angela Haggerty spoke well on the reasoning and inevitability of Indyref2.

    Stephen Gethin reminded Maitlis that the Scottish Government had submitted proposals 2 1/2 years ago to May proposing the softest of Brexits, remaining in a CU and continuing FOM, which were disregarded. He poo poo-ed Bono’s Bag Carrier’s assertion that we would be barred from trading with England post Brexit.

    Stephen Kerr, Scots Tory MP, blustered and protested when Gethin pointed out that the DUP is running the Blue Tories’ Brexit, while the Scottish Blue Tories are sidelined.

    Kerr menaced that the Nationalists, that’s we Scots, would need ‘permission’ to hold a second Referendum, and he haughtily assured Maitlis that that wouldn’t happen. Just like a big glowering overweight bully.
    Stirling, you elected this man to protect your interests?

    There followed footage of Lyra McKee’s funeral: May was there as was Corbyn, Arlene and Sinn Fein.
    Ian Blackford was in attendance too.

    The priest asked why it took the shameful murder of an innocent to bring the politicians together?
    The congregation behind the politicians rose and applauded.
    The politicians looked as though the ground would open up and swallow them

    David Trimble UUP was interviewed by Maitlis.
    She proffered that the GFA was dead in the water now, since there was no way the backstop (and presumably she foresaw nothing other than No Deal Brexit if the backstop was dead) was a non starter.

    Trimble ‘trimbled’ with rage. Yes Stormont hadn’t assembled in years, but somehow he felt that the Province had a strong and stable Administration.
    It was entering the realms of madness now.

    The GFA was still in place he blurted. It was the politicians in the South who were making a big deal about the border and the IRA were marching in Dublin and the Garda didn’t stop them and…oh dear.

    Later, Ian Dale, of all people, admitted that if he were Scottish, while not agreeing with the left wing SNP, he would vote for Scottish Independence. That floored Emily. Her jaw literally dropped.

    A young historian lass suggested that the rise of the Scottish National Party got a boost when Lizzie was crowned (1953?) as we objected to her being QE II, since QEI was an English queen and her oldest Charles was made Prince of Wales to stem the welsh Nationals surge.

    It was all getting very silly and Maitlis clumsily brought the whole thing to an abrupt halt.

    NS speech today has got them rattled.

    The starting gun has been fired; we are on the Road to Freedom now.

    Let’s hope that they get Douglas and Wendy on to their Better Together But Not EU Better Together team.

    It is a disgrace that the BBC refused to cover our FM’s speech. Well done, Donalda, Glen, Toodle Oo, Gordon.
    To inform, educate, and entertain; but not in Scotland.
    We rely on stellar commentary from you, Paul.

  14. Janet says:

    Long game is the way to win. And always with the consent of the people.

  15. James Cheyne says:

    We should acknowledge that words are very important if we go for independence,
    Why a citizens assembly?
    It should be a Scottish people’s assembly, as the claim of right, the treaty of arbroath, and what passed through Westminster on the 4th July 2018 all say the Scottish people (not citizen)
    There are laws against citizens in most countries including some in Britain.
    Legality is only legal if the correct wording is used.

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