The idea of Scottish MPs unilaterally declaring independence is bonkers

Craig Murray

I have read some articles in a couple of prominent pro independence blogs recently talking about the prospect of the Scottish MPs leaving Westminster and essentially just declaring independence.

The first one, by Craig Murray is slightly more reasonable as he only postulates it as an option to use if Theresa May declines to grant a second referendum.

If the Tories refuse a referendum, the Scottish Government should respond by declaring Independence. My preferred method of doing this would be to convene a National Assembly, comprising of all Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s, and for that National Assembly to make the declaration. This would broadly accord with international norms. Independence should be effective from the declaration, but that Independence could if desired be employed to hold the referendum which the Tories had refused.

You won’t actually be able to get the unionist MPs, MSPs and MEPs to join such an assembly so the detail of this plan is lacking. To be honest I’m not even sure many of the SNP MPs would vote for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) for the obvious reasons we’ll get to in a minute.

The second article was by Alf Baird in Bella Caledonia.

Until very recently, Westminster politicians of all parties have always acknowledged (and regularly taunted as much) that if the Scottish ‘nationalists’ ever secured a majority of Scotland’s Westminster seats then that would amount to de facto independence, i.e. independence is there for the taking. What is required thereafter, and to bring about de jure independence, is for that majority of Scotland’s elected MP’s to re-establish the independent Scottish Parliament, and to pass an Act ending the union of UK parliaments, at least as far as Scotland is concerned.

These statements are coming from an understandable sense of frustration at the lack of control we have over our destiny.

We sympathise with where these authors are coming from. For instance we have complained it is wrong we need to ask permission to have an independence referendum. We have talked about how an independence referendum is only advisory so even if we vote Yes in a referendum we still need Westminster’s approval. We have bemoaned the fact that Scotland has no legal say in the article 50 process.

The will of the people unfortunately

I don’t even have a problem with the concept of UDI. Electing parliamentarians to declare independence on our behalf seems like a civilised and democratic way to go about the matter.

The blindingly obvious problem with the concept outlined above is there is no mandate for it. None of our parliamentarians, ran on a ticket of unilaterally declaring independence under any circumstances. The SNP barely included a mandate for a second indyref in their Holyrood manifesto. Even if they did promise UDI, in both Holyrood and Westminster the nationalists only received around half of the popular vote. In the UK general election, the SNP may have gained 95 percent of the seats but only 50 percent of Scots voted for them. Some of them voted for the SNP despite being against independence, never mind UDI.

Moreover, we voted in 2014 to remain in the UK and the polls have remained steadily against independence since.

Some may lament the behaviour of the media and unionist politicians in that election. However, that day for the first time in over 300 years the people of Scotland were sovereign. We made the sovereign decision to remain in the UK. The modern Scottish Claim of Right and the independence white paper reminded us that in Scotland the people are sovereign. That should be respected.

Now, I do feel the UK political system is grossly unrepresentative which is a key reason I support independence. I hate how a party who we hardly ever vote for can wield power over us. However, the solution to that is not to gain independence by means that are just as undemocratic. That would defeat the whole purpose. I could see the validity of the argument if the polls were sitting at 70 percent and Theresa May refused to grant a plebiscite. It would be criminal to do it now when more than half the country still want to remain in the UK.

We wrote before about how the type of country we will become is dependent on the stories we tell about that country and ourselves.

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I think now when you compare the direction of Scotland and the UK then Scotland is telling the more appealing story. In fact, I think if we call a second referendum and can’t win it then I don’t see the point of being independent.

If more than half the population are willing to put up with the glaring lack of sovereignty telegraphed by recent events, because of a fear that Scotland doesn’t have the competence to do what is normal to all other nations it would be a rubbish country anyway.

That said, it wouldn’t be half as bad as a Scotland created by a minority forcing their will on the majority. Our creation myth would contain an dreadful original sin and would result in an angry, divided and forever tainted omnishambles.

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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17 Comments on "The idea of Scottish MPs unilaterally declaring independence is bonkers"

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William Ramsay
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After 2014 riggerendum and the eu joke as a lot of people still don’t know what they voted for and the exclusion of msp’s voices in art 50 shows the options are running out and sonn there will be only two options. Both end in Scotlands freedom.

autonomyscotland
Admin

The point is, regardless of the dire situation, it’s not an option when most Scots are still currently against independence. It would only be justified if there was a firm pro indy polling majority and a referendum was refused or if we had another general election and the SNP stood on that ticket and won.

autonomyscotland
Admin
Saw this interesting post on a facebook page where they were debating this blog. Gordon Murray Not UDI – NSD! National Self Determination is guaranteed by UN charter to any People who claim it by right of a democratic vote ie indyref#2 or a simple majority of independence candidates returned as MPs in Scotland elected on an independence manifesto. …to this end Declares that: 1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world… Read more »
Macart
Guest
Good piece and couldn’t agree more. If you’re a politician, then UDI is the political tool you hope to NEVER take out of the box. It’s kept under lock and chain in the back of a cupboard, under watch by dragons and in the deepest darkest corner of your lowest administrative dungeon. There may also be a sign on the cupboard door giving dire warnings…etc. Mainly because of the reasons you’ve articulated above the the line, but if it ever became a serious consideration for our government, then the poop has already well and truly hit the wossiname regardless. It… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

Exactly, It’s the tool we use in the very extreme situation that our democratic will is being oppressed.

BTW, until now I had no idea we had dragons.

Macart
Guest

It’s a little known fact, I’ll grant you (cough). 🙂

Peter A Bell
Guest
“Even if they did promise UDI, in both Holyrood and Westminster the nationalists only received around half of the popular vote. In the UK general election, the SNP may have gained 95 percent of the seats but only 50 percent of Scots voted for them. Some of them voted for the SNP despite being against independence, never mind UDI.” There are a couple of rather glaring problems with the above. Firstly, The elections referred to were held within the British political system. A system that does not take account of voter numbers in the manner suggested. The SNP won 95%… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin
I don’t really disagree with your first point, except I’m talking about it in the context of declaring UDI. Fair enough, if they had stood on that ticket and got 95 percent of the seats they may well be justified declaring independence under those rules. However, if they did it with only half of the popular vote, or less, then I’m not sure it would work out too well. There may be a poetic justice in gaining independence on the back of the same unfair rules we are trying to get away from. However, i’m not convinced it’s a great… Read more »
Barnaby Burning-Glass
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Barnaby Burning-Glass
UDI would be a sign of desperation on the part of the SNP, and one that would telegraph a belief that they could not retool their arguments to suit the conditions of a UK outside the EU. It would be a ‘Hail Mary pass’. For May to refuse a second referendum during the EU withdrawal process would hardly be unreasonable, given the recency of indyref, the lack of clarity concerning Britain’s future conditions, and the potential for some in the EU to cause mischief by falsely suggesting unfeasibly rosy relations between an iScotland and the EU solely to undermine the… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

It may not be unreasonable but I think it would be a grave error. The SNP have a mandate to call one and refusing it would stoke resentment. Will be interesting to see what happens if they did refuse it.

Barnaby Burning-Glass
Guest
Barnaby Burning-Glass
The SNP would only have a mandate if something ‘materially changed.’ It’s not that unlikely that the withdrawal settlement would result in tariff-free trade with the EU, some sort of special deal for financial services, and co-operation over a range of security and cultural concerns. If that were the result then it’s questionable whether the changes would be so radical as to justify a new referendum. The mere fact of withdrawal from the EU isn’t enough, I think. It depends on the settlement that’s reached, and therefore there could be no mandate until at least the outlines of this settlement… Read more »
autonomyscotland
Admin

I would say it is enough as withdrawing from the EU was mentioned in the SNP manifesto as a potential trigger for a Second indyref.

‘We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum…if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.’

Whether the SNP call one or not remains to be seen. I agree we live in interesting times.

Barnaby Burning-Glass
Guest
Barnaby Burning-Glass

Good point, though to me the SNP have muddied those particular waters through their campaign to join EFTA and the EEA.

John Buck
Guest

I would welcome the SNP showing its true colours and making an illegal Declaration of Independence. The UK could then shut down the Scottish Parliament (the building would make a good hotel), re-assert Westminster rule, crush any continued insurrection by force and place subversives such as Salmond and Sturgeon in the Tower.

Michael Harkness
Guest

I wonder how many countries gained independence democratically and legally and how many illegally. The USA, Eire, African countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Angola, all the South American countries, India, NZ Australia. It is a mixed bag but ruling against a background of determined group of national sentiment doesn’t seem such a great option historically.

Tom Forbes
Guest

If it is a question of the people deciding and we are not allowed a referendum,we could have a quasi ref and see what the people decide.all going well and say we get e.g 60% for .surely then we could declare UDI.

autonomyscotland
Admin

If a referendum was denied by Westminster I would like to see Sturgeon hold an unofficial one. Even if just to test the legality of it in court. The problem with an unofficial one though is that people may boycott it which makes its validity easier to challenge.

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