Is it me?

This is video from the Women for Independence AGM. At 50 minutes we hear the First Minister answering a question about the timing of action to resolve Scotland’s constitutional issue. I find her response both disappointing and disturbing?

It is disappointing that Nicola Sturgeon sees fit to dismiss the #DissolveTheUnion hashtag with a joke. If it was that easy, she says, she would have done it long ago. We are told that there are no “shortcuts” to independence. As if anybody thought there was. As if that is what the hashtag refers to. It is extremely disappointing that Nicola Sturgeon has so woefully misunderstood the import of the hashtag.

#DissolveTheUnion is not the simplistic demand that the First Minister seems to have taken it for. In fact, it is rather insulting that she could think Yes campaign activists might be so naive. It suggests she may have badly lost touch with a grassroots movement which, I can assure her, is considerably more sophisticated than she appears to suppose. Nobody is foolish enough to imagine that the restoration of Scotland’s independence is a simple matter. Everybody is well aware of the nature of the opposition we face.

#DissolveTheUnion is intended to suggest a changed mindset in our approach to the independence project. A mindset imbued with the sense that we are, not supplicants petitioning for some boon from a superior authority, but a sovereign people insisting that our right of self-determination be respected. It implies rejection of the British political elite’s asserted power of veto over our fundamental democratic rights. It says that we do not accept the notion of independence being something that is in the gift of the British state. It says independence is not theirs for the giving, but ours for the taking.

There is nothing naive or simplistic about the thinking behind this hashtag. It denotes a significant and necessary shift in our thinking about the manner in which the independence campaign should be conducted. I had hoped, and expected, that Nicola Sturgeon would understand this. I have been left deeply disappointed by her remarks.

Even more disturbing, however, is the First Minister’s insistence that we should not concern ourselves with process. Apparently, the process by which we achieve our goal is unimportant. Apparently, we can afford to disregard that process. We must put all our efforts into selling the idea of independence and trouble ourselves not at all about the means and methods by which this goal might be realised.

I find this astounding. It seems obvious to me that one of the greatest impediments to the restoration of Scotland’s independence is that fact that the constitutional process is all but entirely determined and controlled by the British state. It occurs to me to wonder how we might hope to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status whilst the process by which this would come about is so entirely in the hands of forces which are resolved to deny even our fundamental democratic right to choose the form of government which suits us best.

Here’s our First Minister telling us that process is not important. And I am unable to understand how that can possibly be so. I’m listening to the politician I most trust and respect – someone the entire Yes movement looks to for leadership – and what she’s saying simply makes no sense.

Is it me? Am I missing something? Have I got it so seriously wrong? Is it really nonsense to suppose that, in order to restore our independence, we must first seize control of the process by which our independence will be restored?


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The nub of the matter


Fundamentally, I am sick and tired of Scotland’s future being dictated by governments we never voted for.

Characteristically, Mhairi Black gets to the nub of the matter. Having dealt with and dismissed the entire Brexit fiasco, she identifies the core issue. This is why we need to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. Not for the sake of a desperate, last-ditch attempt to avoid the catastrophe of being dragged out of the EU against our will. Not for the potential prosperity of an independent Scotland. Not for the promise of a gentler, greener, fairer society free of the inequities and iniquities of the Tory British state. We need to normalise Scotland’s constitutional status because the present arrangement is wrong. In every sense of that term, the Union is wrong.

The political union which binds Scotland to the British state is fundamentally unjust. It is an affront to democracy and an insult to the people of this nation.

We need to break the Union, not because of Brexit, but because the Union is what facilitates Brexit. It is what give the British political elite the power to impose Brexit on an unwilling nation. It is what makes it inevitable that Scotland’s future is dictated by governments we never voted for. The gross injustice of Brexit merely exemplifies a condition of abusive subjection which is, not an unintended and incidental side-effect, but an inevitable product and purposeful function of the Union.

Brexit, like austerity and much else, is being inflicted on Scotland because of the Union. Because that is what the Union is for.

This Union that was contrived in a different age for purposes that were never relevant to us.

This Union that we, the people, had no part in creating or sanctioning.

This anachronistic, dysfunctional, corrupt Union which serves none of the people off these islands well.

This Union which was always intended to serve the purposes of the ruling elites of the British state.

This Union which, in that regard if no other, has not changed one iota in the last three centuries.

This Union that sucks the human and material resources out of our nation and in return gives us government by a British political elite that we have emphatically and repeatedly rejected at the polls.

This Union that imposes policies which are anathema to our people. Policies which, to whatever limited extent they have been permitted any say,  have been resolutely opposed by our democratically elected representatives.

This Union that is a plague on Scotland’s politics. A blight on Scotland’s society. A parasite on Scotland’s economy. This Union which is now a real and imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy.

Mhairi Black goes on to say,


I am tired of my country being treated like an irritation for demanding our vote is respected. I want to see a Scotland with enough confidence and self-respect to become truly accountable and independent.

I’m tired too. I want to see a Scotland which at last has enough confidence and self-respect to rid itself of the Union.


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To be a Unionist

David Mundell

To be a Unionist in Scotland, one must be prepared to accept humiliation, not as an insult to be stoically borne or desperately rationalised, but as a natural part of ones condition as a subject of the British state.

To be a Unionist in Scotland, one must be so persuaded of the superiority of the British ruling elite that ones own inferiority is worn with the same ease as ones own skin.

To be a Unionist in Scotland, one must consent to the denial by the British state of democratic rights which in all other circumstances would be considered inalienable.

To be a Unionist in Scotland, one must stand ready to sacrifice the needs, priorities and aspirations of ones country to the imperative of preserving the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

To be a Nationalist in Scotland, you need only maintain that Scotland, its people, its land, its culture and its democratic institutions are worthy of being treated with the respect generally regarded as the due of any nation.

To be a Nationalist in Scotland, you need only believe that good government is never further removed from the governed than is consistent with its function. And that decisions about Scotland’s future must be made by the people of Scotland.

To be a Nationalist in Scotland, you need only insist that the people of Scotland are sovereign. And that they must never be denied the full and effective exercise of their sovereignty.


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How mad are BritNats?

ni_terror1Andrew Lilico has done no more than explicitly express a sentiment that has always been a significant element of Brexiteer/British Nationalist ideology. A reckless disregard for the Good Friday Agreement has long been evident. But is it right to assume this to mean that they would be content to ‘lose’ Northern Ireland? There is an alternative implication that is rather more troubling. Namely, that they are assuming the British state has the capacity to deal with the consequences of a breakdown in the arrangements which have brought welcome but fragile peace to the occupied counties.

Given the all too evident belligerence of these British Nationalists, can we confidently discount the possibility that they envisage a ‘military solution’ to any resumption of violence? We know how dangerously deluded these people are. The Brexit fiasco has revealed how ‘ideologically committed’ they are to the idea of British exceptionalism. There is little effort made to conceal their fantasies of a return to a ‘glorious’ imperial past. Does this betoken a willingness to relinquish what they regard as British territory? Or does it, rather, suggest a determination to maintain Britannia’s jealous grasp of her possessions at any cost?

And, if British Nationalists are thinking in terms of securing Northern Ireland for the British state by force of arms, what might this imply for their attitude towards and intentions for Scotland?


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Another symptom of Union sickness

Scottish BBC viewers send £100m licence fee ‘subsidy’ to London HQ

bbc_north_britainIt’s all very well for the BBC to claim that they’re doing better. It may even be true – at least insofar as it’s possible to tell from their artfully juggled figures. But this still leaves the question of why the situation arose in the first place and why it is taking so long to get it sorted. And here we come back, yet again, to the nature of Scotland’s constitutional arrangements.

The fundamental problem is that Scotland’s interests cannot be adequately represented within the Union. Inevitably so, given that the Union’s purpose was always to ensure Scotland’s subordinate status within ‘Greater England’ – or the British state, as we now know it.

It is no surprise at all to find that Scotland is disadvantaged in terms of public service broadcasting provision as this is precisely what the Union is meant to do. Not specifically, of course. But as an unavoidable consequence of a constitutional settlement which is purposefully contrived to deny the people of Scotland full and effective exercise of their sovereignty. If we were able to vote for what we wanted; and if we actually got something approximating what we voted for, it is simply not credible that a situation would have arisen in which we so massively subsidise a public service broadcaster which serves the people of Scotland so poorly. A functioning democracy does not produce such grotesque anomalies.

The most glaring of these anomalies is Brexit. The fact that Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against the democratically expressed will of its people proves beyond question that the UK is systemically incapable of representing Scotland’s interests. What the situation with the BBC does is remind us that this is, not a one-off failure in an otherwise satisfactory constitutional arrangement, but an inherent function of the Union.


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To hell with being polite!

chris_mcelenyIt is gratifying to find any senior figure in the SNP expressing a sense of urgency and determination about action to resolve Scotland’s constitutional issue. Chris McEleny is a widely respected figure in the party. His is a powerful voice within the Yes community. When he says that the independence movement is “crying out for determined leadership”, those who aspire – or pretend – to such leadership would be well advised to listen.

In Chris’s call to action we see evidence of the new mindset which will surely be required if Scotland’s rightful constitutional status is to be restored in time to save our nation from the ongoing insult to our democracy represented by the Union – as most egregiously exemplified by Brexit – and from the further depredations threatened by a British political elite in fervent thrall to an extreme ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist ideology.

But Chris may not go far enough. For all his apparent readiness to reject the possibility of achieving independence while adhering to rules devised by the British establishment for the purpose of preserving the Union, he doesn’t seem quite able to completely resist the asserted authority which has been inculcated in the people of Scotland over centuries. I mean him no disrespect when I say that he continues to exhibit symptoms of the ‘Scottish Cringe’.

We see this in the suggestion that Scotland must establish, to Westminster’s satisfaction, its right to hold a constitutional referendum. That we must show just cause in order to qualify for the exercise of our democratic right. In this instance, the fact of being dragged out of the EU against the will of Scotland’s people. To fully embrace the requisite mindset, we must rid ourselves of such notions.

If we are to “look like we mean what we say” then we must evince total confidence in our absolute and inalienable right to self-determination. We must not show the slightest hint of being prepared to compromise that right. We must, in all things and at all times, act and speak as a nation fully entitled to freely choose the form of government which best suits our needs.

This means that we must also have full authority to decide the manner in which we make this choice. We cannot sensibly suppose that a process by which we might exercise our right of self-determination can possibly arise within the context of a political union contrived and developed as a constitutional device by which to deny us the full and proper exercise of our sovereignty. We must determine and control the process such as to exclude all possibility of intervention or interference from a British state intent upon preventing it proceeding to a truly democratic conclusion.

I question whether Chris’s proposal achieves this. Using a UK general election as a proxy referendum means we depend on the British government calling that referendum. And doing so in timely fashion. Making the next Holyrood election a vote on independence means waiting until 2021 – by which time, who knows what damage the British political elite will have wrought on Scotland. Who knows if we will even have a functional Scottish Parliament by then?

Chris is unquestionably right about one thing. We have “ever so politely played the game” by the British state’s rules. It has been amply demonstrated that doing so is detrimental, not only to our cause, but to our democracy. I strongly suspect that, if the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence is to succeed, we may have to abandon politeness altogether.


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This is our fight

“The Tories think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.”Deidre Brock MP

filthy_handsAnd why wouldn’t they think this? Why wouldn’t the British establishment blithely suppose they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it? After all, this is precisely what we, as a nation, told them in 2014. That’s what a No vote meant. It’s effect was to give the British political elite licence to dispose of Scotland as they wished. To deal with us as they might find expedient.

And, for all Ms Brock’s splendid assurances that “the SNP is determined not to let them”, what has actually been prevented? What measures have been blocked? From EVEL to Brexit and the ‘power-grab’, the British state has proceeded unfettered in its abuse of Scotland’s interests and contempt for our democratic will. All objections have been ignored. All protests have been brushed aside. All demands have been ineffectual.

This is not to doubt that the SNP are Scotland’s champions. Nobody else is carrying our demands and protests and objections into the heart of the British political system. Nobody else is in a position to do so. The SNP is the de facto political arm of Scotland’s independence movement. We rely on them.

But what is actually being achieved? And, if not enough is being achieved, what needs to change?

There’s no point in blaming the SNP. They may not get everything right, and we can always wish that they would do more. But they cannot do it alone. We must take responsibility. We must play our part. It was we, the people of Scotland, who consented to being treated as we are by the British state. It was we who granted that licence to the British political elite. In 2014, we held in our hands the power to determine our nation’s future. We chose to hand that power to a bunch of corrupt and incompetent politicians in London. We did that! It’s up to us to put it right. It’s up to us to rectify our mistake.

If the SNP lacks the power to be more effective in championing Scotland’s interests it’s because we haven’t provided them with that power. It can only come from us. All political power and democratic authority ultimately derives from the people. If we expect the SNP to take a stand against the forces of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism then we must stand with them.

This is our fight. The SNP is our weapon. Let’s use it!


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