It’s getting plain silly. I watch daily as posts fly across social media peddling a second independence referendum and I ask myself… why?! It seems that Scotland’s electorate has lost sight of what’s important. If not, they’ve certainly lost site of due process and law!
What is it my fellow independence supporters are fighting for? Is it the political and economic independence of our nation or just the opportunity to prove we want it? Is it to enact a dissolution of the Act of Union or to merely to say we want the right to do so?! It seems to me that far too many of us are stuck in 2014, obsessing about a referendum result that neither would- nor could- deliver independence… even with a 99% Yes vote!
(I can just imagine the reaction that some readers are having right now having read that last paragraph… “Whit’s he talkin oan aboot… we’ve ae needed a referendum! It’s they only wai”!)
Well I’m here to tell you… “Aw naw it’s no”!!
In truth, NO referendum can deliver independence for Scotland. Even with a thousand and one pledges, vows and agreements from Westminster! The Edinburgh Agreement, when all is said and done, was toothless. This is because referenda have no legitimacy in a representative democracy- and that’s the system of democracy we run in the UK. If we were running a direct democracy like Sweden, then a referendum would indeed have clout… but not here, not in Old Blighty!
The fact is that when you run a representative democracy, ALL judicial, legislative and constitutional changes MUST be enacted by the people we elect to represent us in the state parliament. In other words, the MPs we elect to Westminster at the general election ALONE have the power to enact constitutional change. So, a referendum can yield interesting answers by which those representatives might be compelled to act, but they are certainly not obligated to do so. They can ignore those results completely. Only in a direct democracy can a referendum have such power!
So, if a referendum is so useless, why did we have one?
Well the truth is that long before representative democracy was introduced to the UK political system, proponents for Scottish home rule were calling for a referendum. That mantra became rooted in independence dialogue to such an extent that it was impossible for the SNP to deny their supporters the opportunity to vote on the issue. But if they knew it was a pointless exercise, why go ahead anyway? Why didn’t they just make it clear to us that a referendum was a waste of time and lead us down another path? Well it’s like this… Scotland’s electorate needed a belt in the jaw!
The problem is that Scotland was rooted in political stagnation. Our electorate, while perfectly willing to espouse their opinions on every and any matter of national concern, were in truth stuck in a narrow rut of political obstinance. For as long as any living Scot can remember, Labour held Scotland firmly in their grasp! Generations of “Labour till I die” attitudes, forged in the Clydeside shipyards and entrenched by the Thatcher era, had shackled Scotland’s electorate to a party that had only its own selfish interests at heart, and while our traditional industries and social structures crumbled around us, the beacon of hope that shone from the SNP camp went unheeded- Scotland was politically blind. The referendum became not a legitimate route to independence, but instead the big, size-twelve, steel toe-capped, tackety boot-up-the-backside we were long overdue! And it worked!
And the Edinburgh Agreement? It was nothing more than an agreement to recognise the result. It didn’t hold the Westminster government to an obligation enact a dissolution bill in parliament. So really, it was meaningless drivel.
In the anger and disillusionment that followed the Yes campaign’s defeat on September the 18th, the Scottish public got the kicking they deserved. It shook the electorate to the core, shunted them out of the hopelessness that had long dogged their political outlook. Although a blow to many egos, it made the public realise that the only course to address the pressing issues is through the electoral ballot box. This re-awakening lifted Scotland’s down-cast eyes to the light… the SNP were the only realistic choice… and a general election beckoned!
The result of May 7th 2015 justified the means. As cruel a deception as it was, Scotland had finally done the right thing and returned to Westminster a majority representation of passionate Scots willing to represent Scotland’s best interests- Union or no!
But what about Nicola Sturgeon’s promises regarding a second referendum? Well in truth, Nicola has made no such promises. She has said that Scotland “could demand” another referendum, and indeed we could… but it’s another matter entirely as to whether Westminster would grant one! She has said she might call one after the next Scottish parliamentary election… but I have a feeling this will be a moot point by then. As readers of my blog will no doubt already be aware, it is my firm belief Scotland will be independent before the end of April next year, so Nicola’s proposal to call for a referendum after April really is a little obtuse. And let’s not forget her definitive statement… “there will be no second referendum”. I think people need to stop reading more into Nicola’s words than there is and start reading them literally.
So, how does Scotland free itself from the union, if not by referendum? The truth is that Scotland has always had the right to extract herself from the union. That right is enshrined in international law and recognised by the Act of Union itself… that it was indeed a union of political and economic convenience… not the formation of a new country… despite the BBC’s best attempts to sell us that vision! The fact is that our political representatives have always been able to enact a dissolution of the union whenever they saw fit to do so, this right is held by both Scotland’s and England’s respective political blocs at Westminster and, so long as their dissolution bill is passed by their nation’s nobles (which they’ve no practical reason to oppose), the matter needs only the signature of our constitutional head of state- HM QEII- to be enacted. And her job is not to decide whether or not the move is justified, nor indeed that it might be to her liking. Her job is to judge whether or not the bill meets with the established constitutional laws of the land. If it does (and there’s no reason to believe it won’t), Her Majesty will sign the bill and the union will end… there and then!
What happens next is that Scotland must re-assemble the components of the Scottish Convention… the original Three Estates parliament that existed prior to the 1707 Treaty of Union. Having done so, and with the eyes of the world upon her, Scotland’s Three Estate parliament will declare Scotland an independent sovereign state. I put it to you that the Scottish parliamentary election to be held in May 2016 will be the first Scottish state general election in history.
So, it’s time to put the referendum talk to bed. The job is done, people… move on!
Big thank you to Jockscot for this revelation of facts which many seem to have missed!