Short changing journalists

Iain Macwhirter (@iainmacwhirter) | Twitter

By Alasdair Galloway, the thinking man’s Galloway on Iain Macwhirter, the thinking man’s…..em, er….Glenn Campbell:

How easy it is to earn a nice wedge for doing not very much. This…/19119385.scottish…/ will take you to Iain McWhirter tells us what will happen in the event Johnson says No. he works through the usual stuff – not “a generation”, not the right time etc, though he does have the decency to accept that this argument is thin.

Perhaps more importantly, he makes the observation that Johnson doesn’t want to go down in history as the 21st century version of Lord North (who was PM when America won its independence).

But neither will the present First Minister “call a “wildcat” or unauthorised referendum such as the one in Catalonia in 2017, but rather faced with a refusal of Holyroods’s request for a S30 Order will take “the UK government to the Supreme Court, claiming the right of self-determination.” McWhirter rejects this because in his view the Supreme Court made clear in the Miller case in 2017 that Westminster could not be overruled on constitutional matters. Eh, sorry Iain, but I dont think that is what they said. What they did say was to confirm – yet again! – that the House of Commons is sovereign. This does not explicitly rule out the possibility of Holyrood having their own referendum – for instance to test public opinion. Actually, the problem with a “wildcat” referendum is that Westminster is likely to say – even to a Yes majority – “oh that’s nice. Jolly good” and just ignore it. What do we do then?

But let’s say we end up at the Supreme Court and let us also assume that the Scottish Government case is successful. I would hazard a guess that the first thing Westminster will do is to change the law so that referenda on any topic you care to name, can only be carried out if Westminster says it’s ok. Westminster is sovereign after all. An earlier example is what they did with Holyrood’s Continuity Bill in 2018/19 – if Scotland is doing something you don’t like then change the law.

So McWhirter works through the pretty obvious territory then pretty much condemns the whole independence project with little more than a wave of his hand. However, thinking it through a bit further demonstrates that we are between a rock and a hard place.

The hard place is Westminster which is not, or not easily, going to engage with the possibility of a legal referendum that they could quite easily lose (McWhirter also makes something of the possibility that we would make the same mistake as 2014, but of course forgets that this time we start off from somewhere around 50% support and not half that as we did last time).

The rock on which I rather fear we might perish is that with the present regime in Bute House, if there is no possibility of a “legal” (ie S30 referendum, or one endorsed by the Supreme Court) referendum then the will simply not go beyond this. Yet if Westminster keep saying No and we do nothing to respond, folk are going to get fed up and wander off, so we will lose that way instead.

Johnson saying No cannot be the end of the story. At worst it must be the “end of the beginning”.

9 thoughts on “Short changing journalists

  1. The fact that they (Westminster) hold on so tight proves it is a financial advantage to keep Scotland in the Union.

    The iron grip also confirms that they will not give way easily.

    History has dozens of examples regarding the mistake of playing polite Gentlemens games with Whitehall. The longer the debate drags on the more chess pieces London will put in place.

    Unfortunately we currently have a very efficient Manager as FM when we need a Leader. A Leader would not be encouraging division between the Clans (GRA) on the eve of a battle. Nothing should have overshadowed Independence at the most advantageous point in our campaign.
    No leader would have permitted their Party to abandon internal democracy at the very point we are trying to gain a Nation’s Right to Self Determination.
    A manager seeks to do things well.
    A leader seeks to do the right thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Johnston will be voted out. Who wants the poison chalice? Vote out every Tory-unionists. There will be no one to oppose. Go to the International Courts and UN principles. Go to the Courts. Supreme and International,

    The Tory illegally prevented Devolution for 20 years. They cannot do that any more. Unelected Tories cannot prevent Scotland prosperity and future. That is not Democracy. They are in a minority. It is against International Law and UN membership.

    It is established Scotland is sovereign by right of Law. A separate Law system forever. The documents are there. If Westminster break the Treaty of Union. The union Treaty is over. Under International Law.

    The foundation of Devolution is to comply to International Law by Westminster. The right to sovereignty and self rule, The right to self determination, under International Law. The Barnett Formula is illegal. Westminster’s actions are illegal. There is constant Westminster illegal action which has to be rectified in Court. A corrupt institution and governance.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. At some point in this tortuous process the status of constitutional principle or rather political posturing on behalf of Westminster must be exposed through reference to the Good Friday Agreement.

    We know that the ‘sovereign’ Westminster parliament and government has CHOSEN to treat the rights of UK citizens living and voting in NI in a particular way when it comes to a decision on a constitutional issue. The precedent this sets together with the precedent of the Edinburgh Agreement for the 2014 referendum cannot be denied – surely not even in law and surely not in the ‘court’ of international opinion.

    Many readers here may know this already but IMHO it’s worth repeating. The the extracts (below) from the Good Friday Agreement are powerful when contrasted with the oppositional positions taken by the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems to the Scottish electorate’s right to a second IndyRef if a majority wish to have one.

    From the agreement, with my emphasis:

    “1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo- Irish Agreement, they will:

    (i) recognise the LEGITIMACY OF WHATEVER CHOICE IS FREELY EXERCISED by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland;

    (ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and WITHOUT EXTERNAL IMPEDIMENT, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland;

    (iv) affirm that if, in the future, the people of the island of Ireland exercise their right of self-determination on the basis set out in sections (i) and (ii) above to bring about a united Ireland, it will be A BINDING OBLIGATION on both Governments to introduce and support in their respective Parliaments legislation to give effect to that wish;

    (vi) recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would NOT BE AFFECTED by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.”

    The text goes on to a section that get’s to the heart of the ‘once in a generation’ idiocy claim by Unionists. Here it is referring to the UK government’s Secretary of State for NI:

    1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for the purposes of section 1 on a date specified in the order.
    2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time IT APPEARS LIKELY TO HIM THAT A MAJORITY of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.
    3. The Secretary of State shallNOT MAKE AN ORDER under paragraph 1 EARLIER THAN SEVEN YEARS after the holding of a previous poll under this Schedule.”


    Now that after the democratic event in May a seven year period since the first IndyRef will have (almost) elapsed, will the precedent set by the Good Friday Agreement get more prominence in political discourse? Assuming that May’s election does deliver the crucial pro-independence majority of course! Let’s not put the lattert at risk.


  4. If we get an SNP majority in May and Boris continues to deny us then we must take our untenable situation to The United Nations. Every avenue must be explored. This is our final chance.


  5. Alternative narrative for the last part of the second last paragraph

    “Yet if Westminster keep saying No and we” [presumably elected politicians] “do nothing to respond, folk are going to” [either] “get fed up and wander off” [in which case] “we” [the people of Scotland] “will lose”[OR the people of Scotland will take matters away from the current politicians and continue to pursue their interests until their rightful demands are met].


    1. I would love to say your conclusion is right. The problem is I dont see a vehicle for this to happen. The advantage of the SNP having more or less a monopoly of independence is that it created focus, which a range of disparate parties, as they have in Catalonia, would not. Other than the Greens – not everyone’s cup of tea – there really isnt anywhere to go. Of course that might change.
      Moreover, the organization/ administration of the country is in the hands of professional politicians/ Civil Servants. I can envisage them being subjected to pressure, but a “citizens’ movement” I find a bit more difficult. The closest is probably AUOB, but can they make the jump from organizing marches (which they have done with great success) to direct involvement in political process?


  6. ● Repudiate the Section 30 process as an illegitimate constraint on Scotland’s right of self-determination
    ● Assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of its democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people
    ● Recall Scotland’s Members of Parliament from Westminster to sit on a National Convention with Members of the Scottish Parliament and such representatives of civic society as are deemed appropriate by the Scottish Parliament for the purpose of overseeing the drafting of a Constitution for Scotland
    ● Propose dissolution of the Union with England subject to approval by the Scottish Parliament and ratification by the people of Scotland in a referendum
    ● Hold said referendum under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament and subject to oversight and management by such bodies as may be appointed by the Scottish Parliament


    Liked by 1 person

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