Is any UK Prime Minister empowered to prohibit another Referendum? Does International Law explicitly state that the sovereign people of Scotland have the right of self-determination?
There is altogether very little understanding of the circumstances under which devolution came about. A telling example is a recent article by Derek Bateman on Newsnet.scot about England's built-in majority in Westminster which could ostensibly, quote "that if England wants privatised hospitals,… nuclear weapons… and even abolition of the Scottish Parliament and the Barnett Formula, they only have to vote for it. It’s theirs."
Fortunately for Scotland, abolition of the Scottish parliament is most unlikely to happen as devolution for Scotland was not a party political decision by the then Government, but imposed by international pressure to rectify the UK's democratic deficit.
The Tories had stubbornly dragged their feet over the UK’s accession to the Charter of Local Self-Government, but then, in March 1997, the Council of Europe pointedly spelled out the sanctions that would be applied, in a series of escalating steps, to any European state that did not “fully and swiftly comply with the basic democratic principles that are at the heart of the European Ideal.”
In plain language, get Scotland, Wales, etc. sorted out or be expelled from the Council of Europe in the most humiliatingly public manner – a step that would have had devastating international consequences, especially just a few weeks before the UK presidency of the European Union.
Total capitulation followed. With the entire international diplomatic corps breathing down its neck, the new UK Labour government signed the Charter on 3 June 1997 (the last one in Europe to do so) and brought in bills for devolution to Scotland and Wales – to written approval by Strasbourg, but described by Blair as “a damnable nuisance.” The fulfilment of this foreign policy obligation was therefore a diplomatic and not a political decision.
The full story can be found in 'Devolution and the Labour Myth' (link)which highlights the role played by the Scotland-UN Committee, the precursor of the Scottish Democratic Alliance.
But also others who should be aware how the devolved powers to Scotland in the form of its Parliament came about, are ignorant of the chain of events which led to the current situation.
In a recent article by Elliot Bulmer in The National under "the VOW" echoed this with:
"The UK Government’s proposed solution, which is to “recognise” the permanence of the Scottish Parliament in UK legislation, is about as reliable a guarantee as any other political promise. As with all our other democratic rights, devolution would remain at the mercy of a UK Government with a parliamentary majority."
When the subject of the Scotland Bill was debated in Westminster, the Rev. Stuart Campbell in Wings over Scotland, on June 15 last, wrote:
"Amendment 58, proposed by the SNP and backed by Labour, was actually a modest concession. It provided a way by which Westminster COULD abolish the Scottish Parliament, with its permission and subject to a referendum of the Scottish people.
The amendment contained no tricks or traps. Nothing was tacked onto it to which the UK government could object. It did only what it claimed to do:
But the government voted it down regardless, pointlessly trashing the promise that David Cameron had signed his name to before the referendum.
Readers can, as ever, form their own conclusions."
You readers - and the political establishment in Scotland - would be able to see clearly that devolved powers came about under international pressure and not as the result of party politics, once the records of the Foreign Office and Cabinet Office have become available. Meantime, a substantial outline of the story can be read in the attachment to this article titled "Devolution and the Labour Myth", you can access it by clicking here.
The Scottish Democratic Alliance (SDA) regrets to announce the death on 30 May 2015 of Michael Niall Aslen, one of its leading experts on financial policy. Niall was a silent genius who did an enormous amount of brilliant work for the SDA for years on end under the shadow of a persistent life-threatening illness. His knowledge of and insight into all things financial pertaining to Scotland was unexcelled. His ruthless dissection of the GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland) reports on the SDA website ("The Great Deception", "The Great Obfuscation", etc) had repercussions in both London and Edinburgh. Reports came back to us that one of them resulted in the sacking of those responsible for GERS in St. Andrews House - not surprisingly after the latter had credited the entire cost of the Faslane Trident base to the Scottish budget, for obvious reasons. Another of Niall's masterpieces was his analysis of the Scotland-UK balance of payments since 1707, when he could find only 9 years in which Scotland ran a deficit with London. It transpired that this was primarily due to the monies sent north to pay for the building and fortification of Fort George on the Moray Firth. Fort George was built to house the troops used to suppress the highland clans following the 1745 rebellion. Niall's research indicated that only during that period was there a short-lived reversal of the north-south net flow of monies into the UK Treasury, although the parallel with Faslane is obvious. Gordon Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer was so enraged at Niall's inroads into what was being presented as Scotland's finances that he sent a team of hard-man investigators to Niall in Cairnbulg to find out the source of his "illegally leaked" information. They descended on him without warning. However, nothing loath, Niall gladly showed them the source of his information - the Treasury website, no less! Exit Gordon's hard men, speechless and embarrassed. Niall had no need to resort to espionage, because he had that characteristic of razor-sharp analytical intellect that is often to be found among individuals who are forced by physical disability into an intensive inner life that requires no verbal or written stimulus. It still seems incredible how he could come up with such strokes of investigative genius while coping with the stress of commuting to Aberdeen every few days for dialysis. While the SDA is all the poorer for losing him in the flesh, his work is continuing, like the inspiration that he left, and those SDA specialists who are keeping Niall Aslen's aspirations alive have to surmount the justifiably high standards he has set for the creation and administration of the New Scotland to which his life was dedicated.
The SDA draft constitution holds that the ECHR should be enshrined at the heart of Scottish law. The new Conservative majority government's intent to repeal the Human Rights Act and take the UK out of the ECHR is completely at odds with the principles that the SDA. The SDA supports any and every effort to oppose this by the Scottish Government and Scotland's Parliament.
See Article 2: The Fundamental Rights, Liberties and duties of the People in our draft Constitution.
The SDA has published a draft constitution for an independent Scotland which has been picked up as the basis of a crowdsourced constitution project called The Peoples Constitution of Scotland ~ http://www.ThePeoplesConstitution.co.uk/ This is a particularly interesting project opened to anyone to comment and vote on particular aspects of a constitution and make further proposals to improve on what is there. There may well be aspects of this draft that you disagree with. That is fine but we would urge you to get involved. Engage with the process. Make alternative suggestions and tell your friends about it. Above all start thinking about what comes next. Now is the time to be really thinking about these solutions.