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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I despair!

referendum_2018_petitionIn all this talk of postponing the new referendum, whether it be until 2019 or 2021 or 2022, I see no explanation of how those commending delay propose to deal with the measures that the UK Government will surely implement in order to make a referendum impossible or unwinnable or both. It’s as if they think the British state is a benign entity which is just going to sit back and wait until we get our act together. It’s as if they are dumbly unaware that locking Scotland into a unilaterally redefined political union is one of the principal imperatives driving British policy.

How do we even know there will be any Holyrood elections in 2021? How do we know there will be any Scottish Parliament in 2021? And, even if it is allowed to survive while the Postponers are warming their fiddle-fingers at the bonfire of Scotland’s democracy, how can anyone even begin to imagine that it won’t have been stripped of the power to call a referendum?

At a minimum, all the British political elite would have to do is transfer powers over the franchise to the new unelected and unaccountable shadow administration under David Mundell.

But STILL the Postponers have absolutely nothing to say about such matters. They are so wrapped up in trying to think of ways to game the British political system it never occurs to them that there is actually no reason at all why we should be playing according to the rules of that system.

Worse! They genuinely seem to suppose that the ‘right time’ for a new referendum will just magically emerge from conditions which – by THEIR choice! – are all but entirely determined by forces that are intractably opposed to the people of Scotland EVER being permitted to exercise their right of self-determination.

I despair!

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It’s what we make it

saltire_breakoutI have news for Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp. Brexit is not the only thing happening in the world. It’s not even the only thing happening in Scotland. Were he but able to tear his attention away from Brexit for a second he might notice a few other things going on. Things that might just throw his nice tidy independence timeline into disarray.

Scour that timeline as you may, you will find no mention of the steps the British government will be taking in order to make a new independence referendum impossible or unwinnable of both. Which is odd given that Gordon otherwise seems to suppose the British government to be the only effective actor in all of politics. His timeline is almost entirely a tale of what the British elite does, and how the Scottish Government might react.

No account is taken of the fact that the British state has already started to strip powers from the Scottish Parliament and explicitly signalled its intention to further undermine Scotland’s democratic institutions. The timeline totally ignores the unelected and unaccountable shadow administration under David Mundell which is being readied to take over powers stripped from Holyrood. It blithely disregards things like the transfer to the ‘UK Government in Scotland’ of powers over the franchise. Simply by excluding 16 and 17-year olds Mundell could deal a crippling blow to any new independence referendum. And that’s just one example. Spend a few moments reflecting, in a way Gordon signally fails to do, on the myriad ways the British government might seek to thwart the democratic process.

It seems that the whole Brexit bourach looms so large in Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s view that he seems oblivious to the British Nationalist ‘One Nation’ project that is running in parallel with it. A project which, more importantly, would be proceeding regardless of Brexit. Concern for the economic impact of Brexit is understandable. But it should not blind us to the fundamental constitutional issue and the threat to Scotland’s democracy.

While the casual disregard for this real and imminent constitutional threat is perplexing, the stuff about asking for a Section 30 Order is just bloody annoying. I know that Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is fully aware of the importance of reframing the arguments for the new referendum. He knows what reframing means. He is well aware of how it works. He appreciates that it involves altering perceptions by changing the way an issue is presented. So why is he still mired in the now outmoded mindset of the 2014 referendum? Why is he still thinking in terms of independence being something that is in the gift of the British state, rather than something that is Scotland’s natural right?

Why does he continue to maintain that Scotland’s constitutional status has to be negotiated with the British government as if it required their agreement, rather than simply the expressed will of Scotland’s people?

Why does he so readily accept the notion that the British political elite might have the legitimate authority to veto the right of self-determination that is vested wholly in the people of Scotland?

We do not need Westminster’s permission to exercise our right of self-determination. We don’t need the British political elite’s approval to end a political union in which we are equal partners. The British has neither the right nor the authority to demand that we pass some contrived test in order to qualify for independence. Unless, of course, we afford them that authority. Unless we choose to concede that right.

The approach outlined by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is demeaning. The time for asking is past. This is the time for taking.

More and more people in the Yes movement are coming to this conclusion. The idea of Scotland as a supplicant petitioning a superior power for the granting of a constitutional boon is being rejected as inappropriate, offensive and politically ill-judged.

Which brings us to the final flaw in Gordon’s independence timeline. As well as neglecting to have due regard for the British Nationalist ‘One Nation’ project and woefully failing to reframe the issue, no account is taken of the momentum building in the Yes movement. Across Scotland, thousands of individuals and groups are poised, ready for a new referendum campaign. How long does Gordon imagine the enthusiasm and energy can be kept on hold? The reserves are not infinite. At some point, either the dam bursts or the reserves begin to deplete faster than they can be replenished.

People will weary of waiting. They need to act. They will tire of marching. They need to get somewhere. They will only endure so much. They need to see an end to it.

It is time for bold, decisive, assertive action. It is time to do, rather than be done to. It is time for defiance, not compliance. It is time to assert the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. It is time to dissolve the Union and dare the British political elite to stand in Scotland’s way.

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Brexit is NOT the problem!

saltire_euThere’s a lot of remarkable stuff going on in politics at the moment. You hardly need yet another commentator telling you what an unmitigated shambles the entire Brexit project is. You can probably do without some blogger groping for adjectives to describe the British political elite responsible for this debacle within a fiasco within a thing that we don’t even have a word for yet. Most of you will understand well enough the implications of recent developments in the increasingly farcical process in which, two years on from that fateful referendum, British politicians continue to squabble like bagged cats over what they want Brexit to mean.

You’ll doubtless have had your fill of articles attempting to read the entrails of the eviscerated ‘Chequers Accord’ and enumerate all possible permutations of resignations, alliances, leadership challenges, snap elections and the rest. You’ll have read or listened to so many ‘experts’ offering different accounts of ‘What It All Means’ that you may not have a clue what any of it means, but at least you have some idea of what some of it might mean depending on what the rest of it turns out to mean.

You’ll be dizzy from having things presented from every conceivable angle and perspective. You’ll be weary. I sympathise. Really! I do! But I crave your indulgence as I briefly discuss a remarkable thing that is not much remarked upon.

I refer to the curious fact that, despite everything that has happened and is happening, there are still people insisting that we should wait and see what happens next before acting to extricate Scotland from a political union which has gone from being merely deleterious to being downright disastrous.

What is it that these people imagine might happen which could possibly make the Union acceptable? The arguments for procrastination fall into three broad categories. There’s the ‘Wait For Clarity’ argument. This is the plea that we bide our time until is becomes fully apparent what the Brexit ‘deal’ is. Let me just repeat here something mentioned earlier. It is now two years since the EU referendum and we are still waiting for the plan and/or proposals which, in a scenario where sanity got a bit-part, should have been worked out long before the referendum was even contemplated. What rational reason is there to suppose that any kind of ‘clarity’ might emerge from the noxious fog surrounding the Brexit process?

The analogy I’ve used previously, but which bears repeating, is being pushed off a high building. You don’t have to wait until you hit the pavement to know that it isn’t going to end well. The British political elite is intent upon dragging Scotland off a very high building. It rather goes without saying that we did not consent to this. In fact, most of us are loudly objecting to being pulled over the edge by the Mad Brexiteers with their magic parachutes woven from inane jingoism, tawdry bunting and wishful thinking. But our protests are going unheeded.

The Mad Brexiteers insist – not without a certain perverse justification – that we gave them a licence to push or drag us off any tall structure of their choosing by voting No in 2014. So we should just shut up and enjoy the thrill of plummeting into the abyss.

This first category of postponers and prevaricators argue that the people of Scotland need to know all the details before they can be asked to resist. They need to know precisely the height of the building and exactly what kind of terrain they’ll be landing on – along with lots of stuff about wind direction and velocity and how much change they’ll have in their pockets. They say that, as soon as we see absolutely every bit of information there is and ever can be about the falling process, we’ll be better able to judge whether the inevitable high-velocity interaction with the ground is something we’re prepared to contemplate. And they expect this information to become available any day now.




Next, we have the ‘Wait For Three Buses!’ argument. According to this argument, Brexit isn’t so much like Scotland being dragged off a tall building as Scotland being thrown under a bus. The advice is that we should stand by while the people of Scotland are thrown under the wheels of this bus so they’ll know the pain of allowing themselves to be thrown under the wheels of a  bus and learn from this that being thrown under a bus is not a good thing. Possibly every bit as bad as meeting the pavement after a brief vertical trip.

The more enthusiastic advocates of this course of action prefer that we wait until there are two or three buses bowling along in our direction so that the people of Scotland get doubly or triply mangled. Just to ensure that they learn that lesson.

The theory seems to be that, once they know what a damned good bus-mangling is really like, the people of Scotland will rise up against those who visited this misfortune on them. Presumably gathering their dismembered limbs, splintered bones and smashed organs as they do so.

Then there’s the ‘Wait In Hope’ argument. Maybe Brexit won’t be so bad. Maybe it’ll have it’s good points. Like Hitler being an animal-loving vegetarian.

Or maybe it won’t happen at all. Maybe the British political elite will suddenly be overcome by late onset sanity and they’ll cancel the whole exercise claiming it was all just a jolly jape and asking if we can’t take a joke.

Needless to say, I reject all of these arguments. There is no possibility of any ‘clarity. I happen to think we should be protecting Scotland from traffic hazards. And it doesn’t matter how shining bright Brexit turns out to be, or even that it doesn’t happen. Because we didn’t consent to it! It is being done to us without our consent. It is being done to us despite the fact that we refused consent. It is being done to us against our strenuous objections.

That is the issue. Not Brexit, but the political union which empowers the British political elite to push Scotland off tall buildings or under buses. Brexit is merely a symptom. The Union is the disease. Brexit is a manifestation of the fatal flaws in a constitutional arrangement which Scotland should never have been subjected to. A constitutional arrangement which no sane, sober and sensible citizen of Scotland would accept were it being offered now.

Brexit has exposed the asymmetry of power which is built into the Union. An inherent imbalance which means that, within the UK, Scotland’s interests can only be served if and to the extent that they happen to coincide with the interests of England’s political, social and economic elites. Something that happens ever more rarely as Scotland develops a distinctively outward-looking, inclusive, progressive political culture while the rest of the UK (rUK) retreats into a narrow, insular, fearful British Nationalism.

Brexit has brought into sharp focus the denial of popular sovereignty which is the other fatal flaw of the Union. The sovereignty of Scotland’s people is denied in favour of the sovereignty of the British crown in the British parliament. Which increasingly means autocratic rule by the executive of the British government.

These fatal flaws have existed since the Union was imposed on Scotland. They didn’t arise with Brexit. They won’t be resolved regardless of how the Brexit shambles plays out. Or, at least, they won’t be resolved in a manner that any democrat could consider tolerable.

The British political elite does not see the democratic deficit as a problem They regard it as an essential aspect of the Union. When Scotland’s interests are subordinated to the interests of the British government’s clients, that is the Union doing precisely what it was intended to do.

When the Union enables the British political elite to deny Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination and treat our democratic institutions with open contempt, that is the Union serving the purpose for which it was devised.

The British state doesn’t see the Union as the problem. For the British state, the Union is the solution. Their response to protests against the imbalance of power is to further entrench that imbalance whilst decimating and emasculating Scotland’s democratic institutions. Their response to efforts to ensure the people of Scotland can fully exercise the sovereignty that is theirs by right is to strip Scotland of the means by which sovereignty might be exercised whilst bolstering the power wielded over Scotland by the British government.

Brexit is not the problem. The Union is the problem. And it is a problem which needs to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency. More and more people are recognising just how real and imminent is the threat of rabid British nationalism. Paul Kavanagh, for example, writes today,

The independence movement needs to stop talking about the best time for an independence referendum, and start talking about the dire necessity for one.

We cannot afford to prevaricate. We cannot afford to hesitate. We must dissolve the Union. We must do it now!

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Mind your language!

saltire_breakoutIt is disappointing to find The National referring to “the NHS”, as if there were a single UK-wide health service. The British media and the British political parties habitually conflate NHS Scotland with NHS England in order to taint the Scottish health service with the defects and failings of its English counterpart. If it is to effectively offer an alternative perspective on Scotland, it is essential that The National avoids such misleading terms.

As we gear up for a new referendum campaign, we must all play a part in reframing Scotland’s political discourse. When the British propaganda machine refers to “the NHS” this is not mere carelessness. It is intentional. It is part of a purposeful effort to confine the narrative to a particular frame – the frame of a ‘One Nation’ British state. We must emphatically reject this frame. We must reclaim our language. We must create our own narrative. We must reframe our entire political discourse.

Scotland is a nation. It is not part of another nation. We are not seeking independence from another nation. Scotland is not ‘un-independent’. Scotland is an independent nation within a political union. We are not seeking independence from ‘Britain’. Britain does not exist as a country. It exists only as a convenient myth created by and on behalf of a British ruling elite. Britain is not a nation. It is the structures of power, privilege and patronage which support and sustain that ruling elite. It is a system by which the few ensure that their interests are served at the expense of the many.

The political union which has been imposed on Scotland is democratically unsustainable because it denies Scotland’s status as a nation and prohibits the effective exercise by Scotland’s people of the sovereignty that is inalienably theirs. Historically, the British state has maintained its grip on Scotland by persuading enough of us that we are subordinate. Language plays a huge part in this process. The wilful discounting of Scotland’s separate health service being just one example.

With the evolution of a distinctive and increasingly divergent political culture in Scotland, more and more people are questioning the myth of the British nation and challenging the asserted authority of the British political elite. People are no longer inclined to meekly accept that Westminster can have a veto on their right of self-determination. People are more inclined to openly and loudly protest the efforts to subordinate Scotland to the British Crown in the British Parliament.

Realising that the Union can no longer be held together with pomp, pageantry and propaganda, the British establishment has resolved to formally strip Scotland of its status as a nation using the opportunity presented by Brexit.

If we are to successfully resist this malignant ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project, we must escape the mindset inculcated in us over generations of immersion in a narrative shaped by, and for the purposes of, the ruling elites of the British state . We must do this in ways large and small. By insisting on the distinction between NHS Scotland and the rapidly disintegrating remnants of England’s health service. By exacting respect for our democratic institutions and elected representatives. By requiring an end to the withholding of powers from the Scottish Parliament.

By demanding that the Union be dissolved.

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