Westminster Cannot Block Scottish Independence 641

Boris Johnson’s facetious, point-scoring reply to the formal request from the Scottish government for agreement to a second Independence referendum is an act of extreme arrogance. An off-the-cuff campaign remark from a single politician has no weight in weighing the will of a nation, and I presume Johnson is not arguing that every political statement Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond has ever made has the force of law.

The “once in a generation” remark has no more force than “die in a ditch”. It is not contained in any official document, and appears in neither the Edinburgh Agreement nor the Smith Commission report. For Johnson to base his refusal of a vital democratic step on such a flimsy pretext is extremely arrogant. It is born of colossal self-confidence. He is perfectly confident the highly centralised Westminster system will allow him simply to ride roughshod over Scotland.

Johnson is of course right. You may be surprised to hear that I agree with the analysis of McHarg and McCorkindale published today that a legal challenge arguing the Scottish Government’s right to hold a referendum is a waste of time, not least because if such legal challenge looked like succeeding the Tories would simply pass Westminster legislation outlawing the referendum explicitly. There is no doubt whatsoever that such legislation would be upheld by the UK Supreme Court under the doctrine of the Sovereignty of (Westminster) Parliament.

I also have no doubt that a futile and time-wasting court action is going to be a key part of the Scottish Government’s approach in response to Johnson, of pretending to do something about Independence a few more years.

McHarg and McCorkindale are quite right on UK Constitutional Law, which is where their expertise lies. They know very little about public international law and still less about international politics.

The truth is that UK Constitutional Law is as irrelevant to Scottish Independence as Soviet Constitutional Law was to the question of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Independence. The UK is disintegrating and not the smirk of Johnson, the frippery of the UK Supreme Court nor the witterings of lawyers can hold it together.

Independence is not a matter of domestic law. It is a matter of international law alone. Independence is the existence of a state in relation to other states. It is gained not by any internal process- internal process is utterly irrelevant, and in 95% of cases does not involve a referendum – but by recognition of other states, formalised through the General Assembly of the United Nations.

I touched on these points in my brief statement at the AUOB press conference after the march on Saturday.

In its judgement on Kosovo, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) specifically confirmed that the agreement of the state being seceded from was not necessary for Independence. That is the position in law, whatever any UK court may say. Indeed it was the UK government itself that put this argument most clearly to the ICJ in the Kosovo case.

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. 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 a state has the right to declare Independence without the agreement or permission of the original state and its political or legal authorities.

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. 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.

So the key question is, could Scotland get recognition from other states for a Declaration of Independence? The attitude of the EU will be crucial and here Catalonia is obviously a key precedent. But it is one that has been totally misunderstood.

The vast majority of the politicians and functionaries of the EU institutions viewed the actions of the Francoist government of Spain in assaulting the people of Catalonia who were trying to vote, with extreme distaste. But they held their noses and supported Spain. Because over 20 years experience as a diplomat taught me that the EU functions as a club of member states, who will support each other in almost any circumstance. So Spain was supported.

But the UK is shortly going to stop being a member. It is Scotland, as a potential member with a long history of valued membership and a firm intention to join, which will have the natural support of the EU, the more so as there will be a strong desire to get Scotland’s fishing, energy and mineral resources back within the bloc. The disintegration of the UK will also be encouraged as a salutary lesson to any other states that consider leaving the EU. The political forces within the EU are very, very strongly behind recognition of Scottish Independence.

Once the EU decides to recognise Scotland (and crucially it is not a decision that needs unanimity in the EU vote, an extremely important and overlooked fact) the rest will be easy. The UK is detested in much of the developing world for its continued refusal to decolonise Diego Garcia, for the Iraq War, and for the whole history of colonialism.

So how should Scotland proceed? My advice would be to declare Independence at the earliest possible opportunity. We should recall all Scottish MPs from Westminster immediately. We should assemble all of Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s in a National Assembly and declare Independence on the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, thus emphasising the historical continuity of the Scottish state. The views and laws of London now being irrelevant, we should organise, as an Independent state, our referendum to confirm Independence, to be held in September 2020.

The key criterion which governments have traditionally used to recognise another state is control of the state’s internal territory. (They do not have to use that criterion, each state can recognise on whatever basis it wishes, but that is the usual one cited). This is where the Catalonian Declaration of Independence failed, the Catalan Government never managed to enforce it on its own ground.

There is going to be no process of Independence agreed with the British government. We have to take Independence, not beg for it. At some stage, there is always the danger that the British government may try to react by sending in the British Army to enforce Westminster’s will. If we believe we are an independent nation, we have to be prepared to defend ourselves as an independent state should the worst happen. Calling a confirmatory referendum as the first act of the Independent state would make it difficult for Johnson to justify sending in the British Army to try to prevent it, but we cannot rule it out. Hopefully that will not involve anyone getting killed, but we must be plain that Westminster will never voluntarily allow us to leave and may physically attack us if we try.

I appreciate this may all sound very unpleasant and confrontational.

We have two alternatives now – we stand up for ourselves and our inalienable right of self-determination in international law as defined in the UN Charter, or we grovel before Johnson’s smirk and try various “legal” and “constitutional” avenues in terms of the UK’s utterly irrelevant domestic legislation. Which will get us nowhere, slowly.

The time has come for Scottish Independence. With a referendum denied by no fault of ours, we must seize the moment and take the Independence for which they will not let us vote.


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641 thoughts on “Westminster Cannot Block Scottish Independence

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    • Bill McLean

      312 years of mistreatment, misrule and misgovernment and your lot wouldn’t whine? My God they whined for 40 plus years about Europe that did more good for England than they did for themselves!

  • Stuart MacKay

    Finally, someone is talking sense on how to solve the Westminster problem and cut a swathe through all the ifs, buts and maybes. A state-sized problem, requires a state-sized solution. Talk of referendums, list parties and other approaches to persuade all the parties who oppose Scottish independence to be reasonable are simply risible in comparison. Bravo!

    Mr. Murray, so what is your opinion on whether this is achievable? It seems the First Minister, with her visits to EU leaders, could be considering this approach but if push comes to shove what’s the likelihood of getting it off the ground – it does not need to succeed initially but the very attempt will open the door and close many others?

  • Alex

    “The political forces within the EU are very, very strongly behind recognition of Scottish Independence.”

    I am skeptical of this claim. At the very least, I would expect the spanish governemnt to try and undermine Scotlands efforts in fear of an example being set for Catalonia.

        • Proud Cybernat

          We’re in a ‘holding position’ until end of December 2020. FM said IndyRef2 will happen by then. So, it won’t be a problem.

          • Hans Adler

            The ‘holding position’ just makes the practical things easy; it doesn’t help with the problem that new members must be approved unanimously.

            I read Craig differently: “Once the EU decides to recognise Scotland (and crucially it is not a decision that needs unanimity in the EU vote, an extremely important and overlooked fact) the rest will be easy.” This seems to say that it is the recognition of Scotland as a sovereign state that does not need unanimity. I have tried to verify this, but I could not found a rule implying this. I could not find a precedent, either. The only state recognised by some but not all EU members appears to be Kosovo. (At least I could not find another example.) It’s recognised by the EU as a potential membership candidate, and there is a resolution by the European Parliament asking all EU members to please recognise Kosovo as an independent state, but the EU itself has not formally recognised Kosovo as an independent state. The plan for Kosovo is to get its territorial conflict with Croatia resolved (the Croatians are currently blocking this by not rejecting the result of the arbitration) so it can be recognised by the remaining EU members and become an EU member itself.

            If I haven’t overlooked anything important, I would expect a compromise. Since the cohesion of the EU is probably almost as important to Spain as its own cohesion, the price for bribing them into recognising Scotland is likely not very high. Perhaps the Scottish government declaring to have no objections against Gibraltar becoming Spanish would do the trick, although that’s probably not a good idea and not likely to happen. Perhaps Spain will even just follow the lead of all other EU members and the US.

            Even if Spain does not recognise Scotland and Scotland can therefore not join the EU, it seems likely that a status as a de facto but not de jure member can be negotiated. Scotland would continue to have almost all the advantages of the EU (possibly without voting rights for the state, but no doubt with Scottish participation in EU parliament elections), but somewhat strained relations to Spain. You can have treaties with countries that you don’t actually recognise, such as Taiwan. (China blackmails everyone into not recognising Taiwan.) In fact, Spain could treat Scotland as if it was sovereign while not recognising its sovereignty.

          • lysias

            If Scotland joins a federation with Ireland, surely continued membership in the EU would be automatic.

            Since such a federation would greatly ease the reunification of Ireland, I very much doubt if Irish politicians would be able to oppose such a federation.

          • Hans Adler

            Lysias, that’s a great idea. And who knows, in a few years Wales might want to join as well.

            But what to do about England’s membership application in a few decades from now? At that point things will become weird.

        • terence callachan

          We are already in the EU scotland England Ireland wales etc
          Proof ?
          I can’t be out of the EU unless I was in it in the first place

      • Alex

        Thanks, but you’ll get no pound from me, sorry. 😉

        I’m still not entirely convinced, due to the this quote from you’re linked article:

        Asked if a Sanchez government would accept Scotland’s EU application to join if Scotland left the United Kingdom and fulfilled the requirements of the UK constitution, Borrell said: Why not? If they leave Britain in accordance with their internal regulation, if Westminster agrees …,”

        Looks like they know pretty well that Westminster will not agree. If Scotland moves forward in the manner Craig has proposed I’m not sure Spain would agree with Scotland (re-)joining.

        • terence callachan

          We don’t need Spain to vote for us
          Who else do you think would try to block Scotland ?

          Spain and ………

          • Hans Adler

            Unfortunately, every EU member can veto any new member. Of course after all the scaremongering about Turkey joining against the will of the UK, it’s natural to think a qualified majority is enough. But it isn’t; the scaremongering was utterly ludicrous.
            However, I just discovered that abstention does not prevent unanimity. Perhaps that could be the solution. If Spain doesn’t formally recognise Scotland but abstains in the vote over its accelerated membership application, we could get a situation where one EU member doesn’t recognise another, but de facto treats it as a state.

        • Republicofscotland

          What Westminster thinks won’t be relevant to Spain, they’ll no longer be a EU country.

          Spain had their eye on Gibraltar, and anyway they can prise it out of the hands of England, or at the very least gain some sort of hold on it.

          • Alex

            Still not convinced, you don’t know what will be relevant to Spain. You don’t even know who will be in power in Spain when (if) the time comes, which will also be a big factor I imagine. I hope I’m wrong though.

        • Cubby


          Then all those Spanish boats that fish in Scottish waters will have to find something else to do with their time.

          You are talking nonsense and you know it.

    • Alex

      Also, you rely on the inalienable right of self-determination. Rightly so, but that doesn’t sit well with your demand to declare independence at the earliest opportunity. In my view you would need a clear majority well above the margin of error, around 60 % perhaps? Afaik that is not the case right now.

    • Andrew Paul Booth

      Catalonia is not a country in a three hundred year-old unbalanced Union with Spain; Catalunya is as much a part of Spain as Yorkshire is of England, these last near thousand years gone by. Since the harrowing of the North on Southern Norman command.

      • lysias

        You obviously know nothing of the history of the County of Barcelona, whose traditional rights and privileges were abolished by the King of Spain approximately 300 years ago as a result of military conquest (and Britain’s betraying an ally).

        • Andrew Paul Booth

          A feudal County is not a country.

          I don’t think we are here to discuss in detail Catalan history, but it is true that the various 11th and 12th century Counts Berenguer did consolidate some feudal rights, including some for peasants and some for the burgers of Barcelona and other coastal towns, under the Crown of Aragon.

  • Geoff

    If the suggested path was taken, then what would be happen if, after the declaration of independence, the subsequent referendum indicated a majority stating they did not wish to leave the union?

    I’m not suggesting that would be the result, and I know most here don’t believe it would be, but still its possible.

    If Edinburgh ignored a ‘stay’ majority, it would surely call the international recognition of independent Scotland into question. Alternatively if they were forced to rescind the declaration then it would truly be game over for independence for more than a generation, not to mention Westminster forcing some sort of punishment.

    Not saying that should frighten everyone into stasis, but wouldn’t there need to be a better surety of winning the vote than just personal conviction?

    • craig Post author

      Of course the result of the referendum should be accepted. The point of great events is you don’t get to have surety of the result in advance.

      • Geoff

        my point, rather clumsily worded, was more about whether the fight you call for should just be charged at head on, or if there should be some careful research on the likelihood of winning, and maybe doing more hearts and minds preparation before going for it.

        • James Cook

          “Sedition” ……..not that I am suggesting this post and conversation falls under this word, but some might construe that it possibly could? No?

          “A revolt or an incitement to revolt against established authority, usually in the form of Treason or Defamation against government”……..or from the Cambridge dictionary……….. “language or behaviour that is intended to persuade other people to oppose their government”.

          Pretty hard to discuss any of this, without someone raising the above.

          • lysias

            Was the American Revolution sedition? Was the movement for Irish independence sedition? Was the movement for Indian independence sedition?

            To paraphrase Patrick Henry, if it be sedition, make the most of it.

    • Paul Murray

      Declaring UDI and then losing any confirmatory referendum would be embarrassing to say the least?!

  • Ian Robert Stevenson

    As much as I deplore the violence in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’, I have never been able to answer my own question, ‘would we have the present more equitable situation if the nationalists had not resorted to violence?’ It is an uncomfortable question as for much of my life I thought this country was basically a force for good.
    The Unionists were allowed to run place to suit themselves. If the UK govt. had forced them to apply the same standards as applied in GB, the Nationalists might very well not have used armed force, despite the oppressive history. The opportunity was missed.
    Scotland is in a different situation. However, it may well be that the Scottish Government will have to break the UK law to put the question to the people. I hope it can be done without violence and bloodshed. A year or two ago I would have there was not much possibility of that. I am not so sure now.
    I would prefer for our countries to remain united but I can understand how the Scots feel the social democratic values of Scotland are threatened by the increasingly right-wing Conservative party. I reject them too.

    • terence callachan

      A majority of Scottish people voted for independence in 2014
      If Scotland declares independence this year then holds a confirmatory referendum perhaps by then many English folk will have left Scotland or perhaps like the eu referendum certain folk will not be eligible to vote for example people born out with Scotland

    • lysias

      Bose’s Indian National Army played a major role in India achieving independence. It was the mutinies in the Indian Army and the Indian Royal Navy provoked by the Red Fort trials of INA officers in 1946 that caused the Attlee government to decide to grant India independence.

  • Mist001

    Are you talking about the right to hold a referendum, or are you talking about declaring independence?

    It’s easy to get caught up in things when you’re discussing it with like minded people but it has to be remembered that 55% of Scotsa voted against independence. Of course, things are different now and peoples opinions may have shifted, but what if they haven’t?

    How can you declare independence without knowing if 55% are against it? That’ll cause serious problems!

    So the best that Scotland can do just now is to claim the right to hold referendums.

    • terence callachan

      55% of people living in Scotland in 2014 voted against Scottish independence
      Not 55% of Scots
      Not everyone living in Scotland is a scot
      We have many nationalities living in Scotland
      Half a million English folk voted against Scottish independence in 2014

      • Andrew Paul Booth

        Would you be defining Scots as those born in Scotland, or would you go back further in the generations, or how would you define it? And up to having been how long away from the place?

  • pasha

    Does anybody really think the UK government is more reasonable than the Spanish? They will simply crush any Scottish independence move, ruthlessly, by force if necessary, and arrest those at the forefront. Just as Spain crushed Catalonia: jackboots or iron fists, take your choice.

    • Proud Cybernat

      Possible. However, going down that road invites the potential of a backlash with Northern Ireland type ‘Troubles’ right on WM’s doorstep. No one wants that but you can only deny people their democratic rights for so long before they will snap.

    • terence callachan

      They can try
      Catalonia is a county not a country

      Scotland is a country
      If England invades Scotland who will be in their army ?

  • Mencken

    Given the SNP’s lockdown of power in Scotland, and wholesale control of the state apparatus, i would not be at all surprised if independence turns out to be the political equivalent of Godot. After all, the party’s hegemony would be seriously jeopardised by independence, as other social-democratic forces (Scottish Labour freed from London) would no longer be sidelined by the elephant in the room. And, let’s be blunt, too many SNP apparatchiks have too much to lose (or at least jeopardise) by reaching a destination that is more honoured in the anticipation than in the realisation.

    • DiggerUK

      And the evidence of a bent judiciary, as witnessed by the judicial decision in the fit up with the Lockerbie bombing, gets no interest from any quarter in the SNP, wether apparatchik or not…_

  • Charles Macgregor


    As predicted the Conservative Prime Minister of a Conservative Government that the people of Scotland have rejected for the last sixty years has refused a Section 30 Order allowing powers to be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood in order to call a second independence referendum.

    From someone who tried to shut down democracy in his ‘English Parliament’ in order to get his own way it is hardly a surprise that he is attempting to shut down democracy in the Scottish Parliament. We have been told to be patient and that our First Minister and her Government knows what they are doing. Now cometh the hour to prove it and stand up for Scotland against this right-wing dictatorship in London. I never doubted for a moment that a Conservative Prime Minister such as Boris Johnson would ride roughshod over the democratic wishes of the Scottish electorate. Scotland’s resources are too valuable to the United Kingdom that his hurling towards a hard no deal Brexit. This was an easy prediction to make and therefore easier to plan for.

    The Conservatives are going to be in power for the next five years and are likely to be in power for much longer given the state of the Labour Movement. I can see no circumstances in which a Conservative Government in Westminster with a comfortable majority will yield to any pressure from the Scottish Parliament, Government or electorate regarding a Section 30 Order. You yourself have said that this response was predictable so we in the Yes Movement can only hope that you and your Government have planned for this eventuality.

    It is my understanding that the Claim of Rights, which was further endorsed in the Parliament of Westminster on the 4th of July 2018, categorically states that the people of Scotland are sovereign and have the final say on how and by whom Scotland should be governed. It is also my understanding that either England or Scotland can withdraw from the Union by simply withdrawing their Members of Parliament and that neither nation requires the explicit permission from the other to do so. In addition to those factors Scotland has an ‘Inalienable Right to Self Determination’ as stated in the United Nations Charter and in accordance with International Law.

    Our democratically elected representatives are systematically mocked and ridiculed at Westminster in a deliberate and orchestrated attempt to demean and diminish Scotland’s influence in that parliament. Our own democratically elected Scottish Parliament has had powers stolen from it as a result of the Withdrawal Bill forced through the Parliament of Westminster without consent of the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish electorate. The Conservative Government in Westminster will welcome any delay by the Scottish Government in implementing the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine our own future. As with the Continuity Bill, it must be assumed that the British Government will seek to introduce even more powers to the Parliament of Westminster to curtail the ability of the Scottish Parliament and Government to call a second Scottish independence referendum.

    I urge you and your government to use the legal and democratic mandates you have already been given and exercise the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to decide how and by whom we should be governed, The government and Parliament of Westminster is assuming that right without the consent of those they intend to govern. Government without consent cannot and must not be accepted or we are nothing more than victims of a dictatorship. If you are not up to the task then say so and the people of Scotland will find an alternative that is.

    The time for asking politely has been well exhausted and the time for decisive action that will assert the sovereignty of the people of Scotland has now arrived.

    Chic Macgregor

    • mark golding

      Thank you Charles, for your brevity and maybe it is time for a deputation, a fraternity, to visit with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to assert the people of Scotland’s preeminence to the right of independence. Craig-thank-you.

  • John Wilson

    I am curious to know what budget you anticipate an independent Scotland having. I assume Scotland would have her own currency, armed forces, embassies and border controls. Would you consider producing an illustration of the type of budget, taxation revenue and expenditure, you envisage Scotland having?

    If, within a year or two of independence, the Scottish government was forced to appeal to the IMF for funds to service its debts then it would have to meet a set of stringent IMF conditions.

    • craig Post author

      I expect it would have an economy very similar to Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland or any of the other obvious comparator nations.

        • terence callachan

          I sense an underlying worry in your tone
          It is a real possibility that nice England shrinks to its real size , most people across the world call this whole island England , once Scotland is independent Northern Ireland will rejoin the south and wales will become independent too , shortly after that Gibraltar will rejoin Spain and Cyprus will become independent.
          England will see its economy shrink and its unemployment triple without being able to cream off thee best from all these countries.

      • John Wilson

        I think the economy of an independent Scotland is potentially a serious problem. The figures I quote are from The Guardian 22 August 2018. The most up to date data at the time gives tax revenue per head as £300 lower than for the UK and spending £1500 higher (Gers report 2017 – 2018). Overall tax income was £60bn and overall state spending £73.4bn. The deficit is 7.9% of Scotland’s GDP compared with the UK figure of 2%

        I imagine this figure includes spending on defence but an independent Scotland would have additional defence costs I would say. It would also have extra administration costs for embassies and border controls. This might bring the yearly budget deficit to perhaps £20bn based on these figures.

        The Scottish government would need to raise taxes and cut expenditure – or go down the IMF bale out route. It would need to have its own currency I think. Much of its current manufacturing industry is defence related.

        I think these economic factors would be major problems for a newly independent Scotland. If living standards in Scotland were to fall sharply then the sectarian divisions that blight certain communities might flare up.

        • grafter

          Scotland is an oil rich country. Do your homework Mr Wilson. “The Guardian” ? Oh dear.

      • Magic Robot

        The same MMT theory nonsense has been tried so many times in history, all over the world.

        John Law couldn’t con the Scots into accepting his theory, they were too canny for that, and recognised a Ponzi scheme when they saw one. He left for France, and they fell for it. Bankrupted them. He barely escaped in his skin.
        Same idea put forward in the early 1920’s. The ‘roaring twenties’ as it was called, until someone stopped the music – so ensued the Depression.

        No currency of worthless paper has survived anywhere, at all, in all of human economic history. Just substituting 0’s and 1’s changes nothing – it is still only a shadow of wealth – not real wealth.

        Tulips. Now, at least they were pretty and made the gardens look nice.

        • I, Daniel Craig

          Seems you don’t grasp MMT. The salient point to note, especially regarding your strawmen examples, is that MMT describes how govt. operates normally from day to day. Your strawmen examples don’t hit their mark but fall pathetically into a sea of inconsequence. Still you at least showed your ignorance and for that we are surely all grateful.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    I for one welcome Johnson’s dismissive arrogance. Gwan yersel Boris, gie it laldy.
    What better way to convince swayable Unionists (writers of children’s books and diggers of ancient bones perhaps?) of the truly alien nature of this English nationalism on steroids.

  • Jones

    Johnson got elected on the back of defending the will of the people after the EU referendum result, now rejects the will of the Scottish people to have their own referendum, for those who voted Boris Johnson in the last election get used to five years of being screwed.

    Why does Scotland feel they need ”permission” from England anyway, it is their land, stop grovelling sod johnson and hold a referendum, then implement the result, that would involve certain politicians putting their job on the line, which begs the question which is more important gaining independence or maintaining a well paid job, no nation has gained independence by politely asking for it.

    • terence callachan

      Good points, I think we will just tell the half a million English people living in Scotland that they don’t get a vote in the next Scottish independence referendum after all Boris appears to be confirming they are after all just colonists and England did exclude EU citizens from the brexit vote to get the result they wanted

      • Susan Smith

        I know it’s tempting to assume all English born residents of Scotland are the same , but we’re not . Having lived in Scotland for 53 years , voted SNP for for about the last 40 , Yes in 2014 and having a Scottish grandfather and a half Scots father who taught me about the clearances I’d line the chance to keep my voting rights . Other Indy supporting non Scots born , including those who have just changed their minds or are still moving in the Indy direction will have their own tales to tell.

  • Republicofscotland

    Excellent article Craig, however I fear Sturgeon is holding out until next years Scottish elections using Johnsons intransigence to boost her partys vote.

    If that’s the case, we must find a way of using the 2021 election as a independence vote. I see no one in the party who’ll convince her to declare it sooner. The Scottish governments timidity on this great and pressing matter is alarming.

    The SNP might be in for a shock in 2021, if a party with a bolder approach to independence materialises.

  • Proud Cybernat

    So Craig, what happens when WM refuses to recognise Scot Parl Declaration of Indy, as they surely will? Let’s say they refuse to recognise it and state that any confirmatory Referendum is illegal and Unionists should boycott it? What then?

      • Proud Cybernat

        I wish I had you confidence that “They lose”. If they can just ignore all our institutions and carry on ruling over us regardless, I don’t see how that’s a loss to them? Maybe I’m missing something?

    • terence callachan

      Not illegal in scot law

      If Boris declares it illegal in English law we will tell him this is Scotland and Scottish independence applies to Scotland under Scottish law

  • Squeeth

    Scotland independence has nothing to do with any law, it’s a matter of Realpolitik. How many divisions does the SNP have?

    • craig Post author

      That is precisely my point, Squeeth. I don’t think Johnson can put troops on the street to stop a Scottish Independence referendum. Let’s see.

      • nevermind

        I agree he could not do that, but this does not mean an independent nation shpould notlook after its own security. Shutting down old mills that are spreading lies and misinformation and.being prepared to take over certain other sites to insure that they will be remove in time, is vital from the moment a referendum is won.

        Suspending NATO membership until further negotiation with its core members, whilst using Scotlands geographical and financial assets to establish and build up its own defence capacities must be prepared for.
        At least then one would be ready for petty reactions from the English state.
        Some might say that now would be a good time to start planning, whatever Nicola might have in mind.

  • Tatyana

    Mr. Murray, you know that I am an outside observer here. If you don’t mind, a remark from a simple housewife waging her funny little war against big lies.
    I welcome the desire to build a peaceful state in which the government doesn’t lie to its citizens.
    Commenting on your blogs in which you exposed the lies and manipulations, I asked “ok, we now know this, but what should we do, where is the call to action?” I am glad to see that this time you have proposed a clear plan.
    Also, I believe that even a simple person can do a lot. Because it is important to be responsible.
    Giving your vote without careful thought – is criminal negligence. Seeing a lie and doing nothing to expose it – is criminal cowardice. Doing nothing to improve the world for yourself and your children – is criminal laziness.
    If we are indifferent and allow them to continue to write laws that legalize crimes, then generals, civilians, and children will continue to die. You may think it happens somewhere far away. No, it happens where you allow it to happen.

  • Giambologna

    Your problem is, the last time the people of Scotland were asked, 55% of them said they would prefer to be a member of the United Kingdom than an Independent country.

    In losing the referendum you should accept that your cause was delayed by at least 10 years. It is valid not to have to have another referendum within a decade.

    To the international community 2014 is not very long ago. Whilst you may feel there has been a shift in opinion it will be difficult to prove and a declaration of independence before a referendum would feel come across as an SNP coup.

    • Republicofscotland

      “In losing the referendum you should accept that your cause was delayed by at least 10 years. It is valid not to have to have another referendum within a decade.”

      That doesnt hold water, we voted to stay on the pretext that we wouldn’t be dragged out of the EU circumstances have changed since 2014.

      Yes we had a EU referendum in 2016, one that was forced upon us and strewn with lies, from the Tories. Not one constituency in Scotland voted to leave the EU. Scotland and England are moving in different directions, we need independence to fufil our potential, using ALL the levers of government, that requires.

      • Bill Thomson

        Hang on, I voted out in the belief we would automatically be ejected from the EU and the Spanish would veto our application to rejoin.
        I now believe I was mislead.

        • jake

          My reservations about voting “yes” were very much in the small print of the whole independence package…there were a number of them but the “once in a generation” one struck me as inappropriate in any democracy. No wonder it was rejected. Being tied in to any political decision for one generation or twenty just isn’t on.

    • Courtenay Barnett


      ” It is valid not to have to have another referendum within a decade. ”

      Say a wife last year decided that despite abuse in a bad marriage she would stay and give the husband a second chance.

      Come 2020 she sees that there is no improvement.

      So, does the husband have a right to prevent her from going to the Court’s registry to collect divorce papers and then returning to file them?

      Methinks not.

    • terence callachan

      Perhaps Scotland should do what W England did
      England excluded EU citizens from the brexit referendum
      Remain would have won if EU citizens living in U.K. had been allowed to vote

      Scotland should exclude the half a million English people living in Scotland from voting in a Scottish independence referendum after all its England we are trying to break free from so why let your captors have a vote
      In 2014 a majority of scottish people voted in favour of Scottish independence

      • Patricia McWilliam

        How can you possibly know what English folk voted for in 2014. There is no such description on the ballot paper, husband been here 52 years and pro independence long before me a Scot. I wish you ‘Scots’ would just accept that everyone who makes their home here and wants to stay, is Scottish. You are just as bad as the Brexit English who do not want any non whites, or foreign accents in their country. It is plainly xenophobia.

        • Lorna Campbell

          Several studies were done, PM, and all showed that three-quarters of all rUK voters voted to remain in the UK. Sorry if that annoys you, but the truth often does hurt. Not every English person voted NO by a long chalk. The reasonable and sane know that. Psephology tells us that this was the way that particular group voted. The question that was never really asked was, why? Yes, they would be more inclined not to want a border between the two countries, and that most of us can understand, but what we cannot understand is how that gives them the right to stymie what is a fundamental right, enshrined in the UN Charter? Most of us do accept that people who have come to Scotland to live and work are Scots, whatever their origins. If they had gone to Australia, for example, would they expect Australia to order its affairs to suit them? Maybe they would; maybe that’s where the term, whingeing Pom, came from. The point is that the Scottish Unionists could not possibly have won the referendum without the votes of both rUK NO voters and EU NO voters (almost 75% and 57% respectively). The rUK vote was around the 10% mark according to the 2011 Census. It will be a lot more in the 2021 Census; during that time, from 2014 to now, the EU residents in Scotland has reduced considerably and, this time around, if it ever comes around, they would be far more likely to vote YES. If you can’t understand our anger at that, I don’t know what to say to you. Any reasonable person would understand that we have a problem with rUK voters, although I, for one, would never even contemplate taking away anyone’s vote. That is why I have never supported a second indyref. We’d probably lose it, too.

      • mogabee

        Stop fighting an imaginary electorate of anti-Scottish English heritage Terence, it’s tiresome and makes you look like an idiot!

        The plebicite was as agreed and nothing can change that. It’s nae gonnae happen and you really need to be directing your ‘considerable’ energy towards persuading folk not pissing them aff, because it’s unclear what exactly you intend to be done apart from taking everyone’s DNA and that would probably exclude you too!

      • N Dyson

        It was not so much that England excluded EU citizens from the Brexit referendum as that the UK used the existing definition and mechanism of voting entitlement. No such equivalent exists for a ‘Scots only’ independence referendum. It would be necessary to define and register eligible voters in advance. A time-consuming, contentious and emotional process, which might also involve international law on the right of self determination. Not altogether plain sailing, whether or not desirable.

  • gyges

    The other question is … what defines Scotland? Bear in mind that Dumfries was once part of Northumbria?

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      A rather pathetic attempt at a straw man. Scotland can be adequately defined by the Brexit vote. Scotland voted to Remain by a 24% margin. The two English regions that border Scotland voted to Leave by an average margin of 12%. As the two vectors are opposing they can be compounded. That’s an astonishing 36% differential in political sentiment.


      Just look at the map, the delineation isn’t an approximation of the England / Scotland border, it IS the border.

    • terence callachan

      We were all part of the Arctic at one time
      It’s what is defined as Scotland at present that matters

      • gyges

        “It’s what is defined as Scotland at present that matters”

        Yes it is. That’s what I’m asking and the basis of the definition. Any ideas?

        • mogabee

          It’ll be defined by the country boundary which is overseen by Scots Law and other member of the Treaty which created the union.

  • Graham

    Factual error, “once in a generation” appears twice in the document “Scotland’s Choice” published by ScotGov in 2013

    • Proud Cybernat

      “… It is not contained in any official document, and appears in neither the Edinburgh Agreement nor the Smith Commission report…”

      The documents all political parties signed up to (i.e. where they ALL AGREED) are those cited by Craig (above). A party prospectus from a single party is not an ‘agreed’ document, merely a prospectus by one political party.

      • Andy Oliver

        Indeed it does, but it doesn’t say that is a promise not to have another one for a generation. But you knew that.

        • Graham

          You’re right, I did know that, but the statement in the document needs to be acknowledged and explained for what it is and crucially, what it is not.

          • jake

            Why? It’s history. It was rejected by the electorate. Time for a new White Paper and a new referendum.

          • Lorna Campbell

            Both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have explained many times. Too many just close their ears. Incidentally, constitutionally and legally, no government can bind another, according to the UK constitution so beloved of so many. If throwaway remarks, or even those set down on paper, are to be taken as having come down on tablets of stone, then when do we get to view Mr Johnson’s body in that ditch because he both said those words and stated them in black and white? I don’t wish to see Mr Johnson harmed, but sauce for the goose… All this posturing is just plain silly and childish and, more importantly, obstructionist.

    • Dilsey

      Factual error, the document was ‘Scotland’s future: your guide to am independent Scotland’. This form of words is used but with reference to the current, i.e. 2014 Scottish Government.

  • Tom74

    Johnson, and the British establishment and international intelligence agencies that put him in power, aren’t going to let Scotland go to voluntarily. Look at how hard the US is fighting over Iraq, Ukraine and other places – quite willing to wreck nations rather than lose inflience. Look at how hard the military establishment fought to keep Corbyn out of power and ensure their puppet Johnson ‘won’ (I have doubt he actually did win, but that’s another story). It is fairly clear Scotland will have to organise it’s own referendum or declare independence unilaterally.

  • steve brown

    Just get a couple of hundred thousand people together in a square in Edinburgh and declare UDI. Close the border with armed Glaswegians and see what happens. DOn’t p*ss about with all the legal garbage – just go for it.

    • Bill Thomson

      Armed with what, by whom? Who are you going to fight?
      Once you’ve done breaking windies, figure out how to run a country.

  • Sassenach Steve

    If we’ve learned anything from the Irish situation, it’s that violent civil unrest can eventually work.
    Scotland is never going to achieve independence through the legal route or ballots north of the border.
    Sadly, I cannot see how Scotland’s position is ever going to change under the current system.

    • Lorna Campbell

      That’s the awfulness of it, SS, isn’t it? NI, where violence erupted and carried on for years, and Ireland which fought the British to a standstill have a better time than we do who sent our young men to die in foreign fields on the Empire’s behalf, and, per capita, more of them died than from any other allied nation. The moral is, then, according to Westminster: guns and bullets. What an epitaph for the UK, eh? Who the hell wants to kill or be killed when the whole mess can be negotiated and we gain our independence legally? What is wrong with these people?

  • Matthew Vallance

    BoJo might well be arrogant/stupid enough to send troops north, if the Scots should break away, but, he might struggle to raise an effective containing army.

    For a start, he could not use any of the seven battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, or the Scots Guards, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the 19th and 105th Royal Arilllery, 32 Signals Regiment (although honorary Colonel Davidson might fancy a spot of active duty), 154th Royal Logistic Corps, the London Scottish or the Liverpool Scottish.

    These are the Scottish regiments of the British Army, so, they could not be deployed. Then there are the considerable numbers of Scottish troops in other units. We hear, for instance that the SAS has a larger than normal number of Scottish personnel, as apparently have the Marines and Parachute Regiment.

    Could they trust Scottish officers to oppress their ain folk?

    I honestly cannot see him sending the British Army north. He may be daft, but, he aint stupid.

    When it comes to uppity natives who might want to fight back, the traditional British/English approach is: “Send in the Jocks.” In this case, they cannot do that. Does he have a Plan B?

  • Raskolnikov

    What is the point of gaining independence, to give it up immediately by joining the EU?

    A change of master?

    • Proud Cybernat

      What is the point of England gaining independence by leaving the EU, to give it up immediately by remaining in the UK?

      • Raskolnikov

        How is that equivalent in any way? It’s the UK that is leaving not just England, whether you like it or not.

    • Bill Thomson

      The point is exemplified by the David Cameron School of Idleness. Too lazy to do the work so let the EU impose rules unimpeded.
      An off shoot of the Heath, nae idea how to get out of the fiscal mess so abrogate responsibility, School of Cowardice.

    • Tony Little

      Joining the EU isn’t giving up independence, but you know this. Just as the other Member States decided to pool some of their sovereignty for a better relationship, they are, like the UK, able to leave should they wish. That is Independence in the EU. But Scotland, it appears, is NOT able to leave this particular Union, no matter what the vote.

      Can we maybe leave these daft statements behind and have an adult conversation?

      • Theophilus

        “Joining the EU isnt giving up independence… Just as some of the other Member States decided to pool some of their sovereignty for a better relationship, they are, like the UK, able to leave should they wish.”
        It seems to me you are deceiving yourself. First, leaving the EU is not a simple matter as you may have noticed and the UK was not even in the Euro. The EU make sure of this by cultivating a virulent 5th column in every member state, amazingly being allowed to use the member states’s own money to bribe selected sections of the community. The notion of sharing independence is itself pretty infantile and cultivated by those who would hide the fact that they are in favour of giving away their nation’s independence. As the great French Eurosceptic Philippe Seguin put it ‘sovereignty cannot be shared, you either have it or you don’t, in the same way as a woman is either pregnant or not.’

      • Raskolnikov

        Maybe you are the one who should learn to have an adult conversation first. Pick up a dictionary and look up the word sovereignty. If you gave up your sovereignty to someone else, you can not be independent by definition.

        The only thing you’ll achieve by leaving the UK and staying the EU is cutting out the middleman that was the UK. You’ll be able to take the orders from Brussels directly. I bet that doesn’t change much for Sturgeon anyway.

    • terence callachan

      In the U.K. you get told you cannot leave
      In the EU they discuss a deal and f you don’t like it you leave

      That’s the difference

      • Raskolnikov

        Which is why it took over 3 years with a large chunk of UK MPs (among which the SNP MPs) acting as a fifth column trying every trick in the book to prevent the UK from leaving.

        The difference is that the EU does not have tanks. But they’re working on it.

  • N_

    We should recall all Scottish MPs from Westminster immediately. We should assemble all of Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s in a National Assembly and declare Independence on the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, thus emphasising the historical continuity of the Scottish state.

    Who is this “we” with the moral authority to recall elected representatives and gather them together inside a different assembly from the three they were elected to? Whoever they are, most or all who aren’t in the SNP or the Greens will tell them to p*ss off. Which would diminish the “legitimacy” of the SNP’s (illegitimate anyway) “new national assembly” creation, not add to it.

    Just force a Scottish general election. Even winning a majority of seats in that election on platforms supporting another referendum, let alone a majority of votes, will leave Boris Johnson with no other option but to assent to a s30 request. I don’t want to hear SNP members complain about a s30 request not being granted when it is within the power of the SNP (with help from Green nutters) to force a referendum rerun if they want to, and all in accordance with British law.

    All that needs to happen is that the First Minister should resign and the Scottish Parliament should elect no successor within 28 days. Easy-peasy, and it doesn’t jump the gun, given what happened in the only vote on independence so far. Hasn’t the leader of the lion that’s rising again on the septcentenary of what a handful of big landowners got their scribes to write fpr them in Latin got the guts?

    But be careful. I read somewhere on Dominic Cummings’s website that he might welcome either of the two referendums the Tories said Britain would suffer under Labour, namely a Sindyref rerun or one on the “form of Leave”, because he’ll be able to try out his updated techniques. (He also said he thought 38% for Leave in Scotland in 2016 was quite good given that Leave hardly campaigned north of the border, which is an interesting and perhaps quite scary point.) Sorry, haven’t got the link.

    • N_

      Or the minority SNP government (the Scottish people having taken away the SNP’s majority in 2016) could get on with pocketing backhanders and letting the NHS go to blazes running the country and stop wasting taxpayers’ money on telling the Scottish people they were wrong to tell them “Hell no!” in 2014.

    • Theophilus

      Yes and bear in mind that many in Scotland voted SNP not for Scottish independence but in the hope of a hung parliament and no Brexit. Now that that ploy has failed, they will be faced with voting for or against independence and I think many will weigh the issues and again vote for the Union. I expect the SNP to do less well in the next elections in Scotland.

  • Colin Alexander

    I completely agree we should recall our MPs and form a convention of elected representatives.

    But, we aren’t Kosovo. We aren’t Catalonia. We are Scotland. Whilst they can indicate legal principles our legal case is fact specific.

    We are a sovereign nation in what was supposed to be a voluntary Union: not a colony, not a conquered territory, not a region of a country.

    We retained ultimate sovereignty and so should assert it. Our political representatives should declare the Parliament of Scotland reconvened as the forum for Scottish sovereignty.

    It is already democratically established that Scotland does not want to “Brexit”; the latest GE being further confirmation where 75% of votes and 90% of seats went to pro-EU parties.

    Scotland’s politicians should declare Scotland’s EU-exit vetoed as it is contrary to Scottish constitutional law and democratic will. Similarly, as a sovereign nation, Scotland requires no consent from the UK state to hold referendums or dissolve the Union.

    Scotland’s politicians signed us up to the Union: they can dissolve it too. (We can later confirm that decision by referendum).

    • N_

      where 75% of votes and 90% of seats went to pro-EU parties.

      Not true. You need to read the Scottish Labour party’s manifesto. SLAB didn’t run on a pro-EU platform.

      What is true is that in each of Scotland, England and Wales a majority voted for parties that opposed (the Tory, BXP and UKIP position of) leaving the EU without first holding another referendum with Remain as an option.

      PS It was very rude of Boris Johnson to referr to Nicola Sturgeon in his letter as “The Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon MSP” rather than as First Minister of Scotland.

      Do the Tories actually want a big lot of nationalistic hoohah north of the border? I’m not sure, but maybe they do.

      • Colin Alexander

        N_ Thank you for the response.

        Edit: Scotland 62% voted Remain in the 2016 EU-Ref
        At the 2019 UK General Election, in Scotland: 55.5% voted for explicitly pro-EU parties (45% SNP, 9.5% LD and 1% Greens) and won just over 88% of the MP seats. (I’m counting Mr Hanvey as an SNP MP).

        “Scottish” Labour, sat on the fence regarding the EU, seeking a mandate to negotiate a new Brexit deal then hold a second EU-Ref based on the terms of the new negotiations. They got 18.6% of the votes cast. Labour’s sole MP in Scotland, Ian Murray, is very pro-EU.

        Just 25.6%, of those who voted in Scotland, voted for explicitly pro-Brexit parties. ( Conservatives 25.1% and Brexit Party 0.5%).

    • Andrew Paul Booth

      We are a sovereign nation in what was supposed to be a voluntary Union: not a colony, not a conquered territory (not even by Romans), not a region of a country…

      That’s it. Voilà. Eso es. Das ist es.

  • Kat

    And what if the confirmatory referendum says “NAW” again, what then?
    Do we say “oops my bad” and go crawling back to Westminster begging their forgiveness?
    Or plough on regardless without the agreement of the people?

    All of it is irrelevant anyway, Nicola & co are all too cosy in their positions of power to upset any apple carts.

  • Theophilus

    “I appreciate this may all sound very unpleasant and confrontational.”
    That is putting it mildly. When you talk about ‘Scotland’, who precisely do you mean? I notice you avoid talking about the Scottish people.
    Knowing the EU as we do, what is to happen to the border with England? One thing we know for certain is that it cannot be open, frictionless if Sotland is to join the EU. Have you thought about what the reaction of the people along the border will be? People who have experienced an open border for hundreds of years?
    The EU are already fighting like cats to keep the right to fish in UK waters stupidly conceded to them by Heath and which Johnson, if he knows what is good for him, will recover. But you want to give them back again?
    “Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland or any of the other obvious comparator nations.” They are all, with the exception of Norway members of the EU and therefore are no more independent than Scotland will be after the 31 January, perhaps less, given the way the Euro fanatics are pushing things.
    Do you seriously plan to join the Euro? You talk about the UK disintegrating. You do not seem to have been paying attention to what is happening to Eurozone currency. Do you want Scotland to be at the mercy of the bandits who ruined Greece to save French and German banks?
    You talk of Johnson, a smirking, facetious Johnson and I suspect you reveal a snobbish, caste, aversion to the man. That is a pity because in my view he is fundamentally a very serious politician and given a chance will do a great deal for the Union. But that is not what you want is it?
    As an Englishman when I was at school my closest friend was Scottish and there was a great deal of rivalry – friendly rivalry. Let us hope it stays that way.

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