Cat Boyd’s analysis of the circumstances of the first Scottish independence referendum is characteristically flawed. It pretty much parrots the cosy consensus of the mainstream British media which, ludicrously, portrays David Cameron as the masterful political operator deftly outsmarting Alex Salmond. The only thing about this version of events which is remotely close to reality is the bit about the SNP being ‘forced’ to call the referendum in 2014. But the notion that this wrong-footed the party is nonsensical. The SNP had been readying for a referendum for years – if not decades. The suggestion that they were caught unprepared simply ignores this inconvenient fact.
No doubt Cameron did think the British state would easily see off the threat from the independence movement. But the idea that he cunningly set a “trap to destroy the SNP” gives him way too much credit. The circumstances which forced the SNP’s hand were no less a surprise to Cameron than they were to Salmond. But, while the SNP had been thinking about a referendum for years, the British establishment thought it would never happen. So the idea that Cameron was somehow better prepared than Salmond just doesn’t add up.
And the idea that Cameron must have agreed to ‘allow’ the referendum assumes that here were no other considerations. It fails to take into account that there were implications associated with refusing the Section 30 order. It fails to recognise that Salmond had options. He had a ‘plan B’. And Cameron, or his advisers would be well aware that some of those options could have created difficulties for the British establishment. Had Cameron not done an embarrassing U-turn on his previous determination to deny Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination the Scottish Government could, for example, have gone ahead with a consultative referendum to measure demand for a vote on independence. Or a consultation asking what powers the Scottish Parliament should have. Either of which would all but certainly have had outcomes that the British state wouldn’t like.
Cameron agreed to the referendum because he had no choice. It was, from his perspective, the least worst option.
From then on, Salmond was in total control. He danced Cameron into the Edinburgh Agreement; which gave the Scottish Government everything it wanted. The stuff about the SNP wanting a second question on the ballot but being thwarted by Cameron is another part of the myth created by the media. Not everybody swallowed that myth as completely as Cat Boyd has. Some thought to ask the awkward questions. Such as: why would the SNP want to split the Yes vote? Why would they want to include an option for more powers short of independence when, worst case scenario, a substantial but losing Yes vote would have assisted demands for more powers anyway?
What has been forgotten by those who have succumbed to the British state’s propaganda is that the SNP never asked for that second question. It was never proposed by the Scottish Government. All that happened was that Alex Salmond dropped a hint about it in a speech. he did so knowing exactly what the British government’s response would be. Remember that a ‘more powers’ option was very popular. There was a great deal of public support for such an option. The SNP didn’t want it on the ballot, for the reasons given. But they didn’t want to be the ones who vetoed something that the voters wanted. So Salmond manipulated Cameron into absolutely rejecting the idea. And he did so with ease.
There’s a picture of Cameron and Salmond taken just after they’d signed the Edinburgh Agreement. That picture is worth way more than a thousand words. Salmond is looking smugly satisfied as only he can. Cameron looks like somebody who has just realised they left the oven, the front door open and the car unlocked.
Why is this important? It matters because a good grasp of the past is essential to a proper understanding of the present. And you have to know where we are to be able to work out where we might be going. That Cat Boyd manages to come to the conclusions she does despite having swallowed so much media crap about the past is a testament to just how glaringly obvious it is where things are headed.
Although the constitutional contexts are very different, there are clear parallels to be drawn between Spain/Catalonia and UK/Scotland. Established power is much the same wherever you find it. In its essentials, democratic dissent doesn’t vary much from one context to another. So we can look at what happened in Catalonia on Sunday and see it as a warning. It would be dangerously naive to imagine that the British state would shy away from deploying the same brutality against anything perceived to be a threat to its structures of power, privilege and patronage.
There is a simple test, which requires a reasonable understanding of the British state’s past behaviour towards Scotland and only a little imagination. Look at the questions below and ask yourself how any British politician might answer, supposing they could be obliged to respond at at all and supposing that they could be forced to be honest. (OK! Maybe a bit more imagination than I thought.) If, like me, you find it impossible to envisage any Unionist politician answering in the affirmative to any of the questions, you then have to ask what justifies them having political power. and what they might do to keep it.
Do you acknowledge Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination as guaranteed by Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, and agree that this right is vested wholly in the people of Scotland to be exercised entirely at their discretion?
Do you accept the authotity of the democratically elected Scottish Parliament and recognise the validity of its decisions as a true reflection of the will of Scotland’s people?
Do you denounce the efforts of the British state to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination and condemn the disrespect of the Scottish Parliament evident in the refusal of the British political parties to accept its ruling on the matter of a new constitutional referendum?Views: 1895
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