The Union is not an option!

Imagine I had the power to decree that your vote only counts if I agree with it. Imagine I had the power to stipulate all that your democratic choices are always conditional on my approval. Imagine I told you this stipulation would be enshrined in the constitution. Would you,

  1. Laugh in my face
  2. Spit in my face
  3. Punch me in the face

While the last of these would surely be considered excessive, and the second socially unacceptable, none of these adverse reactions would be deemed irrational. Generally speaking, it would be considered quite natural that you should forcefully reject such an anti-democratic proposal.

And yet this is precisely the situation that British Nationalists insist we accept. As a voter in Scotland, you are expected to meekly accept that your vote only counts on those occasions when it coincides with the vote of your counterpart in England. We are told we must accept, without demur, a constitutional arrangement whereby one voter in England can effectively cancel every vote cast by a citizen of Scotland.

Let’s say there are 4,000,000 voters in Scotland. Suppose all of them vote in a binary poll for ‘White’. In England, the corresponding 4,000,000 voters also vote ‘White’. So far, so good. But the 4,000,001st voter in England votes ‘Black’. Instantly, the votes of every single one of Scotland’s citizens are totally discounted. They are rendered meaningless.

Some will respond that this is just the way democracy works. The majority wins. But it is not democracy when the voters in one country can be outvoted by the voters in another.

The 2016 EU referendum was a particularly egregious example of this happening in the real world rather than in the realm of the hypothetical. It was far from the first instance. As far as UK Governments are concerned, Scotland only rarely gets what it votes for. But, because it was as binary as our hypothetical illustration, the EU referendum brought this grotesque constitutional anomaly into stark relief.

This anomaly is very much enshrined in the British constitution. It is often pointed out that the UK doesn’t have a written constitution. It would be more correct to say that the UK lacks a formal, coherent constitution. The constitution, such as it is, will be found scattered throughout a huge body of statutes, treaties, conventions and precedents. The Acts of Union are an important – I would contend crucial – component of that dispersed, vague, ambiguous and highly ‘elastic’ constitution.

It is the Union which gives effect to the situation described at the start of this article. It is the Union which creates the circumstances in which Scottish votes only count to the extent that they concur with at least the same number of English votes.

Unionists and British Nationalists will argue that this is no more than democracy in action. The majority wins. The minority is left to suck it up. In the British political system, it’s winner-take-all. If you’re not first past the post, you’re nowhere. But this argument absolutely requires that those making it are able and willing to completely deny Scotland’s status as a nation, as well as the observable reality of Scotland’s distinctive political culture. The grotesque constitutional anomaly embedded in the Union can only be rationalised by regarding Scotland as but a ‘region’ of a ‘One Nation’ British state. Or ‘Greater England’, as it is often called.

By accepting the Union one accepts that Scotland is no more distinct from England than any one of that nation’s counties. One is also accepting that there are (at least) two classes of voter; and that the lesser of these is the Scottish voter. The Union truly is a constitutional device by which the people of Scotland are denied the full and effective exercise of their sovereignty. The Union is a denial of that sovereignty in favour of the sovereignty of a divinely-ordained monarch whose powers are administered by an executive which, to the limited extent that it can be described as having been elected, is the choice of England’s electorate only. Said executive operating under the auspices of a parliament which is massively dominated by England’s elected representatives.

Needless to say, I do not accept any of this. I do not accept the denial of popular sovereignty. I do not accept the sovereignty of ‘the crown in parliament’. I do not accept the democratic legitimacy of a parliament which is neither elected by nor accountable to the people of Scotland. I utterly reject the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

One would expect that, while she would doubtless wish to express the foregoing in her own way, the leader of the Scottish National Party would be in pretty much full accord with these sentiments. But I’m not so sure.

Nicola Sturgeon describes a so-called ‘people’s vote’ as “the only option, within the UK, that would allow Scotland’s democratic wish to remain in Europe to be respected.” She might well have added, “So long as England’s voters agree!”

Why would we want a second EU referendum? Scotland voted Remain. Decisively! Who in Scotland is clamouring for a chance to change their mind? A second EU membership referendum has only one purpose – to afford the people of England a chance to change their collective mind. Why does our vote only count if voters in England ‘ratify’ it?

Why aren’t Scotland’s voters worthy of respect in their own right?

I would be delighted if our First Minister were to explicitly acknowledge the subordinate status of Scotland and its people withing this benighted Union. But I am perplexed and concerned that, by actively supporting the idea of a new EU referendum, she appears to be accepting all the things that I, as a lifelong advocate of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, categorically reject.

Seeking England’s endorsement of our democratic choice to remain in the EU should not be an option at all for those who wish Scotland to be a normal independent nation once again. If that is the only option “within the UK”, then remaining within the UK cannot be an option. It is time to #DissolveTheUnion.


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11 thoughts on “The Union is not an option!

  1. Completely agree, and right with you on this…not sure what the hell NS is playing for here…their game, their rules, we lose…

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  2. I think Ms Sturgeon knows that a second indyref, as the means to independence, cannot be won – not at the moment, certainly. I agree with everything that you have said, Mr Bell, and I, too, but in a different context, feel that the votes of some are more to be respected than the votes of others, even when those others are independence supporters because of a falsely democratic referendum which has an in-built propensity to ensure that we will not be allowed to achieve a YES vote any time soon, and that, even if we did, the Brexit bourach would be used by the usual lickspittles, behaving like establishment puppets, to dispute any narrow win. I think we have lost the indyref2 argument and must now, with all haste, assemble our best minds in both politics and the law and for them to be given a mandate to make a case to the UN and the international community that will allow us to revoke the Treaty of Union and dissolve the Union itself.

    The first step would be to announce that we are going to do that whether or not there is Brexit after March or whether there will be an extension or whatever. Even if Article 50 were to be revoked (and it will not be unless we are happy to see England implode in the nearest to what would be the latest civil war) Scotland and the Scots have been treated so badly that a) that alone justifies our departure from this prison of a Union; and b) the b******s would do the same all over again, if they find themselves in a similar situation in the future. We need to go, and we need to make it plain right now that we are going regardless of what Westminster or England decide on our behalf.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. No, Mr Maitland, but she knows we cannot win a second indyref, and even if we did, the Brexit debacle has ensured that any narrow win would be challenged by the lickspittles and neo-colonialists up here and the establishment in the south. What I cannot comprehend is why she has not set the wheels in motion for an alternative, democratic and legitimate route to independence, why she has not stated that she is going to do that and make plain why it matters not a jot whether there is a Brexit, no Brexit, a deal or no deal because Scotland will be treated in the same contemptuous way, and any time in the future that Westminster decides that it will treat us in this way, they know we did sweet fanny adams about it the first time round.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Might be useful to know that the last referendum took exactly sixty weeks from legislation to implementation. The EU have just said that they will not give any time past the EU elections in May. So we only have 18 weeks from today to implement a new referendum , carry it out and conclude the result.

    I am now coming round to the point that Nicola knows there is no chance of a peoples vote ,even if there was broad consensus. It simply can’t happen in the weeks we have left ,it’s impossible. They would have to change the law on several different parts of the legal framework.

    So either emergency legislation is brought forward before 29th March to cancel article 50. Or we are heading for a no deal. Nicola has just said she will announce indy ref 2 timetable in a number of weeks. Those weeks will be needed to put the nail in the coffin of any escape plan.

    There is method in her madness it seems.

    “What is required for a referendum to be held in the UK?
    •Legislation – Primary legislation is needed to provide the legal basis for the referendum and to specify details that are not in standing legislation, including the referendum question, the franchise, the date of the referendum, and the conduct rules for the poll (although the latter two are often ultimately left to secondary legislation).
    •Question testing – The Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to assess the ‘intelligibility’ of the referendum question, a process that usually takes 12 weeks.
    •Preparation for the poll itself – The Electoral Commission and local officials need time to prepare for administering the poll and regulating campaigners. The Commission recommends that the legislation should be clear at least six months before it is due to be complied with.
    •Regulated referendum period – The UK’s referendum legislation – the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) – specifies a minimum 10-week campaign period, during which campaign regulation applies. “

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    1. The First Minister should be working a lot faster for Independence, than at present, many of us would say.
      While caution is a good thing, delay in what is an emergency situation, is not a good thing. And this is very much a major emergency!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Stop…YES must stop confusing democracy within a country with that between countries.

    The hint is in the name….the UK is a union not a country. As such democracy between countries balances the sovereign rights of those countries. When people sprout that pish -YES needs stop being polite and say it proud….IT’S A UNION STUPID!

    Scotland the country can get a much better deal…and if Scotland is foolish enough to not demand respect…it will stay a kin to a country with battered wife syndrome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ACTUALLY….THIS IS SHITE!!!!!

      How can YES still not have a clear and decisive language of attack. Its like YES has waisted 2 years playing Westminster whack-a-mole rather than preparing for the battle it knew was coming.

      Its simple.

      This is not 2014 Indyref
      This is now 2019
      – Scotland is a sovereign country
      – The UK is a union (stop using “British”)
      – Its about democracy between countries
      – England broke the Union
      – Scotland should dissolve the union

      Scotland always has been a sovereign country. Westminster itself has given the ruling that sovereignty does not disappear from a union even if actions make it look like it has. (BREXIT WHITE PAPER:…”Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.”…)

      Start campaigning like you mean it!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Peter

        Apologies for that last post. Your forum is not the place for such intemperance. I love your insight and passion for Scotland…it is not a defence but I was not having a good day.

        Please feel free to delete if you do not think it is appropriate.

        Like

  6. As usual, Nicola Sturgeon chooses her words carefully. The addition of that little rider, ‘within the UK’, says a lot. It says to the target voters for indy2 that we’re still trying to save the UK from itself by supporting all options available and that the SNP is not, despite what the Unionists shriek, looking for any old excuse to call indy2.

    It also says to the indy movement, rather obviously I would have thought, that actually the only option that would allow Scotland’s democratic wish to remain in Europe to be respected (sans aforementioned rider) is independence.

    However much we’re all intensely frustrated waiting, waiting, waiting for the gun to be fired, she is sticking to her strategy for winning as many converts to the cause as possible before she fires that gun. She’s been talking more about independence in the past few weeks, and said only this week she’ll announce the indy timetable in “a matter of weeks”.

    The starting gun’s in her pocket and her finger’s on the trigger. She’s going to pull it soon. And I’m sure – no, I’m positive – that she agrees with the second last sentence in the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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