Plea!? Are we not yet above grovelling to Westminster? Are we inferiors petitioning a superior authority for some gracious boon? Why are we politely asking for limited and conditional powers to be grudgingly granted when we should be demanding an end to the withholding of all the powers that rightfully belong with the only parliament that has democratic legitimacy in Scotland?

Talks!? Are we not past the stage of talking? Isn’t it time for some bold and decisive action from the politicians we elected precisely because we thought them capable of bold, decisive action and willing to confront the British state?

There is no path to independence which does not pass through a point at which there is direct and acrimonious confrontation with the British state.

If now is not the time to confront the British political elite, then when? If this is not a worthwhile issue on which to confront them, what is? Listen to George Kerevan.

Why doesn’t ScotGov just ignore Home Office ban, replace Lord Advocate (who has jurisdiction) with someone with a backbone, & open drug rooms in Scotland. How many have to die before we exercise Scottish sovereignty? https://t.co/f8i9s1fPvQ— George Kerevan (@GeorgeKerevan) July 16, 2019

Let there be an end to the pleading! The Scottish Government needs to get off its knees and start aggressively asserting the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and the authority of the Scottish Parliament.

Let there be an end to the talking! At least until the British political elite are prepared to talk to Scotland’s democratically elected representatives as equals and with respect.

Let there be an end to pandering to British imperialist pretensions! The Scottish Government is there to prioritise Scotland’s aspirations. They would be well advised to make a start on that.

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This means war!

British Nationalism is an anti-democratic ideology. In what George Kerevan has christened the ‘Hunt Doctrine’, Jeremy Hunt expresses the anti-democratic nature of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism more explicitly than most. Or more explicitly than has been common until lately. Because even the most casual observer of Scottish politics cannot fail to have noticed that British Nationalist rhetoric has been ramping up of late. Mere opposition to a new referendum at this time has turned into insistence that the people of should Scotland never be allowed to exercise their democratic right of self determination. Recently, we have witnessed the unedifying spectacle of British Nationalist outrage at the prospect of independence being discussed in a Citizens’ Assembly; surely the epitome of a democratic forum.

Now we have the British Foreign Secretary and prospective British Prime Minister telling us that there is no expression of Scotland’s democratic will sufficient to outweigh the authority of the British government. Elsewhere, I have referred to this as ‘sovereignty of the executive‘; the dangerous idea that legitimate political authority derives, not from the people or even the monarch, but from those who wield power.

In reality, the Hunt Doctrine is no more than a restatement of the Union, which has always served as a constitutional device by which the superiority of England-as-Britain is maintained by denying the people of Scotland full and effective exercise of the sovereignty which is their absolute democratic right. This was particularly evident in the way Scotland’s Remain vote in the EU referendum was summarily and contemptuously dismissed by the British state. And in the way that Scotland’s democratically elected government was prohibited from having any role in Brexit negotiations; while being accused of ‘failing to cooperate’ with those negotiations and even of ‘undermining’ the UK’s position.

But it is important to remember that the way Scotland has been treated in the context of Brexit is exceptional only in the brazenness of the British state’s disdain for Scotland and for democracy. The Union has always been anti-democratic. After all, it predates what we now consider to be democracy. Unionists will claim that the Union has adapted to democracy, citing devolution as the most telling example of how it has changed. But none of the changes implemented over the years has altered the fundamental premise and purpose of the Union – that Scotland’s resources should evermore be at the disposal of England-as-Britain; that the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people should at all times be subordinate to the desires, preferences and ambitions of the British state. Devolution was only permitted on condition that it did not compromise the Union.

Scotland’s cause – the fight to restore constitutional normality – will not progress until there is a general realisation that the problem is, not Brexit or the Tories and certainly not the people of England, but the Union.

That cause cannot progress unless we first assert and defend our right of self-determination. A ‘positive campaign for independence’ simply isn’t enough. The Hunt Doctrine makes it clear that the British political elite will resort to any means in order to preserve their ‘precious’ Union. When Hunt declares that he will never allow a new independence referendum, this is more than just the Jock-bashing which has been such a prominent feature of the Tory leadership contest. Of course, there’s macho posturing involved. But the willy Hunt is waving is the Union. He speaks for British Nationalism.

The people of Scotland must respond appropriately to the Hunt Doctrine and the threat of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism. And we must do so while our democratic institutions are still intact. Make no mistake! The British state has the power to suspend or even abolish the Scottish Parliament. And they will use that power in defence of their ‘precious’ Union. Democratic principles be damned! They are to be tolerated only so long as they don’t jeopardise the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state.

When you hear Theresa May warn her successor that Scotland’s First Minister cannot be trusted and Jeremy Hunt talking about how the Scottish Government is uncooperative, what you are hearing is the British establishment preparing the grounds for action against the Scottish Parliament. The threat to Scotland’s democracy is real and imminent.

George Kerevan states it well,

Jeremy Hunt’s constitutional innovations represent a declaration of war on Scottish sovereignty and established right to self-determination. Out of such arrogance, revolutions are born.

Hunt declared war on our sovereignty … here are ways we could respond

One thing that neither Jeremy Hunt nor any other British Nationalist explains is how they hope to contend with the tide of democratic dissent that will be unleashed should they succeed in their mission to close the democratic route to independence. They genuinely seem to suppose that the independence movement will evaporate at their command. We have to make it abundantly clear that we will not sit idly by while anti-democratic British Nationalists deny our right of self-determination and destroy our democratic institutions. The Yes movement must prepare for a campaign of mass protest and civil disobedience.

The target of this campaign must be the Union. We are no longer campaigning for independence, but against the constitutional anomaly which underpins the anti-democratic British Nationalism expressed in the Hunt Doctrine. We are no longer asking for powers to be handed to us. We are demanding the restoration of powers being withheld from us by the British state.

The people of Scotland are sovereign. But that is nothing more than an empty slogan unless we are prepared to forcefully assert that sovereignty and everything that it implies. We must fight in defence of our democratic right of self-determination.

We must fight in defence of our Parliament and its rightful authority to speak for the people of Scotland.

We must fight in defence of the right to elect our own government and that government’s rightful authority to act for the people of Scotland.

We must fight in defence of a political culture which respects democratic principles rather than trampling them underfoot.

We must fight to end the Union and to thwart the anti-democratic ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project.

We must offer no violence other than that which may be commensurate with any violence inflicted upon us. Violence is the resort of oppressive, anti-democratic forces. We must fight, not with the weapons of established power, but with the weapons of the people – mass protest, civil disobedience, withdrawal of cooperation and judicious deployment of our economic power.

We must fight to defend all that Scotland is and all that our nation might be.

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The meaning behind the words

Politicians may, from time to time, mean what they say. But they only very rarely say exactly what they mean. The form of words that they use is carefully crafted and filtered through aides, policy advisers and media relations gurus. Mostly, professional politicians don’t lie. Although the version of the facts that they offer may be so distorted and perverted by that filtering process as to be a long way from the truth, it is seldom an outright untruth such as might come back to bite them on the arse at a later date.

There are, of course, exceptions. But they are exceptions because they are not behaving professionally. They are ignoring the advice and by-passing the filtering process. This may be because they are so junior as to lack a devoted team. Or it may be because they are just plain stupid. They convince themselves that they are great orators and fully on top of their brief, then make complete fools of themselves. Commonly, however, such people are so foolishly arrogant that they don’t even realise they’re making fools of themselves. Between their own lack of self-awareness and the sycophantic reassurance from their entourage, they carry on regardless.

The British political system doesn’t penalise such individuals. On the contrary, it all too frequently rewards them with high office.

Which brings us to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt – the final two contenders for the British Conservative Party leadership; and the title of British Prime Minister which is the free bonus prize. I shall leave it to others to judge for themselves whether each of these individuals is a fool behaving professionally, or a professional behaving foolishly.

When trying to discern the true meaning behind what politicians say, it often pays to blur out the actual words and listen instead to the general tone. Take Jeremy Hunt’s responses to journalists prior to the hustings in Perth. Look past all the rhetoric about him being “a passionate Unionist” and how he wants “a Brexit that works for the Union”. Tune out the carefully chosen phrases – “work constructively and positively”, “open mind”, “forward”, “engage fully, responsibly and generously”, “I’m a democrat”. Try to hear the mood, rather than the words. He may not be saying what he means, but what he means will come through in the way he says it.

On second thoughts, don’t totally tune out that last bit where Hunt insist that he is a democrat. It is of particular interest in light of what we find when we listen to the tone of his utterances. He might as well have said, “I’m a democrat, but…!”. Because what comes across is certainly not an unequivocal commitment to democratic principles. The words say one thing. The tone betrays something else entirely.

What Hunt is talking about is, not democracy as we would understand it – and definitely not the democracy we aspire to in Scotland – but something more akin the the managed (or guided) democracy associated with formerly explicitly totalitarian nations. In a managed democracy, elections are held and people vote but no matter who they elect the resulting administration remains effectively unchanged. Elections shuffle the politicians around, but have no effect on policy. Whatever the outcome of elections, whatever the make-up of parliament, whatever the democratic will of the people, the government continues to do what it wants.

This is a million miles from the popular sovereignty of Scotland. It is far, even, from the parliamentary sovereignty of England. This is sovereignty of the executive. This is the dangerous idea that legitimate political authority derives, not from the people or even the monarch, but from those who wield power. It is the notion that what is done is right because of who does it.

The tone of Hunt’s remarks – and in this respect he is no different from any other British politician – tells us that what his commitment to democracy means is that he will generously allow Scotland all the democracy we want so long as we only use in the way that he wants. We can vote for anything we like, so long as it isn’t something with which he “profoundly disagrees”. Our democratic choices are only valid if they accord with his preferences. Our democratic will is conditional on us not opposing his will.

Scotland can be whatever it wants, so long as that is what Jeremy Hunt (the British political elite) wants. That is his idea of democracy. Such is managed democracy.

Having discerned that what Hunt really means when he talks of democracy is democracy ‘guided’ by the British state, we are entitled to enquire as to what we are being guided to. Which is where we deploy another trick of political analysis and look for the imperatives which drive the British state and the options it has in pursuing those imperatives.

Maintaining the Union is a major imperative for the British state. England-as-Britain has to keep hold of Scotland. It is not entirely a matter of economics – geopolitics and pride are significant factors – but the economic implications of Scotland dissolving the Union cannot be ignored. Nor can they be overstated. Brexit is going to be expensive. The British political elite has, through a combination of idiocy and more idiocy, painted itself into a corner where it must deliver Brexit at any cost. And the cost is going to be enormous.

It is questionable whether the UK can bear this cost. England-as-Britain almost certain would not be able to do so. The figures may not mean much, but they suffice to illustrate the point. The cost of Brexit may be £200bn. Scotland’s economy is worth roughly the same amount to the UK. England-as-Britain demands the status of successor state in the event of Scotland restoring its independence. Which means England-as-Britain takes on the entire burden of UK debt plus the additional costs of Brexit. And it takes on this burden with an economy which has shrunk relative to the former UK by around £200bn annually.

Even without Brexit, losing Scotland was going to be economically problematic for England-as-Britain. Which is why the Scottish Government included in its White Paper a number of provisions intended to ease the transition. Unpopular as many of these provisions were among independence supporters, Alex Salmond realised full well that an economically crippled England benefited Scotland not at all.

These provisions were also rejected by the British government. Not because they weren’t aware of the need for them, but because accepting that England-as-Britain would need Scotland’s cooperation post-independence didn’t fit with the narrative of the anti-independence campaign. With the exception of those who were completely taken in by British propaganda, everybody – including the British political elite – was aware that a Yes vote would have prompted several screeching U-turns on the part of the British government.

We know that, regardless of any other considerations, the British government must deliver Brexit. We know that Brexit is likely to be economically crippling to some degree. We know that, failing the kind of relationship with Scotland that British politicians seem determined to permanently destroy, the impact would be considerably greater if Scotland dissolves the Union. We know that, so long as there is an SNP Scottish Government, a Scottish Parliament, and a Yes movement the British establishment must assume that their precious Union is in jeopardy.

Do the math!

It is blindingly obvious that the British state’s imperative to preserve the Union must drive it towards the option of removing the Scottish Parliament from the equation. It has to be Holyrood because proscribing a political party is fraught with problems and the Yes movement is invulnerable on account of its very nature. Besides, removing the Scottish Parliament also removes the Scottish Government. A doubly blow to Scotland’s democracy and to our aspiration to restore constitutional normality.

Whichever British politician we listen to, and whatever form of words they use, the tone tells us very clearly that the British state’s intention is to eliminate the threat of the Union being dissolved by eradicating Scotland’s distinctive political culture and imposing their own brand of managed democracy.

Because we know what the British state’s imperatives are; because we know the circumstances in which the British political elite has placed the UK; because we know the options available to the British government – whoever is PM – and because we know the meaning behind the words when Jeremy Hunt and his ilk speak, we know with a high degree of certainty that the British government will shortly move to dismantle Scotland’s democratic institutions. We know they are going to emasculate, suspend or abolish the Scottish Parliament.

The question is whether we are prepared to let them. How determined are we to stop them? How committed are we to democracy? How resolved are we to rescue Scotland from the rolling juggernaut of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism that threatens everything we have achieved – and everything we aspire to?

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A Parliament of Scotland’s People

It is, perhaps, only to be expected that the First Minister should note that the Scottish Parliament has become the locus of Scotland’s politics. More interesting is the fact that the British head of state concurred; making it rather difficult for British Nationalists to denounce the idea of that locus being anywhere other than Westminster – the self-styled mother of all parliaments. Of course, nothing will deter the most bitter, angry and fervent adherents to ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism; not even a chastening pronouncement from their monarch. They will continue to insist that the Scottish Parliament is, and ever shall be, what it was always intended to be – a mere inconsequential adjunct to their parliament. These ideologues are adept at denying even the most glaringly evident reality should it clash with their prejudices and pretensions.

Other than the shrill and deluded British Nationalist bigots, pretty much everybody accepts that Holyrood is the beating heart of a Scottish politics which is increasingly distinct from the British politics that those zealots would impose on us. It is to Holyrood that we look for solutions. Westminster is regarded as irrelevant, if not as a hindrance to progress and an impediment to finding solutions. More and more, Westminster and the edifice of British politics is seen to be the problem. The structures of power, privilege and patronage to which Scotland is tethered by the Union are alien to the distinctive political culture which has developed at an accelerating pace in Scotland over the twenty years since our Scottish Parliament reconvened.

Accepting, as sane, sober and sensible people surely must, the distinctiveness of Scotland’s political culture and the centrality of Holyrood to that culture, we might well ask how and why this has come about. We might examine the processes involved, not simply as an academic exercise, but as a potential guide to how a more progressive politics might be enabled elsewhere.

It was certainly never the intention that Scotland’s political culture should be allowed to diverge so significantly from that of the rest of the UK. Or maybe we should say England. Because other parts of what British Nationalists are pleased to think of as the periphery of the British state have also been transformed to some extent by devolution. But it may be informative that Wales has not developed a distinctive political culture to anything like the same extent as Scotland. (Northern Ireland is something of a ‘special case’ and not useful for comparison.)

From the outset, devolution was less about constitutional reform for the purpose of enhancing democracy and improving governance and more about political manoeuvring for the purpose of partisan advantage and preservation of those structures of power, privilege and patronage. The arguments in the devolution debate revolved, not around whether and to what extent Scotland would be improved, but whether and to what extent the Union would be put at risk. And that was true of both sides of that debate. To this day, you will still find Scottish nationalists who insist that devolution was a mistake and that it should never have been accepted. Unsurprisingly, they are outnumbered by the British Nationalists who insist that devolution was a mistake and should never have been allowed. But it was the impact of devolution on the Union which was the main preoccupation of both those who wanted the Union ended, and those determined that it should be preserved at any cost.

Devolution only happened because the British establishment reckoned an arrangement had been devised which would allow them to keep the devolved parliaments on a tight leash. This is where comparisons between Scotland and Wales become interesting. While the former succeeded in slipping that leash, the latter remains under in the grip of the British establishment as represented by the British Labour Party. A fact which cannot be thought irrelevant when considering Wales’s relatively poor performance in key policy areas and the fact that Wales hasn’t developed a distinctive political culture to anything like the same extent as Scotland. Certainly, that alternative political culture hasn’t come to replace British politics to the same degree.

Not that Wales lacks an alternative. Plaid Cymru and Welsh Greens offer this in much the same way as the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scottish Greens have in Scotland. I’m sure there are people in both the Welsh parties looking very closely at the matter of why they have been less successful than their Scottish counterparts in terms of making the Welsh Assembly as central to a more progressive politics as Holyrood is. But at this point factors come into play which are particular to each nation and comparisons become less meaningful.

Before leaving the broad comparison, however, we should note that it demonstrates how crucial the SNP is to any account of how the Scottish Parliament came to be the locus of Scotland’s politics. But for the SNP, Scotland would be where Wales is now. Scotland may be said to be beating a path for Wales to follow. And if Wales, why not England? Why should England not also take the path to a more progressive politics?

Perhaps because England lacks an equivalent of Plaid Cymru and the SNP. England doesn’t have a progressive, civic nationalist political party. More importantly, England doesn’t have a party which stands outside the British political system. It is this separation from the British political system which explains both the electoral success of the SNP and the development of a distinctive political culture with its locus in the Scottish Parliament.

Because the SNP is not, never has been, and never could be part of the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state, it has been able to more effectively adapt to take advantage of Scotland’s proportional electoral system. While the British parties in Scotland continue to do their politicking in the manner of British parties – with consequences which are painfully evident in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament – the SNP has been more responsive to the priorities, needs and aspirations of Scotland’s electorate. Being more responsive, the party won a mandate from voters. Carrying that responsiveness into government, the SNP has won mandates repeatedly. Because the British parties are incapable of matching this responsiveness, they cannot challenge the SNP electorally. They simply aren’t doing the same kind of politics as the SNP. And the people have let it be known which kind of politics they prefer.

It stands to reason that a different kind of politics – a distinctive political culture – requires a parliament which accommodates the difference and distinctiveness. When the SNP formed its first administration in 2007, the Scottish Parliament didn’t just slip the leash of British politics, it broke that leash. With the suffocating influence of the British parties removed, Holyrood was able to become more than it was meant be. It was able to become what British Labour, in particular, had been charged with ensuring it never became. It became, not just the Scottish Parliament, but Scotland’s Parliament. The Parliament of Scotland’s people.

The Scottish Parliament has, indeed, come a long way in only two decades. But that progress is fragile. Notwithstanding the properly protocol-conscious rhetoric of the British head of state, it is impossible to overstate how much the Scottish Parliament is loathed and detested by the British establishment. A Parliament of Scotland’s People represents popular sovereignty. A functioning, if not fully developed, model of popular sovereignty stands as a challenge and a threat to the principle of Westminster parliamentary sovereignty which underpins the British state’s structures of power, privilege and patronage. From a British perspective, the Scottish Parliament must be reined-in, or closed down.

Whether Holyrood can survive as a Parliament of Scotland’s People; whether it can survive at all, absolutely depends on ending the Union. And doing so as a matter of the utmost urgency.

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Under pressure

I despair of people who can meekly accept over three centuries of their sovereignty being denied, but find in the fleeting ascendancy of a malignant child-clown an incentive to end the gross constitutional anomaly under which the nation labours. If Boris Johnson being British Prime Minister is the best reason these people can think of for ending the Union then they really need to do a bit more thinking.

But we take what we can get. Motives are of academic interest only. Voters are not required to justify their choices. There is no space on any ballot paper where voters must provide their reasons for voting as they have. Which, in a way, is a pity. I suspect those ballot papers would make rather interesting reading.

It is gratifying that, whatever their reasons, enough people have switched from No to Yes that the First Minister can be “confident” of victory at last for Scotland’s cause in that new referendum she has been promising for what seems like decades, but can’t possibly be more than a few years. Such is the sense of unrequited urgency that is felt, to a greater or lesser degree, across all of the Yes movement bar the increasingly isolated and besieged pockets of Postponer complacency.

The question most are asking is when will that confidence be translated into the bold, decisive action that may yet save Scotland from the onslaught of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist fervour that threatens our democracy, our prosperity and our very identity as a nation? Not to mention our vital public services.

Opinion polls won’t do it. No number of opinion polls, however favourable, will end the Union and restore Scotland to normality. That will only happen when our First Minister decides to cast aside the rules and procedures imposed for the preservation of the Union and the advantage of the British ruling elite. It will only happen when Nicola Sturgeon knows in her heart and her head that the odds favour Yes.

It is her calculation to make. Few doubt that she is politically capable. Fewer still doubt her personal commitment to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. But time is running out. The British establishment understands what is at stake. If there is one certainty in today’s chaotic political condition it is that the British state will move to thwart Scotland’s aspiration to be a normal nation again. For established power, that is an imperative.

Knowing the imperative, we need only look at the options available to anti-democratic British Nationalist to be in a position to predict, with some certainty, what they will do. Broadly speaking, the British state can be expected to attack one or more of the five components parts of Scotland’s independence movement – the SNP, which is the lever by which Scotland will be prised out of the detested Union; The Scottish Government, which is the fulcrum on which the lever moves; the Scottish Parliament which form the solid base on which the lever rests and the Yes movement. which supplies the force to move the lever.

It will be pointed out that all of these are already under attack – with the possible exception of the Yes movement, which doesn’t present a good target. what is happening now; what has happened to date in terms of smearing the SNP, denigrating the Scottish Government and undermining the Scottish Parliament is mere sparring compared to the onslaught which awaits us the other side of Brexit. The contenders for the job of British Prime Minister have all made it abundantly clear that bringing Scotland to heel, by whatever means, is among their top priorities. They will seek to make good on their threats.

The burden of responsibility which rests on Nicola Sturgeon’s shoulders is massive. The decisions she must make have profound implications. The task she faces is daunting in the extreme. She must act before the British state contrives new obstacles and impediments. She must act while the various parts of the independence movement are intact and strong. She must act very soon – and with relentless determination.

For our part, we must continue to urge the First Minister to act. The pressure we put on Nicola Sturgeon translates into the power she wields against the British state. So pile it on! Even if it is only to avoid the ignominy of Boris Johnson being able to declare himself Scotland’s overlord.

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Wrong target II

Once again, I find myself unable to be shocked by this ‘revelation’. I, and many others, were warning well ahead of polling in the 2014 referendum that one obvious consequence of a No vote would be increased, and more brazenly invasive, efforts to bypass and undermine the Scottish Parliament.

Holyrood’s fate was sealed in 2007 when voters ended the British parties’ domination by electing an SNP government. The British state’s imperative to rein in Scotland’s democracy was made all the more urgent when, in 2011, the Scottish electorate casually broke the system which had been designed to ensure that the Scottish Parliament would always be under the control of one or more of the British establishment parties.

The enthusiasm of British Labour in Scotland for devolution was almost entirely a function of their belief that this would guarantee them a permanent power-base in Scotland. Their Tory partners were prepared to tolerate devolution only because they were confident that, whatever power the Scottish Parliament might afford British Labour, it would always be insufficient to pose a threat to a Tory government in Westminster. And, of course, because they were assured that the Union would never be compromised. For all the rhetoric, when it comes to keeping Scotland in check, British Labour is considered a safe pair of hands by the British establishment.

No voters handed the British political elite a licence to dispose of Scotland as they pleased. Did hose No voters seriously imagine the British political elite wouldn’t use that licence to the full? What was it about the history of the British state and its treatment of Scotland which led them to this staggeringly naive belief?

For those of us not afflicted by this credulousness, it comes as no surprise whatever to find British politicians conspiring to emasculate Scotland’s only democratically legitimate parliament. The Union requires this. The fact that the Scottish Parliament represents a form of democracy which cannot be managed by the apparatus of the British state means that it must be crippled or destroyed. No challenge to established power can be tolerated. Any moves towards restoring to the people of Scotland the sovereignty which is theirs by absolute right must be thwarted. Dissent must be rendered manageable. Distinctiveness must be wholly eradicated. All in the name of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism.

What is disappointing – if not, in the light of late experience, surprising – is to find SNP politicians presenting this assault on Scotland’s democracy as exclusively, or even particularly, a Tory project. This implies a disturbing failure to recognise the nature of Scotland’s predicament. A predicament which cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of democratic principles simply by a change of government at Westminster, or the installation of a new British Prime Minister in Downing Street.

Correspondence, both private and public, with others in the Yes movement leads me to the certainty that I am not alone in the fervent wish that SNP politicians would desist from treating Scotland’s cause as a mere party political contest with the British Tories and afford that cause its deserved status as a battle for the integrity of Scotland’s democracy.

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A nightmare scenario

As ever, Andrew Tickell does an excellent job of taking us through the rules and procedures of the Scottish Parliament. His account of how Nicola Sturgeon might force an early Scottish general election is intriguing. But there is one possible twist to the hypothetical tale which either hasn’t occurred to him or, more likely, was considered too outlandish even in an age of bizarre politics – the Grand Coalition.

Suppose that, when Nicola Sturgeon resigns as First Minister, instead of “the ridiculous spectacle of a Davidson-Leonard contest” envisioned by Andrew we had the rather less amusing spectacle of the British parties in Holyrood forming an alliance sufficiently workable to avoid “complete ungovernability”?

Is this really so difficult to imagine? It may not be easy to see such a Grand Coalition working in the longer term, but how long would it have to last in order to foil Nicola Sturgeon’s devious plan to bring about an early election? If the British parties could cobble together any kind of administration and keep it limping along for even a few weeks, Ms Sturgeon would be left looking every bit as foolish as Theresa May did in the aftermath of he snap UK general election in 2017.

There was a time when a formal association between the two main British parties – even at the North Britain branch level – would have been unthinkable. But that all changed in June 2012 with the formation of Better Together / Project Fear. That set the precedent. It is now not possible – or, at least, not sensible – to discount the possibility of a Grand Coalition of British parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Such an alliance would be justified in terms of a shared British Nationalist ideology which readily overcomes the already uncertain political differences between the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS) and British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). Because we’ve seen it before from their predecessors, it is all too easy to imagine Leonard and Davidson sharing a platform festooned with Union flags; and to hear the grandiloquent speeches about a shared determination to “protect our precious Union” and “save Scotland from the evil of the SNP”. Rhetoric which would be echoed by their respective bosses in London, both of whom would eagerly seize the opportunity to play the ‘unity’ card in the hope of trumping the Mad Brexiteer insurgency threatening the cosy two-party arrangement which has served the British establishment so effectively for decades.

If the thought of a Grand Coalition of British parties wresting control of Holyrood from the Scottish parties doesn’t give you nightmares then reflect for a moment on the damage such an administration could do. Think of the ways it could use even temporary power to advance the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project. The possibility of such an alliance may be remote. But the prospect is horrifying. Could Nicola Sturgeon afford to take a chance?

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