by Henry Hill
Wednesday, 23
November 2022
Analysis
12:23

IndyRef ruling is a death blow to Scottish nationalism

There is no way back for the First Minister
by Henry Hill
Nearing the end? Credit: Getty.

In a rare bit of good news, the Supreme Court has unanimously thrown out Nicola Sturgeon’s attempt to have the Scottish Parliament legislate for a referendum on independence.

Handing down “an unexpectedly decisive decision”, in the words of one informed and nat-leaning commentator, the judges stated that the legislation the SNP have brought forward at Holyrood clearly related to “the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England and the Parliament of the United Kingdom”, and therefore lay outwith the competence of the devolved authorities.


Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email

Already registered? Sign in


While there has never been too much doubt about whether or not the constitutional authority to sanction an independence vote lay in Westminster, some nationalists had hoped they could win the case on the basis that the proposed referendum be ‘advisory’.

They would, naturally, have imputed to it exactly the same moral weight as a formal vote; already the arguments against unionists simply abstaining, as they would have done, were being aired. But that’s all moot now. The SNP has suffered a setback. The question is: where do they, and their unionist opponents, go from here?

For the nationalists, this is going to be the moment of truth about Sturgeon. Is she actually going to proceed with her so-called ‘plan B’ and try to use the next general election as a proxy vote on separation? The hard work of building a sustained polling majority for independence, which the First Minister once said was necessary to make it work, has not been done. The voters are not where the SNP need them to be. In fact, the party has never won a majority of the vote in a Scottish election, something the Tories have managed.

Even if they did gain a majority, despite the litany of failures that constitute their domestic record, such a ‘proxy vote’ is no basis for a stable, internationally legitimate breakaway. It basically amounts to a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, putting Sturgeon in similar international legal territory to Rhodesia’s Ian Smith.

To a growing number of sceptical nationalists, it looks as if the First Minister is prepared to inflict an avoidable defeat on the separatist movement for the sake of having a good excuse to bow out of frontline politics. It’s all a long way from when Sturgeon was being hailed as an “angel of the north” after she succeeded Alex Salmond.

Meanwhile, there’s the question of how, or indeed whether, Westminster will capitalise on this rare shaft of constitutional sunlight. With a referendum now off the table, this would be the ideal time to press on with the faltering effort to expand the British Government’s role in national life outside England. The focus could then be shifted away from the constitution and onto key issues such as health and education, where the devocrats’ records are ripe for attack.

Unfortunately, the Tories are busy fighting about Europe, while Labour have outsourced their constitutional thinking to Gordon Brown, whose determination to be remembered as a man of significance means he will keep feeding damaging concessions of even more powers to Sturgeon’s paper tiger. A more competent unionist movement would be able to spot the wounded beast opposite them, and capitalise accordingly.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
22 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
AC Harper
AC Harper
16 days ago

It seems to me that the biggest question about Scottish Independence is not whether it should happen or not but “How would it work in detail?”
I’m not against Scottish Independence if a majority of people want it, but I see no reason for England to continue financial support after Independence – hence the question about detail.

Chris W
Chris W
16 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Exactly. If the details were discussed first, then we would know if indepence was viable.
I lived in Scotland once but am not an expert.

But for 45 years I have lived in Wales. The politicians in Wales are following Scotland carefully. The politicians all want indepence because it would make them more important – it would feed their egos. Meanwhile they blame anything bad on Westminster; either Westminster does the wrong things or doesn’t give enough money to Wales. The long-term plan is to brainwash the children and to keep a full-time house in Brussels where staff can buy Euro MPs lunches so that Wales can never be forgotten (this exists now).

All of this is divisive and is taking energy away from solving the real problems of the UK. The real problems are not whether Scottish people are Scottish or British; the problems relate to money, energy, too many old people and not enough carers, poor education, etc.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
14 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I’m told it all depends on how you do the maths.. eg excluding UK income from Scotish balance of payments or not? Don’t forget Balmoral and all that coastline will revert to the rightful king of Scotland: lol!

chris Barton
chris Barton
16 days ago

Last thing the SNP leadership (not its members or voters) want is independence. Who would they be able to blame for their shockingly bad governance? Also where would the money for their social programs and no university fees come from? They can’t blame the EU if it were to let them join (which it won’t) as that is blasphemy to the modern Left.

Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor
15 days ago
Reply to  chris Barton

Let them be out on their own for a while and see how they do,kind of a trial separation,I can understand their frustration with the liberals and their globalist ideology!

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
16 days ago

This is actually good news for Ms Sturgeon. She can now shrug and say “I did my best; it’s those beastly (English) judges who have stopped independence”. She can now go on fighting the “good” fight, which she has doubts she can win, and remain in power. Never underestimate Ms Sturgeon, she is a wiley polititian.

William Shaw
William Shaw
16 days ago

English judges????
The judgement was announced by Lord Reed of Allermuir, the court’s Scottish president.
Still, you have a point. She doesn’t let facts and honesty get in the way of her chosen narrative.

Last edited 16 days ago by William Shaw
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
16 days ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I know that theoretically they are Scots, but they are English on the inside – at least that is how many SNP supporters of my acquaintance see Scots who don’t toe the line.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
16 days ago

The word you are looking for is “English adjacent”.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
16 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Good one. 🙂

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
15 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I was trying to come up with an Scottish/English equivalent of Choc ice, without success

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
14 days ago

Hm, an interesting exercise! I’m thinking something deep-fried-mars-bar-based? But what would replace the bar?

Alternatively perhaps ‘vegan haggis’? But the SNP probably prefer those.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
14 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Like Sturgeon, who is partly of NE English descent, as her surname indicates. In fact people originating outside of a bounded geographical area are far more likely to become ‘nationalists’ than the indigenous population (a chap with a surname beginning with ‘K’ has devised a ‘law’ about this – I forget his name now). For instance ‘Scottish’ nationalism now is actually predominantly S. Irish in origin, thanks to huge immigration from that country into Scotland over the course of the late 19th & 20th Cs. by workers on the railways, roads, shipyards etc.
The SNP’s most prominent media figures in the post-WW2 period were both born in England: Compton Mackenzie and Wendy Wood.

Last edited 14 days ago by Arnold Grutt
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
14 days ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Yes indeed: being ribbed about your heritage in a foreign country (England in this case!) often does have that effect. If English prople were more accepting, accomodating, respectful¹ and welcoming no doubt the effect would be less. However, good old English racism, xenophobia and / or exceptionalism always seem to win out, especially on this platform.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
14 days ago

I suggest you do not promote that view north of the border!!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
14 days ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Now that Scotland knows it’s a vassal state it should stop referring to the UK/Westminster government and use the terms England/English.. it’s more realistic. We in Ireland afa I know, never used the term UK even though we were allegedly part of it. We knew better than to think we were equal!

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Living in England, in a Court bound by English law, speaking with posh tones – all Scottishness long since abandoned, mate.

R S Foster
R S Foster
15 days ago

I was always firmly of the belief that some of the Jacobites at Culloden knew it was all over…but preferred to go out in a blaze of glory… confident that if they lived, and as they were Gentlemen…

…they had the resources and networks to get overseas, and live comfortably in retirement…serve in the French or Spanish armies…or otherwise make themselves useful to our enemies, and make a good living doing so

Salmond chose Russia…I think Sturgeon will look for something in the EU…unless she goes the whole hog and gets a job with Sinn Fein stirring up trouble in Ireland…

Last edited 15 days ago by R S Foster
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
14 days ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Nice try but the “Scottish” voice in NI generally leans towards Unionism (with the UK that is) – I guess Irish reunification is a different kind of unionism?? Complicated isn’t it?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
14 days ago

How about a referendum in England (which presumably does have tge power to hold one?) on Scottish ejection? Reading the comments on this platform it seems it would carry easily as the Scots are regarded as scroungers, moaners and ungrateful for England’s generous largess.
A referendum on Irish reunification will require a majority in favour, not only in NI but also in the ROI**.. so why not have the same in England?
If we calculate the cost itay well be that we in the ROI reject unification especially as contributors here suggest the cost will be huge! Personally I doubt it as the two parts of the usland are largely ad idem as BJ might say (nothing like German Reunification)..

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago

Another contemptuous article from Henry Hill, and, as usual, all points missed.
BTW, is he Scottish or English? His accent is posh Southern English, so I’m assuming he’s either English or a culturally-cringing Scottish unionist with their usual cultural Stockhausen Syndrome.
This judgment is a unionist own goal, and the boorish tone of this deeply-partisan article (predictably gloating and triumphalist) reveals it to be a mere cathartic screed by a unionist bigot, intended to be read by unionist bigots in an online unionist love-in.
The judgment, by revealing that the union is compulsory, and that leaving must always de facto be approved by the English, is an obvious boost to Scots nationalism. See:
https://ayenaw.com/2022/11/23/the-british-union-is-not-a-union/
In terms of one country dominating another, the dominant country’s moment of greatest seeming power is also their moment of greatest weakness. The union will endure, for a while, but the longer-term trajectory of divergence is obvious. The level of contempt for Scottish people evinced in this article and in many of the comments underneath it, do not stem from a mindset of genuine empowered unionism. Rather, this ugly attitude stems from a mindset which still seeks to dominate. Like scorpions, you just can’t help yourselves.
Hoisted happily on the petard of your own big country arrogance, you guys just aren’t self-aware enough to get it. Keep re-arranging the deck-chairs, lads.   

Last edited 12 days ago by Frank McCusker
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

The English are really good at denial! I will grant them that. The dirty deeds of MI6 are acceptable as a substitute for the Empire and the (albeit unequal) partnership with the current day US Empire assists in that belief. Add in The City’s (part) control of world finances and sure, it’s almost as good as the real thing. Enough at least to justify their exceptionalistic view of themselves. I suspect overdoing the support for Nato in Ukraine (v Russia) is a clear requirement to sustain the US/UK ‘special relationship’ and Unipolar order. If China (+Russia? + other BRICS) succeed in introducing a new, Multipolar order the US/UK will sink together? Defeating Russia is step 1 and they will hope that it scares China into Kowtow so that the US/UK Unipolar order can continue? Interesting times ahead I fear?