Thursday, March 8, 2018

You'd be forgiven for thinking the London Tories actually WANT an early independence referendum

Regular readers of the Herald will be aware that Iain Macwhirter has rarely missed an opportunity in his recent columns to state, supposedly as an established fact, that there isn't going to be another independence referendum any time soon.  I believe he's wrong about that, although obviously I would be foolish to completely exclude the possibility that he knows something the rest of us don't, because he's very well-connected.  However, I thought it was interesting in his most recent piece that he seemed to be relying mainly on gossip from the Westminster side of the equation - ie. that the UK government have convinced themselves that Nicola Sturgeon doesn't have the "authority" to push for a referendum.  Why doesn't she?  Perhaps because she "only" leads a minority government.  (Just as Theresa May does without fretting for a moment about "authority".)  Or perhaps because the SNP lost 19 seats at the general election.  (An election the SNP nevertheless won by a 1987 Thatcher-style landslide majority.)

If it's true that the London Tories have got carried away with the bogus narrative of Nicola Sturgeon losing her capacity to act, that could explain the seemingly insane decision today to curtail negotiations with the Scottish government and unilaterally press ahead with plans to reduce the Scottish Parliament's powers, thus driving a coach and horses through the Sewel Convention, which has been faithfully upheld for nineteen years.  They must truly believe that they can get away with just about anything without having to worry about triggering an independence referendum.

In that they're mistaken.  My own guess (and it is only a guess) is that Nicola Sturgeon has always been genuine about the possibility of a pre-2021 referendum.  But even if by any chance it turns out she hasn't been genuine, it would still be the case that she and the wider independence movement have their breaking-point.  The idea that Scotland can be dragged out of the EU, the single market and the customs union against its will and the Scottish Parliament's powers can be reduced in defiance of the Sewel Convention and the UK government can go to court to get a law of the Scottish Parliament overturned and all of the above can happen despite the Scottish government making efforts in good faith to reach a negotiated settlement...SNP members will be screaming to themselves "if that isn't the change in circumstances that demands a second indyref, what on earth would be?"  The pressure on Nicola Sturgeon to act would be overwhelming, and I doubt if she'd even want to resist it. 

We now have a precedent of a Bill being introduced in spite of doubts over the Scottish Parliament's competence to pass it.  There's no reason why a Bill to legislate for a consultative independence referendum couldn't be brought forward in similar circumstances, with the SNP content to try their luck in the courts.  The current constitutional crisis could well be taking us in that direction - unless, ironically, the Supreme Court or the House of Lords step in over the coming weeks to save the Tories from themselves.

49 comments:

  1. I just hope they remember that they always have the Thatcher Doctrine as a backstop; if Holyrood is unable to legislate, the SNP can revert to using its majority of Scottish MPs as a direct mandate not for a referendum, but for independence itself.

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    1. First they'd have to win a majority while standing on that platform, though.

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    2. SNP Members of Parliament - Do you think there's much doubt anywhere about the platform they stood on?

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    3. Do you think there are people who voted SNP who don't support independence, and who wouldn't have voted for them if the SNP had said that a vote for them equals a vote for independence?

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    4. Possibly, although in this particular case they were probably exceeded by the abstainers who would have turned out to vote SNP if the party had pushed independence a bit more.

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    5. Mubbies aye, mubbies naw. Whatever the case, supposition about what people really meant when they voted SNP isn't going to cut much ice with the national and supranational bodies whom we wish to recognise our independence, and who are already squeamish about any change to the established order. A clear and explicit mandate is required.

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    6. If I could just gently point out that your own question explicitly asked for supposition! I think if all else fails, a Holyrood election is the place to get a mandate. The Thatcher Doctrine is a bit outdated because the Scottish Parliament didn't exist in those days (mainly thanks to Thatcher herself).

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    7. The point of my question was that, absent an explicit commitment from the SNP that a vote for them is an endorsement of independence, there is ambiguity about what voters actually want.

      I think a WM election might actually be preferable to a Holyrood one to obtain such a mandate, since it would negate the whinge that constitutional matters are reserved. In either case, though, the SNP need to set out what people are voting for pre-election.

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    8. I fully understood the point of your question, but the fact remains that you asked for supposition and then objected when I provided some!

      If a Westminster election is used for the mandate, you then get into the messy area of what actually constitutes a mandate under first-past-the-post.

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    9. I didn't "object" to you providing supposition. I said that the fact that such supposition is possible indicates that the SNP's mandate to push for independence without a referendum is highly questionable.

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    10. It's non-existent, I'd have thought. This is a bit of a pointless skirmish - it's overwhelmingly likely that the SNP will seek the referendum route, and if that really does prove to be impossible a Holyrood election would be the next best option. Few people are seriously suggesting UDI, or at least not without obtaining a proper, clear-cut mandate first. However, I do think it's important to stress that your interpretation of last year's election is probably wrong. Support for independence was almost certainly higher, not lower, than the 37% of the vote the SNP achieved.

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  2. May’s haughty dismissal of Scotland is based not just on an assumption of English superiority but Scotland’s national self doubt which May reads as weakness, a country whose bluff can be safely called. May might be right. I hope not - time to put it to the test or get off the pot.

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  3. We're looking at this from within the context of a fair-n-democratic framework, where a decision to call Indy2 is backed up by mandate and numbers, and a decision to block Indy2 is construed from a tenuous interpretation of conventions and laws and a shed load of halfbaked-n-horrible political twisted logic. That's the framework we're referencing to guess where this is all going, and that's why we're confident of getting a 2nd Indyref. I tell you now: these things don't matter a fuck.

    What will happen is that the Scottish Parliament will be blanked and almost certainly put into special measures or closed down completely, and there isn't a thing we can do about it. The press will run cover-2-cover with pro-union propaganda and the unionist parties will fill the BBC with commentary on how "this is a UK-wide project and these measures will ensure UK-wide success." There will be no arbitration to be had. There will be no negotiation. There will be no logic or legality or fairness to it. The devolved administrations will be neutered and supporters of independence will be kettled. There will be no international intervention. The British state has dominion and will exercise that dominance in the face of national crisis. And that's what'll happen. It'll be interesting to watch though. I'm hoping it gets quite far into it before the worldwide nuclear war begins. I'm getting the beers in.

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    1. A person after my own heart.

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    2. But could they really do this? I can see why they'd try, but I think that we're in danger of over-estimating Tory/Westminster capabilities.

      Back in 2010 Len Deighton wrote this: "Anyone who spent much time in Berlin's eastern sector could not fail to see that Germany's communist regime was shaky, although shaky regimes repressive enough sometimes continue for a long time.

      While people in the West were talking about, and even admiring, the stability of the so called German Democratic Republic, its rotten fabric was there for anyone who wasn't wearing pink-coloured glasses - - - but little did I guess that the Wall would come down with such a spectacular crash".

      I've thought for a while now that Deighton's comments (in the introduction to the 2010 edition of "Berlin Game") are a pretty good description of the UK and the Westminster Parliament/Establishment. They make a lot of noise but they're no longer in control and I don't think that they have the resources, energy or will to resist a really strong push.

      Although I think that the push would have to come within the next 18 months or so.

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    3. That sounds exactly right Gordon. In politics, for years it can feel like any fundamental change in direction is impossible, while (it turns out that) under the surface huge changes are happening. . . whether Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, Brexit or Scottish independence, expect the unexpected and don’t believe commentators stuck in the dominant mindset.

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  4. Interesting times, eh?

    Derek

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  5. The nat si problem is is that the Scottish people voted to remain in the Union and the British voted to leave the corrupt mafia EU.
    The Scottish majority are still supporting the Union inspite of most Scots who are feart of leaving the EU entity and want to remain in that corrupt entity.
    It is a political conundrum that will end when we leave the EU.

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    1. I see your political conundrum, we voted to stay in UK with promise we would stay in EU. Subsequently being dragged out of EU by UK means we did not get what we voted for. Now full facts are emerging the only democratic solution is for another democratic vote to solve the conundrum.

      indyref2 would solve this emphatically one way or the other. Nothing else would.

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    2. Dragged out is a term used by the Scottish Nat si propoganda machine who do not accept it was a British UK vote. And the joke is on the Nat sis who opposed the EEC along with Sinn Fein IRA and other right wing parties like the National Front mobsters. We are out and you should be initiating progressive policies to enhance the lives of Scottish people and not beaurocrats.

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    3. Greeting Earthlings,

      We have travelled light years to reclaim a being of enormous value to our Ten-Wombed Spawn Maiden.

      The creature known as GWC2 in your galaxy is our munificent and fertile ruler Nat si's most treasured Glade Sac Polisher.

      The High Gonk from the Office of Holy Orifices requests the return of this beautiful specimen of the Spawn Mother's infinite fecundity to our grateful and tremulous tentacles.

      We come in peace.

      For now.

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    4. The lady known as GWC2 is very interested in the Gentlemen's Water Closet Too.

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    5. If the above attempt at humour is all you Jocks have then River City could survive!

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    6. State of this.

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  6. Indyref 2 would not resolve this because some people would immediately call for indyref 3. We just need huge and clear constitutional reform - federalism.

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    1. Indyref 3 wouldn't be possible after a Yes vote in Indyref 2. I think you mean "UnionRef 1".

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    2. Federalism? That boat sailed long ago, if it was ever on the table in the first place. So to speak.

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    3. Indyref 2 would not resolve this because some people would immediately call for indyref 3.

      Assuming a No vote in indyref2, some would of course keep calling for another re-run, but if Scotland had voted to remain in the UK on the understanding that meant leaving the EU, they would have no case. So indyref2 would indeed resolve the "material change".

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  7. There's no point quibbling about the legalities, especially now: we have to remember that the Westminster regime is perfectly prepared to ride roughshod over the law in order to get its own way, such as by passing legislation making acts lawful post facto that had earlier been found unlawful in a court of law.

    The May regime's reneging on the Phase 1 agreement proves that it is incapable of negotiating in good faith anyway.

    We must always bear in mind that even if the UK Supreme Court were to find an Act of the Scottish Government unconstitutional, its decision could be appealed in the Court of Justice of the European Union - I think I have the name of the institution right!

    Of course, as an independent nation, we would not have to justify our actions to the Westminster regime at all. Independence would be like Alexander's solution to his little Gordian knot problem...

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  8. In my mind the Continuity Bill is the advance party or forlorn hope. Test Westminster, the courts and use the outcome as a springboard to the actual objective. Increasingly obvious Holyrood is going to have to act without Westminster S30. What surprises me, perhaps they know what they're doing but I have my doubts, is why Labour is supporting the Continuity Bill. Maybe they see if as an easy cop because ultimately the UK will stymie Scotland and they can say they supported it but my suspicion is it will lead to something as Unionists they won't be able to support; that being some kind of consultative referendum that Holyrood uses to illustrate the democratic deficit at the heart of Unionism. Only by doing so can we hope to finally (maybe) get through to people living, working here that ultimately they have no real power and are at the mercy of the UK government with it's increasingly AirStripOne policies.

    Hopefully someone in power, Scot Gov has a strategy to effect some kind of show down. The position to the people of Scotland has to be 'back us or sack us'. More constitutional polarisation is what's needed.

    Sorry for the grammar etc, appalling.

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  9. The treaty of union was between two Parliaments, Scottish and English.
    the English members have altered it, with their majority, out of all proportions to suit themselves. The Scottish Government should just unnul the Treaty.

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    1. The Scottish Gov would require another referendum to annul the treaty as the Scottish people voted to remain.

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    2. State of this.

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    3. It would be a good idea if the Nat sis declared UDI. Just what we Unionists want you to do.

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    4. Scotland and England ceased to exist as political sovereign states after The Act of Union. All MPs are British MPs, and have equal status in the UK Parliament. We now have devolved Parliaments, and each MSP has equal status, even though southern Scotland could outvote the highlands. It’s based on population which is fair.

      That’s my take on things, a central union government, a Devolved national government and then local governments. I think it works okay.

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    5. Not so Union2 There was no Union of the parliaments in 1707.
      Only the Scots parliament was abolished.
      England's Parliament continued with the addition of Scots members.
      The Scottish people were humiliated.
      Burns wrote of the parcel o rogues
      who accepted bribes from the English parliament.
      But you knew that didn't you?
      There's real history and British spun history.
      Inconvenient for you but it won't stop your rosy view of Scotland's p
      Awlight in this unfair union.

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    6. Really? I thought the 2 kingdoms merged to form a new country - Great Britain. England’s Parliament ceased to exist like Scotland’s.

      There’s no English Parliament now...

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    7. Except you said yourself it was about population and England outnumbers, outvotes and overrules Scotland Wales & NI..
      85% outvotes the rest every time.
      It's not rocket science.. It's arithmetic.
      It's why we have nuclear weapons on our soil, but no oil fund in the bank like Norway.
      Try #Overrule not Union.

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    8. I take your point but Scotland is part of the UK. Scots are British. London is outvoted by the UK, Cornwall is outvoted by the UK.

      In the Scottish Parliament Orkney & Shetland are outvoted.

      The UK is outvoted in the EU, and independent Scotland would be outvoted in the EU.

      Unless every street & household becomes independent there will always be that situation.

      We’re a small island (Great Britain) so let’s not create an international border on it. Let’s continue the devolution journey. That’s just my opinion.

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    9. Great Britain is not a "small island". It's the ninth-largest island in the whole world. It also has almost 1% of the entire world population. I've no idea what's so strange or horrific about an international border on a particularly large island.

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    10. Correct James and also should be pointed out that UK includes Northern Ireland.
      You know or have you forgotten that Ireland was Divided/Partitioned by the British.
      Now that is an artificial border.
      You seem to have a London-rule mindset.
      Are you British or Scottish?

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    11. I take you points of view but can’t you be Scottish and British?

      NI can leave and become part of Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement, but the majority there don’t want that.

      ...and I must disagree Great Britain is a small island, being the ninth largest hardly makes it large. We punch above our weight internationally because we’re a united one with a strong history and soft power.

      I believe Scotland has the best of both worlds with a devolved Parliament (but I recognise I’ll be in the minority on this site!).

      Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with a central government in London as it is the capital!

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    12. The United Kingdom spans from just south of the 50th parallel to just north of the 60th parallel - in other words it covers more than one-ninth of the distance between the Equator and the North Pole. It's not a "small island".

      There's nothing intrinsically wrong with a central government capital in Dublin or Oslo. Presumably you don't support that?

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    13. I still disagree, we’re 78th by size, that’s my perspective.

      I support a capital where the country’s Parliament is, therefore Scotland has 2 capitals to me.

      Any news on when the next polls come out? I’m hoping things will swing one way or another because I can’t stand this 45-55 ‘limbo’ we’re in. Either let’s have another referendum soon or let’s rule it out completely.

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    14. England is de facto independent.
      What England wants we all get.
      The only way out of that scenario is Scottish Statehood.
      Devolution gives just 30% powers to
      Holyrood.
      Does that seem about right to you?

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    15. 60% would be better for me, a looser union.

      England can still be outvoted - for example Brexit wouldn’t have been won if enough Scots or Welsh or N Irish had voted against it.

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  10. Fred Dibnah RetiredMarch 10, 2018 at 1:41 AM

    We need to get rid of the over abundance of politicians and promote industry and prosperity.

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