Independence, Justice and the Unionist Lord Advocate 130

The Lord Advocate’s “reference” to the UK Supreme Court on whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to instigate an Independence Referendum is carefully wrought to get the answer “No”.

From the opening pleading on whether the Supreme Court should hear the petition at all – which Lord advocate Bain founds solely on the argument that Independence and the UK Parliament are “reserved matters” to Westminster, therefore she is entitled to make the reference –

Bain continually shoots the pro-Referendum argument in the foot. If you believe that Sturgeon and her Lord Advocate are genuinely acting with the intention of gaining Independence, then you must believe Bain is the worst lawyer in the world.

Alternatively she is a middling clever lawyer who has set out deliberately to fail. This could not be clearer than in the course her argument takes next. The reference to the Supreme Court arises, she states, because the Lord Advocate has to certify a Bill as within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, not relating to a reserved matter. Bain states “she would be unlikely to have the necessary degree of confidence that the Bill does not relate to a reserved matter”.

Given that she has stated at para 8 that this is about a reserved matter and that is why the Supreme Court has competence to hear the reference, it is hardly surprising that she does not have confidence that this is not a reserved matter.

But as an exercise in pointing the Supreme Court towards refusal, para 22 could hardly have been bettered. Bain here plainly said that she cannot certify the Referendum Bill as within the competence of the Scottish Parliament as she does not have confidence in the Scottish Goverment’s case – the very case she is supposed to be making out here.

It did not have to be formulated that way. Rather than stating that Bain does not have “the necessary degree of confidence that the Bill does not relate to a reserved matter to “clear” the Bill”, she could have written something neutral along the lines of “Given the serious implications of a potential Independence referendum, the Lord Advocate considered it proper to defer the decision to the highest authority.”

But Bain does not do that. Instead she gratuitously tells the Supreme Court that:

a) In her opinion the Referendum Bill cannot be certified as within the Scottish Parliament’s competence

and – pay attention this is crucial

b) Should the Supreme Court refuse to give a reference or say it is up to the Lord Advocate, she is going to refuse to certify the Bill

I have said that Bain could have put the question neutrally, and not told the Supreme Court her position that the Bill cannot be certified. Of course a Lord Advocate – and a First Minister – who actually believed in Independence would not have referred the matter to London at all. They would have certified the Bill as competent and left it to the unionists to challenge through the courts.

Instead we have this charade of pleading to London for Scotland’s right to decide, while grovelling at the same time and stating that in their personal opinion, we do not have the right to decide.

My personal experience of Scotland’s top lawyers – which has been both profound and incredibly costly – is that the Scottish legal profession is the most deferential, self-serving and utterly cowed by the Establishment in all of Europe. The Scottish legal profession has united behind Bain in sycophantic applause of her “even-handed” approach in setting out “both sides of the argument” – even though in so doing she has made plain which side she favours, and it is not the Independence side.

But the Lord Advocate is not supposed to be even-handed. She is supposed to argue the Scottish Government’s case. That is why she is called the Lord Advocate and not the Lord Judge*. Bain is a minister in the Scottish Government. That is an affront to the separation of powers, but it makes plain she speaks and argues for the Scottish Government of which she is a member.

When the then Lord Advocate intervened against Martin Keatings in the Keatings case (cited by Bain) on precisely the same issue now referred to the Supreme Court, the Lord Advocate was not even-handed. The Lord Advocate did not set out both sides.

In the Keatings case, the Lord Advocate put strongly the Scottish Government position, which was that Martin Keatings is but a peasant with no standing, and that whether a referendum without Westminster approval would be legal is of no concern to the likes of Keatings and the common scum, but is a question the putting of which before a court is solely under the authority of the mighty Nicola Sturgeon.

I have paraphrased the Lord Advocate’s argument in the Keatings case there slightly, but that is not in the least an unfair characterisation.

The judges in that case followed the Lord Advocate – and it is worth noting that the Scottish Government through the Lord Advocate and the Westminster government through the Advocate General combined to put down Keatings’ impudent assertion that the people of Scotland had an interest. As Bain puts it at para 29 “The Lord President’s discussion [judgment] largely reflected the the submissions made on behalf of both the Advocate General and the Lord Advocate.”

In setting out the “even-handed” arguments for and against the competence of the Bill, Bain devotes most space to an exhaustive series of quotes to show that it was the specific intention of Westminster in passing the Scotland Act that the Scottish Parliament could not choose to hold a referendum on Independence.

The sole argument on which Bain founds the case for a referendum being competent, is that the referendum would have no effect. It would not be “self-executing”, and the ultimate political result of such a referendum cannot be easily foreseen by the courts. Bain is stating that Westminster could simply choose to ignore a “Yes” vote in a Scottish parliament initiated referendum, and that it would just be a “consultative exercise” for the Scottish government to determine popular opinion.

That really is how the Lord Advocate for the Scottish Government frames the “positive” case for the referendum.

Self-Determination – the Elephant in the Room

The most important point of all is that Bain makes no argument that Scotland has the inherent right to act unilaterally on the principle of self-determination. She argues purely from UK domestic law and makes no argument from international law whatsoever.

Bain in fact clearly points that she does not believe Scotland has any rights in international law. She dredges up and gives in full this highly obscure quote from Lord Slynn in a House of Lords committee:

“For my part, I would accept that there was an international treaty between
England and Scotland (as it has often been so called in the past), but since
neither state has existed as such since 1707 there is no party to the treaty which
could enforce it.”

The non-existence of Scotland appears to be accepted by Bain. That the same non-existence criterion could have been applied to every colony before it regained independence appears not to trouble these people.

Yet there appears, from time to time through the enshrouding mists of Bain’s argument, an entirely disjointed reference to Scotlands right of self-determination, simply asserted, contradicting her major arguments but ignored in them, as though a mantra with no meaning. Peculiarly, the strongest statement of Scotland’s self-determination referenced by Bain is a quote from Margaret Thatcher:

The right to self-determination emerges again in Bain’s conclusion. Here she makes her view crystal clear, that self-determination is part of the “political context” and not a legal matter, it has no legal effect.

This explains why Bain nowhere mentions self-determination as a legal argument justifying Scotland’s right to hold a referendum.

But this is spectacularly wrong. Self-determination of peoples is a fundamental legal right, and there is a huge amount of treaty and case law around it.

The UN Charter itself embodies “the self-determination of peoples” in Article 1 (ii).

The Helsinki Final Act – to which the UK is a signatory – is explicit at Article VIII on how secession should be treated, and is vital here because it relates specifically to the European context. It states:

“By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of
peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine,
when and as they wish, their internal and external political status.”

“To determine when and as they wish”. That could not be clearer. The UK is a signatory. It would be impossible to be more relevant to the question of whether Scotland has the right to hold a referendum. Why has Bain not coupled the right to self-determination with the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act in her reference to the Supreme Court?

It is not because the UK Supreme Court cannot consider international law in this context. It most certainly can, and indeed is bound to. The Supreme Court of Canada, in re Secession of Quebec, devoted more than half its judgment to the right of secession as a matter of international law, after considering the case in domestic law.

Like the London Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Canada is a residual agent of English monarchical imperialism and so, headed by a corrupt alcoholic “guided” by MI6, it found against Quebec (as London will find against Scotland). But that the question of Quebec secession was very much a matter of international law was plainly acknowledged by the Canadian Supreme Court.

The Independence of a state is primarily, indeed exclusively, a matter of the status of that state (or non-state) in international law. It is a question of its relationship to other states and multilateral organisations. To ignore this international law aspect, as Bain does, is ludicrous. It renders self-determination, which should be her strongest legal argument, entirely nugatory.

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 follows from the stated legal 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.

It is particularly important to note that in its Kosovo opinion, the International Court of Justice plainly overturned the Supreme Court of Canada’s argument in Quebec that the right to territorial integrity trumps the right to self-determination. That is vital for the right of secession for Scotland.

80. Several participants in the proceedings before the Court have contended that a
prohibition of unilateral declarations of independence is implicit in the principle
of territorial integrity.
The Court recalls that the principle of territorial integrity is an important part of
the international legal order and is enshrined in the Charter
of the United Nations, in particular in Article 2, paragraph 4, which provides that:
“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from
the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with
the Purposes of the United Nations.”
In General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV), entitled “Declaration on
Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and
Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the
United Nations”, which reflects customary international law (Military and
Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States
of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, pp. 101-103,
paras. 191-193), the General Assembly reiterated “[t]he principle that
States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use
of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any
State”. This resolution then enumerated various obligations incumbent
upon States to refrain from violating the territorial integrity of other sovereign States.
In the same vein, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference
on Security and Co-operation in Europe of 1 August 1975 (the Helsinki
Conference) stipulated that “[t]he participating States will respect the territorial
integrity of each of the participating States” (Art. IV). Thus, the
scope of the principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of
relations between States.

81. Several participants have invoked resolutions of the Security
Council condemning particular declarations of independence: see, inter
alia, Security Council resolutions 216 (1965) and 217 (1965), concerning
Southern Rhodesia; Security Council resolution 541 (1983), concerning
northern Cyprus; and Security Council resolution 787 (1992), concerning
the Republika Srpska.
The Court notes, however, that in all of those instances the Security
Council was making a determination as regards the concrete situation
existing at the time that those declarations of independence were made;
the illegality attached to the declarations of independence thus stemmed
not from the unilateral character of these declarations as such, but from
the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful
use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law,
in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens).
In the context of Kosovo, the Security Council has never taken this
position. The exceptional character of the resolutions enumerated above
appears to the Court to confirm that no general prohibition against unilateral
declarations of independence may be inferred from the practice of the
Security Council.

The key conclusion of the International Court of Justice is

84. For the reasons already given, the Court considers that general
international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations
of independence.

I have long been both troubled and astonished that the case of Scottish Independence appears the only instance in history where the claim to Independence has never been advanced by the relevant political leadership as a right in international law. Rather this right is deliberately ignored or even disparaged, as Bain does with her quote that Scotland’s rights in international law vanished with the state in 1707.

Part of this may be explained by parochialism. The Scottish legal profession is horribly inbred – Lord Advocate Bain’s husband was on the bench which sent me to jail for journalism exposing corruption in the Scottish legal system. Part of it is due to a myopic outlook – the SNP depends heavily on UK constitutional lawyers like Professor Aileen McHarg who are obsessed with the minutiae of domestic legislation and care nothing for international law.

I suspect the biggest problem is lack of self-confidence and the Scottish cringe.

Permission for Independence will never come from London. Bain’s submission to the Supreme Court is designed to fail. If you believe we need permission from London at all, plainly you do not believe in Scotland’s right to self-determination.

Scotland will only ever achieve Independence by acting on the International Court of Justice’s ruling that domestic legislation of the state being seceded from cannot constrain the right to self-determination of a people. Of course Independence will be illegal in UK law. The London Establishment won’t willingly relinquish Scotland’s resources. If you kowtow to them, you don’t actually believe in Scottish Independence.

*Though there is nothing less even-handed than a Scottish judge


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130 thoughts on “Independence, Justice and the Unionist Lord Advocate

1 2
  • Vivian O’Blivion

    And the last Scottish lawyer who threatened the British State was suicided with a bullet to the back of the neck.
    Not that Bain acts out of fear of assassination. The Faculty of Advocates is an Anglo/Scots scion of the British State. The spontaneous, grassroots movement of the Scot’s working class exhibited in 2014 scared the shite oot o’ them.
    Meanwhile, Sturgeon and her NuSNP are enabled and manipulated by the British deep state, run through the cut-out of the US State Department and their sinister, John Smith Centre for Public Service.

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to differ about Willie McRae’s sad demise, Father. Far more likely, in my opinion, was that, being slightly drunk, he missed the bend, drove off the road, tried to get back on it again but got stuck in a burn, and then couldn’t face a long, dark, cold night of the soul in Glenmoriston.

      Think about it this way: If you were intending to kill someone on behalf of the British State, or a cabal of predatory paedophiles, and make it look like a suicide, why would you use an antique S&W revolver firing tiny .22 short rounds – which are only really suitable for killing small mammals* – that you then leave in a burn 60 feet from his car, rather than just shooting him in the temple with a 9 mil wearing gloves, and leaving it by his seat after making sure his prints are all over it?

      Investigations a few years back by students at the University of Strathclyde – obviously you can’t expect journos to carry out their own investigations these days – may have solved the mystery of the revolver in the stream:

      Agree completely with the rest of your comment, of course.

      *I think that the only reason that McRae actually died, rather than just becoming paralyzed, was because the bullet hit one of his vertebral arteries, and either reduced the blood supply to part of his brainstem, or perhaps more likely, he suffered a later stroke in hospital after part of the clot broke away and caused an embolism.

      • Dodds

        If you haven’t read the facts of Wullie McRae’s death you shouldn’t make lazy ill informed comments. He hadn’t drunk anything – his bottle for the weekend was unopened; the paint stripper staged to make it look like he’d drunk something in the car didn’t have his fingerprints on it; the gun was forty feet from the vehicle in a burn; you can’t shoot yourself in the head TWICE even with a small calibre weapon. The car was moved; there was a mysterious witness who was untraceable … the list is endless. His papers were missing never to be found; his office was endlessly broken into. He had phoned ahead to ask the neighbour to buy him milk and rolls for the morning …. hardly a suicide.

        • Dodds

          I will correct that first statement, it was later found by an intensive care nurse that Wullie McRae was shot in the back of the head at the brain stem and a bullet was lodged deep in his brain.
          Yet even after a review of the case in 2010/11 the police found “no suspicious circumstances” and closed the case. Even his transfer from Raigmore to Aberdeen for a supposed RTA was strange and he also had no facial injuries from the “crash”.
          A man came forward to say that he had also rescued Wullie from a house fire at his flat shortly before his death.

          • glenn_nl

            What beats me about these obviously suicided cases is how astonishingly badly staged they are. Or they’re motiveless murders by some stranger who was never identified. Hilda Murrell, Dr David Kelly, and so on.

            Perhaps that’s the point – the State just wants people to know they can get away with this crap, no matter how blatantly obvious it might be that this was an extra-judicial killing.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your replies, Dodds. I’m not as obsessive about the case as some, but I am aware of most of the established facts around it. To address your points:

          Apparently, Northern Constabulary didn’t even dust the S&W revolver for prints after they found it, so I doubt whether they would have bothered dusting a half-empty/full bottle of Famous Grouse. Ergo neither you nor I know whether his prints were on it or not – I’d bet that they were. His post-mortem found a near-zero blood alcohol level but by then at least 24 hours would have elapsed since the shot, which is more than enough time for the body to process an amount of alcohol several times over the limit – and he did have previous drink-drive convictions.

          Even though two rounds appeared to have been fired from the S&W, Nurse Mcgonigal who looked after him at Aberdeen Hospital says that the X-ray showed there was only ONE bullet lodged in his brainstem. He could have fired the first shot out of the window to check the gun was working or to get a feel for the recoil (not much).

          As the Scotland on Sunday article outlines, it’s highly likely that his Volvo was moved back to Glen Moriston by the police – though not to the exact same spot – when info came through from the hospital that a bullet had been found in his head. This would account for the revolver being found 60 feet from the car the following day.

          His office may have been broken into and papers stolen, but that doesn’t mean that the same person(s) killed him. Similar things happened to Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, but he wasn’t assassinated – and Yanks are generally far more trigger-happy than Brits.

          Shortly before he set off from Glasgow he probably wasn’t suicidal, which explains why he phoned his neighbour, but then he wasn’t drunk and alone in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night with a gun in the glovebox.

          I think that the Scots authorities are refusing a fatal accident inquiry into his death because it will expose gross incompetence within the police. Note: I’m not 100% certain that he wasn’t murdered – I just think that, on the evidence, it’s highly unlikely.

  • Alan Crocket

    We only get the referendum if Holyrood has the legal competence to legislate for it. That is a question which can be settled only within UK law, hence the Lord Advocate’s reference to the Supreme Court. If we don’t get it, we take the vote on independence by means of a general election, which is unquestionably legal within UK law (which is the significance of the First Minister’s recent statement to Holyrood).
    Given that Scotland already has that legal route (and may also have the referendum route if the Supreme Court sanctions it), the international question only arises after the vote for independence, and only if London refuses to recognise Scottish independence.
    Whether London would recognise it is unknown, but I believe it will, and that it will come to the table to negotiate the details of independence. They have always maintained that we are in a union of consent, and there is no constitutional bar on Scottish independence. I don’t see them ditching that position after a peaceful, legal and democratic vote for independence by the people of Scotland.
    The only real barrier to independence is, as always, the Scottish people themselves, so we must persuade the majority to vote for it.

    • craig Post author


      The entire point of the article is that the entire process is governed by international law. A domestic law application to the London Supreme Court is not a necessary step, it is entirely irrelevant. If made for the sake of form, its focus should be Scotland’s right of self determination in international law, not crap arguments about Westminster legislation which cannot constrain us.

      • Alan Crocket

        Thanks, Craig, for this and for the illuminating background in your piece.
        I understand your point, but I don’t agree. While Scotland remains in the union (by the wish of its majority in 2014) and has a UK-legal means of making its own decision on independence (by election if not by referendum), that aspect of the matter need not stray into international questions. Where international law aspects would become live is if Scotland votes Yes but London refuses to accept Scottish independence. That is not to say that London would have any such right, but its non-acceptance would be a severe practical difficulty.
        My belief that London would fall into line, though reluctantly, with a Scottish Yes vote is based on its repeated acknowledgment that the union is based on consent and that Scotland is an entity for which independence is entirely appropriate, and on the lack of any UK constitutional bar to Scottish independence. Not to recognise a Scotland which had left the union after a completely regular vote for independence would place London in a position of such monstrous absurdity as to be virtually unthinkable.
        To go independent, we really need two things. One is of course a Yes vote, and the electoral plebiscite is a means to that which London cannot subvert. The other is utter resolve of the SNP leadership to see it through. That’s where Sturgeon’s recent statement comes in, and we must hope that she sticks to the course she has laid out.
        We’ve always had independence before us on a silver platter, but we’ve always blamed the other for our own choice not to take it. We may just be about to cure ourselves of that disease.

        • Jock McDonnell

          I think the point is that this is not a matter of law at all. It is a matter of democratic politics, hiding behind ‘the law’ – the majority opinion of a few judges it seems – is what we expect of a dictatorship. In a democracy, law is a product of politics not the master. I’m surprised that the LA should present both sides of an argument. Is that what is expected in a legal case ? If the unionists have an argument then they should make it themselves. Either way, the idea that 5.5 million people can be denied a democratic vote by a few judges in London or by the attitude of a PM is outrageous.

          • Alan Crocket

            Whether the Scottish Parliament has legislative competence to set up an independence referendum is entirely a matter of law. The Scottish Parliament is a devolved body established by an act of the UK parliament which describes its powers and limitations. It may not pass legislation which “relates” to “the union of the kingdoms”, and the current reference to the Supreme Court (which is specifically provided for in the act) is to obtain a definitive legal decision as to whether the referendum bill lies within that prohibited area.
            While important, it is not crucial, because general elections can always be used as independence plebiscites anyway, so long as a party puts up the appropriate manifesto, and there is nothing the UK government or the Supreme Court can do about that.
            The false notion that without a referendum we are sunk, and that Scotland is therefore oppressed, is down to the crazy line taken over recent years by my party the SNP, which has only now been abandoned, thankfully, by the First Minister resurrecting the plan of using the election as the plebiscite if it transpires that a referendum is prohibited by law.
            Again, there is no legal obstacle to Scotland actually going independent if its people vote for it. Whether we actually take that step, if we do vote Yes, is largely down to the resolve of the SNP in overcoming any practical difficulties which are thrown up. It’s all in Scotland’s hands. Remember, a majority of us voted democratically to remain in the UK in 2014, and we are now paying the price.

      • jake

        If the Supreme Court have the sense that they ought to they’d hand this one right back to the Lord Advocate with the hortatory advice that she does her job and makes her decision one way or the other. I don’t think their Lordships see their court as an advice centre nor as a rubber stamp for timid and indecisive advocacy.

      • Joan Savage

        Exactly, Craig.

        The U.K. (de facto English) Parliament did not ask the European Parliament for permission to withdraw from the Treaty that it had voluntarily entered into. The U.K. withdrew from the Treaty through a specific mechanism within the Treaty. However that is not the only mechanism for withdrawal from a Treaty. Scotland has the right to withdraw from the Treaty of Union due to the breaches of its terms by the other party. One example is ignoring the sovereign will of the Scots people to remain within the EU. Furthermore the Vienna Convention allows nations to withdraw from Treaties where one party has suffered detriment at the hands of by the other – of which there are many instances in terms of Scotland. Take the instance of GERS which misrepresents Scotland’s economy by attributing debt to Scotland for English infrastructure costs but NOT attributing resultant taxation income (Corporation Tax, Income Tax from developers) to Scotland’s income account. Think of the stymying of the development of our ports and a maritime strategy in favour of English ports. Of carbon capture being diverted from Peterhead… and so on and on…

        British (English) domestic legislation is the wrong path to follow. By doing so, Scotland does not behave like a country, it behaves like a region. But who is surprised? The leader of our so-called National Party lowered Scotland’s national flag during COP26 in obedience to the British Prime Minister’s instruction. What message does that send to the international community? I am minded of Professor Alf Baird’s advice that it is normal for the ‘national party’ of a colonised country to collude with the coloniser. That is why, after years of being an activist in the SNP, including being a member of an SNP national committee that was not permitted (by the National Secretary) to meet due to the number of reformers that it contained (and many other scourges such as Joanna Cherry Q.C. being replaced as SNP Justice Secretary by a failed drama student) that I resigned my membership.

      • Colin Alexander

        Craig Murray, I agree international law in the form of the UN Charter takes precedence. If I were the Lord Advocate, my main argument would be that the Treaty of Union which gives the Union Parliament the right to legislate for Scotland, which it did in the Scotland Act 1998, still requires compliance with the UN Charter which includes a legal obligation for respect for the right of self-determination and I would cite: The application of Al-Jedda v United Kingdom (Application no. 27021/08)

        At the ECtHR this case also considered the role of the UN Charter:

        “D. Relevant case-law of the International Court of Justice

        48. The International Court of Justice has held Article 103 of the Charter of the United Nations to mean that the Charter obligations of United Nations member States prevail over conflicting obligations from another international treaty, regardless of whether the latter treaty was concluded before or after the Charter of the United Nations…”.

        Thus, I would argue that the Articles of Union or Treaty of Union is an international treaty between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England (and later Ireland) but the Union treaty does not abrogate the UK’s duty to comply with the UN Charter’s legal duty to respect the right of self-determination for the people of Scotland. Thus, the Scotland Act 1998 must be interpreted and given effect in accordance with the UN Charter, so the Scotland Act 1998 cannot lawfully be interpreted in a manner that would deny the people of Scotland a referendum on independence when the Scot Govt has a democratic mandate to introduce the referendum Bill.

        Furthermore, the position of the UK Govt and UK courts in Al-Jedda v Secretary of the State for Defence HL 12 Dec 2007 was that the UN Charter took precedence. (Though they had not upheld Al-Jedda’s claim for breach of human rights).

  • Al Hunter

    Much appreciated Craig, I really don’t have the skill/ time to go through all this minutiae like you do, so thank you very much.

  • Chris Leeds

    I wonder what people might think of this proposition, that the situation in Ukraine might be compared to a possible – though, hopefully, extremely unlikely – scenario in the UK, thus: Scotland does go ahead with demanding and enacting legislation towards Independence without British government approval. The EU supports this action. When physical takeover of institutions is attempted by Scottish Nationalists, Unionists in England and some parts of Scotland respond with violence, which is reciprocated. Then a violent right wing coup orchestrated by the USA and domestic agitators results in a British government, led by a populist ‘personality’, bringing in the British Army to re-take buildings and infrastructure, destroying much of it in the process. The EU seeks to assist the Scots, at first by diplomacy. This fails, so they resort to covert action, supplying arms and personnel. The British government accepts huge supplies of US arms and escalates into full on war. The EU responds with overt supplies of weapons etc, and eventually sends in their own troops to prevent total destruction of Scotland’s territory and people. The EU strikes strategic targets in England, even as far south as London. The media across the world portray Scotland and the EU as the aggressors, refugees from Northern England flee abroad, Union Jacks are waved around, But – the English lost the battle long ago because the population were always quite happy to let Scotland secede. After much death and destruction a stalemate is reached, albeit leaving deep emotional scars that will not heal for decades. Scotland is de-facto separate, and re-joins the EU.

    • Taxiarch

      I chuckled at that; but then this really is no laughing matter.

      “…the policy gave ministers grounds to pursue what they consider to be unlawful policies because nothing would ever be deemed 100 per cent unlawful unless it had already been tested in the courts.”

  • Mist001

    From where I’m sitting, I’d say it all depends on whether Liz Truss becomes PM. She’s even more likely to shut down Holyrood than Johnson was and if she does that before the matter even reaches the Supreme Court, then the whole charade is pointless. There will be no referendum.

    In that case, the entire thing really does come down to the will of the Scottish people and with the entire world watching, the choice will become between acquiescence and civil disobedience.

    If I were a betting man, I’d go for the former.

    On the other hand, the following scenario seems plausible to me:

    1: Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister.
    2: She will be forced to hold an early General Election.
    3: She’ll need help to get the Tories over the line.
    4: The SNP offer their backing in return for an S30 order.
    5: Liz Truss agrees and Scotland holds and wins its referendum.
    6: Scotland becomes independent.

    And it’s all thanks to Christopher Pincher!!

  • Courtenay Francis Raymond Barnett

    A. Referendum.

    B. Result.

    C. Assertion as of right under international law – if the result is ‘yes’.

    N.B. Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 states that the purpose of the UN Charter is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”

    P.S. Seems pretty logical and clear to me.

  • Philip Maughan

    You mention that Bain believes that Scotland no longer has the right to self-determination when she quotes Lord Slynn, who says that Scotland’s rights in international law vanished with the state in 1707. However the unwritten UK Constitution is based largely on precedent and recent precedents demonstrate that the UK does agree that Scotland has the right to self-determination through their agreeing to the referendum of 2014.

    When they signed up to this agreement the UK Government also tacitly agreed that no particular criteria should apply to the holding of a referendum. For instance, no mention was made of the time which must elapse between referenda (there is no mention of ‘once in a generation’ for instance). Nor is there any mention of what is required in terms of a pro-independence majority; in 2012 Alex Salmond gained an outright majority of seats but only 45.5% of the vote and opinion polls suggested between 28% and 32% support for independence. So all the arguments employed by UK Government ministers re ‘once in a generation’ and lack of a mandate are simply hot air given the precedents set out above that have already been agreed to.

    • Cubby

      You can add to your post that Cameron only got something like 37% of the vote for his mandate to hold the EU referendum. The Britnats and democracy do not sit well together – perfidious Albion.

  • Mr. E

    International recognition? => Kosovo?

    Despite the bumph above, Kosovo currently isn’t a member of the UN because a lot of countries don’t recognise Kosovo. In Scotland’s case, that would be compounded by the fact that the UK isn’t a recently-created Serbia, and everyone would be looking for UK recognition, first.

    • craig Post author

      Kosovo is currently recognised by 99 states. It is recognised as a candidate state for EU accession by the EU, which is crucially important.

      Kosovo’s significance lies in the step forward in jurisprudence in the ICJ opinion on its secession. Recognition by other countries is complicated in Kosovo’s case by the US/NATO divide vs Russia and China. This will not arise in the same way for Scotland.

      • Ronny

        Kosovo is more complicated than Scotland also because

        1. It was de facto separated from Serbia by illegal military aggression
        2. There was significant ethnic cleansing after the de facto separation and before the declaration of independence
        3. There was no referendum anyway, even of the cleansed population
        • Ronny

          (I was editing the above to add this, but pressed the wrong key)

          Crimea is a much more acceptable precedent. I know Craig disagrees, partly because of the (legal) presence of Russian soldiers, without whom the Ukrainian authorities would very likely have done as Spain did in Catalonia, throwing grannies downstairs and so on to prevent voting. However, the British military were not withdrawn from Scotland before the last referendum and presumably would remain during a second, and no-one seems to think that invalidates the result.

          • Adam

            Catalonia’s attempts at independence are interesting, to me at least, and I happened to be in Barcelona for a few days in 2017, when there were several demonstrations going on.

            If Wikipedia is to be believed, the vote by the Catalan Parliament that authorised the referendum: “After being suspended, the law was finally declared void on 17 October,[19] being also unconstitutional according to the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia which requires a two-thirds majority, 90 seats, in the Catalan parliament for any change to Catalonia’s status.[20][21][22]”

            So the referendum had no legal force, no matter all the other goings-on.

          • Cubby

            No, what invalidates the result is not the presence of the British Army in Scotland but other factors. The British Army occupied Scotland to maintain the Union in the past but nowadays it is not Army garrisons and forts but control by the media, economics/finance and other institutions.

            The colonising country never provides a proper democratic route to freedom for the colonised unless it is forced to do so.

      • tom welsh

        As I understand it (not very well at all), Kosovo gained independence without any referendum or other effort to find out what its people wanted.

        But you say that it is really legally independent because 99 states recognise it.

        Does that not imply that the opinions and wishes of the 99 other states matter more than those of the Kosovans? Infinitely more, in fact.

  • Giyane

    To use the Thatcherite, Atlanticist corpus of international law that was designed to rescue discontented, former colonial states from the lure of Socialism, for the purpose of detaching those same discontented states from the excesses of Thatcherite, Alanticist capitalism seems to me personally more absurd than the convolutions of the Lord Advocate.

    First detach yourself from the Thatcherite, Atlanticist, self-serving, “International Law”, then make your case for Scottish Independence based on the human right to align Scotland with the superpower of your own choice.

  • Tom Welsh

    “My personal experience of Scotland’s top lawyers – which has been both profound and incredibly costly – is that the Scottish legal profession is the most deferential, self-serving and utterly cowed by the Establishment in all of Europe”.

    Although perhaps if you had similarly personal experience of some of the others…

  • tom welsh

    “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”.

    I find that hard to understand, either in theory or in practice. If a people X wish to declare independence and in fact become independent, what on earth has that to do with other countries? Surely the category of “other countries” is precisely the category of people who have no interest in the matter, and therefore should have no say? (“No standing”, as the lawyers say).

    Moreover, of course, as everyone knows, the approval of most “other countries” is in the gift of the US government. It deploys both carrot and stick, in the form of bribes and threats directed against both states and individuals. Why should the right of people X to become independent depend on the whim of the US government?

    Also, why does Mr Murray claim that Kosovo had, and Scotland now has, the right to independence whereas Crimea and the Donbas republics do not? After all, Crimeans voted with a majority of over 90% to rejoin Russia, while in Kosovo the people were not consulted at all and in Scotland the cause of independence commands, at best, a bare majority.

    • Tatyana

      Recognition of the independence of a state = recognition of the right of a certain community of people to make decisions that affect the actions of other members of the community. In simple terms, you have to reckon with the new guy in the block.

      If we all relied only on strict logic, then the opinion of third parties could be based on those changes in the real world order that the creation of a new state will bring.
      To greatly simplify the analogy, you don’t care if your neighbor Mr. A marries a Mrs. B. But your interests may be affected in case the marriage entails a change in ownership of the territories adjacent to your household.
      For example, you would be angry and strongly object if Mrs. B planned to set up a fighting dog kennel right outside your household fence, wouldn’t you?

      Thus, Mr. A’s desire to marry Mrs. B is a separate matter, and the consequences of such an act for the neighbours is another matter.
      If we follow this analogy, then the “neighbors” have something to say about the planned marriage, or rather, it concerns the future assignment of household resources. But the “neighbors” still have no influence, for example, to prevent Mr. A from deciding to divorce and live a bachelor life. Just as there is no power to force Mr. A to marry only a bride approved by the neighbors.

    • IMcK

      I think you are correct in suggesting that international recognition (by a group of countries) should not confer independence, not least because such countries may have vested interests. CM’s position seems to be independence becomes the defacto status on international recognition. He does not discuss the likelihood of such recognition.

      I find CM’s arguments for the right to independence unconvincing:

      i)    International law is ambivalent on independence unless there are defined reasons such as subjugation or colonisation. The reasons do not extend to a group of people within a state believing they would be better off independent. Clearly this would be to support the dissolution of a state on the whim of a group of its citizens.

      ii)   Self determination and its reference against ‘peoples’ seems ill-defined. Could it be extended to say Shetland or Orkney who might consider they could wax fat by doing a deal with Norway and become oil barons overnight? Of course not.

      iii)  Reliance upon the UK’s position regarding Kosovo might have some veracity but is disingenuous given the immorality of its independence – the latter of course as pointed out in your and Ronnys’ posts.

      • tom welsh

        Thanks. There is also the practical consideration that you have to declare independence before other countries have an opportunity to recognise you or not. Then if you have declared independence and most countries don’t recognise you, that must mean you’re a terrorist or something. As Ben Franklin pointed out during the American Revolution, if the rebels didn’t hang together they would most certainly hang separately.

        Mind you, precedents from US history are usually completely irrelevant to the outside world, as the Exceptional Nation has always made its own laws (and applied them to everyone else, as Julian Assange could testify). That shrewd lawyer Abraham Lincoln declared in 1847, “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world”.

        Please notice the weasel words: “… having the power…”! Lincoln graciously conceded the right of secession – contingent on having the (military) power to make it stick! But of course, if might makes right, there is no need to prate about “rights” or legalities. Lincoln’s words could be improved thus:

        “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, can shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better”.

        If they don’t have that (military) power, as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were to find, no amount of “valuable” and “sacred” rights will do them any good.

        The Melian Dialogue is all you need to know. The strong do what they will, and the weak do what they must. That’s it. That’s all. That’s politics and military science and law, all wrapped up in 13 simple words.

        Everything else is make believe, masquerade, and confidence tricks.

  • DiggerUK

    Great Britain came about by agreement between Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh neo feudal aristocracy in 1707. It wasn’t founded following a referendum of the universally franchised.
    History deals a hand of cards that can’t easily be changed.

    Today the UK, just like the rest of the world, is as we find it, rarely as we would like to find it.
    That legacy has left Scotland with a population that, as near as damn it, swings on the fulcrum of ambivalence to independence around 50/50. Until that changes those campaigning for independence have no choice other than to acknowledge that fact.

    It is a shit deal for those seeking independence I’ll grant, but for now it’s the only deal on the table…_

    • Vivian O’Blivion

      So, we lost in 2014. We should just “suck it up, snowflakes”.
      The Independence referendum was run on a Local Government franchise. All registered rate payers were eligible to vote.
      According to Prof Ailsa Henderson, University of Edinburgh, 52.7% of autochthonous voters opted YES.
      72.1% of rUK voters opted NO and 57.1% of voters born outside the UK voted NO.
      Using a Local Government franchise for a constitutional referendum is madness. No other country in Europe would do so. The UK certainly didn’t when it came to Brexit, when all EU citizens were excluded.

      Let’s apply a Local Government franchise to your precious Brexit referendum and see what woulda happened.
      By the numbers:

      UK population June 2016 (Office of National Statistics)   65,648,000
      EU citizens resident in UK (ONS 2019)    3,700,000
      Registered voters for Brexit referendum    46,500,000
      Turnout of registered voters    72.21%
      Margin of victory for Leave (3.78%)    1,269,235 votes

      Percentage of EU citizens resident in UK who would have been registered to vote;
      ((46,500,000) / (65,648,000 – 3,700,000)) / 100 =    75.06%
      Therefore 2,777,000 potential voters at 72.21% turnout =    2,005,000 votes.

      If just 63% of EU citizens resident in the UK had voted Remain (and that’s a racing certainty), your precious Brexit referendum would have been a statistical draw.

  • Roger

    I’m sympathetic to the cause of Scottish independence (I think most English people are). But England and Scotland have been united for so long that there are some practical questions that would need to be answered.
    Who, exactly, would qualify for Scottish citizenship?

    1. A significant number of people have links to both countries, sometimes they work in England and own a summer house in Scotland.
    2. There are a lot of expats scattered in almost all countries of the world, holding “British” passports. Some of them think of themselves as Scottish.
    3. There are families which have Scottish surnames but live in England. Do they get Scottish citizenship?
    4. What about English or Scottish students studying at a Scottish or English university at the moment of the split?
    5. Who, if anyone, gets dual English/Scottish nationality and the right to both passports?
  • Alf Baird

    Excellent analysis, Craig. Great to listen to your talk on this very subject at the SSRG/Salvo conference today. That no SNP MPs or MSPs attended the only major conference held on Scottish independence for some years tells us all we want to know. Sic a parcel o rogues in a naition. Its quite a deception all the same, except to those in the know. That no use has been made by the Scottish Government of your experience, knowledge, contacts and skills is a scandal, and so many other expert Scots in different areas who are not deployed to good effect in their own land. Which explains the mediocre meritocracy in a colony, the many policy failures, and a supposedly ‘nationalist’ administration working against independence.

  • Peter

    Craig this strategy is from the fine legal mind of Joanna Cherry QC MP. She has been at the leadership over it since February.

    It’s a win-win strategy. If we are allowed a referendum we win. If we are not we get a legal ruling from the highest UK court to that effect. We bank that as evidence justifying the Plebiscite election.

    That was also why the new S30 request to Johnson. Expect a fresh one landing on Truss’s desk when she becomes PM. Just to keep that box ticked. Not as an exercise in futility.

    Sturgeon’s series of statements are aimed at the International Community not us.

    I took your point at SSRG yesterday that they could do more. Except everything they try the UK will be along afterwards because they cannot hide it. HMG will know if you go to West Africa and visit your head of state friends along with everyone else. You forget move and counter move, which is curious for you. Or do you over-assess your persuasive abilities and think naebody else could do that too?

    Not at SSRG today sadly. The driving has made my wrist hurt (had a joint fusion years ago). I would risk driving down and being unable to drive back.

  • Republicofscotland

    Excellent article Craig and bang on the money, I believe we’re going nowhere whilst Sturgeon is at the helm.

  • Rumpole O.T. Baily.

    Scottish lawyers ‘the most deferential, self serving, and utterly cowed in Europe’ you say. No doubt most of the ‘top lawyers’ have their sights on joining the establishment as judges so are not in the boat rocking club like Michael Mansfield in England. He was never frightened of ‘ having a go ‘ at the establishment. Can’t think of anyone like him in Scotland.

    Did Sturgeon not sound out her choice of Lord Advocate on the referendum point before appointing her? It’s a bit worrying to think that she didn’t. And even more worrying if she did, and was happy to appoint someone who she knew was against it.

    Or perhaps the Lord Advocate changed her mind after her appointment for some reason. Which is why Sturgeon has made the SNP apply to the court to be made a party so they can put stronger arguments than the Lord Advocate’s. Or was this the plan all along?

    Whatever is behind all this, it doesn’t look good to proceed in this way My money is on a new Lord Advocate before long, and she can then accept a judicial appointment.

  • Tom Paine

    One can not simultaneously have lying politicians and democracy. It’s either one or the other. When politicians lie and manipulate in order to achieve their own power or their own goals, they are committing a coup d’état against the idea of democracy. Democracy requires, among other things, honest politicians who will both honestly tell the people everything, then with the same honesty respect the will of the people and do what the people want. In a democracy, the politician themselves wields no actual power, but is only the ‘representative’ of the people.

    If a majority of the people say the country is heading in the wrong direction, then that country is not a democracy.
    If a majority of the people want a referendum on who rules them, and this is denied, then that country is not a democracy. If, in other words, they want the fundamental principle of freedom and democracy known as ‘self-determination’, and this is denied, then they are no longer living in a democracy.

    It does not matter how it is denied. It does not matter what games are played, what charades are performed, what sort of political Kabuki Theater is presented: the fact is quite binary. If the people want something, and if the government claims for itself the power to deny this, then that nation is not a democracy. If the people have the power, the country is a democracy. If rulers and officials and courts claim the power to deny the people what they desire, then that country is not a democracy. It’s either one or the other, and a country can not be ‘half-democracy’.

    Remembering that the English fought wars against Democracy from the late 18th century and most of the 19th century, it’s not really a surprise that the ‘democracy’ found in the English Sphere of Influence isn’t really actually a democracy. The English upper classes would be absolutely shocked at the idea of a real democracy.

    • Giyane

      Tom Paine

      The blatant lies by Biden about his employment of his son in the affairs of Ukraine are about to unravel him in the same way that Bojo was unravelled. The function of politicians is only to lie, and then be unravelled for their lying after the desired result has been achieved by the lies.

      The sole thesis of any politician is to create slogans that will attract democratic political support, so that those in power can for a short time eat from the vast wealth of the state. There is no other political thesis than the opening of treasury finance by the use of political lies.

      Since Democracy is no more than criminal theft based on deceit, it follows that all democratic, political opponents are engaged in exactly the same game, namely flicking the occupants of the levers of power off their seats and installing their own bums in their place for the purpose of gambling of the state casino treasury.

      Politicians need conmen and women to get access to state funds. The sole purpose of war in Ukraine by both Putin and Biden is to divest the Ukranainian people of treasure and land.

      Neither Putin nor Biden are more criminal than the other under natural justice. But when you see fatuous legal arguments about National and international law being waffled on both sides of of a phoney political divide, it’s
      always best to remember the rule of thumb that bums on seats open the doors of state criminality. All the rest is over-educated methane , vented on the poor.

  • Doug

    The so-called supreme court will obviously reject the Scottish government’s instigation of a referendum on independence. The so-called supreme court is a british nationalist institution. Craig’s conclusions are correct. UK law has to be broken for Scotland to regain its independence. Do Scotland’s pro-independence politicians have the guts and the guile to succeed? Do independence supporters in general? We’ll find out after the so-called supreme court has delivered the certainty of its british nationalist verdict. We must be prepared to make personal sacrifices for our freedom. Even if we lose at least we’ll go down fighting. What’s equally certain is that there will be nothing so shameful as letting England dictate to us without us putting up a fight.

  • Joan Savage

    Excellent article which I sourced following Craig’s plenary at the Scottish Sovereignty Research Group conference last weekend.

    • nevermind

      Great title’Empowering the nation’. Nobody trying to make ends meet and feed their family on a daily basis can afford to travel to Dumfermline and spend £25 listening to speakers, unless I got this wrong.

      Great article and may Salvo bring some extra emphasis tl Craigs thoughts.

  • Colin Alexander

    SNP MP Stuart McDonald had topped the ballot which gives backbench MPs the opportunity to introduce a private members bill. He could have introduced a UK Parliament bill for a Scottish independence referendum where the legality of this would be beyond doubt.

    The SNP MPs have enough MPs to form a quorum. The SNP (and Alba MPs) could have supported the bill on the understanding that if the sovereign people of Scotland are denied the right of self-determination by the Union Parliament (via an indyref), it would violate the Scottish constitution and international human rights jurisprudence on the right of self-determination, and would result in their withdrawal from the Commons to seek a new mandate to withdraw Scotland from the Union.

    But, that didn’t happen.

    The SNP and Green MSPs could all resign their seats in the Scottish Parliament if denied the mandate for an indyref. That isn’t going to happen either.

    • nevermind

      Mary Elizabeth Truss, who does not like to be called Mary, has been very contrary. First she tried to write a quick policy paper that would have differential pay for regional vs. national civil servants, which, when challenged this morning, she rapidly withdrew. It apparently would havve saved 4‒6 billion she says.

      But more important, she called Nicola Sturgeon an attention seeker, something that rings true with many in Scotland, and that she, as PM, would never grant Scotland another Referendum on Independence.
      The ball is back with the ‘attention seeker’; best to wind Mary up with a little red number to wear.

  • Bob Costello

    It seems quite simple to me. It is a case of a failed lawyer instructing an extremely mediocre lawyer to make sure that yet another roadblock to independence is put firmly in place.
    it is also very apparent to me that we will never achieve self-government as long as there is a collective mindset that we are not already independent. We are simply part of a voluntary union which is very much past its sell-by date.
    Self-governing will never be achieved as long as Nicola Sturgeon is the first minister and leader of the SNP.

    • tom welsh

      Bob, wouldn’t you agree that the theoretically “voluntary” union was actually stitched together with English bayonets? Although at the time it was more a matter of Scotland being desperately poor: according to Wikipedia, 5-15% of the population died during the Seven Ill Years.

      Perhaps once the Union of the Crowns took place the tighter union became inevitable eventually. In the 17th century everything was clouded by religious controversy, although Cromwell actually conquered Scotland and ruled it, arbitrarily, until the Restoration. England had striven for centuries to conquer Scotland with complete lack of success; but the fact that James VI, a Scots king, inherited the throne of England changed the complexion of things. After all, it was Stuarts all the way down (except for Cromwell) until Anne. It looked more reasonable to unite the kingdoms under the rule of a Scots dynasty than it might have done later under a Hanoverian king.

    • IMcK

      Surely ‘voluntary’ describes the act of entry into the union. Its terms are irrevocable as stated within. Exit requires either agreement of terms (the requesting party being ‘cap in hand’), demonstrating it was/is invalid, sufficient might.

      • blissex

        “the act of entry into the union. Its terms are irrevocable as stated within”

        Not anymore as the UK also voluntarily agreed to the United Nations treaty that grants the right to unilateral self determination and as a later treaty it overrides the treaty of union between England and Scotland.

        • IMcK

          ‘United Nations treaty that grants the right to unilateral self determination’

          I know nothing of this treaty but would be astounded if it extends self determination to any group of citizens so wishing. As I’ve already commented on this topic, this would be to support the dissolution of any state on the whim of a group of its citizens.

    • tom welsh

      I suspect the Kiev people (who originated those figures) simply took their own losses and labelled them “Russian”. Although if that was the case, they look a bit on the low side.

      • Pears Morgaine

        “I suspect the Kiev people (who originated those figures) simply took their own losses and labelled them “Russian”. Although if that was the case, they look a bit on the low side.”

        Not if it includes civilian casualties.

    • John Kinsella

      “Elimination” of armed invaders of Ukraine.

      It’s called defensive war.

      Or defence against a “special military operation” if you prefer?

      • Bruce_H

        In reply to John Kinsella:
        The people who are on the defensive are the inhabitants of the Donbas who have been subjected to bombardments by the Ukrainian army for 8 years, with a total death count, civilian and military, of over 14 000 (UN figures) for the simple “crime” of wishing to be independent.
        I’m surprised that a nationalist party in Scotland would not have sympathy for this breakaway region which has much in common with the situation of Scotland with relation to the UK, on a less dramatic and violent scale, of course. Maybe those millions of pounds could have been provided to help the long suffering Donbas population rather than their oppressors?
        Sorry if this is off subject, although it is not entirely so if you look at the objective facts.

    • Vivian O’Blivion

      Sturgeon embarrasses herself and our nation with her lock-step adherence to policy determined by Foggy Bottom (and not necessarily shared by the Pentagon).
      Our template given our size and location should be the Republic of Ireland.
      And there’s been infinitely superior debate (quantity and quality) in Dáil Éireann than in either Westminster or Holyrood. What do you expect when that ignorant ingrate, Zelensky berates Ireland for not sending military aid they don’t have!

      • John Kinsella

        The Irish Army has hundreds of anti tank missiles. The Irish Government chose not to send any to Ukraine because of our supposed neutrality.

  • Colin Alexander

    Playing Devil’s Advocate: The Helsinki Final Act is not legally binding. It does not have Treaty status and was not incorporated into UK domestic law. The Kosovo Opinion is an opinion. Opinions are not legally binding either.

    But, it would seem a very difficult job for the UK Govt to then argue something completely different when it comes to Scotland’s right to self-determination.

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