May’s Threat to Devolution is a ‘Cause de Guerre’


By Jason Michael

Scottish devolution has been put under threat by Theresa May’s refusal to compromise with the Edinburgh government over Brexit. May is willing to risk absolutely everything – even a return to violence in Ireland – to have what she wants.

Addressing a half empty Unionist and Tory conference in Glasgow the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, issued a thinly veiled threat to the future of Scottish devolution. “In those reserved policy areas where we govern directly for the whole United Kingdom,” she stated, “we will explicitly look to the interests of the Union… And in policy areas where responsibilities are devolved, we will look for ways to collaborate and work together with the devolved administrations.” Craig Murray’s analysis of this speech is correct; May, after spelling out that the SNP had failed in Scottish government, has declared war on the very notion of devolution. Her references to collaboration and working together – understood through the lens of her intention to “look to the interests of the Union” – can only be understood as her intention to interfere in the limited democratic power her government allows the Scottish people to have in our Edinburgh parliament.

It has become clear that a return to direct rule is her preferred mode of governing those who will not easily bow the knee to her isolationist Brexit agenda. Her dictatorial refusal to consider the will of the people of Norther Ireland has resulted in a crisis in the Province that has now resulted in the end of the Good Friday Agreement and an election, in which if the DUP fails to regain a majority, that will more than likely result in the collapse of the Power Sharing Executive and the reintroduction of direct rule. Both of these scenarios bring the shadow of the violence of the Troubles back over Ireland. It is now obvious that, willing as she is to risk this, May will not hesitate to do the same in Scotland in order to have her way.

The end of devolution in our country and the dissolution of the Scottish parliament constitute a classical Cause de Guerre – the legal and moral justification for war. Under no circumstances whatsoever can we allow the British government to abolish what little autonomy we have won and return us to the tyranny of absolutist London rule. No one wants to see political violence in Scotland, especially that of the sheer barbarism of British military violence over the whole of the island of Ireland, and so our “collective responsibility” must be to ensure that this never happens. But this is not to say that we should not be prepared to fight to protect ourselves. The defence of Scotland can be achieved without recourse to armed struggle, and – so long as that is possible – we must do everything in our power to fight Westminster effectively without resorting to bloodshed.

If May continues down this idiotic path then we in Scotland have to think long and hard about strategies of mass social and civil disobedience and tactics of resistence that will make it impossible for Scotland to be controlled or governed by the British administration. Recent events in England and the United States have shown us how fragile democracy can be to guard against creeping fascism. Very soon it is likely that we will be presented with two choices; to treat the “democratic will of the whole of the UK” as some kind of sacred cow and so permit what it irrational and cruel to have power over us, or to stand up and let London know that Scotland will not be bullied.

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