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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  • Rob Royston

    Poor Dave Cameron. Everywhere he turns he is up to his oxters in New Labours mess. In 2007 when the SNP took over the Scottish Government at Holyrood they only had plans for a Yes/No referendum and declared that it would be held in 2010. The Labour leader, Wendy Alexander called Salmond out and demanded he put on a referendum immediately. Salmond refused to be drawn and insisted he would stick to his roadmap, but Wendy would not be shut up. The rest of the Unionists panicked and Big Gordon give her her jotters. Then they started a new plan to get the people back in the pen. It was called the Calman commission and everyone except the SNP took part. The Devo-Max plan came out of this plotting and news of it got released to the voters who seemed to like it a lot more than either of the two original choices in the referendum or the official Calman proposals. If Cameron wasn’t a Tory, I could maybe just feel a wee bit of sympathy for the guddle he’s been left with.

  • Canspeccy

    “English Tory interference.” LOL. Let’s not hesitate to stoke race hatred when it suits us.
    .
    Every Scotchman has a representative at the Parliament in Westminster, which is more than every Englishman has at the Parliament in Edinburgh.
    .
    Obviously, devolution of power from Westminster is a matter for Westminster. If the Scotch Nats want a say in the matter they’d better get more than six representatives elected in Westminster and then persuade their English and Welsh colleagues that devolution is a good idea. The upshot of any such debate would have to involve devolution of powers to England from a frequently Scottish dominated government in London. In any discussion of devolution, the question of whether England, Scotland and Wales are the best units for devolution is bound to arise. That’s when the the Scotch will find the Highlands just as keen on devolution from Edinburgh as the English.

  • alan campbell

    Ah, professional Scots. Dontcha just love ’em? What’s your position on joining the Euro, Craig? And plucky little Kosovo’s bid to be recognised as an independent state?

  • Jives

    @Guest,
    .
    “Does anyone know how many scots still speak their own language, the answer says it all.”
    .
    This question says nothing.How many Americans,for example,speak their own,ahem,language? Language,culture and politics constantly evolve and reflect the contemporary consciousness,not the perversions or vicissitudes of disenfranchised history.It’s less who you are more where you’re at,so to speak.

  • Jives

    “Ah, professional Scots. Dontcha just love ‘em?
    .
    Sure,about as much as professional Englishmen.

  • Arsene Wenger

    Obviously, devolution of power from Westminster is a matter for Westminster.
    .
    When were you born, Canspeccy? You sound like a disgruntled slave-owner. Or the chap in ‘Gandhi’ saying India is British, after all.

  • Antelope Grazer

    Alan Campbell
    .
    A Campbell. nuff said.
    .
    The difference with Kosovo is that it’s a mafia state whose ‘independence’ is sponsored by (and was obtained using force by) the Yanks. I don’t think the SNP is a plot by Donald Trump to secure his ghastly golf course.

  • TH

    @rayban “There is no way Scotland will be allowed to go independent – with the UK to lose, the English will never let them…”

    Where does this myth (that the English want Scotland to stay in the Union, or the UK would lose if they did) come from?

  • Mary

    So much for the rules.
    .
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cameron-aide-broke-rules-by-joining-lobbying-firm-6287418.html
    .
    Note Portland’s clients –
    ‘James O’Shaughnessy, until recently Downing Street’s director of policy, failed to inform the Whitehall committee which vets jobs for officials leaving Government that he planned to join the lobbying company Portland as its chief policy adviser. Portland’s clients include the governments of Russia and Kazakhstan, Google, McDonald’s, Vodafone and the arms company BAE Systems.’
    .
    ‘Mr O’Shaughnessy, who was Mr Cameron’s director of policy between 2007 and 2011, was a key figure in drafting the last Conservative manifesto. He remains close to Mr Cameron and other senior Downing Street officials.’
    .
    I bet he does!

  • Vronsky

    It’s a rather odd convention that debate surrounding Scottish independence is routinely directed towards Scotland’s adequacy as an independent state. Arguably the risk is all in the other direction: England will lose most of the oil revenue (the klondike that underwrote Thatcher’s catastrophic reign) deep water ports for its nuclear fleet, safely distant territory for the dumping of nuclear hulks (Dundee) and storage of nuclear weapons (Glen Douglas), a place to test depleted uranium munitions (Sutherland) other potentially dangerous nuclear experiments (Dounreay, Dalgety Bay) deep water ports for its nuclear fleet (the Clyde), biological weapons (Gruinard), loss or limitation of access to plentiful renewable energy and water, availability of front line troops to be expended disproportionately to the home grown product (the equivalent of Roman auxiliaries) – the list is long. I can’t think of anything that Scotland loses that we don’t want rid of. It’s also illuminating that the unionists can conceive of no argument against independence other than the fiscal, an unconscious transference of their own strictly limited value system.

  • Mary

    Well said Vronsky and for reminding us of the terrible effects of DU testing in Scotland.
    .
    http://www.robedwards.com/2011/11/plan-to-test-uranium-weapons-in-scotland-again.html
    .
    and this
    Early day motion 2318
    .
    DEPLETED URANIUM WEAPONS RENEWAL
    Session: 2010-12
    Date tabled: 27.10.2011
    Primary sponsor: Bottomley, Peter
    Sponsors: Clark, Katy Horwood, Martin Leech, John Llwyd, Elfyn Robertson, Angus
    That this House notes that the British Army maintains depleted uranium (DU) munitions within its arsenal and that 2.3 tonnes of DU rounds were fired by UK forces during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq conflicts; recognises the potential risk to health and the environment that accompanies the use of these weapons; appreciates the costs and technical difficulties associated with managing sites and material contaminated by their use; further notes that UK radioactive waste discharge policy is based on both the precautionary and polluter pays principles and that international pressure over the use of DU is increasing; further recognises that using munitions that leave a toxic legacy is particularly inappropriate in contemporary peacekeeping and humanitarian operations; is aware that CHARM3, the UK’s only remaining operational DU round, is no longer manufactured and that its propellant charges are due to expire in 2013; further notes that the UK has options beyond re-licensing or re-developing the existing charge, or replacing the current ammunition with a new DU round; and calls on the Government to take this opportunity to cease using DU in its kinetic energy ammunition.

    Total number of signatures: 55
    .
    Just 55 good people out of over 600 of the toads who return to the HoC today after their 25 day holiday.

  • Home Rule for England

    MR. Cameron. Given that you want to arrange an independence referendum in Scotland, is there any chance we English could also have one? We English don’t need alternatives. A simple Independence for England YES/NO will do. I predict a massive YES vote!

  • havantaclu

    I’ve ‘borrowed’ this poem from a lady called lundiel on the Guardian cartoon site – I hope she’ll forgive me:

    The Field of Tartan
    by Robert Holdstock
    (For my Grandfather. Who walked across this field on the Somme : July 1916)

    I walked for my life, across a field of tartan.
    The Scots went first. They had it worst.
    The First, the Twenty First. Highlanders.
    They sowed the seeds, the soft touch
    Of fabric-woven earth, over which we walked.
    They had been mown down to a man.
    They made a field of tartan.
    Before they went, they sang.
    The songs were haunted.
    We joked about their skirts;
    They took it in good part.
    There was a sense of peace,
    Resignation! That touch of Spartan
    In each heart.
    (He walks for his life, across a field of tartan.)

    No mud when the top was crossed,
    When the iron wind blasted and counter-crossed,
    Seeking the marrowbone, the head, the heart,
    Taking us down into that field of tartan.
    It was so strange, so savage.
    Astonishing to find no mud, just fallen flesh;
    To briefly meet a dying gaze,
    A last remembered highland day.
    To walk over limbs clad in scarlet tartan.
    And we slipped and slid upon the patterned cloth, but made the other line.
    There was killing, then.
    No charms, just arms, the sinking down, the frightened frown,
    Flesh suddenly shaped into dirt, life dearth,
    Blood silt,
    Nothing to hearten us
    Except our unwanted luck at walking over hand-weaved kilt.
    Not sinking into earth.
    Walking across a field of tartan.

    I believe that there are still a disproportionate percentage of Scots in the British armed forces.

    And a relevant document://www.oilofscotland.org/mccronereport.pdf

  • DonnyDarko

    Craig: What about the sea boundary changes that Westminster made between Scotland and England a few years ago ? It’s quite a radical loss of maritime area for 2 countries supposedly at peace and in Union with each other.
    Was it legal under the terms of the Union ? What were the reasons for the change ?

  • James Matthews

    You may be right (up to a point Lord Copper) about the timing. I would certainly let Salmond have his referendum after he has wound up Scottish Nationalism with (taxpayer funded) Bannockburn anniversary celebrations. That way he has no excuse if he loses.

    You are plainly wrong though about the third question. While the Scots have a right to full independence, if that is what they want, they do not have a right to any constitutional relationship with the rest of the UK they happen to think suits them. Devolution Max is not within Salmond’s gift and is not on offer, nor could it be be without a referndum in the rest of the UK. This is simply an attempt by the SNP to obfuscate the outcome.

    Scotlish independence, and the continuing debate thereon, affects the whole of the United Kingdom. As Prime Minister of the UK the very least Cameron has a duty to ensure from Scotland is an unambiguous decision. He is absolutely right to insist on a straight yes or no question.

    As to the proposal that sixteen year olds should vote, that is not part of the normal Scottish or UK electoral systems and is a tacit admission by Salmond that immaturity and separatism go together. It is worthy of only contempt.

    Personally I hope Scotland votes for independence and so sets England free. I will live with it as best I can if Scotland staya, but if it does it must be on the UK’s terms, not Scotland’s.

    Meanwhile we can all derive much innocent pleasure at the consternation of the cybernats at the possibility that their bluff might be called.

  • lloyd

    with the level of SNP support in Scotland I fear that Scotland would be a one party state. Then Salmond would really have a lot in common with his Chinese best mates.
    Perhaps Labour and Lib Dems will end up setting fire to themselves.

  • Tom Welsh

    “The simple possibility that Abraham Lincoln was incorrect does not seemed to have occurred to you”.

    Actually, Kingfelix, it was the first thing that occurred to me. However I am aware that Lincoln occupies a legendary place in the pantheon of liberalism, and – especially in the USA and among its many slavish supporters in Britain – not a word can be said against him.

    So, I wonder how many readers of this excellent blog would countenance your suggestion that Lincoln was wrong in what was probably the most important speech he ever made?

  • Lloyd

    There would have to be an end to the BBC. I’d love to see Scottish tele.

    And over to you Fergus for the latest of our brand new drama – Killing Time in the Heather.

  • Jives

    Lloyd,
    .
    “There would have to be an end to the BBC. I’d love to see Scottish tele.
    And over to you Fergus for the latest of our brand new drama – Killing Time in the Heather.”
    .
    Couldn’t be any worse than Eastenders though could it?

  • Jives

    Lloyd,
    .
    “with the level of SNP support in Scotland I fear that Scotland would be a one party state. Then Salmond would really have a lot in common with his Chinese best mates.
    Perhaps Labour and Lib Dems will end up setting fire to themselves.”
    .
    Well you could be right however at least Scots would get the chance to decide for themsleves whether it’s a one-party state.Most Scots i speak to would rather fail on their own terms than on Westminster’s rotten to the core terms.And a hell of a lot of them are sick of getting roped into these bullshit constant wars by Westminster as a by-product of being America’s bitch.Anyway neither Westminster nor the Whitehouse have exactly been paragons of virtue these last few years nevermind exemplars of probity,truth and competence.

  • DonnyDarko

    Guest: It was a union of 2 countries, not an integration with England otherwise there would be no blue in the flag.
    Most Scots speak some form of Scots, which says it all really.If you mean Gaelic,then just under a million and 2 million in Canada.There was a push to stop Gaelic being used and be replaced by English in the 17th Century.Tartan also became illegal.And lets not forget the 80 years of ethnic cleansing in the Highlands which previous to the clearances had only Gaelic speakers.Look at how many people died in 4 years of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. You can imagine how many people died in 80 years.
    Scots was used officially for a number of years before English was adopted as the official language.It has thousands of brilliant words.
    So before you knock it ,read some Burns.

  • DonnyDarko

    Lloyd: Independence is the destination, The SNP is the locomotive , and when the destination has been reached, a whole host of parties will disembark.One Party ?? Not even at New Year. You don’t know the Scottish Psyche.

  • John Edwards

    Both Cameron and Salmond are playing pure politics. At least Cameron has finally stood up for the Union. Much as I disagree with Cameron on most things, I have never been Tory but he is right that the partnership that created Britain has been a great political and economic success over the long term. Personally I want to continue living in Britain and retain a British identity. As my name shows my ancestors would have originally been Welsh, for me supporting England on the sports field is the only time I have a purely English identity. The continued existence of the United Kingdom is a not simply an internal Scottish issue, it has an enormous potential impact on the political settlement in Northern Ireland for example.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Guest touched on the Queen’s concern over the referendum and a ‘yes’ vote. She has expressed fears at a recent meeting with Cameron and her private secretary is ‘investigating’ the implications. Article II of the Treaty of Union joins Scotland to England as a union called Great Britain, one which Robert Burns described as Scotland being, “bought and sold for English gold” or judicious bribery.
    .
    Crann Tara wrote:
    .
    In 2007 the fight continues to be waged against the same oppressive regime that our ancestors fought against in the year 1746. Our Jacobite forebears went into battle with the words ” For Scotland and No Union” written on their banners and engraved on their swords. We no longer fight with sword, targe or musket – but by peaceful means we seek to carry on the battle for our nation and for its independence. Yet the war cry remains ” For Scotland and no Union” 11 As an act of defiance against those who sought to destroy our Highland people, our culture, our language and our way of life { and against those who still seek to suppress the people of Scotland } the people of these Straths – whose ancestors led the charge at Culloden – invite you to join them on their Rebel March on Saturday 14th April 2007. We will wear the tartan and play the pipe music that the British
    Government tried to ban and we will fly the flag of Scotland – the emblem of our nationhood that our present-day political masters still seek to keep in subjection to Westminster rule.
    .
    Considerations for responsible independence:
    .
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/08/13103747/7

  • Dale Martin

    Nationalistic fervour never ceases to amaze me, the illogicality of it all, it just does not stand reasonable scrutiny. Why am I English?,,,,,,,,,, Answer: My fathers sperm met my mothers egg while located in England, the embryo developed and 9 months later I was dropped into the world in a location not of my choosing. The Queen neither decreed, requested or even gave a damn about the incident, the politicians didn’t even know I existed and the rich and powerful landowners from the very second I was born only had one status for me,,,,,, trespasser,,,, should I walk on their extensive private lands, my nationality is pure accident of birth. If there is a great creator then he had me set forth in the world with no concept of racial, political, nationalistic or religious bias and you have to assume that his/her intention was for nothing more than the fundamental concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, to take people as you find them and with no pre-determined bias in play. Yet the Queen that didn’t even know I existed set about through the system she and her ancestry put in place to brainwash me into believing that there she stood,,,,,, by the grace of God,,,,,, the chosen one that should be adored, worshipped and obeyed, a deity and the epitome of everything that is English. The politicians and the wealthy landowners, they set in place a legal framework that insisted throughout my formative years I should 5 days a week be removed from normal everyday society and placed in mind camps they call schools, mind numbing sterile environments where I am taught that I should only speak when spoken to, should stick to the curriculum and not ask stupid questions beyond it and most of all learn to sit nice and quietly, voiceless and subdued, just one in 30 mindless hamsters treading the wheel of education/subjugation in each class I attended for 11 years of repetitious programming. Want to go to the toilet, put your hand up and ask permission boy, want to stand up from your desk, put your hand up, want to speak, put your hand up, put your hand up, put your hand up, the endless repetition of subservience that when you look at it has nothing to do with manners or respect which is please and thank you, not butting in when others are speaking and addressing people decently, put your hand up is nothing more than begging for attention, being taught to stand in line until your betters deem fit their attention of you. Nationalism, what a joke, the act of unswerving loyalty to the ruling classes of the country you are born in who are there by virtue of the exact same reason you are,,,,, an accident of birth, the act of illogical pride and fervour that sees people dressed as cloned uniformed bullet stoppers, fighting the good fight while each bullet that hits them adds more profit to the investment portfolio of the banks and the very wealthy. Nationalism:,,,,,,,,,,,, The act of an unquestioning mindless human being that has been fully programmed to jump when the system flicks the switch, but has not a clue what they are jumping for at all. lol

  • Mary

    Dale You have omitted attendance at poison Gove’s statutory cadet forces in EVERY school and today his proposal for community sports clubs using school facilities out of hours. You WILL run around if we tell you to. You WILL engage in competitive sport. All this once you have consulted the copy of the King James bible which he is sending to every school.

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