A Real Plebiscite Election, or Fight the SNP 88

A “plebiscite election” on Scottish Independence can only mean an election fought on that issue with the understanding that, if the election is won, Independence will be declared. It cannot mean anything else.

In particular, a “plebiscite election” cannot possibly mean an election which, if won, results in a request for a referendum. We have had lots of those elections already. A “plebiscite election” is not an election about holding a plebiscite. It is the plebiscite.

Plebiscite elections are not a new idea in the UK, and are generally on constitutional issues. The accepted historical narrative is that the 1832 General Election was over the franchise and led to the Great Reform Act. The 1910 elections were on reform of the House of Lords. In both cases victory was taken as an unanswerable mandate on a fiercely resisted constitutional reform.

It is worth noting that electoral victory in UK general elections has always meant winning the most seats under the first past the post system. It is a terrible system, but those are the rules. It is 91 years since any party has gained more than 50% of the popular vote in a UK general election (the Tories in 1931). All Westminster government have been elected in the range of 37 to 43% of those voting.

Nobody has ever argued – at the time or since – that the “plebiscite election” on Lords reform in 1910 needed a majority of the popular vote to be valid, as well as the majority of MPs.

In fact if you took the Liberal Party, Labour Party and Irish Parliamentary Party together you get 47.7% of the vote in December 1910 for parties standing on the platform of abolishing the legislative veto of the House of Lords. Yet the election of 399 MPs between them meant both King and Lords gave way. So don’t let the Establishment now con you into accepting vote share rules for a “plebiscite election” in Scotland.

There is no reason a general election in Scotland won by a majority of pro-Independence MPs should not give a similar mandate to action, and lead to a Declaration of Independence. That is the mechanism by which the majority of countries on the globe have won their Independence. Actual referenda are not only not mandated in international law, they are very rare and often distrusted.

Unionists routinely use the argument that one side cannot fairly declare a plebiscite election when voters are concerned about other things. But that argument does not survive thirty seconds of serious thought. If you fairly and squarely say this to the electorate:

“We are standing on the issue of Independence. If we win we will declare Independence”

then the electorate have fair warning and obviously anybody who does not want Independence can and should vote for somebody else.

If the opponent says

“That is nonsense. I do not accept this is an election about Independence. Vote for me because imposing long jail sentences for climate protestors is a much more important thing to do”

then the electorate have a choice. But if the majority vote for the first proposition, it is self evidently true that the less popular second proposition cannot outweigh the electoral victory, by a denialism which the electorate rejected.

It is a nonsensical argument, even if one beloved of the mainstream media.

Now Nicola Sturgeon announced, as a cloth pressed to the haemorrhage of exiting party members, that if the Supreme Court ruled against the Scottish Parliament having the power to hold a referendum, then the next general election would be a “plebiscite election” on Independence.

Having, through her specially appointed Unionist Attorney General Dorothy Bain, done everything possible to ensure Scotland loses the case at the UK Supreme Court, the ruse has got Nicola through a party conference attended largely by the payroll vote and bought her four months in which to wriggle her way out of the plebiscite election pledge.

Sturgeon pressed hard for a Westminster election now, before the Supreme Court judgement comes in. That would be perfect for her because it would provide a plausible argument that it is too early for the election to be treated as the promised plebsicite.

What precisely would be achieved for Scottish Independence by a UK General Election now? Nothing. It would however keep SNP MPs’ bums on the green benches at Westminster for a further five years. In return, it would lose the chance of a plebiscite election after the Supreme Court judgement.

It is however now clear that we will have to endure two full years of a Sunak government. The state and corporate media will unite in promoting the genuinely far right Sunak as a genial technocrat striving to save the UK economy, as it sails into the headwinds of a disastrous world economic situation utterly portrayed as outwith his control and entirely the fault of Vladimir Putin.

Back in the real world, Sunak’s only difference from Truss is one of sequencing – he wants deep spending cuts first and tax cuts for the rich next. She wanted to do it the other way round. With a wave of deep cuts and public spending rises being planned to be well below inflation, we are about to be hit by an austerity shock that will make George Osborne look like Santa Claus.

In that period, having lost the chance to extend their MPs’ lucrative employment contracts to 2027 with an early election (not to mention extend those of their MPs’ staff and get all the Short money), the SNP will now continue to swivel away from the promised “plebiscite election”.

They are already doing that with multiple party figures close to Sturgeon explaining that a plebiscite election is no different to any other election and not actually to be used as a plebiscite. It was just a figure of speech, with no meaning. “Plebiscite” here apparently just means “mandate to hold a plebiscite should Westminster agree to it.”

It is notable that there is zero SNP campaigning going on, in the streets or even online, for a referendum on scottish Independence they claim will be held on October 19 2023. If they did anything to mark one year to the referendum – which you would think would be a key campaigning moment – I could not find it.

For a pro-Independence political activist like myself, the question is now whether genuine Independence supporters should oppose the SNP candidates at Westminster elections. To do so under the first past the post system could lose SNP seats at Westminster to the Unionist parties.

The question is primarily one for the new Alba Party, of which I am a member. Alba has, through membership votes at party conferences, fleshed out a policy platform different to that of the SNP.

Alba wants immediate Independence, and it wants an Independent Scotland to be a republic, outside NATO, in EFTA/EEA rather than the EU, and to have its own Scottish currency from the outset. In addition to these there are a raft of more progressive taxation, nationalisation and spending policies, so Alba has defined its positon well to the left of the neoliberal captured SNP.

What Alba does not have is any significant number of voters. This is a major failing for a political party. But then it is only two years old, contains almost all the people actually campaigning for Independence, and is starting to be picked up as a blip in the opinion polls at up to 4% in Scotland.

Electorally that would not elect any Alba MPs but it is ten per cent of the SNP’s vote.

There is the question of Alba’s two existing MPs, Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, who under the super vindictive Sturgeon will almost certainly be opposed by the SNP. But leaving that important question to the side, should Alba stand against the SNP in Westminster elections, when this could cost the SNP seats and there appears no realistic chance of Alba winning any?

If the SNP declare an actual plebiscite election, in which a SNP majority will lead to a declaration of Independence, then Alba should not stand against them. It would complicate matters unnecessarily and confuse the electorate. In those circumstances, I would call on all Independence supporters to get behind the SNP, putting aside all differences until after Independence is achieved.

But if the “plebiscite election” tag is purely a ruse to describe a normal election, in which the SNP plan nothing more than to ask Westminster again for permission to hold a referendum (which they know will be refused), then most certainly I shall be arguing that Alba should stand in every single constituency.

If this causes the SNP to lose a handful of seats to Unionist candidates, I shall shed not a tear. Frankly I prefer to argue against open Unionists to the closet Unionists of the SNP, who have betrayed those who voted for them believing they were voting for Independence.

Westminster will never willingly cede Scottish Independence. Never.

The 2014 referendum was only agreed because Independence was at 28% in the opinion polls and Cameron believed a referendum would be easily won. Scotland gave the British establishment the shock of their lives in 2014, and they will not repeat it. Scotland’s economic resources are invaluable to the British elite.

If the British Establishment believed they would win a second referendum, they would not sacrifice so much democratic credibility by refusing it.

Scotland therefore needs to take Independence, not wait to be given it. We have seen moments of great vulnerability for the British state – the Brexit vote and the moment of leaving the EU against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Scots, the Johnson premiership, the disintegration of Westminster ministerial structures this anarchic Tory autumn – massive opportunities for a bold move on Independence all spurned by Sturgeon.

Opportunities spurned in favour of a legal strategy designed to lose.

Those SNP MPs and MSPs who enable Sturgeon are fast coming to the end of the period where they could claim they were duped.

The SNP MPs at Westminster are achieving nothing whatsoever that advances the cause of Independence. They increasingly get immersed further and further into the processes of legislation for the whole UK, failing to differentiate the interests of Scotland, particularly in the areas of defence and foreign policy.

Unless Sturgeon is ousted in short order, and the plan ditched to please MI5 with a handover to the Robertson power couple, re-electing SNP MPs will continue to do nothing other than to ensure the continued swelling of the bank balances and the pension pots of the MPs themselves, funding for their staff and Short money for the SNP’s smug office bureaucrats.

Independence has not been advanced an inch by these highly paid British state collaborators of the SNP these last five years. That will not change.

Since 2014 the SNP has managed to achieve Scottish Labour levels of both corruption and of incompetence in administration. I once believed that impossible. There are many causes, including crazed over-centralisation where everybody is terrified to take a decision which may displease the dictator, or even to discuss unapproved options.

The limitations of making appointments on the dual bases of personal loyalty and identity politics quotas have also been exposed. There remains a huge amount of talent in the SNP but it has been marginalised and driven from the centre by a leadership that only sees talent as a threat.

Scottish Labour has for decades marginalised any real socialists in the party. But unlike Sturgeon’s continued abuse of state police and prosecution systems systematically to jail or attempt to jail real Independence supporters, at least Scottish Labour did not imprison its internal dissidents.

I have consistently argued that the SNP remains the only realistic vehicle for Independence, it is just a question of changing the driver. But as it continues merrily on the path of Unionism with the passengers apparently too comfortable to care, there comes a time when true Independence supporters simply have to drop the SNP from their calculations as a lost cause.

I believe we are finally there.

So I shall be arguing for Alba to fight the SNP in all constituencies at the next Westminster election, excluding a real plebiscite election. I shall also argue for Alba to fight the SNP everywhere in the next Holyrood election, on both the constituency vote and on the list vote in the d’Hondt system.

This is a hard road. But not an impossible one. There is an extremely close parallel.

The Irish Parliamentary Party of John Redmond was even more dominant in Ireland than Sturgeon’s SNP is in Scotland. In 1906 just two of its MPs, like the two Alba MPs we have now, deserted as a result of lack of progress towards Home Rule. One retired at the next election and one stood and was defeated as a Sinn Fein candidate in 1910.

In the 1910 election the Redmondites continued to be utterly dominant electorally, taking 78 Irish MPs to the Unionists 27. Sinn Fein got nil.

But in the course of just 8 years, by the 1918 general election, Sinn Fein had 71 Irish seats to the Redmondites 6. Simply put, people worked out that the once triumphant Redmondites were not serious about Independence, and they switched to a political party that was. The Redmondites changed their name to the National Party, and quickly descended into irrelevance.

Westminster first past the post is a brutal electoral system. It makes change extremely difficult. But when change does come, it enables it to be exaggeratedly swift and dramatic.

The SNP needs to be opposed simply because it is doing nothing about Independence and has no real intention of doing so. Put bluntly, my patience with the grifters, who grow fat on the backs of betrayed supporters of Independence, has snapped completely.

They need to be shaken hard. If that results in a small temporary increase of open unionists in Westminster, that will be a necessary step in opening the eyes of the Scottish people.


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88 thoughts on “A Real Plebiscite Election, or Fight the SNP

  • RepublicanScotland

    Some of us believe that the people are sovereign. If the majority of the sovereign people of Scotland vote against indy in a plebiscite election, then that should be it. Regardless of the number of seats won.
    It’s a moot point anyway, Sturgeon is never going to do anything that might lead to indy.

    • craig Post author

      It is indeed a moot point for the reasons you state, which is why the bulk of the article is about what we then do. I suspect you didn’t read past the first few paragraphs.

  • terence callachan

    I think your decision is a few months too early.
    It is possible that the SNP are camouflaging their plans and appear as you describe but in my opinion it is very possible that the action plan you want for independence will be announced in the spring March 2023.
    You do not need months and months to campaign
    Everyone in Scotland knows the issues
    Everyone in Scotland knows what choices there are
    Everyone in Scotland knows what they have to do when the time comes
    Personally I think a low profile meander towards the vote with a huge flurry of activity in the last six weeks or so is a good way to do it
    Months and months of campaigning just gives the BBC ITV SKY and the newspapers and radio the excuse to bombard us with lies and propaganda even more so than we get on a normal day to day

    ALBA going up against SNP is a grave mistake
    SNP will , no mater what ALBA do , lead us to the next independence referendum or independence election
    If SNP do not give us independence vote promised then ALBA should strike
    I and other will join you

    But to do it now is just crazy you will only throw the whole independence following into turmoil and the media aforementioned will love it
    Don’t do it

      • Cornudet

        Craig is right. Sturgeon’s SNP shows a most pernicious addiction to the great Westminster gravy train and will never willingly accede to measures likely to genuinely advance the cause of independence. David Cameron’s two referenda were both allowed on the premises that he was overwhelmingly likely to win both. The EU referendum left him with egg all over his face and the Scottish independence referendum very nearly did. No Westminster PM of any political stamp will make this mistake again – Scots must forge independence for themselves.

  • Mist001

    After Brexit and leaving the UK, the SNP calling for a General Election recently was the straw that broke the camels back for me and so I resigned my membership. I woke up and realised that independence isn’t going to happen with these clowns and then the icing on the cake appeared last week with Ian Blackford in Westminster with Penny Mordaunt. That man is the epitome of a tartan tory and leaving the SNP was probably the best political decision I’ve ever made.

    It leaves me disenfranchised though because for me, ALBA is a divisive party with a membership of extremists. My instinct for what it’s worth is that Alex Salmond needs a political party and the membership of ALBA are tagging along on Alex Salmonds coat tails. I think Alex is aware of this too and will jump ship when the opportunity arises. Funnily enough, I can see him leading the SNP again at some point.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t feel comfortable joining the ALBA party and there are simply no viable alternatives to the SNP for achieving Scottish independence, so that’s me out in the cold. Looking at the behaviour and sheer incompetence of UK politics in general over the past number of months, I’m beginning to suspect that leaving people like myself out in the cold, may well be part of a master plan to disengage people with politics. Look how easily the majority of the UK public have accepted every bad decision that’s happened over the past ten years. People just shrug their shoulders in apathy and get on with things. That may well be the result of deliberate political intent.

    So until something viable comes along, I’m now politically homeless.

    • Alec Oattes

      Totally understand where you are coming from and agree with much of what you say. I am afraid as one who has been an active member of the S.N.P. for almost 60 years I cannot give up yet and really dislike the divisive nature created by Alba. At the same time time Alex Salmond is still a powerful political thinker and speaker. The Unionists just love this infighting. Best wishes.

      • Geoff Bush

        Alec, you need to read a few paragraphs of Irish history, see Craig’s post above, any divisiveness is not caused by ALBA but by inaction and false action on the part of the SNP which effectively caused ALBA to be formed. Also it was not formed by Alex Salmond but by others. all the best

    • Hughie Gallacher

      Mist001: your comments about ALBA mistify me. Can you be specific about the policies of ALBA you find divisive or extreme? I often ask folk why they joined ALBA and get a lot of different reasons. My ambition for ALBA is to attract all current and previous SNP members, so it would help to know what issues prevent SNP folk from joining.

  • Ian Robert Stevenson

    Living in England my sense is that many, if not most, think they would rather England and Scotland remain together but if the Scots decide to leave the UK , it would be wrong to oppose it. That is how I feel. The poll seems to confirm. A referendum with Labour in power but needing supply and maintenance agreements might well agree to a referendum.
    If the plebiscite election attained a small margin, the Westminster government might offer agreement if a referendum was held.
    The Venice Convention laid down conditions for referenda -or referendums.
    I think I am correct to say that the VC says the consequences of both the yes and no results, should be clear beforehand.
    This means that the independence camp need to have credible policies such as on the currency and role of the central bank.
    The Brexit referendum was an example on how not to do it. We did not know whether we would be able to stay in the single market or not. We did not know how ‘hard’ Brexit was going be with David Davies assuring us we could continue to trade on ‘more or less the same terms’. In the event a section of the Conservative party took the decision to leave the single market, the customs union and European Court of Justice with no wider consultation.
    The winning margin was 3.8 % roughly a ratio of 24 to 26 . if one person in 25 had voted the other way, it would have been a draw.
    Within two years the polls were fairly consistent in showing a small majority thinking it was a mistake.
    Should there be a margin of 10% to indicate a general will? In some countries a majority of 2 to 3 is required. A ration of 60-40 or 55-45 seems indicated. Some might insist on a simple majority.
    My feeling is that the issues need to be clear ahead of any vote.

    • craig Post author

      The notion of a qualified majority is daft. If 3.8% was too small a majority to leave the EU, how was minus 3.8% a large enough majority to stay in the EU?
      (Leaving aside the very different question of the separate nations of the UK).

      • Ian Robert Stevenson

        It is usual to have a specified majority for major constitutional change which is why I ask the question.
        I don’t have a definite view on this but a decision based on a small majority which could change in a short time, could well result in the sort of division we see in the USA , and here to a lesser extent. It may be that the minority accept the result in which case a new state will emerge.

        • Mike Fenwick

          October 1706, the Scottish Parliament opens.

          227 Members will decide whether to ratify the Treaty of Union.

          History records 110 Members – LESS THAN 50% – decide in favour.

          Que sera!

  • Lapsed Agnostic

    According to Wiki, the Liberals, Labour & the IPP took a combined 52.5% of the vote, rather than 47.7%, in the December 1910 UK general election, giving them a total of 388 MPs, not 399. Also, Sinn Fein didn’t stand any candidates in either the January or December 1910 elections, but obtained 73 seats in the 1918 election, rather than 71 – with the IPP being reduced to 7, not 6, down from 74 in Dec 1910, not 78. Can’t be arsed consulting more authoritative sources.

    • Geoffrey

      I dont understand how you can unilaterally declare independance, without first having agreed the terms. The rest of the UK may be relaxed if the terms are reasonable, but if Scotland wants to dump it’s share of UK debt, why would the rest of the UK accept Scotland’s independance ?

        • Geoffrey

          Lapsed, you are correct it was not for you. You were very patient in that exchange. With higher interest charges on the National Debt, the issue is now even more significant.
          If Scotland is serious about it’s independence it should start issuing it’s own debt now, just to test the water and see what sort of interest rate the markets would require from an independent Scotland.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Geoffrey, and for your kind words. I find I’m becoming less patient with age, especially with women of a certain age trying to get their claws into my old man. As every gardener knows, it’s best to nip these things in the bud – and it’s bad enough that my bastard* neice & nephew are being brought up in one of the less touristy areas of Sarf London (in an ex-council house that was bought for nearly half a mill) without them not being able to go to secondary schools where drug-taking is optional, rather than compulsory.

            I don’t think that the Scottish Parliament has the powers to issue its own debt, though I could be wrong.

            * You don’t get much more out-of-wedlock than being born to (Ukrainian) women your father has never even met, let alone married. I thought they should have adopted (after fostering to see if looking after kids was really their thing); obviously, they took no notice.

        • Ucumist

          Lapsed, how the hell are you going to determine independence when you say things like –
          “how much money (raised via both taxation and debt) is spent on health, education and many other things in Scotland”.
          This is the groupthink of Neoliberal / monetary ideology. After 40 years of Thatcher’s TINA you are trapped in a mythical economic framework.
          The Gov / State spends money into existence to create assets (or elite handouts if you are Tory) and then taxes that money away, gone.
          Debt / Bonds and taxes do not fund spending, it is not a household budget.
          Deficit is just the difference between the spending and tax. If tax = spending then you & everyone have no savings.
          Debt is a record of the assets (or waste) created by the spending. Just a number on a spreadsheet.
          Bonds are a safe savings welfare account for the Financial Capitalists. They deposit £x and 5 years later withdraw £x+.
          There is no need to issue Bonds. It is a relic of the Gold Standard days.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Ucumist. First of all, unless I move to Scotland and no one except me votes in the next IndyRef, I will not ‘determine Independence’, whatever my views on economics are.

            Secondly, I’m not trapped in a mythical economic framework at all. Government spending is funded mostly by taxation, but also by debt. If next year the government decides to issue no new debt (i.e. the deficit is zero), then all government spending and debt repayments will have to be funded out of taxation, but that doesn’t mean that my and other people’s bank savings, shares and bonds will have no value.

            If someone takes out a personal loan, spends half of it on drugs and half of it on a fancy Swiss watch, and then loses their job and refuses to keep up loan repayments because it’s ‘just a number on a spreadsheet’, the bank will likely petition them for bankruptcy because they’ll at least want to get the value of the watch back – and that would have been the case long before Thatcher got a sniff of power, and most people would say it was fair do’s.

            Of course there’s no need for governments to issue bonds, but the idea is that the cost of some of today’s spending can be borne by the next generation who, due to economic growth, will hopefully overall be wealthier than we are. Obviously, it’s possible that that might not turn out to be the case. Why shouldn’t people be able to invest in reasonably safe assets if they want? However, the real value of (non-index-linked) bonds can be quickly eroded by sustained inflation, of course (see the 1970s).

        • Cubby

          The colonials are back in town and they are posting even more nonsense – “Scotland should start issuing its own debt now to test the water” – silly silly nonsense.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your reply Cubby. I’m one of those colonials who thinks that Scotland would better off out of the union, not least because Scots could then get rid of Trident and potentially avoid dying in their millions of acute radiation sickness. If I’m resident in Scotland at the time of the next IndyRef (which could come as early as 2027, if there’s a hung parliament in 2024 where the Tories need SNP support to form a government – but more likely won’t happen for at least a decade) I would vote Yes. But I’d still think that Scotland should take its fair share of the UK’s debt – and if it doesn’t, there’ll certainly be consequences.

          • Cubby


            You may claim to support Scottish independence but your other words demonstrate a certain lack of knowledge that is consistent with Britnat colonial thinking.

            Yes you are correct the Scottish Parliament cannot go off, like the UK gov raising as much debt as the financial market will stand. So I repeat again for you – if your neighbour claimed to be borrowing money to spend for your benefit but everything he purchased was to improve his house would you be happy to accept responsibility for some of that debt.

            England looted the wealth of countries throughout the world and is still at in Scotland.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Cubby. I wouldn’t be happy to assume responsibility for some of the debt if my neighbour did that – but your analogy is only valid if you’re of the opinion that, over the years, Scots have derived zero benefit from the NHS, state education, state benefits, the state pension, the criminal justice system, defence, etc.

            Plenty of Scots were involved in the British Empire’s looting and employment of slave labour. Comparatively little looting occurred in Scotland.

          • Cubby


            You clearly are not familiar with democracy – we only get the benefit of all those services that England deigns to allow us to have: e.g. England decides to reduce spending on the NHS; Scotland gets less money for the NHS; England decides to spend a fortune on weapons of mass destruction and place them in Scotland against Scotland’s wishes. But you think this is democracy and Scotland getting a benefit. You are wrong. It’s actually unbelievable that someone thinks this way … oh wait a minute, it’s Britnat colonial thinking again. So my analogy is accurate enough to be valid.

            Plenty of Scots were involved in Empire and they called themselves British – same as today. Scotland does not benefit but the individuals who sell themselves to their colonial master do benefit.

            You say “little looting in Scotland” – more nonsense – it started immediately in 1707 with Scotland’s treasury taken down to London, and continues to this day.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply, Cubby. I’m reasonably familiar with several forms of democracy, but could you explain how the D’Hondt system works – as used in Scottish Parliament elections – without looking it up? I know which way I’d bet.

            If the UK Parliament voted to reduce spending on the NHS, unlike in the English regions, the Scottish Parliament could vote to restore that spending in Scotland by increasing income tax on employment to cover the cost. You might have a point about defence and weapons of mass destruction, but they only represent a fraction of public spending.

            Why is unbelievable that I think this way? Plenty of people – including Independence supporters in Scotland – think like I do. My old man thinks that Scotland should only be allowed to become independent if the rest of the UK agrees via a referendum of its own “otherwise any part of Britain could just become independent”. This is not my view, but it’s not an uncommon one. Whether people in Scotland call themselves British or Scottish, almost all of them benefit from public spending.

            There was very little to loot in the Scottish treasury in 1707. If there had been, the Scottish Establishment wouldn’t have been as susceptible to English bribes, as they could just have voted to divide the contents between themselves instead.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks very much for your reply Boss. I think that Sparticus reference must be wrong because if Labour’s stated 371,802 votes was 3% of the vote, then the IPP’s 131,720 votes couldn’t represent 2.5%. The Wiki numbers are consistent with a Wayback archive:


        I generally find Wiki to be pretty reliable on ‘non-controversial’ topics that wouldn’t interest people like Philip Cross.

      • IrishU

        The comparison between the IPP and Sinn Fein is inaccurate. The IPP were never for independence akin to the style of Scottish independence that you seek, but rather Irish Home Rule – a stance supported by the vast majority in Ireland until the aftermath of the Easter Rising in 1916.

    • ET


      Some interesting views in that article.

      Dail Eireann archives. Sinn Fein won 73 seats in 1918, and the first woman ever elected to Westminister was Countess Markievicz an Irish nationalist who was elected whilst serving a prison term.

      For anyone interested “Ireland Since The Famine” by F.S.L. Lyons is considered a towering work on modern Irish history and the main reference book my school history class used.

      • frankywiggles

        Lyons is now generally recognised as a “revisionist” historian whose political sympathies underplayed the negative role of the British State in events like the Famine. The protestant-ascendancy Irish Times is a major promoter of such “revisionism,” residue of it being the voice of British unionism in Ireland. Sinn Fein continues to be its great bugbear.

        For anyone interested in the effort by the Irish establishment historians to whitewash British rule in Ireland and demonize Irish nationalism see the book of essays Interpreting Irish history: the debate on historical revisionism, (ed) Ciaran Brady.

        • ET

          I am inclined to agree with you Frankywiggles. Lets just say that my school history teacher didn’t at all underplay the negative role of the British State in events like the Famine. My tattered copy from school, which I still have, was previously adorned with side notes written by my two older brothers who had the same teacher before me. It’s still a great reference book.

      • Stasia Lombard

        “Sinn Féin landslide in 1918 not quite what it seemed — SF got just 46.9% of vote ”

        This is a misrepresentation of what actually happened. The linked Irish Times article is typical of the genre, part of a failed campaign to discredit the independence movement represented by Sinn Féin. The Redmond party (IPP, Irish Parliamentary Party) opposed to Sinn Féin is comparable to the Sturgeon SNP as described in this blog. The IPP had been the dominant party of Irish nationalism since the 1867 defeat of the Fenian rebellion by Britain. The Fenians/IRB/Irish Republican Brotherhood held that Irish independence could only be obtained by force of arms — by militarily defeating and expelling the British forces. The 1916 Easter Rising saw the return of Fenianism as a credible movement.

        The IPP backed Britain’s World War, and, along with their British Liberal Party associates, were discredited when, in 1915, the Orange/Unionist/Conservatives achieved dominance of the British government due to the warmongers botched management of the Western Front and Gallipoli. Accordingly Irish nationalism united behind resurgent Fenianism leading to 1919-21 War of Independence and expulsion of the British Army from Nationalist Ireland.

        “SF got just 46.9% of vote” in 1918. In fact the IPP was so unpopular by that stage that Sinn Féin was elected unopposed in most constituencies, in which no voting took place. If the percentages in the contested seats are applied to the uncontested seats, support for Sinn Féin comes to about 75%.

        The other 25% went mostly to Orange/Unionist candidates, mostly in present-day Northern Ireland. Even though all of Ireland had been regarded by Britain as a single political and constitutional unit, the minority Orange movement was given its own “parliament” whose main function was to police the Irish nationalists of the region on behalf of the British government which continues to exercise sovereignty there. Sovereignty exercised without the democratic mandate of contested elections; — no British government fights for or obtains votes there, a classic colonial holdout.

        The bloody results of this British Imperial chicanery are obvious from subsequent events.

        • Lysias

          The boundary was drawn in the wrong place. Northern Ireland, as the boundary was drawn, included the two counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone, which both had bare but real Catholic and Nationalist majorities. The Catholics in those two counties, like those in the rest of Northern Ireland, would end up facing 50 years of treatment as second-class citizens. But it was worse to do it in Fermanagh and Tyrone, as including them defied the principle of majority rule.

          Drawing the boundary where it was drawn can only be explained by the idea that Protestants counted for more than Catholics, so that it was worse to include large numbers of Protestants in a Catholic state than it was to include large numbers of Catholics in a Protestant state.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply ET, and for linking to the interesting article in the Irish Times. The Dail website is consistent with the Wiki article that Sinn Fein won 73 seats in the 1918 General Election. Interestingly, it also says that four of their MPs won two seats each.

  • Fwl

    When a company wants to radically change its make up and pass a special resolution it requires a majority of not less than 75%.

    If shareholders have this protection against a simple majority unpending the status quo why not the electorate?

    • craig Post author

      That is of course entirely rational to conservatives who think supporting the status quo should always have an inbuilt bias. It is not compulsory to think like that.

  • DiggerUK

    The 1832 Westminster election included an issue that was immediately important to everybody in the British Isles. Likewise the 1910 election. They also included Irish MP’s from constituencies who aren’t in Great Britain anymore, and they also lacked many class of citizen who have the franchise now, but didn’t then.
    Non sequiturs are, as non sequiturs duz.

    How a Westminster election can be a plebiscite on Scottish Independence needs explaining. If every Scottish constituency returns a scotnat MP…. so what!
    The majority of UK MP’s who won’t be campaigning on Scottish independence, but maybe will be campaigning against, will win that one. The lone voice of the Brighton Green, Caroline Lucas, is the best I can see you getting.
    Such an election strategy is beyond flawed, it’s poppycock.

    If scotnats campaigned on scotnat MSP’s returned to Holyrood signifying a victorious plebiscite I could understand.
    In Scotland the SNP only rules with Green support for now, but at least there is some logic in declaring Scottish elections a plebiscite on independence. Our hosts campaign strategy doesn’t get above the bootlaces of clutching at straws…_

      • Mist001

        “Because the opinion of those living outside Scotland is utterly irrelevant.”

        Never thought I’d find myself in the same boat as this guy, but does that mean that the opinions of myself AND Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website and with whom I believe you are acquainted, are utterly irrelevant since neither of us live in Scotland?

        Who needs enemies…

        • craig Post author

          Well, no opinion is irrelevant in that every idea is worth reflection, whatever the source. But if you want a vote on Scotland’s future, you need to live here and move back from France.

          • Mist001

            That’s quite correct that I won’t have a vote but because I live in France, that shouldn’t exclude me from supporting or contributing to the independence debate. I’m still Scottish and however right or wrong they may be, my opinions are still valid.

            Unless I happen to catch a bad case of unionism or something in which case, you can chase me from your blog.

      • DiggerUK

        Craig Murray,
        “Because the opinion of those living outside Scotland is utterly irrelevant”

        You really are losing the plot. You’re now saying that my opinion/vote, as someone living outside Scotland, is “utterly irrelevant”… does that mean if I moved to Scotland my opinion/vote would suddenly become relevant?

        By your criteria of who does and doesn’t have a relevant “opinion”, then it means that unionist “opinion” in Scotland is relevant, but unionist opinion in England, Wales and the North of Ireland isn’t. You are deciding to pretend that unionism can be cancelled and not taken account of, whether inside or outside Scotland…. Blind madness.

        By using your criteria that only those in Scotland have a relevant “opinion” you can only be taken at face value if you attach a plebiscite authority to Scottish Parliament elections, not Westminster. That at least has some sense to it…_

        • nevermind

          your opinion might be valid, but to vote you should be living in Scotland or be as irrelevant as the 3.4 million EU citizens who had no vote on their future in this country. Denied by Colonial Unionists!


          Add to that the denial of same colonialists to let EU and Ex pats vote in the last EU elections, who see nothing wrong to interfere in Scotland’s Independence debate, smearing anyone who dares to raise the issues in detail.

          Independence will not be won by a self serving, law bending and wriggling SNP, supported by unionist and colonialist trumpets, it will be won by those who will be accountable to it at the next possible opportunity.
          For that the campaign by Alba should be supported, if they decide to stand against a colonialist mindset of Sturgeonites, pointing out the chances the SNP missed, how they’d rather speak of gender politics than to fully prepare and campaign for a plebiscite and specifying an Independent Scotland if the vote is won, should be understood by voters.
          If the unionist media and the colonizing blood sucking of energy and resolve carries no value with voters, even after a full blown campaign, then something is seriously wrong.
          Facts should matter and the delaying graft by the SNP is shallow and worthless to voters. As for the Greens, who manifestly campaigned for two new ports to serve Scotland’s EU trade, and then buried their demands to get into bed with ta caviar/jobs/money bearing Sturgeon, they are a sadly deluded party now and should feel the wrath of voters.

          • DiggerUK

            nevermind, “but to vote you should be living in Scotland”

            Don’t tell me that, tell our host.
            Whilst your at it, try convincing him that demanding the Westminster elections, and not the Scottish elections, be utilised as a plebiscite for Scottish independence is ridiculous.

            Perhaps it is because the Scottish elections show less support for scotnats than the Westminster elections. Perhaps it’s because my opinion points out the “irrelevant” bleeding obvious.

            I don’t know which scotnats are the worst. Corrupt SNP, or the idiots…_

          • Cubby


            I agree with your comment that a Scottish Parliament election would be a better election for a de facto referendum on Scottish independence because yes is more likely to win with a majority of the votes for independence – just as in May 2021.

            On the other hand you state that ” Scottish elections show less support for scotnats than the Westminster elections.” Care to provide figures to back up that claim? Or is it just more confused posting from a colonial mind? What exactly does less support actually mean in Digger’s mind? Are you comparing % of MSPs and MPs, which is an apples and pears comparison or vote percentage? I suspect you don’t know what you are talking about and you are the one calling people idiots.

    • David Warriston

      I doubt Craig’s plebiscite election strategy would be recognised by either the EU or Westminster and it could probably be dismissed by any half decent constitutional lawyer.

      How could the SNP campaign on such terms without instructing its elected MPs to refuse to sit in the subsequent Westminster Parliament? Has this tactic ever been discussed? Would Blackford and co agree?

      • craig Post author

        “By any half decent constitutional lawyer” – the so-called UK constitution is irrelevant to Scotland’s right of self-determination. Have you read anything else on this blog?

        Of course Blackford et all will not agree. Did you actually read the full article?

        • Coldish

          Thanks, Craig, for arguing this so forcefully. I’m English, and love Scotland, but I accept that it would be better for us all if the UK was broken up. Even the Welsh are starting to see that. David Warriston: people in the UK and elsewhere may pretend that it has a constitution, but with nothing written down and just a tangle of gentlemen’s agreements and verbal conventions it’s stretching a point to describe it as such.

      • Ian C

        Of course, the colonial power will never willingly cede independence. But the EU? Why would it? It isn’t 2014 this time so there won’t be any favours being called in. Also, what possible argument could a decent constitutional lawyer make and to whom would he or she make it?

        Your last point suggests that you aren’t up to speed with the dissatisfaction within the YES side regarding the leadership of the SNP and the strategy that it is following. I think Craig has pretty well summed it up in this Craig’s post.

        • David Warriston

          The so called UK constitution is recognised beyond the UK. Are you going to the UN to argue the case against its legal decision to dismiss the plebiscite election? Good luck on that score.

          Maybe you’re not up to speed on the EU these days. The Nord Stream Line pipeline was blown up two weeks ago, consigning the continent to energy shortages, and I am still waiting to hear the merest squeak of a comment from Scholz. I assume you are aware of the Polish and Truss comments made within minutes of this happening. Do you believe that the EU would act against NATO’s interests and recognise an independent Scotland? I refer you to Craig’s admirable comments on Alba’s foreign policy in this article.

          Independence will not be won on a constitutional argument. It will also require mass support on the streets. Alba might provide some of that but where is the rest going to come from?

    • Ian C

      If the people of Scotland are aware that electing a majority of pro-independence MP’s or MSP’s in Scotland will bring about independence then it does not matter what the election is. To think otherwise is poppycock. Whether the current SNP leadership will live up to such a mandate is however, a different matter.

    • Lysias

      Irish people alive at the time have told me that talk of extending conscription to Ireland played an even bigger role in turning Irish opinion than the suppression of the Easter Uprising.

  • Clark

    “The 2014 referendum was only agreed because Independence was at 28% in the opinion polls and Cameron believed a referendum would be easily won.”

    That’s exactly the same reason Cameron called the Brexit referendum.

    • AndrewR

      Also, I thought Cameron promised the Brexit referendum in the belief that he would have to go into a second coalition with the Liberals, and then he could blame them for not allowing it, getting him off the hook for the next five years. But the Liberals were wiped out and he was stuck with it.

  • Alan D

    What truly drove Sinn Fein’s ascent was the Representation of the People Act 1918, which widened the electorate tremendously in Ireland. Ireland cast 207,598 votes total in 1910 and the IPP got 90,000 of them. By 1918 there were 1,015,515 votes total, very nearly a 500% increase! Focusing on the percentages or the change in seats overlooks how the IPP actually gained voters in the churn, rising to 220,000.

    Indeed, more people voted for the IPP in 1918 than had voted period in the prior election. Sinn Fein’s lot weren’t ex-IPP voters who spurned the IPP, they were brand new voters who had never had the right to vote before. I do not see how or what is going to provide Alba with such a commensurate surge.

  • Brian c

    There will be austerity and NHS privatisation with either Sunak or Starmer so escaping English rule is a no-brainer. You should be concerned though by Brussels correcting Nicola’s claims about rejoining the EU last week. Officials reiterated the EU’s policy that new member states must ‘legally commit’ to join the eurozone.

    Joining the eurozone would leave Scottish governments permanently straightjacketed by Brussels’ fiscal austerity and competition rules and bind them to some very fragile eurozone states. You would not necessarily be ruled by nicer people either. When it comes to basic humanity the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell makes Suella Braverman seem like Jesus Christ. On balance it still makes sense to escape the dystopia of Tory/Tory-lite Britain but do face the alternative Eurozone future with open eyes.

    • Jeff

      Jeezo, all of this bollocks was debunked in 2014. Yes new member states must commit to joining the eurozone, but they don’t have to say when….

      Anyway, Alba’s policy of EFTA is much easier and appropriate IMO.

  • Roger

    Wow. You obviously have strong opinions about this.

    the first past the post system. It is a terrible system

    Quite so. It explains why:

    Westminster will never willingly cede Scottish Independence. Never.

    when the overwhelming majority of English people think that if the Scots want to be an independent country, obviously they should be. The few exceptions are those who think that Britain needs nuclear-submarine bases in Scotland, which strikes me more as a weak excuse than a rational argument.

    However, I disagree completely that a decision about independence should be entirely based on FPTP seats and ignore the popular vote. Apparently you’d declare Scottish independence even if a majority of Scottish voters opposed it, as long as the independence party got more seats under FPTP. That’s downright anti-democratic. By all means declare Scotland’s independence – as long as a majority of Scots who have an opinion want that. Some sleazy FPTP stitch-up, “winning” seats but ignoring majority opinion, would stink.

    Alba’s platform sounds good to me. Leave NATO? Yay! If I lived in Scotland, I’d join Alba today.

    • Jeff

      “I disagree that….independence should be entirely based on FPTP seats and ignore the popular vote.”

      You have a point there, but, Scotland was taken out of the EU mainly because the English electorate voted the Tories in on a seat majority with FPTP, no?

      So, Scotland is to be kept in the union (and currently out of the EU) by a majority of seats/FPTP voters in England, but a majority of seats (time after time) from Scottish voters is not acceptable to claim Scottish independence?

      You want it one way to keep Scotland in the union, but another way for Scotland to escape the union?

      Or am I reading your post wrongly?

    • craig Post author

      The large majority of English people are fair minded and believe that Scotland should be free to choose. Unfortunately that cuts little ice with the British Establishment who are concerned entirely with their own self-interest.

  • Robert Dyson

    I am one of the mongrel English living in England. I used to think the Union was good and did not like the idea of Scottish independence. Craig has changed my mind. We all need less centralisation of power for better democratic accountability and having different political and economic policies in different regions. As I see it, had Nicola Sturgeon put her formidable rhetorical powers truly behind independence instead of as a smoke screen for keeping the Union – independence would already have happened. I used to enjoy hearing Nicola but since the attempt to put Alex Salmond in prison on false charges (reprehensibly despicable) and the actual imprisonment of Craig for reporting that, any respect for her or belief in her has gone. I just wish I was young enough to move to Scotland.

  • DunGroanin

    A brave and intelligent call to arms and one that must echo across all who believe in independence of Peoples from imperialist control.

    To risk sounding glib – the old saying can be extended – the Personal is Political IS geopolitic.

    The answer to the unipolar U.K. is a multipolar U.K.

    Scotland must have agency to do with its Resources and Peoples that the ‘English’ laid claim to many centuries ago for a elite few aristos and their handmaiden compradors.

    It really is the only way forward and will actually be a long term guarantee of Englands peaceful and successful existence over the future centuries, as it becomes one of the great tourist destinations of the new multipolar worlds middle classes! How else are we going to earn our daily bread?

    No Peoples under the yolk of a superpower have ever ‘won’ a peaceful independence freeing them completely of these robber barons.
    Whether it was the Slave owning states with their supposed Declaration of Independence from the German King of England; or the many colonies of the European imperialism of the last Millenia.

    Look at the poor African slaves who won Haiti but have been kept down by all these imperialist slave owners collectively anyway ever since. Including right now.
    Look at how the same powers collectively destroyed ancient China through opium and gunboats – but the Chinese found a solution through their long march;
    And of course look at the perennial failed attempts at taking over the Russians, Steppes and Eurasia for its massive resources by the same very very few elites and their aristo families – who don’t give a fuck about the actual ‘citizens’ they clam to ‘defend’.

    They are more interested in ‘culling’ humanity with shit Malthusian pseudo science, eugenics and the fake new religion on the block of ‘Green New Deal’ , who’s high priests last year in Scotland were slavering over the $100 trillion industry and conquests – ‘protection’ they call it – of the undeveloped resources of the planet from its current natives – for ‘the good of life on Earth’ – another set of Rules made up by Them for Us. For only THEIR enrichment. Their protection of their Magic Money and institutes. They don’t consider ordinary humans to be a resource, just a slave producer, consumer or a threat to be exterminated.

    Scotland is being raped and pillaged. As it has been for centuries. Depopulated, Enclosed.
    And many of its Sons and Daughters took the Kings shilling, many enriched themselves as the boot boys of the City – having had their ‘national bank’ strangled at birth!
    Many became the empire builders and settlers for that Empires expansion ring as much murderers of natives as they themselves suffered – and that history cannot stand without atonement and acknowledgement.

    The Scottish constitution must be honest about its self and it should be declared prior to its successful implementation.

    The U.K. was railroaded into ‘leaving’ the EU but we can’t leave Europe – even as that attempt is underway, by formally making us another US State, open to be exploited as much as the rest of that continent- because we are geographically Europe. Likewise Scotland can’t leave Great Britain -we are a single island attached to Europe. Anyone saying that an independent Scotland cannot be, is a liar as much as any BrexShithead.

  • Hughie Gallacher

    Great article Craig, A subject I have been canvassing opinion on, from fellow ALBA members. A senior member of ALBA ‘s NEC has explained to me that ALBA is a Holyrood List pop-up party and will never stand directly against the SNP. I disagree strongly with that view, However, in the end, it is a political calculation from Alex Salmond on the way forward for this. I will follow where Alex takes us, but the ISP already exists as a Holyrood pop-up party, why would Scotland need another?

    • Geoff Bush

      Hughie, that NEC senior member is plainly incorrect. If it suits a genuine independence strategy then ALBA will certainly stand for constituencies at Holyrood as well as on the list. ALBA membership defines policy.

  • Peter C

    Craig Murray said, “…there comes a time when true Independence supporters simply have to drop the SNP from their calculations as a lost cause.”

    Totally agree and agree that the time to do so is now. Last week I joined ALBA, never been an actual member of a political party in life up until now — I really have had enough of corrupt Sturgeon and her (neo-liberal) crew. ALBA tacks to the left a bit and I like that a lot, long may it continue. Where this is going to go and how it is going to land I don’t know but my feeling is the SNP as far as independence is concerned are now the walking dead.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    And so, we will reach a definitive deadline at which we must choose to stand ALBA candidates against the SNP at a Westminster GE or not.
    We are to make this decision based on whether we trust the promise that a successful plebiscite will initiate a declaration of Independence, or whether we judge that said “promise” is just mair wind ‘n’ pish fae Sturgeon tae gain another five years oan the big, yellow, gravy bus.
    On the January 2020m Brexit eve, we were led to expect a dramatic announcement fae Sturgeon. Instead we got abject capitulation with precisely no causal explanation. For “capitulation” read; acting in accordance with instructions handed down from her handlers in Thames House and Foggy Bottom. In the same speech we were promised a Constitutional Convention. That didn’y happen. There’s nae talk of it ever happening. The personality cult that is NuSNP disnae tolerate discussion within its ain ranks let alone inviting the broader Yes movement tae contribute tae policy and strategy.
    We will require mair than Sturgeon’s weasel words and empty promises to inform our decision. Actions speak louder than words.
    Will the SNP attempt to depose Kenny and Neale? That would give a more reliable indication than any promise forced out of the pathologically sleekit Murrells.
    Neale says he’s been told by the local party association that Sturgeon has personally selected a candidate to stand against him, totally shredding any notion of party rules and democracy. If the information fed tae Neale is accurate, who has Sturgeon chosen?
    I’d wager gid money oan “friend” of the US estate Department, Stephen Gethins.

  • Martin

    Surely a general election fought as a plebiscite on the single issue of independence, must mean that the total number of votes cast for pro- independence parties will alone decide the result, and NOT the numbers of seats won? After all, a fair number of losing candidates will attract a lot of pro-independence votes.

  • Republicofscotland

    Brilliant article Craig, I was wondering when you’d lose patience with the SNP, you as a louder proponent on independence than most have given them ample time to progress the cause which they haven’t. Here’s hoping we get the plebiscite election.

  • John Hannah

    Why would you want Alba to stand in Const and List in Holyrood?
    That’s not plebiscite.

    That’s what the SNP did in 21 when IndyScotParty stood aside for Alba. It didn’t work.

    You need two parties to do a plebiscite for const and list seats.

    The SNP only won two seats for a million list votes.
    That is a nonsense strategy.

    I wonder when we will learn to work together.
    Or are there those who won’t work together because they know it will mean a win?

  • Wally Jumblatt

    So, Sturgeon says the election will be a plebiscite for independence.
    You vote for her lot or you are not for independence, according to you (she gets to say what the election is about).
    So, does Alba stand aside and tell it’s supporters to vote SNP – of course not. Nobody wants Nicola Sturgeon to be the leader of an independent Scotland – especially since she is doing such excellent work to bankrupt the nation.

    I don’t want independence until she and her third-rate band of dipsies have been removed.
    (She doesn’t want independence full stop. I thought that was clear to everyone.)

    • David Warriston

      Let’s take Nicola Sturgeon at her word. If the next General Election is to be a plebiscite election she can convince independence supporters of that by ordering any elected SNP MPs not to take their seats in the House of Commons in the event of a successful campaign. Then we would know that she meant business.

      Now, that is a big risk. How many Scottish voters sympathetic to independence would vote not to be represented at Westminster? How many SNP politicians would be prepared to stand under these circumstances?

      As DiggerUK stated earlier, a successful Holyrood Election would be the more credible vehicle for insisting on independence. Followed by a withdrawal of SNP MPs from Westminster in response to the will of the people.

  • squeeth

    I think it’s a mistake to talk about majorities under FPTP, it exists to thwart the majority. You should quote statistics based on the electorate, not those who can’t be bothered to abstain.

  • SleepingDog

    No, it is unsound to argue that any vote is in favour of a policy platform proposition in a general (note the word ‘general’) election, whatever label is given to it, because we don’t know people’s minds, and there is substantial evidence that people vote for the lesser of two evils in such elections. It may be that keeping the Opposition parties away from power is so important to some voters that they will risk Independence parties getting a majority.

    Furthermore, the electorate in a general election differs from the eligibility criteria used in the last Scottish Independence Referendum. It is not illogical to campaign to introduce a post-election plebiscite that, for example, includes 16/17-year-olds.

    I also don’t think dredging up UK Parliamentary conventions and precedents is really helpful if they are a) outdated and b) examples of a political system you may wish to condemn and break away from to found a new and different one. I am in favour of Scottish Independence but political parties are doomed to corruption, cronyism, compromise and remain reactionary and bound to old power systems. I always have to face the choice of picking the least evil.

    • DiggerUK

      “It is not illogical to campaign to introduce a post-election plebiscite that, for example, includes 16/17-year-olds”

      Thank you for reminding me of the Scottish franchise for over 16’s. It makes my criticism of using the Westminster election as a plebiscite even stronger. By using the Westminster election as a plebiscite, it makes all those sixteen and seventeen year olds in Scotland “irrelevant” to Indyref.

      I think, on balance, the corrupt scotnats in the SNP are marginally preferable to the idiotic scotnats on here, making the SNP the lesser of two evils.
      I have no money in the pot on scotindependence, but if I did, I would argue that all should be under one banner, the SNP banner. Every scotnat lion has their own donkeys to follow, dividing forces now is only going to weaken any elective process…_

  • Ponti Min

    > That is the mechanism by which the majority of countries on the globe have won their Independence. Actual referenda are not only not mandated in international law, they are very rare and often distrusted.

    Bear in mind that the 2 countries to most recently join the UN, East Timor and South Sudan, both became independent by way of a referendum.

  • Ebenezer Scroggie

    Today’s Supreme Court Judgement makes direct reference to the nuttiness of UDI:

    There are insuperable obstacles in the path of the intervener’s argument based on self-determination. First, the principle of self-determination is simply not in play here. The scope of the principle was considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Reference re Secession of Quebec [1998] 2 SCR 217. There, the Governor in Council referred a series of questions to the Supreme Court including whether there exists a right to self-determination under international law that would give Quebec the right to secede unilaterally. In its judgment the Supreme Court explained (at paras 136-137) that Canada was a sovereign and independent state conducting itself in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction. It considered that the then current constitutional arrangements within Canada did not place Quebecers in a disadvantaged position within the scope of the international law rule. It continued:
    “In summary, the international law right to selfdetermination only generates, at best, a right to external selfdetermination in situations of former colonies; where a people is oppressed, as for example under foreign military occupation; or where a definable group is denied meaningful access to government to pursue their political, economic, social and cultural development. In all three situations, the people in question are entitled to a right to external self-determination because they have been denied the ability to exert internally their right to self-determination. Such exceptional circumstances are manifestly inapplicable to Quebec under existing conditions.” (at para 138) It went on to say that in other circumstances peoples were expected to achieve selfdetermination within the framework of their existing state:
    “A state whose government represents the whole of the people or peoples resident within its territory, on a basis of equality and without discrimination, and respects the principles of self-determination in its internal arrangements, is entitled to maintain its territorial integrity under international law and to have that territorial integrity recognized by other states. Quebec does not meet the threshold of a colonial people or an oppressed people, nor can it be suggested that Quebecers have been denied meaningful access to government to pursue their political, economic, cultural and social development. In the circumstances, the National Assembly, the legislature or the government of Quebec do not enjoy a right at international law to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally.” (at para 154)
    89. In our view these observations apply with equal force to the position of Scotland and the people of Scotland within the United Kingdom. They are also consistent with the United Kingdom’s submission to the International Court of Justice in the case of Kosovo, adopted by the intervener as part of its submissions in the present case: “To summarise, international law favours the territorial integrity of “States. Outside the context of self-determination, normally limited to situations of colonial type or those involving foreign occupation, it does not confer any ‘right to secede’”: Written Proceedings in relation to UN General Assembly Resolution 63/3 (A/RES/63/3) (8 October 2008), Written Statement of the United Kingdom in response to the Request for an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Question, ‘Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?”, (17 April 2009), para 5.33. The submission went on to state that international law does not, in general, prohibit secession; but the relevant point, in relation to the intervener’s submission based on a right of self-determination under international law, is the absence of recognition of any such right outside the contexts described by the Supreme Court of Canada, none of which applies to Scotland.

    So, Craig Murray's slightly nutty idea that we in Scotland abandon democracy and the verdict of the People of Scotland in the Referendum, and so declare UDI, is completely out of order and quite incompatible with international law.

    The outcome of the "once in a lifetime" Referendum was clear. It should be respected as the democratically expressed will of the Scottish people.