Post by ABU HAIMI ABU HASSAN
Munguin’s Man in Malaysia
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Nicola Sturgeon announced recently that she would seek the Scottish Parliament’s consent for another independence referendum to be held latest by Spring 2019.
Though those of us on this side of the independence debate have expected that another independence referendum would have to take place in the near future, I was pleasantly surprised by the boldness of the move.
After reading some more blogposts and opinions, I am convinced that the move was truly momentous, and the effects will be more far-reaching and sublime than initially expected.
Firstly, the most immediate effect is the removal of Scottish assets as bargaining chips in the upcoming United Kingdom’s (UK) Brexit trade deal negotiation with the European Union. The UK government now cannot barter with the European Union, say for example, Scottish fishing waters because it cannot guarantee such waters will be in United Kingdom in the foreseeable future. In this sense, Nicola Sturgeon really did screw Theresa May’s bargaining position up with the European Union.
Secondly Theresa May, in her reply to Nicola Sturgeon, decided to delay (or deny [doesn’t matter as it has same effect]) the proposed referendum’s date until the Brexit negotiation is over. Some say she going to force the issue to be framed in the next Scottish Parliament election and put up God knows all kind of conditions. Theresa May’s reasoning, saying that Scotland should not have an independence referendum until the Brexit trade deal terms are finalised (hence avoiding economic uncertainties), is truly hypocritical and ironic. Scotland did not vote to get out of the European Union, so why do we have to be in the trade deal mess that is not our creation? We may or may not get a deal to our liking, or worse, no deal at all. Then again, the Tories are hypocritical creatures that don’t do irony.
Notwithstanding this, what is legal and what is politically moral/expedient are two different things. Theresa May can pass all the laws she wants in order to stop the referendum but the moment Nicola Sturgeon has the backing of the Scottish people, she will get her date no matter what. Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.
Thirdly, by forcing hard Brexit, Theresa May has effectively lost the economic argument. Whatever position she takes in order to argue against Scotland can be effectively chucked back to her. Callum McCaig MP did use this method of argument and embarrassed her in the most recent PMQ. The logic is simple; if the UK can go it alone, why can’t Scotland do the same?
Thus, the only real argument in this referendum is about sovereignty. One may recall that a certain Tony Blair labelled the Scottish Parliament as “a glorified parish council”. In a sense, that is true. To put it crudely, the current manifestation of Scottish Parliament is the bastard child of Westminster Parliament. It is an unwanted but necessitated creation, an attempt to placate the Scots. Its authority flows from Westminster Parliament and can be taken back (there are some already clamouring for this). The Scottish Parliament that adjourned itself in 1707 still lay dormant in its 59 Westminster MPs. The sovereign will of the people of Scotland can only be actually manifested through these 59 MPs.
When the people of Scotland wish to be independent and the Scottish Parliament confirms this decision, it basically has no effect on Westminster Parliament, unless it has in advance agreed to it. Failing so, it is up to the 59 MPs to reflect the sovereign will of the people of Scotland. Therefore, in order to dissolve the union and achieve independence, all Scotland has to do is to instruct its MPs (or the majority of, as stated by one Mrs Thatcher) to notify the Speaker of the House of Commons that the Treaty of Union is annulled. For a dramatic effect, they should literally walk out of the House of Commons. The Union then ceases to be. Only then, we can properly resurrect the Scottish Parliament of 1707.
Fourthly, I am not sure whether this particular effect was planned or was a bonus, Theresa May has inadvertently been the cause of the hardening of views in Scotland. When the issue of sovereignty finally crystallises, the people on the fence must decide what they want; a free, independent and sovereign Scotland or a Tory-ruled hard-Brexit Union. We will definitely see this effect in the upcoming local election results. I’m of the opinion that Theresa May is willing to throw Ruth Davidson under the bus in order to prioritise/save England (as if it needs much effort anyway). I suppose the only people who are going to vote for Scottish Tories this time around are hardcore unionists.
As for Kezia Dugdale, God have mercy on her because by becoming “a pound shop Ruth Davidson”, Scottish Labour is going to haemorrhage even more votes than they did in 2016. The only thing I can say is that she is so deep in Lala-land, she thinks that place is real.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, a masterstroke in realpolitik. I think most of us on this side of the independence debate do not doubt that Nicola Sturgeon means business all the time. It is worth highlighting that in her last two First Minister’s Questions appearances, you can detect a steelier demeanour. It is going be an all-out effort to get out of the Union, and you can expect the same rigour to be returned by the unionists. It has to be said, too, that a theatrical John Swinney is much more fun than a dour one!
Mark my word, Scotland will have that referendum before or in the spring of 2019. And we MUST win it.
Editorial Note: Soppy Sunday will be a little later this week… but fear not, it will be with you by early afternoon.
I’m not sure whether to laugh or to be angry.
According to the Independent, Mrs May’s speech to the Tories little get together in Wales tomorrow, will talk about how Scottish independence would ruin Britain’s chances of getting a good deal from the EU in their Brexit negotiations.
In order to get the deal she wants, she thinks that Scotland must pull together with the “rest of the country”. England, I imagine she means.
She will call upon the Scots to get behind her plans (what plans?) because “we are one people”.
To assume this, given all the recent evidence to the contrary, her audacity must surely know no bounds.
In almost everything and in almost every way, we are very different peoples. In particular, over the Brexit deal she wants to get (and probably has as much of a chance of getting as Munguin has of being the next president of Botswana), we are completely different.
It seems to have completely escaped this woman’s notice that Scotland voted, not narrowly, but very conclusively, to stay in the EU. To be honest, even if we hadn’t I think there’s a fair chance we wouldn’t be backing the chaos her idiot ministers are sleepwalking into. There’s Brexit, and then there’s Brexsuicide.
She seems oblivious to the fact that we elected ONE single Tory out of the 59 Scottish MPs, to contribute to her government in London. One, and by a tiny majority. Whereas in England they managed by hook or by crook (and that might be an appropriate word) they elected Tory government.
We are not one people Mrs May. We are two kingdoms and principality and a province, and we are all very different, with different economies and different needs. (And it might be an idea to remember that there is a British Overseas Territory which also has to be considered into the bargain.)
Whilst May’s party has set about tearing down the welfare state, removing benefits for some of our most vulnerable people, dismantling that part of the NHS over which they have direct control, making life utterly unbearable for the worst off, handing out tax reductions to some of the richest, and with plans to remove the UK from the ECHR she will have the brass neck to say: “Our Plan for Britain is a plan for a brighter future. A plan to make the most of the opportunities ahead and to build a stronger, fairer Britain that is more united and more outward-looking.” Stronger and fairer? Seriously? Fairer? Tell that to the people being assessed for PIP who are being asked why they haven’t committed suicide yet!
No, Mrs May, let me tell you, we Scots don’t believe a single word you say. Not you nor any of your hapless, self-serving amateur ministers, especially you blundering idiot of a Scottish Secretary.
We don’t want to leave Europe at any price, but certainly not under any deal that you or any of your team would ever be able to negotiate. Seriously: David Davis, Boris Johnson. Liam Fox? Liam Bloody FOX???? Please!
Scots didn’t vote for your vile cruel, self-serving, incompetent government. And we don’t want it. if you are comforting yourself that you made a small headway in our General Election, compared to your General Election a year earlier, then you should remember that it is because Labour is even more pathetic than your lot. And remember too that the improvement was largely made in list seats.
Remember standing in front of all those empty seats? Well, go look at the crowds of cheering people in Aberdeen today for OUR leader.
We won’t get behind you. We won’t back your plans(?), which almost undoubtedly mean selling Scotland out, as your predecessors did. We have friends in Europe. They like us. They like our first minister. I suspect that they don’t like you much.
…AND THEN THE MAD TWINS FROM SARK TOOK OVER AND MADE IT A COMIC
Is this entirely wise or responsible journalism?
No one really minds their cheap jibes, like the one below. It allows journalists like Pearson to vent and gives her elderly, none-too-bright readers a measure of comfort, knowing that the Torygraph is still the paper of the Greater English nation. It also demonstrates that she’s not much of an economist. But during the campaign and subsequent vote on Brexit, newspapers, and some politicians too, made visceral hate, xenophobia and open racism respectable, and it has left a tension in the air. Intelligent journalism should recognise that it has a responsibility not to fan the fires of hatred. Once fanned they take a long time to douse.
No one imagines for a moment that there is much chance of the gutter press paying heed to their responsibilities (although to be fair the Sun rid itself of Katie Hopkins after the “cockroach” story), but once upon a time, it might have been reasonable to expect the then respected Daily Telegraph to do so.
In the light of Jo Cox’s assassination at the hands of a hard right-wing Nazi sympathiser, stirred by blind hatred of foreigners, you’d have thought that at least newspapers at the top end would have resisted the temptation to print this kind of headline. There are some very determined unionists who might be tempted to agree with Pearson, after all.
Oh, for the days of Conrad Black.
So, Theresa May is to reject Nicola’s timetable for a referendum in Scotland because it might undermine her chaotic mess of a Brexit. Really!!
I imagine that she’s given this a lot of thought and weighed up the consequences… or maybe not.
Still, as you can see, all is OK with the world because Willie is on holiday yet again, and having high jinks with some blondes. Well, nice work if you can get it, Wills, and you can get it if your dad happened to be the Duke of Rothsay, and at least his probably was.
I see that the judges have been forgotten in the Scottish edition, and the SNP are now the enemy of the people. I’m not sure who reads the Daily Mail, although I know that a lot of people do, but I guess they will lap this up with the vinegar that they drink for breakfast to keep them sour enough to get them through another miserable day in the 1950s.
I’m wondering if they have taken into consideration just how many promises were broken in the aftermath of that first referendum, most particularly the one about being thrown out of the EU if we left the UK. I wonder too if they listened to the First Minister’s speech today. Maybe the Scottish accent made it difficult for Daily Mail types in London to understand what she was saying, or maybe they just zoned out and wrote up the story that their readers want to read.
The hate all day has been palpable. All over Twitter we are reading the most ridiculous nonsense about the speech, clearly from people who haven’t heard or read it, or who were too stupid to understand it.
Kezia Dugdale has said that her Twitter feed is full of personal insults, but we know that despite a search of her timeline no one can find any of them. I’ve seen a few corkers about Nicola today, all too rude to put on this family blog.
Realise that the only people who will be impressed by someone calling an opponent a four letter word insult, are people who are already very very firmly on your side. The likelihood of changing anyone’s mind because of that kind of insult is minimal, and probably all in the wrong direction!
We need to win hearts, and mostly minds. We don’t do that by calling the first minister, or the prime minister, a slag. In both cases it is clearly untrue and does no one any credit, or indeed any good.
The SNP are now raising funds for the battle ahead. The campaign was launched this morning and had, the last time I looked, raised £160,000.
Remember that we are up against the English Tories and their wodges of cash. We will need every halfpenny we can get.
I was laughing at the fact that Mrs May told Nicola that politics wasn’t a game… This from the woman that made Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary and put Liam Fox in charge of something more important than buying some teacakes. Sheesh, she’s got some sense of humour, that one.
Talking of Johnson, I’m told he said today that he will vote in favour of a new royal yacht.
All you need to know about the Tories in 9 words. “Sod the NHS, let’s have a new royal yacht”.
(Note that the speech does not start right away. About 2 minutes into the video.)
It is important, therefore, for me to report now on the Scottish Government’s attempts to find compromise with the UK government and set out our plan to protect Scotland’s interests.
Right now, Scotland stands at a hugely important crossroads.
We didn’t choose to be in this position.
In common with most people across the country, I wish that we weren’t.
But we are, and the stakes are high – so we must have a plan for the way forward.
For better or worse – depending on your point of view – the future of the UK looks very different today than it did two years ago.
As a result of the Brexit vote we face a future, not just outside the EU, but also outside the world’s biggest single market.
In addition, the collapse of the Labour Party means that we face a prolonged period of uninterrupted and unchecked Conservative government at Westminster.
Some predict that the Tories could be in power now at Westminster until 2030 or beyond.
And after a period which has seen the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and, more recently, hard won extensions to its responsibilities, we now face the prospect of a centralization of power at Westminster.
Indeed, the Prime Minister herself has been clear that the Brexit process will see the UK government reserve for itself powers in areas that are currently wholly devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
All of this has massive implications for Scotland.
It has implications for our economy: for jobs, opportunities, public spending, and living standards – and for our ability to protect and advance our vital day to day priorities in education, health and business.
It has implications for our society – how open, welcoming, diverse and fair we will be in future?
And it has implications for our democracy – to what extent will we be able to determine our own direction of travel, rather than having it decided for us?
In short, it is not just our relationship with Europe that is at stake.
At is at stake is the kind of country we will become.
At times of change and uncertainty, the instinct to do nothing and just hope for the best is understandable.
But, in my view, it is not the right one.
At times like these, it is more important than ever to have a clear plan for the way ahead – to try, as far as is possible, to be in control of events and not just at the mercy of them.
That is what I have always done. It is what I have tried to do since the day after the EU referendum last year. And it is what I am determined to continue to do.
Since last June, my focus has been on trying to find an agreement with the UK government that would reconcile the UK wide vote to leave with the Scottish vote to remain.
I was encouraged in this approach by the Prime Minister’s commitment last July to seek agreement with the devolved administrations on a UK wide approach before triggering Article 50.
The Scottish Government’s paper, Scotland’s Place in Europe, was published in good faith.
Our proposals represent significant compromise on the part of the Scottish Government.
We accepted that Scotland would leave the EU – despite the 62% vote to remain – but argued that the UK should either stay in the single market or seek an outcome that would allow Scotland to do so.
And we set out how greater powers for the Scottish Parliament could help protect Scotland’s interests in a post Brexit landscape.
Over the past few months, we have worked hard – really hard – to try to find agreement. The Prime Minister and her government have been given every opportunity for compromise.
But today as we stand, for all we know, on the eve of Article 50 being triggered, not only is there no UK wide agreement on the way ahead – but the UK government has not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement.
Our efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence.
UK membership of the single market was ruled out with no prior consultation with the Scottish Government or with the other devolved administrations – leaving us facing not just Brexit, but a hard Brexit.
There has been talk of special deals for the car industry and others, but a point blank refusal to discuss in any meaningful way a differential approach for Scotland.
And far from any prospect of significant new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the UK government is becoming ever more assertive in its intention to muscle in on the powers we already have.
The language of partnership has gone, completely.
And there should be little doubt about this – if Scotland can be ignored on an issue as important as our membership of the EU and the single market, then it is clear that our voice and our interests can be ignored at any time and on any issue.
That cannot be a secure basis on which to build a better Scotland.
But it is where we stand today.
Now let me stress, even at this late stage, I am not turning my back on further discussions should the UK government change its mind and decide it is willing to agree to our compromise proposals.
And, in any event, I will do everything I can to ensure that Scotland’s interests are represented in the EU negotiations that lie ahead.
But I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely, given the hardline response from the Prime Minister so far.
That means I have to decide on the best plan to protect our interests now.
It is time for me to set out decisively and with clarity the way forward.
Doing nothing at this stage – in many ways, the easiest thing for me to do – would mean letting Scotland drift through the next two years, with our fingers crossed, simply hoping for the best.
And, of course, I do hope for the best.
I want the UK to get a good deal from the EU negotiations. That is clearly in Scotland’s interests as well as in the interests of our friends in other parts of the UK.
But I am far from alone in fearing a bad deal or no deal.
Nor am I alone in fearing that even a so-called good deal will turn out to be significantly inferior to membership of the single market – and that it will set Scotland on a course that will not only damage our economy, but change the very nature of the society and country we are.
The problem with doing nothing now is that, by the time these fears are realized, it will be too late for Scotland to choose a different path before the damage is done.
That would not be right or fair.
Whatever path we take, it should be one decided by us, not for us.
So let me set out the plan I intend to pursue.
First, I will continue to stand up for Scotland’s interests during the process of Brexit negotiations.
Second, I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process.
A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit – or to become an independent country, able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.
The Scottish Government’s mandate for offering this choice is beyond doubt.
Last year we were elected, with the highest share of the constituency vote won by any party in the history of devolution, on a manifesto that said this:
“The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum…if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.”
So I can confirm today that next week I will seek the authority of the Scottish Parliament to agree with the UK government the details of a section 30 order – the procedure that will enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum.
The UK government was clear in 2014 that an independence referendum should – in their words – ‘be made in Scotland, by the people of Scotland’.
That is a principle that should be respected today.
The detailed arrangements for a referendum – including its timing – must be for the Scottish Parliament to decide.
However, in my view, it is important that Scotland is able to exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now – but before it is too late to decide on our own path.
Let me be clear what I mean by that.
The timing of the Brexit negotiations is not within the control of the Scottish Government.
However, we must plan on the basis of what we know now.
And what we know is that on the timetable set out by the Prime Minister, the shape of the Brexit deal will become clear in the autumn of next year – ahead of ratification votes by other EU countries.
That is therefore the earliest point at which a referendum would be appropriate.
However, it is just as important that we do not leave it too late to choose a different path in a timely way.
If the UK leaves the EU without Scotland indicating beforehand – or at least within a short time after it – that we want a different relationship with Europe, we could face a lengthy period outside not just the EU but also the single market. That could make the task of negotiating a different future much more difficult.
These considerations lead me to the conclusion that if Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice should be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019.
The third – important – aspect of planning ahead is this.
I have already said that by the time a choice comes to be made, there must be greater clarity about Brexit and its implications for us.
It is just as important that there is clarity about the implications of independence. And there will be.
We will be frank about the challenges we face and clear about the opportunities independence will give us to secure our relationship with Europe, build a stronger and more sustainable economy and create a fairer society.
Scotland’s choice must be informed and up to date.
There is a great deal of talk – by all of us – about mandates from the referendums in 2014 and 2016. And neither of those results can – or should – be dismissed.
But the fact is they tell us only so much about the circumstances we find ourselves in now.
In 2014, we didn’t know the UK would vote to leave the EU – had we done so it is likely that some, perhaps on both sides, would have come to a different decision.
And in 2016, independence was not on the ballot paper. We cannot simply assume that because someone voted to Remain in the EU that they would vote Yes for an independent Scotland.
What Scotland deserves, in the light of the material change of circumstances brought about by the Brexit vote, is the chance to decide our future in a fair, free and democratic way – and at a time when we are equipped with the facts we need.
It is – above all – about informed choice.
We know that Brexit has made change inevitable. The option of ‘no change’ is no longer available.
However, we can still decide the nature of change.
Having Scotland’s referendum – at a time when the terms of Brexit are known – will give the Scottish people a choice about the kind of change we want.
And it must be a choice for all of us.
I know there are some who want me to rule out a referendum completely or delay the decision until much further down the line.
I understand why some take that view. And of course these views weigh heavily on me.
But so does this. And this, for me, is a key consideration.
If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding – completely unilaterally – that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come-what-may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be.
That should not be the decision of just one politician – not even the First Minister.
By taking the steps I have set out today, I am ensuring that Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me, the Scottish Government or the SNP.
It will be decided by the people of Scotland.
It will be Scotland’s choice.
And I trust the people to make that choice.
You may also be interested in this petition to retain EU citizenship and its privileges and responsibilities.