The Perfidious Albion clause

Sometimes newspaper headlines are misleading. Sometimes they’re just flat out wrong. And sometimes they’re just pathetically desperate. A headline in the Herald today (Saturday) falls into that latter category. “Nicola Sturgeon confirms a Yes vote on independence could be reversed” it screams, as though she is the one who would be doing the reversing.  The implication is that she might change her mind after a Yes vote and decide that this whole independence business was a bad idea because it was upsetting to that terribly nice Murdo Fraser.

A far more accurate headline would have been, “Nicola Sturgeon confirms Scotland would still be a democracy after a Yes vote.” Yes, who knew it, after a Yes vote which has as its aim ensuring that the people of Scotland are able to get governments that do what the people of Scotland want, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that after a Yes vote the people of Scotland will get a government that does what the people of Scotland want.

Naturally that also means that should, for some bizarre and unfathomable reason, the people of Scotland collectively decide that circumstances have changed and they don’t want independence after having voted for it, and they vote for a government with a mandate to hold a referendum on rejoining the UK, then that is what the people of Scotland will get. That’s how democracy works. This proposition should only come as a surprise to British nationalists in Scotland.

The point, the point which the Herald and the anti-independence parties are conveniently overlooking, is that the people of Scotland have right now got a government which was elected with a mandate to hold an independence referendum should circumstances change as circumstances have indeed changed. That’s not a hypothetical government with a hypothetical mandate either. It’s an actual government with an actual mandate whose existence the anti-independence parties are hell-bent on denying. Democracy doesn’t mean that people only have the right to change their minds as long as they change their minds in a direction that you approve of. Except if you’re Jeauw Swaynseun. But then there’s as much chance of the Lib Dems acknowledging their hypocrisy as there is of the Queen apologising for having interfered in a democratic vote.

The headline and accompanying article are clearly designed to do two things. First of all it seeks to play into the fears and suspicions of those in the Yes camp who are openly expressing their doubts that the SNP is at all serious about pursuing independence. Oh my god! They’ll be saying on Twitter, Nicola has no intention at all of pursuing independence. I’m ripping up my SNP membership card and will never vote for the party again. And by doing so they will be making a resolutely anti-independence newspaper very happy indeed. Job done. Although I very much doubt however that outside of a miniscule minority of the perma-outraged who inhabit Twitter that anyone would really think that. In any event, those in the independence camp who are fed up with a lack of action from the SNP would hardly believe a Herald headline that told them it was raining even if they were to look out of the window and see that it was tipping down.

The other, more serious, goal of the piece is to give further wind to the notion that opponents of independence would be justified in insisting that the next independence referendum should be a two-parter. Following a yes vote in the referendum they’d then insist on a confirmatory referendum on the independence deal negotiated between Holyrood and Westminster. This sounds on the surface to be all very fine and dandy and democratic, but what it means in the real world is that they are wanting Holyrood and the Scottish Government to agree in advance that Westminster has the right and the ability to negotiate in bad faith after Scotland has voted for independence in order to ensure that a Yes vote can never be implemented. It’s essentially a Perfidious Albion clause.

The Perfidious Albion clause would in practice give Westminster, which doesn’t exactly have a great reputation at the best of times when it comes to fairness and negotiating in good faith, carte blanche to insist on all sorts of ridiculous and unacceptable conditions during independence negotiations. This is because as a result of the Perfidious Albion clause the purpose of independence negotiations for Westminster would no longer be to negotiate with Holyrood with the aim of getting a workable deal on independence that was acceptable to both parties, it would be to negotiate with the aim of setting conditions that they know that Holyrood could never agree to in a million years. For Westminster, the negotiations would become about ensuring that a deal could not be achieved rather than achieving one.

Then when the confirmatory vote comes along, opponents of independence would be able to say that Scotland was going to have to take a leap into the unknown without any independence deal. Opponents of independence would tell us that Westminster wouldn’t recognise an independent Scotland because there was no agreement on the terms of independence, there was no agreement. And then they would tell us that in turn this would mean that we’d not be able to join the EU or any other international body because Westminster wouldn’t recognise Scottish independence and wouldn’t agree to it.

Naturally the plan is a non-starter. No independence supporting party or organisation would accept a referendum predictated upon giving our opponents the right to negotiate in bad faith after a Yes result. They want us to trust them, but the entire reason for independence in the first place is because Westminster has repeatedly proven that it cannot be trusted in its dealings with Scotland. The anti-independence parties amply demonstrated that in the way in which they trashed all the commitments and promises that they made to the people of Scotland in order to win the referendum of 2014.

What the Perfidious Albion clause would boil down to is Westminster saying – yes you can have an independence referendum, but only if you give us the right to ensure that a Yes vote can never be implemented. It is the height of British nationalist arrogance that they should even imagine that this insulting and anti-democratic idea might fly.

But those British nationalists who advocate this plan are playing with fire. By airing the idea they are tacitly acknowledging that it’s the people of Scotland – and only the people of Scotland – who have the right to decide their future, and this undermines their opposition to allowing a referendum in the first place.

Their desperate plans and machinations are further confirmation that they know that when there is another vote on Scottish independence, a vote that they will not be able to stall forever, that they’re going to lose. Because they already know that they’re going to lose, they’re going to play dirty. That in itself further erodes the UK, because it’s only going to make even more people in Scotland realise that the only way in which Scotland’s democracy can be defended is with independence. The Perfidious Albion proposal is one more frayed thread in the ever-loosening ties that bind the UK.

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59 thoughts on “The Perfidious Albion clause

  1. It must be hard working for the Herald knowing that your declining circulation of sales must get worse as the majority of the country moves to Yes.

    Survival is possible, be balanced in your reporting would help.

    • Scotland’s Crap at Rugby Because…….

      Look at the faces, ours are nice looking guys . . . . Theirs (Ireland’s) are out of the jail

      Ours are good guys to go for pint with . . . . . Theirs would push you aff your stool and steal your partner.

  2. 4th para “The point, the point..”
    What is being presented in Tom Gordon’s piece is pure mischief, taking what was said in one context, and twisting it to the entirely separate context of the various derailment tactics of anti-indy parties of late. Even the feeble attempt to connect it with Indy in 2014 is ludicrous.
    The Herald’s previous on this type of distortion drove a hammer through their credibility back in 2014, so no great surprise surely they continue the Better Together byline?
    Presumably their comments will be deluged by their ready army of anti-indy posters, but what will it accomplish when so few are listening?
    They know the game is up as the Brexit fiasco was the final nail in the coffin, this daft headline will be forgotten Monday or at the next foot-in-mouth of Doris the Clown..

  3. No negotiation with Westminster should be done without a very large UN observer team permanently on site !
    The furore over Cameron’s revelations about her Maj’s interference in the Indy Ref. tells you all you need to know about the English attitude to Scotland .
    Every English newspaper condemned ‘Call me Dave ‘ for revealing confidential discussions with the Queen – NONE condemned our supposedly politically neutral monarch for her unwarranted interference in our referendum . That was obviously OK – it’s only the Jock’s !

    • “Every English newspaper condemned ‘Call me Dave ‘ for revealing confidential discussions with the Queen – NONE condemned our supposedly politically neutral monarch for her unwarranted interference in our referendum . That was obviously OK – it’s only the Jock’s !”
      As said earlier, this entire business is a confection designed to irritate. PMs cannot simply publish whatever they like, it will have been scrutinised by Security and Buck House, so this bit of mischief has been left in there for a reason…

      • Of course it has. If the Queen can’t express an opinion herself she can always get someone to “leak” what she actually thinks and feels. You’ll notice there’s been no denial from the palace just some faux anger which acts only to confirm.

    • We repeal the Treaty of Union before having any discussions with the English Parliament. The monarchy has nothing to do with it. The queen would still be the Queen of Scotland until the Scottish people say otherwise.

  4. Ah, very good point. I did not see anything wrong with having a confirmatory referendum on the face of it, but I was looking at it from a different perspective – that those negotiating for Scotland would have to put in the effort if they knew the outcomes would be tested – but you have wholly clarified the faulty logic there for me, thank you. Perfidious Albion indeed.

    I have never thought we’d actually be getting any satisfaction in any dealings with Westminster (so hoped for a hard-line negotiating team), ever, so imagined the main focus being setting up the rest of our institutions we need – we have a good head start (legal, health service, education, police, fire service,,, etc!) – and infrastructure in place or started (ports, ships, building a Wall etc) and negotiating terms with the EU. Probably wrangling any kind of ‘deal’ with Westminster will last for centuries, so the best thing is to keep them occupied, we can have a special permanent civil service department that deals with them, while we get on with living our own lives – it might dawn on them in a few decades that we are, in fact, independent but that might encourage them to invade again, so best all round that we keep a team of special envoys throwing up all sorts of problems to distract them

    So, absolutely, I will be promoting no to any ‘confirmatory referendum’ where I can.

    • Heh, okay, that was funny.

      Unfortunately the border is quite a bit north of Hadrian’s Wall, and I was thinking more of a fuck-you to the Romans for destroying European civilisation and introducing the idea of empire, so we build our own wall, on our bit, bigger better and far more artistic – fountains, hotels, theatres, bridges, tramways, parks, gardens, arches,,, maybe a few aqueducts ,,, comfortable cheap accommodation for lorry drivers, cafes restaurants etc – that is, make it into a tourist attraction, as well as somewhere customs officers would like to live, and it boosts the borders (our side) local economy too, jobs a goodun, and it’ll boost our new Scottish economy by having a big infrastructure project to start us off. Also, if we stack the new Wall with tons of tourists, we won’t get invaded from the other side without international outcry and support.

      Yup, I see no downside to having a wall.

  5. Pingback: The Perfidious Albion clause | speymouth

  6. The EU are very much aware of Westminster’s perfidiousness which is why they are demanding that any agreement over NI has to be “legally” enforcable.
    I.E. the European courts which England’s Tories are desperate to escape from.
    I do not see how a “legally” enforcable agreement over accepting a vote in Scotland for independence can be enforced within the UK given their shifting sands of a constitution and the apparent ability of the government of the day to do whatever they like.
    Even if they agreed to a Section 30 order today,they could and would renage on it tomorrow.
    Next week’s decision by England’s Supreme court will determine how perfidious Albion can be in future.
    At least the rest of the world can now see how they operate.

  7. I’m not sure what kind of whip hand Westminster would think it has in the negotiation process. If its trade, as members of the EU, we would have whatever deals apply to our EU partners. Debt and assets cancel each other out. We already pay our own pensions from current taxes, neither is defence a problem, the EU has a mutual defence policy, so no need to rush into NATO. Oil, gas,electricity and water we have in abundance, we have food surplus. A break in supplies of any of these hurts England, not Scotland. Currency is probably England’s biggest immediate problem, they need Scotland to use the pound to stop Sterling crashing.
    The major difficulties all surround the administrative processes and their transfer to Scotland, they could be bloody minded and try to delay these being transferred but I believe AS anticipated this and put a time limit, I think it was 6 months.
    The removal of Trident is another bone of contention, but Scotland easily claim any assets left in Scotland after Independence day as Scottish. The UN in any case should be involved, perhaps even determine the asset could legally transformed to England.
    The Herald article of course is just part of the narrative being peddled on the difficulties of ending a 300 year union, and for England, they’re right.

    • As soon as Scotland is independent you can be sure that perfidious Albion will say ” we don’t really need Trident and any way we can’t afford it so you lot can get rid of it yourselves”

      • Easy sorted, give the warheads back to the USA, they own them, and then tow the subs to the mid Atlantic and sink them after you remove the reactors and send them to Cumbria to be processed at our cost.

        • It kinda boils down to how this union is ended, dissolution/ repeal the Act of Union and the legal entity that is the United Kingdom, created by the Treaty of Union, no longer exists. Treaties, contracts signed by the former entity would no longer be valid. Whether the RUK is allowed or recognised as the successor state is out with Westminster control. Trident wouldn’t solely belong to England. Trident is of no interest to Scotland, its stands in the way of developing our west coast industries, oil, ship and rig construction, possible refinery and all the support business that goes with it. Employment generation was estimated at 10,000 real jobs. Overseas/ crown lands gained after 1603 would have to be shared with Scotland, would we want them, I doubt it, but we shouldn’t relinquish any claim until and unless England meets its obligations to Scotland. The Crown is the gift of the People of Scotland and not a power we should relinquish until Scotland is secure.

      • What? And chop off their willie? Trident is an exercise in willie-waving.

        Deterrent? Look at the devastation a few drones caused in Saudi Arabia – the biggest purchaser of armaments from the UK – and they do not even know where they came from.

      • Westminster is not about to leave it’s Willy-waving fleet behind, and their partners in MAD wouldn’t allow it under any circumstances.
        We must remember that Scotland has no international legal or financial obligations, title to those are held in London. As Nicky Fairbairn explained in a video before his death, Scotland would be getting a divorce, a financial settling-up, it matters not whose name is on the deeds. That would include the Union’s worldwide assets, and whereas argument may be expected over London debt, Scotland will not be the poorer for it.
        The “difficulties” of separation using Brexit as example is utter nonsense floated by the anti-indy propagandists. Holyrood’s legal obligations are limited, and they are not hamstrung as with WM’s antics. Brexit could have been delivered last April had ERG not elected to play silly buggers to maximise chaos and break the Tory majority. Holyrood has a different mindset and objective, even if Leotard and Carcrash pontificate, they will not be wrecking anything once the electoral dice are rolled.

        • It depends on the manner of the divorce Bob and that I think is being determined now, though it is not particularly obvious right at this moment. US and UK corporate interests regarding Trident will be the main concerns rather than defence. My hope is that the threat to the corporate, very lucrative ponzi scheme that is the UK nuclear deterrent prompts rapid removal from Scotland’s legal jurisdiction.

        • Agreed on Faslane etc., but chances are it will be pressured to be turned into a long lease. Personally I hope Holyrood gives them 2-5 years max to quit with a threat to roll it forward if they prove obstinate on the rest.
          It is not the only corporate interest though, for one, land ownership and it’s taxation desperately needs reformed.
          It will be an acrimonious and bitter divorce, but we do have some good lawyers… 😉

    • This seems to be the principal unionist argument – look at the difficulty in detaching the UK from a 46 year old union, think of the impossibility of detaching from a 312 year union. Other than that they are back to the Project Fear dross – too wee, no very good, won’t get into the EU, no proper currency since you can’t use the pound, making family members foreigners, etc.

  8. Mind when Labour Run Glasgow City council had a competition to revamp George Sq – AGAIN..& because Matthieson’s favourite didn’t win..he cancelled the whole thing? That is what would happen if WM were given any say on how our referendum should be run!

  9. It does smack of panic. Still waiting for their positive arguments right enough.

    Mind you, looking at the biblical omnishambles that is the current state of affairs in UK politics, economy and society? They’re going to find that a hard sell. Probably doesn’t help their argument that it was their actions which dropped Scotland’s population into the middle of it all t’boot.

    On the Herald though? It’s a good news/bad news thing. In general, It’s not much different for most titles out there. Newsprint is dying. News won’t die right enough. Journalism won’t shuffle off this mortal coil either. It’s already in the process of evolving and moving on to new digital territories.

    The demise of newsprint is a worldwide trend tbf, and its causes are centred on societal and technological change in the main.

    However… In the UK that trend went into overdrive. Inquiries into the nature and practices of the newsprint industry (which didn’t go so well), a perceived lack of accountability, political polarization and the cappers of austerity legislation followed by Brexit. The latter tightening public purses and starving an already crippled print industry.

    Hardware (presses, platesetters, processors) and consumables (plates, inks, chemistry, software etc.) in the print industry are generally shipped in from overseas. Take a wild guess at what this does to costs folks. It’s a blanket catastrof…udge for the entire print industry whether news publishing or commercial. Politicians, publishers and editorial staff made a choice. Production staff? Not so much.

    So, yeah. Curate’s egg.

    • 2 recent exceptions to the rule of newspaper deaths – The Guardian when it posed the parliamentary expense scandal – their sales went up big time, and the National.

      In both cases showing a real demand by the public for real journalism instead of the universal pap/propoganda that has been peddled relentlessly over the last 20 years.

      But for the likes of Murdoch – the papers are an expendable ‘loss leaders’ this being the guy who spent 11 billion on a 5% share of Genie Energy remember.

  10. Two points:
    1. The Herald and the rest of the mainstream media are not targeting headlines at those of us who want to be independent. They are seeking to prevent more people who are in the ‘swithering’ category from deciding YES, YES is what I believe,
    2. The ‘confirmatory referendum’ is the 1979 40% rule in different dress, 40 years on.
    I am sure that the BBC Radio Scotland phone-in on Monday will be, “After voting for independence and following negotiations, should we not get the chance to vote on it? What’s not to like, I can hear Tokyo Kaye intoning.

  11. One other point worth bearing in mind. Westminster will approach negotiations with Scotland in the same manner as it did with the EU.
    We will hear and read more about Westminsters proposals from the media than we will receive through official channels. It will be down to the SG to act as the grown ups, draw up the plans and determine the timescales. We will threatened, mocked, lied to and ignored, our negotiating teams will have to be strong and keep the people of Scotland informed. We will get to vote on it, but it won’t be kind of referendum Westminster wants. The people of Scotland will decide if its Deal or No Deal.

  12. I’m quite happy about a second referendum but the question won’t be to reverse independence but do we accept the deal with England or go for No Deal, just a confirmatory referendum on the contract. If England chooses no deal with the EU there really in no contract with England that is worth considering that endangers our EU connections.

  13. A historical tour around BritNat Westminster’s brain :

    1979 – Bugger, they’ll vote for devolution, make dead people count as a no vote & put an upto now never before even thought of 40% of electorate voting Yes minimum on it

    1997 – Bugger, the EU say we’ve got to give them devolution, something about their rights. Do the jocks have any rights ? Ho hum, make them use the D’hont voting system, make sure those bloody Nats never get anywhere near gaining a whiff of power

    2007 – What the…???????

    2011 – WHAT THE…????

    2014 – Sniggerz, they haven’t a hope in hell, look 27% hardly anyone wants it, just bus a load of liars up there, lie a lot, lie some more, threaten their grannies, refuse them their own pound, lie about oil, lie about the EU, beg Lizzie to drop a big hint to some hangers on, make up a vow…..phew that was close. Now shit on them

    2016 – Feck off Scotland, it’s a UK vote

    2016/17/18 Feck off Scotland, you said it was once in a generation (on a loop)

    2019 – You can’t have a Section 30, you can’t have a Section 30, and even if you can (not that you can) you have to get 66% Yes, and even if you do (which you won’t, coz you’re not having a referendum, Section 30 or no Section 30) we want you to have a confirmatory vote and even if you do (which you won’t coz you’re not having a referendum, or a Section 30, or getting 66% of people to vote Yes)…….

    Anyone think the BritNats are getting a bit worried 😂

  14. This from in June 2014 – Scotland referendum 2014: the impact of independence on the UK –

    ‘The UK and Scottish Governments committed themselves in the Edinburgh Agreement, the political framework for the referendum, to “continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.”

    It is noteworthy that the UK Government did not commit itself to legislate for independence in the event of a Yes vote: referendums in the UK are not binding on the Government.’

    As for how the negotiations would go after a Yes vote, Brexit shows some of the ineptness / deviousness that could be expected from Westminster. But their power is more imaginary than they realise and Scotland may have some strong allies due to bridges built, not burned.

    • “”…referendums in the UK are not binding on the Government.’””

      Maybe so but the EU ref was supposed to be advisory yet the result has been treated like holy writ by Tories and Labour in particular. Thus the precedent has been set when it comes to indyref2 although I have the feeling that fact has not yet dawned on the powers that be down south.

    • Referendums are advisory, but both principal parties undertook in their manifestos to honour the outcome of the Brexit one, and it was this and Parliament which put this chain of events onto a legal footing. Many spout the lie the referendum was a democratic decision rather than a democratic opinion, because it suits their purpose to distort it.
      In the case of Indy2, as Ian noted, Scotland has more friends than enemies, and whichever form Brexit takes, Europe will back Scotland every inch as will the Americas..
      For now all HMG can do is obfuscate and throw up various hurdles such as the Herald pose, but when Indy2 fires off, it will become a minefield they cannot escape from…

  15. Paul’s article really gets to the heart of the matter. A confirmatory referendum would just be an opportunity for the London parties and media to make mischief. A further consideration is that a post-indy confirmatory referendum on the deal would have the effect of lengthening the period of time between (a) the indy referendum, and (b) actually being a functioning independent nation. This kind of delay would not be a good thing. There is so much that we need to get on with, in terms of practical policies for improving the lives of people in Scotland. One of the aims of an independent Scotland is to ensure that the quality of political dialogue is better – no one-sided media or BBC, no Bain principle. If there is disquiet about any aspect of the independence deal with rUK, then it can be debated and if necessary revisited in the general course of political debate and decision-making. By contrast, a one-off referendum on the deal means that the whole deal is given a yes or no – it is not possible to support some bits of it and ask for others to be renegotiated. And it does this at one point in time – it may take years for unanticipated consequences of some elements of the deal to become apparent.

  16. I am not convinced of the need for any ‘ negotiations ‘ An independent Scotland would, should immediately apply for EU membership at the same time as telling Westminster what our terms are not by agreement but by insistence. If there is to be any discussion here is my A team, Ian Blackburn, Tommy Shepherd, Joanna Cherry, Patrick Harvie. Attached WGD on River Ness. [Image]

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  17. “For Westminster, the negotiations would become about ensuring that a deal could not be achieved rather than achieving one”

    Exactly. It would be like a member state trying to negotiate a mutually acceptable leave deal with the EU. Suddenly leaving with no deal starts to look attractive (at least as a negotiating stance).

  18. Love this piece, Paul, and the BTL comments.
    The Herald is writing for its 25,000 dogwhistlers. Not the rest of us. That’s 5.4 millions Scots citizens.
    They are spitting into an inferno.
    There will be no ‘second vote’
    Unlike Leave’s manifesto written on the side of a ‘bus, there will be a comprehensive Independence manifesto produced for all to see and read.
    When we vote YES, we’ll know exactly what we are opting for.
    England will be in a political mess as it tries to broker a deal, any deal with the EU, of which we Scotland will be a member.
    I have n doubt that they’ll try to peddle this second confirmaTORY vote nonsense as a last gasp attempt to con Scotland yet again.
    The day is won when a YES majority is brought in.
    From that day, their precious Union is dead.
    We’ll give them the same trade customs and finance deals which the EU offer them.
    And they know that.
    Still if Tom Gordon’s nonsense keeps a few thousand Brit Nats happy over their oatmeal and kippers, job done.

    • The Herald may only sell just 25,000 paper copies but it has a far wider reach than that through its digital subscriptions and its website which had 2,000,000 unique users in August. Many may have visited the site for the sport/football but many would have visited the site for the news/politics.

      Its influence may not be waning as much as you imagine.

      • Sorry Legerwood, must respectfully disagree. The Herald’s influence has been diminishing since they stopped doing honest journalism in favour of following a political agenda. Visitor numbers are no indication of influence in accordance with their POV across 2 Million on the web, only that there is interest in something they publish, and they do cover a multitude of subjects. Until we know how many Scots access what and why, their influence on the subject of Indy is a swag.

  19. ‘A second referendum on Scottish independence.’

    …”The Scottish Government intends to hold a second independence referendum before the end of the parliamentary term in 2021. However, Constitution Minister Michael Russell has said that, should circumstance change, “we would have the option of seeking Parliament’s agreement to proceed on an accelerated timetable.”

    The bill would allow a referendum to be held relatively quickly, as the Scottish Parliament would not need to pass another piece of primary legislation. In addition, if a second independence referendum uses the same question as in 2014, time for testing the question would not be required.”..


    ‘Brexit, Scottish Independence and Leaving a Union.’

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