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.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Old lies


In the run up to the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, Spain made clear it would resist an independent Scotland’s application to join the EU for fear of fuelling the Catalonian separatist movement.

Ousted Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

This statement in The National is just not true. Whatever Mariano Rajoy said as a favour to David Cameron – doubtless with some quid pro quo involved – Madrid’s official position was much more nuanced. There was, indeed, a fear of “fuelling the Catalonian separatist movement”. But to obviate this possibility Spain took the line that Scotland becoming independent was irrelevant to the Catalonian situation due to the constitutional differences.

This position was spelled out as long ago as 2014 by one of Josep Borrell’s predecessors as Foreign Minister.

Spain’s veto seems unlikely. José Manuel García-Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister, declined to state that Spain would veto Scottish accession when invited to do so. Instead, the Spanish Government has taken the line that the cases of Catalonia and Scotland are fundamentally different because the UK’s constitutional setting permits referendums on secession while the current Spanish constitution enshrines the indivisibility of the Spanish state and establishes that national sovereignty belongs to all Spaniards.

Thinking about it for a moment, rather than accepting the British state’s propaganda or falling into line with the metropolitan media’s cosy consensus, one can readily see how actively opposing Scotland’s entry into the EU would fatally contradict this official position. It would be a tacit acknowledgement that there were parallels to be drawn between to two situations. The very thing that Spain was at pains to deny.

The point, of course, is that this “myth” has not just now been “busted”. The reality is that the myth never had any substance. The claim that Spain would veto Scotland’s membership of the EU was, for all practical purposes, a lie. One of countless lies told by Better Together/Project Fear, the British political parties and the British government.

But these lies are not being newly exposed now. Those lies were known to be lies at the time. The article referred to above was published before the 2014 referendum. There were many more such articles. Most, if not all, of the British Nationalist propaganda had been debunked before Scotland voted.

Many of those who voted on Thursday 18 September were making an informed choice. They had taken the trouble to question the British propaganda. They had made the effort to find the facts – or, at least, better information.

Others opted to make arguably the most significant political choice they will ever make on the sole basis of the lies peddled by the British media. Please don’t ask me to respect those people or their choice. After all, they showed scant respect for Scotland or the democratic process.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

No shortcuts

saltire_euI suppose we take it for granted that people associated with Scotland’s Yes movement will have more respect for the principles of democracy than British Nationalists. Not that this would be difficult. On a daily basis, British politicians – particularly those squatting in the Scottish Parliament – are at pains to demonstrate their disdain for voters as well as their sneering contempt for the institutions and processes of democracy. British Nationalism is anti-democratic. To be a British Nationalist is to believe that political authority derives from the monarch, rather than from the people. And that the exercise of fundamental democratic rights is legitimate only to the extent that the outcome serves the interests of the British state. It is an abiding tenet of British Nationalist ideology that the people are subordinate to parliament.

The concept of parliamentary sovereignty is anathema to the Yes movement. We hold this truth to be self-evident – the people are sovereign. We hold it to be the single most important defining characteristic of true democracy that ultimate political authority is vested wholly and exclusively in the people. We tend to assume that awareness of and regard for the basic precepts of democracy is common to the entire Yes movement. Carolyn Leckie shows why we should, perhaps, be more cautious about that assumption.

Not that I’m saying Carolyn is anti-democratic in the way that British Nationalists are. It’s just that she hasn’t thought things through. She hasn’t asked the important questions about her suggestion that the SNP should “pledge” a post-independence referendum on Scotland’s relationship with the European Union. Most obviously – at least to those of us who relate all policy proposals to the ideals of democracy – she has failed to consider the question of a democratic mandate.

Carolyn chooses to disregard the fact that ‘Independence in Europe’ is the official policy of the Scottish National Party. She appears to attach no significance whatever to the fact that this position has been repeatedly and comprehensively endorsed by the party membership.

Worse still, she opts to disregard the fact that remaining a full member f the EU is the settled will of Scotland’s people. We voted 62% Remain, in the best test of public opinion that we can possibly have this side of independence. Carolyin Leckie not only expects Nicola Sturgeon to set aside the democratic will of party members, she wants them to show the same contempt for the electorate as is habitual among British Nationalists. All in the name of political expediency.

I have an alternative suggestion. Instead of pandering to minority Leave voters to the extent of affording them parity of status with the Remain majority, let’s try being honest with them. Let’s tell them that the question of Scotland’s membership of the EU is a settled matter. If they want a referendum on the issue then they are perfectly at liberty to campaign for one after Scotland’s independence is restored.

And if they, or Carolyn Leckie, want to change the SNP’s position on EU membership then they can do it the democratic way. They can join the party, pay their dues, and work through the internal democratic procedures.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit