23 November 2022
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The UK Supreme Court just ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the authority to hold a referendum on independence without the consent of Westminster. That is not really a surprise. The Scotland Act is reasonably clear on what powered Edinburgh has and which stayed in London. This foils the plans of the Scottish National Party that had planned a new referendum for next year. That does not kill off Scottish independence. Instead, it means that the SNP will fight the next election on an independence manifesto. The odds are much better for them this way.
The first referendum in 2014 failed to pass, 55% voting against, 44 voting in favor. That should have been the end of the matter for a generation at least. However, the UK that the voters backed was a member state of the EU. Brexit changed it all. England and Wales voted to leave, but Scotland and Northern Ireland had majorities for staying in the EU. That meant that Scotland was forced out of the EU by English and Welsh votes. The UK of which Scotland is a part is outside the EU. That is a major change in the status quo, and morally, it justifies a second referendum. The fact that the UK government will not allow the people to vote says it all.
Be that as it may, a second referendum would be fought much like the first one was: aspiration on the part of the SNP and its allies, fear on the part of the unionists. However, the experience of the Scots from 2014 to now suggests there is reason for the Scots to fear staying in the UK. Voting SNP and getting Tory rulers in London only shows how undemocratic the UK is. In addition, the current generation of Tories seems bereft of talent and ability. Borish (not a typo) Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak all seem to lack some of the necessary qualities of a PM, competence being chief among them.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said, "Today\'s ruling blocks one route to Scotland\'s voice being heard on independence -- but in a democracy our voice cannot and will not be silenced . . . . We must and we will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will. In my view, that can only be an election."
If the SNP carries the day in the next general election (where it could face tactical voting from unionist parties), it would not legally change anything. Politically, however, it would be very difficult for the Westminster authorities to deny a second referendum. Indeed, if the arithmetic works out for the SNP, the nationalists would hold the balance of power in the House of Commons, and the price of any coalition or support may well be a new referendum.
Or possibly not. Having fought an election campaign on the promise of independence, the SNP would be wise to reject a referendum and simply note that a majority of Scottish MPs was elected with a manifesto commitment to independence. As a result, the people exercised their democratic will at the general election, and a referendum is unnecessary. Ms. Sturgeon may well simply announce that Scotland has voted to be independent. She should send terms to London the next morning.
That is an extreme scenario that would require a huge turnout for the SNP to justify. If the party, and other independence-minded parties like the Greens and Alba, won more than 50 of Scotland\'s 59 seats, she would be entirely correct in declaring independence and negotiating the divorce. Fewer than that, but a majority anyway, would most likely justify a referendum.
The big risk, of course, is that the SNP fails to win a majority at the general election. That would probably end discussion of independence for another decade. Of course, if the alternative is another five years of Conservative rule, the SNP will carry the day.
© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.