Scottish Independence is Within our Grasp if We Heed the Lesson of Toom Tabard 358

There will never again be a route to Scottish Independence deemed legal by Westminster. 2014 will never be repeated. The UK will never willingly give up a third of its land, most of its fisheries, most of its mineral resources, its most marketable beef, soft fruit and whisky, most of its renewable energy potential, a vital part of its military including its primary nuclear base, its best universities in a number of key fields including life sciences, its ready pool of intellectual and professional talent. Johnson is for once honest when he says keeping the Union together is his top priority. It is the top priority of the entire British establishment.

David Cameron only agreed to the 2014 referendum because he thought the result would humiliate and kill off Scottish nationalism. Support for Independence was at 28% in the polls at the time he agreed. Westminster had the most enormous and horrible shock when support for Independence grew to 45% during the campaign as many people for the first time in their lives heard the real arguments. The Whitehall panic of the last week of the 2014 referendum campaign is not something the British Establishment ever intend to repeat.

There is a charmingly naive argument put forward by some that, if support for Independence can be grown to 60% in the opinion polls, Johnson and Westminster will have to “grant” a referendum. This is the opposite of the truth. If support for Independence is at 60%, the very last thing that the Tories will do is agree a referendum they will lose. Their resistance will be massively hardened. Remember, the Tories could have zero Tory MPs in Scotland and still have a majority of 73 in Westminster. There is no political damage for Johnson in unpopularity in Scotland. In England, his anti-Scots stance is very popular with their Cummings core support base of knuckle-dragging, ill-educated racists.

The “intellectual justification” for this stance was trailed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the Marr programme this morning. Irrespective of the wishes of the majority in Scotland, the UK has a duty to stop Scottish Independence, to prevent anarchic secessionist forces being unleashed across Europe; he named Italy, France and Spain.

Westminster will never agree another referendum, and the more we look like winning it, the less they will agree to it.

Nor is there a route to a “legal” referendum through the courts. If a court rules that a consultative referendum is legal under the current Scotland Act (which it might well be), then the Tories will simply pass new legislation at Westminster to make it illegal. They have already done this at Westminster to overturn Scottish parliament decisions, and the UK Supreme Court have already made clear that the Sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament cannot be challenged.

Scotland can become independent, but becoming independent is, without doubt, going to be illegal in terms of UK law – which is to say Westminster law. There will not be a route to Independence agreed with Westminster.

If you believe in Scottish Independence, you believe that the Scottish nation are a “people” within the meaning of the UN Charter, and thus have an inalienable right of self-determination. That means that Westminster has no right, by legislation or by any other means, to prevent the Scottish people from exercising their self-determination.

I am sorry, but this is the fact: If you believe Scotland should only move to Independence in a Westminster-approved process, you do not really believe in Scottish Independence at all.

Which brings us to Nicola Sturgeon. Her much-trumpeted speech on the way forward following Brexit was disgraceful in explicitly stating that any referendum must be held with Westminster agreement, and that any referendum held without Westminster agreement could be “illegal”. She used the words “illegal” and “wildcat” to denigrate the idea of Scotland acting without Westminster permission.

Even the most loyal to Sturgeon of all major Independence bloggers, like James Kelly and Paul Kavanagh, could not support Sturgeon on this point.

What Sturgeon said amounts to an explicit acknowledgement of UK sovereignty over the Scottish people as both legitimate and immutable. She is accepting that the Act of Union did permanently alienate the right of self-determination. Sturgeon should heed the tale of Toom Tabard as to what respect English rulers show to Scottish leaders who accept their authority. Her speech reinforced my view that she really is much too comfortable in her role of colonial governor.

And yet…

When Sturgeon started talking about calling a Constitutional Convention I first scoffed thinking she was merely fulfilling my prediction that her “plan” would be to start yet another talking shop. But then I was astonished when she outlined the potential membership – the elected representatives of Scotland sitting together, constituting MSPs, MPs, (former) MEPs and council leaders.

I have explained at length over the last two years my proposal for a route to Independence that would lead to recognition by the international community. Donald Tusk today confirmed all I have been saying about the enormous sympathy there will be in the EU towards welcoming Scotland back, now the UK has switched status to third country state. [I knew Donald Tusk reasonably well when I was First Secretary of the British Embassy in Warsaw in the 1990s and he was an out of office politician the same age as me. I should like to think I had an effect!]

But the heart of what I was proposing is this, as I put it in December 2018

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.

Or as I put it again two weeks ago:

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.

Please do read the articles linked if you have not already done so. They explain how Scotland can legitimately become an Independent nation without regard to UK domestic law.

Now, until Sturgeon’s speech, I had never seen anybody else but me put forward the proposal that the way forward is via an assembly of all MPs, MSPs and MEPs, giving the triple legitimacy of democratic election. Sturgeon has enhanced this by adding council leaders.

There is a huge difference between an assembly – or convention – of elected representatives, and an appointed one of the great and the good. This new assembly proposed by Sturgeon is very different indeed in that respect from the Convention of the same name that helped formulate devolution.

Now I do not think for one moment that Sturgeon has convened this Convention to declare Independence. But an assembly of Scotland’s MPs, MSPs, MEPs and council leaders will have a clear Independence majority numerically and a massive Independence majority intellectually. It will have an extremely strong claim to be a properly representative assembly whose members each have a democratic mandate. The French Revolution was of course similarly precipitated by constitutional innovation convening a National Assembly combining the different Estates, and that Assembly was swept along by fervour to take proto-revolutionary measures which went far beyond the initial positions of any of its members.

The dynamic of a new constitutional body whose members feel they command legitimacy, should not be underestimated. The convening of this body will be a real constitutional innovation. We need to make sure, that like that French National Assembly, they can clearly hear a huge mob outside their windows, demanding radical and speedy change.


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358 thoughts on “Scottish Independence is Within our Grasp if We Heed the Lesson of Toom Tabard

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  • Vivian O'Blivion

    A (tentative) defence of Sturgeon and the party machine, by the numbers.
    Average of voting intentions from the last three polls (Survation & Panelbase – Holyrood, YouGov (sub-sample) – Westminster) puts the SNP on 50%. When has a party in a four party (arguably) ever garnered half the vote?
    Movement from the GE just past puts the SNP at +5%, Labour at -3.9% and LibDems at -2.8%.
    In politics, you don’t get to grab opposition voters by the collar and drag them into your camp, you adopt a position calculated to be attractive and wait. By adopting an ultra Europhile position, the SNP has attracted LibDem and Labour voters. Additional gains of Labour voters is feasible as a substantial percentage are known to be “Indy curious”.
    Scottish Labour’s and Kier Starmer’s position of muddle / constructive ambiguity on constitutional matters is politically smart as it retains a tenuous grasp on traditional Labour voters (c’mon Lisa Nandy).
    Scottish LibDem’s position of über Unionists is politically dumb (from the party that brought you Jo Swinson) and has left them at 6.7% in the polls. Someone should do the Scottish LibDems a mercy and put a DNR notice at the end of their bed.

  • Doug

    Liar and coward Johnson is undoubtedly an obnoxious person. His proposed “love-bombing” of Scotland will be like a loud, drunk, stinking, saliva-drooling uncle trying to seduce his niece at New Year’s. Truly disgusting.

  • Republicofscotland

    So London Labour leader hopeful Lisa Nandy has come out and said that the SNP shouldn’t be allowed to take part in UK debates. Nandy who has form on SNP matters, recently hinted that the UK government should treat Scots in a similar fashion as to Spain does with Catalonia.

    Beating up voters, tear gassing them, and imprisoning their democratically elected leaders on trumped up charges is how Spain went about it.

    We must exit this undemocratic, unfit for purpose union soon.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Unfortunately, Lisa Nandy is a 11/1 long shot. Rebecca Long-Bailey is 5/1 and Keir Starmer is 3/10 on. They will go with Keir Starmer and his promises of “Constitutional reform”, 100 years and counting but never any progress.

    • Giyane

      She’s right of course. The only way to go after a right wing coup by the deep state, is further right.

  • Republicofscotland

    Former Daily Record editor and Vow architect Murray Foote’s Damascene Conversion has come full circle, as he becomes the SNP’s new Head of Communications at Holyrood.

    We openly welcome anyone whose seen the light.

    • Cubby


      I’ll reserve judgement for the moment.

      The infamous VOW was a disgrace but at least he admits his crimes. Not sure if he ever apologised for the VOW.

  • Republicofscotland

    Arsenal FC Chairman Chips Keswick donated £5000 to Alister Jacks election funds. He donatrd thousands of pounds to Fluffy Mundells as well.

    Jacks other donors include Scottish Tory Treasurer James Stewart, who gave him £2500 pounds and £7,500 pounds to Fluffy.

    Known liar Lib/Dem MP Alistair Carmichael received £10,000 pounds from arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie. Choudrie is on an Indian government blacklist of people suspected of corrupt or irregular practice.

    Scottish Tory MP Douglas Ross, received £5000 pounds from the Scottish Unionist Trust Association and the Stalbury Trustees.

    • Republicofscotland

      The condescending attitude from Westminster towards all things Scottish just keeps coming, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes raised concerns over the delay of Universal Credit to Will Quince DWP minister.

      Quince replied I’m very approachable, “We could even share a deep fried Mars bar together.”

      The comment caused shocked noises to come from the SNP benches.

      • Cubby


        Racism that’s what it is. Designed to put Scots in their place. Their place being a big box saying do not open until there is a war.

        It’s done to the Irish with the thick Irish crap jokes.

        English supremacy and racism towards their family members in the family of nations – what a sick joke.

          • Cubby


            Aye and England invented Eton tossers like Boris Johnson who will prove to be a greater health hazard than a trillion mars bars. So you own it Andy. Vote Labour get Tory bampots.

            Not got the courage to detail the slurs you accuse me of – now that is a slur.

            Upset you by telling the truth about Labour?

          • Al.

            You don’t get to decide what constitutes a racist slur.
            You ARE allowed to endorse one.
            …. and you have.

  • Calamity

    Nicola Sturgeon, while admirable for many reasons, is dreaming if she thinks the courts will help. If the courts uphold the claim to Scottish Independence, Johnson’s mob will ignore the law or change it.

    Johnson sees some form of referendum in Scotland as a possibility or he wouldn’t bother ‘love-bombing’ Scotland. There will only ever be one point at which Johnson will allow another referendum and that is if he has some way of enforcing a win for himself. Not even a guarantee would do, don’t put election fraud past these people. Clearly he does see an independent Scottish referendum as a possibility, or UDI in some form, either of which he would call illegal and claim to be against the will of the Scottish people as of 2014. And on that premise, he would send in the troops.

    What’s the way around this? Here’s hoping Nicola Sturgeon has more clue than I do! The Assembly mentioned might have credibility or gravitas, but Johnson’s government has neither, and yet here we are.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    First post Brexit day national poll. YouGov, Westminster voting intentions, field work 31st Jan. – 2nd Feb.
    Headline result: Tories on 49%. 49 fucking percent, think about that!
    Scottish sub-sample: SNP 50%, Con 28%, Labour 11%, LibDems 7%. Labour nearly down to single figures.
    In three and a bit months, supporters of Scottish Labour must come round to realise that it will be ten years since Labour were in power and it’s going to be at least another ten before Downing Street is a realistic proposition.

    • Republicofscotland

      Vivan the Tories haven’t had any sort of mandate in Scotland since the 1950’s. Scotland has rejected them constantly yet here we are with a gun held against our heads by a undemocratic Tory PM telling us what we can and can’t do.

    • Cubby

      Vote Tory get Tory

      Vote Labour get Tory.

      Vote Lib Dem get Tory.

      Vote SNP get miles away from the Tories.

  • Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Craig you have laid out a valid plan and Nicola Sturgeon appears to have arrived at a similar proposal:

    “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.”

    My greatest concern is over the Referendum itself with the potential for extreme dirty tricks both via the BBC, MSM and, just as devastating, the ability of the UK to rig the vote. If the referendum is called by Scotland without the intervention or manipulation of the UK Government you will have the opportunity to establish the rules under which your new referendum will be held. Waiting for the permission of the UK parliament is beyond redundant; if it were granted it could represent a devious trap.

    There were serious concerns over the first Scottish Referendum in 2014, which was incidentally the first major national vote after Electoral Services were outsourced to the private sector. In a combination of sleazy manoeuvres the Tories have been perfecting the art of stealing elections ever since, through media dominance and the increasing potential for vote rigging especially though the postal vote. This damaging effect on the Scottish Referendum result was researched and well documented in an extensive report to be found here:

    There is gathering evidence of potential vote rigging in our most recent 2019 General Election available on the Discussion Forum thread “Elections Aftermath” Although largely my fault through lengthy posts, this thread has become so overloaded with material that Moderators advised us to start a new thread. The new thread: “Elections Aftermath – Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

    The embedded Picture in the new thread links directly to a Petition I have launched on AVAAZ:

    I am trying to launch two new Hashtags: #TORYRIG2019 & #TORYWARPED2019 I would appreciate assistance with all this so please read, sign, share and Link to this Petition on AVAAZ:

    What is Warped? W.A.R.P.E.D. Withdrawal Against the Rights of People’s Electoral Decision – #TORYWARPED2019 Can you imagine Boris crowing after a rigged vote forced subservience to Westminster on the Scots for another two decades based on a rigged vote? You cannot take that risk. Do not allow the UK to rig another Scottish Referendum; take charge of the Electoral Process, set the parameters for your vote and maintain strict control of media neutrality.

    We must restore proper oversight to all UK Elections as our Electoral Commission is currently toothless: A Watchdog that cannot watch is just a dog! We need to “Rescue our Watchdog” – “All Votes must Count”

    • glenn_uk

      Amazing that, after all their efforts to get the Tories elected, the BBC is effectively being rewarded with being completely defunded.

      That’ll teach them – and anyone else who voted Tory – to give these miserable scoundrels assistance. They’ll kick you to the kurb the moment they have what they want out of you. Just ask any of Johnson’s cast-offs.

      • J

        The decision makers aren’t getting defunded. Dissasisfaction with BBC propaganda (having achieved its purpose in helping steal the election*) is now being rolled into Privatisation of the BBC, which if anything means bigger bucks for all who sail in her and nothing for everyone tossed overboard in the process.

        *Is there anyone watching Iowa who doesn’t suspect this? Is there anyone who having looked at the facts doesn’t know this?

  • Republicofscotland

    Watching the Tory branch manager Jackson Carlaw receive a CBE from Prince Charles today, one can only wonder how the conversation went, probably something like this.

    JC: Oh thank you your greatness, for this humble little House Jock to be recognised for his work in holding back the prosperity, and development of Scotland is an honour indeed your majesty.

    PC: So tell me my favourite little minon at Holyrood, what is one to do with those biddy Scots, wanting independence and all, they’re beginning to irk one, and mother isn’t too pleased either.

    JC: Not to worry your magnificence, I and my Holyrood House Jocks plan to keep on wasting money on FoI’s and demeaning every good policy that, that vile, evil, nasty separatist Nicola Sturgeon announces.

    PC:So I can count on you, my ruddy faced little serf to thwart Sturgeon and Scottish independence?

    JC:Oh yes you wonderous benefactor of the not worthy, I and my band of hardy decriers of all things good in Scotland, will not fail you, nor will we fail our country’s (Britain) great Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who we look to for guidance, after yourself my leige.

    PC: Now be off with you my obedient lackey and do your worst. Mummy’s calling.

    JC:kowtowing and mumbling groveling words to himself.

  • Andy

    Anyone wondering how long it will be till the really dirty tricks start against Nicola

    The gloves are now of and Boris will approve and support anything.

  • Joaquin Closet

    Starting in the early 1770’s, Ben Franklin began his courting of France and Prussia (little known) for not only support against the British, but for well-needed funds to fight the upcoming war. I have visited Scotland many times, have many friends there and have chatted over scotch and haggis about fighting for independence. I know that, in this day and age, a “revolution” like we had 243 years ago would be difficult, if nigh near impossible to pull off, but drastic times deserve drastic measures.

  • Ruben Rosenthal

    Could someone kindly explain to a brazilian what is expected concerning Indyref2, from Scotland Supreme Court judges, like Colin J. M. Sutherland (Lord Carloway), Leeona J. Dorrian, Ann Paton, Duncan A. Y. Menzies, Anne Smith, Philip H. Brodie, James E. D. Young, Angus Glennie, Alexander F. Wylie and the others Senators of the College of Justice ? Are they loyal to Westminster and the Crown or to a republican independent Scotland?
    Although UK Supreme Court is above the Court of Sessions, would the Senators be prepared to stand for the self determination of the Scottish nation?

    • Hatuey

      I’ll have a pop. We can guess that most will be against independence on a personal level, and that a few will be members of the highly conservative pro-UK masons. For those not aware of the role of the masons, it’s a sort of teamsters Union for corrupt under-achieving morons.

      That all said, we can expect the judges to reduce this to some act of Parliament or another, there are a few to choose from, that denotes Westminster has divine powers over everything, trumping the UN, the supposed Claim of Right, anything Nicola says when she’s asleep or awake.

      Thus, we might have an independent judiciary on paper in Scotland, but that only means they will be free to independently confirm that Scotland is a colony, as per the Scotland act.

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