The Supreme Court isn’t all that Supreme

The Supreme Court isn’t all that Supreme

Roe V Wade was an important court case in the United States, the Supreme Court of the US ruled in 1973 that restrictive state regulation of abortion was illegal. 

In 2022 another Supreme Court case rolled that back. What happened next was unprecedented. 

Many individual states then went on to ban abortion, while others secured it as a fundamental right. 

Do you know how many people in Scotland thought “oh I must now respect the decision of the US Supreme Court”? 

Not many, they largely ignored it and went with their view on abortion, which is that it’s a woman’s right to choose. 

It may interest you to know – the UK Supreme Court is not a separate entity from the UK Government, it’s a “non-ministerial government department”. 

The Supreme Court isn’t the “Supreme” legal authority in the UK, that’s the UK Parliament. 

That doesn’t mean you or I can ignore them, quite the opposite, we’re bound by their considered decisions. The UK Parliament can, and usefully, foreign entities can also ignore them. 

Lord Reed essentially summarised that all was well and good with the bill, however Scotland cannot be asked that question, because even though legally it does nothing, the result could potentially be annoying enough that in effect it forced the UK Parliament to act in a certain way. 

How terrible for our parliamentarians – being forced to enact the will of the people, it’ll never catch on. 

Usefully they can be shamed into action by other entities – for example we witnessed this when the international community (including the US) decided to remind them of their commitments in the Good Friday Agreement. 

You see, the people of foreign lands (and through them their governments), usually don’t care what UK Non-Ministerial Departments have to say, even when named the Supreme Court. 

In the same way that a woman’s right to abortion didn’t change in Scotland following the US Supreme Court decision, neither do Americans think Scotlands right to independence is diminished by the UK Supreme Court. In fact – much like the public condemnation of the result by Scottish people to the US decision, it seems condemning of the UK decision will grow. 

That’s our challenge now, grow our support, if we can chase down another 8% from our high of 52%, taking us to 60% – it won’t really matter what the Supreme Court says, because the whole gig of UK Parliamentary Sovereignty will be ignored by players far bigger than them. 

65 countries already left the British Empire, and more recently the UK annoyed Europe with its style of Brexit, I can’t imagine there aren’t a few waiting to be rather difficult in return. 


A movement determined

Join us on the Common Weal Policy Podcast for ‘a movement determined.

Allison, Chris and Graeme discuss the fallout of the Supreme Court decision with Rory on the Common Weal Policy Podcast.

There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.

In a short and simple, but stunning defeat, the Supreme Court today ruled Scottish Independence referendums cannot be held by the Scottish Government.

This causes us to immediately begin to strategise on ‘What’s next?’

There is some good news, todays court decision helped us establish the facts clearer.

  1. There is no method for ScotGov to hold a referendum.
  2. The UN chapter 4 argument, seems also somewhat dead.

However we did get a win.

Essentially the reason a referendum cannot go ahead, is that even in a legally advisory capacity – it would in effect, over rule UK Parliamentary sovereignty.

Do not look behind the green curtain

If UK Parliamentary sovereignty only exists until a popular vote occurs, then that is what we shall do.

The referendum was the gold standard, and to our international audience, who we will need to recognise an independent Scotland, it is incredibly important, and essential, that Scotland has been seen to try every avenue, and tick every box. This is the only way to be certain that eventual recognition will follow.

In the denial of the gold standard, there are some other options that emerge:

  1. A Scottish Constitutional Convention
  2. UK General Election single issue vote (Majority seats or 50+1)
  3. Hung Parliament Hostage – where we give support in exchange for a referendum
  4. We hold a referendum anyway, since we have now established, the voters of Scotland can over rule UK Parliamentary Sovereignty.
I’ll be back

Can Sturgeon save her premiership?

There are now about 72 hours where Nicola Sturgeon must carefully tread.

With the Supreme Court unanimously deciding that the Scottish Government cannot hold a referendum on Scottish Independence – due to any success of that referendum meaning the overruling of UK Parliamentary sovereignty.

Nicola Sturgeon now faces the fight of her political career. There is now a power vacuum, and one of the strongest she will ever face.

A situation when a government has no identifiable central authority

The raison detre of the SNP is independence. There must be a new path forged in the next day or so, that can command a confidence of the movement or it’s all over for the SNP’s leader.

In power vacuums, new leaders emerge, with new and bolder ideas. Is there still a trick up Sturgeons sleeve?


The result is in

The Supreme Court have announced that the Scottish Government does not have the necessary competence to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence in a move certain to upset Scottish Independence Campaigners. 

There is a genuine fear that merely asking the question will end the United Kingdom. However the fact the question itself is outlawed – means the union of equals, died today. Independence is now more certain than ever. 


Supreme Wednesday

I’ve written this a few times in my head and questioned if it adds to the debate, or if it has potential to stir up the wrong sort of message, however I want to think out loud for a moment. Join me…

On Wednesday the Supreme Court will decided whether the Scottish Government can have a referendum on Scottish Independence, it can also decide to not answer the question, because its ‘premature’ as happened in the Peoples S30/Martin Keatings case.

I’ll preface it with the obvious, I am not a lawyer, and my entire legal career has come from watching Harvey Spectre in Suits, Annalise Keating in HTGAWM, Olivia Pope in Scandal, and Mickey Haller in Lincoln Lawyer. So you’re in dreadful hands here on in.

Deciding not to give an answer is incredibly likely to happen, mostly because it’s the inverse to what everyone hopes it about to happen. The 2020 decade will strike again. It does seem to a non-option though as I imagine not answering will force the ScotGov to truck on and end us back in court on the same question when challenged, but with an altered referendum timeline.

Apparently the court can give a nod and wink though to what it would say, if it hypothetically did get into that situation, so all may not be lost. Officially unofficial obviously, in line with our great unwritten constitution on which this mess sits.

This is where my eyes roll so far back in my head and I feel sorry for the folks involved. The court basically has some old historic bits of tat to refer to, some are valid, some are not, some are about kings and queens, some are about declarations. It’s a great big mess.

The Lord Advocate is the chief legal officer of the Scottish Government, while also being the same of the Crown in Scotland, while occasionally the chief public prosecutor. It seems a lot, and contradictory.

The Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC made a submission I was incredibly impressed with, she represented both sides of the argument, explained why she needed the court to interject, and ultimately made the case of – its just a question we’re asking, is that so bad?

She also pointed out the Union as written doesn’t actually exist – which I chuckled a lot at.

Then we’re onto the court itself. The Supreme Court handles all the really tough stuff. It’s the final level of the court game.

Although some Scammers have asserted themselves as even more supreme as detailed in the black box much to the chagrin of the Supreme Court.

Douglas Chapman MP got into a bit of hot water for suggesting there may not exactly be the greatest of chances in a UK Supreme Court. It’s worth noting though, the clip and sentence used was without context. He was actually answering a question of whether a political or legal solution was preferred, and did so, without the knowledge that weeks later – the case we discus today even existed.

I find myself compelled to agree with the sentiment though. The Supreme Court mostly sits in London, in a building under the Union Flag – an arrangement they come to by following the recommendations of the British Flag Institute. I should note though in the interests of fairness, if we got the decision one Wednesday later, it would actually be the one day of the year – that they fly the saltire – a missed PR win for the Supreme Court, I jest.

Under the flag and in the building in London, we have the Justices, which are 10 men, 1 woman, all white, and all on the older side.

They have a diversity and inclusion strategy, however people like important functions of life, to look and feel like them. It’s quite important to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

It’s not entirely fair though, because getting in, requires a few specifically picked people to push in your name, it goes a few rounds of approval and then the King/Queen appoint you. You take an oath to that monarch.

Once I heard we had the Queen purr to the UK Prime Minister after the first defeat of the Scottish Independence referendum – taking an oath to the monarch seems like a contradiction to being in public service.

I am going to be brutally honest, I shortened it in my head to be this:

How on earth are we getting a fair kick of the ball, when the person making the argument represents the crown as part of wearing many hats, in a building in the heart of the UK establishment, following the guidance of the institutions of Britain, under the Union flag, by a 92% white, old, male audience based on a constitution thats on sheepskin and old fables.

I’ll admit I got siloed here for a while and couldn’t escape that thought process. However I didn’t blog because I knew I had more to learn. I’m going to break that process down now.

First fellow author on ViveEcosse, Allison Graham, reminded me quite quickly – but you know two women who have beaten the UK Government in Supreme Court. Allison is a very smart and canny operator – who even supported some of my musings on this online, but at the same time stopped me from becoming an ‘enemy of the people’ absolute nutter.

One is Gina Miller who actually won twice over Brexit. The second was Joanna Cherry KC MP who beat the UK Government over the constitution.

Secondly, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocate in Scotland, Roddy Dunlop KC, a man who I look to as a towering figure of decency in an otherwise shallow puddle of charlatans in our public figures – said it really is an impartial system and anything to suggest the contrary is wrong.

He’s an actual player on this pitch. He trusts the referee. Someone with a lot more knowledge and skin in the game, trusts the system. As it goes – apparently this is not just the majority view, but the only view from anyone in the legal profession. I believe the Justices have among the legal profession a status not enjoyed by any other profession, near complete satisfaction of process by all those who are involved.

Thirdly, hiding away beneath the oath to crown, is a second (better) oath.

I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this Realm, without fear or favour , affection or ill-will.

And after searching and reading. I have come to my conclusion. Despite my instincts feeling ‘oh wow no way’, that the evidence from previous cases from people I trust, on subjects that were embarrassing to the government, and monarch, on topics that went to the core of who we are as a people. The Supreme Court stands up. We are lucky to have them.

I look forward to Wednesday.


Scotland bails out the UK

I cannot believe the words I am about to type tonight. I have walked away from writing this several times. I have considered the implications over and over. I am shook.

So have many of you been, given our twitter retweets on the subject.

Today Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, has decided to follow the plan for an independent Scotland.

For years the independence movement has claimed if we stewarded our resources in a manner similar to Norway, we would have a ridiculously large oil fund.

The Norwegian Oil Fund Market Value today is $1,180,000,000,000.

Well… the UK in an effort to avoid being written off as a financial basket case, decided to copy the Yes movement homework and claims in todays Energy Taxes Factsheet:

Today [17th November] we are announcing that from the start of 2023 the Energy Profits Levy will increase by 10% points to 35%. This will bring the headline tax rate for the sector to 75% which is comparable to other North Sea tax regimes, including Norway.

What does this mean? Well again from the same factsheet

This is expected to raise over £14 billion between 2023 and 2028 and will help pay for the more than £55 billion of support being provided for household and business energy bills.

Did the Scottish Government write the factsheet?

The North Sea will continue to remain the foundation of the UK’s energy security during the transition to net zero and maintaining investment is key.

Oh by the way, those resources in the North Sea that just raised £14 billion on demand for the UK Government, do you suppose they could bridge the gap that is the claimed Scottish deficit in the event of independence, how much was that again?

£14 billion black hole:

The UK Government using only Scotland’s current resources, just made the economic case for independence. They even made a factsheet. Literally called it the ‘Energy Taxes Factsheet’. They’ve demonstrated how we’d fill the deficit gap, using the Norwegian model.

It is now beyond any doubt that Scotland could handle its own economic affairs – given that the vast resources of Scotland’s North Sea just bailed out the entire UK (again).

This factsheet is so damn good for the independence cause, I’ve made it into a pdf for download incase the UK Government decide to pull it down, after realising how solid they have made the independence case.


Can independence fix the internet?

Why is the internet so bad? As a bit of a geek I get asked this by family and friends all the time, and there isn’t always one answer but in general it comes down to Scotland being a rather odd shape for internet geographically.

In the house you have a router, we’re quite lucky that a while back the service providers got into a bit of a quality war and our consumer kit in houses isn’t dreadful, it may not have many features but the two that they fight over is home network coverage and stability. Usefully these are the two folks care about most. So we will skip on. Poor endpoints aren’t our issue these days. In other countries with larger household footprints – it’s a major issue. 

Connectivity in Scotland is roughly split three ways. 

  1. You’re on the ancient copper, aluminium, tin archaic network that BT/Openreach have absolutely sweated to it’s final breath. 
  2. You’re on a new fibre network, either Openreach, Virgin or an altnet. 
  3. 5G / Satellite 

If you’re on the first, it comes down to age, rather than investing your line rental for the entire period you paid it, companies wasted it on giving themselves more money, fighting against modernisation, and building a larger companies. The copper network that gets sold as “fibre to the cabinet” is just an ancient mess that’s not fit for future use. There is no fix. 

If you’re on the second, welcome to the gold standard, which is future proof and is a best case scenario. However it’s unlikely you are on this and if you are – it’s likely you’re paying a lot more to fund its continual development and rollout. You likely have very few issues unless on the older Virgin Hybrid Fibre Coax network – however they are replacing that out so in time it will fix. 

The third is the most interesting. 5G is faster than most home connections, it’s also usually a bit faster and requires less hardware than the other two methods. Satellite mostly can be arguably the same but is a bit more expensive but with Starlink will enjoy many of the same benefits. 

5G requires very little kit, and very little infrastructure compared to building out a whole network for internet to every door. It’s easier to deploy in the most part as masts can be attached to buildings or put at the end of streets. You don’t need to trench to every house under old pavements. 

It has some issues with range, which is what causes the issue with its rollout. Mobile networks don’t make as much as landline networks – and therefore don’t have capital to spend on deployments as quickly as I think they’d like. However they do spend more than they need to. We have 4 major networks, which means that 4 sets of kit get deployed, occasionally they do a deal and share or use a ‘mast’ company to provide them space for their kit, but on the whole – we have 4 sets of the same kit.

5G/Wi-Fi Internet works on spectrum, the more spectrum, the better the connection. Oddly the companies never share this while it’s technically possible and would result in a massive improvement to everyone’s service. 

With Independence we could establish the Scottish Mobile Network, its only role would be to sell access to mobile networks, full spectrum, owning all the masts and ground work. Allowing for networks to compete on deals, handsets, customer service and extras – a position they’d all love to be in. They genuinely do not like being responsible for networks or ground works. This moves the assets to be national infrastructure, and the marketing to be a mobile companies wheelhouse. 

Scotland is the loss making part of a UK mobile network, as we only have a few areas of density, huge rural areas and some empty areas. We could reduce the cost of deployment with a national network by 75%. Meaning better and cheaper access for all. The same could be said for the current Fibre strategy where multiple companies dig up the same paths to lay their own cables – when again a Scottish Fibre Network, could benefit not just the consumer but these massive companies. 

It’s a simple fix really, with less disruption, better service and costs a whole lot less. Scotland would also benefit massively from owning its own infrastructure and not being at the whim of random corporations and their lacklustre rollout schedules. 

With this in mind, we could deploy some chunky cabling and bring in big data, we have a lot of space, a good amount of fresh water that can be used for cooling before being returned, and a great geographic location to link the artic, Europe and North America. 

All this would be cheaper for the customer both corporate and domestic – as Scotland is naturally going to be cheaper than London (the current digital lead), in a digital world where data travels in the microsecond – a huge economic shift to Scotland can be brought around rather simply. 

Not only can Scotland fix its internet, it can make a huge amount of money for the state while it does so.


Independent flight

There’s no real shortage of left wing ideas, or socialist proposals for the future within Independence, however I want to explore today one of the more centre and growth driven proposals we could realistically implement following a Yes victory. 

Two small nations have made an incredible success of their aviation industries based on their geographical locations in the world. We can look to Ireland and Iceland for inspiration. Ireland has the largest and most successful low cost airline in Europe, punching well above its population weight. 

Iceland has one of the widest connected networks for a small nation, perhaps the widest in relation to its size. Iceland even capitalises on its connectivity by offering 1/2/3 day stop-overs to every customer who books through the Icelandair main website. 

This is a big deal for the Icelandic nation, as it grabs tourists with money to spend, and brings them into the idea of a visit to a country they may otherwise not have thought about trying. Likewise for many business travellers the layover is basically included as the direct flight would otherwise be more expensive by another airline. 

Scotland has fantastic airport capacity, with three international flight capable airports in the central belt, it has the ability to link all three by rail. Prestwick has a train station, Edinburgh has one a moment away and Glasgow could be linked without much trouble in the future.

Further afield theres plenty capacity in Aberdeen and potentially Dundee. The whole country has an excellent base not just for strong aviation connections, but for great hospitality within the city areas surrounding those airports. 

The position of Scotland, as an English speaking country, working as a connection hub at the eastern edge of the Atlantic cannot be underestimated as an asset. While the air departure tax would need to be more competitive than the UK and its London connectivity stranglehold to attract the market – this would be more than made up for by volume of flights. London is already the largest connectivity hub of the world – and decades of poor leadership in aviation have made it a prime target to steal market share from.

Environmental concerns would obviously arise from this aviation bonanza, but again Scotland, as a world leader in renewables already would be able to double dip and use its engineering prowess and new found aviation market to lead the world in a transition to greener travel. 

Lastly there comes a great worldwide soft power influence when positive impressions of your country can be gained by business and tourist passengers, harassed by the ever diminishing quality of airlines, and looking for suitable calming respite surrounded by immense natural beauty.

To the skies!


GenZ join the game

In an unexpected twist in US politics, the much vaunted red wave was stopped by aspiring democrats, much to the credit of the so called “Generation Z”.

GenZ also known as the ‘zoomers’ were born late 90’s into the 2010’s. This grouping have recently ascended into voting age in countries worldwide and have caused a bit of a stooshie.

This group have largely escaped the media and editorial control of their predecessors by the worldwide media organisations. As a grouping they don’t read newspapers, they don’t watch prime time news, and they don’t expose themselves to traditional media.

Instead the media that spreads among GenZ is much more organic, similar to communication within a beehive – messages that resonate are quickly spread among themselves. This may be a short TikTok, or a twitter post, it may be natural over Snapchat but it’s very rarely a long form entry on a news site.

It’s not something that can be easily manipulated as it either harmonises with the collective spirit that is within GenZ, or it fails and is dropped. No hashtags or promotions will solve that.

Traditionally they stay away from politics in their online communities – however when they join the political debate – they are dauntless in delivering a swift kick. Worldwide they’ve screwed up well founded plans for massive speeches by a certain former president against some of the highest paid campaign managers in the world.

But now they’ve started to vote.

It turns out, the electric and sudden outbursts, are able to be focussed. While the Republicans served up some rather extreme ideas – the GenZ voters responded in a sudden arrival at the voting booth.

It’s no secret within the Independence movement that the youth broke heavily for the Yes campaign. However since the vote – the youth disappeared but according to polling are entrenched in their views.

There is always an aspiring strategist asking the question – how do we motivate the youth to join our campaign, how do we involve them and get them re-energised. However this will never work. They are guided only by their collective sense of right.

The challenge should be instead for us to look to them, study the communication strategy and method. They’re already immune to national conventional media which is heavily biased against independence. They are motivated by values and an underlying sense of humanity and doing things ‘right’. They are not scared to return with trolling thunder if their opponents get bigger than their boots.

The voice in which they’ve spoken in America, is in the belief of the people that have appeared to represent them, almost every one a new face, usually from an unusual and unlikely political background.

Are our leaders still our best ticket? When someone says it has been a political generation already (including us) – did we forget to check that the faces presenting the case had changed? Because there are a lot of the same old voices, making the same old points.

It’s time to learn. Welcome Zoomers.