Defining independence

I would take Kevin McKenna to task regarding his ill-thought comments about the SNP manifesto and the party’s commitment to a second referendum, but I realise that it would be pointless. The clique of professional commentators have pretty much entirely embraced a cosy consensus on that matter. They have convinced each other that the content and wording of the SNP manifesto has the significance that fits their preferred narrative. There is no disabusing them of this foolish fallacy.

I must, however, remark on Mr McKenna’s rather glib comment implying that Nicola Sturgeon might sensibly be concerned about “how long the idea of independence in an increasingly interconnected world can remain viable”. I would strongly suggest that Ms Sturgeon need have no concerns whatever on that account. Independence is the default status of nations. so long as there are nations, the people of those will aspire to independence.

There is no indication whatever that the concept of the nation is diminishing in any way. Or that “an increasingly interconnected world” has had any effect other than to increase the number of independent nations. Kevin McKenna’s thesis is in a contest with arithmetic that it cannot possibly win.

What changes is the nature of independence. But, again, there is no definitive sign that this is any more true now than it ever was. The constitutional arrangements referred to as independence have never been tightly defined. They have varied widely over time and according to circumstances. This was so even when the world was very much less “interconnected” than it is now.

Were one to seek a simple definition of independence, one might do worse than conceive of it as the capacity of a nation to freely negotiate the terms of its association with other nations.

Independence is not isolation. If it was, there would be no independence. Because isolation, in any meaningful sense, is as close to being impossible as makes no difference.

If one eschews the trite phrases and instead reflects on the matter rationally, it becomes clear that, far from making independence more problematic, “interconnectedness” has made it less so. Because it has massively increased the range and complexity of ways in which nations might choose to associate with one another, while also making many forms of association more effective.

Independence is normal. Scotland just wants to be normal. Being normal, we will find our own definition of independence.

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