A bunch of Hunts

The most striking thing about Jeremy Hunt is how accurately and comprehensively he typifies the British political elite. He clearly knows nothing of Scotland and our politics, but he assumes he knows everything there is to know. He presumes to tell us what the people of Scotland think and feel, having never even considered the possibility of asking us what we think and how we feel.

He makes claims that are dubious if not patently untrue, safe in the knowledge that the British media will never question or challenge anything that he says so long as he is peddling British Nationalist dogma.

He is patronising towards Scotland’s people and contemptuous of Scotland’s democratic institutions, but so lacking in self-awareness as to genuinely believe he is winning our affection and echoing our sentiments.

Jeremy Hunt is a liar, a hypocrite and a fool. In every regard he is indistinguishable from any of the other British Nationalist politicians who occasionally sally forth from their metropolitan fastness to grace Scotland with their presence and chasten Scotland’s people with their colonialist rhetoric. Words which first deliver the patronising pat on the head, and then the lash of the imperialist master’s whip. He basks in the sycophantic attendance of the British state’s North British lackeys, then returns to the cocoon of aides and advisers to be assured of what a fine impression he’s making on Scotland.

Jeremy Hunt is like all the rest. They are all Hunts.

Meanwhile, Scotland observes the antics of the Hunts who venture north to scent-mark jealous Britannia’s territorial possessions with a mixture of bewilderment, amusement and disgust. And with increasing detachment. More and more, the Hunts seem to have nothing to do with us. Nothing to do with Scotland. They are alien. Like particularly ill-mannered foreign visitors. Like a series of little mini-Trumps, barging into our home, trampling their muck into our carpets; crudely insulting us; outstaying their welcome by however long the intrusion last; and departing leaving behind only the stench of their corruption.

The Hunts are not connected to us at all. They have no connection with us. They are remote from the reality of our circumstances. Even if they could hear us; even is they were prepared to listen to us, they would not understand. They are unapproachable. Unreachable. Untouchable. There is absolutely no point addressing pleas, petitions or protests to the Hunts of the British political elite. They will not be received. They certainly will not be acted upon.

Why would we expect it to be any different? Why would we bother with the Hunts? Even if they had anything to offer us, they have nothing we would want. They cannot give us what we seek. It is not in their gift. They cannot do what needs to be done. It is not in their power.

We have a Scottish Parliament. We have a Scottish Government. The former has democratic legitimacy. The latter has a mandate from the people of Scotland. What use are the Hunts to us? Our pleas, petitions and protests should and must be addressed to the people we elect. The people who have a solemn duty to serve Scotland’s interests rather than subordinate those interests to the pretensions of the British state. The people who are connected to us.

Ignore the Hunts! They can and will do nothing for Scotland! Speak, instead, to Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. She is both willing to listen and capable of understanding. Speak to Scotland’s Government. It is required to act on our behalf. Speak to Scotland’s Parliament. It alone has the legitimate authority to speak for us.

Scotland’s fate will not be decided by the Hunts. Scotland’s fate is in the hands of Scotland’s people. Our First Minister, our Government and our Parliament exist to give effect to Scotland’s voice. It is for us to tell them what that effect must be. It is for the people of Scotland to imbue the apparatus of Scotland’s democracy with the power to serve our needs, honour our priorities and realise our ambitions.



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Wrong target

Why? Why is Ian Blackford demanding the release of the “Boris Johnson bust-up tape“? Of what possible concern is this to the people of Scotland? It’s not as if we are currently deceived about Johnson’s character. Few, if any at all, are in need of being disabused of notions that the man is other than unworthy for public office, low or high. The content of this recording could add nothing useful to our knowledge.

It is not Johnson’s behaviour that Ian Blackford should be deploring, but the fact that such an individual as we already know him to be can be imposed on Scotland by a combination of British Tories in thrall to a demented British Nationalist ideology and English voters whose appreciation of democratic politics has been so soured by experience and media manipulation as to bid them see in Johnson some manner of dragon-slaying hero.

If Ian Blackford’s purpose is to ensure that Johnson’s elevation is thwarted, again we must ask why? How is Scotland served by preventing Boris Johnson becoming British Prime Minister only to hand the role to someone who is different only in the particulars of his unsuitability for that role?

Mr Blackford’s outrage is surely justified; and may well be regarded as virtuous as his demands are reasonable. But he should be wary. British politics is so corrupt that even to touch it with the barge-pole of condemnation is to risk contamination. Better to stand aside from and above the mess.

Better to direct that outrage and condemnation at the device by which Scotland is made subject to the vile machinations of the British political parties and the irrational whims of the English electorate. Rather than urging the release of some entirely redundant evidence of Boris Johnson’s debauchery, Mr Blackford would be more usefully employed demanding Scotland’s release from the abomination that is the Union.



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The spirit of Scotland’s cause

I recall seeing the letter below, or one very similar, perhaps thirty years ago or more. I am grateful to a number of people for bringing it to my attention now. Making due allowance for its antiquity, for me this text embodies the true spirit of Scotland’s cause. The spirit of the campaign to #DissolveTheUnion. I urge you all to read it with an open mind, and an open heart.

Peter A Bell

LETTER on Independence from JOHN STEILL 14th Nov 1844

Sir, I know not whether you have ever thought of the subject which I am to bring under your notice, but I own it has always been a favourite theme with myself, and I address these few lines to you in particular, because I believe you have too much candour to refuse to listen to sentiments that you may be opposed to, or to pronounce opinions absurd, simply because they are not popular, and not recommended fluence.

The Union between Scotland and England was ’one of the blackest transactions in history; and, like every other measure originating in selfishness, fraud, and injustice, that Union is producing its natural fruits, and promises very soon to realize the worst consequences that our Scottish ancestors anticipated from it — to become, in short, a positive practical nuisance.

In this light the Union is already begun to be considered by many in Scotland, and I should not be surprised but an agitation may ere long be commenced on this side of the Tweed with respect to that matter, which will not merely vindicate Scotsmen from the apathetic indifference with which they have long regarded national rights, but which will, if wisely conducted, be productive of results far transcending in importance every scheme that has yet been propounded for the elevation of our land.

Deeply and conscientiously as I am opposed to the Union however, my hostility does not arise because this bad thing and the other bad thing has been done by England to Scotland. It was easy to foresee, from the nature of the compact entered into between the two kingdoms, that Scotland would be continually getting rubs of this description, and that when England had a purpose of her own to serve, however prejudicial it might be to her weaker neighbour, no obstacle would be allowed to stand in the way of its attainment.

But I base my opposition to the Union on broader ground. I see in it the reduction of my country to a state of vassalage and dependence which no man ought to brook, and which is the more intolerable when one reflects on the treasure that was wasted, the blood spilt, and the heroism displayed by our forefathers to guard their posterity against those very evils of which we have daily cause to complain. And, indeed, in thinking indignantly over these things, I often wonder all the while, whether I am treading on Scottish soil, and if it can be possible that the people I am surrounded by, are the descendants of those who fought at Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge.

It is in vain to tell me that Scotland has thriven since the Union, and that the tranquillity and ease we enjoy is not too much to pay for the annihilation of our independence and very name as a nation. Slavery might, on the same principle, be upheld as a good thing by its abettors, because the victims of that system are said to be well cared for, and to get fat under it. But I maintain that the so-called prosperity of Scotland is not owing to the Union, but to the intelligence and indomitable perseverance of Scotsmen; and I have yet to learn that the same, and even an infinitely greater, amount of prosperity might not have been the lot of our country had there been no Union at all.

Sure I am, that when Scotland had her own kings and her own parliaments, she was not behind England in the arts of civilized life, or the means of defence either; and as we contemplate her at the present day, she surpasses her southern sister in energy and enterprise, and in all those moral and physical qualities that ought to make a people prosperous and happy.

But although Scotland has thus abundantly within herself the elements of becoming a great nation, she is sternly interdicted from stretching out her arms and bringing those elements into play: England must first be consulted before a single step can be taken by Scotland in any walk of improvement; and here it is that the Union is felt to be a degrading and oppressive grievance.

Then, again, as to political advancement, the returns to Parliament demonstrate that our people are more inclined to take on the impress of democratic institutions than the English are; yet this avails us nothing, for the voice of our Scottish members, in the misnamed British Senate, is drowned amidst the tumultuous clamours of iron-hearted Tories, bloated corruptionists, and hordes of other venal creatures, who have been sent by the pure and enlightened constituencies of England to manage the business of the realm, and to bear down all opposition before them.

Nay, such is the direful effects of the Union on the progress of Scotland, that (without stopping to enumerate the instances in which it has been manifested of late) though the aspirations of the Scotch after national regeneration were to be of the most magnificent and compendious description, and enforced in Parliament by the patriotic fire and fervid eloquence of another Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, John Bull would scowl upon and laugh at all such schemes, just because he did not understand them, and had not a soul to be moved by them.

With these facts before me, and looking at the practical bearings of the whole subject, I venture to assert, that had Scotland been blessed with an independent government of her own, uncontaminated by English influence, cheering as the picture is that she now’ presents in some particulars, it would have been more cheering still.

Scottish enterprise would have had a wider field to exert itself in than it has, the land which God intended to be dug and cultivated minutely, would not have been lying waste or locked up in the custody of a few selfish aristocrats, who, besides spending the produce of it on hunting horses, idleness, and luxury, have the power, when it pleases them, to beggar, starve, and banish, the men and women born on it, and who have a better title to live by their industry on the fruits of it than their tyrants have.

The Highlands and Isles of Scotland, instead of exhibiting, as they now do, the unsightly spectacle of vast experimental gardens of misrule and despotism, would have been (under the eye of a paternal legislature of our own, always ready and on the spot to examine into the wants and necessities of those secluded regions), flourishing and productive provinces; and the chieftains living there, as Fletcher says, would have got “knocked on the head,” had they dared to tread down and rob their clansmen, as they have for half a century past done, and are still doing.

Enormous as these evils are, however, it is, I fear, almost hopeless for the people of Scotland to try and grapple with them while the Union with England continues. England is herself subject to the rod of an imperious oligarchy, whose ancestors, in the days of William the Bastard, won her by the sword, and it is the interest of these men that the privileges of their order, to pillage, and destroy mankind, should in no corner of the British empire be trenched on, or even called into question.

Hence Highland destitution and misery; hence such large ill-gotten estates as those of the Dukes of Sutherland and Buccleuch,— estates which, instead of belonging to two men, ought to be broken up and parceled out in property among tens of thousands of men.

Now, Sir, I put it to you to say, whether we, as Scotchmen, ought to endure such a state of things as this? Or whether Edward the first, better known as the Murderer of Wallace, whose fiendish hatred of Scotland was so inveterate, that he spent his last breath in maledicting her, could have desired to have our country more thoroughly under his feet than the Queen of England and her Parliament have it at this moment?

Some worthy well-meaning individuals propose to counter balance the malign effects of English ascendancy, by contending for having what they call “federal parliaments,’’ to manage local concerns. But this implies English connection, a thing I, for one, abhor; and, besides, the only benefit that a local parliament could confer upon Scotland, would be that it might save persons the expense of sending agents to London to look after their interests, which are probably as well attended to there already, as they would be even in Edinburgh; for, I believe, it is notorious, that when any local Scotch affair, not involving points of Divinity or Politics, is to be legislated on, English members do not trouble the House much with their presence, and the Scotch, in general, thereby get all their ends quietly accomplished.

Moreover, it is a degradation of the whole question, and a useless expenditure of our strength, to try and stir up a general movement for the sake of the paltry advantages that a mere federal parliament would confer on us, and Scotsmen, in volunteering their aid and countenance to forward such projects, give but too much colour to the supposition that they unintentionally act and think as if their country had always been an appendage of England, and that they are in the habit, like the Irish, of obsequiously blessing England for any little favour she might deign to dole out to them.

No! Scotland in her best days never dealt with England on these beggarly conditions, and when she comes to treat with that realm again, she will, I trust, assume an attitude that will atone for the foul stain the Union cast on her, and the parties who conclude the treaty will not be a parcel of crazed “gown-men,” who valued not national honour, provided they could get their own fanatical Presbyterian Kirk preserved, or treacherous nobles and gentry, who had often before sold their native land to her enemies; but, they will be the high-minded people of Scotland at large, who, animated by a consciousness of their own integrity and their own strength, have bravely combined to rid their country of a yoke that was gradually enslaving and destroying her, and to restore her to that rank among the States of Europe which she of old so respectably filled.

Yes, Scotland, contemned and despised Scotland, has still a soul to aspire to more dignified aims than the ability of getting a few local bills passed now and then by a sort of mock legislature of her own; and as it is no doubt taken for granted by federalists that we are to swear allegiance to the same chief magistrate that the English do, this very circumstance of itself, though we had a federal parliament sitting at the back of Saint Giles’ tomorrow, would always give England the pretense to levy what taxes she pleased on Scotland, and to enmesh us in expensive wars and other abominations, just as she is doing at present. Such, appearing, then to me to be the results of federalism, I can see no cure for the evils of the Union, no method by which the practical skill and mental resources of Scotchmen can be fully and fairly developed, both at home and abroad, but to cast off all legislative connection with England whatever, and to acknowledge no other intimacy with that kingdom than what friendly intercourse, unlimited trade, and mutual protection from unprovoked foreign aggression require.

Mankind, Sir, will not now be contented with half-and-half temporary expedients. Truth is what is sought for; and there being no denying that a crisis has arrived when Scotland, in order to keep pace with the spirit of the age, behoves to occupy a far different position from what she has hitherto done with reference to England, it is necessary that that position, to be free and unfettered, must, to all intents and purposes, be an independent and absolute, not a controllable and subordinate one. In other words, I contend for Scotland having the same power that she possessed in the days of her Alexanders, Roberts and Jameses, to enact her own laws, levy her own taxes, enter into what treaties she pleases with foreign dominions, supply her own means of defence, internally and externally; and while she studiously avoids interfering with, or encroaching on the privileges of other kingdoms, she will be as jealous and watchful in protecting herself from similar aggression.

Let Scotsmen but once in this manner assume to themselves the exclusive management of their own affairs, in their own way, and I much mistake them if they do not make Scotland, as to all that concerns her social, educational, and material weal, in reality “the envy of surrounding nations.’’

Every spot of earth capable of tillage, which is now lying barren and useless, would be brought into cultivation; pauperism, and that revolting practice which our Scottish nobles and gentry have so long with impunity, to the eternal disgrace of the nation, been permitted to indulge in, viz. the “clearing” of estates, and compulsory banishment of our fellow countrymen into foreign climes, would no more be heard of. There would be no lack of employment for every man who is able and willing to work; the deserted glens of the Highlands in particular would be re-peopled as of old with thousands of industrious mountaineers, who would have freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labour without the dread of any rapacious landlord or domineering factor to burn their houses above their heads, scatter their poor families, and expel them from their holdings.

But the question occurs, How are these animating prospects to be realized, and what mode of government. would be best suited to promote the interests of Scotsmen, and perpetually secure to them the complete enjoyment of those prerogatives and benefits I am supposing to be within their reach?

It seems to me, that, for these purposes, the Union ought to be dissolved out and out, and that the same deed which annuls the Union ought to invest every sane man, without exception, with the privilege of electing those who are to rule over him. But as the right exercise of the suffrage would be incompatible with the existence of monarchy. and a hereditary feudal aristocracy, both these useless, tyrannical, and all-devouring institutions would require to be swept away, and the nation declared to be a Republic, open to exchange commodities with the whole world, without let or hindrance.

To such an adjustment of affairs as this, the genius of our people, and the condition of our country, seem both to be peculiarly adapted, and it has the additional merit of being just and expedient in itself, and of harmonizing essentially in spirit with those enlarged schemes for the settlement of Scotland which were advocated at the time of the Union by that generous and enlightened patriot to whom I have already alluded, viz., Fletcher of Saltoun,—a man who devoted his life to the extirpation of despotism, and the establishment of freedom all the world over, and who was inspired with a detestation of English domination, and desire to advance the welfare of Scotland, which many of our noisy declaimers of this age would do well to try and imitate.

But whatever form of government the Scottish people may choose for themselves, it is manifest that an entire separation from England, in a political and legislative sense, is imperative, both for our safety and well-being. England is obviously actuated by maxims at home and views abroad, which will prove ruinous to herself, and, of course, involve in a like fate every other state that has the misfortune to be entangled with her. I ask the people of Scotland then to take these things into consideration, feebly and inadequately expressed though they be; and if my poor attempts to arouse my countrymen from their slumbers, and to touch them with a sense of the degraded position they occupy, shall have the effect of bringing an advocate into the field better qualified than I can pretend to be to go into details, and to do justice to the subject generally, I will have got my utmost wishes gratified.

Of yore Scotsmen required no stimulus to prompt them to install an energetic exertion, when their rights were trampled on, and their national honor invaded. How much stronger is the necessity now for our resuming a portion of the spirit of our ancestors, when our fatherland, in consequence of being united to England, has been sunk into a contemptible province, stripped of her very name, deprived of the power to remove those crying evils which afflict her, both socially and politically, and when she is left with no other memorials of her former dignity and independence but the moss-covered ruins of her palaces and citadels, whose gigantic fragments but too emphatically tell what Scotland once was, and what she now is.

Never was the destruction of an ancient state more complete and humiliating than that of Scotland; never did a people consent so tamely to surrender their liberties, and submit themselves to the overbearing dictation of another kingdom, as the Scotch have done. No amount of prosperity, whether commercial or agricultural, can excuse or palliate mean conduct like this; and however much we may boast ourselves of our enlightenment, and the pretended happiness we enjoy under English rule, were our unpolished, but brave, honest, and shrewd Scottish ancestors to rise from their graves, and to behold in us their descendants the wreck and prostration of that glorious principle of nationality which burned so intensely in their bosoms, and for which they so often enthusiastically fought and bled, they would utterly disown and despise us.


I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,


JOHN STEILL 14th Nov 1844



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The fight is on!

The Scottish Government appears to be proceeding on the assumption that there will still be a Scottish Parliament in the “latter half” of 2020. There can’t be many politically aware people in Scotland who consider that a safe assumption.

But I use the word “appears” advisedly. Because everything we know about the First Minister and her team tells us that they are not the kind of people who make rash assumptions. They are, however, the kind of astute political operators who recognise the importance of keeping their options open.

Nicola Sturgeon’s talk of a new referendum sometime in the second half of next year jarred with more than a few commentators. It’s not that this degree of specificity on timing was unexpected. The vagueness and ambiguity couldn’t go on much longer. In truth, Ms Sturgeon’s timing is probably perfect. She has chosen just the right moment to give some definition to the time-frame for a new referendum. We now have an approximate end point well ahead of the next Scottish general election in 2021. Nothing set in stone, of course. Remember those options and the need to keep them open.

The way this time-frame has been presented, the First Minister could set a date beyond the latter half of 2020. But that was always unlikely anyway as this would risk a clash with campaigning for the Holyrood elections in 2021. What is vastly more significant is the fact that the time-frame as stated leaves total flexibility to schedule the referendum earlier – at any point between the passing of the legislation and autumn 2020. This crucial option has been kept open.

Let’s talk!

I enjoy visiting groups across Scotland to talk about the independence campaign.

I will travel anywhere in Scotland if it is at all practical.

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It would surprise no-one who has considered the constitutional implications of Brexit and the ‘mood’ of the British political elite if the date for the new referendum was to be in September 2019. British Nationalists will foam and splutter, insisting that Nicola Sturgeon had ‘promised’ the referendum wouldn’t be held before late 2020. But British Nationalists will always misrepresent the facts in this way. Just as they will always foam and splutter.

The same political acuity which we see in the careful crafted statements and the keeping open of options can be detected in the wording of the Referendums (Scotland) Bill. There is purpose in making the legislation broad – relating to plebiscites in general rather than just the new independence referendum. There is purpose in defining the territory on which legal battle with the British government will be joined. There is purpose in drafting the legislation in such a way as to allow concession to parliamentary allies. This is some smart politicking!

There has been a deal of frustration with Nicola Sturgeon of late. Many in the Yes movement – myself included – have found cause to criticise her. But nobody, I’m sure, seriously doubted our First Minister’s ability. My sense is that the days of frustration are over. The Referendum Bill marks, not a change of direction, but a change of gear. The fight is on. And Nicola needs every bit of support the Yes movement can provide.



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Remember when

Call me nostalgic, but I rather miss the days when an emphatic vote for the SNP would be hailed by the party leadership as a victory for the independence movement.

Formal declaration to come, but clear now that @theSNP has won the Euro election emphatically – we are on course to take 3 out of 6 seats. A historic victory. And Scotland has rejected Brexit again. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇪🇺🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 26, 2019

None can claim that the vote for the SNP in the European Parliament elections is not emphatic. Not quite, it seems, the 40+% I personally had hoped for. That would have required that a few more independence supporters get off their arses and make the tiny effort required to register their vote. And/or that a few more Green voters put the increasingly urgent need to save Scotland from rampant ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism before loyalty to their party.

I guess we have to remind ourselves that neither of these things is likely to happen. Just suppose a scenario in which a 40+% vote share for the SNP was required in order to maintain a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament. Being realistic, does anyone genuinely suppose that, even then, people would not find excuses for not going to the polling place? Does anyone seriously imagine that, even in circumstances of such pressing need, those die-hard Green voters might be persuaded to vote tactically for the SNP?

There will always be people who find it easy to forgive themselves for failure to do what is required. For failure to do what they know to be right. Frustrating as it undoubtedly is, campaigners must accept that, however successful they may be in impressing on voters the need to act, there will always be some who simply won’t convert awareness at an intellectual level into appropriate action. People die in house fires because they are compelled, even in the face of horrific death, to rescue some trinket.

It always helps if you can blame someone else for your failure to take appropriate action. British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) might be in a slightly less parlous condition had it not developed a capacity for blaming voters and/or the SNP which is now instinctual.

Nicola Sturgeon – Scotland’s First Minister – has nobody else to blame. The entire Yes movement looks to her for leadership. When, at a moment of triumph for the SNP, independence doesn’t even warrant a mention, Yes activists are entitled to feel aggrieved. And all who recognise the need for bold, decisive action to end the Union are entitled to feel deeply concerned.



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Now is the time!

I am surely not alone in appreciating the irony of the First Minister’s comment about not squandering valuable time. Four years and eight months after it became plain to see that another referendum would be required our elected leaders are only now talking about introducing the necessary legislation. Legislation that will not be passed by MSPs until the end of this year. By which time fully five years will have elapsed without any action to address the constitutional issue.

Nor, as far as can be determined, has there been any planning for a new campaign. There may, of course, have been much activity behind the scenes. Activity to which the rest of us have not been privy. But all available evidence suggests that here has been no fresh thinking at all. Statements and remarks from those ‘leading SNP figures’ who might be expected to have at least an inkling of Nicola Sturgeon’s intentions almost invariably refer to some variation on the theme of ‘getting the positive case for independence out there’. In other words, a repeat of the 2014 referendum campaign.

The impression that there has been no new thinking on a second independence referendum campaign is only reinforced by the First Minister’s talk of taking the Section 30 route again. I am surely not the only one to react with despair and not a little anger to talk of meekly petitioning the British political elite for permission to exercise the right of self-determination which is the inalienable entitlement of Scotland’s people.

The only vaguely hopeful sign is that FM has intimated she doesn’t intend to go cap in hand to Theresa May (and it will be Theresa May) immediately. It seems that she is keeping her options open on the timing of her humiliating mission. Which leaves the slight hope that she is preserving the option to eschew the Section 30 process and all the problems that it implies. If, however, the Section 30 route is written into the legislation then, barring a late amendment in the Scottish Parliament, those problems become inescapable.

Suppose the First Minister’s pleading falls on deaf ears, as expected. What happens then? The British government will claim that, by requesting the gracious consent of a failed and doomed Prime Minister, the Scottish Government has conceded that it cannot proceed without that consent. Will an alternative course of action be written into the legislation? It would seem that is has to be. Otherwise, the First Minister will be obliged to go back to the Scottish Parliament for approval of this alternative. More delay.

What might this alternative course of action involve? An ‘advisory’ referendum of some sort, perhaps. Followed by further months of wrangling with the British government. Maybe a belated realisation that there can be no new referendum without seizing total control of the entire process. That Westminster has to be cut out altogether. But this would require a decidedly inelegant U-turn on the earlier legitimising of the British state’s authority to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. If the Scottish government is maintaining that the British government cannot reverse its acknowledgement of Scotland’s right of self-determination as per the Edinburgh Agreement, how can the Scottish Government then insist on its right to reverse its recognition of the British state’s authority to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination? It looks very much like the kind of self-serving double standards we so deplore when it is deployed by the British political elite. And it will surely lead to yet more time-consuming ‘discussions’ between the two governments.

Why request a Section 30 order at all when it is sure to be refused? Requesting a Section 30 order and proceeding without one both lead to precisely the same confrontation with the British government. But requesting a Section 30 order severely weakens the Scottish Government’s position.

Let’s talk!

I enjoy visiting groups throughout Scotland to talk about the constitutional issue.

I will travel anywhere in Scotland if it is at all practical.

I do not charge a fee.

I do not ask for expenses but will accept contributions if offered.

I aim to cover all costs from donations to this site.

If you would like to discuss a visit to your group please email speaker@peterabell.scot

What if the request is not refused? A possibility little considered by commentators. Politically, however, it could be the British state’s smartest move. Giving the Scottish Government permission to proceed with a new constitutional referendum allows the British establishment to avoid much of the backlash that refusal would entail. And it would allow the British political elite a degree of influence over the process which could even allow them to sabotage that process.

By requesting and accepting a Section 30 order the Scottish Government commits to proceeding only on the basis of a formal agreement between the two sides. It would be very easy for the British side to prevent any such agreement. Or, at least, to render negotiations interminable. All they’d have to do is demand something that the Scottish Government cannot possibly agree to – such as the exclusion of 16- and 17-year olds.

Once again, this leads to confrontation. That confrontation is inevitable. There is no path to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status which does not pass through a point at which there is direct and potentially acrimonious confrontation with the British state.

Even if taking the Section 30 route didn’t do anything else; even if it didn’t mean that the Scottish Government would be approaching that point of confrontation weakened by having already conceded so much, there would still be the matter of time. Long months and years have already been squandered. It is only the stunning incompetence of the British political elite which has put off the full impact of Brexit’s constitutional implications. Further delay poses an unacceptable risk that Scotland may find itself locked into an anomalous and dysfunctional political union on terms imposed by ‘One Nation’ British Nationalists.

Attempting to restore Scotland’s independence while adhering to laws and procedures purposefully designed to preserve the Union is, self-evidently, a doomed enterprise. That point of confrontation with the British state must come. We must approach that confrontation on our own terms and with all our strength intact. We must decide which of the British state’s rules is to be broken. We must decide the manner in which it is broken. We must decide when it is broken. If we do not, then the British state will. And it will do so in a way that seriously, perhaps fatally, disadvantages the independence cause.

The common thread running through all of these issues is the Union – effectively, a constitutional device by which the people of Scotland are denied the full and effective exercise of their sovereignty in order that the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state may be preserved. For the sake of Scotland and in the name of democracy, the British state must be broken. The Union must be dissolved. And now is the time.



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The worthy and the trivial

For those of us still trying to get our heads around the idea of Donald Trump being President of the United Sates of America, the thought of Boris “Smell My Farts” Johnson as British Prime Minister may be just too much of a challenge to our strained sense of humour. The joke has been taken too far.

Both appointments, one a frightening reality the other, as yet, merely a fearful prospect, speak eloquently of the ‘interesting times’ in which we are cursed to live. Both men are, to use that well-worn euphemism for freaks, eccentrics. Neither would have been a credible candidate for high political office in a world where rationality was even an infrequent visitor.

Even if the lunatics had taken over the asylum, these are not the people they would have chosen to run the establishment on their behalf. Even lunatics have standards, Even lunatics have a capacity for embarrassment.

Another thing these individuals have in common is that neither has any kind of democratic mandate in Scotland. Not so surprising in the case of the Trumpotus. Despite the fact that they claim for their President the title of ‘Leader of the Free World’, Americans aren’t about to accept that the people of the ‘Free World’ should have any say in who is awarded that title. Fair enough! Trump may have the power to melt the world and everything in it, but he has no influence over public policy in Scotland. Well, no direct influence.

British Prime Minister Boris “What Japes” Johnson, on the other hand, would exercise powers over Scotland akin to those of an absolute monarch, without so much as our sullen acquiescence far less our explicit consent. He might well think it a wizard wheeze to abolish the Scottish Parliament. Which he can pretty much do with the stroke of a half-chewed crayon.

Let’s talk!

I enjoy visiting groups throughout Scotland to talk about the constitutional issue.

I will travel anywhere in Scotland if it is at all practical.

I do not charge a fee.

I do not ask for expenses but will accept contributions if offered.

I aim to cover all costs from donations to this site.

If you would like to discuss a visit to your group please email speaker@peterabell.scot

In the British state, a total lack of democratic legitimacy can trump even the democratic legitimacy of a Parliament elected by proportional representation. And that is the problem.

That Boris “Pardon My French” Johnson can become British Prime Minister is merely a symptom of our present political malaise. That he can lay waste to Scotland’s democracy on a whim is an inherent function of the Union. Why, then, do we have people saying that Boris “Gaping Fly” Johnson becoming British Prime Minister is the last straw when they have previously been content to accept a political union which is an ongoing insult to the people of Scotland and an affront to democracy?

As someone who has all his life sought the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, I suppose I should welcome any support for that cause no matter what prompts it. But pardon me if I am somewhat irked that people can be compelled by gross buffoonery when they have for so long been complacent in the face of gross constitutional injustice.



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