A couple of days ago, I took some exception to a short letter in the Herald from well-known Unionist Martin Redfern. It read
FM’s pointless foot stamping
READER’S Digest version of Nicola Sturgeon’s current constitutional posturing: hijacking the general election to stage a de facto referendum is a foot-stamping exercise since the law doesn’t allow her to hold as many referendums as she wishes, whenever she chooses.
It’s immaterial whether she gets more or less than 50% of the vote – the UK and therefore the EU and UN won’t recognise her interpretation of the result. End of.
Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire
My (unpublished) reply to this was
Has Martin Redfern really thought through the last paragraph of his letter this morning? When he writes that it doesn’t matter whether the vote for independence is “more or less than 50% of the vote”, does he really mean that no matter how much more than 50% the vote might be?
However, when he continues that “the UK and therefore the EU and UN won’t recognise her interpretation of the result” of an unofficial referendum, he is absolutely correct. The Catalans, brutalised by the Spanish state’s Guardia Civil in the course of their attempt to register their support for their independence, proved that in spades. Oh yes, the international community clucked away, condemning the violence. It was even suggested Spain might be suspended from the EU. What happened? Nada!
There is no point looking to the international community. The Chagos Islanders, ejected from their home by the UK on behalf of the US, prove that, as they, and Mauritius, have won against the UK in every international court imaginable, to no effect whatsoever. The UK simply ignores the judgement by whichever court has heard the case most recently, including the International Court of Justice, and carries on regardless. The international community will talk and condemn, but more often than not, do nothing.
Craig Murray wrote four years ago that “One day, all supporters of Independence are going to be forced to get their heads round the fact that London is going for the Madrid solution, and we are not going to achieve Independence without using peaceful, non-violent routes which are nevertheless going to be deemed illegal by the Establishment.” GW Weir wrote similarly yesterday. Unionism will have to understand that democracy will have its way, and the responsibility for obstructing it will be theirs. Like Mr Weir I hope it is not a heavy one.
You might notice the reference to Gavin Weir (see my other piece about voting thresholds), but basically, I think he and I are on the same page – that if you frustrate enough people’s democratic wishes eventually we end up with extra political action. Hopefully it would never goo beyond a non-violent type, but that is a difficult aspiration. Despite Ghandi there was considerable violence in India prior to its independence. Obviously I hope Scotland would do better in this regard, but it is equally obvious that there will be no referendum or independence debates with Westminster for the foreseeable future, unless we force the issue. The position that Liz Truss adopted was exceptionally crude – just don’t speak to them – but with Sunak (and probably Starmer as well) the strategy is to close down any debate with Scotland, putting flesh on the bones of “now is not the time”.
Craig Murray wrote the above four years ago, and I thought he was right then and think he is right now – perhaps more so. The Supreme Court decision surely means that in the absence of a political earthquake in Westminster the Section 30 order route is done, at least for now. For the First Minister to express her hope that it will still be possible, despite the views of the successive Prime Ministers (one of whom wouldn’t even talk to her) as well as the current Leader of the Opposition, all backed up by the Supreme Court, seems to me to be risible, and thus we have to start to consider other courses of action. As, I think, Sir Charles Gray (Leader, at the time, of Strathclyde Region) said in 1992 when it became clear that John Major had won the General Election, “perhaps we need to live a little dangerously”, for it should be clear to all but the purblind that independence is going to have to be prised from the cold fingers of Westminster.