There is going to be a lot of hot air flying around over the next few days as pundits, politicians, activists and social media followers get torn in about each other over the variations, implications and ramifications of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s pre-emptive pronouncements yesterday on the impact that Brexit will have on the Scottish economy, the possibilities of legislation being just about ready to take forward on a second independence referendum, awaiting the ‘ Article 50 ‘ button being pushed, and the figures from the GERS financial statement, which are just about to be spun, again, to try and prove beyond any possible doubt, again, that Scotland is less able to look after itself than the Independent Principality of Craggy Island. Ah, that pesky oil price again.
GERS, designed by unionist politicians as a means to perpetuate an argument to keep the union together, will once again be used to try and serve that purpose for tea-time watchers of the mainstream Scottish news services, and glancing readers of unionist newspaper headlines on their way to work. Hopefully though for not too much longer.
Pushing all of that politicking and scrabbling about on detail out of the way, and looking at the whole picture, there is still a very simple and compelling argument to be made for Independence for Scotland. This is an argument based on a principle which is supposed to be the foundation block on which the mature society of the current United Kingdom has been built, democracy.
In September 2014 45% of the voters who cast a vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum voted in favour of Scotland becoming a self-governing country. For several and varied reasons, and to be respected as such, 55% of the voters who cast a vote in the same referendum voted to remain as part of the United Kingdom.
Some of this second group of voters, and there are varying opinions on this, as there is with most issues around this subject, were influenced in their decision-making by promises made by unionist politicians that if they voted no Scotland would be given additional powers anyway and would become “ As near to a Federal State as possible” , or by the benevolence of Westminster be granted access to something called “Devo-Max” ,which is nothing to do with the 80’s American punk group, but is everything to do with Scotland being handed the devolved power to govern itself, apart from Westminster retaining control over defence and foreign affairs.
Also, in the run up to the 2014 Independence Referendum, as part of the massive campaign to discredit self-government for Scots, all sorts of wild and spurious suggestions were made, almost of biblical proportions, invoking swarms of locusts, about the fate of Scotland should it decide to vote Yes. There would be major businesses crashing and burning, or heading for London, pensioners being tossed out of the post office as the pensions ran out, pandas being removed from Edinburgh Zoo to safety over the border, one cracker about a possible ‘Great Depression’ of 1930’s proportions re-occurring, and that ‘cursed’ oil running dry by Christmas.
All that aside though one of the main assertions consistently made by all of the unionist parties involved was that if Scotland voted Yes it would be banished from the economic and cultural benefits it receives from being a member of the European Community. The people of Scotland were promised that the only way to ensure that Scotland remained in the EU was to vote No. Again, there are various opinions around regarding to what extent Scots were influenced in their decision-making by this powerful commitment by unionist politicians.
Once the referendum result was known however all of these promises strangely seemed to evaporate, as some thought they might, and somehow got caught up in a political tangle, almost immediately, in fact the next day, surrounding a new political idea from Westminster “English Votes For English Laws”. Scotland could be ignored again, and the promises made could easily be reneged upon , or lost, and were, in the maze that was created around the hastily arranged half-soaked “Smith Commission” looking into new powers for Scotland. Whoopee, the government of Scotland can now pick which colours it wishes it’s road signs to be.
Here’s the thing that sometimes seems to be forgotten. In May 2015, there was a General Election in the UK. In Scotland the people of 56 constituencies out of 59 voted to elect a representative from a political party who only field candidates in Scotland, a party whose prime and fundamental purpose is to facilitate independence for Scotland. Whether this was as a result of increased popularity for that party, disillusionment with traditional unionist politics, or awareness building amongst significant numbers of Scots who had voted No that they, in a sense, may have been duped by empty promises, or a combination of all three, it’s hard to quantify, but it’s fact.
Setting aside all the hot air, bluff and posturing we are still experiencing to this day this unprecedented electoral event was a ‘ material change’ to the terms of the binding referendum result right there, a mandate for change then, a mandate which is still there now. The people of Scotland democratically voted overwhelmingly to go a different way.
To further cement this ‘material change’ In June 2016, in contrast to the voters of England and Wales, 62% of voters in Scotland voted to remain in the European Union, to protect the economic and cultural benefits Scotland receives as a member of this community, a community Scots were told in 2014 they could only remain in if they voted to stay with the United Kingdom.
If moves are formally made to remove Scotland from the EU, against its democratic will, the limited powers government of Scotland must once again ask its citizens a question about the future governance of their country. It is clear that Scotland is not in a democracy, or is a partner in any great sense in any union. It is subject to the will of another state, unless, that is, you consider, as a citizen of Scotland that you live in a region rather than a country.