Scotland already has self-determination. But when the SNP use the phrase they really just mean "independence" says Alistair McConnachie of pro-UK Scottish unionist campaign group and think tank A Force For Good (AFFG). Pic: One of the fantastic members of our Thin Red Line, in Argyle Street on Saturday 6 August 2022 when we counted 108 passing Scottish nationalist marchers.
The SNP has made a submission to the Supreme Court regarding the authority of Holyrood to hold a second referendum on separation. The argument focuses entirely on the concept of "self-determination", and is summarised in its conclusion at 8.1.4:
Regardless of the outcome of any subsequent general election to the UK Parliament, the people of Scotland's right to self-determination cannot be advanced through that legislature.
"The SNP's Supreme Court submission on the independence referendum", 26-9-22.
The idea is that regardless of how "the people of Scotland" vote at a Westminster election, they will never acquire "self-determination".
That is blatantly wrong on several levels.
What is Self-Determination?
According to Chambers 20th Century, the phrase means "the power of a population to decide its own government and political relations or of an individual to live his own life."
In a modern democracy, political "self-determination" for the individual is practiced by using your vote as you want to use it, in any ballot that you choose to participate in.
To the extent that "a population", or "a people" or "a nation" – however those phrases are defined – has "self-determination", then it is exercised by all the individuals making up that group who bother to use their vote, and it is measured by the way that the votes fall.
1. It is through participation in elections and referendums, that the "people of Scotland" are engaged in exercising our "right to self-determination".
Every time the electorate in Scotland votes at a General Election or a Holyrood election, or in a referendum, then we are each participating individually, and also in a collective act, which is enabling Scotland (as represented by the portion of the electorate which bothers to vote) to self-determine the "government and political relations" of Scotland.
In that sense, the people of Scotland are already a self-determining people and Scotland is already a self-determining nation.
Self-determination, individually and nationally, is exactly what we have today, and it works, thank goodness!
So how can the SNP tell us that "the people of Scotland's right to self-determination cannot be advanced through that legislature" (meaning Westminster)?
After all, to tell us that our "right to self-determination cannot be advanced through that legislature" when we are literally engaged in voting in a ballot organised by that legislature, and when we are actively engaged in exercising our right to self-determination via that legislature, is absurd.
As we will conclude, the SNP is not using the phrase "self-determination" correctly. It is also not using it equally. For example...
2. When the SNP use the phrase "the people of Scotland's right to self-determination" it is not including us pro-UK folk in its definition of the people of Scotland.
They are not including us, the people of Scotland who exercise our right to self-determination...to stay in the UK.
We're not meant to be included in their phrase!
They are not talking about the people of Scotland who want the British Parliament to maintain our right to self-determination in a Scotland within the UK.
They are not talking about the people of Scotland who want the British Parliament to protect our right to self-determination in a Scotland within the UK.
They are not talking about the people of Scotland who want the British Parliament to promote our right to self-determination in a Scotland within the UK.
We are not included in their definition of "the people of Scotland"!
Therefore, the SNP is not using the phrase correctly, and it is not using the phrase equally.
And they are making these errors because…
3. What the SNP actually mean is not "the people of Scotland's right to self-determination" – which we already have, and which we all exercise differently – but they mean "Scotland's right to independence".
They are using the phrase "self determination" to mean "independence".
They are not using the phrase to mean "the power of a population to decide its own government and political relations or of an individual to live his own life."
4. This is dangerous language.
The submission of the SNP to the Supreme Court is not only wrong, but it is foolish.
The SNP is playing with fire, and its MPs and MSPs are irresponsible, when they wrongly suggest that there is no democratic path to what they want. Telling people that there is no legal way to strive for what they want risks misleading some people to imagine that there is only an illegal way!
No doubt, we'll hear a lot more about "the people of Scotland's right to self-determination" being somehow "denied".
However, it is for us to point out the reality! We are already self-determining individuals, we are already a self-determining people, and to the extent that we vote, we are a self-determining nation.
Us pro-UK folk have a right to maintain the Union.
We have a right to protect the Union.
We have a right to promote the Union.
We have a right to Stay in the UK.
We have the right of self-determination to do all these things!
And the least we should expect is for our British Parliament to maintain, protect and promote our right to self-determination within the UK!
We addressed this matter in our weekly Show "Good Evening Britain!" on Wednesday 19 October 2022:
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