James Kelly has no need to apologise. Nicola Sturgeon has not “modified her position” in any way. To believe that one would have to suppose that she thought there was a serious possibility of her Brexit proposals coming to something. We can be sure that the First Minister knows perfectly well that those proposals would be rejected by the UK Government. although even she may have been slightly taken aback by the disrespectful haste with which Theresa May summarily rejected the Scottish Government’s submission.
This was not a change of direction. It was simply a necessary stage on the journey to #indyref2.
There was never any doubt about whether there would be another independence referendum. It was always going to happen. It was only a question of what events would be the main drivers. If it hadn’t been Brexit, it would have been something else. The British state could be absolutely relied upon to provide grounds for a new vote. Indeed, it could very reasonably be argued that they did so even without the whole Brexit fiasco.
Ever since that fateful day in September 2014, I have been stressing that the Yes movement faced two distinct but related campaigns. It goes without saying that the campaign to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status would continue. Notions of the SNP collapsing and the independence movement evaporating were never more than comforting delusions for British nationalist ideologues fearful of an unstoppable wave of democratic dissent. But first there would have to be a campaign to affirm and defend Scotland’s right of self-determination.
It was easy to foresee that the British state would seek to defend and preserve its structures of power, privilege and patronage against what the British establishment regards – with some justification – as the existential threat posed by the SNP and the wider Yes movement. And it was easy to see that the first line of defence would be an attempt to neutralise that threat completely by preventing any further constitutional referendums. The British establishment has long experience of nations seeking to break free of Westminster rule. They know that, ultimately, the British state always loses. Blocking a referendum would be an effective way of putting off that inevitable defeat for a few more years.
Hence the need to ensure that the UK Government didn’t sneak through some legislative or regulatory device which would have the effect of making another independence referendum impossible. That need still exists. The fact that the UK Government has not yet found a way of denying Scotland’s right of self-determination does not mean that they have given up on doing so. A continuing SNP administration at Holyrood and the presence of a massive SNP group at Westminster makes it difficult. But the British establishment is still desperately seeking ways to lock Scotland into the Union – be in no doubt about that.
It may well be argued that the most interesting question arising from all the confusion and uncertainty is, not what Brexit will really mean; or whether Scotland will get a ‘special deal’ (we won’t!); or even when the next independence referendum will be called. The question we should be asking is whether, and how, Theresa May will try to prevent that vote taking place.
For most of the last two years I’ve been fairly dismissive of suggestions that the UK Government and/or the UK Parliament would refuse a section 30 order authorising a referendum. The behaviour of the Westminster elite has prompted me to be considerably less disdainful of such suggestions. The contemptuous manner in which the Scottish Government’s Brexit proposals were rejected now has me thinking that Theresa May could actually be arrogant and stupid enough to try and block the democratic route to independence.
I’m beginning to think Theresa May seriously supposes she can crush Scotland’s independence movement simply by the weight of assumed political authority. I get a distinct sense that she imagines herself to be capable of facing down Nicola Sturgeon and intimidating an entire nation into meekly accepting the denial of a fundamental democratic right.
I hope I’m wrong, but a have a nagging suspicion Theresa May reckons she has some sort of divine power at her side.
This is why we have to get the entire Yes movement solidly behind Nicola Sturgeon. It is very much a battle of wills between these two individuals. We may not like this kind of politics, but it’s the only kind of politics there is within the British political system. A brutish kind of politics that comes down to raw power embodied in and represented by a ‘leader’. Theresa May can draw on all the power of the British state. Nicola Sturgeon must be able to draw on the power of Scotland’s people.Views: 3744
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