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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.
Nicola Sturgeon has stated that if the UK Gov blocks a section 30 order for an Independence referendum we might hav… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
THE BLACK SALTIRE#FBSI (@80_mcswan) November 22, 2018
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.
Saying the Scottish parliament is "permanent" or that it can be made so are legal fictions. Westminster cannot cons… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) January 02, 2019
“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.
There is a simple truth. To stop Brexit in Scotland and across the rUK, Nicola only needs to announce her intentio… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Norma 🏴 Learmonth (@Norrie30) January 03, 2019
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.
Brexit is Scotland’s Chance for Independence