The fundamentals

Another day, another exercise in Scotland being patronised by columnists in the Guardian. This time it’s Zoe Williams’ turn, opining that Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for a referendum has a fundamental weakness. Because, according to Zoe, the only hope that Scotland has got of getting a referendum is if there is a Labour Prime Minister willing to authorise one, but then if there is a Labour Prime Minister Scotland wouldn’t want independence. To which the only Scottish response can be: Aye. Right. Uh-huh.

The article runs the predictable gamut of British nationalist bingo. The referendum was divisive and bitter. Scots living in England didn’t have voting rights. The whole thing was an excerise in narrow and reactionary nationalism. It is quite remarkable that even now, after Brexit has dominated British politics for years and will dominate it for years to come, that there are still those who cling to the religious belief that support for the British state magically protects you from accusations of nationalism.

If we’re going to talk of fundamentals, the fundamental truth about the Scottish independence debate that commentators south of the border wilfully refuse to understand is that this is not a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism. There are nationalists and non-nationalists on both sides, and the toxic xenophobic nationalism, characterised by hatred of foreigners and the nostalgic harking back to a glorious empire, entirely belongs to opponents of independence. While I have no doubt whatsoever that Zoe Williams is a left of centre politically moderate person who is appalled by the excesses of nationalism, I’m not going to take any lectures in nationalism from someone who has the Orange Order, the Brexit party, and the far right on their side of the independence debate. Check out the beam in your own eye before criticising the mote in mine.

The article writes about the supposed fundamental weakness in the plan for another independence referendum, but itself is characterised by a fundamental weakness. Zoe assumes, like so many I’m-not-a-nationalist-because-I-support-the-UKs before her, that an independence referendum is the gift of a British Prime Minister to grant, and Scotland is merely a supplicant begging on its knees at the doors of Number 10. That is not true, even though it’s a comfort blanket that so many opponents of independence cling onto in the dark nightmare of Brexit Britain. There are, as this blog has argued frequently in the past, other routes to bringing about a lawful and legitimate vote on Scottish independence, routes which do not require the permission of a British Prime Minister. We are not yet in the political space where those alternative routes need to be activated, but that most certainly does not mean that they do not exist. The Scottish Government, even at this stage, is still prepared to give a British Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt to prove their democratic credentials. Anti-independence commentators confuse that with the belief that Westminster holds all the cards.

The entire article is riddled with flaws, as is entirely typical of pieces penned by the London metrocommentariat who seek to explain Scotland to those of us who actually live here, deprived as we are of the benefit of the view from within the M25. The patronising quasi-colonialist mentality that it is based on, that Scotland must seek permission from its masters in order to be allowed to decide its own future, is merely the most egregious. It’s all very bow down before your imperial masters.

However the other big flaw is the assertion that a Labour government would stop people in Scotland from wanting independence. Given that after the next General Election, and indeed right now, the Labour party will receive less support within Scotland than the Conservatives, why exactly should voters in Scotland go off the idea of independence because England has chosen – for once – to elect a party that Scotland has rejected in dismay? We didn’t fall out of love with Labour for no reason. We didn’t lose faith in the Labour party without experiencing a long history of the betrayal of its promises. Labour in Scotland is a toxic remnant. All too often Labour can only get itself elected in England by aping the Conservatives. We saw that with Tony Blair. Independence isn’t just necessary because of Tory governments, but because of Labour ones too. But most of all Scotland has long since learned the painful lesson that even if England does decide to elect a Labour government, there will be a Conservative one along sooner or later. It is no longer enough to hope that things will get better for a short time in Westminster. Scotland can’t build a future on that.

The other flaw is the categorical rejection of any notion that a Conservative government would authorise an independence referendum. This overlooks the fundamental truth about the Conservative party. The only interest for the Conservative party is the narrow party interest of the Conservative party. If the Conservatives believe it is in their party interests to authorise an independence referendum in Scotland, that’s exactly what they’ll do. It was, after all, a Conservative Prime Minister who agreed to a Section 30 order the last time. He did so because he made the calculation, wrongly as it turned out, that opponents of independence would absolutely crush the dream of independence, and then David Cameron could pose as the Saviour of the Union and boost Conservative chances in Scotland.

We currently have a Conservative Prime Minister whose sole political principle is what is good for his own career. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson leads a political party where a majority of members would be happy to see the back of Scotland in order to pursue Brexit. He would be prepared to countenance an independence referendum if getting rid of Scotland would assure him of Brexit and a secure majority in the Commons.

As I write this, Nicola Sturgeon is giving her keynote speech to the SNP Conference. She demanded that Westminster respect the mandate that the Scottish Government already possesses for a referendum. It is time for British Prime Ministers to prove that they understand and respect the concept of democracy. Scotland will demand an independence referendum next year, and that demand will be front and centre in the General Election campaign which is about to commence.

More and more people who voted No in 2014 are coming over to support for independence. They’re changing their minds because they can see that the promises and commitments that successive Westminster governments, and all the main UK parties, have made to Scotland have been hollow and worthless. They’re changing their minds because the UK that Scotland was told it could be a part of doesn’t exist. They’re changing their minds because they don’t want to be a part of a right wing xenophobic Brexit characterised by a nostalgia for a Britannia that used to rule the waves.

There’s only one fundamental that need concern us. That’s the fundamental truth that it is time to place Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. It is time for independence. One way or another, Scotland is on a path to returning to its rightful place amongst the independent nations of the world. It’s comin yet.

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38 thoughts on “The fundamentals

  1. Excellent, WGD. The Great British Meeja Machine is either lamebrainedly, lamentably ignorant of Scottish realities or dedicated to reinforcing the Cringemaking myths of Unionism – and by that dirty great beam in their eye that British nationalism isn’t nationalism because it’s British. Lamebrained and lamentable.

  2. “Scots living in England didn’t have voting rights”

    It amazes me how journalists will jump up and down screaming this, yet the fact EU Citizens in the UK at the time of Brexit were excluded from the Brexit vote causes not a stir.

      • As we know, ex-pats outside the UK resident for less than 15 years in foreign climes with an address in the UK can vote here – a law passed by a Conservative Government, of course.

        Do we hear much about this? Thought not.

          • But approx 700 000 of us couldn’t vote in the Brexit vote. But as Paul points out, that’s the British government, so it’s somehow okay…

          • There is no legal definition of a ‘Scot’, only of a #UK citizen entitled to vote in Scotland. We only get a legal definition of who, living furth of Scotland, may vote in Scots elections once we are independent

          • Yes, nail right on head, raineach. For comparison, when the UN organises or mandates national self-determination referendums (e.g., Western Sahara, because that’s the only one I can think of right now), the franchise is limited to the people who actually live there, because there’s no other way of doing it that’s at all legally justifiable. In our case, if we were to include the 700,000 Scots who live in England, we would really have to include Scots living in the EU and elsewhere in the world as well – and, as you say, until we are independent we cannot determine who counts as a Scot and who doesn’t if they don’t live here already.

            On the subject of citizenship, my expectation is that independent Scotland will adopt pretty much the same approach as Ireland does. Readers of WGD may have come across a tedious Yoonatic who has a bee in his bunnet about the “racist” SNP for not guaranteeing Scottish citizenship to those claiming Scottish ancestry, and has raised a petition to the EU about it. I can see no reason why we should deliberately exclude children (and grandchildren) of Scots overseas the right to claim Scottish citizenship up to the age of 18, say. I for one wouldn’t dream of it.

          • I expect we will use the 3 generation rule as most European countries do. btw, the SNP used the same electorate in 2014 that Labour used for the ’97 referendum. I suspect part of that was deliberate to prevent criticism by Labour of the electorate to be canvassed

          • I’d forgotten that, Raineach. Well remembered! Did Labour include 16- and 17-year-olds in 1997, though? They should be included in all future elections in Scotland, and I hope they will be.

    • Although born, educated and worked in Scotland I have not lived there for over 40 years….I am not on the voters role, I have no address in Scotland. However I am a member of the SNP and have supported Independence for years. My point is that I have no issue at all with the notion that residents in Scotland only should have a vote in the referendum…I fully support that stance…..its the only one that makes sense. I promote and shout about Independence for Scotland…..outsid e of Scotland, its the least I can do . I wish no part of the potential benefit nor any reward for doing so. Pride that the country of my youth is free is reward enough!

  3. Can you see see the scene…..September 11th in a field near Stirling. Big beardie bloke on a horse…

    “Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…our freedom! Oh Aye whassat? We got tae haud oan until they gie us permission? Awright boys we’re loused until Edward says okay…..”

    ‘Suppose it’s progress….

  4. Just another cringe-worthy , ignorant rant about Scotland from someone who knows as much about this country as Paul Burrell did on the Jeremy Vine show recently .

    At least Burrell had an excuse – he was/is an ignoramus , but Ms Williams is supposed to be a paid up member of the scribblers union . What is her excuse ?

    • I think eddjasfreeman has it.

      But I would change his conjunctions:

      “The Great British Meeja Machine is lamebrainedly, lamentably ignorant of Scottish realities AND dedicated to reinforcing the Cringemaking myths of Unionism.”

      • Thanks, Sion … AND is what I should have written in the first place rather than an either … or, but hey, WordPress… all typos and misspeakings preserved for ever and a day…

  5. Great speech from Nicola Sturgeon today and as far as these Unionists are concerned don’t they realise that there’s nothing annoys Scots more than someone telling them that they can’t do something or another, in particular if that someone is a nutter of a Tory PM that 99.6% of the UK population didn’t vote for.

  6. Thanks to WGD for his eloquence and it’s interesting to read much of the contributive commentary.
    Was flicking between Westminster and SNP conference earlier ( how spoilt we are for choice ) . Did note that the state broadcaster again had ‘technical ‘ problems with coverage in Scotland with sound failure a few times. Hey ho , how could they possibly manage alone.

    With Spain under Madrid reverting to its fascist normality, global climate protests and Middle Eastern shitstorm it’s not extreme to hope that Scotland should see the end of the UK as something we have a global responsibility to make a positive and peaceful endeavour. That doesn’t ignore the fact that those opposing Scotland self determination are capable of the awful tactics that have historically worked.

    Anyone else feeling wary about Halloween this year more than others?

  7. The Westminster establishment and their press pack consider the UK to be Greater England which effectively,in their minds,eradicated Scotland as an entity in 1707.
    However…..they have THEIR Scottish Office in Scotland which if we were all one nation under BoJo wouldn’t be required and along with our SEPARATE legal,education and health systems it all screams lie to their postulating.
    Scotland as a country/nation still exists despite the London establishment’s best efforts to eliminate us and has the right to self determination,as affirmed by Westminster recently.
    Perhaps they don’t quite understand what self determination means or perhaps in BoJo land it is assumed that only their PM can decide what happens.
    I have no doubt we are going to get a repeat of “now is not the time” from BoJo or whoever else is fronting up the UK mafia at the time,so it will end up for the courts to decide.

  8. 600 miles away and 360% out of touch.
    The Guardian Oxbridgers totally out of touch. The only paper of any Independence of editorial. Wasted. Cameron and Clegg put the robocops in to smash up the mail room. Greenwald tapes.

    Snowden was a coup. Investigated Cambridge Analytica.

    They ask for £1 with £Billion in reserves.
    They are totally out of touch on Scotland. Few readers.

    Nicola speech was brilliant. Lovely Quine. A great conference. Excellent resolutions passed to help the people of Scotland. Zoe can just look on with envy. A great Scottish Gov. Smart caring people.

    Scotland has never been in better shape and better run. Kinship payments. £10 a week for children being taken out of poverty. It brought a tear to the ayes looking after the wee eens . First class and innovative.

  9. The New Statesman is trawling through the Project Fear/Better Together book of lies. It has its Scottish Editor, Mr Chris Deerin, who actually lives here, but, we know that he is a unionist and he has never hidden it. However, other correspondents who know about as much as Zoe Williams does about Scotland, such as Stephen Bush are now penning pieces dripping with unselfconscious colonialism.

  10. The section 30 order is simply a matter of law. English law does not apply to Scots, UK law applies to both English and Scots as long as we are in union. I have many English friends on social media and for some the mask is slipping. We Scots should be on our way for getting in the way of Brexit. Aye, yer right Nicola, it’s coming yet for a’ that.

  11. The section 30 order is simply a matter of law. English law does not apply to Scots, UK law applies to both English and Scots as long as we are in union. I have many English friends on social media and for some the mask is slipping. We Scots should be on our way for getting in the way of Brexit. Aye, yer right Nicola, it’s coming yet for a’ that.

  12. God unbelievable. Severin Carrell on Scotland Tonight being totally positive about Nicola Sturgeon and our prospects of becoming Independent. Fair cheered me up, especially as some that are supposed to be on our side are behaving in a totally counterproductive way, IMO.

  13. It is time for all those who support independence to come together to make the case for independence and a second referendum as clearly and powerfully as possible, in ways that allow everyone in the country to understand what is at stake. There have been divisions in the independence movement around when and how to call a referendum. Its time now to move beyond these divisions. The Scottish Government has decided that a referendum will take place next year. It is now the job of the SG to ensure that a legally-binding referendum happens. It is the job of the rest of us to rekindle the spirit of 2014. As in 2014, the SNP will only be one voice in the debate. If we take it that a referendum is happening in September/October 2020, and work back, it is obvious that the campaign needs to start right now. Any earlier date, such as summer 2020, just increases the urgency. All pro-independence groups, including the SNP, need to be on an independence campaign footing immediately. In Indyref1, the campaign was a long one and kicked off only after the Section 30 order was agreed. This time the campaign will be shorter and getting a S30 order has to be seen as part of it.

  14. The SNP Gov are putting in the legislation needed. They can get an S30 from the Courts because Scotland has not been treat equally in the Union.

  15. Who does any division in support for independence assist ?.
    It is not a difficult question so i wish all the calls for do something, anything now Nicola , Just take a minute and recognise manipulation is being used here , waken up please stick by Nicola at the moment she is our only route by all means argue after the goal has been achieved .

  16. There still seems to be a huge misunderstanding of exactly WHAT a S30 order is! It is Not ”permission” to hold a ref. it is an agreement from both sides the the result WILL BE SACROSANCT and not disagreed with, whatever the outcome, yes or no!!! I repeat, an S30 order is NOT needed to hold a ref. but is needed to hold the result as unimpeachable!!! Please can we all keep making this point very clearly?

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