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By Jason Michael

SOON IS A RELATIVE TERM when we discuss the fortunes of nations. No doubt the Irish republican rebels of 1798, even after their defeat and as they stood on the scaffold, said to themselves: Soon Ireland will be free. What we can endure, what we can achieve in our lifetimes is limited by our allotted three-score and ten years. Our lives are short. Soon to us is forced by our mortality to be immediate. But this urgency is lacking when we talk of the nation. We can say that soon Scotland will be free, and this is true – soon Scotland will be free, but it remains just as true that we may never live to see it. I believe, and in fact think it a certainty, that Scotland is moving unstoppably towards independence, but whether or not that will happen soon – relative to me – comes down to our actions in the here and now. What we do or fail to do can hasten or delay that inevitability.

On Hogmanay a friend, an independentista podcaster, got in touch to plan a road trip around a number of Yes groups. He told me that a mutual friend, a fellow blogger, was in the doldrums. As you will well know, bouts of depression – as in the low ebbing of optimism – are par for the course in political activism. Our friend is “losing faith.” He’s finding it hard to believe Nicola Sturgeon will call an independence referendum. It wouldn’t comfort him to say that we will have independence, but that that might take a while. It has taken long enough.

We’re all feeling that pressure right now. I trust Nicola Sturgeon, but I’m old enough to realise she’s not a god. She’s not Scotland’s saviour. She may well prove to be an instrument of our salvation, but in real life – in national politics – there are no saviours. At some point, as a movement, we will have to grow up and stop looking for messiahs. We ourselves – Sinn fhèin – are the only ones who can save us, and in realising this we must renew the struggle for independence on our own terms; prepared to drink from our own wells – depend on our own reserves and resources – rather than lazily looking for a champion to come and save us. We are our own champions.

Brexit poses an existential threat to Scotland; not only to devolution – which is not and cannot be permanent, but to the present campaign for independence. London’s self-destructive determination to leave the European Union at any cost can easily lead to the end of devolution and a total state clampdown on independence, and we would do well to think on this seriously as a movement. Neither we nor our movement is invincible. The dream can end, at least for the foreseeable future. This is why Brexit – if we are to see independence in our lifetimes – has shifted the timescale of another referendum, it has made it urgent.

We are told and we have been led to believe that the devolution we have at Holyrood is or can be made permanent, but in legal reality this is a fiction. Westminster is the only sovereign parliament of the British state, meaning that the sovereignty the national parliaments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland enjoy are but a measure of Crown sovereignty devolved by Westminster. In British law the Edinburgh parliament is merely exercising the power of Westminster by the grace of Westminster because its power is derived from that sovereign parliament. We may think that sovereignty in Scotland is derived from the people of Scotland, but this is not how our democracy works in reality. Our parliament is a limited Westminster in Scotland, and it operates according to the understanding of Westminster sovereignty and not Scotland’s.

“An Act of the UK Parliament might say that the Scottish Parliament is permanent,” writes Professor Mark Elliot, deputy chair of Law at the University of Cambridge, “but that will not necessarily make it so. This follows because, at least on an orthodox analysis, the UK Parliament is incapable of legally diminishing its sovereign authority.” This is true. Principally because the British parliament is sovereign, it cannot bind future UK parliaments to an imposed limitation of its sovereignty. Either a state parliament is wholly sovereign; able to enact any legislation and at any time, or it is not sovereign at all. In sum, Westminster can and will end Scottish devolution the moment our parliament poses a significant enough challenge to its own sovereignty.

Brexit fundamentally changes the playing field of 2014. Independence then would have inflicted serious damage on England, but membership of the EU and the benefit of European law would have secured our independence and provided for the economic basis both of Scotland’s survival and that of the rUK. Out of the EU, suffering the catastrophic cost of a no-deal Brexit, the English state simply cannot afford to function without Scotland’s resources. In such a context, then, Westminster will not and cannot allow Scottish independence. Any parliament in Scotland – like the Irish parliament of 1919 – that pushes for independence will be closed. And without a parliament in Scotland the movement for independence loses its democratic leadership and its natural focal point. Uncentred and unrepresented, the Scottish independence movement will be forced into the Irish dilemma – fight or die, and physical force against the British state is not an option.

Time is fast running out. On 29 March, eighty-five days from today, these conditions will be realised when the United Kingdom leaves the EU – and most likely without a deal. If we are to guarantee independence in our lifetimes, then the time to act is now. Nothing, of course, is impossible, but the likelihood of yet another opportunity like this presenting itself within the next fifty years is slim to none. We have a threefold mandate under the present conditions to call another independence referendum, and time on this is even running out.

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, promised us that when the final details of Brexit were known she would revisit the question of a referendum. We know the final details of Brexit. More than this, we know the nature of the state that took us to the very brink of utter madness. Whether or not Brexit is an apocalypse, we now know we have a government in London that is eager and willing to take us right into the jowls of annihilation if doing that gets it what it wants. There isn’t going to be a reversal of Article 50. There won’t be another Brexit referendum or a “people’s vote.” There will be Brexit, and that will be the most chaotic and dangerous Brexit on offer. There is only one way out of this for Scotland. There is only one way to ensure the permanence of our parliament and democracy. It is time for us to do that. It is time for another independence referendum.

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Brexit is Scotland’s Chance for Independence


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13 thoughts on “Scotland, It is Time

  1. Jason
    Thank you…there is no more status quo and YES needs this degree of urgency.

    However, what is even more terrifying is the chance that this train crash brexit is not by misadventure but deliberate and intentional policy. If they were that fundamentally incompetent the government would have fallen long ago…instead May has managed to push the can down the road further than anyone (even the EU) expected.

    Westminster actually has done a lot of No Deal planning….its just not about ports or food…its been about military/police control and rolling back devolution…actually Henry VIII powers are even more insane (This is the executive removing powers from parliament). When they said taking back control…they meant it…but only for them- not for you.

    If Westminster does want a disaster exit,,,they don’t want the people to have any advanced warning.

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  2. The wealth of Scotland has already diminished with Brexit and will continue to decline into the disyopia . WTF the SNP chasing aroon trying to save the English Brexit fur FFS . Have I died and reborn in a paralell f### universe or something .

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  3. Perfectly said. Scotland could gain the chance to get out now, and that would really be a great opportunity, otherwise the future, due to Brexit, will bring nothing but uncertainty. And this is clearly a last chance for Scotland. Leave the union now … or Scotland will forever remain in subjugation to Westminster and it’s Brexit Madness. Speak now, people of Scotland, or forever hold you peace.

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  4. I am in total agreement with this.
    Another referendum on Scottish independence should be called now.
    To delay put’s the issue on the back burner for the foreseeable future, if not forever

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  5. I do so agree that NOW IS THE TIME!
    I’m not so sure on the referendum timing issue. I really believe that many many people will be happy for our elected representives to take the responsibility of declaring the dissolution of the union, that we will govern ourselves, as European Citizens, and that we will confirm our chosen national aims and structure via referendum at a later time.
    I’ve only got three score years under my belt, and I’ve still got the will to dream… If NS and the SNP political gaming machine manage to pull us through this horror to the future we deserve, then she really will be a saviour!

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  6. I have no doubt Nicola will call for a 2nd indyref when brexit is decided…but the thing that worries me is if the UK crashes out with no deal Theresa May will use emergency powers to shut down Holyrood…What do we do then? Take to the streets? Or press on with a referendum that will probably end up like Catalonia’s with troops on our streets?

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  7. Agree entirely. We need a date for Indy Ref 2 and a plan for refusal of section 30 order. Our time is now. People have been patient waiting on Brexit playing out but that patience will expire next week if the deal is voted down and no announcements made in Scotland. Independence must be won on its own merits.

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  8. I am hoping that now is the time but worried that we MAY not be successful and on the dance goes.
    I don’t have all the knowledge and understanding of some but I wish we could remain in Europe and leave this so called union. Fed up with Scotland being treated as a battering ram and an inconvenience.
    We are not a state but a country!

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