By Iain Bruce
The First Minister at the recent SNP conference encouraged the faithful to go forth and multiply and ensure that there would be a 60 per cent Yes vote in the next referendum – whenever that is to be. She emphasised repeatedly to the media and the pundits that it was for the people and not her to determine when “Indyref 2” would take place.
In a different time Scottish independence was predicated on the fanciful notion of a majority of MPs being returned to the Palace of Westminster and the right of that majority to withdraw and unilaterally declare Scotland a free state.
Now there seems a notion amongst a new generation of Nats that we need to endure an increasing amount of sand being kicked in our collective faces, be it Vows or EVEL, to demonstrate a new kind of political machismo. We need to “hold the line”, wait until we see “the whites of their eyes”, then when the generalissima declares, we go “over the top” and the army of door chappers and canvassers will claim the ultimate prize.
It’s not yet clear whether last week’s introduction of EVEL is a serious breach of the Act of Union or a minor procedural tweaking to enable English MPs to merely negate issues that English MPs dislike. Alternatively it might just be a blatant disregard for due democratic process by bureaucratic rather than parliamentary means. But whatever EVEL turns out to be in practice, it is clear testament to the contempt which the “Mother of Parliaments” has for her Scottish electorate.
HOUSE OF COMEDY
Notwithstanding the eloquence of the oratory and the long hours and hard graft of Scotland’s 56 “roaring lions”, as Alex Salmond would have had us believe, time and again they are being either ignored or efficiently neutered by the manipulative ringmasters of the House of Comedy.
So whenever it comes, will Indyref 2 be merely re-run of September 2014, with the barrage from the Better Together brigade even nastier, more intemperate and duplicitous than last time? If we could second guess the triggers for a referendum, could we ‘head them off at the pass’?
For an appropriate provocation perm from the options below:
The Economic enslavement of HS2, London Cross Rail, London Sewers and miscellaneous Chinese designed and French built nuclear power plants; the emasculation of our renewables industry through withdrawal of support because of the political prerogative of the English shires; threatening behaviour by neoliberal carpetbaggers of the Fracking and Underground Coal Gasification Front; annexation of Faslane so they can park their nukes far enough away from the “main” centres of population, (they said it before and then denied it but they are proving to be consummate liars); the apparent transformation of the Scottish office to the UK Government for Scotland; the infamous Vow; the denial of SNP amendments to the Scotland Bill; Brexit and all quite apart from the democratic deficit of a mere 36% of Tory votes dictating the governance of the UK. If, as the First Minister says its up to the people, maybe we should take her at her word and instead of waiting for whatever events are to trigger the second referendum perhaps we really can take the initiative and make our own history.
Since we never got the Vow as promised by the three amigos and the brooding Broon, why don’t we go back to the future with a Scottish Covenant fit for the new century. In this new post referendum context where EVEL is the illegitimate offspring of the frantic ‘love bombing’ in the dying days of the Better Together campaign, we need a new Covenant to chart a course and with its own issues and use it as the means to our ultimate goal rather than a re-run of the Yes/No campaign.
This year will see the 65th anniversary of the daring raid on Westminster Abbey over Christmas 1950 and the repatriation of the Stone of Destiny. The bravado of the raid was the greatest publicity coup of the Scottish Covenant Association in their quest for Home Rule. The association, active at the end of the Second World War and led by John MacCormick played a huge part in mobilising public opinion and succeeded in generating over two million signatures and representing some 40 per cent of the population in Scotland for what now look like modest goals.
In a different time their demands were simply:
“We, the people of Scotland who subscribe to this Engagement, declare our belief that reform in the constitution of our country is necessary to secure good government in accordance with our Scottish traditions and to promote the spiritual and economic welfare of our nation.
We affirm that the desire for such reform is both deep and widespread through the whole community, transcending all political differences and sectional interests, and we undertake to continue united in purpose for its achievement.
With that end in view we solemnly enter into this Covenant whereby we pledge ourselves, in all loyalty to the Crown and within the framework of the United Kingdom, to do everything in our power to secure for Scotland a Parliament with adequate legislative authority in Scottish affairs.”
Although we’ve achieved our Scottish Parliament and the glow of the monarchy has dimmed, the sentiments are the same even in the Internet age and the social media generation. However for a nation sometimes besotted by its history, perhaps that provocative Christmas raid by Messrs Hamilton, Matheson, Vernon and Stuart for their cause can provide us with the resolve to lay claim to our own future.
So here’s a modern alternative:
“We the people both jointly as declared by our democratic will and support for a majority of members in both the parliaments at Holyrood and Westminster and severally as evidenced by this signature appended here with, petition the First Minister for the dissolution of the Union of Parliaments.”
Let’s seize the day and live as sovereign Scots in a modern nation.