IF ONLY NICOLA WOULD ACT
A Guest post from Dr Mark McNaught. This is a realistic option. yes it would take political courage and clever timing. What better time than now? Scotland could have been Independent and in EFTA now. It still can and rapidly. Scottish Sovereignty Research Group (SSRG) Before the last May Holyrood election, we at the SSRGContinue reading "IF ONLY NICOLA WOULD ACT"
A Guest post from Dr Mark McNaught. This is a realistic option. yes it would take political courage and clever timing. What better time than now?
Scotland could have been Independent and in EFTA now. It still can and rapidly.
Before the last May Holyrood election, we at the SSRG developed the Manifesto for Indy, which set forth how the election could be used as a plebiscite to become independent. We proposed that if a pro-independence majority were elected, the Scottish Parliament could pass a resolution proclaiming itself as the sole Parliament representing the sovereignty of the Scottish people, separate from the Westminster government, thus becoming fully independent. Despite some interest from the Independence for Scotland Party and the Alba Party, this proposal unfortunately did not bear fruit with the SNP and Greens, so we are where we are..
In February 2021, the SSRG had approached the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and asked them if this scenario were realized, could Scotland join EFTA? We received a response, which would not have been given if there were not agreement among the member states. Yes, Scotland could join provided that the Scottish Parliament had the competences to sign international treaties, and the powers to abide by them. They are agnostic as to how these powers would be acquired. The Scottish Government would simply send a letter to the EFTA Council requesting membership, which would be readily accepted. EFTA would then ask the European Economic Area (EEA) Council to allow Scotland to be readmitted to the single market, for which they foresaw no impediment to achieve.
Think about that for a moment. If the Manifesto for Indy had been embraced in the May Holyrood elections, and voters had been encouraged to vote for the the SNP for the constituency seats and Alba party for list seats, there could have been a massive 90+ (out of 129) pro-independence majority in Holyrood. EFTA would have considered that sufficient for entry, and Scotland could have reentered the single market. The adverse Brexit effects on Scottish fishing, tourism, education, and many other sectors of the economy could have been mitigated. Unfortunately, this course was not pursued.
While Scotland voted to remain in the EU in 2016, and despite innumerable proclamations by politicians that Scotland would not be dragged out of the EU against its will, it simply was. The rhetoric was futile. Scottish fishing, tourism, and other industries have been adversely affected, simply because Scotland is part of the UK and England voted to leave. Covid has obviously played a role as well, but other European countries are coping much better with their economies than the UK. Scotland is economically chained to the UK, so bound to go down the Brexit drain with them.
There is still a way out. In September, the SSRG published and sent to all SNP and Alba MPs, and SNP and Green MSPs a perfectly legitimate and legal means to achieve independence. Under this proposal, Scottish MPs as party to the bilateral 1707 Treaty of Union vote to withdraw from it, and pro-independence MSPs would vote to confirm the Scottish Parliament as the sole representative of the sovereignty of the Scottish people.
We also recontacted EFTA in October, and asked if this scenario was pursued, could Scotland join? They rapidly responded that EFTA membership for Scotland is essentially an open door, as long as the Scottish government has the competency to sign international treaties, and the powers to abide by them. This conversation affirmed that Scotland could have joined EFTA if the May elections had been used as a plebiscite on full independence, and still can if the SSRG strategy is pursued. This would allow Scotland to rejoin the European Economic Area (single market), and seek recognition as a sovereign state under international law, which it will achieve if the reasons are explained carefully to the international community. The UK has never been weaker and more internationally reviled than it is now, and the SSRG has it on good authority that many nations would rapidly recognise Scotland as an independent state. But Scotland has to do it for itself, no one else can.
Look at what is happening now with Brexit, and what many perceive to be incompetent, malevolent; and untrustworthy action by the UK government. They are undermining and seeking to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol, which they agreed to purportedly in ‘good faith’. Tensions are rising with France over fishing permits, which could lead to Scottish Salmon being banned from French supermarket shelves. Yes, like it or not, Scotland is still part of the UK, which has increasingly become a pariah state, and we will suffer even more economically if we remain part of it. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It is not too late for Scotland to rapidly become independent and join EFTA, if the SSRG route to independence is pursued. We have been meticulously refining this proposal for months, getting input from academics and international law experts. We have concluded that nothing in the UK unwritten constitution prevents the SNP at Westminster withdrawing from the archaic and scandalously sectarian 1707 Treaty of Union, the terms of which have been breached on many occasions. In Holyrood the SNP and Green MSPs could then affirm the supremacy of the Scottish Parliament and the sovereignty of the Scottish people, rather than the ‘Crown in Parliament’ at Westminster. We at the SSRG, and we suspect the Scottish people more generally, would be incredulous if this opportunity were not seized, particularly by SNP MPs and MSPs as they have the pro-independence majority. That’s what they were elected to do, so they should hesitate no further.
The SNP hierarchy has ruled out any debate of a ‘Plan B’ for independence in their next online party conference. Improbably, they still seem to be hoping that Boris Johnson will issue a “Gold Standard” Section 30 order to hold a referendum, which he has repeatedly affirmed he would never do. Even if he did, there are highly problematic issues over the franchise and whether it could be bogged down in the courts for years. Achieving independence through this route is fraught with risk, and we hold that the SSRG route must be pursued if Scotland is to become independent anytime soon.
There was a time when it was official SNP policy, and even Margaret Thatcher recognized that if Scotland elected a pro-independence majority in Westminster, that would constitute a means to achieve independence. Even if the SNP decided to use the next Westminster general election as a plebiscite for independence, one could legitimately ask why? The Westminster SNP MPs already have been given 3 massive pro-independence majorities in a row. Why can they not simply withdraw from the 1707 Treaty of Union given these mandates? When did SNP policy change?
Scotland achieving independence through the SSRG plan will enable us to enter EFTA, and Scotland can subsequently:
- Rejoin the EEA, reinstating the freedom of movement of people, goods, services, and capital.
- Rejoin the Erasmus student exchange program, and any other EU programs à la carte as the other EFTA member states do. Scottish Universities would be able to participate in EU research programs on the same terms as EFTA members do.
- Obviate any trade deals the UK government was or is negotiating involving Scottish goods. As an EFTA member Scotland will be part of the EEA, and be able to pursue its own trade agreements.
- Given that EFTA and the UK have reached a post-brexit trade agreement, Scotland as an EFTA member will be part of this agreement with England.
- Trade between Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be unimpeded, because Scotland will participate in the single market as part of the EEA.
- Apply to rejoin the European Union subject to a referendum over whether to join the EU or remain in EFTA. As part of the EEA, Scotland would be in a much more favourable economic position to negotiate the terms of membership, and the EU would need to make a positive and convincing case to Scotland as to why being a member of the EU would be better than remaining in EFTA.
We at the SSRG are increasingly concerned over the lack of urgency of the current SNP government in preparing to achieve independence, and skeptical that it can achieve independence within our lifetimes if the Section 30 route is pursued. If SNP Parliamentarians in Westminster and Holyrood adopt the SSRG Route to Independence, Scotland could be an independent state in EFTA in a few short months. If not, it will languish in a dystopian Brexit UK, with the SNP Government merely holding out the forlorn possibility of holding a referendum in the next decade or so. This does not meet the urgency of the moment.
What we are witnessing is a dominant, democratically elected National Party whose raison d’être has been independence, actually refusing to use its (three successive) national elected majorities to withdraw Scotland from the repeatedly violated and repressive UK treaty-based alliance, the latter clearly no longer in Scotland’s national interest. We know from postcolonial literature why this is the case. But regardless of that, it needs to be pointed out, to the people, to the SNP, and to international entities including the UN, that successive elected Scottish National Party Scotland majorities of Members of the UK Parliament are effectively continuing to block and hence to thwart the wishes of an already sovereign Scottish people and electorate to secure their liberation and exit from an unwanted and unfair repressive UK alliance. This inaction by Scotland’s elected national representatives, who are afforded political sovereignty over the people of Scotland, constitutes an usurpation of democracy and a denial of human rights of sovereign Scots, resulting in the Scottish people being held captive within the UK alliance arrangement, as well as withdrawn from the EU, against their expressed will.
What has Scotland got to lose by pursuing the SSRG Route? Independence will always have trade offs, but given the exigent circumstances of Brexit and the withering reputation of the UK, it is certainly worth the risk. What better time to do so than during COP 26, when heads of state of the nations of the world will be in Glasgow, and Scotland can begin seeking recognition?
It is tragic that at the very time when Scotland could promote the international case for Scottish Independence to the entire world, the nation of Scotland labours under an insipid Government with a leader happy to play the role of the colonial underling, issuing press releases and pretending to be relevant, operating from her obscure Committee of the “Regions” which is in reality the creche where the children are placed while the grown ups get on with the real work.
That Nicola accepts this in her own country is very dispiriting. It tells me that the Nicola of ” Secret Plan” fame ( whatever happened to that?) is clueless, a strategic disaster area, totally hopeless, weak willed and stupid. That is me being kind because the alternative is she is a political coward.
We are witnessing the greatest opportunity any of us will see in our lifetimes to advance our cause. Instead Boris with his jibe about James Watt from Glasgow inventing the steam engine fueled by coal 250 years before and setting off the “ doomsday clock” , blames Scotland for starting the climate emergency. Our leader plays tiddlywinks on the sidelines trying to kid on her statements have any relevance or meaning. A total joke. I feel sorry about it but she must surely realise she has brought this humiliation on herself with her total inaction on Independence.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
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