Claim of Right
“As a nation, the Scots have an undoubted right to national self-determination; thus far they have exercised that right by joining and remaining in the Union. Should they determine on independence no English party or politician would stand in their way, however much we might regret their departure.” (Margaret Thatcher)
In 1954, A Royal Commission described the UK as a “multi-national” or “multi-nation” state and acknowledged that it had been one ever since its foundation in 1707.
The recognition of the multinational character of the British State and Scotland’s status as a nation within it further acknowledged that “Scotland was a nation that had voluntarily entered into union with England as a partner and not as a dependency”.
Scotland’s right to self-determination:
“That this House endorses the principles of the Claim of Right for Scotland, agreed by the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1989 and by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, and therefore acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.” (Westminster Parliament, Wednesday 4 July 2018)
Self-determination has also been codified in the fundamental and universal documents of international systems, such as the Charter of the United Nations in 1945 and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 and becoming an independent country would be an act of self-determination by the people of Scotland.
The precedence of the doctrine of the mandate
Before 2011, the Unionist attitude to independence referendums was that its politicians should not support referendums on policies that they did not back.
But their opposition changed after the 2011 General Election when they agreed to the holding of an independence referendum because of the concurrence of Westminster politicians who believed that in winning an overall majority of seats, the SNP had won the right to see that particular promise implemented.
What was significant was that the agreement to hold the independence referendum established precedence through the preference for the belief in the doctrine of the mandate, rather than by the upholding of a constitutional rule.
Although not tested at the time the support of the doctrine of the mandate extended to a straightforward declaration of independence if that was the preference of the electorate.
Referendum and Westminster
The Scotland Act does not explicitly reserve the organisation of referendums to the Westminster Parliament, though it does reserve to Westminster “the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England”. That is not the political union but the union of the monarchy’s.
It can therefore be argued that a referendum on ending that Union is also a matter reserved to Westminster. The potential difficulty was resolved through a political deal, the Edinburgh Agreement of October 2012. The opening lines of the Edinburgh Agreement, stated: “The United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government have agreed to work together to ensure that a referendum on Scottish independence can take place.”
Referendum and Scotland
A Scottish independence referendum was reluctantly supported by the British Government even though it could have attempted to block it by legal means.
The reason for this is enshrined in Scotland’s right to self-determination that has long been acknowledged, as has its status as a nation within the UK State. a simple “50% plus one” majority would have been enough to launch independence negotiations.
In Scotland’s case, the main obstacle on the road to secession was the composition of the electorate which comprised many thousands of voters not truly Scottish, an anomaly that produced a majority that remained unconvinced of the merits of independence.
This hurdle would be overcome in any future referendum with the stipulation that residence in Scotland is not an automatic qualification. A Scot is an individual born, wholly resident in Scotland at the date of an election and pay’s income tax to the Scottish government
Abuse of principled politics offered by the SNP leadership
Nicola Sturgeon stood at the doors of Westminster in 2015 and stated: “The SNP will be the principled opposition in this place to the Conservative government. The SNP has worked long and hard in this election to make Scotland’s voice heard. To have people in Scotland in such overwhelming numbers put their trust in us is fantastic, but also is a big responsibility. We are determined to make Scotland’s voice heard here in Westminster, but we are also determined to be that voice for progressive politics that we promised to be during the election. To stand up to policies from a Conservative government that will damage Scotland and to make common cause with others of like mind from across the UK.” No mention of independence from a Party leader in preference for committing the Party to progressive politics in opposition to a regressive regime. What a nutter!!!
The Tory response was immediate and ruthless
Scotland’s only Tory MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, Mundell, proposed 80 technical amendments to the Scotland Bill , stating: “some are amendments in terms of the usual changing of commas and apostrophes and these sort of things.
However, the bulk of them relate to technical procedures and a rearranging of previous proposals. In three cases the amendments will reserve additional powers to Westminster. Under clause 43, the Scottish Parliament will not be able to raise levies on postal operators, electricity or gas for the purpose of funding consumer advocacy.”
Scotland Bill: the 3rd reading at Westminster Mundell allocated 6 hours of debate to decide on 253 amendments.
The Scotland Bill was rushed through without adequate discussion before SNP MPs parked their bums on the green benches of the House of Commons ensuring that the legislation would be on the statute books well before the next Holyrood elections. The bill was a stitch-up and placed a fiscal time bomb under Holyrood.
Andrew Dunlop – A Scottish born committed Unionist
Closely associated with the Conservative Party for most of his adult life. He was a special adviser to the Defence Secretary (1986 – 88) and a member of Margaret Thatcher’s Policy Unit (1988 – 1990).
The demise of Thatcher brought his budding career to a halt and he moved away from active politics to found and developed his own strategic communications consultancy business. Over 20 years later he sold the business, for a very tidy sum of money, to the Brussels-based Interel Group (lobbyists).
Promoted to the Lords, he is a member of the UK Constitution Committee and an Expert Member of the UK Civilian Stabilization Group.
Retaining contact with Scottish affairs he is currently a Board member of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. A supporter of Boris Johnson he is formulating and implementing Tory government policies for Scotland. In this respect, he revealed his thinking in a speech he made in the course of a debate on the “possible effects of Brexit on the stability of the Union of the parts of the United Kingdom”. He said:
“Attention should be paid to the machinery of intergovernmental relations, which needs to be strengthened. We also need to look at the cross-UK synergies, weakened since devolution, which need to be reinvigorated.
We need to pursue a decentralized, pan-UK strategy for re-balancing the economy, driven by city regions across the country. This means moving away from seeing everything through a four-nation prism.
Many of the problems confronting Glasgow, for example, are similar to those of Manchester or Birmingham. They provide embryonic structures which can be built upon. There are two years until the next Holyrood elections. Strengthening our union must be an urgent priority whatever our post-Brexit future.”
The Westminster Government’s underhand decision to emasculate the government of Scotland through the establishment of a UK Government in Scotland presents new challenges for Scots whose ambitions for their country extend to a unilateral withdrawal from the 1707 Treaty of Union and full independence and Scottish supporters of the devolved Scottish Government and its limited powers, to be further reduced from January 2021 when Brexit is complete.
Scottish independence in 2022/2023
The “claim of Right” establishes the way forward for the Scotland’s political representatives and the electorate who are desperate to escape the excesses and brutality of of Westminster rule.
SNP Scottish MP’s should resign their seats and stand for office in the ensuing by-elections seeking a mandate to declare an end to the 1707 Treaty of Union.
I published a number of articles from 2014 expressing my concerns about the lack of political leadership in the matters of Scotland’s relationships with Westminster. See below