The final option

As an ‘early adopter’ of opposition to the Section 30 process, I have been pointing out the folly of hoping that process might serve Scotland’s cause at least since it became clear that the First Minister intended committing Scotland to this folly. Reviewing the 2014 independence referendum in the days and weeks subsequent to the tragedy of the vote, the first conclusion I came to was that there would have to be another referendum. The second conclusion was that pretty much everything about this new referendum would inevitably and necessarily be very different from the first one. It now seems to me that we should not think of this as a new referendum at all, but as the completion of a process begun in 2011.

One of the responses I often get when criticising Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to the Section 30 process is the insistence that she must be seen to be trying to use this process so that she can say she tried everything. Of course, this response is nonsensical on the face of it because doing the same thing again isn’t trying everything. It is not trying anything different. It is avoiding trying anything that hasn’t been tried before. Therefore, the best that she can say to whoever it is that she feels the need to say it to is that she had tried everything except anything that hadn’t previously been tried. Which, logically, would be likely to mean most things.

If Nicola Sturgeon was determined to try everything before moving on to whatever it was she was minded to do having tried everything else, why did she not toss some eye of newt and toe of frog in a cauldron and simmer gently until Scotland’s independence was restored? The reason she didn’t resort to magic is, obviously, that the chances of potions and incantations being effective were as close to zero as made no difference. Why then did she feel obliged to try something which had barely a better chance of being effective? It’s at least as easy to imagine Scotland’s independence being restored by a process involving a lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing hell-broth as it is to suppose it might come about through a process that is critically dependent on obtaining the full agreement and willing cooperation of the British establishment.

What about the thing she was minded to do after she’d expended lots of time and energy trying things that had been tried before and things that were vanishingly unlikely to work? Surely this thing must be something she considered likely to succeed. Otherwise, why hold it in reserve? But if she had in mind something that she thought would work, why was she bothering with things that wouldn’t? Why not just go straight to whatever it was that she was minded to go to when she’d tried everything else – except witchery?

What is this thing that she was minded to do when she’d…. blah blah blah? Why has she not gone to this thing now that it is clear that the thing that was tried before and was never going to work has been tried again and, as anticipated, hasn’t worked? Why has she not at least hinted at the nature of this ultimate option? Why has nobody been able to figure out what it may be?

By far the most common response to my criticism of Nicola Sturgeon’s whole approach to the constitutional issue isn’t really a response at at. Not a meaningful response. More of an evasion. With monotonous regularity I am asked what my alternative is. Why is Nicola Sturgeon not asked what her alternative is? After all, she is the one with the power. She is the one making the decisions. Why are her apologists more interested in what I would do in a hypothetical universe than in what is going on here in the real world? Strange!

It shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out what the final option is. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, once you’ve eliminated magic and the honest cooperation of the British political elite whatever is left is your only option. As Nicola Sturgeon has squandered whatever other options she might have had while trying things that were tried before and things that self-evidently could not work, whatever is left must be the thing that she was going to do when she’d finished farting around with futile efforts.

So why doesn’t she just get on with it? As we try to work out what this final option is, it appears that we must consider only things which are better done later rather than sooner. Apparently, it is something that had to wait until after Scotland had been wrenched unwillingly from its place in Europe. But being thus forcefully deprived of our EU membership was, according to Nicola Sturgeon, the worst thing ever. So, whatever the final option is, it must be something so good as to be worth having even at the cost of Scotland suffering the worst thing ever. What could it be?

Could somebody check and see if Nicola Sturgeon has recently submitted an expenses claim for a cauldron? Maybe have a look at Peter Murrell’s Amazon wishlist while you’re at it.

I’m not being flippant. No more flippant than the situation warrants. The situation really is as confused and ridiculous as the foregoing implies. When the most glaringly obvious lesson of the first referendum was that the next one had to be totally different, Nicola Sturgeon decided to try and approach it as if the circumstances were unchanged. It cannot sensibly be claimed that the situation now, in 2020, is in any way similar to the situation in 2011. And yet Nicola Sturgeon acts as if the old solutions are relevant to the new reality. It is truly inexplicable.

Two underlying constants remain. The two imperatives to which the situation may be reduced as an aid to understanding. The British state’s existential imperative to preserve the Union. And Scotland’s existential imperative to end the Union. But even these constants are not unchanged since 2011. Both are very much more intense now than they were then. Scotland’s imperative is the irresistible force. England-as-Britain’s imperative is the immovable object.

But this simplification doesn’t tell the whole story. The irresistible force versus immovable object analogy doesn’t hold because it assumes parity of power. And we know that no such parity exists. We know that the Union, by its essential nature, tips the balance of power massively in favour of the immovable object. There is balance only in the sense that the situation is irresoluble. Scotland’s imperative isn’t going away. The asymmetry of the Union means that it can, in principle, be resisted forever. But the force that turns out not to be irresistible is nonetheless ineradicable.

It is assumed, by the terminally naive, that the British state’s role as immovable object is untenable or insupportable or otherwise fated to fail. It is assumed, by the incredibly credulous, that the British state’s intransigent immovability will serve to intensify the irresistibility of Scotland’s force unto the point where the immovable moves. But that only works if the immovable object gives a shit about the strength of Scotland’s aspirations. It doesn’t. It is assumed that there is a magic number which, when touched by the polls, will cause the immovable object to split and sunder. There is no such magic number. There is no level of support for independence which can require acknowledgement from England-as-Britain. Again, that is the nature of the Union. As in all things, the Union stipulates that Scotland’s imperative must always be subordinate to that of the British state.

It was ever thus. Even in 2011, this was the reality of the situation. The difference was that the reality remained concealed beneath the polite pretence of democracy. The British political elite, represented by David Cameron, was maintaining the charade of democracy when they agreed to the first referendum. Alex Salmond went along with this charade because it was expedient. He had to deliver a referendum even if it was all no more than political theatre. Whether he was aware that it was a sham is not known. Astute political operator that he is, it’s easy to believe that he knew full well the British had no intention of honouring the Edinburgh Agreement. No mere concord or contract could overcome the imperative to preserve the Union. Whether Scotland’s political leaders knew it or not, the Brits were always going to renege on the deal.

The mask began to slip almost immediately as the campaign got underway. By the time Yes was hitting 50% in the polls, the ugly face of jealous Britannia was plainly visible to those who were prepared to look. Even victory could not fully restore the pretence of respect for democratic principles that David Cameron had worn as he signed the Edinburgh Agreement with perfidious fingers crossed behind his back.

This is what makes Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to the constitutional issue so hard to comprehend. There is no longer any attempt to hide the fact that the British state simply will not countenance democratic principles which put the Union in jeopardy. And yet Nicola Sturgeon remains stuck in the role Alex Salmond had to play when he was on stage with David Cameron. It’s a different play. The actors have all changed and they are all working from a new script. They’re all doing it wrong except oor Nicola!

We are now in the third act of this four-act drama. And Nicola Sturgeon still shows no signs of being aware that she’s not in the play she thinks she’s in. She is intent on reprising a familiar part. The gossip columns hint that she has her eye on a leading role in Broadway production.

It may be testing the limits of this theatrical analogy but I would suggest that Scotland’s voters are the audience while Yes activists are the producers. Currently, most of the audience is still applauding Sturgeon’s performance because, even reading from the wrong script, she sells it like a pro. And the punters appreciate the work she’s doing in Holyrood so are reluctant to stop clapping. The producers, however, see what’s happening and are appalled. They know they need to intervene before the drama turns into a farce.

I promise I’m now done with theatrical allusions. The metaphor has served its purpose. It nicely describes the situation in terms that are easily understood. But it still leaves us wondering what happens next. And not in the good way associated with a well-written mystery.

There’s a reason for abandoning the theatre analogy other than that it has grown tedious. I mentioned earlier that we were in the third act of a four-act play. We really don’t want to stay for the fourth act. The fourth act is interminable and very, very ugly.

What is clear is that something truly dramatic has to happen. The impasse must be broken and broken as a matter of urgency. That means going off-script. It means going improv. (Sorry!) It means we must accept that the new situation demands a fresh approach. The old ways don’t work in the new reality. The idea that we can somehow revert to the pretence of British democracy (demockracy?) that existed prior to the 2014 referendum is sheer fantasy. And we somehow have to get this through to Nicola Sturgeon – as a matter of extreme urgency!

A different approach was always going to be required. That has been apparent for at least five years. And that approach was always going to be basically the one thing. The only thing that is left when all the other things are ruled out. Early in that five years, there may have been a number of options or variations available. It was always going to be necessary to confront the British state. But there were opportunities to ‘finesse’ the political manoeuvring. It is doubtful if that can be done now. It is doubtful if it is even worth trying.

The final option is UDI.

Not UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) as this tends to be understood. The term is only used because of the pejorative connotations that were hung on it during the Rhodesia crisis of the mid-1960s. The term is nonsensical in that any independence must be declared otherwise nobody would know it had happened. And all declarations of independence are necessarily unilateral as only the people of the state assuming or resuming independence have the right and authority to make that choice. Use of the term is intended to imply an equivalence between Scotland today and Rhodesia more than half a century ago which is totally specious. Rhodesia’s declaration of independence was deemed illegal by the UN not because it was unilateral but because it lacked democratic legitimacy. There was no majority rule in Rhodesia. The African nation was governed by the tiny (5%) white minority. That minority could not possibly qualify for the right of self-determination. That white minority was guilty of withholding from the black majority its right of self-determination in a manner comparable with the way in which the British ruling elite is denying Scotland’s right to choose the form of government which suits our needs.

There is absolutely no question of Scotland’s declaration of independence being anything other than unilateral because nobody else has the authority to to declare Scotland independent. There is absolutely no question of Scotland’s unilateral declaration of independence being undemocratic as that declaration is entirely conditional on affirmation by a majority of Scotland’s people as determined in an impeccably democratic plebiscite. The government of England-as-Britain may denounce it as illegal. In fact, it almost certainly will. But neither the UN nor the EU nor any of the international community will echo the rUK’s denunciation because they would have no grounds for doing so. The indignant outrage of British Nationalists has no standing in international law.

UDI it is! But our UDI, defined by us.

All we have to do is ensure that the process by which the unilateral declaration of independence is endorsed is indisputably democratic. This requires, among other things, that the UK government be totally excluded. Under international law, it can have no role as its status is that of an external agency. To be unarguably democratic, the referendum must be entirely made and managed in Scotland.

Other democratic criteria that apply are such as the widest possible franchise (Black people get to vote so not at all like Rhodesia!) and independent oversight of every stage in the process. (Just not by the British!) None of this is rocket surgery. It’s all stuff that has been done before many times and stuff which Scotland is perfectly capable of and qualified to do.

Nor need the referendum precede the declaration. The declaration of independence must take the form of a proposal by a grand assembly of Scotland’s democratically elected representatives that the Union be dissolved and Scotland’s rightful status as an independent nation restored. This proposal having been approved by the Scottish Parliament it can be put to a popular vote. This is a declaration of intent that is, of democratic necessity, subject to confirmation by the electorate. Indeed, the declaration must come first, and as a matter of the utmost urgency, in order to secure a democratic route to a referendum (and the restoration of independence) that the British will otherwise do absolutely anything to obstruct.

This is what must happen. There is no point in debating it because it is the only option still open to us. It is a Scottish UDI or it is a return to London rule via the British state’s agents in Scotland and rapid absorption into a right wing British state with eradication of any distinctiveness.

“But what if it all goes wrong?”, I hear you wail. What if it does? We will certainly be no worse off than we would be if we didn’t make the effort. Consider that the change of approach being suggested (demanded?) does not merely apply to the process by which we get to a referendum but to the form of that referendum and the nature of the campaign prior to the vote. Even if you suppose it possible that the people of Scotland might be offered a case for maintaining the Union that they find sufficiently persuasive to vote accordingly, the British Nationalists simply resume where they left off before being so rudely interrupted by democracy.

We literally have nothing to lose by acting as if we are a nation worthy of a place among the independent nations of the world. We have everything to lose by imagining we can trust Scotland’s fate to British ‘demockracy’.



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41 thoughts on “The final option

  1. 2 points i would reg Rhodesia and her UDI…firstly the electoral franchise was only open to land and property owners and was therefore based on class rather than race (similar to franchise in N Ireland in the 1960s). Secondly the referendum (1968) franchise was changed to inc All home owners, regardless of race, and was certified by Rhodesian High Court judge who just happened to be non-white and this referendum to endorse UDI and ammend constitution passed.
    Now from what you have written which i welcome i gather the only difference between Rhodesia 65-68 is that you would like a referendum/plebicite first before Scots UDI. Is this your position now Peter?

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    1. It hardly matters as the core point is that the declaration of independence was not democratically legitimate. And the discussion isn’t about Rhodesia anyway.

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  2. 2 points i would reg Rhodesia and her UDI…firstly the electoral franchise was only open to land and property owners and was therefore based on class rather than race (similar to franchise in N Ireland in the 1960s). Secondly the referendum (1968) franchise was changed to inc All home owners, regardless of race, and was certified by Rhodesian High Court judge who just happened to be non-white and this referendum to endorse UDI and ammend constitution passed.
    Now from what you have written which i welcome i gather the only difference between Rhodesia 65-68 is that you would like a referendum/plebicite first before Scots UDI. Is this your position now Peter?

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    1. Alec said he was relaxed about British lies etc as he knew purdah would kick in 6 weeks before the referendum. He was shocked when there was no purdah. And then we got the vow! UDI now!!

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  3. Agree with much of that, Mr Bell, except for one thing: the Treaty. It is essential that we resile the Treaty post haste in the ICJ, and couple that with an appeal to the UN. That in itself would be a statement of intent much like UDI, and we would be de factor independent until the arbitration, after which, assuming we won – and I think we have a very good chance of doing so – we could hold a confirmatory referendum. The reason I seem to be obsessed with the Treaty is that it will have to come into play – for Scotland’s sake, it had better, believe me – at the negotiations, in any case. If we are naive enough to allow Westminster to set the agenda for the negotiations, we really do need our heads examined. We’re a devolved part of the UK at the moment. That will strengthen Westminster and Whitehall’s hands, as we have seen from the power grab. All we would be doing is setting ourselves up for an even bigger and far more debilitating power grab that would see us lose territory, both maritime and terrestrial, not to mention any chance we have of removing Trident and forcing Westminster to help with clearing of the the waste and the weapons and MOD dumps around Scotland. They owe us big-time on those alone. Of their attempt at perfidy here, I have not the slightest doubt.

    The Treaty resiled takes us back to where we were pre Treaty, with our maritime and terrestrial borders and boundaries intact. International law, long-established and outwit the Treaty Articles, would come into play here. It will be crucial to have that advantage. Remember McCrone? Remember those 6000 sq miles, the quid pro quo for allowing us devolution in the first place? The perfidy will not become clear to most people in Scotland until after independence and when the negotiations begin. If we do not resile the Treaty on the grounds of England-as-the-UK’s persistent and deliberate breaching of it to our detriment, we will lose big time. With Perfidious Albion, you must always ask: why are they doing this? We need to keep at least two steps ahead of them.

    Only by having the Treaty ‘sound’, preferably in the Scottish court, and a case brought in the international court, can we pre-empt the ‘Scotland was subsumed’ argument, which, as sure as God made the little green apples and it not don’t snow in Indianapolis in the summer time, they will try to use against us again – and, if they succeed, remember, there will have been no Scotland to have any assets and resources, just a Greater England. We will need our best constitutional minds on this. Och, I could greet for the wasted time and wasted opportunities, for the pandering to minorities instead of telling them that they were acting illegally in international law, contrary to the UN Charter to which the UKG is a signatory. We shouldn’t naive enough to believe that it will be easy because it won’t, but if we want Scotland to survive as a nation, we must do this soon. Another pre independence referendum is just a total waste of time and effort now, and is very likely to be lost, just as the first was, and for precisely the same reasons, used by precisely the same people to justify their me-ism. If that happens, there will be little appetite for another round of campaigning. Game over, as they say, and no opportunity to free ourselves thereafter except by conflict.

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    1. I don’t see why we need any court. Or where we get the time to take any part of this to court. Why “resile the Treaty” when all you have to do is dissolve the Union? The Scottish Parliament, which is one party to the Union and has exclusive democratic legitimacy in Scotland, passes a resolution declaring the Union at and end. This is then ratified in a referendum. Job done! Let the negotiations commence!

      This is constitutional politics, Lorna. It should be dealt with in the realm of politics. Parliaments make constitutions, not courts. Parliaments make treaties, not courts. I’m fine with that.

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      1. The Scottish and English Parliaments didn’t make the Treaty, Mr Bell. Commissioners were appointed by the monarch acting in her separate capacities as head of state of each of the two nations. Basically, Queen Anne created the Union, not through political negotiations, but through legal ones. It is thanks to the lawyer draftsmen that Scotland still – just – exists as a nation today. The constitution of any country is based on constitutional law, a set of legal tenets on which the political system rests.

        I have tried to explain why resiling the Treaty would be sensible: the negotiations. The Treaty affords us maritime and terrestrial protections coupled with those of long-established common international law. The Treaty was and remains a legal document. The Union was and remains a legal Union, and there is no way to ‘dissolve’ it without recourse to the law because Westminster and Whitehall will fight this. This is why Cameron commissioned two professors of constitutional law to argue that Scotland had been legally subsumed.

        Resiling the Treaty need not take time. A case could be made and presented to the court within a very short period – in fact, this would probably be the case anyway, as Brexit necessitates speed, and, faced with having to defend itself Westminster would try to push its defence through with the greatest of speed in order to concentrate on Brexit. The moment that case is presented to the ICJ, that is, in itself, a statement of intent to be independent. How do you ‘dissolve’ the Union, a legal state of being between Scotland and England without reference to the present-day UK, without actually resiling the Treaty than underpins the UK?

        Devolution offers us no answers because the Scotland Act does not allow us to overthrow the British State, politically and any moves to do so would be destroyed in all British courts right up to the Supreme Court via the medium of Brittish constitutional law, as has happened already. The reason that Joanna Cherry was able to end Johnson’s prorogation attempt was because he was acting illegally, and no court would countenance illegal action or ultra vires action by an elected government – not yet, at any rate, but I suspect Johnson has plans in that direction. The Union between Scotland and England does not have a separate existence outwith the Treaty, and that can be shown in a court of law. The Treaty underpins the Union. To try and end the Union via devolution or the Claim of Right or whatever will just hand Westminster and Whitehall an ace. All the constitutional niceties in the domestic arena are useless against the unwritten British Constitution.

        We had the chance on 2014, but we handed our future to five totally disparate minorities on that occasion (now probably four) whose sole reason for allying was to prevent independence – in direct contradiction to the UN Charter, to which the UK is a signatory, and which is also a legal undertaking on the behalf of signatory governments. No political solution, however we reach it, if we ever do, would afford us international recognition unless we had a legal underpinning of our independence. I am not saying I am right. I am saying that is my opinion because I simply cannot see any other way now.

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      2. The only court having jurisdiction over our union with England is the court of public opinion of the people of Scotland expressed at the ballot box, in a referendum.The question to be asked has already been tested, decided, and accepted.

        It is: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

        Only the People have the right to dissolve their union with the English state. At the moment of a yes majority vote the Union is dissolved. The Scottish Parliament derives its authority from the sovereign people of Scotland and does THEIR will in their name. The Scottish Parliament enjoys no power or legitimacy not granted to it on lease by the People.

        The People are sovereign and their Parliament is their servant.

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  4. Well, Peter it’s taken a long time, and a lot of words, but it really is the only remaining option, and as Craig Murray pointed out a couple of years ago, it’s the “normal” way countries become independent. And it’s the one way where the UK State will be unable to interfere and marshall all it’s dirty tricks – surveillance, security service infiltration, political gerrymandering and all the rest.

    Now, we have to start writing to MSP’s, MP’s and the rest to Get Indy Done. Tell them what the SNP’s mandate is – it’s to Get Indy Done, nothing else. Get off their collective arse and just get it done. Now, it might take some brave operators to confront the FM and tell her, “you’ve painted yourself into a corner, so either with one bound you leap free, or you find another job”.

    As far as resiling the Treaty, that can be done at the same time, without a need to go to any court, unless it becomes imperative.

    I fear though that none of this will happen and NS and others will go down in history as the incompetents who ensured Scotland will remain as part of greater England, probably for centuries (if global warming doesn’t finish us all off first).

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    1. You cannot resile a legal document without recourse to the courts. A treaty is by way of an International contract between states, Scotland being a state at the point when it was signed up to, therefore, there are two sides. If minded to, the UKG could bring its own case against resiling, and trying to resile the Treaty within the confines of domestic law would be suicide. Johnson might well walk away from the EU Treaties the UKG has signed up to, but that will carry consequences in the form of a fine and a reputation for being untrustworthy (which, of course, we know already). While he has the protection of the US, he is in a position to thumb his nose at the EU and the world, but other countries will not forget or forgive such behaviour; indeed, many are already champing at the bit to give England-as-the-UK a good kicking for its perpetual arrogance, based on nothing other than its own sense of its non-existent entitlement. Scotland needs to use both politics, international and domestic, and the law, both domestic (where appropriate) and international to win the game. That requires guile and cunning, diplomacy and an iron fist. We will get nowhere playing Westminster’s game, and we will get nowhere unless we act. Another reason for going down the ICJ and UN route is that it will go far to avoid internecine conflict which will come if nothing is resolved soon. Remember, the UK is the state and anything domestic will not impinge, or hardly at all, on international relations within the UK context. We should have learned the lesson of Catalunya. That is why the issue must be taken out of the UK context.

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      1. “You cannot resile a legal document without recourse to the courts.”

        Since you keep on referring to International Law, I suggest that you check the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), which is viewed as codifying conventional/traditional law on treaties, and to which the UK is a signatory. https://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/1_1_1969.pdf

        Specifically Articles: 27 (internal law vs treaty), 42 (validity and continuance), 45 (Loss of a right to invoke a ground for invalidating, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty), 54 (termination under own terms, or with consent of parties), 56 (Denunciation of or withdrawal from a treaty containing no provision regarding termination, denunciation or withdrawal), 60 (Termination or suspension of the operation of a treaty as a consequence of its breach), 62 (Fundamental change of circumstances), 65 (Procedure to be followed with respect to invalidity, termination, withdrawal from or suspension of the operation of a treaty), 67 (Instruments for declaring invalid, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty), 70 (Consequences of the termination of a treaty)

        Note that use of Article 60 is conditional upon Article 45, and that may preclude its use:

        “A State may no longer invoke a ground for invalidating, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty under articles 46 to 50 or articles 60 and 62 if, after becoming aware of the facts:

        (a) it shall have expressly agreed that the treaty is valid or remains in force or continues in operation, as the case may be; or
        (b) it must by reason of its conduct be considered as having acquiesced in the validity of the treaty or in its maintenance in force or in operation, as the case may be.”

        Article 62 may not be of help due to 62(1)(b),

        Article 67 is important, in terms of the form of notification. Including “If the instrument is not signed by the Head of State, Head of Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs, the representative of the State communicating it may be called upon to produce full powers.”. So maybe one would have to sack Elizabeth, and appoint a new monarch first.

        Also note 70: “the termination of a treaty […] does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.”

        Article 56 seems to be the important one:

        “Article 56 Denunciation of or withdrawal from a treaty containing no provision regarding termination, denunciation or withdrawal

        1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless:

        (a) it is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or
        (b) a right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty.

        2. A party shall give not less than twelve months’ notice of its intention to denounce or withdraw from a treaty under paragraph 1. “

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  5. The Yes movement needs to convene a crisis conference as soon as possible. The first motion to be ‘this conference has no confidence in the SNP to deliver independence by its current stance’. ‘This conference believes the United Kingdom to be a threat to Scotland’s future and to the wellbeing of her people’. It then needs to begin mapping out the transition to power. This may in time involve setting up another party to contest the elections next year but in a way that is secondary to having a plan. The plan must come first, and should include a Scottish constitution and a central bank. The conference should come up with motions for what the basis of the constitution should be. The values. The aims. Housing a major aim to retain Scottish population. ‘Everyone should have the right to a secure and affordable home’. ‘Everyone should have the right to be able to live in dignity’. ‘Everyone should have the right to education and to reach their human potential’. ‘Everyone should have the right to health security’.

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    1. We need to bring pressure to bear on Nicola Sturgeon. But threatening to withdraw electoral support from the SNP is just plain daft. No sane, sober and sensible person will go along with that. The trick to getting people to do what you want them to do is to make what you want them to do what they want to do. Make it easy for them. Do not on any account make it complicated. We already have enough difficulty getting people to engage and to vote and to vote ‘correctly’. and you best set that bar for complication really low. Because when you’re scraping for every vote you can get you need to have a message you can get across to the dumbest fuck in all of Scotland. No names!

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      1. That was why I said that a new party might not be necessary. But the Yes movement needs to organise towards the transition to power as clearly the SNP have no clue.

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      2. Absolutely! As I have said previously, my hope was that the leadership the Yes movement requires in order to become an effective political campaign machine would come from Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. That clearly isn’t happening. So the Yes movement must find leadership from within. Just don’t ask me how! That’s a very difficult question. Right now, my guess would be that it’ll just happen, and we’ll all try to explain it later.

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      3. If women’s rights are placed under legal jeopardy by pushing through the GRA without more consultation and investigation, the SNP will lose some women’s votes, Mr Bell, maybe a lot. If it comes to a choice between a Scotland that is independent and a Scotland that crushes women’s rights on behalf of a tiny minority, you can’t blame them because it might just herald an era, in an independent Scotland, when women’s rights are secondary, in danger of all kinds of erosion. For women, what would be the point of an independent Scotland in those circumstances? We would be worse off in every way. I have already withdrawn my membership over this issue and the constitutional issue, but I have not withdrawn my vote. My own MSP is the very epitome of a people’s representative on the local level, so no way would I withdraw my vote from him. However, the SNP needs to be very careful that it does not alienate half of its core support and that it does not alienate long-time members who have supported it through thick and thin over the years, in trying to be right-on and all things to all men. It never works. You always have to choose eventually. Now, I know I have overstayed my welcome, so I really, really won’t be commenting for a while you”ll be glad to hear. Best wishes and keep up the good work.

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      4. Can I just say – I know, I know, but…) one last comment here to JB. I have stated, over and over again: 1) the Treaty of Vienna does not come into play for the older treaties; these are covered by special tribunals either under the auspices of the UN or actual UN tribunals; 2) Brexit would require a swift resolution for both Scotland and England; 3) (and I have said this over and over and over again) our case would be based on England-as-the-UK’s perfidy and breaching of the Treaty since 1707, and its continued ultra vires treatment of Scotland – a clear breach of the partnership which has never been accepted by the SNP, only the Unionists. FFS, I’d draw up the case myself, based on my own research and the writings of at least the two eminent constitutional academics who demolished Crawford and Boyle.

        Johnson didn’t come out and state that international law can play no part in British constitutional questions for the heck of it: he knows perfectly well that resiling the Treaty would be his nemesis, just as it would have been Cameron’s, who commissioned Crawford and Boyle to ‘prove’ that Scotland had been subsumed and could not be the successor state in the EU – only, I believe, to discover that it would have been one of the two successor states had the Treaty been ‘sound’ in law, and therefore, of great detriment to England. It would, I also believe be resurrected for any independence negotiations without the detriment inherent in its ‘successor state’ guise. After the loss of the first indyref, it was very evident that there is no way we can gain independence via the domestic arena – either politically or in the courts here. No Catalunya style referendum would work, no S30 Order can work, no court case that confront British constitutional law can work unless Johnson is acting illegally, and he won’t again after the proroguing debacle.

        I don’t mind that people disagree with me, but I do object to being contradicted as if I had never spoken/written. Mansplaining does not go down well any more; indeed, it never did. Now, that really is my final word on the matter. The Scots and the SNP can hang as they grow. I’m scunnered as a core member; I’m absolutely teed off at the trans thing which seems happy to sacrifice women’s rights; and I’m generally sick fed up of being accused of trying to upset the party’s aims by not agreeing to any and all diktats, particularly on the constitutional question Most of all, I can see that brick wall looming on all sides in a perfect storm of geometrical symmetry (boxed in) if we don’t do something very soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. What do you think would happen if english nationalism grew to the point that they required independence from the UK state?

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  6. Like I said, the first step is to convene a crisis conference of the Yes movement. The conference needs to agree as its first motion that it has no confidence in the SNP to deliver independence.

    The second motion all need to agree on is that the current UK is an existential threat to Scotland, to devolution and to the wellbeing of the people of Scotland.

    The third thing the conference needs to agree on is that it needs to map out a plan for the transition to power, what we need to operate as an independent polity, what we need to set up.

    It should agree to a constitution and central bank with our own currency. This does not need permission from anyone.

    The UK government may rail against the SNP in government doing this, as beyond its powers under the Scotland act, but there is no law nor malfeasance in ordinary citizens convening to do so.

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    1. It is possible to set up parallel “local” currencies. Some already exist in England, usually within a small region (a town or borough). This partially arises from the fact that for trade, we have freedom to accept anything in exchange, be it sterling, dollars, euros, carrots, maple leaves, etc.

      So in theory one could certainly set up a “local” currency in Scotland, being acceptable throughout the land. The problem would be to convince people to use it.

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      1. It is possible, but not really desirable.

        An independent currency is an expression of faith in an independent nation.
        It allows you to monetise the aggregate potential of the nation for its own good.

        If you demand, and enforce, taxation in your declared currency, it becomes imperative to acquire it.
        In soft currency economies there are only two rules:

        1: Do not spend or borrow in another nation’s currency
        2: See above.

        This is what McCrone recognised, I seem to remember he predicted scottish currency would become one of the hardest in value.

        He could not imagine the policy space that would allow.

        Or maybe he did.

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  7. I think that your reasoning and your proposal is sound, Peter.

    “One of the responses I often get when criticising Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to the Section 30 process is the insistence that she must be seen to be trying to use this process so that she can say she tried everything.”

    It seems to me that NS has lost her Scottish focus and found a British focus. This was obvious to me when she started to campaign against a hard Brexit and then against any kind of Brexit. The side of the bus said STOP BREXIT! I can’t understand why she wanted to save England from its choice. She wanted to save the UK by imposing Scotland’s choice on England. That’s a weird kind of Britishness. It’s the mirror image of England as the UK but with Scotland as the UK, which would give place to Greater England as the UK when Brexit was stopped.

    Now Nicola Sturgeon has to be stopped!

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    1. Nicola Sturgeon seems to be to have become a different person to the one who came through the ranks of the SNP. It must be one of several options that has brought this about:she has morphed into a big feartie or she has been swallowed up by party apparatchiks with an axe to grind and an agenda, she believes all the hype and has become an egotist, she knows something about independence that we don’t that would make it far more difficult than we see, or she has been leaned on. Now, taking into account NI and the Irish Question as our examples in the domestic sphere, I’d think the SNP has been compromised, as were both the Irish movement and the IRA under Adams and MacGuinness. This is how the British State operates. It was the reason for Adams and MacG’s agreement to the Good Friday Agreement and the decision to change the rules in the way they dealt with England-as-the-UK: by positioning Sinn Fein in both sides of the border’s politics (in the UK and in Europe) and look at how that has panned out. That is what we need to do: change the rules of the game and start playing by our own rules, by doing the very things that the British State can’t interfere with too much and by taking it out of their reach. So long as we confine our activities on independence to the UK and Westminster, we can forget it. We must accept that we cannot win against them as things stand. We never could. We never will. Perfidious Albion is the past master of perfidious politics. Take away their opportunities to play that game. So long as we stick to a pre independence referendum, it is their game; so long as stick to domestic politics only and eschew international politics and law, it is their game. We need to start boxing clever.

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  8. Is she capable of being steered? There are some deeply embedded in the Yes movement, not SNP members, but having the ear of high ups in the SG who describe the way she and her husband control the SNP as almost Stalinist (though that was not their words but the implication), brooking no dissent, not informing even those in the Cabinet of thinking, developments and so on and refusing to contemplate truly radical measures. If this is true, then the sooner we get independence and a new government, which I hope will be a coalition of those on the left, the better.

    Maybe you know otherwise.

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  9. Declaration of Independence is the way to go, and I’m sure the FM fully realises that. What I can’t see happening is this course of action being viable with at best 50% of voters in favour of independence. I totally get the argument of using an actual campaign to force people take take one side or another and possibly build towards a higher number as per 2014 but there are no guarantees that this will happen.
    The oft quoted “consistent 60% in the opinion polls” may be a trigger for just declaring independence if the FM is serious rather than making vague promises on IndyRef2 as per the last 5 years to keep the troops onside. Unfortunately the lack of action to date does not fill me with confidence that any bold actions will take place. Hopefully I’m wrong!!!!

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    1. I think if the Yes movement sets about planning the transition to power it will be cathartic just as the indyref was and support will rise once people start to think about how it can be done.

      For instance there does not seem to be anything legally to prevent us going about setting up a central bank. There are already places in the UK that have a local currency.

      Agree support needs to rise but it won’t happen in a vacuum.

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  10. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aosp/1707/7/section/XXV

    go to F1, claim of right 1689 clearly defined as a pertetual framework and remedy of, the constitutional inception of the UK statute book/ articles of union 1707.

    political will IS the problem, peter is right when he suggests the @SNP are lame ducks, there IS remedy in domestic courts on constitutional issues……. @SNP have sha* it and challenged the UK on devolved competences (#HowStupidAreYouNicola) instead.

    form a constituent assembly of all elected members of the political spheres, and lets legislate a remedy for OURSELVES and tell westminster what our finding was after WE have decided.

    @SNP or even the @YesMovement itself could RECALL all members of parliament/councils to holyrood by simple PETITION……. Yes Movement should focus on door to door and social media/ online petitions, clipboards and ipads im sure scots could crowdfund that through the @YesMovement for eg……

    domestic remedy has been there for centuries,…. no one, not even english judges, have dared to touch it with a barge pole. #SNPShitebags was coined by me in argument WITH peter few years ago and i admire his honesty in his increased and fair criticisms of the SNP. i’ll still hold my nose and vote SNPFirst in any election until we gain independence…… but mind people like us are really hanging on to those noses. #YesInIndy2020

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Agree Iain, thanks for this; but isn’t there a small problem in the fact that 1 in 2 Scots have yet to be persuaded? That’s why I thought preparing for the transition to power would win over waverers as a lot of folk have difficulty imagining the institutions of an independent Scotland. If we make that more of a reality by at least having it all mapped out then that would reassure.

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    1. Nothing moves like moving. If leaders lead in the right way, others will follow. The day Nicola Sturgeon actually does something, the polls will move. You are suggesting we wait for something that isn’t going to happen until we stop waiting. But maybe another five years of inaction is what the independence movement needs. After all, look at how the polls have shot up with the last five years of ‘persuasion’ so gentle nobody even fucking noticed it!

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  12. Craig Murray’s article on the Alex Salmond Stitch-up last August was posted again on FB today or yesterday. Among the comments was one that suggested that Nicola Sturgeon does not want independence but a devolved Scotland in Europe.I think that what this means is that she wants a Scotland devolved in the UK, and in a situation like that of Northern Ireland. It’s got me thinking. Could that really be the case?

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    1. Outward appearances would certainly suggest that Craig is correct. But we should be wary of such appearances. While it may look as if this is what Sturgeon has been working towards it is at least as likely that she has found herself in this place having started out with a very different destination in mind but having made a wrong turn or two on the way.

      I do not doubt that Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to independence is as strong as ever. But she has found herself in the invidious situation of having achieved the power to make it happen, but only if she steps outside the bounds of the role which affords her that power. I am persuaded that she set out in the genuine belief that independence could be restored while adhering to the legal and constitutional framework of the UK. I think she seriously supposed that democracy would prevail within the British state.

      We may say that this is foolish. But there was a time when even I imagined this to be the case. I came to the realisation that there was no route to independence without going outside the British legal and constitutional framework some time ago. Nicola Sturgeon may only be getting there now. It was relatively easy for me to admit I’d been wrong. Not so for someone such as Nicola Sturgeon.

      She only looks as if she’s prepared to settle for a constitutional arrangement similar to Northern Ireland’s because she’s realised that is as good as it gets without doing something which, as a lawyer with a lawyer’s commitment to due process, she is ill-prepared for.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Welcome, Peter. Good to see you here!

    “This is what makes Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to the constitutional issue so hard to comprehend.”

    Consider it is easily comprehensible if you will entertain the notion that Sturgeon is not a nationalist. I’ve no doubt she was at one point, but all her action make it clear she is not one now, and there is no place for such a person at the top of the nationalist movement.

    She needs to be unceremoniously kicked out on her arse along with her cabal of Vichy wee pretendy nationalists. They are a corruption, and the remainder of the SNP needs the therapeutic catharsis of a purge. If it cannot manage that then it will be consumed by this cancer as surely as night follows day, and we had best look at cleaving the healthy bits of it while we can to form a new authentic political partnership for independence.

    This is far from optimal but it is where we are or about to be.

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    1. I have already given a response which partly addresses your comment. I think it only looks like Sturgeon has abandoned her nationalism because she’s got herself into a position where her nationalism is in conflict with her role as First Minister. She wants independence as much as she ever did. But she wants to get there without breaking the rules. You and I have come to realise that this is not possible. She is yet to admit it.

      As to what we do about it, kicking her out and her “cabal” out and replace them with… what? It seems to me that there is no way to do as you would without the near certainty of allowing the British parties to retake control of the Scottish Parliament, with all that this implies. At best, finding and/or fashioning a new tool to do the job is likely to be a protracted and rancorous process. Meanwhile, the British Nationalist juggernaut rolls on.

      Much better, I am persuaded, to force Nicola Sturgeon to change her approach. Or, perhaps more accurately, to create a situation whereby she can claim democratic pressure as an ‘excuse’ for breaking the rules. As much to excuse herself from her own lawyer’s conscience as anything else.

      It will be quicker and more efficient to use the tools we have. What guarantee have we that the new tool won’t also be blunted against the armour protecting established power? How often do we change tools? How long before that option is no longer available to us?

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      1. “I have already given a response which partly addresses your comment. I think it only looks like Sturgeon has abandoned her nationalism because she’s got herself into a position where her nationalism is in conflict with her role as First Minister.”

        I know, I did read it, Peter, I just don’t think it holds water.

        There is unfortunately, nothing substantiating your thesis as to Sturgeon’s internal dialogue and state of mind. It is conjecture. What we do have in the way of empirical evidence as to her rumination and intent, is her behaviour. It demonstrates that she deceived the electorate. She had a mandate to deliver indyref2 in the life of this parliament yet never had any intention of doing so. She knew or should have known, that neither May nor any of her likely successors would grant an S30. That consequently, given her own unwavering self-imposed constitutional constraints WRT what is ‘legitimate and legal’, she could never deliver another referendum on independence.

        There is no getting round it. Sturgeon has deliberately defrauded the People. She and her cabal have allowed folk to believe she had a ‘plan’ when she clearly never had any idea other than to continue to ask for an S30 knowing it would never be forthcoming. Now, you could argue she really believed continued refusal was unsustainable, but that is just to concede she is delusional.

        The problem is that what we can extrapolate from the past five years is that if there are no substantive changes in SNP constitutional policy and leadership before May 2021, then a vote for the SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections will be a vote to preserve the union with England. De facto, there will be *only* Unionist parties in the frame at that election.

        In terms of outcomes, *as it relates to concretely advancing independence*, there would be no material difference regardless of which pro-Union party took power.

        You wrote: “At best, finding and/or fashioning a new tool to do the job is likely to be a protracted and rancorous process. Meanwhile, the British Nationalist juggernaut rolls on.”

        Yes it will be, and yes it will. With respect to the latter, the English state’s FINAL SOLUTION to the Scottish Question will roll-on regardless of which party is in power in Holyrood. The only thing that will halt it is independence. Blackford’s bloviating in WM or Sturgeon registering her dismay from Bute House will not slow that juggernaut.

        The empirical evidence demonstrates to my satisfaction that Sturgeon is not a nationalist, is machiavellian, and cannot be trusted to continue in her roll, either as FM or as leader of the independence movement. She has been a disaster for Scotland, brining us to the edge of catastrophe. She and her cadre have to go if Scotland is to progress.

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      2. Speculation about a person’s motives is, by definition, always conjecture. The point, of course, is that there shouldn’t even be such conjecture. It is itself a symptom of something seriously amiss.

        Nonetheless, if the remedy is reduced to the two choices of forming a new party or forcing the one we have to do the job, I still reckon the time and energy would be most effectively be spent on the latter. The one certainty is that we cannot afford to split our resources. But, if our disagreement on the remedy is evidence of more widespread disagreement, then it is inevitable that our resources shall be split.

        The last thing I needed right now was another reason for pessimism about Scotland’s cause.

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