Defying the bully

As British nationalist fanatics on both sides of the border gleefully celebrate the idea of Scotland being held on a choke-chain by the ruling elites of the British state, more rational minds turn to the political, as opposed to the legal, implications of the UK Government seeking to deny Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination. A right which, it is worth reminding ourselves, is guaranteed by Article 1 of the UN Charter as well as by both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, in which the principle is stated thus,

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

Note that it does not say “all peoples except the people of Scotland”. It is a tenet of British nationalist ideology that Scotland is held to be an exception in all manner of ways. Scotland is declared to be uniquely incapable of being as other nations. From managing our economy to honouring the democratic will of our electorate, we are deemed to be singularly unworthy of the authority and the capacities which other nations assume to be theirs by right. The fact that the UK is a signatory to, and therefore bound by, an internationally recognised principle guaranteeing the right of self-determination is, according to the British nationalist faith, irrelevant. It is superseded by the principle of expediency and the concept of parliamentary sovereignty which, in turn, derives from notions of divinely-ordained bloodlines and absolute monarchy. Britannia waives the rules!

Nor does it matter that the UK government has set a precedent by acknowledging Scotland’s right of self-determination in the Edinburgh Agreement. The British political establishment places a great deal of importance on precedent, unless it happens to be inconvenient. Just as they believe in ‘playing by the rules’, just so long as they get to be the ultimate arbiters of what the rules are.

Perhaps the most repugnant manifestation of British nationalist arrogance lies in the insistence that even a fundamental democratic right, such as the right of self-determination, is in the gift of the British ruling elite and subject to the whim of whoever happens to be exercising the royal prerogative at any given time. That, and the idea that the British state can, with impunity and as part of its entitlement, flout not only its international obligations but normal standards of decent behaviour. Something that is sickeningly evident in the way the anti-independence campaign was, and continues to be, conducted.

All of which leads British nationalists to assume that blocking a second independence referendum is a simple matter of Theresa may saying “NO!”. And that’s an end to it. They are deluded.

Whatever the legal niceties, the political repercussions of denying Scotland’s right of self-determination would be immense. The British state is like the bully who relies on their status and reputation to deter any challenge to their dominance. But the people of Scotland are not intimidated. We have found our voice, and with it our democratic power. We are prepared to challenge the might of the British state. We did it before. We can do it again.

Any move to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination will be resisted. Any attempt to block a second referendum will be defied. For all the macho posturing, the UK Government is aware of this. Theresa May’s advisers are just as aware as David Cameron’s were that refusing a Section 30 order would provoke a backlash such as the British political establishment is no longer able to withstand. Theresa May will not attempt to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination for the simple reason that it’s a fight she cannot win. Because even if she succeeds, she loses. She will be defied. And being powerless to act crush the defiance, she will be humiliated.

British nationalists will make much of the argument that a referendum held under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament without the approval of the Westminster elite will have no legal validity. But the lack of legal standing is irrelevant. This is politics. It’s what people perceive that matters, not what lawyers say. And they will perceive an overbearing, anti-democratic British political elite being defied by “ordinary people”. A British political elite that is already seriously divided and generally held in various degrees of contempt by the public throughout the UK.

Forget any notions about No10 shooting down #indyref2. It’s not going to happen. And even if May was stupid enough to try to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination, it would only serve to further boost support for independence.

There will be another referendum. The only dispute is about the circumstances in which it is held. Independence is inevitable. It is only a question of how much needless harm the British establishment is prepared to inflict and endure in its final frantic efforts to preserve the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

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41 thoughts on “Defying the bully

  1. Dan Huil

    Aye, part of me hopes Westminster tries to deny us IndyRef2. But thery’re not that stupid… are they?

    1. Jimmy Mack

      Dan, take a close look at history, don’t need to go far back say 1946. that was when we inherited a Labour Government after a National Government. Great Ideas were promoted without any consideration as to the consequences or the bills that were before us. That has been the case with every Westminster Parliament since that time no mater what colour or smell. Today we are supposed to sit still and accept more of the same, no the time has come that the liars and thieves that have joined the gravy train are shunted into a siding and along with the bankers are set to the Bar L and other like establishments. Enough is enough the end is nigh, like the French we might need Madam Guillotine or even Guy Fox, but I will leave the decision to those resident south of Hadrian’s wall because those of us on the northern side are waving good bye.

  2. Scunnered Scot

    We already did the, ” freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” thing. Would you have us do it every couple of years until you get your way? I don’t think that’s what the UN Charter had in mind.

    1. Scot in Montenegro

      You need to admit that things have changed considerably. Be realistic. You cannot play the “oh but we already voted” card anymore. It’s redundant. The EU issue is too big to ignore. It will change the country beyond recognition and Scotland has clearly voiced an opinion that is at odds with the path the UK is now going down. If the next vote is also against Indy then yeah, even the hard core nationalist would have to accept defeat for at least a decade or so. Personally, I hate the fact that another vote is going to have to be held so soon, but it just has to. Scotland voted to remain inside a UK which was in the EU and maintained all the EU benefits. A big chunk of the no vote was to retain certain EU membership as becoming independent risked losing our EU rights. Those are now being taken away and the majority of scots didn’t want that, so a new decision must be made. No one can stop that from being asked. Europe is coming across as very warm to Scottish membership, that is evident in the great groundwork Sturgeon is doing on securing our place in the EU. The option in our next Indy ref will be maintain status quo by voting yes and risking uncharted territory by voting to remain inside a lose cannon UK.

    2. Danmarsi

      Scunnered Scot, some of the main drivers behind #indyref2 are previous No voters who feel the political situation is now vastly different due to #Smith, #nonewpowers & or course #brexit to name but three reasons.
      If you are looking for a more distilled reason then quite simply consider the actions of Westminster during the last week when they were losing (hastily bringing out the Purdah-breaking Vow) & their actions since Sept 19th towards Scotland (EVEL, self-registration for voters, relocation of council tenants & boundary changes amounting to gerrymandering to name but three)
      Can you show me one instance of being “Better Together” since the vote?

    3. Peter A Bell Post author

      British nationalists want to block the democratic process just because they got the result they wanted. I know for a fact that is not what the UN had in mind.

      1. Scunnered Scot

        It is the nationalists who aren’t happy with the democratic process, not the other way round.

        I saw something which sums it up. Two players each put in a 1 pound and change them for a 2 pound coin. Using a marker pen, they put a ‘Y’ on one side and an ‘N’ on the other. They toss, and the rules are that if it comes up ‘Y’, that side gets to keep the coin. If it comes up ‘N’, they toss again until it comes up ‘Y’.

        1. Me Bungo Pony

          That is gambling SS, not democracy.

          The vote in 2014 went against independence largely because three main demographic groups voted overwhelmingly NO.
          1. The >65s
          2. Non Scottish UK citizens
          3. EU nationals

          Things have changed since 2014. Almost every promise made by the Better Together Unionist campaign has been either forgotten or broken. The biggest being the EU issue. Had EU nationals voted overwhelmingly YES in 2014 (as they certainly would have if they knew Scotland would be dragged out the EU if it voted NO), there would have been a YES win. With such blatant dishonesty from the Unionist campaign exposed and the EU result, it is only logical that the option of independence for Scotland be looked at again with fresh eyes.

          The whole point of democracy is that the people get to choose. They even get to change their mind. Just because we voted one way once, the result is not set in stone for eternity. If that were the case, how come we just had an EU referendum after we had one back in the 70s? Why was that result overturned, despite being a VERY convincing win? For that matter, why do we keep having General Elections? Surely, by your logic, we only need to vote once and that Parliament should rule for eternity.

          Its called Democracy SS. If the people want a vote, they should get that vote. It would be undemocratic to deny them.

          1. Scunnered Scot

            You say the result is not set in stone but it would be had the YES vote won. A referendum is nothing like a General Election. Unlike General elections, we wouldn’t be having regular referendums. How could that possibly work? – a Union, not a Union, a Union ad infinitum. And even in the hypothetical case of a referendum to rejoin the Union, that wouldn’t be a decision the Scots could make. ‘Can we come back in please’? might not get a very sympathetic hearing.

          2. Me Bungo Pony

            I disagree Scunnered Scot. Had Scotland voted YES, and we had become independent, the option to renegotiate union with England would always be an option if there is enough desire on both sides for it to happen.

            That is what sovereignty is all about; you get to decide how much of it you want to retain and how much of it you want to cede to other bodies. At the moment, as Scotland’s sovereignty is wholly retained by Westminster, we are told what we can and can’t do and how much control others (including ourselves) have over our country. Independence would change that and return control of our sovereignty to Scotland.

            It is unlikely an independent Scotland would want to renegotiate a union with England as independence, once won, is not lightly given away. Support for the “old regime” among newly independent populations throughout Europe soon dissipates. And you are right, England might not want another union with Scotland. Certainly not soon after the split. Never-the-less, at least in theory, a renegotiated union would always be a possibility. There is a unionist party in the Republic of Ireland for instance, though it has a tiny support, and New Zealand can vote to unite with Australia at any time, though there appears to be little to no support for such an action.

            So many possibilities with independence, so few with contiued union.

          3. Me Bungo Pony

            Where do you get that from SS? Are you so bereft of pertinent responses that you are resorting to making stuff up?

          4. Scunnered Scot

            I got it from your post.

            ‘The vote in 2014 went against independence largely because three main demographic groups voted overwhelmingly NO.
            1. The >65s
            2. Non Scottish UK citizens
            3. EU nationals’

            I forgot to include the other pesky voters you mention in your list. Are they to be disenfranchised or deported?

          5. Scunnered Scot

            I haven’t got the hang of the way responses are posted on this page. They don’t always seem to appear under the post responded to as there isn’t always a ‘reply’ option under a post. It makes the chronology look out of sync.

          6. Me Bungo Pony

            The posts appear to be “lettered” under the last “reply” button. Hence your last post has an “f” next to it and this should have a “g”.

            As to your post, you have decided to take a mere statement of fact, used to give context, and maliciously imply sinister conclusions with no evidence to back them.

            Simple proof that the hugely dishonest “Project Fear” is still alive and well at the heart of unionism. Which is good for Indies as it will lose NO them IndyRef2 🙂

    4. cdf

      exactly , there was a vote and it went against them so they still whinge. Also in the eu ref 1.1 million scots voted to leave but they conveniently ignore that to suit their agenda. Its ironic the snp complaining about democratic rights when they force their mps to toe the party line in all votes .

      1. Me Bungo Pony

        There appears to be a curious take on democracy being shown by unionists that insists democracy means the people only get one shot at an issue. That, if circumstances and opinions change, then tough; “you had your referendum now sit down,shut up, eat your cereal and leave the grown ups to govern”. That is NOT democracy. In a true democracy, ANY question can be asked of/by the people at any time if there is a significant desire for it.

        I would hate to live in cdf and Scunnered Scot’s kind of petulant, limited democracy …. no …. wait …. I already do live in it …. damn! Yet another reason for IndyRef2.

          1. Me Bungo Pony

            We were “told” no such thing. On being asked, SNP politicians said they “believed” it would be a “once in a generation” thing. “Believed” being the key word. They did believe it would be. I believed it would be. Purely because I/they thought support would drop drastically if YES failed. However, they (and I) were wrong, support has increased since 2014 and circumstances have changed. Democracy is happening much as you may not like it.

            The “once in a generation” argument (for desperate want of another word) used by unionists is reminiscent of a petulant child who thought he had persuaded mum to let him stay home today but finds himself on the way to school anyway.

          2. Me Bungo Pony

            As I said, it was what they believed. Things changed … as they always do. It’s not the politics of the playground despite the “he said – she said” nature of unionists “once in a generation” argument.

            And anyway, why should the millions of Scots who want another referendum be denied because of what a few people believed a couple of years ago? If Scotland wants independence, infantile protestations about what Alex Salmond said once won’t thwart it.

          3. Scunnered Scot

            MBP, It wasn’t something Alex Salmond said once, it was said often, by senior people in the party.

            There is something ironic in your claim that pointing out what the SNP published in their white paper is ‘infantile’ – SNP supporters are masters of the art when it comes to whining about broken promises.

          4. Me Bungo Pony

            Scunnered Scot, get over it. It was not a “promise”, it was a sincerely held belief. It turned out the people of Scotland had other ideas. As I said, “Democracy happened”. The “once in a generation” whine is an infantile argument that a 12 year old would feel was a little childish. Things happen SS, things change. As I said, get over it.

          5. Scunnered Scot

            Get over it? Most of us did indeed get over it. As you rightly point out – democracy happened. Come back in 20 years.

          6. Me Bungo Pony

            Pro Indy supporters aren’t going away SS. We’re here, we’re here to stay and there’s more of us each and every day. When we are a majority, democracy will happen whether you like it or not.

      2. Scunnered Scot

        See what I mean about the chronology? It looks like cdf is agreeing with the post directly above it – .

        ‘I haven’t got the hang of the way responses are posted on this page. They don’t always seem to appear under the post responded to as there isn’t always a ‘reply’ option under a post. It makes the chronology look out of sync.’

          1. Me Bungo Pony

            It’s not rocket science SS. cdf simply failed to “reply” directly to your post and made a “new” point instead. The indenting and “lettering” of each post makes it clear who is replying to who. Even cdf’s post can be seen to be replying to you by simply scrolling up.

          2. Me Bungo Pony

            It could be your browser however. On the Labour Hame site, any post I make from an aging PC is automatically a “new” point. It is impossible to “reply”. No such problems on newer platforms such as this tablet.

  3. Scunnered Scot

    I can’t see that the status quo can be maintained for Scotland . It’s the whole UK which is leaving and as such I doubt that Scotland can separately negotiate remaining. There would be the most phenomenal mess to sort out – Schengen, trade, financial convergence criterion, currency, the possibility of other EU states using a veto, etc. I think it’s fairly certain that we’ll be leaving with the rest of the UK. Once that has happened it’ll take years for the dust to settle and in that period of uncertainty, there’ll be no clear advantage or disadvantage to leaving the UK. And the EU itself may change to the point where we wouldn’t want to join. Uncharted waters either way. It’ll be too hard a sell to hold a referendum any time in the next few years.

    1. hazelwoods

      Scunnered Scot, I don’t know where you are getting your information, but I’d check it again and other sources too. EU will NOT block an independent Scotland from remaining in EU. We would not be leaving and having to rejoin. The is a fact that senior EU officials all agree.

      Scotland is a very prosperous country which is why UK and EU both want to keep us. Forget about oil. We are wealthy enough without it, and the price of oil is rising again. It is a bonus. How depressing it is to have Westminster and the media keep telling us that we are too small, too poor and too stupid to run our own affairs. Of course we are not. It’s bad enough to hear them lying about it. It is even worse to hear Scottish people repeating those lies.

      I think there is more chance of David Cameron suddenly running back to Downing Street demanding to be reinstated as PM, than there is of Scotland being taken out of EU against the wishes of the Scottish people.

      The whole UK political landscape has changed since the 2014 vote. What was promised if we voted NO has not been delivered. Westminster is falling apart at the seams. It will pull the union apart if it carries on with its present trajectory.

      But there is one very easy answer to it all. Let England have its independence and let the rest of us get on with governing ourselves.

  4. Iain MacLaren

    Peter I agree with the conclusion you reach in the penultimate paragraph that No10 won’t block a 2nd independence referendum. Acknowledging that, however, begs the question of why there’s a delay in calling one now.
    Watching yesterday’s German TV interview with Nicola Sturgeon, it is very difficult to conclude that she has any appetite at all for an early referendum. I’d suggest 1) electoral uncertainty and 2) economic fundamentals as reasons for that pragmatic approach. It may well be some time before the circumstances to which you refer in your final paragraph are favourable to your case.

      1. Iain MacLaren

        Ha! (And, no, I’m not). The only bit I could discern from the interview was that it didn’t look to me like Nicola Sturgeon wanted an early second referendum (a subject on which hers is the key judgment). The rest is just me guessing possible reasons why not, and acknowledging Peter’s point about circumstances.

  5. smiling vulture

    Scottish Labour ,will stand with Tory party NO indyref2,in the meantime shouting

    Oil price
    Trade RUK larger than EU(brexit storm in tea cup)
    Barnett Formula (full fiscal autonomy a danger)
    Scottish Nationhood(dark,facist,cybernats,not patriotism like british)

  6. kininvie

    Peter: Three points, if I may…

    1) The UN charter, as you well know, contains several high-minded statements of principle, honoured more in the breach than the observance. Self-determination is one of these. The same charter also establishes ‘territorial integrity’ as a principle. Where the two are in conflict, it’s easy to guess which will be espoused by existing nation states.

    2) Holding a referendum without Section 30 consent would lay it wide open to a boycott by the Better Together parties, leaving us open to the Catalonian situation where an 80% yes vote on a 37-41% turnout changed nothing

    3) However, it may be of interest to consider the status of a plebiscite under the Act of Union – which united parliaments, but had nothing to say about uniting peoples

    1. Dan Huil

      No.1. Oh, well, if it keeps the so-called united kingdom “united” we might as well get rid of the UN.

      No. 2 “…changed nothing.” Not sure about that. Catalonia seems on the verge of UDI. If britnats want to boycott IndyRef2 then so be it.

      No.3 Wasn’t it Acts of Union?

  7. Dan Huil

    Britnats trying to re-write history by saying that Scots knew in 2014 that England would vote for brexit in 2016.

  8. baronesssamedi

    I can’t help worrying that a very threatening post-brexit landscape will increase the ‘fear’ factor rather than the ‘Westminster deceived us’ factor, and harden the ‘no’ vote among the lily-livered.

  9. Corrado Mella

    Dear BritNats,

    I see your “We already voted to stay in the UK in 2014” argument, and raise an “We voted to have 56 SNP MPs in 2015 and 63 SNP MSPs in 2016”.

    The SNP is also on its way to take over the vast majority of Scottish Councils in 2017.

    Let’s keep it that way forever and never vote for these again, shall we?

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