English Tory Interference 171


If it were true that Scottish voters need London’s legal permission to vote on their own future, that would in itself be a strong argument for independence.

As it is, Cameron’s despicable effort to try to use legal pretexts to interfere in the timing and question of Scotland’s independence referendum, is almost certain to backfire. Cameron both with unionist lickspittle Marr yesterday and with Adam Boulton today, kept saying the government will “clarify the legal position” on a referendum.

Cameron’s constitutional knowledge seems worryingly shakey. The government cannot clarify legal positions; that is the role of judges. The government can make legal claims, it can even publish its own legal advice (something it hates doing); but the law is decided by judges. English judges interfering in Scotland’s referendum would of course be no more popular than English Tories.

We will see later today, but I cannot see any possible legal argument that Cameron can use to back his desire to bring the referendum forward to 2012 or 2013 instread of 2014. Why one date can be legally more justified than another is beyond me. Politically, the SNP campaigned very clearly on the basis of a referendum “in the second half” of this Scottish parliament. Salmond is trying to do what he said he would do when he won the election – a rare and praiseworthy thing for a politician.

I also cannot see the legal argument why there should not be a three choice question. Personally I would prefer a two choice question, and my two choices would be more devolution or independence, on the grounds electoral support for “status quo” parties was insignificant. Cameron of course wants two choices, status quo or independence. But plainly Cameron is acting purely politically, to try to boost the chances in both question and timing of status quo winning. Again his claims to be acting on “legal” grounds appear simple tripe.

Has he consulted Scotland’s Lord Advocate? Is this like the infamous decision of Lord Goldsmith to change his mind and argue that the war in Iraq was legal? Goldsmith flew to Washington to consult George Bush’s law officers, but did not ask the view of Scotland’s law officers.

I strongly suspect Cameron’s “legal” pretext is concocted by English lawyers – lineal descendants in office of those who tried Wallace for treason to a man who was never his King.

Most shameful of all is the position of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and their continued slide into unreconstructed unionism. I have explained before how the Liberal party’s very political identity was forged in opposition to unionism, how Gladstone fought a massive battle for Irish Home Rule, how Rosebery helped invent modern Scottish nationalism and Lloyd George fought huge battles for at least partial Irish freedom. Being the antithesis of the “Conservative and Unionist Party” is a vital part of the raison d’etre of liberalism as an independent political force in this country, and why for years organised liberalism survived largely in the Celtic fringes.

The political institutions descended from the old Liberal Party have now been taken over by political careerists with no ideological connection to, or interest in, the beliefs of their predecessors. Their only interest is personal power and income.

When I announced I was leaving the Lib Dems for the SNP, a very senior Lib Dem and friend of long standing tried to persuade me otherwise. I explained the party’s enthusiastic unionism as something completely antithetical to its traditions, something which this individual did indeed understand. He said the party remained strongly federalist. I asked whether that meant it would campaign stongly for the “Devolution max” option in a referendum. He replied that certainly, it would.

Yet we now see the Lib Dems are party to a coalition attempt to use legal pretexts to keep the devolution max option off the ballot paper, let alone campaign for it. The Lib Dems have become, as a party, lying, deceitful, untrustworthy bastards completely alienated from their ideological heritage. The good people remaining captive within the institution should leave now.


171 thoughts on “English Tory Interference

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  • TFS

    What are the financial implication of Scotland going it alone?

    Has Scotland the income without the UK help?

    regards

    TFS
    Im all for self determination

  • Tom Welsh

    “If it were true that Scottish voters need London’s legal permission to vote on their own future, that would in itself be a strong argument for independence”.

    It is immediately obvious that your political ideas differ dramatically from those of Abraham Lincoln on a similar subject. As he said in his first inaugural address,

    “I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

    “Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?”

    The resulting war caused over 1 million casualties, including at least two-thirds of a million deaths.

    In what pertinent respects is the British constitution different from that of the USA?

  • Ian

    On you, Craig. As a boy I was always a romantic Scot Nat and wore my little lapel badge at school. Then, more realistically, I become Liberal and first voted that way. With the coming of Thatcher I emigrated and have never regretted it. Now, as a foreigner I am totally ashamed to be classed as a Brit with their wars of aggression and bootlicking the US/zionist agenda.

    I desperately hope that this political ploy unravels to the glory of Scotland. Independence and freedom !! Then I can once again be proud to say (as I did in France years ago when asked if I was anglais): no, I am Scottish.

  • craig Post author

    Tom.

    The UK constitution is different to the US one in a host of different ways – not least not having a base document. Lincoln’s doctrine that minorities can never seccede is a tyrannical one, and rests on a number of strange assumptions – including that the people – rather than their corrupt rulers – entered freely into a union in the first place.

    TFS Scotland only has less than 6 million people, significant reserves of oil and gas, world class renewables potential and a storming higher education sector. It will be fine.

  • Roger

    If the Scots- or, rather, people living in Scotland on the relevant date- have a right to vote on secession, presumably the inhabitants of England should have a right to vote on whether to expel Scotland.

  • John Goss

    “Has he consulted Scotland’s Lord Advocate? Is this like the infamous decision of Lord Goldsmith to change his mind and argue that the war in Iraq was legal? Goldsmith flew to Washington to consult George Bush’s law officers, but did not ask the view of Scotland’s law officers.”
    .
    It’s not just Lord Peter Goldsmith. Attorney Generals are a law to themselves in this day and age. Baronness Patricia Scotland twice stopped a serious fraud investigation into BA. And Dominic Grieve has refused an inquest into the death of David kelly, overriding due process. Babar Ahmad, a British citizen, has been in Long Larton prison for more than seven years without being brought before the court on any charge. Habeas corpus is a thing of the past since Blair’s War on Terror, and how long will it be now before our slavish government slavishly follows the US in legalising perpetual imprisonment without charge and state murder through the intelligence services? I only hope that if Scotland gets independence the Lord Advocate does not behave like our Attorney Generals by taking the law into his own hands at the instruction of government.

  • Passerby

    The sad history of betrayal of all things Scottish, is a recurring theme. Liberal Democrats indeed sold their souls the day Charles Peter Kennedy was ganged upon and slain for the sake of the current arrangements.
    ,
    Given that Iceland has done a far better job navigating the events of the recent past, we can safely assume Scottish can do a far better job on their own. I am not Scottish but once knew a fine wee bonnie lass called Alison who was a fiery little Scot, and her zeal for independence and self determination was the basis of my understanding of the Scottish nationalism. How I miss Alison? I would have married her if it was not for her fiery temper.

  • Rob Royston

    The people of Scotland overwhelmingly want change. Some want outright Independence, some would prefer FFA while remaining a devolved part of the union. Only a very small percentage are happy with the status quo.

    The SNP made a pledge to the people that they would let them have a referendum that would give them what the majority decided and set a timeline for that referendum. The people give the SNP the mandate to hold this referendum.

    The unionist parties know that they are going to lose whichever way this Scottish referendum goes. Their only hope is to have a Yes/No vote and hope that the FFA supporters don’t have the bottle to go the whole way to Independence. I think they are making a very big misjudgement. Being deprived of their democratic choice, that’s if Cameron’s goons get away with it, will most likely steer them into the Independence camp.

  • john macadam

    On the one hand Cameron and the Brits assure us that the Scots don’t want independence. On the other hand they do all they can to prevent a vote to answer that question. the only logical conclusion is that the side trying to avoid the vote already knows they will lose it. So it’s not just the Liberals who are lying, Craig

  • Tris

    I agree with your post.

    Willie Rennie is not just Clegg’s man, he is almost physically a part of Clegg. Heaven only knows what they have promised him. A knighthood; a seat in the new upper house?

    He probably won’t get it anyway, given their record on promise keeping.

    Cameron has form on not including the most popular option on a referendum. Can’t be giving the peasantry the opportunity to vote for something Cameron doesn’t want, can we?

    While he’s so fired up about referenda ending uncertainty, will he give the British people, at the same time, perhaps, a say on their future in the EU?

    Thought not.

  • Ian

    My link to this site is still displayed in the DT’s comments on Cameron’s comments after about an hour. Seems much better than the Guardian in this respect (or less efficient – or maybe the subject is less tendentious than [gulp] Israel).

  • Eddie-G

    I genuinely hope Salmond can see through his pledge to hold a referendum – and I hope it turns out to be simple a yes or no vote on independence, because that seems to me to be the best way to generate the deserved level of interest, and get the various parties to show their hands.
    .
    I think the one substantive question that should be resolved is what proportion of Scots need to vote for independence for such a referendum outcome to be binding. I remember several spirited discussions in constitutional law classes, and I still probably lean towards at least 25% in favour… but only the event it is a straight yes or no vote. If it turns out to be multiple choice, then we simply see which alternative comes out on top. And it goes without saying that the Scottish parliament should decide on the text of the referendum.

  • Richard Gadsden

    I wonder if Cameron actually wants Scotland to become independent.

    I’m sure he will have some kind of plan to dump a large chunk of the the UK’s debt onto Scotland, and he probably thinks that if he can get rid of Scotland, then he can secure Conservative election victories in England for a generation without having to move an inch to the left.

    Certainly, he seems to be trying to drive the Scots out of the Union.

  • Ian

    Let’s hope he also removes/shuts down the numerous military bases in Scotland. That should save a fair bit.

  • Guest

    It doesn`t really matter!, if the scottish people go for independence they will just be swapping one set of very nasty people for an identical set of very nasty people to rule over them. When will people start to realise its the political ideology that needs changing not illusionary gimmicks. The irish got their independence long ago, look at the state their in now!!!.

  • Tom Welsh

    But Craig – what happens when Skye, or Bute, or the Lesser Cumbrae, decides to secede from Scotland?

  • craig Post author

    Tom,

    if Skye, for example, seriously wished to be independent, I can see no objection. But it doesn’t.

  • Guest

    “I’m sure he will have some kind of plan to dump a large chunk of the the UK’s debt onto Scotland, and he probably thinks that if he can get rid of Scotland, then he can secure Conservative election victories in England for a generation without having to move an inch to the left.”
    .
    Why would Cameron think such a thing ?. We already have a guaranteed Conservative government in electing any of the three main parties, plus a guaranteed Conservative government in the form of the SNP. You must wake up, the far right make sure that they can`t lose, ever!.

  • MJ

    “I’m sure he will have some kind of plan to dump a large chunk of the the UK’s debt onto Scotland”
    .
    I would certainly hope so, particularly that part pertaining to the bailout of RBS.

  • Rob Royston

    @ Richard Gadsden, When this imaginary UK debt is dumped on Scotland, I hope we will all get to see where all the money ended up. I can’t see Scotland or anyone else taking on a private bank’s problems. When they’re bankrupt they should go to the wall.
    The Dunfermline Building Society was forced into a takeover, by Gordon Brown, because they had loaned £3m to an English builder just before the crash. Of course, they had no links with the City Banksters, if they had they would have been saved and Gordon would probably be on the board.

  • Mark Renton

    Is Charlie Kennedy still in Parliament? I wonder what he thinks of the state of his party these days.

  • Roger

    “On the one hand Cameron and the Brits assure us that the Scots don’t want independence. On the other hand they do all they can to prevent a vote to answer that question. the only logical conclusion is that the side trying to avoid the vote already knows they will lose it.”

    Actually, John Macadam, Cameron is insisting on having the vote as soon as possible: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jan/09/scotland-referendum-david-cameron-salmond
    He says the vote should take place before the end of next year, effectively by the middle of it.
    There are further complexities in negotiating the break-up. An obvious one is that Northern Ireland is geographically, culturally and ethnically closer to Scotland than England and so, logically speaking, ought to go with it.

  • john macadam

    Roger – Cameron knows that support for Independence is gradually increasing. The later the vote is held, the higher the prospects for success. He seeks to hold it early to fix the result. As regards Northern Ireland, perhaps the residents there should decide their future. The debate in Scotland may be cultural but is most assuredly is not ethnic. By the way, England is geographically closer to Scotland than Northern Ireland as whenever I’ve travelled there I have never had to use a ferry.

  • craig Post author

    Roger

    “Northern Ireland is geographically, culturally and ethnically closer to Scotland than England and so, logically speaking, ought to go with it.”

    Even more true if you delete Scotland and insert Ireland.

  • Roger

    “Even more true if you delete Scotland and insert Ireland.”
    Not according to many of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland.

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