Sunday, December 29, 2019

SNP MPs are very poorly advised to do Westminster's work for it by using words like "illegal"



Further to my previous post, I've noticed that at least a couple of SNP MPs have come out in support of Pete Wishart's contentious article.  Now of course in one sense it's entirely understandable that they would wish to defend a colleague who has been receiving brickbats, and in fairness Mr Wishart's article isn't all bad by any means - it contains some points that almost any independence supporter would agree with.  But what troubles me deeply is any implied endorsement of Mr Wishart's characterisation of an independence referendum held without a Section 30 order as being "illegal".  That flatly contradicts what Nicola Sturgeon said repeatedly during the election campaign - she stressed that the question of whether a referendum was already within the Scottish Parliament's current powers had never been tested in court.  Presumably she was making that point for a very good reason, so it's puzzling and regrettable that SNP MPs would seek to undermine that careful messaging so soon after the election has come to a successful conclusion.

When Donald Dewar delivered devolution, he very wisely opted for a model that automatically assumes that anything not explicitly reserved to Westminster is a devolved power.  At the very least, there's a high degree of ambiguity over whether the power to hold a consultative independence referendum has been reserved, and in my naivety I'd be inclined to expect MPs who believe in Scottish autonomy and self-determination to take a maximalist interpretation of the parliament's powers, at least until a court rules otherwise.  Why on earth would we give moral support to the Westminster establishment by needlessly taking it as read that a hypothetical court ruling will go against us?  It makes no sense whatsoever, unless of course there is an underlying agenda here, such as a desire to use Westminster's obstructionism as a convenient excuse to kick an independence referendum into the long grass for a few more years.

Incidentally, even if the Supreme Court eventually decides that the Scottish Parliament would be exceeding its powers in holding an indyref without a Section 30, it would still be thoroughly inappropriate to use the word "illegal".  As David Halliday has pointed out, the UK and Spain are very different, and in this country the law reacts to an unofficial vote by ignoring it and treating it as of no effect.  It doesn't send in riot police or lock people up.  This isn't Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia, and putting a ballot paper into a ballot box is no more an "illegal" act than holding a village fête is.

88 comments:

  1. I suspect several SNP MPs suffer from "Barcelona Syndrome". In other words, they in some way frightened if Scottish government call an Indyref Westminister will act against them exactly like Spanish government acted against Catalan politicians. Of course this is just my conjectures, but I wouldn't exclude among their prudence a dread like this.

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  2. Would English Boris really go to court to argue that England is not a country and nation? Would he really want to tell his primary voter base of English nationalists that they have no culture? That they are not a people and they can forget the three lions? That there's no such thing as warm beer, cricket, an relic imperial superiority complex, football hooliganism and casual racism?

    England derives its right to a Section 30 and independence from its status as a nation and country in its own right. It is this status that gives it is own laws, flag, language, international sports teams, culture... and even EVEL parliament.

    The UK is either a union (which requires consent) of sovereign nations just like the EU, or a one nation single state, in which case FIFA and World Rugby will need to revise their entrant lists and we can forget ever seeing a repeat of 1966.

    I can't see Johnson trying to erase the English nation in court, and that is his only real way to stop it concluding that a right to English (and other home nation) self determination exists as everyone always believed it did.

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    1. You can be absolutely sure that if English nationhood was ever threatened by the union, it would be over very quickly. While it suits the English to claim the whole of Britain as their own, for them Britain is very much forever England.

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    2. Excellent point, and could be a useful line of attack going forward. Every snub to Scotland is highlighted as an equal snub to England.

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    3. I think a petition to FIFA and Word Rugby would do wonders.

      Lots of countries in the world would love to get one over on the English by denying them an international team. Argies for example.

      You can't be one nation Britain and England at the same time.

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    4. Those Englanders sunk the Spanish Armada and then the Belgrado.
      With the help of our loyal Scots we can free the world from imperialism and return the true faith to the heathens.

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    5. @Skier 10:10
      No need for the anti-English insults, but the rest of this needs amplified, because it's too often understated. The unionists can't have it both ways; Scotland and England are either in a consensual union or are an indivisible state, in which case neither exists as "countries", and England would have no more facility to declare independence than Scotland does just now.

      But of course, as it stands, if 80% of English MPs demanded English independence, regardless of polling, vote share, or how long a "generation" is, it would happen in a heartbeat.

      So the SNP would do better to focus on this imbalance - campaign for Scotland to simply have the same power to consent as England currently does. If the union is to have a long-term future then arguably that's the only way.

      Stubborn repetition of "union bad" and "Brexit bad" and "Tories bad" and "Trident bad", will never take 50%+ public support and is barking up the wrong tree.

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    6. "You can't be one nation Britain and England at the same time."

      Clearly it is possible, as evidenced by the UK being a nation state, while still being represented in certain sports as individual countries.

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  3. www.businessforscotland.com/a-2020-scottish-independence-referendum-what-if-westminster-says-no/

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  4. I do wonder how long its going to be before a SCIP/SCEXIT Party forms. Once it's clear that there is not going to be a referendum in 2020 it won't be long I imagine. Could well see protesters outside the Scottish Parliament chanting 'SNP out' come the summer; maybe defections from the SNP to SCIP with the MSP/MPs openly saying that the SNP leadership does not really want independence. Maybe a VoC in Sturgeon come the autumn.

    Nichola only needs to look at what happened to May, to see what happens if you don't deliver on your promises to Nationalists, tends not to end well.

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    1. - is an expert on the internal politics of the SNP

      - can't spell "Nicola"

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    2. Big Eater From PerthDecember 30, 2019 at 10:47 AM

      You are guilty of The Politics Of Personality.

      Click at the top of the page if you want Mr Poparazzi to "Send You The Goss".

      Delete
  5. I'm an SNP member. I very much hope this talk of "illegal" referendums isn't a shift towards acceptance that Westminster "legally" (and by implication, "rightfully") has the power over Scotland's democracy.

    I could never give my support to that viewpoint.

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    1. I fully agree. As another SNP member, I expect the party to be advancing the independence cause, forcing Westminster to grant a section 30 order, or finding a different route. If they decide to sit back and let a Tory Westminster government dictate the pace then I'll cease to be a party member and look for other methods of supporting Scotland becoming independent.

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  6. Does anybody know why we are seeing such insane hysteria over the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh?

    The same rules have been in place since 1997, when I remember claims of people being prevented from going home and mass civil disobedience. Neither of which happened.

    If people want to go and get drunk in front of a church then go home beat up their wives and be bored shitless because everywhere is closed for the next 2 days then they are welcome to return to the good old days. Nobody is stopping them.

    Of course a big part of the problem is Edinburgh as a city has been bankrupted by the tram scheme inflicted on us by the yoons and their helpers in the green party. So everything is allowed as long as you give a donation to pay off that debt.
    It comes as no surprise that Mike Small still supports both the greens and the trams and is the prime mover behind the current scare stories. Stinking hypocrite that he is.

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  7. I'm puzzled as to why people read the Scotland act as reserving an indyref to Westminster anyway.

    The Scotland Act clearly says the union is reserved, but there is no mention of independence.

    The following aspects of the constitution are reserved matters, that is—

    ...the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England


    No mention of indyrefs at all, only the union.

    Scottish independence has naff all to do with the union. It's not a union matter.

    Of course Holyrood can't change the nature of the union unilaterally, such as by e.g. assuming new devolved powers, hence this is reserved. It's also why we must accept brexit if we stay in the union. All matters concerning the constitution of the union are reserved for obvious reasons.

    But independence is not a union constitutional matter, it's a Scottish one alone. Scots cannot decide matters of the union alone; they can only decide for Scotland.

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    1. Curiously it's why those who say "dissolve the Union" actually miss the point completely. That is just one of the ways of achieving Independence - dissolution. The other two main ones basically are secession and separation. But the actual target is Independence and achieving it.

      However, if the Scotland Act could be argued to have put into actual being a Parliament it no longer controls, then we're cooking with gas. At this stage nobody knows what the score is, any of the three really, and Pete Wishart is useful for distracting everybody. Running interference as the Yanks would say.

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    2. The union being reserved has no bearing on the right to hold a referendum; the result of a referendum does not alter the union one jot. All a referendum does is gauge public opinion on a given question, it does not force any course of action in its aftermath.

      If anyone tries to argue that a referendum is illegal because it concerns reserved powers ask what effect a No vote has.

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  8. I'd like to know what every SNP MP and MSP thinks. Do they agree with Pete Wishart or do they have a different view, and if so, what is it.

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  9. Why don't elected politicians take part in on-line dialogue, such as this one?

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  10. The actual sovereign Scottish people did not vote to join the union between the countries of Scotland and England in 1707, We the Scottish people were excluded, and excluded we remain, we still remain separate from the legalities of having joined the treaty of the union. If anyone thinks this is not correct please provide substantial prove that we the Scottish people had a vote on it in 1707, and prove that the people from Scotland whom did sign the treaty of the union were elected by the actual sovereign people of Scotland, and not self elected, as far as I can ascertain from historical documents, the sovereign people of Scotland were never consulted throughout the whole proceedings.

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    1. Democracy wasn't exactly a 'thing' as we know it in 1707 Cottonbob.

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  11. The actual sovereign Scottish people did not vote to join the union between the countries of Scotland and England in 1707, We the Scottish people were excluded, and excluded we remain, we still remain separate from the legalities of having joined the treaty of the union. If anyone thinks this is not correct please provide substantial prove that we the Scottish
    people had a vote on it in 1707, and prove that the people from Scotland whom did sign the treaty of the union were elected by the actual sovereign people of Scotland, and not self elected, as far as I can ascertain from historical documents, the sovereign people of Scotland were never consulted throughout the whole proceedings. And due to that exclusion in 1707 we are not in the treaty of the union, only the Scottish gentry of that time signed, which has a humorous side all these centuries on, they thought they could pull the wool over our eyes at the time by conniving to join a union in secret and then inform the people of Scotland afterwards.
    Well it is a lot centuries later that we have discovered that if we were excluded then, we are still in the same situation legally.

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  12. Don't worry folks Stuart Campbell's sewed the seeds of doubt and begun his subversion campaign again and all the usual suspects have rushed to his website to help create even more mistrust and doom

    Than God the Internet is not the real world

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  13. So the bbc news leads with a story from the USA about jews, which has no relevance to anyone outside of a small foreign city, and their 2nd item is another claim of anti-semitism in london. Seems like they are not going to stop whipping up hysteria. They have to keep the pot boiling so their smears can be ready to go on demand.

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    1. It has relevance to anyone who does not believe in genocide and killing Jews. Of course the Holocaust did not happen in the eyes of some Nat sis.

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    2. Oh I think that's pretty much your lot that denies the Holocaust Arlene

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  14. Think the SNP need to up their game. There will be no illegal referendum. Holyrood has the both legal authority to hold one and the authorisation from the electorate. There will be a referendum in 2020 and it will be legal.

    The Section 30 powers are simply to ensure a Yes result is implemented under the laws of the rUK. Holyrood will have a solid claim to sole authority over those of Scotland in that circumstance.

    The last thing Westminster needs is uncertainty about it's future stability or an excuse for international intervention or arbitration in it's domestic affairs. It may be wise for Johnson to take that into consideration before refusing a request for an agreement under Section 30.

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  15. Scotland can hold a fully legal referendum is the accepted position. Unless the associated referendum bill is successfully overturned in court, it will be the law of the land. Boycotting would be illegal (for councils) or meaningless (for voters). Even if the bill was challenged successfully, it could simply be revised according to the ruling and passed again, ensuring legality. The Supreme court would need to basically outlaw consultative votes entirely, which is just not going to happen. What possible reason could you have for that?

    This is the problem Westminster faces. It will need to decide if it's willing to do a Spain in response to a non-Section 30'd referendum. Will it send in jackboots and shut down Holyrood or not? That's what the all the neighbours will be watching to see. If it's not willing to do that, and have English stasi beat up Scots pensioners etc, then there is no point in refusing a Section 30. Better to enter into negotiations for a jointly controlled referendum so it can put forward the case for the union.

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    1. I doubt the English would go anywhere near the public toilet at Holyrood. No one would notice if Holyrood closed tomorrow. The beaurocracy run the country just like in NI. The more politicians we get shot of the better for public services.

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    2. I see you are now living in a fantasy world GWC.

      The english have just signed away ni to Eire and the eu. The union has very little time left now.

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    3. That would be good for the UK economy. The Belfast Agreement would be defunct. The loyalist community would leave NI in their tens of thousands and help the mainland fill job posts. No need for the EU or Paddy citizens. We could deport you back to the ROI to join your fellow gobshits.

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    4. You know the Queen isn't Protestant like you think she is, she's Catholic without the Roman part because of the marrying and divorcing bit, she's the English invented *Anglican* of convenience just like they call *British* a nationality when it isn't, it's a geographical location and the Union flag represents the same basis as the EU flag, people in Great Britain are English Scottish Irish or Welsh this *British* nonsense is a propaganda invention by the English government used as a takeover by stealth and to advertise themselves as *Rapeepel*

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    5. GWC, I'm not sure an influx of low-skilled welfare recipients would be the boost to the economy that you seem to think.

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    6. Anon, strange that Eck said he would still be British if Scotland left the Union! As far as religion is concerned you can stick it where the monkey puts its nuts. As long as the Child abusing church Cardinals do not run Scotland that is OK with me.

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    7. The Queen is head of the English church and head of the UK state while her unelected bishops run Scotland from the House of Lords.

      You voted for that to continue in 2014, while us Yesers voted to end it.

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    8. No Alex Salmond did not say he'd still be British after Independence he said we'd still all be Britons because we all reside in the geographical location that is the British Isles, just the same as if you live in a country in Europe you're European. but that is not a nationality

      Like all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs

      Yoons are so stupid

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  16. As far as I know the correct word would be more "unlawful" than "illegal" in any case. And that "unlawfulness" would need to be the result of a court judgement, as the ScotParl can already hold referendums of various sorts - as can private individuals (remember Brian Souter). There were a couple of others I think, something to do with councils maybe.

    Anyway, it's practically and lawfully impossible to hold an unlawful referendum, as no co-operation could be legally enforced if neccessary from the EMB or the 32 unitary authorities, or 32 Returning Officers, or any building legally co-opted as one of the 4,000 odd polling stations, or the Royal Mail and Post Office, nor would the police co-operate with such a referendum except as regards as maintaining the law in general.

    Illegal referendums can just not exist in Scotland. Conversely if a referendum goes ahead, then it is lawful.

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    1. Aye, any referendum will be the law of Scotland. It couldn't be held otherwise for the reasons you state.

      The lord advocate and team will provide the appropriate legal advice to the Scottish government to ensure it's all to the letter of the law.

      It will be up to the English to then try and stop it. I suspect that would not make them, or the union, very popular in these parts. Nobody likes a bullying neighbour sticking their nose into your home affairs.

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  17. Dympna Hamilton-WoodDecember 30, 2019 at 9:41 AM

    Looking forward to some Grade A alcohol-fuelled ramblings in the early hours of the New Year from the resident comic.

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  18. Can someone not flush that Britnat turd CWC into the sewers where it belongs. It stinks of Britnattery.

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    1. No room for me the drains are guffin wae Jock Nat sis.

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    2. Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Brian Wilson. Not from the beach boys, but the sad and twisted one from the Scotsman.

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    3. Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Jackson Carcrash.

      I try so hard to be myself, but...

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  19. I am pleased to confirm my presence (after soul-searing entreaties from many dear friends and admirers) this year at the festivities in Avignon. Naturally,I shall be residing pendant les évenements at the Palais des Papes.

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    1. I fear the import of your response eludes me.

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    2. Strange that the message from one GWC to which I responded has disappeared as a moth into the flame of the candelabra. It suggests to me the true identity of said GWC. Interesting. Intriguing. Unsettling.

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    3. Big Eater From PerthDecember 31, 2019 at 9:10 AM

      As a man of refined sensibilities and vast diplomatic experience you will have a shrewd idea of how to interpret this. Suffice to say that it is best for you not to be seen too often in the company of major dissident thinkers.
      Zbogum.

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  20. Mike Russell has let the cat out of the bag though:" Lets use the next decade to persuade". He has already admitted there will be no indy ref in 2020, with those words.

    I am afraid Peter Bell and Wings were correct. We have given the SNP another mandate to sit and watch the sun go down!

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    1. What's Jo Swinson (Jao Swensoon) doing these days?

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  21. SS you are absolutely correct.

    However the challenge will never come from the SNP. The problem isn't the law, or the mandate. The problem is the will to challenge, it ain't coming!

    My only hope now is that Boris agrees the section 30 , to call the SNP's bluff (as he would describe it). He might naively think he can win a snap referendum.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Sorry, but I'm slightly confused. The SNP can't challenge their own referendum bill. That wouldn't make any sense. For the bill to be challenged in court, it would need to be passed first. It would be nonsensical for a government to challenge a bill it just passed. Why challenge your own law? It's the law of the land and will remain that way henceforth unless someone does manage to bring it down in court.

      Maybe I missed your point, but I've never understood the calls from some for the SNP to test in the courts their right to organise an iref. That makes no sense. They just need to go ahead with one, assuming the Lord Advocate gives it the nod, and then see if the English are willing to try and go all colonial.

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    3. It's naive to think that BJ could not win a snap referendum. The SNP have to be careful here. BJ may decide to raise the stakes when they are not ready.

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  22. 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath next year.

    Over six centuries on and my grandparents fought the Nazis so that Scots (and others) could freely choose independence whenever they so desired. She was 'mick scum' from Ireland who voluntarily signed up. When she first arrived in London to join up, nobody would give her a room because of the 'No blacks, no dogs, no Irish' signs in the windows, even though she came from this side of the partition in her country. A German lady married to an Englishman gave her board eventually.

    While manning the guns one night at lowestoft, her barracks were hit, killing everyone. All her friends and colleagues dead, just like that. Bits of them lying all over the place.

    That's just an example of what many Scots went through so that we could freely hold an indyref.

    No English fascist scum is going to do what Hitler never managed.

    Freedom (democracy) is something you lay down your life for if needed.

    "As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under fascist rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself".

    Words that are as true today as they day they were written.

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  23. I award the grandparents of Skier a posthumous George Cross for their services to the Empire.

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  24. As stated before, you can poll anybody you like on any question, but without Westminster approval any such poll will lack legitimacy and be easily ignored.

    You people attach so much important to the word 'country' as if it's a magic spell that makes independence necessary. Plenty of nation states have constituent parts that are, or were, countries: America, Germany, Italy etc. It doesn't matter and it doesn't make nationalist demands any more compelling.


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    1. No, if the referendum is legal, it stands. It's the law of the land.

      The English can of course go colonial in response.. Send in the jackboots. The world is watching to see whether the UK has ended democracy with brexit. After all, Scotland was a free partner just 5 years ago.

      As an irishman, I know how unpleasant England can be. Chagos islanders are getting as we speak.

      If England is any friend of Scotland, a section 30 will be forthcoming. If it is an enemy, the Scots may need to do what the Irish did.

      But don't worry, the imperial brits/English are pathetic chickenshit cowards that run at the first sign of trouble like all bullies do. It's why brexit will be a flop.

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    2. You people?

      Y'see that's your downfall and why 53 countries have exited from the UK with no desire ever to return

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    3. @anon 7:34
      You miss the point. History aside, one reason the word "country" keeps coming up is that it serves as a reminder that Scotland expects to have the ability to self-determine as England does. No more, no less.

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    4. "No,the referendum is legal, it stands. It's the law of the land."

      This is just a fantasy. The world saw Scotland say no to independence in 2014.

      If some nationalists decide to conduct a trumped up survey to reveal the shocking fact that nationalists want Scotland to be independent, nobody will give a toss.

      The only path to Scottish independence is one with Westminster approval because it is constitutional fact that it's Westminster that decides the 'law of the land' and no amount of screeching can alter that.

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    5. Isa Guthrie and the GuthrettesDecember 31, 2019 at 2:09 PM

      I never realised "America" was a nation state.

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    6. Yeah, it is. Like how 'Germany' is a common alternative name for the Federal Republic of Germany.

      You tedious arsehole.

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    7. It could also better be described as anglo-colonial Noraidland. Stuffed with fellow anglo-colonial politicians like Harper and Abbott who told us what we could or could not do. Burn baby burn!

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    8. Isa Guthrie and the GuthrettesDecember 31, 2019 at 5:09 PM

      Anonymous @3.42.
      Like how 'Russia' is a common alternative name for the Russian Federation, which like 'Germany' is also the name of 2 continents. Like 'America'.
      You tedious ignoramus.

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    9. Germany the name of two continents?

      You're an idiot.

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    10. Isa Guthrie and the GuthrettesDecember 31, 2019 at 7:58 PM

      Well, if "America" (which is the name of 2 continents - FYI North and South America) is a nation state, presumably the same applies to "Germany" which some nitwit raised as an equivalent.
      If only fools would try to inform themselves on matters known to most 11 year olds. They embarrass themselves in front of educated adults.

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    11. You're a fuckwit.

      Delete
    12. Isa Guthrie and the GuthrettesDecember 31, 2019 at 9:21 PM

      Thank you for your rigorous analysis. A predictably typical response from an ill-educated fool.

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  25. I am fascinated that I am one of the 'you people'.

    Who do you see as 'you people'?

    Is it the list you give:

    "You people attach so much important to the word 'country' as if it's a magic spell that makes independence necessary. Plenty of nation states have constituent parts that are, or were, countries: America, Germany, Italy etc. It doesn't matter and it doesn't make nationalist demands any more compelling."

    The collapse of your people's Empire is utterly astonishing. It is, perhaps obvious that no-one, with a modicum of power wanted to remain.

    It is thus unpersuasive that we have a settled constitutional settlement. The loss of authority over an Empire on which the Sun never sets, suggests that this, perhaps final collapse in inevitable.

    Perhaps this is the fortunate final death throws of an Empire, that, on balance, would have been better, never to have existed in the first place.

    I think 'Getting out from Under'is the way to go.

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    1. That would mean you never existed to write your shite.

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    2. You find decolonialisation 'astonishing'?

      It's happened to every colonial power. It's 20202.

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  26. TJenny says:
    30 December, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    An uplfting result for Wings and Stu – from Stu’s non-banned twitter account:

    ‘I completely forgot to mention that this year Wings Over Scotland won a (worldwide) Best News Blog award:’
    2019 Infinity Blog Awards
    Gold Awards = Wings Over Scotland = Best News Blog. �� ��

    Bet there’s much raging and gnashing of teeth over at ‘small’er sites.

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  27. I understand why johnson attaches so much importance to England being a country and nation.

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  28. The timeline for 2020 is critical. HMG has to decide on requirement for extension by June. By the end of 2020 it is politically imperative that a FTA however basic is in place. HMG must be seen as a rational and trustworthy actor by EU for even a basic FTA to be agreed. Any outstanding issues (Liabilities, EU citizen rights etc) and any outstanding international court decisions pending could derail that schedule.

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    1. I am sure that the Scottish Nat sis and other anti democrats will be covertly working with the EU officials to derail brexit. However I am sure their dirty work is well know to HMG. They will start their dirt by saying the trade deals are useless although they know nothing about trade. And the cloned faithful wil follow, neep, neep.

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    2. Until a section 30 is granted, this goes without saying.

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  29. If the SNP strategy is to keep harassing BJ for a section 30 thus growing support for independence, they better be ready in case he calls their bluff and gives them one. This is the way BJ plays - he ups the stakes and mixes it up a bit. Are the SNP ready just in case. Do they have the bottle for a winner takes all confrontation?

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  30. Do you think we should go to Tommy and Laura's party tonight?

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  31. English nationalism set to increase wildly in 2020. English nationalist media will increase its anti-Scottish agenda. The SNP and the rest of us must be ready to respond - legally or not.

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    1. As the ulster unionists said, they spent too much time seeing sinn fein as the enemy, when it was the english nationalists that sold them out, signing off the backstop. Do much for the Conservative and unionist party.

      The real enemy of scots unionism is Boris and his English independence, sorry brexit supporters. If I was GWC, I'd be looking over my shoulder.

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    2. I would be concerned if you had your hand on my shoulder Skier and the smell of alter wine on your breath.

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