Thursday, June 14, 2018

This may seem impossible, but the UK government is even less committed to the Sewel Convention today than it was yesterday

David Mundell's statement to the House of Commons today was extraordinary.  It wasn't simply that he failed to strike a conciliatory tone or offer any path towards compromise.  It wasn't simply that he repeated his unconvincing justifications for the UK government's unprecedented breach of the Sewel Convention.  He actually went a step further than any UK minister had ever gone before by unilaterally changing the terms of the Sewel Convention, thus leaving the Scottish Parliament utterly defenceless against any future attempt by the UK government to further reduce its powers or abolish it altogether.

As I understand it, until today the UK government at least accepted that the Sewel Convention precluded it, in "normal" circumstances, from legislating on devolved matters without consent.  Its excuse for breaching the convention on this occasion was that this is a one-off exception in circumstances that are not "normal".  But today Mundell insisted that the convention allows (indeed "requires"!) the UK government to legislate without consent whenever the Scottish Parliament has been asked to consent but no agreement is reached.  Essentially Sewel Mark II as set out today is a rapist's charter: consent need not be obtained but merely sought.  "My client took every reasonable step to obtain the woman's consent, your honour, but regrettably she was being stubborn."  There is no longer any requirement for circumstances to be "abnormal" for a refusal of consent to be ignored - future breaches could in fact become fairly routine.  (The way Mundell would frame it is that circumstances are automatically deemed to be "abnormal" whenever the Scottish Parliament withholds consent, thus setting up an almost comical circular argument that deprives the words "normal" and "consent" of any meaning.)

I would suggest this has enormous implications for the next independence referendum.  Personally, I've never believed it's likely that any UK government in anything like the foreseeable future would seek to abolish the Scottish Parliament outright.  But it doesn't matter what I think is likely, it only matters what the public think is plausible, and after the events of the last 72 hours, a lot of soft No voters will now have entirely rational doubts about just how secure Holyrood's foundations really are.  If the next Yes campaign presents the choice as being between independence and no Scottish Parliament at all, that may resonate in a way that would have been unthinkable in 2014.

With almost every move they make, the Tories are idiotically weakening their own hand in any referendum campaign.  They're putting all their eggs in the basket of preventing that referendum taking place before the current mandate expires in 2021.  That's one game we mustn't help them with.

65 comments:

  1. The comments by Mundell were concise and legally accurate. The so called Sewell Convention is in the scrapbook of history. The Jock Nat si party are aiding the progress towards a so called hard brexit however they are so thick thry do not know it.

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    1. The GWC2 impersonator is a brick for the Union.

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  3. They are playing the long game, dont underestimate them they know exactly what they are doing.

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  4. This in a nutshell for me is the real reason why we can't afford to delay with indyref2 - it should be held before Scotland is offically out of the EU. I realise there are risks with calling the vote 'too early', but they are outweighed in my mind by the risk of what could happen if we fail to recognise the existential threat to our democracy right now, that is being emboldened by Brexit and the power-grab with every passing day.

    Once we're dragged out of the EU in March next year, there will be nothing standing in the way of Westminster passing legislation to close Holyrood as soon as it can clear a quick 15 minutes of parliamentary time for another sham-vote, and who's going to stop the Tories from doing so? The English unionist parties will always have a majority to railroad anything they like through Westminster, no matter how queasy it might make some of them. People up here could go on a week-long general strike in protest, and cry about it to the international press, but the EU will not intervene once we're out of Europe and no longer their concern. They won't intervene in Catalonia even now.

    With no Holyrood there can be no referendum, and while some desperate declaration of UDI for post-Brexit Scotland might garner some sympathy abroad, nobody internationally will lift a finger to help us (in fact, given Scotland's oil status, the US would probably pile in with the troops to help London 'maintain order'...?).

    The associated morality, legitimacy or upending of constitutional 'tradition' in a headlong march to UK-wide fascism will not stop this new-breed of Tory - see how moved they are by the children who burned alive in Tory-administered Grenfell Tower for a demonstration of the values that they hold dear. They ARE fascists. These people are contemptuous of democracy itself - and they remain highly dangerous despite the cultivated air of incompetance they showboat around Boris Johnson.

    That they're not even bothering to hide their malevolent intentions towards Holyrood anymore should be a wake-up call that they don't intend to ever give the SNP the chance to hold an indyref2. Scotland must never be taken out of the EU protective framework by these nutters.

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    1. The EU was powerless to act on Catalonia because of Spain's veto. If the UK crashes out and begins to act with tyranny, the EU would not be blocked by an UK veto. Spanish government has since changed hands and would be more vexed by the consequences of Brexit(Gibraltar and its territorial waters) than the threat of abetting secession elsewhere. The governments of Ireland, Netherlands, France, Denmark and others may face domestic pressure to "do something" due to their consequences.

      Hah.

      The UK establishment has no idea what's coming. In 2014 the EU had to work for them. Even now, they still do to a degree. After March? Whether there is a transition deal or not, the EU is no longer constrained by the UK's interests.

      We will trigger this referendum. We will take a year to debate the issues. And then we will vote before 2021.

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    2. They won't close Holyrood down, simply because they don't have to. It's already well on the way to being defanged and rendered utterly useless.

      Why close it when it provides an illusion, a comfort blanket for the misinformed?

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  5. They have been shaping up to abolish/bypass Holyrood for some time because without Scotland Greater England will simply be England and in a much diminished position to do trade deals etc.
    Holyrood represents a threat to that and so must be neutered.
    As always,Scotland's interests must be sacrificed in order to serve Greater England's,or so they say.

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    1. Aye the auld anti English fascist hatred expoldes. We love you. Why not try the armed struggle like we did and failed. Kill the Protestants and Unionists.

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    2. £_4%;¥€="!₩£?/"9€% 9urfn rpfi m

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  6. The people of Scotland are sovereign.

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  7. The thing is we’re part of the UK which is a unitary state. The UK is sovereign so can do what it likes, as Mundell says.

    I’d prefer a federal state and will votes for parties that campaign for it but for now, for people in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, our undivided country is the UK.

    That’s what Scotland decided to keep just a few years ago.

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    1. Your preference for a federal UK would still leave England in full control of Scotland.
      I'd prefer a Scottish Republic but like your choice it would be an unrealistic indulgence at present.
      Scottish independence however is very much on the table and available to voters if the Scottish Govt. can negotiate a good deal to be endorsed by Scots voters. The status quo is after all no longer on the table. The Scottish people are sovereign and will have their say.

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    2. Union 2.0,
      unfortunately that is not what was argued by NO in 2014 was it. In 2014 we were told Scotland would have 'the most powerful devolved parliament in the world' and that we should 'lead the UK not Leave it' etc. Now it turns out that the devolution settlement voted for by a large majority of Scots in 1998 is itself being ripped up while supposed 'federalists' like yourself are now claiming that the 98 Scotland Act actually had no legal authority in the first place... That Scotland, rather than being in a 'partnership of equals' within the UK is actually part of a unitary 'undivided country' called the UK and that Scotland does not exist as a country but rather we are a region of a Country.

      I agree that this is the actual legal reality of Scotland's constitutional position within the Union. I and many others were arguing the very same facts during IndyRef1 to expose that powerless 'unitary' reality to a Scots electorate who have consistently been told by the unionist parties in Scotland that the opposite story is true (and we made much headway). It was this headway that forced the illegal breaking of purdah from all unionist party leaders two days before the vote in a last ditch attempt to shore up the old lies by publishing the 'Vow' and promising 'even more' fabulous devolved powers that would be absolutely constitutionally guaranteed by an act of Parliament if we vote No. (Of course this never happened and instead the Sewel convention was proven in court to be worthless and has since been ripped up along).

      This is the point of the recent events Union2.0. Not that you or Mundell are factually or legally wrong about Scotland's current constitutional status but rather that you, Mundell and the British establishment are actually telling the truth about that constitutional status for the first time to the electorate of Scotland. This is coming as an enormous Shock to many soft NO voters as they were the very people who have always believed the ancient but concocted unionist narrative about 'family of nations', 'partnership of equals', 'most powerful devolved parliament in the world', 'best of both worlds' etc... It was acceptance of this fiction by a good majority of soft NO's in the last few days of campaigning that swung IndyRef1 for NO (that plus the threat of being forced out of the EU).

      You and the British establishment are now casually telling every one of those soft NO voters who trusted in you and the old story of UK as multinational state 'Oh don't be so naive... of course that narrative was only a way to win in 2014 and has never really been true. Obviously you can't really run a country like that'

      That is the point and that is why you have just lost IndyRef2 whenever it gets called...

      Really looking forward to us campaigning on the same message next time Union2.0 ;)

      braco

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    3. Your post is constitutionally ignorant; the Treaty and Acts of Union preserved Scots Law and guaranteed it's continuing independence. The Claim of Right (1689) explicitly states the sovereignty of Scotland's people and that pre-union statute is still in force. Just because Westminster thinks it's above the law doesn't mean we have to accept their false interpretation of it.

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  8. In reply to Union 2.0
    There can be no federal setup in the UK because that would entail the closure of the lords and a cutting down in size of the commons. To achieve that would require a lot of those people down there to vote themselves out of a job. Do you actually thing that would happen? Turkeys, if given the chance wouldn't vote for Christmas, would they? And your point about the UK being sovereign and a country is laughable. The UK is not a country, Scotland is a country and if you did a little digging you'd find that the people of Scotland are sovereign.

    It won't be long before we use that sovereignty and end this complete nonsense forever.

    And you're welcome.

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    1. We all voted democratically in proportional elections for a Scottish Government that explicitly promised in their manifesto to hold a referendum if there were material changes made to the status quo that won the vote during IndyRef1. We run democracy on elections, not newspaper polls. Your persona of 'reasonable' federalist unionist is already slipping Union2.0, and under such limited pressure too. Better buck up or you won't even make it to the campaign period with the debating respect you have been trying to cultivate on here over the last year or so... :(

      You and the British state are arguing that the obvious material changes everyone is identifying are not changes at all because the UK was obviously always technically like this, a unitary state and not a 'family of nations'. Also, the EU issue was Not about Scotland being forced out of the EU if we voted Yes but rather all about the UK deciding as a whole whither to leave the EU or not as a 'Unitary State'. These were the opposite messages central to the NO campaign in 2014 and so I can see why you would not want those campaigning promises revisited in light of your current position.

      Unfortunately for you, there will be an IndyRef2 soon and NO will have to sell the truth this time and not the ancient fantasy of Scotland as equal partner in a Union of Countries. You could of course try your Federalist retreads again...

      Good luck with all that Union2.0. You are going to need it

      braco

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    2. @Union2.0:

      9 wolves and a sheep are voting on who's for dinner. You are the sheep. What should you do?

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    3. Illy,

      I’d vote for whichever wolf I didn’t like. That’s democracy.

      That’s why in the Scots Parliament the Lib Dem majority in Orkney & Shetland are outvoted by the SNP & Greens.

      That’s why in Southern Scotland the conservative majorities are outvoted.

      That’s democracy- it’s how it works within Scotland too!

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    4. So you'd sit there and sit quietly while you're eaten when all the wolves vote for you?

      I honestly cannot comprehend your thought process there.

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  9. Can I just pull you over one statement please:

    ‘We all voted democratically in proportional elections for a Scottish Government that explicitly promised in their manifesto to hold a referendum if there were material changes’

    No Union2.0 you can't. We ALL voted in the elections to decide on the Government. That does not matter who you voted for. That is called democracy. Secondly, decisions are made by governments but passed by parliaments. Only the ability to produce a majority in parliamentary votes allows a mandate to be enacted. The Scottish government has a majority in Parliament to enact it's explicit manifesto commitment. This is how democracy actually works in Scotland and the UK. You don't even need to mention particular parties when it comes to such very basic principles. You are shocking and saddening me with your cynicism Union2.0...

    What could be scaring you so much that you are so willing to undermine the most basic of your own UK constitutional and democratic principles?

    braco

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    1. Of course you should stand up and argue for your views. I do the same. That's why I voted for a party that had a clause in its manifesto that said it had the right to hold an independence referendum after a material change of circumstances (it even named Brexit specifically as an example of such a material change). A democratic election (an accurate poll of the people; not a weighted newspaper poll) produced the independence supporting majority in parliament that we have today.

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    2. Okay, so what now? Are they going to call for one or play it safe and wait until the people want one?

      What will the UK say?

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    3. It's up to the elected government. I'm happy to leave the decision to the professionals.

      What will the UK say? You mean to a Section 30 request?

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    4. Yes, what conditions do you think they will require to accept another section 30 request?

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    5. The British government makes it up as it goes along (cf. Brexit negotiations), so who's to say what its conditions are or will be.

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    6. Haha. What a mess we’re all in!

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    7. I honestly don't think Westminster will grand another section 30 request.

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    8. Of course they won't grant a Section 30 order. The referendum will have to go ahead without one. That's been obvious for some time.

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  10. I think, for the sake of accuracy, the UK should be referred to as a state and not a country to distinguish it from its component elements, the countries of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    Feel free to call Wales a Principality if you wish but I doubt if many who identify themselves as Welsh thinks of Wales in that manner. As for Northern Ireland, well its not a country but it does possess a devolved administration and is not a state, so country seems appropriate for there also, though sooner rather than later it is likely to unite with the Republic of Ireland.

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    1. Hear you. Not persuaded re country for NI. Tricky though - I can't see "the four substate units" or whatever catching on. The four territories is quite good, neutral. I do bridle every time I hear the UK state being called a country. I have the impression those living in NI don't think of it as a country.

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  11. Btw rumours of imminent Irish unification have been a bit overstated. There was one stunning poll pointing to a near even split between leave and remain (in the UK) but previous and subsequent polls have shown a far larger gap in favour of staying in UK. I think the shock poll was actually worded in that rather weird way.... Or at least included that wording, Leave or remain..... Which may have confused things.

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    1. Well, interdependence pertains regardless. All states are interdependent in one way or another. But i suspect the UK is on its last legs. I realize you'll be sad about that while I'll be crying for a day, tears of profound and utter joy. I say that with respect, you and other unionists are of course as entitled to your view as anyone else. Assuming Scotland does obtain indy and one day the rUK follows the US into some horrible blood drenched war while Scotland keeps well out of it, do you think you might feel quite pleased it's independence? A hypothetical, I know, I'm just curious

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    2. Well that depends on the nature and legality of the war and if we’re fighting to defend ourselves etc. I presume you agree in WW2 fighting for each other in the UK was right.

      I know the English, Welsh and Northern Irish are a bit different but I see us as play-fighting siblings - I see us as ‘a people’ and I’d be gutted if we all became separated and a foreign country.

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    3. A people? Foreign? I don't think any differently of someone from France, the United States, England or Japan than I do of someone from here. We are all just people. Whether someone is 'foreign' or from a 'foreign country' is neither here nor there.

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    4. I think the English and Scots are the same. Same land same people.

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    5. Union 2, yeah absolutely, all the many countries that fought the Nazis were doing the right thing. But how I wish Scotland had been independent and kept out of the Bushite disaster in Iraq.

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    6. Union2.0 'I think the English and Scots are the same. Same land same people'

      Very different political culture though, and that;s the point.

      You are sounding very 'blood and soil' there Union2.0. One people one land? FFS!

      braco

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    7. so what ? Austrians and Germans are practically the same, so are portugese and Spanish. Does'nt mean they are in the same state.
      The UK is not a unitary state anyway, its a dual monarchy, the parlimentary integration of England and scotland was an 18th century security mechanism to prevent a Stuart restoration hardly the basis for a 21st century political structure.

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    8. It is a unitary state. The difference is we’re a people of a land currently united, we don’t need an international border on Great Britain. That’s my wish, not independence but powers from within.

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    9. All very well Union2.0 but currently a very large % of the Scottish population does not want what you 'wish for'. So, answer me this please: Should Scotland remaining in the UK be by the continued consent of its population?

      If Yes, then how can you be against finding out if that consent exists? You are currently supporting a position where a democratically and proportionally elected Scottish Parliament is being denied the right to ask its population that simple consent question (and denied by a government that the Scottish population did not elect).

      If No, then you need to step away from any claims of being a democrat and come to terms with the fact that the policy you are advancing is colonial.

      Scotland remaining within the UK is a matter of consent. That consent has only ever been asked once in over three hundred years. It is now simply not acceptable to try and keep the UK together by denying the electorate of Scotland their democratic right to express consent to continued participation in the UK.

      Its time, long overdue, that the Union started making an honest and positive case for its existence. I do not think there is such a case but a referendum campaign is the political stage where both sides can be heard and that consent decision can be made. That is now the only way an entity like the UK can continue while remaining 'democratic'

      Please answer the Question Union2.0 so I know whither to continue debating with you or not. Thanks.

      Should Scotland remaining in the UK be by the continued consent of its population?

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    10. Sorry Union2.0, that last 7:23 anon was me.

      braco

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    11. That’s fine. Does that mean you want a referendum every few years to check it’s still the consensus? Should the other UK countries do the same?

      How often should the question be asked? If there’s a yes vote tomorrow should there be another vote the next year before we’re actually declaring independence?

      At what stage do you put a nation’s stability first?

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    12. Does that mean you want a referendum every few years to check it’s still the consensus?

      Yes if the population democratically vote for a government that has it in their manifesto as a central commitment.


      Should the other UK countries do the same?
      Yes of course, if their population feels strongly enough to elect a governing party with that as a manifesto commitment. The decision is about their country and not another populations country.

      How often should the question be asked?
      As often as the population vote for a governing party that promises it in their manifesto and that party secures the parliamentary majority to pass it.

      If there’s a yes vote tomorrow should there be another vote the next year before we’re actually declaring independence?
      Of course not. The next parliamentary mandate for another referendum could only be won by a party standing in the next elections with a manifesto commitment to form an Union with rUK. If they win power and can secure a parliamentary majority for that referendum then we hold the referendum. Same as we have had to do. Its not difficult democratic principle to follow Union2.0

      At what stage do you put a nation’s stability first?
      What nation Union2.0? UK is not a nation. It is a multinational state. History has shown (Uk history) that a nation forced against the will of it's democratic majority into a constitutional arrangement controlled by its larger neighbouring nation, will not remain stable. In fact it will be the cause of massive political instability and a source of violence. This is the lesson of the collapse of Colonialism worldwide. Britain's history is drenched in it and it may be reignited with this latest bout of Empire2.0 nostalgia if the good Friday Agreement gets reneged upon.

      There Union2.0 all answered. Perhaps you could try answering my one simple question from before?

      Should Scotland remaining in the UK be by the continued consent of its population?

      braco

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    13. You Say 'Yes' Unionion2.0 ?

      So, THIS Parliament has already voted for another referendum, it still has a parliamentary majority for it and the Scottish government has a manifesto commitment to hold another referendum if we leave the EU. That is a democratic mandate from the Scottish electorate to hold another Independence referendum any time before the next Holyrood elections. Yet you still do not support the right of our Parliament to hold that referendum with the agreement of Westminster (as per the UK constitutional precedent set by the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement the last time this situation arose in 2012)

      So your 'Yes' answer is actually a 'NO'

      Why did you feel you had to lie like that Union2.0. All I am asking for is your honest answer (as I have tried to give to all your questions). You are coming across as very evasive and uncomfortable with the unfortunate logic of your emotional position of support for the current tactics needed in defense of your Union? I feel for you but you and others have to come to terms with the colonial realities of what this undemocratic 'defense of your union' entails. You can then honestly own that odious position if you want, but don't try and pretend that it is in any way democratic and that you are interested in discussion and debate over Scottish democratic constitutional principles. You are not.

      Everything else you have said in your last post is wishful thinking and assumption which is neither here nor there when it comes to the current constitutional crisis facing Scotland and the UK.

      I am disappointed to say that my search for an honest positive case for your Union goes on. Hoped you might have been able to help but perhaps there simply is not one left. Only the emotional ones that I and many others obviously cannot share.

      This, above all, is why the UK is finished as a democratically accepted entity. Trying to defend it puts nice, reasonable guys like yourself into the emotional position of being forced to lie in defense of it for lack of an actual democratic case.

      I truly feel for you Union2.0 but its too self indulgent and dangerous a position for you or anybody else to hold without getting properly called out for it. It's colonialism and we all know how that usually dies if left to fester...

      braco

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    14. Please don’t be harsh. My view is a perfectly acceptable and reasonable one, just like yours.

      Goodbye

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    15. Why on earth would you feel foreign? Surely one as an individual is the norm to oneself therefore can't become foreign. Unless one feels that others are a norm to which one should confirm. Which is kind of sad in an adult.

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  12. Mundell is relying on Article XXV of the Act of Union 1707: http://www.rahbarnes.co.uk/Union/UnionWithEnglandAct.php

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  13. In other news James G Brown has threatened Scotland with permanent austerity if we dare to stop england from raping our country. What a nice man. Treason is obviously bad for you. He's only 67 but looks 20 years older. Much like his fellow War Criminal ACLB.

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    1. Blair is not a war criminal.

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    2. And Stalin wasn't a psychotic murderer.

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  14. Scottish Nationalists applaud Ukranian fascist.

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    1. Yeah was absurd on part of parliamentary authorities but the clapping msps knew sod all about him so let's not pretend they were clapping nazism.

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    2. Holocaust VictimsJune 15, 2018 at 9:23 PM

      We supposedly have intelligent people with a sense of history in authority in our country! SEEMS NOT.

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    3. Holocaust VictimsJune 15, 2018 at 9:33 PM

      al skinner, perhaps you can explain what they were clapping! MAYBE they just have the clap!! Maybe they did not know this shit was anti semite anti Jewish, anti human.

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  15. How about we make artybagger pay for the new glasgow art school since she's now responsible for twice burning the original to the ground?

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  16. And good riddance to the ugliest and most over-rated building in the ugliest city with the ugliest citizens on Planet Earth.
    Not a penny of Government money should go towards replacing it. Glasgow can try paying for itself instead of being a parasite on the rest of Scotland. The true subsidy junkies all have a GL postcode. Sectarian bigots every last junkie razor gang corrupt councillor and biased parochial media member.

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    1. Ok there are more than a few fat ugly women in Glesgie and some look like men however they are mainly confined to the bus stops in Union Street.
      What is left of the facade could be placed in a new single tier low level building next to a fire station. NOTED wee Knickerless McFudd got another photo opp as she does.

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    2. Well said, Jacob.

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  17. Westminster is making clear to Scots that as long as we remain part of the UK,democracy in Scotland is the gift of Westminster.
    This is clearly at odds with Scotland's historic constitutional position where it is the people of Scotland who decide.
    This has to be resolved one way or the other now that London has declared devolution dead.

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