Whither Scotland?

There being a vowel in the month, it’s time for another #IndyRef. So, ‘Fit tae dee?’ as they say up teuchter-way.

1. The Scottish Assembly does not have legislative competence to call a referendum, as ‘(b) the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England’ and ‘(c) the Parliament of the United Kingdom’ are reserved matters, according to Schedule 5, Part 1, Section 1 of the Scotland Act 1998 c.46. Only the most craven cowardice on the part of Westminster would see permission being granted to Sturgeon’s request or a Holyrood bill being allowed to pass the various stages—including Royal Assent—unchallenged. Were the SNP then to proceed with an illegal referendum (as Catalan separatists did in 2014), the best Unionist strategy would be to boycott the glorified opinion poll, whilst demanding Westminster suspend the Holyrood assembly for such an illegal usurpation of power. (Note that Westminster suspended Stormont in 1972 then abolished it in 1973; since its re-establishment in 1998, it has been suspended four times so far. If we can do that in NI in the face of multiple well-armed, murderous terrorist groups, how much easier will it be in pacific Scotland? Nats are irritating but—bless!—they smash teacakes not kneecaps or skulls.) Were the SNP foolish enough to declare UDI, this would fully justify deploying the army[1] to close Holyrood and arrest the conspirators for treason.

2. The case for opposing IndyRef2 could hardly be stronger. Hold the SNP to their repeated promises that 2014 was a ‘once in a generation/lifetime’ opportunity. Hold them to the Edinburgh Agreement that Salmond and Sturgeon signed agreeing to respect the result.

Alex Salmond and David Cameron signing the Edinburgh Agreement
FM Alex Salmond and PM David Cameron signing the Edinburgh Agreement, October 15, 2012 (click image for larger version)
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon campaign in Glasgow.
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon campaigning in Glasgow, September 4, 2014
Alex Salmond speaking on The Andrew Marr Show
Alex Salmond on The Andrew Marr Show, September 14, 2014

There is nothing ‘democratic’ about holding repeated referendums until the ‘right’ result is obtained, and honest people realise that it is a caricature of democracy: tyranny with but a democratic veneer. Voting means nothing if the results are not respected. (The Bolsheviks allowed plenty of voting—just no opposition candidates; and any not voting in accordance with Communist Party orders risked being carted off to the Lubyanka by the Cheka.[2])

If the vote doesn’t go my way the first time, we’ll just keeping voting until it does.
Click image for larger version

Stand on the principle that it is without precedent to have repeated referendums with major constitutional impact within a mere few years of each other.[3] Fail to do that, and what possible arguments can be marshalled against IndyRef3 superior to those against IndyRef2? And having allowed IndyRef2, what arguments can be employed against EURef2?

3. The SNP stood in the Holyrood elections in 2016 with a manifesto stating (SNP Manifesto 2016, page 24):

We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people—or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.

The first point is that the SNP may ‘believe’ what it wishes about what rights Holyrood ‘should have’: it is a matter of law that Holyrood does not have that right, see the first note at the start of this essay.

The second point is that there has been no ‘significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014’ and it is entirely disingenuous of the SNP to claim otherwise or that ‘Scotland [is] being taken out of the EU against our will’. When a majority (55.25%) of Scottish voters (46.73% of Scotland’s electorate) voted to remain part of our United Kingdom in 2014, implicit in that decision was agreeing to abide by future decisions of Her Majesty’s Government and the British people as a whole. The then-upcoming referendum on EU membership was widely publicised as part of the SNP’s pro-independence campaign,[4] and so the SNP have no grounds to suggest that the prospect of leaving the EU was not a factor informing the voters’ decision to remain in our UK.

Scottish electoral turnouts 1997-2016
Scottish electoral turnouts from 1997 to 2016 show what Scots deem important (click image for larger version)

Furthermore, although 1,661,191 Scots (61.96% of votes and 41.66% of electorate) voted for Great Britain to Remain in the EU, it is the purest delusion to believe that those Remain-voters who voted to remain British in 2014 have greater allegiance to Brussels than our United Kingdom. There is a vast difference between preferring to be part of a United Kingdom within the EU and being ready to break up a 400-year-old nation out of overarching loyalty to the EU.

4. People should stop fearing the SNP: their best politicians are mediocre (being generous)[5] and the rest are embarrassingly awful,[6] and often corrupt.[7] The SNP’s mandate in Holyrood stems from barely a quarter of the electorate, and their mandate in Westminster from less than a third. In other words, two-thirds to three-quarters of the Scottish electorate are indifferent to hostile to the SNP.

Votes cast by Scottish electorate in 2015 GE
Votes cast by the Scottish electorate in the 2015 General Election (data from here; click image for larger version)
Constituency votes cast by Scottish electorate in 2016 SE
Constituency votes cast by the Scottish electorate in the 2016 Holyrood election (data from here; click image for larger version)
Regional list votes cast by Scottish electorate in 2016 SE
Regional list votes cast by the Scottish electorate in the 2016 Holyrood election (click image for larger version)

Stand up to them—or even simply ignore them, which seems to be Our Theresa’s tactic, and seems to work quite well in annoying them.

5. Consider a second Devolution referendum, as provided for by Part 2A, Section 63A (3) of the Scotland Act 1998 c.46.[8] This has none of the constitutional implications of IndyRef2: it’s been 20 years, a decent interval; it’s proved an expensive failure;[9] and, unlike indy and EU referendums, it is harmless regardless of result. If nothing else, it will keep the SNP busy for a while protecting their phoney-baloney jobs. A referendum is neither the only nor necessarily the best means of ending Devolution: the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty[10] means Westminster can end it with a statutory instrument any time it chooses. An excuse would probably be best though: the SNP calling an illegal referendum, declaring UDI, or a major party-wide scandal (and the SNP appear very scandal-prone, which is perhaps another reason why they placed the police under their political control; if English police were brought in, how much muck might be found that would justify Westminster declaring the SNP and Holyrood no longer ‘fit for purpose’?).

The best and simplest way to end the Devolution fiasco is to include it in a party manifesto. The Tory government need only stonewall the SNP until the next election while committing in their manifesto to replacing the current Devolution model—let the SNP gurn and greet, daily alienating ever more Scots. The Tories have little to lose in Scotland (only one MP) by doing this—and potentially a country to gain.

Endnotes

[1] With the Scottish police quasi-nationalised under the SNP’s control, they could not be trusted to arrest their bosses; thus one would have to employ the army for the task.
[2] Dukes, Paul. Chapter VIII, ‘A Village “Bourgeois-Capitalist”’. Red Dusk and the Morrow: Adventures and investigations in Soviet Russia. 1922. London: Biteback, 2012. 156–7. Print.:

‘Uncle Egor,’ I said, ‘you say your district still has a Committee of the Poor. I thought the committees were abolished. There was a decree about it last December.’

‘What matters it what they write?’ he exclaimed bitterly. ‘Our “comrades”—whatever they want to do, they do. They held a Soviet election not long ago and the voters were ordered to put in the Soviet all the men from the Poor Committee. Now they say the village must start what they call a “Commune”, where the lazy will profit by the labour of the industrious. They say they will take my last cow for the Commune. But they will not let me join, even if I wanted to, because I am a “fist”. Ugh!’

[3] Outside of the EU at least. E.g. In 1992, Denmark’s voters rejected the Maastricht treaty but were obliged to vote again the following year in a further referendum. In 2001, the Republic of Ireland’s voters rejected the Nice treaty in a referendum, but a second was held the following year. Ireland did this again in 2009, holding a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty after the first was rejected the year prior.
[4] Zuleeg, Fabian (Dr.). “What future for the Scottish-EU relationship?” The Future of the UK and Scotland. 2–3 May 2013. Web archive. 17 Mar. 2017:

Speculating on the future Scottish-EU relationship is tricky, not least as many issues are still to be resolved – be it the Scottish independence referendum or the UK’s potential EU in-out referendum. … Alternatively, the UK, including Scotland, could decide to leave the EU. An in-out referendum is likely – it will be very difficult for any party to ‘deny’ the UK population a vote on EU membership after the next election whatever the outcome – and might well result in a ‘no’ to EU membership. … The Scottish independence vote is thus inextricably bound to the potential UK in-out referendum For the debate in Scotland, when considering the potential future relationship of Scotland with the EU – whether independent or not – it is thus essential that the impact of the UK referendum is factored into considerations.

Roxburgh, Angus. “Scotland’s tough call: stay in the UK, or stay in the EU?” The Guardian. 19 May 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2017:

But this democratic flaw could take on a whole new dimension as Westminster drifts inexorably towards holding a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. … Not surprisingly, the SNP is already arguing that leaving the UK might be the only way for Scotland to guarantee it remains in the EU.

McDonald, Stuart. “Common sense on Scotland and the EU.” Yes Scotland. 25 Feb. 2014. Web archive. 17 Mar. 2017:

Just look at the attitude of European governments towards Westminster’s in/out referendum. … And of course the real risk to Scotland’s EU membership is the proposed UK-wide referendum on whether to exit the EU.

From an unarchived ‘Related’ section on the above page:

In/out EU vote underlines uncertainty of staying in Union
Yesterday’s promise from the Prime Minister, David Cameron, of an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU has highlighted that the real threat to Scotland’s place in Europe lies with Westminster.

“Scottish independence: Alex Salmond says Eurosceptics ‘damaging Scotland’.” BBC. 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2017:

Alex Salmond said the prospect of an in/out referendum risked Scotland being “dragged out” of the EU. … Mr Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU if the Conservatives win the next general election. … Mr Salmond said next month’s referendum on Scottish independence was very different to the referendum on European Union membership promised by the prime minister. “The debate in Scotland is that we should not place ourselves in the position, given that we are only 8% of the UK population, of potentially being dragged out of the European Union against our wishes, against our will, which might be the position if we are foolish enough to have a ‘No’ vote in this referendum.”

[5] E.g. Sturgeon does not know the difference between a nation’s deficit and debt. E.g. Salmond flip-flopping (1999: ‘Salmond in call to dump millstone of the pound … delivered a whole-hearted defence of the euro yesterday’ (Herald-Scotland) 2009: ‘Alex Salmond has predicted that abandoning the Pound and joining the Euro will be a vote winner in his battle for Scottish independence.’ (Daily Telegraph) 2014: ‘… Alex Salmond has insisted Scotland will retain sterling under independence … “It’s Scotland’s pound and we are keeping it.” ’ (BBC) 2017: ‘Salmond insists independent nation could have NEW currency’ (Daily Express)).
[6] ‘Sleaze MP: My Shame At 3-In-Bed Teen Sex Scandal’ (Daily Record); ‘SNP MP’s split from their wives after being caught in “love triangle” with journalist’ (Daily Mail)
[7] ‘MP Natalie McGarry charged in connection with fraud’ (Evening Express); ‘MP Michelle Thomson reported after mortgage fraud probe’ (BBC); ‘Taxman targets assets of rising SNP star Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh’ (Daily Record); ‘Tommy Sheppard: Edinburgh East MP faces probe by parliamentary watchdogs’ (Daily Express); ‘MP Michelle Thomson reported after mortgage fraud probe’ (BBC); ‘58 MPs including former SNP leader Alex Salmond spend £116,000 of public money on staff bonuses’ (Daily Telegraph).
[8] This amendment being introduced by the Scotland Act 2016, c.11, Part 1, Section 1.
[9] Holyrood was created to settle Nationalist aspirations and to devolve power to a more localised level; it has singularly failed in both these aims, instead promoting Nationalism while power is more centralised than ever, and continues becoming ever more centralised.
[10] Dicey, Albert Venn. Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution. 8th Ed. 1915. Indianapolis: LibertyClassics, 1982. 3–4, 5, 23, 24 (Footnote). Print.:

The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely, that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.

… De Lolme has summed up the matter … “It is a fundamental principle with English lawyers, that Parliament can do everything but make a woman a man, and a man a woman.”

… It is certain that a Parliament cannot so bind its successors by the terms of any statute, as to limit the discretion of a future Parliament, and thereby disable the Legislature from entire freedom of action at any future time when it might be needful to invoke the interposition of Parliament to legislate for the public welfare.

… The logical reason why Parliament has failed in its endeavours to enact unchangeable enactments is that a sovereign power cannot, while retaining its sovereign character, restrict its own powers by any particular enactment. An Act, whatever its terms, passed by Parliament might be repealed in a subsequent, or indeed in the same, session, and there would be nothing to make the authority of the repealing Parliament less than the authority of the Parliament by which the statute, intended to be immutable, was enacted.

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2 thoughts on “Whither Scotland?

  1. A well written, well researched essay.

    I think the SNP’s game is to angle for more power, perks and privileges. They don’t want independence, but they have to be seen to be wanting it.

    May I ask, what news and information resources do you rely on daily? What other magazines or longer journals do you read?

    I’m always on the hunt for new info. I send over a list of my own, if you want.

    Like

    1. I agree that ‘they have to be seen to be wanting [independence]’, that being the SNP’s raison d’être, so to maintain support they cannot settle down to governance but must hold the indy carrot out to their voters and appear to be pursuing that goal.

      But I believe they genuinely want independence. Sturgeon wants to be El Presidente of the Democratic People’s Republic of SNPland; that between the SNP’s SJWism and incompetence, Scotland’s economy will tank will not prevent her dining on caviar and flying around in her helicopter (Zimbabwe’s and North Korea’s citizens are starving but Mugabe and Kim Jong-Un are a long way from winning Slimmer of the Year awards). SNP-supporters want independence as they’re chasing unicorns—the age-old story of blaming your problems on others: ‘If we only get rid of X—the English, the Scots, the Brits, der Juden, the kulaks, les rois et les aristocrates, the imperialists—we’ll have utopia!’ So much easier than the tedious ploughing through history, law and economic texts trying to devise solutions to the complexities of the human condition—just blame X, everything will be fine; and when it isn’t, it’s still X’s fault—We’d’ve been paradise if they hadn’t come here, they ruined us! (For all time, apparently.) Even a failed state won’t dent the beliefs of the hardcore; e.g. while (in my experience) Irish working in Europe are generally good lads, a fair number of Irish in Britain (NAXALT obv, but enough) are seething cauldrons of resentment—resentful that their independence didn’t deliver paradise, and even more resentful that they have to go to the Brits for a job.

      For daily reading, I just check the usual rags for a basic idea of what’s going on; if a story is interesting, I’ll try and find more detail and alternative viewpoints (once read a story about Queensland police in Australia fatally tasering someone: it quoted extensively some Civil Liberties-type about the dangers of tasers but nothing about why cops were tasering anyone—only the guy’s name. Searched on it—being fairly certain that Aussie cops are not in the habit of tasering bankers as they buy their morning paper—and read in local news of how he had an extensive criminal record, convictions for violence, was out of his head on amphetamines at the time and was wielding an iron bar. ‘Oh! That’s rather relevant information.’). I generally extend Paxman’s attitude to politicians to journos as well: ‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?

      I also keep in mind the late author Michael Crichton’s ‘Gell-Mann Amnesia effect’:

      Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

      In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

      That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

      Liked by 1 person

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