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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