Spoilt for choice


Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that she’s in favour of something that this blog has been arguing for a while. That is, even if by some miracle the UK manages to avoid Brexit, Scotland should still hold another independence referendum. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 yesterday she said that “all of the experience of the past three years” and the very real prospect of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister mean that Scotland ought to have another independence referendum.

There’s been a lot of focus on Brexit as the trigger for an independence referendum, but Brexit is merely one example of a material change in circumstances. It’s very far from being the only one. Scotland is now spoilt for choice when it comes to material changes in circumstances. Material changes in circumstances are about the only thing that Westminster generously indulges Scotland in. The UK that Scotland is a part of in 2019 is most certainly not the UK that we were sold by Better Together during the independence referendum in 2014.

The way that Scotland has been treated by the Conservative government over the past few years bears as much relation to the promises of equality and partnership that were made by Better Together as the promise of an exotic foreign holiday that turns out to be human trafficking. Far from leading within the UK, far from being an equal partner, far from having an important and respected voice at the top level of British government, Scotland has no say and no agency as the country’s economic future is sacrificed on the altars of English nationalist vanity and fantasy.

Despite what the anti-independence parties appear to believe, the electorate of Scotland did not hand them a blank cheque when the country narrowly voted against independence. It was a conditional vote. They constantly insist that the result of the independence referendum must be respected, but it’s not just the losers of a vote who need to respect the result. The winners also need to respect the promises and commitments that they made in order to secure their victory. They have signally failed to do so. More than that they are resisting any attempt by the people of Scotland to hold them to account. That traduces and destroys democracy. When a people have no means of holding politicians to account for promises that they have broken, democracy is dead.

The past few years have taught Scotland a harsh lesson in the realities the nature of the UK. The people of this country have always understood that Scotland is a part of a union, in fact the Conservatives continually bang on about how precious the union is to them. The story of union has been a foundation stone of Scotland’s place within the UK. Scotland, we tell ourselves, is a part of the UK because of a Treaty of Union between two equal sovereign nations. We are not a conquered nation. We are not a colony. We tell ourselves that we are a part of the UK because we wish to be, and as soon as the people of Scotland say otherwise Scotland will cease to be a part of the UK. That understanding has always been the basis of Scotland’s place within the UK.

Yet we’ve now discovered that contrary to the promises and commitments of 2014, the British government can and will take it upon itself to make unilateral changes to the devolution settlement, in direct contradiction of the will of the Scottish Parliament. This is despite the fact that the Scotland Act passed by Westminster in the wake of the independence referendum contained a clause seemingly guaranteeing that no Westminster government would ever do any such thing. We now know that clause has no legal effect and was a mere piece of political window dressing which could be discarded as soon as Westminster saw fit.

We’ve discovered that the UK of moderation, of stability, of security, is a mirage. The safer, faster, better change that Better Together promised us has turned out to meant that as a part of the UK Scotland faces an uncertain future, being driven into the dark storm clouds of a resurgence of the far right. We were told that we needed Westminster to guarantee our democratic institutions and stability, yet we see the rise of Farage and Yaxley-Lennon while Westminster undermines the devolution settlement. We see dark money dominating politics. We see a nasty xenophobic populism. Milkshakes are a better and stronger guarantee of our democracy than Westminster is.

We’ve discovered that Scotland has no input or say in determining the course of a Brexit that threatens to wreak havoc on the Scottish economy. There is no voice at the top table, only a weak and ineffectual Scotland Secretary who repeatedly threatens to resign but never does, and who sees his job as being the voice of the British Government in Scotland, and not as Scotland’s voice in the British Government. The Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have barely been kept informed of the progress of Brexit, never mind playing an active role in negotiations. As members of the EU with voting rights and veto powers, countries much smaller than Scotland like Malta or Estonia have more of a say and more influence over Scotland’s future than the people of Scotland do as part of the UK.

We’ve learned that the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to choose the form of government best suited to their needs is actually subject to a veto from a British Prime Minister that Scotland didn’t vote for. That sovereign right was asserted in the Scottish Claim of Right, approved by both the Scottish and UK parliaments. There was no additional clause which said “as long as it’s OK with the leader of the Tory party”, yet that’s where we are now.

Most importantly what we’ve learned since 2014 is that Scotland is a part of a union in name only. The reality is that Scotland is an ignored and politically marginalised province in a unitary state. The union is one of the biggest myths and lies of British nationalism. It’s one of the stories that British nationalists tell themselves in order to continue in their delusion that British nationalism is better than all other nationalisms by virtue of not being nationalist at all.

The truth is that if the anti-independence parties had respected the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in order to win the independence referendum then there would be no clamour for another independence vote. But they haven’t. They only have themselves to blame. It’s not just Brexit, it’s their entire attitude to Scotland. Scotland will hold them to account for their failures, their lies, their mendacity. Brexit is merely the biggest and most blatant, there is no shortage of others. Every one of them is a reason for revisiting the independence vote.

Remember the dancing Westminster MPs, their smug grins, their gloating faces, as the result of the independence referendum was announced. They thought that Scotland was trapped, was quiescent, was returning to passivity, was going to be buried by the cringe. They thought that it was back to business as usual. They were wrong. The new business as usual in Scotland is a Scotland that knows how to assert itself. We will hold them to account.



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27 comments on “Spoilt for choice

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug Spoilt for choice Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that she’s in favour of something that this blog has […]

  2. JSM says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female.

  3. Charles McGregor says:

    Well said again Paul.

    Probably a good time to remind folk of what happened in Switzerland last month as reported in The National and even some of the establishment outlets.


    I’m sure nothing more than a simple replication of The Vow when compared to a summary of where we actually are today would be enough for a Supreme Court like that in Switzerland to nullify the indyref1 result.

    Of course, that is not to say that the UK Supreme Court would apply the same standards of justice as the Swiss Court did because ‘British’ Justice standards are different, not like any other SC but better, exceptional.

    You could say ‘British’ justice isn’t Justice at all. 😉

    • Interpolar says:

      The other thing you can do in Switzerland is initiate a referendum by collecting certified signatures. The 6,000,000 collected recently in the parliamentary petition would easily have cleared the hurdle. But in Switzerland you always vote on a piece of legislation and not on a nebulous notion like the British did in June 2916.

  4. alan lovedog says:

    scotland england and wales are all part of the same island. the dividing them up into 3 countries is purely man made. the island exists, scoland, england and wales only in the minds of human beings, they are artificial inventions. the people of scotland are not somehow genetically different to those of wales or cornwall.

    • weegingerdug says:

      What does genetics have to do with politics? All countries are “man made”. Your argument is specious and nonsensical and frankly an insult to the intelligence. By your logic the whole of Eurasia ought to be one single political entity.

      British nationalism is the belief that different parts of a small island should not be politically separated, except when that island is Ireland.

      • benmadigan says:

        And only because ireland fought them non-stop for centuries, at times with physical violence and at others constitutionally through Westminster parliament,using social and political issues, a land war and so on but always declaring “we’re irish, we’re not british”

    • Cubby says:

      Your logic means that North America, Central America and South America should all be one country. A long time since I read anything as silly as this comment. A genetics expert no less.

    • Iain says:

      You don’t seem have a great grasp on history, but it’s nice of you to show an interest.

    • Wee Chid says:

      Who says we are genetically different? I don’t think we are genetically different from any other human being on the planet – but we are culturally and politically different. What a dull world it would be if we were all the same – unless we were all like me of course.

      • Welsh Sion says:

        “It would be no gain whatever for English culture, for the Welsh, Scots and Irish to become indistinguishable featureless “Britons”, at a lower level of culture than that of any of the separate regions. On the contrary, it is of great advantage for English culture to be constantly influenced from Scotland, Ireland and Wales.”

        – T.S. Eliot

  5. fairliered says:

    Hopefully certain high heid yin’s in the SNP have started to listen to their membership instead of those with their feet under the Westminster benches and HQ desks.

  6. wullie says:

    fairliered says:
    Aye well said fairliered, but I doubt they are bothered there have been so many opportunities the SNP could have used to throw back the lies and distortion used against Scotland. How stupid of SNP to try and help England out of the chaos of their own making. Scotland first Im not interested in the listening part I demand action if they don’t I will not be voting for them

  7. I see that David Mundell, after saying he didn’t see how he could serve in a Boris Piffle (I think that how you spell his middle name) Johnson, is now saying that it is the SNP that is ‘demonising’ Johnson and that he hasn’t ruled himself out of serving in a Johnson Government.

    This man does not have two faces; he has a revolving head with faces all around it. I just cannot articulate my contempt for this lickspittle toady.

    • Robert Harrison says:

      He has more faces than that he man character manny faces

      • Joe says:

        Hello Robert.and.independent woman.
        What you are trying to say is he has more faces than the town clock.and it has four.but what does that say about the electorate that voted for him to have that as their mp.and if a general election was called tomorrow they would vote for him again.i want independence for Scotland.badly but when people vote for the likes of that.it shows independence is not going to be won easily.i look forward to Scotland.being an independent country it cannot come soon enough.

      • Wee Chid says:

        More faces than a rhombicosidodecahedron

  8. smac1314 says:

    Nicola’s words need to be backed up with actions if I’m to be convinced. If they are, then no one will be happier than me.

  9. Welsh Sion says:

    As Plaid Cymru take a 5% lead over Labour (for 2nd place) in the latest Euro poll …

    This morning, Hywel Ceri Jones announced that he has left the Labour Party and joined Plaid Cymru.

    Hywel is well known as a founder of the Erasmus programme and former high-ranking European Commission official. But he is also a long-standing Labour Party member and has been one of the Welsh Government’s key advisors on European matters for the past 20 years.

    Hywel has now left Labour over its Brexit policy – or lack thereof. He has joined Plaid Cymru.

    Here’s what he said in today’s Western Mail:

    “[Plaid Cymru] is unambiguously supporting a second public vote on Brexit, and is spelling out the downsides of any form of Brexit. Plaid Cymru is making the powerful case to remain an active member of the EU, pressing also for significant reform of the EU as well as of the UK itself.”

    Additionally, the Chair of Wales for Europe, Geraint Talfan Davies, has written a blog on the Wales for Europe website, in which he says that a vote for Plaid Cymru is the most effective option on Thursday.

    Here’s what he said:

    “In Wales Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Change UK will vie for the votes of Labour’s defectors, but the anti-Brexit arithmetic, as well as the need to shock Labour’s leadership into a more courageous course, means that a vote for Plaid Cymru is the one that will have the most effect.”

    From the poll:

    Overall, if support for the ‘hard Brexit’ parties (Brexit Party plus Ukip) is compared with the unambiguously pro-Remain parties (Plaid, the Lib Dems, Change UK and the Greens), the poll suggests the two sides are very evenly balanced in Wales with 38% planning to vote for parties endorsing a hard Brexit and 39% for those favouring the UK remaining in the EU.

  10. bringiton says:

    Unfortunately,a fair number of Scots are not interested in democracy,nationhood or any of that political malarkey.
    Only in how much money they have in their pockets and only when it becomes clear that Westminster is damaging their future prospects will they consider changing the status quo.
    I don’t like it but that is the way it is,which is why the SNP are biding their time on announcing another indy referendum.
    Last time we perhaps didn’t quite get enough working class voters to turn and counterbalance the status quo voters but this time some of the status quo voters will have seen the light.
    Not having democratic accountability does have consequences for your pocket.

  11. Craig P says:

    If Boris Johnston guaranteed that staying in the union meant every Scot would get a kick in the genitals every Thursday afternoon, then a minimum 30% of the population would enthusiastically vote for it and turn up at the appointed time with a Union Jack jockstrap proudly displayed over their crotch.

    It doesn’t matter how shit the ‘status quo’ gets, I can never get my head round how many people cling to it, believing that it is impossible to do any better. Perhaps we just have to let the masochists, self-loathers, and naive victims be, and educate the youth on how political predators work before they lose hope too.

    • benmadigan says:

      “Perhaps we just have to let the masochists, self-loathers, and naive victims be”

      I am fast comiing to the conclusion that we should just press on regardless and just focus on getting that 50%+1 over the line

    • Cubby says:

      They have been conditioned that way. Some people are more susceptible to it than others.

  12. Ian Waugh says:

    Hi Paul – we in Dumfries & Galloway Indy Hub are raising cash thru crowdfunder to buy a van to usecas a ‘mobile YES Hub’ across our region. Would very much appreciate a wee boost/share from the Dug! Link is https://www.facebook.com/2288044741238394/posts/2341486725894195/

  13. Macart says:

    Nope. There is no partnership. No equality. No consensus.

    Westminster and the UK’s politics have never been very big on sharing stuff on general principle. There’s only ever been the diplomacy and politics of personal/party expediency, or demands for compliance.

    The political class which inhabit the howf on the Thames? They’re pretty well known at this point historically for their fibbery, venality and outright criminality. They’re so damn engrossed in playing games of one-upmanship between parties for that big chair, that even the better individuals have convinced themselves anything, ANYTHING, is allowable. Can’t make an omelette without breaking those eggs etc. Except…

    Except you are the eggs. People – Life chances – Lives.

    They didn’t just lose sight of that fact either. They deliberately binned it in favour of the ‘win at any cost’ road to victory. But they reckon you know these things and are ok with them.

    By their ideas of how politics should be conducted, clearly you don’t mind being fibbed to on a regular basis and having your emotions yanked hither and yon by sociopaths in suits because … a. That’s how politics is and b. REASONS!

    All of them, (without exception), haven’t just massaged facts to manipulate public opinion. They’ve nakedly lied about each other and about voting demographics. They’ve broken pledges, slandered and smeared. They’ve nakedly manipulated peoples’ emotions and perceptions for their own self interests. Ditto for their meeja luvvies.

    You could say their cretinous practices created the UK we see today. Many folk would probably agree with you too.

    Politics is broken. And it’s the political class who broke it. (It starts at the top and works its way on down kinda thing)

    In Scotland, our population have an opportunity to put a stop to this ‘breaks off’ horror show.

  14. Bob Lamont says:

    SNP’s lack of decision over Indy2 has been frustrating, “feet comfortably under the table” comments, observations on “belief” and “careerism” of SNP headliners, attitudes, quotes, etc., even the “Save England from itself..” criticism ignores the international condemnation which would flow from NOT doing so, let alone diminishing the divorce settlement pot from Independence. 😉

    Speculative rumours and sniping over SNP are the fracturing the anti-independence brigade and others have long hoped for to draw the political teeth of the wider YES movement, hell mend us if they succeed over squabbles on SNP real or concocted, YES needs a unanimous and unmistakably loud voice.
    From the Sunday Herald piece onward, the dominant media are clearly ramping up the negativity over SNP and by association YES, but however often Ruth and Fluffy are quoted on “there is no appetite for..”, the EU elections offers possibly the last opportunity to ram the YES message home firmly across Europe, on which the domestic silence would be deafening. Let’s not forget the objective.

    I am not SNP, but even if voting for them through gritted teeth, it is a vehicle which has carried us too far on this road for us to fail it now by allowing divide and conquer tactics to succeed whatever SNP’s failings or flaws.
    The stain of a UKIP seat is hopefully erased in light of reality, but with Mr Snake-Oil-Anti-Elite-Elitist Farage as the media darling of the moment, the same pseudo-Tory dangers persist.

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