Knowing our place

It is important to note that nothing has changed. It was ever thus. The UK Supreme Court’s decision alters nothing. It merely confirms, very emphatically and very publicly, the only status that Scotland can possibly have in a political union specifically and purposefully contrived to ensure, in perpetuity, the superiority of the Westminster parliament, and thereby guarantee the position of the ruling elites.

That, originally, the ruling elites were predominantly English is of no relevance. The identities change over time. As do the details of constitutional arrangements. What abides are the structures of power, privilege and patronage. The UK Supreme Court ruling on the Sewel Convention is significant mainly for the fact that it could not have gone any other way. In part because of the way the devolution legislation is written. But also because the crucial ide of the Crown in Parliament would otherwise be compromised.

The concept of parliamentary sovereignty underpins the whole edifice of the British state. The doggedness of the British establishment’s defence of the status quo and the unprincipled viciousness of its onslaught against the SNP is understandable only as a response to a perceived existential threat.

Comprehending the true nature of the British state, we must accept that Scotland will always be regarded as inferior within the union. The casual disdain that once was the accustomed background to all our dealings has transformed to bitter contempt in reaction to the wave of democratic dissent risen in Scotland.

The union, being a contrivance of overweening power with no regard for present practicalities or future consequences, was fatally flawed from its inception and could only survive so long as it was not scrutinised. It is now subject to intense and constant scrutiny.

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

Independence will not be granted, however. Because the granting of it would surely topple those structures of power, privilege and patronage. Independence must be taken. It must be wrenched from the desperate grasp of jealous Britannia. It must be fought for. To emerge victorious from that fight we must be prepared to match and surpass the efforts of a cornered, battle-hardened beast.

This too is not new. It also was ever thus. The possibility of an amicable redefining of Scotland’s relationship with England that was always the hope of the Yes movement has been squandered by the stunning stupidity of an arrogant British political elite. And by the ill-informed timidity of so many who voted No in 2014. Scotland must now look to its own interests. Scotland can no more achieve a ‘soft’ parting from the UK than the UK can enjoy a ‘soft’ exit from the EU.

The people of Scotland must now choose between a British state that is inherently incapable of treating our nation with respect and structurally incompetent to represent our interests in the world, and the honest, worthy act of normalising our nation’s constitutional status and bringing our government home.

We must choose between a sneeringly dismissive No! to our democratic choices and preferences, and a joyfully sensible Yes! to our hopes and potential.

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16 thoughts on “Knowing our place

  1. Andy McKirdy

    Only the feart, stupid and selfish to convince then Peter.
    If it wasn’t clear to many before yesterday it must be today.
    Their disrespect and contempt for our Nation know no bounds, but your right, our Independence is inevitable.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Morag

      You’re not helping here. I’ve just had a twitter conversation with a thoughtful No voter who said that language like that was what kept her away from Yes last time. She’s probably coming round, but nasty invective like that would turn her away again. There must be thousands like her.

        1. Alasdair Macdonald

          I agree with Morag on this one, Mr Bell. The EU referendum result has introduced a significant degree of uncertainty amongst both YES and NO voters. There are many NO voters who were reluctant NOes, and, possibly REMAINers too, who are in the swithering camp and, there are tentative YESsers, and probably more definite ones, too, for whom the uncertainty of what exiting will entail has caused them to pause. It is people like those whom I think Mr Sillars and the COMMONWEAL research is indicating.
          I have been disappointed by the ‘Feartie’ rhetoric that has appeared on many pro independence website posts. While the unionist trolling and, indeed, media has matched and outdone anything on the independence side, it gets strong media coverage, because the unionists control almost all of the media. Robust debate is fine, but offensive ad hominem generalisations is not.
          I have had discussions with NOers and, I can think of one like the one to whom Morag refers, who seems to accept the arguments but hangs on to abuse he claims he heard being shouted by independence supporters in George Square. This was not at the infamous unionist riot, which he accepts was appalling, but, he justifies his wavering resistance by saying such bluenoses always existed and what he heard from a few independence supporters was ‘as bad’.
          I was not there to make a judgement on the nature of these alleged remarks, but, ego involvement makes it hard for some people to admit change. They might do so in the secrecy of the ballot box, but sustaining the fig leaf of their excuses can hinge on continuing to perceive nationalist = nazi.
          The swing required is not great, so I think we need to be smarter and overtly more decent. Early days of a better ….. etc.

          1. Peter A Bell Post author

            I left a reply. I can’t see it. I’ve no idea whether you can. I just don’t have time to fart around with temperamental comment facilities.

      1. Badboabinc

        Sorry but I dont see any nasty invective in this essay l see is yours. If a so called alleged no voter is intimidated by yessers TRUTHFUL arguments and passion then how must they feel about the unionist deciet and manipulation? If they are reading this site at all they will no longer be no voters

  2. Andy McKirdy

    Morag and Alasdair and others. I will leave the tolerance and gentle persuasion to you guys. My contempt for NO voters, soft or otherwise, knows no bounds. Whether we need them or not, I will personally never forgive them, no matter their reasons for voting the way they did. I will allow you the pleasure of engaging with them, I cannot and I can’t envisage a time when I will stop reminding them of what they did to undermine my Country. Sorry!!

  3. Peter A Bell Post author


    I am, as ever, amused by the notion that there is some magic form of words by which we might be sure to convert everybody to the independence cause. I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that the most insidious form of censorship is self-censorship. I, for one, will not be browbeaten into filleting my utterances, written or verbal, to make them more palatable to the British establishment.

    My point to Morag was that her interlocutor would have done better to listen to the arguments of the Yes movement than obsess about the language in which those arguments were couched. Although, admittedly, this would have involved resisting the hysterical urgings of the media in a way that all too many even now find beyond their capacities.

    Below* is a link to something I wrote back in 2015 under the title ‘Should we be nice to No voters’. In it, I point out that large numbers of people voted No DESPITE being aware of the brazen lies, malicious smears, groundless scaremongering and empty promises that characterised the entire prospectus offered by Better Together/Project Fear. People KNEW they were being deceived and manipulated. They had no excuse for not knowing. It was blatantly obvious even if it hadn’t been loudly and incessantly pointed out through a multitude of channels.

    Understandably, perhaps, those No voters would very much like to draw a discreet veil over this uncomfortable fact. The question for the rest of us is whether it suits the purposes of the independence campaign to pander to this denial of reality. Or whether we do better to treat all voters as adults able to accept responsibility for their actions and face up to the consequences.

    There has to be, at the very least, a strong suspicion that No voters now bleating about a bit of robust rhetoric are merely looking to justify their past behaviour. And/or that they are seeking excuses for clinging to the prejudices which were the real motivation for their favouring the British state over their own nation.

    Whatever the truth of this, one things is surely beyond dispute. You don’t provoke people to think by going out of your way to make them comfortable with their assumptions and preconceptions. As I say at the end of that article.

    “Should we be nice to No voters? The answer is a not entirely unequivocal, Yes. But not at the cost of conceding the legitimacy of the anti-independence campaign’s tactics of lies, smears, scare stories and empty promises.

    Nobody relishes admitting that they were duped. Nobody particularly likes owning up to a mistake. But there is a grating illogicality in allowing past No voters to believe that their choice was perfectly legitimate whilst strenuously pointing out all the things that served to undermine that legitimacy.”


  4. Bibbit

    Well said Peter!

    YES were too nice last time around. I’ve had it with wish trees, fire-trucks (no offence, Mr Law), pretty pictures and lawyers/women/English/pensioners/Labour, etc. etc. for YES!

    This is it, this time, and they know it. Christ, look at the blithering nincompoop that is Corbyn. Scotland will be ruled by Tories for at least 25 years.

    We must ‘take back control’ from the tories!

    if Scots don’t like our government, then we can vote them OUT! That’s the norm. Not waiting til we only get what we want, when by sheer luck & happenstance the English vote the same as Scotland! When is that going to happen again? Never!

    England’s establishment doesn’t give a bawbee for us, as we no longer vote for any of their parties!

    Nice? It’s too late & too serious for nice. This is a fight to the death for Scotland. And England’s Establishment will give us no quarter. No mercy.

    Ive had it with those who said last time, I quite fancy independence but no quite right now, maybe in 20 years or so, when we are more ready.

    Well how did that waiting a wee while work out for you then, ye amadans?

  5. Andy McKirdy

    Well said Peter and Bibbit.
    I’m finished being nice to toadies.
    Everyone had all the info and more needed to make s decision, so no sympathy from me for making the wrong one.
    I would imagine that for most of us on this site and others, the question of wanting your country to be independent and self governing doesn’t come down to a process of weighing up which new TV deal is better than another, it’s about principle, national identity and self respect, which I guess is why we have such hard time getting into the head of your average NO voter, but I’m certainly never going to waste time with a tea and bickies approach with them.
    For me they were either stupid, lazy, selfish or bigoted and they should be shamed into facing up to whichever category they fall into and if they still vote NO and the future isn’t kind to them, then tough shit on them.
    The veins in my neck are starting to bulge now, so I better go and calm down!!!!

  6. Big Jock

    Yep I agree. My job is not to convince self harming no voters. They can rot in he’ll as far as I am concerned. Anyone who places the value of their mortgage over the value of their nation has no soul.

    No nation ever gained independence over a bank balance. Do people still not get this. The economic argument is dead in the water. It’s just batting competing figures around.

    No what this really is about is democracy itself and the nature of our culture. Nicola Sturgeon has already recognised this. We will win this with hearts this time not lose over propaganda.

    People feel a connection to the EU. We voted to retain that identity. How dare England take away my passport. We fight for what we believe in. Leave the empty fiscal arguments to the people without souls.

  7. ScotsCanuck

    do these people who are “turned off” by the language in the article have to hit the rocks below the cliff from which they’re about to be dragged over before reason enlightens them to the realities of the impending apocalypse ? …. I ask in all honesty because if that is the case, they are in serious reality denial.

  8. Andy McKirdy

    ScotsCanuck, I’ve used the punch in the face analogy before. You and I know that a punch in the face will be sore, for some people you actually have to punch them in the face before they’re convinced!!!!!–No voters??

  9. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    This thread got unhelpfully skewed early on. The article by Peter A. Bell is NOT an attack on No voters. The ONLY reference to the latter is the sentence:

    “And by the ill-informed timidity of so many who voted No in 2014.”

    That’s it. Beginning and end of. Not exactly a savagely reckless verbal headbutt.

    In fact Peter’s post is an entirely justifiable expression of controlled outrage against the self-evidently duplicit British Establishment. Peter draws the clear-sighted conclusion that, no integrity having been shown hitherto by the “ruling elites”, none can be expected henceforth. This conclusion is completely, if unhappily, realistic. Naivety will make mince-meat of us. Indeed the cold reality is, such are the forces we are now up against, that even if we ARE all clued-up and resolute we may well still end up political “mince-meat”.

    As for voting patterns in 2014, I would suggest that on both sides there were coherent reasons, inchoate motivations, group-think etc. Those who had most to lose hesitated the most. How could it be humanly otherwise? That was sense, not cowardice. Eventual committment of these folk was (or will be) all the brighter and braver.

    What I did find most frustrating and desolating was the conclusive victory of relentlessly negative distortion and character demonisation perpetrated by in effect the entire mainstream media. And in particular the sickeningly cynical role played by BBC Scotland (TV and radio) news – an insidious, calculated, and scandalous betrayal of trust for which there can be no healing.

  10. ScotsCanuck

    all that you say is laudable in it’s attempt to persuade the “soft NO” to be convinced that Independence is the way forward for the People & the Country … but we (of Independence mind) have encountered every form of duplicity, misinformation and outright lies (The Vow) when it comes to Unionist Politicians (and others).

    We now face financial as well as political Armageddon, in respect of Brexit, for Scotland and as such we must discard warm & fluffy arguments in favour of cold, hard reality …. we are staring into the Abyss, what ever problems there may be in terms of Independence (and there will be) … they are as nothing compared to remaining within the union.

    We will endure at least 10 years of Tory rule and be the “sweat shop” of Europe.
    If it means explaining to voters in Scotland that their children and their grandchildren will have no :- State Pension, SNHS, Unemployment Insurance, disability coverage, employment rights etc, etc ……. then let us be graphic because this IS the truth and the reality of what this Nation faces …. and if that scares the living crap out of them, then so be it because I for one am pissed off trying to play by Westminster’s rules.

    This is it people, we either win or we really are history.

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