We have all heard about Section 30 by now. It’s a small but important article of legislation we are told is required to be passed in Westminster to “authorise” Holyrood to hold the referendum. It’s supposed to be needed to make it “legally watertight”.
What the legal pundits are missing here is that, quite simply, law serves to exercise the will of the people. Law was not invented or created, in a democracy, to limit the will of the people.
Law on a societal scale follows the will of the people, it does not, must not lead it. If this is not the case we or any professed society do not live in a true democracy.
At heart here is the Union of Scotland and England, the respective parliaments in London and Edinburgh who three centuries and more past “agreed” to form a single parliament within a single state, amongst other items. Nationhood however remained distinct and unaddressed with laws and religion amongst other aspects at least partially ensuring the nations remained different.
What’s often overlooked is that the “Gee-Bee” nations were not like the states of the USA, but were totally dissimilar. It was a square peg / round hole scenario in the political extreme.
Scotland is and was a land where individual sovereignty is held paramount, England and her conquests or dominions is a land where sovereignty was/is vested in a single person, the head that wears the crown. All others were vassals or subjects, to give them the more PC term.
Over the centuries English perspectives evolved, today’s teenagers have seen their lives status elevated to citizens, but largely it was simply a name change. Sovereignty as it evolved in England is still held by parliament in Westminster, now representing the crown. In its barest and most brutal adaptation this makes David Cameron, in England, almost a de-facto elected “king”. With a strong parliamentary majority he could wield power of a type only dreamed of by the leaders of true democracy, where the will of the people is paramount.
The prime limit on Westminster’s PM to constrain such political power is the answerability to the electorate twice a decade. UK “democracy” is sadly limited to a tick in a box for the average person of perhaps a little over a dozen occasions in a life.
This brings the circle back to the section 30 orders, an act at Westminster that will “allow” what’s preferred by London to be a one time opportunity for Scots sovereignty to express itself.
This is a “gift” to Scots of something we already own, yet our media portrays it as something to be grateful for. The sovereignty we as individuals had has never been relinquished, it has been affirmed. From the original “Declaration of Arbroath” to 1689’s “Claim of Right”, another name for the reaffirmation, to the repeat of the same in the 1980’s and again after the 2011 elections in parliament.
Democratic will in Scotland has continually and forcefully asserted the sovereignty of the individual. Sovereignty of the individual is the round peg to parliamentary sovereignty’s square hole. They are fundamentally irreconcilable. One insists on a vote every handful of years to retain the democratic illusion, the other strongly suggests everything of significance be placed in open vote.
London is taking an inherent Scots right and proposing to loan it back to “make everything legally watertight”. It’s a bit like needing your next door neighbour’s permission to write a cheque, and they’re not even on your bank account. This cheque is drawn on the inalienable individual sovereignty of the Scots.
Everyone needs the referendum, whatever its outcome, to be watertight.
There is a simple solution, one which every Scot and Holyrood could accept. It would be a simple gesture by Westminster, but don’t expect it to be forthcoming, because London traditionally doesn’t give away anything. Even that which it doesn’t own or have legal, moral or just rights to, London will keep close. Labour has acknowledged they [Westminster] could clarify or reaffirm anything they choose with respect to Scotland, they just won’t.
Westminster could create a section 30 order, and Holyrood could accept it with good grace if it was constructed in such a way as to reaffirm, as both the courts and the Scots already have, the sovereignty of the Scots.
The section 30 order could read as agreement in cooperation, recognising such rights and citing the history and legal precedents of individual sovereignty, while proclaiming that it is an order of clarification alone.
The section 30 order could read that with Scots individually sovereign in their own affairs they may collectively, as an expression of majority will, alter, amend, change or otherwise select any system of governance they mutually decide to pursue.
The section 30 order could then conclude that this has historically always been the case and that both Westminster representing the Crown in Parliament and Holyrood, representing the collective sovereignty of the Scots, agree to this.
It won’t happen without a fight, because it opens the door, as it should, to future democratic decisions within Scotland on almost any subject imaginable.
If the Union was voluntary and cooperative this should provide no threat whatsoever. All parties would be delighted at such an opportunity presenting itself.
If the Union is oppressive and dictatorial the threat to its existence from such a concord, such a mutually appropriate agreement, is dire indeed and must be resisted.
The problem is that Holyrood should not, cannot accept much less than this, unless it’s simply alternative wording.
Should Holyrood accept less than this, agree to a section 30 order that somehow implies the referendum and devolution is in any way England’s gift, then the reality of vassal nation will be enshrined by mutually accepted acts.
By Holyrood agreeing to a Westminster diktat underpinning a section 30 order then the concept of our individual sovereignty, held so dear and fought over at great cost through most of a millennia will be severely compromised. The idea and the pride that accompanies it might well be destroyed.
Over the next few months as “negotiations” culminate around the 2014 vote we will discover exactly where our government in Holyrood stands – for this issue is but the first of many which are critical.
Democracy doesn’t need permission.
The democratic will of a nation isn’t easily denied, dictators through the centuries have discovered this.
David Cameron’s upcoming actions will define him here, as much as anywhere, presumptuous dictator or not.
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon both, in the upcoming tussle will need to entice and excite the individual Scot, they will have to devolve power more than the average individual here ever imagined, and they will have to give their own future into the hands of individual Scots.
The leaders of Scotland’s party will need to constitutionally re-entrench the ideas and principles of individual sovereignty to such an extent that the ordinary person will be shocked from apathy and inspired for their future, their children’s future and their nation’s future.
The past is resolute, it cannot be altered except with Unionism’s revisionist type history, the referendum is for tomorrow, and it will take inspired individuals to build that tomorrow. The Union can’t inspire, the Union is about repeating the past and expecting a different outcome.
Nicola Sturgeon is now the person charged to fill the canvas with bright and vibrant colour. It is a heavy responsibility, time will tell if she can transfer and expand her competencies, for if she can she just might make the best First, First Minister that a Scotland newly resurrected to statehood could hope to find.
Nicola has an advantage as she enters this fray, for unlike any other in the “Yes” or “No” camp, from North to South and East to West she undeniably has something none others can hope to approach in either breadth or depth.
Nicola Sturgeon has a nation’s trust. It is doubtful that will change.