I live in the capital of my country. I had to travel hundreds of miles to the capital of a foreign country to hear a bunch of unionist judges, the majority from a foreign country, declare that my country has no right to existence, indeed my country only exists at all in so far as it was incorporated by a foreign parliament in the Scotland Act of 1998.
It was cold and wet, walking to the Supremes Court his morning from Albert Embankment. Londoners were hurrying to their jobs with heads bowed, collars up and gloved hands clutching umbrellas against a driving rain. It was mundane. There was no sense of excitement and no indication anything in particular was happening at the Supreme Court. Arriving at 9am there was no queue, and I was the third person into the courtroom.
The former Middlesex Crown Court is one of the heaviest and most plodding examples of Victorian Gothic architecture in existence. It looks like a set from a 1930s Errol Flynn film of Robin Hood. Courtroom Number One of what is now the Supreme Court has a mock medieval vaulted ceiling, designed to echo that of the ancient Westminster Hall across the square (which is one of the architectural marvels of the world). But the Victorian version fails to soar like the medieval one. It is massive and clumpy and the bosses are like vast excretions of pointless wood. Rather than marvel at its lightness, we fear it will fall on our head.
In Westminster Hall, a pain-racked William Wallace stood his trial before a foreign authority he did not acknowledge, but which insisted it ruled him and had the right to condemn him to death. That same foreign authority was about to come down on our heads again. 700 years later not much has changed; the venue had just shifted three hundred metres.
Inherent in the judgment of the Supreme Court is the proposition, incredibly advanced by Scotland’s Lord Advocate, that Scotland effectively ceased to exist as a nation in 1707 and the Scottish legal principle of the sovereignty of the people was completely replaced by the English legal principle of the sovereignty of the Crown in parliament. Thus Scotland has no authority, power or recourse, in any situation, beyond what is handed down to it by Westminster.
That is in no sense an exaggeration. It is what the ruling is.
It is fair to say – and I published this at the time, long before the judgment – that Scotland’s unionist Lord Advocate got precisely the result her entire presentation of the case was designed to achieve. She did not turn up in court, doubtless having been sent the judgment in advance and perhaps not wishing to be seen to smirk in public.
The Court itself was extraordinarily subdued on an occasion that will be written into every history of the Scottish nation. The public gallery was not crowded, and mostly filled by law students with zero interest in the outcome wither way, turning up as part of some assignment. There were a few gloating members of the state and corporate media. I was there with an old friend from Sinn Fein.
A few of the very best of Scotland’s MPs turned up – Angus Brendan McNeill, Douglas Chapman, Tommy Sheppard, Neale Hanvey, John McNally and Anne McLaughlin (apologies to any I missed). There was a remarkably high correlation between MPs who bothered to turn up to the case, and MP’s willing to be seen to be friends of Craig Murray in public, which I think is not coincidental. Or to put in another way, there was no sign of the troughers who don’t care about Independence beyond the effectiveness of the slogan in getting them elected.
I shall do a proper analysis of the judgment later. It was notable that Reed – whose Scottish accent had once again become almost entirely imperceptible – addressed the international law aspects of the case which had been wrongly and totally omitted by Lord Advocate Bain, but submitted separately on behalf of the SNP. Reed relied heavily on the completely outdated Quebec judgment of the Federal Court in Canada – which is of course apposite because it is a parallel instance of the colonial authority denying democracy. He also very selectively misrepresented the Kosovo Opinion of the ICJ.
So Reed ended up in a situation where this was quite literally the argument of the court.
Scotland is not a colony, Scotland has meaningful access to the political process. No, Scotland certainly does not have the right to hold a referendum.
That he cannot see the glaring contradiction in this is a sign of the effectiveness of Unionist blinkers.
This outcome is precisely what Nicola Sturgeon and her Lord Advocate aimed for. She can now claim she tried to hold an Independence referendum and was blocked, when she plainly never had the slightest intention of holding the referendum in the first place.
We now come to what is known in Scottish politics as “Plan B” – a plebiscite election, which she announced would follow if a referendum is blocked.
A plebiscite election on Independence can only mean an election which, if won by the SNP, will be a mandate to declare Independence. Plebiscite is virtually a synonym of referendum. A “plebiscite election” cannot be an election which will lead simply to a renewed request for permission from Westminster to hold a referendum. A “plebiscite election” is the referendum.
I am pretty confident we will see Surgeon again squirm towards the off ramp and simply try to turn the “plebiscite election” into a demand that we re-elect the do-nothing troughers for a further five years with a new “mandate”. I do believe this ploy is now wearing thin.
We now know Westminster will not grant Independence; we have to take it. We have to take it whatever UK law or the London Supreme Court says. We have to assert the Sovereignty of the Scottish People as an authority that stands, in Scotland, ineffably higher than any parliament in a foreign land.
Independence must be declared in Scotland by Scotland’s people, preferably through Scotland’s government.
Any politician who still argues we must be constrained by Westminster law and bow our heads to London diktats is a unionist. Please see that.
(Correction – I typed Tommy Sheridan for Tommy Sheppard. Both excellent men. Now corrected).
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