by Christian Wright
Update 27/07/2015 . . .
Citing the humiliating treatment of the Scottish people’s democratically elected representatives at the hands of baying English MPs over the issue of FFA, PAUL KAVANAGH masterfully articulates the end of the Union’s usefulness to Scots (in this article in The National), providing an apt segue to an inevitable conclusion and the next logical question:
Given that there is no chance of the will of the Scottish electorate prevailing over the massed ranks of English MPs, our only hope of salvation lies in the dissolution of our union with England. How do we effect that?
Still a lot of talk from Nationalist leaders of the need for a fundamental change in circumstance before another referendum could be considered (witness Salmond on Marr, yesterday). In truth the only “material change” of relevance will be that point where we can be confident a robust majority sentiment in favour of independence will be sustainable through the indyref2 campaign.
The determining factor for the GO/NO-GO decision on indyref2, must be that datum. It and it alone should be the trigger. What that critical mass might be is open to discussion – say 55% for a sustained period? 60%?
(James Kelly makes the point that we cannot wait until a YES vote is an absolute certainty before going for indyref2, for it will never be a certain outcome, and it is unlikely we will again be better placed to action it than within the next few years.
Another imperative is the spectre of Scotland Bill, imposing partial revenue-raising responsibilities on the Scottish government without contentment power to grow the economy.)
The causes of the swing will likely be multifarious and include: frustration with Westminster’s intransigence; a sense of betrayal over the VOW; realisation that in so many crucial matters, we are under direct rule from London; that unionism is de facto, colonial rule, wherein Scots are vassals in a vassal state, that comprises a constituent territory of England’s inner empire.
Then there’s the demographic shift – nature taking its course: 75% of those 65 and over voted NO. That original cohort is of course going to continue to shrink. Their replacements, polls indicate, are far more YES friendly.
What percentage of the population is 65 and over, and what is 85% (the turnout) of that number? That product is considerably greater than the 200,000 + votes that would change NO to YES. In fact, according to the Scottish government the cohort of those 65 and over comprises 17% of the entire population.
So simply waiting awhile we become the majority by default, anyway.
With respect to bread and butter matters of effecting constitutional change:
On the likelihood of another Edinburgh agreement – I think we must prepare for the contingency where Westminster refuses point blank to move Section 30 enabling legislation.
We need insist that in matters constitutional the people of Scotland are sovereign, and independence is a matter for them and them alone. If the Scottish people want a referendum, there will be a referendum. And if in that referendum the People vote for independence, then Scotland will dissolve its union with England.
Based on the Claim of Right (Scotland) 1689 and article 19 of the Treaty of Union and the interpretation of both by Lord Cooper in 1953 in McCormack vs the Lord Advocate, Westminster agreed that:
1. The considered will of the people of Scotland remained paramount as stated in the 1689 Claim of Right and protected for all time by article 19 of the Treaty of Union which protected Scotland’s Laws and constitutional practices.
2. Under the terms of the 1707 Treaty of Union the UK Parliament has no role to play in any changes or alterations to the Treaty of Union (by definition, to include its dissolution) as only the original sovereign signatory parliaments have that power.
We will not seek to secede FROM the UK, we will dissolve it (again, since without Scotland, there is no UK).
The United Kingdom of Great Britain is a legal and political entity formed by the Union of two and only two countries – the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England (incorporating Wales). It was created by a bilateral internationally recognised treaty.
There can be no continuing state of an extinguished voluntary union of two nations. It is on its face a daft proposition.
Consider the tautology: When the Union is dissolved, the Union ceases to be.
So, given the foregoing, try this gedankenexperiment:
The scenario is that provision for a referendum on independence is part of the SNP manifesto for the Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2016. The SNP win the election with an absolute majority.
The Scottish Parliament passes legislation authorising the plebiscite but the Westminster Parliament refuses to move Section 30 enabling legislation. The Government of Scotland being mindful of the express will of the People and their parliament, decide to move forward anyway with a national consultation, a plebiscite, to ascertain the will of the People with respect to resuming our independence.
1. How does Westminster stop the consultation with and the balloting of, the Scottish electorate? No Scottish court will stop it, Police Scotland would not interfere, and the so-called UK Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in this matter.
2. If subsequently, the People having voted AYE and in the face of continuing UK Government obduracy, the Scottish Parliament enacts legislation dissolving the Treaty (Acts) of Union, thus effecting independence, who’s going to stop them and how?
(Is it even remotely credible we would see Scotland invaded by England and Cameron goosestepping his way to anschluss?)
Some will cite the case of Catalonia and argue NO voters would en masse refuse to participate in the plebiscite and that it’s legitimacy would be further undermined by the non-participation of the Electoral Commission (the less charitable might offer that given their behaviour during indyref1, the EC’s absence could only enhance the legitimacy of indyref2).
But indyref2 would NOT be “just like Catalonia’s”, for we already know from indyref1 what a winning threshold would be, nor could it be seen as illegitimate if just over 200,000 more voters (a 5% swing) vote YES than did in indyref1, regardless of the turnout for NO.
We know with an 85% turnout last time that the practical limits in terms of voter participation for NO had been reached. If it looked remotely likely that number was set to increase, an indyref2 would not even be contemplated for YES would not be 5 to 10 poins ahead at the outset.
If the yes vote exceeds ~1.8 million the integrity of the outcome of an indyref2 vote is beyond reproach regardless of the turnout for “NO”
(which is not remotely likely to exceed the difference comprising the total participation of indyref1)