By Jason Michael

ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT from Nicola Sturgeon this morning. Like so many others in the independence movement, I dragged myself to a screen to watch and listen in cautious anticipation of the news we have all been waiting for; a date for the next independence referendum. On getting out of bed, I tweeted that this was either going to be the best Friday or the worst Friday. Hearing that we would be again going to the polls to decide on the constitutional future of Scotland would knock the fact that we are being torn from the European Union tonight right out the park. Another fudge, another call for gentle persuasion and patience would leave us with nothing but an ugly Britain’s lager-soaked hangover and a taxi charge for soiling the backseat in the morning. Everything hinged on what Ms Sturgeon had to say, and it wasn’t great.

Less than fifteen minutes in I was too dejected to listen any more. The social media feed was telling me I wasn’t alone. Another over-hyped empty announcement from ‘the only person who can win our independence,’ another dead-end from ‘the only show in town,’ and another painful frustration from ‘the only party that can do it.’ Of course, I bought none of this. Reason and the experience of the past six years warned me to expect nothing, but hope – that twisted trick the psyche plays on us – had me thinking there was a chance; slim and unlikely, but a chance. Going to bed the night before, I confessed to myself that I was cautiously optimistic. That was a mistake.

It’s not the case I think Nicola Sturgeon isn’t working for independence. She is. But, as I see it, her strategy – her secret and ad hoc ‘plan’ – from what we can make of it, is misguided – even to the point of being doomed to failure. She opened well and had me moving closer and closer to the screen as she described the future we want and need:

A future where we continue to be an open, welcoming place to live study and work, and a valued member of the European family of nations. Make no mistake, after tonight, that future is only open to us with independence.

After tonight it’s Brexit. The United Kingdom is leaving the EU, and the British government – having ignored and insulted the Scottish government – was dragging us out against our will. After tonight the future we want and need will be closed to us, and if we think that after Brexit Britain will not readjust the constitution to further limit our ability to secure a referendum on independence, then we are sorely mistaken. From the start, Brexit was both an opportunity and a trap. The chaos it created at Westminster and across English society lavished on us one chance after another to exploit the situation to our benefit. To coin a phrase used by the Irish ‘Emancipator’ Daniel O’Connell, England’s difficulty was Scotland’s opportunity. Brexit complete, British power restored and consolidated in a new Tory majority, and the trap had sprung.

Rather than exploit the golden opportunities Brexit gave us, Nicola Sturgeon allied herself wholeheartedly to unionist anti-Brexit parties and campaigns in England in a foolish and vain attempt to save Scotland by saving England from itself. It was a disaster. Precious time and resources were squandered, and now we find ourselves here – powerless and rudderless only hours before Big Ben rings out England’s ‘Independence Day.’ In her speech this morning, Sturgeon again told us of our ‘cast iron mandate.’ Using the singular, of course, when the reality is honestly quite shameful; we have given her and her party four cast-iron mandates. We have reached that point where nothing more can be done, and where we have no one to blame but ourselves. In spite of the rhetoric – read: delaying tactic – of finding out the final details of Brexit, we have arrived at the line – and we still don’t know the final details. But by the time you are reading this Brexit will be part of our new reality, our new uncertainty. We have clawed defeat from the mouth of victory.

My apologies if this all reads too negative or defeatist, but these are not my words. I had no hand in this. I am only the messenger – one of a number of voices who have been crying from the wilderness and who have been ignored and mocked. Here I stand, I can do no other. What I am saying may not comfort you, my words may not come with a reassuring and selfie-friendly yellow lanyard. All I can offer you, dear reader, is my honest assessment of our present predicament as I see it.

Ms Sturgeon said she would do everything in her power to deliver an independence referendum ‘this year,’ but she says this after ceding to Westminster the right to grant or withhold a Section 30 order, and after the British Prime Minister has already said ‘No.’ From this she argues that we can try to force this issue in law, after it has already been spelt out to her that the law does not require the British government to grant a Section 30. She suggests that Britain cannot deny democracy to Scotland forever, that with enough pressure – possibly with the support of a Yes result in a ‘consultative referendum’ – the London government will be forced to give us what we ask. But asking nicely just won’t cut it. Britain has spent the past twenty years up to its neck in violent ‘regime change’ abroad, denying democracy to tens of millions of people. She seems to forget that when she was still in nappies the British government was massacring its own citizens in Ireland to deprive them of their democracy. The idea of Scotland forcing Britain to dole out democracy like sweeties is historical and political illiteracy writ large, and smacks of absolute insanity.

International law is a fine and beautiful thing – if you happen to be a wealthy, majority white superpower with a nuclear arsenal. Not so much if you’re a colony. We have as much chance of the international policeman blowing his whistle and running to our aid as the Catalans had on 1 October 2017. There is no international policeman. Not for us. And yes, I’ve read Craig Murray’s argument on this score. He argues it well, and he is dedicated to the cause, but he of all people should know Britain’s utter contempt for international law and human rights. He worked for them.

If it helps any, perhaps I should say that I still believe independence is inevitable – even on our current trajectory. The problem is that our present course, as set today, and as we enter into the darkness and uncertainty of Brexit, is through the scenic route. This will not deliver a referendum this year or next. ‘We must focus on building and winning the political case for independence,’ said Ms Sturgeon. ‘That, after all, is necessary to win a referendum.’ Skirting the allusion here to more ‘gentle persuasion’ – a tactic which sounds more like a brand of lubricant than an independence winning strategy, she is wrong. Completely wrong. Referenda are not won by building and winning political cases before the campaign – a war for hearts and minds. Referenda are won and lost in the campaign. Thus it is and thus it always has been. Polls will not move significantly until we are fighting a political campaign. Her further suggestion that this war for hearts and minds will also ‘secure’ a referendum is equally nonsensical. As we have said, it would be entirely out of character for the British state to hand over democracy to a resource rich country because a majority in that country wanted it. This is nothing but rainbows and unicorns stuff, this.

Where I completely agreed with Ms Sturgeon was when she recognised that ‘the SNP is only one voice.’ Neither she nor her party speak for the whole of the independence movement. True, we are on the road to independence, and true, she has her supporters and followers. But the trajectory we’re on – the scenic route – is a long one, and we’re talking at least a decade. Getting a referendum this year or next demands a shock. Something has to give. The First Law of Physics:

A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force.

Our object here is the independence cause – which is either paralysed by inertia or moving on a long, slow trajectory. Making this object move faster and in a more direct path requires the swift application of an external force. Friends, we are that force. It is up to us to set a collision course with the object of independence and knock it forward in the direction we want it to go. Our inaction, our passivity in allowing the SNP to dominate the dynamics of our politics, has put us in the position we are in, and only we have the power to set this right. We can work with the SNP or we can work against the SNP. If the leadership of this one voice in the movement refuses to work with us, then we can and should take matters into our own hands. It may take time to establish more political parties, and it may take more time to grow them to the size needed, but even this investment of time and energy will force the SNP to rethink and, if it doesn’t, still get to the goal of independence before the SNP will on its present course and velocity. As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree is yesterday. The second best time to plant it is today.


Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks

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10 thoughts on “Another Disappointment

  1. The wider YES movement through its many channels, and AUOB are poised. Do you not think this scenario she enacted on Friday was predicted.

    So what forms any of the civil unrest forms you have read about ,seen watched on news programmes which other colonies have used.
    To the extent that Boris threatens military action.

    There is another scenario working behind the scenes I am reliable informed. Scot Government cannot fund the budget if WM government don’t give the funds by March.
    So they have told Carlaw and co they will resign and call a Holyrood election in May or September.
    All organisers in SNP CAs have already primed activists to be canvassing ready.
    The Tories are scared as they know they will lose every 1st past post seat.

    They will also lose list seats also when YES and other pro Indy groups put up candidates.

    We are not done yet by a long shot, we can play dirty and scheming too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jason
    …”It’s not the case I think Nicola Sturgeon isn’t working for independence. She is. But, as I see it, her strategy”….

    STOP INFERRING MOTIVE – It stops the analysis and creates an “invisible gorilla problem” when projecting ‘nice” or “polite” motives can stop you seeing what is really occurring. Focus on the facts a see where the chips land.

    3 years of Brexit was chock full of commentators spouting “(insert politician) means well”…or …”for the best of intentions”… Only for us all to find out they didn’t mean us well or they actions were brutal and self-serving.

    You are one of the sharpest thinkers I know of in the YES movement – always cutting though our unconscious biases (usually revealing how we have adopted the gas lighting). That is your strength – you also know full well what the State or even self-interest is capable of so never exclude it because its uncomfortable.


    1. I know it seems like a small thing, However, you almost never do it and, to me, it so stands out when you do. It feels like you pulled your punches and your usual absolute cutting clarity isn’t there.

      I know this is a hard time for YES and everyone will be finding away to progress so these waters will be choppy for a while longer (choppy waters always a sign things have dangerously stagnated as the movement can no longer cut its own bow wave).

      P.S. I hope you also get more time to go back and write about your tour and the Scotland you so often hinted at in those posts


  3. Sturgeon has proven one thing. She is very stubborn!

    A leader should not be stubborn. They must listen to their close comrades and the wider movement. This will inspire both the leader and the followers. Nicola is verging on dictatorship in terms of strategy. If the strategy was working then we would have had the referendum before we lost our European citizenship. Nicola did say that the referendum must be before we leave. Too late for that now!

    You can be stubborn when your tactics have proven successful. But right now we are no closer to indy ref 2 than we were 3 years ago. So the tactics are a failure.

    The question is? Will she open her ears and listen.


  4. The SNP became by its actions over the past few years The North British Anti-Brexit Party. Even last week Alyn Smyth said that we must stop Brexit to save the UK. (Not a quote but the gist of what he said).

    The English Parliament of the UK has legislated that it is Sovereign. It does not say that it’s sovereign over the whole UK, including Scotland, but that seems to be what is intended. By now claiming that the permission of that Parliament or the English Government of the UK is the best way for Scotland to have a legal referendum, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP mandarins, are acceding to that claim. They are according the Westminster Parliament Sovereignty over the People of Scotland. In spite of citing The Claim of Right, by it’s practise of according Sovereignty to Westminster, it is denying the Sovereignty of the People of Scotland in Scotland. I think they should change the Name from The Scottish National Party to, not the North British Anti-Brexit Party because it’s too late to do that, but to The North British Westminster Sovereignty Party.

    I find myself wondering if the Scottish Government’s seeking a S30O it itself illegal. Under International Law the Westminster Government has no authority in the matter of Scottish independence. Even the Government of the UK says so.

    “5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of
    the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect
    of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor
    States law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

    5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration
    of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are
    fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of
    the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be
    predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
    which the secession is occurring.

    5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim
    independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international
    law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional
    authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative
    institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond
    the scope of already conferred power.” (Viz. REQUEST FOR AN ADVISORY OPINION OF THE
    “WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM” https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/141/15638.pdf)

    So, are Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP mandarins actually breaking International Law and acting illegally by seeking their permission to hold a referendum?

    There may be good reasons not to have a referendum, but waiting for Westminster’s permission to have a referendum is not one of them.


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