Always a price

Iain Macwhirter blithely echoes Nigel Farage’s rhetoric about ‘taking back control’ of fisheries as if he was unaware that, like pretty much all of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric, it has been totally discredited. Farage himself as much as admitted he’d been talking out of his arse within a few days of the result.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations also pointed out the utter folly of imagining Brexit would usher in a new golden age for the fishing industry. Debunking the empty promises of the Brexiteers they said,

Promises have been made and expectations raised during the referendum campaign and it is now time to examine if and how they can be delivered. Unfortunately, perhaps, the UK’s geopolitical position means that it is not politically or legally possible just to ringfence most of our fish resources, in the way that, for example, Iceland can. The reality is that most of our stocks are shared with other countries to some degree or other.

We can certainly seek to renegotiate quota shares, as well as access arrangements, but it is realistic to expect that there will be a price. Who will pay that price is a critical question.

There’s always a price to pay. And if Mr Macwhirter supposes there will be no strings attached to the shiny new powers he envisages being extracted from the British state as a price for the Scottish Government’s cooperation with Brexit, then he is sadly naive. As is anybody who fails to recognise that the British political establishment is bent on creating a constitutional bar to any further independence referendums. They want Scotland permanently and irrevocably bound to the British state. They are intent on finding a legal fix that will effectively deny Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination.

Every new round of constitutional tinkering presents the Westminster elite with another opportunity to redefine the UK in such a way as to alter Scotland’s status from a (nominally) equal partner in a (nominally) voluntary political union, to a territorial region of a single state.

Given the chance, the ruling elites will finally realise the Greater England project that the union was intended to be.

The further devolution that Iain Macwhirter thinks possible might satisfy those who are content to accept glittery baubles while the fundamental flaws of the union remain. But, however extensive these new powers might be, they will never be a substitute for full restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

Devolution can never do more than mask the inherent asymmetry of the UK and the democratic deficit that this implies. And no amount of devolution can ever resolve the irreconcilable conflict between the parliamentary sovereignty which underpins the British state and the popular sovereignty that is central to Scotland’s identity and to the aspirations of Scotland’s people.

Independence is inevitable because any devolution settlement which succeeds in terms of the aims and objectives of the British state necessarily fails in terms of the aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people.

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