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.
There are no legal routes to independence. We cannot challenge the British government over its refusal to grant a Section 30 because there is no mechanism in law with which to do this, and there is no constitutional requirement of the British government to do it either. This was always a fiction. Scotland does not have the same relationship of consent with the London government the people of the north of Ireland have in the Good Friday Agreement. Britain does not legally require the consent of the Scottish people to government Scotland.
Independence justified is an entire package of political, social, and economic assertions which we must make and have been making not only to the unconverted, but also to the converted. We must make the effort to instil in each member of the movement that England’s politics are foreign politics, that they are inimical to our interests. Austerity imposed on Scotland – and on England – by Westminster not only breaks down the individual. It attacks the fabric of the family and the community, all of the necessary supports the individual requires to thrive and to be a productive member of society.
All of a sudden, the campaign of malicious reporting of pro-independence accounts looks less innocent. Britain’s internet and social media experts in the clandestine services – which clearly have something to gain from the disruption of the online independence movement – have friends in the Herald, and the Herald is up to its neck in the business of calling attention to pro-independence activists – and Twitter is not beyond being influenced by the suits in Whitehall. Whether Twitter has an understanding with London or not, accounts are being locked and deleted.
There is a nagging suspicion in my mind that the impetus to abandon our grievances came from these nefarious sources. I can’t prove it – no one can, but I am suspicious. Scotland has some pretty fantastic grievances, some pretty emotive and powerful grievances. It just strikes me that not to deploy them in an independence debate – that had absolutely everything to do with history – was such a monstrous tactical blunder that it couldn’t have originated with a real independence supporter.
It really shouldn’t have to be explained to people that there is more going on in Scotland than independence. There are other economic, social, and political issues which require our attention. All of these live issues and questions are being addressed by a centrist party in government. The leadership and party apparatchiks of the SNP are setting the agenda on these issues and moving the country in a particular direction, and this is happening because – for the sake of independence – the overwhelming majority of the independence movement has put politics on ice.
Now, I am not suggesting that Plan A is not a good idea. As I have said, like Chris McEleny and other so-called rebels, I quite like the idea. But to make it the only way is outrageously short-sighted and dangerously innocent of the behaviour of the British state towards Ireland and India in the past. It is not my suggestion that we should have Plan B rather than Plan A. My suggestion is that we must have both. One plan is not necessarily better than another in a situation where the point is to achieve a goal. In this case, the end justifies the means.
The ruling of the Supreme Court offers Scotland and Scotland’s elected representatives – the only representatives of the sovereignty of the Scottish people – a whole new set of opportunities. British government attempts to stifle the Scottish government can now be challenged in the Supreme Court and retarded by the precedent this sets. In principle, it removes from the British government the assumed right to grant or withhold permission for constitutional referenda in Scotland, voted for by the Scottish parliament and Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.