London Will Never Give Independence – We Must Take It 797

Yesterday the Scottish Government published “Scotland’s Right to Choose“, its long heralded paper on the path to a new Independence referendum. It is a document riven by a basic intellectual flaw. It sets out in detail, and with helpful annexes, that Scotland is a historic nation with the absolute and inalienable right of self-determination, and that sovereignty lies not in the Westminster parliament but with the Scottish people.

It then contradicts all of this truth by affirming, at length, in detail, and entirely without reservation, that Scotland can only hold a legitimate Independence referendum if the Westminster Parliament devolves the power to do so under Section 30.

Both propositions cannot be true. Scotland cannot be a nation with the right of self-determination, and at the same time require the permission of somebody else to exercise that self-determination.

I was trying to find the right words to discuss the document. One possibility was “schizophrenic”. The first half appears to be written by somebody with a fundamental belief in Scottish Independence, and contains this passage:

The United Kingdom is best understood as a voluntary association of nations, in keeping with the principles of democracy and self‑determination.

For the place of Scotland in the United Kingdom to be based on the people of Scotland’s consent, Scotland must be able to choose whether and when it should make a decision about its future.

The decision whether the time is right for the people who live in Scotland again to make a choice about their constitutional future is for the Scottish Parliament, as the democratic voice of Scotland, to make.

Yet the rest of the paper completely negates this proposition and instead argues that the necessary powers must be granted by the Westminster Parliament:

The Scottish Government is committed to agreeing a process for giving effect to its mandate for a further independence referendum. When they make a decision about their future, the people of Scotland must do so in the knowledge that their decision will be heard and respected and given effect to: not just by the government in Scotland, but also by the UK Government, by the European Union and by the international community.

For a referendum to have this legitimacy, it must have the confidence of all of those that it would effect. This means not just the UK Government acknowledging and respecting the Scottish Government’s mandate, but the Scottish Government and UK Government seeking to agree the proper lawful basis for the referendum to take place.

We call on the UK Government to enter discussions about the Scottish Government’s mandate for giving the people of Scotland a choice, and to agree legislation with the Scottish Government that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

I am frequently told that this paper is all just a cunning ploy, and that when the Tory Government rejects – as it will reject – this servile request to grant Scotland the powers to hold a referendum, the Scottish Government will go to court to say it has the right to a referendum.

If that really is the cunning plan, it is the most stupid cunning plan since Baldrick and his turnip. In what way does publishing an official Scottish Government paper which states explicitly that a referendum “must have” the agreement of the UK government to be legitimate, prepare the ground to go to court and argue the precise opposite? Plainly that is not the intent here.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech presenting the paper made the acceptance of a veto from “the rest of the UK” on the holding of a second referendum even more explicit:

It is based on the solemn right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.

The Scottish Government believes that right should be exercised free from the threat of legal challenge.

In line with our values, we acknowledge that a referendum must be legal and that it must be accepted as legitimate, here in Scotland and the rest of the UK as well as in the EU and the wider international community.

We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

And what does Ms Sturgeon plan to do when Boris Johnson just says no, as he assuredly will? To be fair to Nicola, she could not have been clearer about what she intends to do. Absolutely nothing different.

Of course, I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK government’s opposition.

But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter.

We will continue to pursue the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose.

We will do so in a reasonable and considered manner.

So this is the Sturgeon plan: in the short term, we accept Johnson can block Independence. Beyond the short term (how many years is that?) we do nothing except continue in democratic politics as the SNP already is, operating at Holyrood and putting before Scottish voters “the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose”, while accepting Westminster’s veto. This will have the pleasant side effect of keeping Ms Sturgeon living very nicely indeed in Bute House, with her husband picking up a massive salary as CEO of the Party, and the SNP just like the last five years doing nothing whatsoever about Independence other than occasionally blether about it, “pursuing the democratic case”, while very explicitly accepting Westminster’s veto.

The truth is there is no route to a referendum by legal challenge in the UK courts. The UK Supreme Court has already ruled that Westminster, the “Crown in Parliament” is sovereign, that the Sewell Convention has no legal force and that any powers that the Scottish parliament has, and indeed the very existence of the Scottish Parliament, is entirely at the gift of Westminster. The clue is on the tin. It is the UK Supreme Court. To be fair the Scottish Government paper plainly does not anticipate any such pointless legal challenge, though it is not inconceivable that one may be futilely undertaken at some stage to keep the SNP’s pro-Independence activists happy, by pretending to do something and kicking Indy yet a few months further down the road.

Because the truth is, that is the purpose of the current Scottish Government paper. The reason it is schizophrenic is that it is a deeply dishonest document. All the stuff at the beginning, about Scotland’s ancient right as a nation and the sovereignty residing in the Scottish people, is no more and no less than window dressing to keep Scottish Independence activists happy. The actual meat of the paper, that Indyref2 “must have” Westminster agreement or it is not legitimate, sits there like a great steaming turd whose stink cannot be disguised no matter how much the SNP leadership has tried to conceal it under flowers.

I have to say, I am astonished how many very decent people in the SNP have fallen for the trick.

The Scottish Government position is fundamentally incorrect. The Independence of a nation is a matter of international law, not of domestic legislation. The UN Charter enshrines the right of self-determination of peoples, and nobody has argued that the Scots are not a people in the encapsulated sense.

It is perfectly normal for States to become Independent without the permission of the state from which they are seceding. The UK Government itself argued precisely this position before the International Court of Justice over Kosovo. I here repeat a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago setting out the legal position:


The London Supreme Court last week not only confirmed that the Westminster Parliament could overrule at will any Scottish Government legislation, irrespective of the Scotland Act and the Sewell Convention, but it also ruled that Westminster had already successfully done so, by retrospectively passing provisions in the EU (Withdrawal) Act that overruled the Bill on the same subject, within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, that had already been passed by Holyrood.

Not content with that, the London Supreme Court confirmed that London ministers may, by secondary legislation, under the Scotland Act decree laws for Scotland that are not even passed through the Westminster parliament.

Which leaves Scotland in this extraordinary situation. English MPs or English ministers in their London Parliament can, at any time, impose any legislation they choose on Scotland, overriding Scotland’s parliament and Scotland’s representation in the London parliament. Yet, under the English Votes for English Laws rules of the London Parliament introduced by the Tories in 2015, Scottish MPs cannot vote at all on matters solely affecting England.

That is plainly a situation of colonial subservience.

I am firmly of the view that the Scottish government should now move to withdraw from the Treaty of Union. Scotland’s right to self determination is inalienable. It cannot be signed away forever or restricted by past decisions.

The Independence of a country is not a matter of domestic law it is a matter of international law. The right of the Scottish Parliament to declare Independence may not be restricted by UK domestic law or by purported limitations on the powers of the Scottish Parliament. The legal position is set out very clearly here:

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
State‟s 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.

That is a commendably concise and accurate description of the legal position. Of major relevance, it is the legal opinion of the Government of the United Kingdom, as submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case. The International Court of Justice endorsed this view, so it is both established law and the opinion of the British Government that the Scottish Government has the right to declare Independence without the agreement or permission of London and completely irrespective of the London Supreme Court.

I have continually explained on this site that the legality of a Declaration of Independence is in no sense determined by the law of the metropolitan state, but is purely a matter of recognition by other countries and thus acceptance into the United Nations. The UK Government set this out plainly in response to a question from a judge in the Kosovo case:

2. As the United Kingdom stated in oral argument, international law contains no
prohibition against declarations of independence as such. 1 Whether a declaration of
independence leads to the creation of a new State by separation or secession depends
not on the fact of the declaration but on subsequent developments, notably recognition
by other States. As a general matter, an act not prohibited by international law needs
no authorization. This position holds with respect to States. It holds also with respect
to acts of individuals or groups, for international law prohibits conduct of non-State
entities only exceptionally and where expressly indicated.

As I have stressed, the SNP should now be making a massive effort to prepare other countries, especially in the EU and in the developing world, to recognise Scotland when the moment comes. There is no task more important. There is a worrying lack of activity in this area. It may currently not be possible to spend government money on sending out envoys for this task, but if personal envoys were endorsed by the First Minister they would get access and could easily be crowd funded by the Independence Movement. I am one of a number of former senior British diplomats who would happily undertake this work without pay. We should be lobbying not just the EU but every country in Africa, Asia and South America.

My preferred route to Independence is this. The Scottish Parliament should immediately legislate for a new Independence referendum. The London Government will attempt to block it. The Scottish Parliament should then convene a National Assembly of all nationally elected Scottish representatives – MSPs, MPs and MEPs. That National Assembly should declare Independence, appeal to other countries for recognition, reach agreements with the rump UK and organise a confirmatory plebiscite. That is legal, democratic and consistent with normal international practice.

There will never be a better time than now for Scotland to become an Independent, normal, nation once again. It is no time for faint hearts or haverers; we must seize the moment.


Events since I wrote that have made the case still stronger. With the UK now leaving the European Union, EU states will be extremely eager to recognise Scottish Independence and get Scotland and its resources back inside the EU, while sending out a strong message that leaving the EU can have severe consequences. At the UN, the UK’s repudiation of the International Court of Justice ruling and overwhelming General Assembly mandate over the Chagos Islands has made the UK even more of a pariah state, while senior statesmen in the developing world see Scottish Independence as a wedge issue to open the question of the UK’s ridiculous permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

The claim that to proceed to Independence without Westminster consent is illegal and illegitimate lies at the heart of this truly disgraceful Scottish Government paper. That claim is wrong at every level.

You cannot both believe that the Scots are a people with the right of self-determination, and believe that Westminster has a right to veto that self-determination.

This paper by the Scottish Government is nothing more and nothing less than proof that the gradualists who sadly head the SNP are perfectly happy operating within the devolution system and have no intention of ever paying any more than lip service to Independence.


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797 thoughts on “London Will Never Give Independence – We Must Take It

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  • Geoff

    I know it would be an absurdist Catch 22 position but is it that Scotland is indeed free to pursue independence but it is just the referendum itself which legally requires Westminster authorisation?

    In essence, the Scots may separate but they can’t be consulted as a nation as to whether this is the path they choose?

    • Cubby

      It’s not permission to have a referendum it is agreement to respect the result – a binding result – as much as you can trust any UK gov. Not called Perfidious Albion for nothing.

    • gayle

      A section 30 merely sets out the code of conduct that both governments agree to adhere to (though this was resoundingly ignored during the indyref campaign as were “non interference” international laws). It is purely due to it being an agreement that consent is sought. It has never been a requirement.

  • Tony

    In history at school we were told that all the new countries that emerged after WW1 were set up by the post-war peace treaties.
    However, in all the coverage of the WW1 centenary back in 2014, it said that these treaties actually codified what had already happened on the ground. On hearing this, I immediately realized that this was far more likely to be true.

  • Proud Cybernat

    Craig – I see nowhere in the document that the “…Scottish Government paper states explicitly that a referendum “must have” the agreement of the UK government to be legitimate, prepare the ground to go to court and argue the precise opposite? Plainly that is not the intent here.”

    The way I read it is simply that the Scottish Government is seeking WM’s agreement to the process. ScotGov is not asking WM for permission to hold IndyRef2, merely seeking WM’s agreement (by way of S30) to the process. ScotGov is not seeking to take UKGov to court either. From how I understand the document, if WM do not agree to the process as outlined (i.e. there’s no S30), then the ScotGov will push ahead with IndyRef2 regardless and DARE Westminster to take ScotGov to court after IndyRef2 Bill is passed in ScotParl. There’s a big difference there, especially as to how such a move by WM would be perceived in Scotland. And I rather doubt it would be won by WM because it would first have to got to Court of Session, I cannot see any court in UK agreeing with UKGov position. Any appeal to court by WM would be lost and then Royal Assent given to the Bill making IndyRef2 an Act and perfectly legal. British Nationalists would then be foolish to boycott.

    In short, I think ScotGov will dare WM to challenge an IndyRef2 Bill in court, not the other way around.

    • craig Post author

      I do not see any evidence at all that the paper can be read in the way you state. I fear you are typical of those being fooled.
      The Must Have passage is here. Its meaning is perfectly plain.
      “For a referendum to have this legitimacy, it must have the confidence of all of those that it would effect. This means not just the UK Government acknowledging and respecting the Scottish Government’s mandate, but the Scottish Government and UK Government seeking to agree the proper lawful basis for the referendum to take place.”
      Without the UK government on board there will be no referendum. That is what the paper says. Which passage do you imagine says they will go ahead without UK government agreement?

      • Black Joan

        They can’t even distinguish between “effect” and “affect”. Another reason it does not inspire confidence

      • Proud Cybernat

        I don’t see anywhere that the SNP will not simply push ahead with IndyRef2 and DARE WM to challenge it in court, if WM doesn’t agree to play ball. Yes, they would like to agree the legal basis but if WM won’t agree then WM & ScotGov will just have to agree to disagree and ScotGov pushes ahead regardless and, as I said, DARES WM to challenge the IndyRef2 Bill in court. That would not go well in Scotland for the Tories. I suspect WM will see this as a clear possibility and, as such, they would be daft NOT to agree to S30 request. Polls just now are roughly 50/50 so right now is WM’s best chance to win. If they block/challenge the Bill then that will only drive support for Indy upwards and when WM lose in court and Royal Assent given, then it’ll be an easier win for YES. NOW is WM’s best time to agree the process. They cannot hold it off forever.

      • Cubby


        Is there a passage that actually says they won’t go ahead without UK gov agreement? Or is it just your interpretation?

        Are you sure you are not letting your dislike for Nicola Sturgeon colour your analysis. It is a normal human reaction.

          • Cubby


            Well that’s very nice of you. He says sarcastically.

            When I dislike someone I make it clear. I dislike your comment. Give me your evidence for that statement or put a zip on it and you can hold that statement against me if you want.

  • John Pretty

    Thank you Craig.

    If I lived in Scotland I would vote for independence.

    When you say “independence” do you mean the foundation of a republic (which I know is what you personally desire) or is independence as a Commonwealth nation also a possibility?

    I think your case would be stronger Craig if you had (even) more popular support among Scots. I don’t know the current statistics on this (perhaps someone would provide them), but support for independence in 2014 was just under 45%. I imagine it is perhaps higher today, but I would not like to hazard a guess.

    Is 50.1% a good enough mandate for full independence?

    While I respect your passion for this cause, I question whether there are enough Scots who share your zeal for this. I know there are a good many people here who do, but that is not everyone in Scotland. Scotland does have a right to self determination – it does anyway – but the process of uncoupling itself from the rest of the United Kingdom would be a lengthy and very costly one.

    How would you divide the British Army for example and what relationship would a new Scottish Army have to the existing British Army?

    I didn’t read the second clause you referred to above with quite so much suspicion. The requirement appears to be that the government of Westminster respect Scotland’s right. I think it is reasonable to require this. It would also have to respect the decision of the Scottish people in a referendum.

    “EU states will be extremely eager to recognise Scottish Independence”

    I would have to respectfully question that. I’m not saying you are wrong, only that I see no evidence to back up your assertion.

    Thank you.

    • Jon Musgrave

      The questions you pose are merely distractions from the main point – is it best for Scotland to be an independent state and run its own affairs.
      The armed forces are merely a distraction, the question of whether EU states would recognise Scotland is a distraction.
      The only point worth driving home is that by voting for Independence Scotland will be able to run its own affairs.

      • John Pretty

        I disagree.

        The issue of the armed forces is no mere distraction.

        The issue of Scotland’s defence post independence is an extremely important one. You need to be clear on what will happen.

    • Cubby

      John Pretty

      You state that Craig has no evidence to back up his assertion that EU states will eagerly welcome Scotland.

      Sorry but surely you realise that also applies to the assertions you made in your post as well.

      So I would respectfully question your assertions as well.

    • pete

      Re “Is 50.1% a good enough mandate for full independence?”

      Yes, it was good enough to get the UK out of the EU, at least that’s what the Brexiteers banged on about, why would it not do now?

      • John Pretty

        I’m not saying that it is not enough. I’m posing the question to gauge your thoughts on the point.

        Let us suppose that Scotland voted for independence with a thin majority. While there is a rump of Scottish voters who would always vote for independence there are some who could be classed as waverers.

        Things will go wrong (as they always do). There may be delays, it may be costing more than anticipated. Maybe the waverers change their minds and want to reverse the decision. How will you placate them?

        • Cubby

          John Pretty

          Don’t have to placate them. They vote and if they win they have a mandate. It’s called democracy.

    • A2

      John…The dissolution of the union would not result in a republic, simply the separation of the crowns which would still sit on the same head there’s a clue in the term “united kingdom”, disengaging from the monarchy is something else.

  • Mist001

    If and it’s a big IF any action is taken regarding independence, then I’d say it has to be done and dusted before the UK leaves the EU otherwise it’s going to make things so much more difficult. Sadly, I can’t see this happening.

    • Fred

      I think it is now too late, especially given the SNP approach. Brexit is happening, and we are all out on Jan 31st. Three years have been squandered.

    • Cubby


      It’s a big if – if you have ever posted anything positive about Scottish independence.

  • Fred

    “Yet, under the English Votes for English Laws rules of the London Parliament introduced by the Tories in 2015, Scottish MPs cannot vote at all on matters solely affecting England”

    This is not quite true. Scottish MPs still have a vote on all matters in the UK including those certified as only affecting England or England/Wales. All EVEL does is introduce -additional- steps to allow English or English/Welsh MPs to veto legislation. This is actually a more democratic situation than previously, though still inadequate. For example, top up tuition fees for England were only passed by the Blair government using the votes of its Scottish MPs even though their constituents were unaffected and EVEL would have prevented this. But under EVEL, Scottish MPs still have a vote on all Westminster legislation (see

    Your broader point, which is that Westminster can overrule Holyrood, but not the other way around and so EVEL reflects an awkward imbalance, is fair. But this imbalance and indeed EVEL are symptomatic of a piecemeal approach to devolution rather than rasping the mettle federalisation (which could also lead to independence).

    To the rest of your article more generally, I think that the SNP are trying to take the ‘easy route’ to keeping their members happy through grievance rather than actually seizing the moment and trying to become independent. But what none of us seems to know is why? Why are they forsaking actually achieving independence?

    • Lorna Campbell

      That is the question many of us are asking now, Fred. Something stinks here. I cannot believe that this is the advice the SG has been given. Is the FM surrounded by Whitehall mini-mandarins dancing to Westminster’s tune?

  • Lorna Campbell

    Could not agree more, Craig Murray. I was appalled to hear Michael Russell say much the same thing last Sunday on the politics programme. The position in untenable, and like the White Paper of 2014, appears to cement us into a situation over which we are going to lose control. I am completely at a loss to understand what the SNP is doing. What kind of advice are they listening to? Something is very wrong here. Many in the independence movement have been writing and speaking about such a ridiculous situation of being in two minds, as it were, that there is no rational explanation for this new document on our future. I think we have moles close to the SG who are spreading disinformation. Like you, I cannot see how this could be a ‘cunning plan’ either, because the Unionists will seize on it and it will be chewed up and spat out at us for ever, like that damned ‘once in a generation’ nonsense. Does the SG understand that we will be cemented into trade deals that are inimical to our future prosperity? Does the SG realize that it is laying the foundations for its own extinction and that of the Scottish people? Does the SNP want to go down in history as the only party for independence that not only failed to deliver independence, but actively contrived to evade it? What is happening? I do not believe that we can win another indyref unless we have a complete volte face in Unionist sensibilities. The numbers simply do not stack up — not because the (indigenous, as in UN term) Scots cannot be persuaded to vote YES, because they did, in 2014, by a 5% majority, but because neither Scottish Unionists nor rUK voters are being persuaded to vote YES in numbers that would make the difference, just as they scuppered independence in 2014. Why do we need to persuade anyone, when we have the right of self-determination enshrined in international law? When we have the Treaty of Union whose saving grace is that it must be ruled on by international law? Don’t the people around the SG, or the SNP itself, understand that we do not require to persuade anyone and wait, patiently, and with bated breath, for their permission? They are never going to give it, and worse, they actually appear to believe that: a) we need it; and b) they have the right to withhold it.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    The most charitable interpretation I can find for Sturgeon is that she is stalling for time ’till the polls reach mid-fifties in percentage terms for Indy.
    On the plus side, the amendments to the wording of the Withdrawal act inserted by Johnson this week imply that his target is a free trade deal with Trump (which by implication excludes free trade with the EU). Every deviation from EU standards, such as workers rights and environmental protections have the effect of incrementally increasing the Customs checks at Belfast and Larne. If Johnson is willing to go down in history as the Conservative & Unionist Party leader that “lost” Northern Ireland, then the taboo is broken and “loosing” Scotland is a relatively short psychological leap.

  • Proadge

    Exactly, Craig. Over the last days it’s become apparent that the SNP has completely failed to seize the moment. The document you’ve deconstructed is the most glaring example. But it’s the little things too: Pete Wishart expressing his pride at now being ‘faither of the hoose’. Tommy Sheppard letting slip that he planned to be at Westminster for (at least) the next five years (before hastily rowing back on that when challenged). Playing nice and participating in the loaded farce that is the WM system will achieve but two things: lending credibility to a system that maintains Scotland’s subjugation; and personal aggrandisement. I well remember BLiS’s Feeble 50 in the 1990s. All the signs are we’re looking at the SNP’s Feeble 47/8. If so the SNP should brace themselves for mass resignations. And for never being forgiven.

  • MJ

    “London Will Never Give Independence”

    It is not in the UK government’s gift to “give” independence. It can only sanction another referendum, which isn’t quite the same thing. The problem is that there was a referendum only five years ago.

    • CasualObserver

      ”The problem is that there was a referendum only five years ago.”

      Which was likely swung in favour of No by the question of continuing EU membership ?

      Clearly a major influencing element of the last referendum has changed ? And lets not forget the 62% remain vote in Scotland.

      Unlike many here, I’d have to think that the SNP in taking a moderate approach initially are taking the right path, there’ll be plenty of time to take to the barricades once reactions become clearer. One thing we can be sure of, BorisGov is bound to be unable to resist getting Scottish backs up whilst playing to the English side of the debate 🙂

      • Pb

        So what if ….

        Westminster block a new ref, how do you judge the electorate’s wishes?

        Do you hold a Plebiscite? (an advisory indication)

        But before that (if there is one) do you advise the electorate of the EU’s intention if Scotland achieves independence?

        How do you obtain a certain indication of the EU’s future intentions (with acceptance into EU conditions) or rejection of Scotland’s join?

        What will the Plebiscite question(s) be?

        Do you want out of UK as long as you can join the EU with a guaranteed good deal?

        Do you want out of the UK regardless of membership of the EU?

        • CasualObserver

          The Chagos vote at the UN may give an indication when it comes to the way other countries will treat the UK now its decided to strike out on its own ? So it might be the case that the EU would make a point of not giving a newly independent Scotland too hard a time over joining, or rejoining ? Add in Northern Ireland no longer having a majority of Billy Boy MP’s sitting in Westminster, and the potential for the whole EU thing being far from over gets greater ?

          Moving ahead, and when it comes to dealing with other nations or groups, Uncle Sammy may be the only vote we can depend on, and I’d not bet my life on that being a foregone conclusion. 🙂

        • Mark Robertson

          No one had the right to those detailed answers for a brexit referendum ! Just buses with lies written on them !
          Are you suggesting an independence referendum should be required to have a 100% guaranteed success rate with no flaws to enable us to have one ?

  • PP

    On the day that the SS have decided that they are in fact above the law, perhaps not the wisest post in terms of timing?

  • Sarge

    The Tory government is also about to enact constituency boundary changes and a Voter ID law which they think will ensure their permanent rule. Consent for indyref2 could be a long time coming.

  • Mervyn Hyde

    I am of the view that Nicola Sturgeon and clearly the leaders of SNP are just kicking the can down the road, if she was serious she could force the issue along the lines you outline.

    I believe these are just career politicians playing games that suit their own personal agendas. As an Englishman living in England the last thing I would want is the break up of the United Kingdom, but in all reality if Scotland wants to free itself from Tory tyranny then independence is their best option.

    I though don’t believe it would be beneficial from an economic and social perspective as they must have their own currency issuing rights and the population of Scotland makes it difficult to grow the economy in a sustainable way. They would also require a highly sophisticated intelligence agency that would counter undue influence from outside its borders.

    In short I believe the SNP hide behind the cloak of independence in order to blame Westminster for its own policy failures and are not really serious about its own sovereignty, because of the unknown challenges that would present.

    • Liz

      I disagree that ‘Scotland’s population would make it difficult to grow the economy in a sustainable way’. Scotland’s population is of a similar size to many small successful countries, and its size should be considered an advantage. Economically I really believe Scotland cannot afford to remain part of this Union for much longer. I take note if your comment regarding a sophisticated intelligence service though. I think ‘undue influence from outside its border’ could well be an issue – and from not far away either! Sadly it seems the SNP have done little in the way of future planning for such eventualities.

    • Cubby


      Ever considered the fact that England may well be too wee, too stupid and too poor to be independent and has got along by looting other countries resources?

      You know what you can do with your English supremacy crap

  • Michael Droy

    As you may have noticed, referenda are big things in Britain. The idea that once voted on they can be ignored has pretty much been shoved down the throats of the “People’s Vote” campaign that destroyed the Labour party chance of governing. Support for Brexit is no stronger, but Support for the Brexit referendum is much stronger with many voters insisting that it has to completed, even when they voted against.
    Forget getting another chance for many years yet.

    • Cubby


      Wrong wrong wrong.

      The 2014 referendum has not been ignored it was implemented. What has been ignored is all the promises the winners of the referendum made to win the referendum. It is the broken promises of the winners that is driving Indyref2.

      Sorry to say but your post just displays typical non Scottish ignorance of the pisition in Scotlsnd.

  • djm

    I live in England.

    & would be more than happy to see an independent Scotland.

    One that is not represented in Westminster & not in receipt of Barnett formula largesse.

    • Cubby

      It’s about time England stood on its own two feet instead of looting other countries resources.

      Is England too wee too poor and too stupid to be Independent.

      • Glasshopper



        Of course Scotland was at the very epicentre of that “looting of other countries resources”, so you are talking about yourselves too.

        Glass houses and stones???

        • Cubby


          A big yawn back at you.

          England/Westminster currently loots Scotlands resources. So we do not loot our own resources.

          England since the Treaty of Union 1707 has looted Scotlands resources.

          So you are wrong – so take your yawn and pissof.

        • Cubby


          In the national library of Scotland in Edinburgh there are historical documents detailing Scotlands annual revenues and the percentage transferred to the Empire (Westminster England). We are talking large percentages not your 5%. More often than not 50% or more.

    • J Galt

      And in return we’d be more than happy to retain the vast amount that the UK filches from the Scotch Whisky industry for instance – go fuck yourself.

  • N_

    We get this

    The decision whether the time is right for the people who live in Scotland again to make a choice about their constitutional future is for the Scottish Parliament, as the democratic voice of Scotland, to make.

    followed by this

    The Scottish Government is committed to agreeing a process for giving effect to its mandate for a further independence referendum.”

    Whereas the first says the Scottish parliament decides; the second says there’s a mandate for the Scottish government but doesn’t say where the “mandate” comes from. Did they think we wouldn’t notice?

    But wait…

    Following the experience of 2011, governments in Scotland, political parties in Scotland and, most importantly, the people voting in Scottish parliamentary elections will have made decisions about their policies, their manifestos and their votes in the expectation that electoral mandates would be respected

    Who can seriously stomach this provincial town hall type of verbiage? But let’s press on.

    Who says Holyrood elections are most important? Not only does the SNP seem to have no “respect” for the fact that only a minority of MSPs have a mandate from their constituents to vote for another independence referendum; they also appear not to respect the message that is contained in the fact that more people in Scotland choose to vote in British GEs than in Scottish GEs.

    Let’s sort this out, shall we? Given what happened last week in the British general election, let’s sort it out with a Scottish one. Here’s what I propose:

    * Let’s have a Scottish GE as soon as possible.

    * Without anybody claiming that the SGE amounts to a referendum, let the SNP and their pals the Greens say clearly in their manifestos in that election that those who want another indyref should vote SNP or Green whereas those who don’t shouldn’t. (I.e. don’t say if you’re anti-Tory you should vote SNP and then claim afterwards that everyone who voted SNP supports independence. That’s called telling lies.)

    * Given that there is a form of proportional representation at Holyrood, let’s all agree to take a parliamentary majority at Holyrood as our criterion: so if after the SGE the SNP plus Greens have a majority at Holyrood then an indyref should ensue; and if they do not, it shouldn’t.

    In other words: seek a mandate for an indyref rerun, and
    *if one is successfully obtained, we have an indyref rerun in the spring
    *if one is not obtained, then hopefully the unionist parties can form a government at Holyrood but whether they manage to or not the SNP should shut their boring corrupt traps about independence until they’re told by the electorate they’re allowed to open them again, which day may never come.

    If there is to be an indyref, I suggest the SNP set 31 December 2020 as their proposed independence date. In any case they must of course recognise, being such responsible coves, that there may or may not be a WTO Britain-EU cliffedge on that date, and thus they should lay out their proposals for the two cases. In practice of course, they would be unlikely to have sufficient respect for the electorate to do that.

    It’s very easy to call for an extraordinary SGE: either get two-thirds of MSPs to support a motion for one, or let Nicola Sturgeon resign as first minister and no replacement be nominated by the Holyrood parliament within 28 days.

    PS How can a right be “solemn”? Did a Calvinist catch the word “sacred” in time to cross it out?

    • Cubby


      The Scottish parliament has already voted for a second independence referendum. For such an expert on Scotland funny you didn’t know that. They voted for Indyref2 because there is a majority of MSPs in the Scottish parliament for independence. They voted for Indyref2 because they had a mandate from the 2016 election.

      Beginning to think mandate deniers will be like climate change deniers – facts don’t matter.

  • mark golding

    Interestingly MSP’s are paid by the Scottish Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund after they have sworn an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

    • Mark Robertson

      Mark Golding
      Thanks for pointing out more things that are wrong with Scotland that need fixed
      But let us get rid of Westminster first and then next we can focus on getting rid of the archaic royal family !

  • Walter

    There can be no question of fairness or justice save between equals in power. In the past this meant military force. Now it means political and economic intrigue. The esteemed Ms Sturgeon, according to that reality, is surrounded by British and “allied” agents and spies…could it more obvious? “Caged” would be a mild descriptor. “Helpless” might be more accurate. Craig’s right.

    That, it seems, leaves the classical approach. The one Mao described so plainly, and the one the Irish used to some general success.

    My Scott-Irish ancestors would have known what’s next. In fact it’s what everybody knows, and fears to say. And that’s a pity.

  • George C

    We should first see Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the rejection of the paper. She might genuinely want to swing a few more votes as a consequence of the rejection. And she has to try the constitutional means first. Can’t imagine her saying “Ah well, I tried and they didn’t agree, that’s it”.

  • N_

    What rules govern the BBC’s reporting of Holyrood-Westminster relations? In its British-level coverage, it usually reports only the SNP’s position where the Scottish side is concerned, omitting to report the positions of the Opposition parties that most of us in Scotland vote for. What a friend the SNP has in the BBC! Maybe it’s because they share a belief in “solemnity”?

    • Scott Brand

      Don’t know where your getting your BBC reportage but here in Scotland it’s mainly Brian (toodaloo) Taylor who runs the show.

    • Mark Robertson

      You are messed in the head when it comes to reality !
      That would be about the most silly thing you could possibly say .
      Just to clear things up for you , BBC stands for BRITISH broadcasting company NOT SCOTTISH broadcasting company !

  • Bill Boggia

    sounds to me like we need a mass rally – convergence on Hollyrood (after winter) – and a refusal to leave until an assembly as you describe – declare Scottish independence. Literally bring everything to a halt until this is sorted.

  • Squeeth

    The independence of Scotland isn’t a matter of law, it’s a matter of force majeure. The convoluted subjugation of Scotland County Council to the diktat of London provides a permanent cop-out for the Snats, as you so eloquently describe.

  • Ananna

    “London Will Never Give Independence” London would have given independence if you’d won the vote.

    We’ve just had another election where Labour got hammered because they were seen as not respecting the outcome. The LibDem policy of setting aside the Brexit vote if they won the election was deeply unpopular and seen as undemocratic even by remainers. That suggests the chances of UDI without a vote having popular support is zilch.

    The polls are putting support for independence at 45% vs 55% against and there’s an 80 seat majority government for leaving the EU and blocking a second independence vote. The SNP screwed things up (along with the LibDems) when they agreed to Johnson’s election.

  • Ma Laoshi

    Successful national-liberation movements, such as those headed by Castro or Ho Chi Minh, would now be steeling themselves “Are we prepared to detonate IEDs below the convoys of the occupier?” (only if all else fails, of course) “Are we prepared to execute the traitors to our cause in our own midst?” Yeah getting your hands dirty is brutal; it also works, by showing your enemies that you’re serious.

    Instead, here we have a national-liberation movement which (*) can’t stand the thought of actual independence, much better to remain in service to Brussels; (*) begrudges the English their own nationalism; (*) just the other day started to speak about trannies all of a sudden, because reasons. No doubt there will be detailed rebuttals for each of these points, but I think I’ve seen enough to predict that this is going nowhere fast.

  • Aldo_macb

    I have the patience to wait 2 or 3 years until the time for a referendum is right. In my opinion Craig’s approach would alienate too many people. We haven’t even officially Brexited yet. I’m hopeful that Brexiting will add a few more percentage points to the Yes vote. Then a no deal in December 2020 will add even more. Meaning 2021 could be the time to go for it. Possibly Autumn after a stonking result in May in Holyrood.

  • Nastarana

    The victory of the SNP offers to those of us Americans who are enamored with neither leftist internationalism nor rightwing populism a glimmer, a hint, of a way forward. The SNP, as I understand it, offered policies appropriate for citizens of its’ own country, including a foreign policy, EU membership, desired by Scots, who, I believe, heavily voted for Remain.

    I do wonder, is it wise for Scotland immediately to press for separation and independence? If PM Johnson is the neighborhood bully he appears to be, and I don’t know if he is, he surely will be looking for victories to cement his prestige and grip on power. Is it possible that Ms. Sturgeon wishes to avoid having Scotland become the victim of Johnson demonstrating his firm hold on power?

  • Gary

    In an ideal world you are correct, Craig. Obviously this is far from an ideal world.

    I reason it like this. In any plan you try Plan A before moving to Plan B. How do you know plan A doesn’t work until you try it?

    trying Plan B AFTER Plan A also gives Plan B more weight (in the sense of ‘political weight’ or pressure if your prefer) In the same way ministers are forced to resign after weeks of being hounded by the press after their latest ‘indiscretion’ when the PM of the day has just given him his ‘full backing’ In these cases the PM certainly COULD ignore the pressure from reporters, couldn’t they? But often, after a few weeks, they cave in. This will take more than ‘a few weeks’ but it follows the same principle.

    Don’t kick the door in right away, try the handle and see if it’s locked first…

  • Jim

    Craig, I know this sounds naive but would it be possible for you to go down to Bute House and explain this?

    • craig Post author

      I am sorry to say that Craig Murray is substantially less welcome than Boris Johnson, Henry Kissinger or Alastair Campbell in Bute House.

      • Shatnersrug

        Don’t refer to yourself in third person Craig, you sound like David Coverdale from Whitesnake(a band that interestingly has a name that maybe both racist and sexist) when you do that.

        Anyway the whole thing sounds like another Stitch-up in a long history of such stitch up. Lot of concern over postal votes in my camp at the moment. But Boris and the mekon wouldn’t possibly cheat would they?

      • John Pretty

        Bute House: The Official Residence of the First Minister of Scotland

        Oh why’s that Craig? I thought a gentleman like yourself would be most welcome there.

  • yesindyref2

    “that Scotland can only hold a legitimate Independence referendum if the Westminster Parliament devolves the power to do so under Section 30”.

    Well, the ScotGov have Annex B – Draft legislation, and about that it says:

    “This amendment could be made in either an Order in Council under section 30 of the
    Scotland Act, as was done for the 2014 referendum, or by an Act of the UK Parliament.”

    So there you go then! However it does say this on page 08:

    “The Scottish Government does not believe that it is for the UK Government to decide whether to respect a mandate given by the people of Scotland to their government, endorsed by their Parliament.

    The Scottish Government believes that both the UK Government and the law should now recognise the constitutional and political reality: that decisions about whether to hold a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future are for the Scottish Parliament, as the democratic voice of Scotland, to make.”

    and the Endnotes are very interesting 🙂

  • Kim Sanders-Fisher

    I know how passionate you are Craig about Scottish Independence, but the chance of accomplishing anything before Boris crashes is out of the EU is slim to none. I totally agree that the fate of Scotland should be in the hands of the Scottish people, but I had hoped this might be negotiated with an incoming Labour government to allow a little time for the UK as a whole to stabilize before IndiRef2. An independent Scotland remaining part of the EU on the Northern border of the rotten rump of the failing state of “little England” would not be a good start.

    The dystopian nightmare that lies ahead is being rapidly revealed now Boris has established unfettered access to power. Less than one week in, he is abandoning all his shallow promises and not even bothering to disguise how vicious this hard right wing dictatorship will be on the most vulnerable throughout this country. The BBC and print media are ramming home the fake news that it was those stupid people up North voting for more pain and suffering that led to a landslide victory. I for one just don’t buy it.

    I realize the Scots have no obligation to bale the English out of the stinking quagmire into which we are rapidly sinking, but for reasons of Scottish security and prosperity moving forward you might want to consider the advantages of doing so. I cannot imagine the countries bordering Nazi Germany felt safe after Hitler took power; the reality is that’s the future we now face after all of our rights have been stripped away. In the years of conscious cruelty that lie ahead for us Scotland will see a trickle turn into a flood of refugees seeking to escape the hell that little England will become.

    With only one month before Brexit becomes irrevocable, Scotland will suffer along with the rest of us unless this stolen election is exposed and voided. No one in the newly formed Tory Party, fashioned after the image of the narcissistic liar in chief, will dare to defy his dictates. Parliament will very soon be rendered totally irrelevant and the UK will essentially become a dictatorship with purely cosmetic elections critically planned to solidify Boris’s new stranglehold on power. He too has his puppet master, but that is even more frightening than the bumbling idiot running our country.

    Do not buy into the fake news that everyone in the UK hates Corbyn and is so obsessed with Brexit they just don’t care if their kids starve or they freeze to death on the street. People really aren’t that stupid, despite the constant derogatory slurs spouted about the working poor. You have to believe in a massive case of nationwide Stockholm syndrome to account for the claimed landslide Tory victory. It is totally illogical, it just didn’t happen and we need a really good investigative journalist and possibly a whistleblower to uncover the truth. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s not a giraffe!

    Please Craig write another piece exploring the strong possibility that this might have been a stolen election. We can, I hope, trust you to supply a genuine assessment of reliable facts without trying to shoehorn the huge unfathomable anomalies and manipulated media “evidence” to fit into yet another Tory government fake news scenario. We must try to overturn this vote or the arms trade of global slaughter will continue unabated, the Palestinians, Chagos Islanders, people from Yemen to Rojava will never see peace or justice, the poor in the UK will starve or freeze to death on our streets and your courageous friend Julian will die in jail.

    There is far too much to lose. It might be an impossible challenge with precious little chance of success, but we owe it to so many people to not give up without a fight or all will be lost including your well deserved dream of Scottish independence. If this inane result was legitimate it can withstand rigorous scrutiny and restore our faith in the system such as it is under FPTP.

    This will take a united monumental effort and we will sorely need the strong Scottish support, we have relied on in the past, to stick with us for the duration of the battle ahead. Please Craig Murray I am begging you to wade in with hip boots on this important subject.

    • Steve

      lol. Nationwide stockholm syndrome, stolen election. What planet do you live on. Very salty group on here. Suck it up and get on with your lives.

      • Kim Sanders-Fisher

        Steve – “What planet do you live on?” I live on planet reality! If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s not a giraffe!

        I was drawn to Craig’s blog seeking answers after the Skripal false flag event. My infection control and professional Hazmat training were at serious odds with the Tory government’s confected reality. It was simply impossible for the Skripals to receive a killer dose of Novichok on their hands and not transfer a deadly level of cross contamination at the multiple locations they visited before they became critically ill. As horrific stories of the lethal agent mounted, the authority’s blasé instructions to just pop things in the wash or use wet wipes made this event all the more ludicrous.

        My world is governed by logic – everything is logic and logic is everything. When something, a news story, an election result, or anything what so ever defies basic logic, I feel inextricably compelled to seek a purely rational, logical explanation. This is a healthy reaction that provides the most basic premise of scientific research. We could all have accepted that the earth was flat but, science demanded explanation of the anomalies that did not fit that hypothesis and we moved on. You are defending illogical, consensus driven, flat earth thinking.

        While not all challenges will ultimately prove valid the necessity to make such challenges strengthens the most robust defence of truth. Challenging our electoral process where we identify perceived weaknesses can only help to eliminate the potential for future errors and points of manipulation that may or may not have been taken advantage of in the election in question. Sadly, to try to write off this legitimate area if questioning is to defend those who seek an opportunity to try to commit fraud. A healthy degree of scepticism is our ultimate protection from future fraud and manipulation of our democratic mandate.

        If my suspicions are proven dead wrong, well great, we can move forward with renewed confidence in our electoral process. However, when doubts linger under the surface, due to incredulous results, they just serve to undermine public trust and belief in our democracy. Everything is being done to erode our trust and disenfranchise vast swaths of the population; it is our duty to question any and all questionable results especially those produced via a company with a vested interest in manipulating the vote. How much more corrupt do you want our electoral process to become in future? Keep shooting the messenger…

    • Jimmeh

      An independent Scotland cannot “remain” part of the EU; it is not currently an EU member state, because it is not a state. The EU is a union of states, not of nations. If Scotland secedes, it becomes a “Third Party” state (albeit one that happens to be in full alignment with EU regulations). That is the case regardless of whether the UK is in or out at the time of secession.

      I find the arguments about (a) EU interest in recognising an independent Scotland to teach BoJo a lesson (and pour encourager les autres); and (b) the international community of states being disinclined to back BoJo over Scottish independence, because of Chagos and other blatant violations of the international order, persuasive.

      Spain, of course, would not favour recognition of an independent Scotland. Would Spain have a veto over such recognition by the EU as a whole? At any rate, I think the member states still have diplomatic autonomy; each EU member can choose to recognise a newly-independent Scotland according to its own foreign policy, whether or not the EU as a whole chooses to extend recognition.

      I’m pretty sure that Spain would indeed have a veto over Scottish accession to EU membership. So I’m afraid that an independent Scotland is going to have to get used to being outside the EU indefinitely. Perhaps they can hope for tariff-free trade? That would be immensely helpful, if Scotland is to exploit its newly-acquired national fishing grounds; most of Scotland’s fish exports go to the EU.

      • Cubby


        If Scotland terminates the treaty of Union there is no UK so everyone is out of the EU.

        How many times does it have to be said that Spain will not veto Scotland. The Spanish have ALWAYS said this.

        My question therefore is are you just poorly informed or a propagandist.

    • Mark Robertson

      So let me get this right ! You are hinting that Scotland should hold off for now on its independence goals so as to enable the transmigration of English people to Scotland AND help yous out !
      How rather self centred you are , That is the exact reason we wish to leave ,
      Sorry we are NOT waiting so best you stop writing and get your skates on instead !

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