Dorothy Bain: Incompetent or Corrupt? 94

A Scottish Independence referendum could radically alter the future of not just one entire nation, but several. In these circumstances, it is remarkable that there has been no media comment on the fact that the ruling party of Scotland had to radically re-argue the case for the referendum its own government had put before the London Supreme Court.

Let me make clear that I perfectly understand that, in seeking to refer the question of the Scottish Parliament’s competence to hold a referendum to the Supreme Court, the Scottish Government’s Lord Advocate was putting forward arguments both for and against. But in putting the arguments for, she omitted the most powerful and most obvious arguments.

That is simple fact.

The SNP has now had to intervene and supplement Bain’s pathetic unionist biased drivel with a proper brief (which the Supreme Court has accepted to hear) putting the genuine, powerful and internationally accepted legal arguments which Bain omitted.

That is simple fact too.

Please read my article of 30 July in which I described Bain as “spectacularly wrong”. I wrote:

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.

I explained:

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.

The SNP brief argues, as Bain failed to argue, that:

The right to self-determination is a fundamental and inalienable right, among the most fundamental of all rights;

The SNP brief uses many of the same sources in its argument – the UN judgement, the UK submission to the International Court of Justice on Kosovo, the Supreme Court of Canada on Quebec – that I used in my article and have been using to argue the case here for the last ten years.

But this is important:

The SNP brief and Claire Mitchell KC are not using the same arguments and even the same sources that I used because they are following me, or because I am especially brilliant. The fact is that any experienced diplomat and any public international lawyer would know exactly the law, arguments and cases which apply. What Claire Mitchell has produced for the SNP is precisely what any decent lawyer or any good diplomat would produce to support the case for Scotland’s self-determination.

So why did Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain fail to produce it?

Well, there are several possibilities. Dorothy Bain could be a truly, spectacularly, ignorant, stupid and incompetent lawyer. Or, she could have been cleverly and deliberately failing the Scottish Government on whose behalf she was supposed to be acting, which would be an act of dreadful professional wrongdoing. Or she could have been asked by Sturgeon to present a case to the Supreme Court that was sure to fail.

I put those in ascending order of probability. There are no other possibilities.

Two questions inevitably arise. The first is this. The Lord Advocate is a political appointment. It is a ministerial position in Scotland. Why did Nicola Sturgeon appoint the unionist Dorothy Bain to the position? At the time of the appointment last year, it was already known that the certification of the Referendum Bill as legal would be a crucial task for the new Lord Advocate.

Why on earth not appoint a nationalist who would certify?

The answer is simple. Nicola Sturgeon is much more interested in identity politics than in Independence. Bain’s job is to see the justice system through these changes all of which are the highest priority on Sturgeon’s agenda:

1) Abolition of jury trials in sex assault cases
2) Establishment of misogyny as a hate crime and prosecution of sexist speech as a criminal offence
3) Reform of Gender Recognition Act
4) Abolition of “Not proven” verdict and conforming Scottish system to the English model
5) Continued clampdown prosecutions on “extremist” independence supporters and republicans, using breach of the peace, harassment, threatening communication, contempt etc etc.

Those are Bain’s tasks. That is the agenda for which Sturgeon selected her. Independence? Simply not on the radar.

The second question is how it happened that the SNP came to decide to put in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court to try to make up for Bain’s glaring omissions. Here there are reasons to be a little hopeful. Some worms are finally turning. Senior lawyers in the SNP were outraged at Bain’s fake attempt, and there was near open revolt among some Westminster MPs. At least 20 were outraged.

It is possibly not chance that the only senior SNP figure who put out the SNP’s brief to the public was Joanna Cherry.  It is still her pinned tweet. This revolt caused angst in Casa Murell. For once Sturgeon was forced to give some ground.

The compromise agreed was that Sturgeon accepted that the SNP could submit a brief arguing from the universal right of self-determination, but Sturgeon only agreed on condition that it was made explicit the SNP was not arguing that Scotland could secede without Westminster’s permission. The SNP brief therefore contains this disclaimer:

2.3. The Intervener emphasises that it is not advocating for a direct exercise or implementation of the right to self-determination in these proceedings.

Notes the “emphasises”. This is really daft, because it contradicts the entire meaning of the Kosovo and Chagos judgments which it goes on to quote. Nicola Sturgeon’s position remains however that Scotland can only become independent with Westminster agreement.

Sturgeon’s representative on earth is her election agent, constituency minder and long term confidante Mhairi Hunter. She has recently spelt the position out very clearly indeed:

This gives an absolute and unequivocal veto to Westminster on Scottish independence. It reveals Sturgeon’s “plebiscitary election” as a total fraud.

It explains why Bain submitted her reference to the Supreme Court dismissing Scotland’s international right to self-determination as of no legal force, and why the SNP brief undermines all the sources it quotes by stating it is not making a case for the right to implement self-determination.

The British Establishment will never willingly surrender Scotland’s massive resources. Those who believe Westminster should have a veto, are against Independence, whatever lies they spout.

It really is as simple as that.


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94 thoughts on “Dorothy Bain: Incompetent or Corrupt?

  • BlueWhiteDynamite

    This is sickening. What the fuck are they playing at? The Scottish government are just as corrupt as Westminster and are treating us like fools. To the streets! If this was France everything would be on fire.

  • 100%Yes

    Mrs Murrell searched far and wide for a lord advocate which only took 18months and found the only person who’ll screw us all well and truly over, so I suppose 8 years into Sturgeon’s reign we should give Sturgeon at least a 1 win for the union and not a single success for Scotland or our people – or is that 2 wins?

  • Mist001

    Are Scots stupid?

    That’s a serious question because if Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been getting away with all the nonsense that yourself and Wings Over Scotland regularly report, in full view of everyone and the media AND for eight years, then how come they keep getting elected at the ballot box?

    Are Scots really so stupid that they can’t see these things happening?

    Or are the attacks FROM HER OWN SIDE happening because she’s a powerful woman and some people just don’t like powerful women?

    I should add that my personal view is that if people don’t support Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in their quest for independence, then I consider them to be an enemy of independence because what else can they be?

    That’s what it essentially boils down to, a binary choice. Either you get behind Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, because right now they are the ONLY people offering a viable route to independence, or you accept that we’re not going to see an independent Scotland in our lifetimes.

    • Ian

      The mainstream media don’t report this stuff. Most people are blissfully unaware of these machinations, taking as they do a glance at politics now and then. This has allowed Sturgeon to build a position of absolute power at Holyrood, with the general populace having a vague idea that she fights Scotland’s corner against Westminster – generally her only reported speeches are routine and sanctimonious denunciations of the tories at Westminster – cost-free PR for a theatrical opposition to the boo-hiss English villains. Independence is positioned as a Brigadoon idea, in the mists of the future, for dreams and aspirations, but not now. And in the meantime the SNP and their army of advisers, spads and press officers make a very good living, packed with benefits, expenses and large pensions. All for pretending to run Scotland for Scots. Actually Sturgeon, with her recent pronouncements, doesn’t even bother pretending any more, such is her complacency. She is after all ‘British’, a royalist and a neoliberal – in as much as she has any idea of economics. Most of her energy is consumed in maintaining this status quo and her impregnable position in it.

      • Mist001

        “She is after all ‘British’, a royalist”

        And so is Alex Salmond, a member of the privy council no less, who has to swear allegiance to the monarchy.

        And yet, he gets a free pass. Is it because he’s a man?

        • Robin James Barclay

          Absolutely not but if you had any clue, you would understand that any person that reaches the position of FM automatically becomes a member of the Privvy Council. Personally, I believe that Alex Salmond was at the Accession of Charles to simply bear witness of him having to swear an oath upon the Claim Of Right in order for him to be crowned as King of Scots.

          Why is it people like yourself cannot accept the facts laid before you which are always verifiable? It seems that as you continue to munch more and more carrots, you get to be even more sluggish in any critical thinking. My only question for you is “What made you decide that Scotland’s Independence was the right thing for our country and how did you come to that conclusion?” IF the answer to that is because “Nicola Sturgeon convinced me” then it would seem that critical thinking is not your forte. Would hazard a guess that you came to the party late, after all the interesting people had left.

          • Mist001

            “Personally, I believe that Alex Salmond…”

            Then you have the nerve to talk to me about facts?? LOL!!

            No, I’ll just leave my posts as they are and won’t engage any further.

        • Jams O'Donnell

          @ Mist001

          “some people just don’t like powerful women?”
          & “Is it because he’s a man?”

          Do you have some kind of obsession with sex? Not everything comes down to being male or female. Liars can be of both (or maybe you would prefer to say ‘all’) sexes.

    • Twirlip

      Do you ask the same “serious question” about why the English keep voting Tory?

      Also, do you think that English people “essentially” have a “binary choice”, and that therefore anybody who criticises Starmer’s campaign against the Left in the Labour Party is an enemy of socialism?

      • Mist001

        No, I don’t ask the same serious question about the English because to me, Tory is their natural, default setting. It’s what they do. It’s in their nature, no matter how much they try to disguise it, the Tory mindset always rises to the surface, particularly in regard to Scottish independence.

        Yes, English people do have essentially a binary choice, which is vote Tory or Labour. Doesn’t get much more binary than that as voting history over the years has proven.

        Since Starmer seems to be ‘essentially’ Tory lite, then how can anyone who cricticises Starmers campaign against the Left be an enemy of socialism? It seems to me that would make them a proponent of socialism.

        • Clark

          “No, I don’t ask the same serious question about the English because to me, Tory is their natural, default setting. It’s what they do. It’s in their nature”

          Sorry, but this is just racist pish.

          It’s the same problem in England as in Scotland – propaganda; most people are too overburdened to cut their way through it. In Scotland propaganda says “Scotland can only become independent with Westminster agreement”, and people don’t have time to study international law. In England propaganda says “Starmer will save us” and people don’t have time to discover that he’s just another neoliberal.

          • deepgreen

            Quite interesting. I doubt that he gets a free pass. I rather think he is a ‘marked man’ There are hundreds of privy councillors and while not meaningless the significance of each one to state matters varies from ‘very’ to zero. I suspect Alex Salmond is in or close to the latter category.

          • deepgreen

            While I dont agree with the comment from Misty I find it difficult to let your comment slide. At the most basic level I reject the idea of ‘race’ there is essentially no ‘race’. so no ‘racist pish’. There is not much doubt, for whatever reason, that the majority of the population of England self-defines in a number of ways, as predominantly ‘Conservative/Tory’. I think it is likely that each constituent part of the UK has identifiable political markers or sympathies.

            The problem we have is how to assess the sincerity of certain key people within the independence movement. I have a good friend who trusts Sturgeon implicitly while I must admit to a distinct hesitancy in offering her my unqualified support. At the moment she is the only option. I also suspect that Salmond’s problem, apart from his attraction to women (not unusual), was his failure to eqivocate on the independence issue. I rather suspect that all his legal ‘troubles’ would not have existed had he been less of a danger to the political gelding of the independence movement.

          • Jams O'Donnell


            Spot on. Most people don’t care enough to ferret out the truth. Starmer is just another establishment placeman, there to keep the ‘Labour’ party in line for their role as tory-lite filler for when the actual tories get too unpopular

        • Twirlip

          “Since Starmer seems to be ‘essentially’ Tory lite, then how can anyone who cricticises Starmers campaign against the Left be an enemy of socialism?”

          Of course they aren’t! It’s maddening how often people who complain of persecution by Starmer’s mob are accused of being “Tory enablers”. That is ridiculously twisted reasoning – just as twisted as accusing someone who complains of persecution by Sturgeon’s mob of being “an enemy of independence”.

          Do I need to remind you of Craig’s article of 29 June, “Don’t Look Back in Anger”? Or have I misunderstood your point?

        • Bayard

          “Yes, English people do have essentially a binary choice, which is vote Tory or Labour. Doesn’t get much more binary than that as voting history over the years has proven.”

          No they don’t, they have the choice of voting Conservative, Lib Dem or Labour, that is Blue Tory, Yellow Tory or Red Tory. In Scotland you also have the choice of voting Tartan Tory. The job of the SNP is to get independence supporters to vote Tory, just as Labour’s job is to get socialists to vote Tory.

          • Bayard

            The Tory Party has become like British Leyland in its early days: if you wanted to buy their new 1100 model, there was a Morris version for those who liked Morrises, an Austin version for those that bought Austins, a Wolseley version or a Riley version for those that wanted something more upmarket than an Morris or Austin and even a Vanden Plas version for those that wanted something dead posh. Underneath the difference in detail, it was the same car.

      • Squeeth

        The English don’t keep voting Tory, no British government has had a majority of the votes cast, never mind a majority of the votes of the electorate.

      • Squeeth

        The English don’t keep voting Tory, it’s the fascist FPTP election system that keeps giving the Tories Commons majorities.

    • Clark

      Mist001, Sept 29, 21:21

      “That’s what it essentially boils down to, a binary choice. Either you get behind Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, because right now they are the ONLY people offering a viable route to independence, or you accept that we’re not going to see an independent Scotland in our lifetimes.”

      As I understand it, this isn’t so in Scotland; voters have two votes, and can thus support two one pro-independence parties. Voters could thereby increase the proportion of pro-independence MSPs, yet the SNP discourage this.

    • ben madigan

      You get behind Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, because right now they are the ONLY people apparently offering a viable route to independence, and you accept that we’re not going to see an independent Scotland in our lifetimes.

      Changed a couple of words and fixed that for you!

    • Aule

      You have answered your own question. Enough people believe that the only way to independence is through SNP, which is why it keeps getting votes. Which, in turn, means there is no pressure on SNP leadership to actually go through with the process – only to make sure they are still viewed as having no alternatives.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “Are Scots really so stupid that they can’t see these things happening?”

      Yes. Like the rest of the western world they believe the media. Its not going to end well.

      “in full view of everyone and the media”

      Its not in full view if the media dont report it.

      “because right now they are the ONLY people offering a viable route to independence, “

      The actions described are not the actions of people who want independence.

    • Jams O'Donnell


      You say: “Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in their quest for independence”. Possibly you have comprehension difficulties. Craig has just very clearly described how ‘Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP’ are not in fact participating in a “quest for independence”, but in a campaign to avoid such an outcome.

      Maybe you could deal with the points he makes, rather than indulging in mindless pro-SNP bluster.

    • craig Post author

      Unfortunately not, this is where we run into the Keatings judgment, which said in judicial language “look pleb, who the hell do you think you are?”

  • FranzB

    Wings over Scotland has in the past published a post on why there isn’t enough time to have an independence referendum in Autumn 2023.

    So the submission to the UK supreme court is pointless anyway.

    Given the shock doctrine (Naomi Klein) tactics being employed by Truss and Kwarteng, the only responsible action that Sturgeon should take is to call a constitutional conference within Scotland to prepare for the declaration of independence of Scotland from the UK. Forget the referendum and GE plebiscite. The SNP / Greens are the elected goverment of Scotland, and they have the political authority to determine the future course of Scotland. They represent the people of Scotland, and the people of Scotland are the sovereign authority in Scotland.

    • Clark

      I agree. Westminster is so utterly dysfunctional right now that the Scottish government should just declare independence. I’m sure that doing so would be overwhelmingly popular now and for the foreseeable future. Staying with Westminster is like being roped to an anvil that’s falling overboard. SCRAM stands for Safety Cut Rope Axe Man; it’s time to SCRAM.

  • U Watt

    Spelt out clear as a bell. Hopefully this will be carefully read by many independence supporters and cause them to reconsider their devotion to Nicola Sturgeon. It is hard to imagine a more mendacious political figure (even in the high noon of Sir Keir Starmer!) Without doubt she is the most powerful and dedicated obstacle to an independent Scotland and until people appreciate that.the independence movement is just a waste of time.

  • Highlander

    With the greatest respect Craig, please give with your extensive international knowledge of law and international relationships your sitrep regarding the Ukraine, bombed pipelines and military consequences to all of us. The total darkness in which these nations suffer from the lack of impartial media and Westminster and the BBC propaganda would made Goebbels blush. I speak to people who tell me they could murder Putin for his atrocities. When I try to explain the truth, as best as I can, or at least trying to give both sides of the argument, I’m met and served with stoic government logic. These are intelligent people, behaving like lambs to the slaughter.
    Perhaps some enlightenment from yourself might allow the younger generations to think twice.
    The Tories a number of years ago brought forward a bill to enforce conscription on our sons and daughters. It was sistted, after the second reading….. ready for implementation…… light the candle, so our sons and daughters aren’t used as were previous Scottish generations. The war memorial in Nottingham, a huge city, has two names on it, in Scotland we have memorials where there were villages, with thirty to sixty name on them. Let’s not allow this to happen again.

  • Alf Baird

    You have to admit, Sturgeon has played a blinder, though it is a very dangerous ‘game’, and signs are that the deception is coming to an end. Much as we have seen, ‘force’ is never far away and with more laws coming in that respect, as Craig notes. Colonialism aye has to reach for its roots, which is fascism (Cesaire). It’s not just SNP voters who believe that she and her ‘cabinet’ and MSPs/MPS are fighting for independence; Tory voters think the same. That’s quite a deception.

    However, what is happening in Scotland fits the postcolonial theory template only too well, and in particular the collusion of a dominant national party with the occupying power, and where the native elites/establishment continue to protect their privileges as well as the interests of the oppressor; colonialism is always a co-operative arrangement. A similar despicable process has been played out in a hundred former colonies, and in other territories that remain under colonial rule, including the ‘Celtic Periphery’.

    What we see and what Craig describes reflects pretty much what Frantz Fanon said, that: “inside the nationalist parties, the will to break colonialism is linked with another quite different will: that of coming to a friendly agreement with it.”

    • Squeeth

      @ Alf, I think you put that very well; the Snats are a bourgeois partei with bourgeois interests which are mainly in getting their snouts in as many troughs as possible.

      • Jams O'Donnell


        Yes. Unfortunately seems to be the case. How long can so many be fooled by so few?

        My opinion is that Sturgeon is a lying wee creep, and the sooner this comes to be recognised the better. (And re an allegation by Mist001, this is not be cause she is a ‘woman’ (she would probably approve of the quotation marks there), but because she is ‘a lying wee creep’ to quote myself.

  • Josh Gerard

    The Kosovo case and ruling are cited its case and whenever it suits Western interests, in particular where Russia is concerned and would be weakened hereby.
    It is totally ignored in all cases where it would harm the integrity of an Western nation state. Otherwise, Texas w/could easily secede, as w/could Catalunya, Corsica, Bavaria, Scotland&co.
    It is, of course and most hypocritically, also ignored where it w/could result in an expansion of Russian territory or influence.
    Welcome to the ‘rules based international order’.

  • Republicofscotland

    In my opinion this is how it will pan out, the UKSC will knock back the indyref, Sturgeon will pretend to be outraged, and pledge to use the next GE as a plebiscitary one, the indy masses will flock to her party voting in many SNP MPs, job done, any notions of an indyref will then be kicked into the long grass until 2026 when it will be wheeled out again.

    The only flies in the ointment I can see for Sturgeon is if the indy masses vote for the Alba party instead of the SNP at the next GE, or Salvo or the SSRG comes up with something, or if something pops up and Sturgeon has to resign, or a job arises that’s too good to turn down, even then the heir apparent Angus Robertson would probably find himself as head of the SNP and he would be hoping that he’d be FM as well.

    • Paul Short

      Interesting though to consider the actual process of the GE being a “de facto” referendum. We are sort of assuming it will come as a shock to the SNP voters who thought this was the way to independence to find out, the day after, that there was no change. And indeed it would. But during the election campaign, months before, SNP candidates and Sturgeon in particular will have been asked directly “What are you going to do if you get your majority?”. The candidates may haver, but will have to say, as Sturgeon will (imagine her interviewed for example by Sky’s Beth Rigby who sinks her teeth in politely and doesn’t let go), “Well, we’ll ask Westminster again”. Difficult to see how many SNP voters with faith in the de facto referendum route will not be dismayed. Of course the Tories, Labour and LibDems would be ensuring the question was asked again and again. Raises the other question of course though – Sturgeon is sharp enough and experienced enough to know this would happen, so – does she expect to actually go fully down this route, or even be around for it? It’s either one of those, or she’s dimmer than she seems.

      • Republicofscotland

        The mock indyref is a ruse, to adhere as many indy supporters to Sturgeon as possible for when the UKSC denies the right for Sturgeon to hold it, and it must, the stability of the union is imperative at all times, then Sturgeon can say I tried but the UKSC said no. Another reason the UKSC must say no, is that Sturgeon would be found out, assuming yes romped home and nothing came of it.

        Now with the mock indyref out of the way let’s look at the plebiscitary GE, I’d fully expect the SNP under Sturgeon to run with the GE billing it as a plebiscite, this cunning plan would see almost all indy supporters back it in the hope of winning as many indy minded MPs seats as possible, the emphasis being on the SNP obtaining the majority mid 50’s or so.

        Of course, there will be some sort of challenge to it being a plebiscitary GE in which Sturgeon will back down after a bit of toing and froing with regards to legalities, but in the end the union will remain intact, and Sturgeon will have her tranche of MPs and any notion of independence will disappear like snow aff a dyke in Spring, only to reemerge in 2026.

  • Frank Waring

    I’m sure you’re right: the answer to the independence question, truly for the forseeable future, depends on how Scotland reacts to the Supreme Court’s negative judgement, which is due in the next few weeks.
    So ‘it will all be over by Chritmas’ is, for once in the sorry life of this witless tag, actually true.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    The heir in waiting, Angus Robertson tweeted yesterday and let the moggy oot the poke.
    The SavantaComRes MRP poll this week predicted a Westminster, Labour government with a substantial majority and total decimation of the Tories. Robertson was crowing that the SNP would be the official opposition in Parliament.
    That folks is the grand game plan. All that short money topped up with all the generous allowances for running a shadow cabinet.
    The constitutional status of Scotland remains in permanent stasis and the big, yellow gravy bus trundles ever onward.
    It’s there for anyone with eyes to see. The hoosehold income for Holyrood Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth and de facto MI5 officer Kezia Dugdale is somewhere north of £250k pa.

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      If he wasn’t joking, Marmalade was tweeting shite, Father. The Tories aren’t going to lose over 300 seats at the next election – and even if they do, the Lib Dims will become the second largest party at Westmonster.

  • DiggerUK

    International law allowing independence is all above board. But like all legal issues, the small print is how the legal eagles get rich and fat.

    Scotland did not become a county in England by conquest, the countries united with each other by agreement. If that treaty was agreed today then it would be binding an all other countries and nations to respect it.
    Scotland wasn’t conquered by England, so arguments of imperial subjugation cannot be substantiated.

    As domestic law stands, parliaments approval for a referendum must be obtained, I am not sure that international legislation made after the Act of Union applies. After all, the arguments for countries’ rights of self-determination were not applied in Ireland because those rights came after their subjugation by the English, and then the English and Scottish, not before.

    If my supposition is wrong, then it seems Mrs. Murrell might indeed be correct that elections to the Scottish Parliament could be used as a referendum, or to allow for one. The idea that Westminster elections could be utilised to call a referendum is quite bonkers in my opinion.

    My question that still hasn’t been answered from previous contributions is… which international body would have jurisdiction to rule on this matter…_

    • Stevie Boy

      “which international body would have jurisdiction to rule on this matter”.

      I think you’ll find that in all matters of state, Washington has the overwhelming and final say !

      • DiggerUK

        OK, I can smile at your sarcasm, but the question still remains unanswered or ignored.
        I do despair, but such a question must have an answer. Our host could possibly furnish the answer, but hasn’t to date attempted do so.

        If the case is unsuccessful aI the UK Supreme Court I can see a number of routes to follow
        The first might be the right to appeal to the UKSC, I have no idea if that is allowed.
        The second might be to turn to The High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session in Scotland, which is the Scottish equivalent of the UK Supreme Court. Again I have no idea if that would be possible.

        I view it as highly unlikely that a UK general election provides any route to authorise or call a referendum.
        It seems possible that a Scottish Government could be elected on a referendum ticket. Even if such a tactic bears fruit, it seems likely that Westminster would do all in its power to scupper such a move. Neither would I suspect the scotunionists to stay silent.

        So I put my question once more. If all attempts by Scotnats to run a referendum come up against the brick wall of UK and unionist legal and political intransigence, which international court will rule on the right of Scots to a referendum on independence?

        I could possibly see the ECHR and the UN having a role, but the reason I’m asking is because I don’t know who could decide the issue. The silence to my question makes me think that the scotnats on here haven’t a clue either…_

        • Stevie Boy

          For the ECHR consider the case of Catalonia. The EU will not countenance breakaway.
          For the UN consider Kosova. The USA deemed their rights over UN objections.
          There is no answer.
          Tongue in cheek, the USA would only countenance Scottish independence iff England became Socialist.

    • FranzB

      DiggerUK – “which international body would have jurisdiction to rule on this matter…_”

      My answer to that would be none. The sovereign authority in any country are the people of that country. The people of Scotland are the supreme authority as to whether they should become independent or not. No external body should be able to have a veto over that authority.

      • DiggerUK


        “The sovereign authority in any country are the people of that country.”

        I would say that is wrong, only in as much that I regard the citizens of a country as being the sovereign power. The people can go to hell.

        In case you don’t realise it, TPB are those people.

        Romantic prose is one thing, but the world is as we find it, not as we want it. Like ’em or not, we live in a world of rules and laws…_

        • Johnny Conspiranoid

          “Like ’em or not, we live in a world of rules and laws…_”

          Doesn’t that bring us back to Washington and its ‘rules based order’, i.e. we make the rules and you obey the orders?

          • DiggerUK


            “we make the rules”

            Such is the privilege of power, granted, for some it’s a shit deal, but power is power whilst you have it.
            The world really is as we find it, so accept it, or change it…_

  • IMcK

    International law does not prohibit the right of secession but supports it only in certain circumstances – oppression, colonisation.
    International law supports the right to self determination but does not interpret such right as a right to secession.
    The Treaty of Union establishes England and Scotland as a unitary state not separate parties participating in an agreement.

  • pasha

    If Scotland has a right under international law to hold a referendum seeking independence, then why do not the Donbass republics Donetsk and Lugansk have the same right? Or Kherson or Zaprorizhye? Or Crimea? And to vote to rejoin Russia?
    This is why the English self-styled Supreme Court will reject the SNP’s argument. The ESC has its orders and an independent Scotland is not part of them.

    • Jams O'Donnell


      “why do not the Donbass republics Donetsk and Lugansk have the same right? Or Kherson or Zaprorizhye? Or Crimea?”

      They do have such a right. Putin is nothing if not legalistic, and if he thinks its legal, it will be. Objections and non-recognition by UK/US/EU are nothing but bluster. They saw no obstacle to recognising Kosovo – because it suited them.

  • Taxiarch

    “…it would be politically impossible to politically deny a mandate for a second referendum in the face of a Yes win”

    You’re kidding me. Seriously, is that where Sturgeon is truthfully and honestly ‘at’? The Conservative Party haven’t had a popular mandate to rule Scotland (or most anywhere else bar England south of the Trent) for decades. They draw their mandate from southern England and only in proverbial cloud cuckoo land does anyone believe that the Unionist parties will find it ‘impossible’ to say no to a second or third or twenty third referendum should they see it as not being in their interests to do so.

    That is some serious gaslighting. Seek medical help immediately.

  • Steve Rhodes

    So, what is the International Legal status of the four breakaway regions of Ukraine? If they are recaptured by Kyiv then the majority who voted to leave and throw their hat in with Russia will be criminalised and jailed for 10 years or worse, if we are to believe whoever is in charge in Kyiv, can the UN stand by while this happens? Will there be re-education camps as under Mao and the ‘disappearing’ of determined ‘orcs’ ?

    • Tatyana

      Steve Rhodes
      your point about legality and another comment above
      made me read about such things. I’ll tell you what I managed to figure out, and you correct me if I’m wrong. I’ll mention Russia since the question was about it, I’ll compare it to the UK since I believe this site is hosted there. And I will mention Ukraine as the question and discussion is about its (former) parts and the current conflict.

      formal reasoning
      Russia is a federation, it’s a type of state in which parts can have sovereignty. Other federations are for example USA, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Australia, India.
      Another type of state is unitary, in which parts do not have sovereignty.
      Unitary states can be decentralized, that is, parts have the right to choose their own local government. Such states are the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Japan.
      Unitary states may not allow their units to independently choose local authorities, but the supreme authority appoints them. These are centralized states, such is Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Uzbekistan.

      The Minsk agreements were looking for the possibility of decentralizing the power of Ukraine, the autonomy for the Donbass. Kyiv’s refusal to fulfill the agreements became the main cause of the civil war there.

      Now about Putin and the law – the Russian Constitution of 2001 has a clause on the admission of new regions, foreign states or their parts to our Federation, the procedure has been established. I have no doubt that Putin will carefully observe this protocol.

      Russia has the right to recognize the independence of other states. All other sovereign countries have. No UN has power here, but can only express its “damn it” or “cheers.”
      end of formal reasoning
      Ughhh, thanks 🙂 feels like answering my homework at the school board. Back to human language.

      It looks like whoever expected Russia to follow some “rule-based order” is wrong. Russia chose to act formally according to the law. I understand that formal actions take place when it was not possible to agree amicably.
      Also about legality – whoever decides to blow up the Nord Stream, this is an act of international terrorism. If someone thought that in a military conflict this was an acceptable legitimate goal, then he’s wrong. Firstly, it was necessary to declare war, which, by the way, Ukraine has not done yet (surprising, isn’t it)? Secondly, it was done in international space. Thirdly, it’s property of more than one state.

  • Tom Kane

    Nicola Sturgeon is a complex saboteur at the heart of the independence movement. There is no way the LA got that job without knowing the remit and what was expected, as with Lesley Evans and the special advisors.

    I am heartened to hear of revolts from legal experts in the SNP. That was a superb turnaround. MB is just another Nicolite. If the SNP turns on the Murrells, she will too, or she will be a fringe element.

    SNP, I hope you have your porridge this morning. You need to get your house in order. Respect.

      • Mist001

        Has anyone openly suggested Salmond is a double agent?

        He and she worked very closely together for many years, so he should have known her character and yet, he put her into her current position.


          • Mist001

            I have to be clear with everyone that in my view, Alex Salmond is by far, the greatest, cleverest politician that I have ever seen in my lifetime, head and shoulders above the rest and I have no axe to grind against him but for me, there are a number of things that don’t quite add up about him.

            There’s something that I just can’t quite put my finger on. Yet.

          • Tom Kane

            Meh… It is not much of thought. NS tried to put AS in jail using an illegal and incompetent investigation foisted on the police service. AS was no part of that plan… Or of any other NS scheme that torched his legacy, governmental excellence and place in history.

        • Jams O'Donnell


          “he put her into her current position”

          And I bet he bitterly regrets that now. Obviously he didn’t see the Wee Liars true Quisling colours at the time.

          Maybe that’s one of the “things that don’t add up, that you can’t quite put your finger on”

          • Mist001

            Yeah, maybe he does regret that now, but he should have known better. One thing that struck me about his court case was that Nicola Sturgeon may well have been his closest companion prior to him resigning but he never tried anything on with her, she didn’t notice any untoward behaviour from him and neither was she one of the complainers. That struck me as quite odd.

            Another odd thing was the speed at which he resigned. Was he aware that these charges were coming over the horizon and resigned to take the heat away from the SNP?

            I find him to be an extremely poor judge of character which is based only on information which I get from the media. Look at his track record; Trump, Sturgeon, Campbell and these are the well known ones. What about the people in the shadows who are not well known? He’s rumoured to be a member of the quasi-Masonic Speculative Society and then it became common knowledge recently that he was a member of the Privy Council, whose members have to swear allegiance to the crown. He doesn’t seem to attend any Independence rallies or AUOB marches which struck me when I saw that Kenny Macaskill was at the one today.

            Like I say, I certainly have no axe to grind against the man but there are certain things which I’ve outlined above, which may not be of any importance to anyone else but they do raise questions in my mind.

            Suppose for example, he deliberately put Sturgeon in position knowing full well that she would destroy the independence movement? It’s politics, things aren’t always what they appear.

          • Bayard

            “I find him to be an extremely poor judge of character which is based only on information which I get from the media.”

            Yes, we all want our heroes to be flawless knights in shining armour, but in reality, the best we can hope for is a curate’s egg, good in parts.

          • Jimmy Riddle

            Mist001 – I cannot for one minute imagine that he would have knowingly put someone who was going to slander him, in the most repulsive way imaginable, into the leadership of the SNP.

            I do recall, however, many years ago (actually before the SNP got a majority in the Scottish Parliament) that one political analyst indicated that Alex Salmond certainly wanted independence, but his preferred way of achieving it was by stealth. In other words, his basic strategy was to gradually accumulate more and more powers to Holyrood, until at some stage Holyrood would basically have all the powers of an independent country (an independent country within the EU that is) – at which point a declaration of independence would simply be a statement of the situation that existed on the ground.

            One of the strategies was (of course) that Holyrood should be competent and it should be clear that aspects of government in the hands of Holyrood were in good hands – hence no good reason not to increase the amount of government centred at Holyrood.

            This strategy got a knock on the head when the SNP actually got its own majority in Holyrood, which meant that the referendum couldn’t be avoided.

            The fact that the UK has now left the EU makes this harder (since more of the foreign policy is now centred at Whitehall rather than Brussels, etc …..), but it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time when I heard it – independence by stealth, in a non-confrontational way, declare independence once it is clear that Holyrood has all the powers of an independent (within the EU) state .

  • yesindyref2

    Dear me Craig, just came across this and the whole basis of your article is wrong. The Lord Advocate has 4 main roles:

    The following are the Lord Advocate’s main functions:

    A. head of the systems for the investigation and prosecution of crime and investigation of deaths
    B. principal legal adviser to the Scottish Government
    C. representing the Scottish Government in civil proceedings
    D. representing the public interest in a range of statutory and common law contexts

    In this particular case, she is not exercising the function of A B or C in subnitting the referral, it is purely D “public interest” – hence the neutrailty. Her remit is also strictly limited in that she is making a referral under “paragraph 34 of schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998”, and that is specifically about whether the Draft Bill “relates to reserved matters”, and therefore can she give it her approval.

    It’s completely specific – about her duties – and anything outside that could result in the referral being thrown out as incompetent or indeed, premature. Or just totally ignored in any substative hearing. However, she has made it clear that AT the hearing she will “represent the Scottish Government’s interests at the hearing and will argue the case personally.”. As the SNP have been allowed their 20 page max written submission but not an oral hearing, she and the UK’s representative – the AG for S – WILL be able to address the SNP submission, as well as their own submissions.

    And it really is as simple and non-devious as that. As far as her own political beliefs are concerned, she could be to the left of Corbyn or to the right of Truss, they should and would have absolutely no bearing on her disciplined performance of her duties for her clients – the people of Scotland (5.41 million) on the one hand, and the Scottish Government on the other. And yes, a good soliticor or advocate should be able to carry out both sets of duties.

    Personally as a supporter of Independence for well over 40 years, she has my complete and utter confidence.

  • Colin Alexander

    To summarise the SNP’s legal argument:
    The people of Scotland have the legal right to resile the Union between Scotland and England in international law but, the SNP only intends to conduct an opinion poll to no effect. The SNP are not intending to legislate to give the people of Scotland the opportunity for self-determination. The SNP are not giving Scotland an opportunity to end the Union.


    People will point to UK Parliament referendums which are to no effect unless Parliament legislates that the result will be legally binding. But, UK Parliament can legislate on the basis of the result. For example, following the UK referendum result in favour of exiting the EU, the majority of MPs voted for Brexit.

    However, in stark contrast to UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power in domestic law, under the Scotland Act, to resile the Union. The SNP have reiterated on multiple occasions that they have no intention of facilitating the resiling of the Union without the approval of the UK Parliament. The UK parties have made it clear they won’t countenance any threat to the Union.

    So, the SNP are prepared to wait for the day when the England dominated UK Parliament votes to end the Union between Scotland and England, in the knowledge no amount of political will in Scotland will place English MPs under any pressure to do so.

    The SNP are no longer a party asserting Scottish sovereignty. They have become UK colonial administrators who undermine Scottish independence and promote an agenda that has nothing to do with restoring Scotland’s independence.

    • Lochside

      Exactly Colin. The SNP’s position demonstrated as fact in 2015 is one of acceptance of democratic dictatorship by England. They achieved 56 seats out of 59 available in Scotland at that year’s General Election. Yet, despite acceptance by Thatcher, Blair and Uncle Toms everywhere in the UK political system previously, that a majority of Scottish seats won by a nationalist party from Scotland meant de facto independence and therefore de jure acceptance of such an event, the SNP under Sturgeon refused to do so. She and her supine collaborators have consistently refused to act on mandate after mandate, proving their colonial and corrupt allegiance to the ‘crown’.

      Incidentally, they had 49.5% of the vote in 2015 and if the Green party vote was included as pro nationalist (as they claimed at the time) then there was a majority popular vote to add merit to that claim of right to resile the Union. Yet Northern Ireland is a truncated fabricated state hacked off Greater Ireland by imperial England, but now through the Good Friday Agreement, allowed every 7 x years to vote itself back into the integral unit of the Republic. Demographically it is looking more and more likely to happen. The irony is that Scotland with its zero indigenous birth rate and increasing RUK influx of rich’ white flighters’ seeking better housing/services and space, whilst working from home with better paid jobs is at ever greater risk of losing its fight for independence. Jobs that they don’t have to quit in the ‘South’ when relocating to a place which the majority of them do not regard as a country or separate people (evidence: 72% ‘NO’ vote in 2014 Referendum amongst RUK born voters) means that we Scots will, as Sturgeon hopes, be outvoted again by incomers and thick loyalist scum and middle class fearties. Welcome to Sturgeon’s posturing facade of Scottish aspirations for freedom.

  • Achnababan

    There are way too many unionists in leading roles in the Scottish government….one does wonder how badly the SNP hierarchy wants independence if they continually appoint unionists to top jobs. No other independence party would do this…. go figure…

  • Peter S Finlinson

    I am a native of the much beleagured city of Carlisle and like most Borderers have the utmost contempt for the notion of national identity.

    My instinct would be to support the SNP to drive a wedge through this union of unequals.

    The laws of this god awful country were written by those who are privileged to protect and sustain those who are privileged. That apple cart needs to be over turned and the sooner the better.

    If Scotland’s independence is part of that process, then bring it on by whatever means are available.