Ever since the First Minister announced her strategy for bringing about a lawful vote on Scottish independence, the British nationalist parties have been throwing all their energies into trying to prevent another referendum. However they will not be able to prevent the vote from taking place forever, whether it comes in the form of a referendum or takes place as a de facto referendum during a UK General Election. This means that at some point, Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems are going to have to present themselves to the people of Scotland and face the people’s verdict on their attempts to stymie Scottish democracy and to prevent the Scottish Parliament implementing the mandate given to it in the last Holyrood elections. Asking the people to give you a mandate to ignore them is certainly a novel proposition in a democratic election, but that is exactly what the anti-independence parties are going to have to do.
The current anger and denialism from the opponents of independence is because they are struggling to get their British nationalist exceptionalist and supremacist heads around a new political reality, the reality created by a Scottish Government which has told them that their permission is not required, they have been invited to participate in the process, to make their case for this so-called Union which they claim is of such immense to the people of Scotland, and to let the people decide, or they can continue to try and block the question from being put to the people and see the vote go ahead without their consent, by which time they will have destroyed any pretence that this union is what they have always asserted it to be and they will have lost all control of the process.
The Anglo-British nationalist parties will be forced to defend the proposition that there is no democratic route to independence within this supposed union of equals until politicians who have no mandate in Scotland grant permission for a referendum. Their pretence that they are unionists and not nationalists will be have been stripped away and they will stand revealed as Anglo-British nationalists. Yet suppose it was England which wished to leave this union: whose permission would it have to seek? Brexit supporters would have screamed seven shades of murder if the EU had told the UK that it needed the permission of Brussels in order to hold a referendum on EU membership, they would have said that it was an affront to democracy and would constitute proof that the UK needed to leave the EU in order for the people to have their say, and they’d have been right. But that is precisely what they demand of Scotland. It’s funny how they have lost all their qualms about the denial of democracy when it’s them who are doing the denying.
It’s supposed to be Scotland which is powerless. It’s supposed to be Scotland which has no choice but to “Suck it up,” a phrase which is going to haunt Alister Jack and cause him to have long sleepless nights. It’s the phrase that will accompany his sobs when he realises that he has been instrumental in destroying this so-called union that he claims to love so much. No wonder they are raging, they have no conceptual framework for dealing with a political reality in which they do not hold all the cards.
Meanwhile let’s get one thing straight. The Anglo-British nationalists continually harp on that the 2014 referendum was billed as a “once in a generation” vote. They know full well that that was campaigning rhetoric aimed at increasing voter participation. It was not on the ballot paper, it was not a part of the Edinburgh Agreement. They also know that the people cannot be bound by the rhetoric of a politician during a campaign, otherwise Boris Johnson and the Conservatives would be in even more trouble than they are already. By this time Johnson should be dead in a ditch.
But while we are on the topic of campaign rhetoric why is it that it’s only Alex Salmond’s “once in a generation” claim that has been elevated to the status of holy writ? What about David Cameron’s claim that the UK is a partnership of equals? What about the promise that no Westminster government would ever interfere with the devolution settlement without Holyrood’s consent?
And then there is that troubling little matter of Scotland’s EU membership. Even if it were true that Scotland becoming independent would have resulted in it having to leave the EU, and that is a very big if indeed, we are now eight years down the line and Scotland would by this time have rejoined the EU as a member in its own right. As things stand we are out of the EU against our will and as part of the UK without any prospect of getting back in for many many years to come. Even if there was a sea change in British politics which is unlikely now that both Labour and the Lib Dems are Brexit parties, it is highly unlikely that the EU would want to let the UK back in. It would be like a pub landlord letting back in a patron who did nothing but complain about the drinks options before knocking over the drinks of all the other customers, starting a fight, and then vomiting all over the bar. An independent Scotland would be welcomed as a pro-European nation which sought independence in order to affirm its commitment to European values. The UK, not so much.
As I have observed on this blog before, democracy doesn’t mean holding the losers of a vote to account for their campaign rhetoric, it means holding the winners to account for theirs.
For all the challenges facing the independence movement, it at least has a clear vision of a Scotland in which the democratic choices of the people of this country are respected and implemented. All that the Anglo-British nationalist parties have to offer is a UK which ignores the will of Scotland and treats this country with contempt. No wonder they are so desperate to stop another independence referendum and are having a temper tantrum now that they realise that they cannot prevent Scotland from having its say.
Many thanks to everyone who kindly supported the annual fundraiser. It’s always a nerve wracking time, I’m literally asking people to put their money where my mouth is. I’m delighted to say that the target of £5000 wasn’t just reached it was smashed. From all sources, the Gofundme page, PayPal donations, and direct donations by cheque or into my bank account, the grand total raised was an incredible £11,094. In my wildest dreams I could not have expected it to go so well and my deepest thanks to everyone who contributed. It is heartening to know that so many people value my writing and that there is still an appreciative audience for a positive pro-independence message that concentrates on making the case for independence and debunking the arguments of the real enemies of Scottish independence, the Conservatives and their little helpers. That’s what I will keep doing thanks to you.
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