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No meetings without Big Brother

The UK Government was stamping its feet with impatience due to the continuous disregard of the Scottish Government in following its Foreign Affairs “rulebook”.

The UK Government announced that if the Scottish Government doesn’t invite it to meetings it arranges itself, it will simply not turn up or help set the meetings it wasn’t invited to from being set up.

You may need to read that a few times. The UK Government has indeed threatened to pull support from meetings that it was never involved in.

Oh well.

The fact remains it’s a bluff, the UK Government does operate considerable diplomatic resource and is particularly effective, it would be a loss, but not an unmanageable one. However it won’t pull support – for a bigger reason.

Scotland to become independent will at some point require its own diplomatic apparatus, and it will need to diverge from UK Government foreign policy. This is not particularly novel, all countries around the world handle this challenge, in unique and bespoke ways.

However that is the nut of problem for the UK Government. It does not want Scotland to gain its own unique voice – because that voice is recognition. Recognition that would one day be provided to a newly independent Scottish state. Thats the real issue at stake here, that people abroad may recognise the unique, divergent, and different voice.

For as bold as ‘SUPREME COURTS’ are when considered with “ACTS OF UNION”, the truth remains if a number of countries around the world recognise that unique Scottish voice as an Independent Scottish voice – it becomes fact and as history has shown – there is not a lot the UK can then do about that.

From Humza Yousaf and his partners tours and speeches on world politics, its very clear this particular power couple have their eyes set on more international politics following what is likely to be a short stint at the top of Scottish politics. This leaves the inescapable conclusion that Humza is likely to continue to speak to whomever he likes.

The UK Government will complain and flail but likely won’t pull support or risk going blind to the scant details they currently get, and they need to maintain the plausibility they still have control behind the scenes. Just don’t look behind the curtain.

The whole point is rendered somewhat silly when you consider on the same day that David Cameron is writing letters to Angus Robertson asking him to rein in Humza Yousaf and ensure officials are in the room from the UK Government – the other Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Johnston is telling a covid enquiry that they forgot to check with any health officials in the middle of the largest pandemic in modern lifetimes if sending everyone as a herd into restaurants would be dangerous.

Officials are clearly not that important to the UK Government while it breaks its own laws and rule books. They certainly aren’t required to be medalling in Scotland establishing its own voice.

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The real winner in ‘The Ayes Have it’?

Debate the real winner in The Ayes Have it, The Ayes Have It.

Last week I had the privilege, along with my wife, of attending the Edinburgh Fringe Event ‘The Ayes Have It, The Ayes Have It’ led by Alex Salmond and the show producer and creator Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

Travelling down I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen comments on twitter and Facebook, and in my mind I thought it might be a question time/debate night style of show.

I couldn’t have been further off the mark.

When we walked in, there was clips of all the casts contributions in Westminster and Holyrood to build up the excitement. After getting drinks and settling into our seats, Tasmina Ahmed- Sheikh came out to introduce the show. She announced that Bernard Ponsaby, the STV political editor, who was supposed to be the speaker for the night, had received the sad news his mother had passed away.

The thoughts of the cast, audience and all involved were expressed to be with him and his family in these sad times.

This led to Alex Salmond stepping in and taking on the role of speaker.

An unconfirmed rumour suggested that a Perthshire MP had unsuccessfully submitted his CV last minute to be considered as the speaker of the house (a light hearted joke of course Mr Wishart).

The show kicked off with the Aye’s Kate Forbes making a vigorous case for Independence followed by David Davies making his case for the Union. 

Kate, as always, made a case that was almost impossible to argue, and I have to admit I was alsoimpressed with David – he read the room and knew the audience weren’t on his side, so played on the humour and audience engagement.

For me a politician has three jobs when speaking publicly. Know your brief. Read the room.

Appeal to your intended audience.

Kate achieved this with her impeccable knowledge on figures of the Scottish economy and her natural likeability and David did this by relating to our Scottish humour and mixing that in with his brief to get his message across.

Therefore, in my view both opening speeches were good in their own right.

The seconding speeches, first by Jim Eadie former SNP MSP, followed by Sir Brian Donohoe former Labour MP, were a bit more questionable.

Jim made a favourable comment that it was Winnie Ewing that said with her characteristic flair and panache “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on”.

Then it was the turn of Sir Brian, who made relatively decent points to start, but his speech didn’tgo down quite as well with the audience. In fact, it was maybe only time there was anger portrayed from the floor, when he quoted the line “Home rule is Rome rule”.

Thankfully, up next were the students of Broxburn Academy, 17 year old Emma, making the case for the Aye’s and 14 year old Sarah speaking for the No’s.

Emma made the case exceedingly for Independence and why is it essential, while Sarah didn’t dis-agree with the merits of Independence, she made a very strong case that we needed a bigger margin of support before we reclaim our Independence.

Both of the young ladies’ courage and conviction could have easily swung the vote and I am sure everyone in attendance would agree that our current politicians could learn a thing or two from these fantastic young ladies.

Finally it came to the vote, and given the concept of the show I think its fair to say the bookies wouldn’t have even offered odds on the outcome of results.

However, in my opinion the real winner here was the lesson for true debate to define and outline our principled, sovereign right to democracy.

Tasmina, Alex and David have done a fantastic job in reminding us of how politics can and in my personal opinion should be done.

Debate and democracy is something we are so missing in this country and “The Ayes Have It” showed an example of how we can bring that back.

I hope our current politicians can learn from this as well as future politicians in an Independent Scotalnd.

For if we want to stop the world while Scotland gets on, we must define our aspiration for when we reach that destination

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Labour concede election

Question Time in Fort William presented a small glimpse of what may come to be the next chapter of the Scottish Independence partnering, but first we need to look back a bit.

The Scottish Greens found themselves with a lot of power without much real preparation for being saddled with it, sadly this manifested in some of the oddest and widely unpopular legislation the Scottish Parliament has enacted.

Nicola Sturgeon found herself evicted from office in the severely damaging defence and promotion of ideas that found no traction with the electorate. It’ll now come to pass that Sturgeon may also have led the most ineffective and support losing Parliament due in part to the stranglehold the Greens exerted. 

However it’s largely pointless to dwell on what has gone past us and instead focus on the future. 

Humza at some point will have to jettison the old guard – still battering on as though the whole saga was just a bad dream – or be jettisoned himself, there are only really two options available to the SNP just now. 

However what was striking was that Mairi McAllan, who in the past has been a very effective friend and repeater of Nicola Sturgeon has decided to refocus on being more conciliatory and focussing on echoing what people actually say to her. It was amusing to see the change. 

Likewise Alex Salmond, seemed to have risen above any real fight with the SNP, and instead went back to pronouncing the benefits Scotland already has. Watch closely – and if he hadn’t mentioned ALBA, you could be forgiven for thinking he was still in the SNP, the stats and arguments he was making were straight from his former playbook. Indeed they might even be. 

Alex has obviously concluded Humza will sooner or later be forced to exorcise bad omens from the SNP cog-works and has moved a little ahead into the phase where we have one movement, albeit with distinct voices. 

Diverse voices with varying tones and messages is what the movement needed last time round but lacked in the political arena – but enjoyed on the community level. This time round it does seem at least we will enjoy that improvement. 

The standout though – is exactly what will end with the Labour Party (in disbelief), presented in a neat little package by Jackie Baillie. 

You see Jackie went on the attack about how she campaigned in 2019 for remaining within the EU. However thats not Labours current position, it does not seek to solve the European problem, instead as Jackie said, much the same as currently dished up will be delivered by Labour, but with friendlier smiles. 

While the independence movement bolsters on, debating the merits or demerits of full membership, EFTA and single market access – the Labour Party won’t actually have anything with any substance to add. This isn’t going to delivery any fruit to the Labour Party, in part because they can’t help secure the future of fruit workers. 

The electorate will maybe vote Labour in some places as a kick to the Tories but theres no resounding message the Labour Party have found to share. Bereft of talent or substance – it’s the same old folks making the same old noise and Scotland has moved on from it. 

Outrage from Ian Murray followed the day after – he was upset the SNP’s condition of support will be for a referendum on Scottish Independence. 

Amusingly in being aggrieved – Ian Murray had already conceded Labour won’t win the next general election without the SNP’s help. How pathetic. They can’t even pretend they’ll succeed because it’s that unlikely. 

If the only choices of Conservative Party Policy are whether you want the red or blue set – is it any wonder why Labour can’t beat the SNP when it should be at its weakest? Furthermore not expecting to beat a terribly weak Tory performance?

In the next few weeks and months, the SNP will learn some lessons, as will ALBA, they’ll tune and hone.

The SNP have worked out behind the scenes that the Greens are an anchor rather than a propeller. Despite knowing folks like Mairi and Alex share no desire to work together – they’ll find an equitable platform to stand on to push the cause – while Labour languish in the polls. 

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What if Westminster say no?

There is growing domestic and international attention to my plan to use the Ballot Box to decide whether Scotland becomes an independent country. 

Today I can confirm this plan is supported by 93% of SNP voters and 52% of Scottish voters. [1]

I have the only plan that has historic precedent, can be delivered legally by Scotland alone, moves us beyond the referendum stalemate, is supported by the majority of SNP members, and is accepted by the public. 

I have often been challenged on ‘what if the UK say no’ and this is where I should mention I hold a Master of Science degree in Development Management, in the study of how countries develop, alongside my Bachelor of Arts in International Relations – which means I’ve taken for granted the foundation on which I speak. 

Bluntly, there is no possibility of the UK Government not agreeing, as demonstrated in the 65 examples of countries that have left the UK or British Empire. 

There is a 100% success rate in those countries getting the UK Government to the negotiating table after an initial refusal. It is not credible to suggest anything else, the UK Government will even concede this fact.

The UK Government has denied the moral mandates of my predecessors for a rerun of a referendum – they can do this because legally they have that power reserved. The Supreme Court opined that an advisory referendum could not be held by the Scottish Government due to the outcome having an effect on the Union. 

This is important, as it demonstrates a key fact now established in the UK law, that even advisory referendums would be so great in their power, that the Union would be altered. 

This is exactly what my Voter Empowerment Mechanism does. It allows the people of Scotland – not politicians – to decide when they are independent.  The achievement of a majority of votes for a collection of manifesto pledges to become independent, and open negotiations would meet the criteria to alter the Union. 

This is Pillar 1: The Smith Commission is the only agreed written document on the matter and it states clearly in chapter 2, point 18 ‘It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose’.

It is important to note ‘should the people of Scotland choose’ – is agreed by every party in the Scottish and UK Parliament. The fact that the Scottish people are sovereign on matters of their independence is a settled matter. 

It would be extraordinary for the UK to change its stance from legally blocking a referendum to illegally ignoring an election in which its Electoral Commission oversaw the process. I cannot imagine the Prime Minister or his cabinet calling into question the legitimacy of a UK or Scottish election. It would be a significant regression to a country identifying as one of the oldest democracies in the world. 

This is Pillar 2: The International Community has recognised UK elections as fair and democratic since its inception. The international community has rallied and expressed support for every election winner and First Minister of Scotland, delivered through this mechanism. It is recognised and considered the democratic will of the Scottish people. 

Much has been made in the media over the last few days, as the UK Government seem to have noticed something that was never a secret. Every SNP MP and MSP since our election victory with Winnie Ewing has advertised and normalised the idea of an independent nation. I’m half surprised it took so long for them to catch on, Winnie’s campaign was ‘Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on’. 

Of course our representatives make a powerful case for recognising and working with an Independent Scotland, it is what they are elected to do. We do not enter these discussions in the manner in which the UK do, with binders of rules and demands, instead we offer warm hospitality and kind friendship. I think on reflection this is why it eluded them. 

You can watch on YouTube my colleagues address the European Parliament and receive a huge standing ovation on this very point. There is an enormous warmth of feeling toward the Scottish people and an understanding in Europe of our mission of Self Determination. The idea that we would not be recognised by these friends is unthinkable. 

This is Pillar 3: The Scottish Parliament has the ability with a simple majority to change the frequency of its election cycle – this was helpfully clarified by my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil with the House of Commons library staff, with the clerks in Holyrood also confirming this point.

We do not need to ask Westminster’s permission to hold an election on a date and time that suits us. There is no legal method to stop the Scottish Parliament from deciding when it wants an election, in the same manner the UK Government can decide when it wants one. 

Our elections are overseen by the same Electoral Commission, and they are delivered in line with international law and recognition. The power can be handed to the people of Scotland at any point. 

And finally, Pillar 4: The United Kingdom is not a full democracy. It is a Constitutional Monarchy, with a Head of State, that is a defender of Self Determination and a celebrant of Self Government and of Independence. 

I quote his speech to the independent nation of Barbados of November 30th 2021, announcing itself as a Republic:

“The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum – a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.

From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.  Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points.  Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.” [2]

King Charles is the Head of State for the United Kingdom and his public speeches show us the character of the man on the throne. 

As First Minister, I would be required to attend audiences with him, and would serve as a member of his Privy Council – which is the recognised mechanism for reaching interdepartmental agreement for ‘prerogative business’, which is the business of which no other precedent or clear delegation to minister or department exists. 

In summary; the UK Government defends their current position with bluster and bullish statements. However, the institutions of democracy, state and judiciary in this country are very clear in their categorical observance of democratic certainty. The small men that throw barbed comments about Scotland being held in perpetuity, do so without the solid foundations on which this country was built.

[1] Polling data: Scot goes POP!, Find Out Now – 10/3/23 https://voteashregan.com/downloads/Find-Out-Now-Survey-Results-Q4.pdf

[2] Speech: https://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speech/speech-hrh-prince-wales-transition-barbados-republic

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Starmer concedes election to SNP

In a stunning expose of how Labour UK believe Scottish Labour will perform at the next Westminster General Election, Keir Rodney Starmer has conceded it to the SNP already.

https://twitter.com/theousherwood/status/1602233440778297345?s=46&t=y6CRBtor7araQnPLOMIxcg

As you can see reported by Theo Usherwood, Political Editor of LBC – that Starmer is already saying he won’t do a deal with the SNP, predicting an SNP win rather than his own branch office.

It further reveals how little Starmer has his finger on the pulse, as following a pro-Indy win at the next election, Scotland will be transitioning to independence, due to the Supreme Court ruling UK Parliamentary sovereignty is unbreakable and Scotland would have just won the vote that powers that particular engine.

In this example let’s say Nicola Sturgeon is the negotiator, she would be effectively playing both parties off against each other anyway, to get the best deal for Scotland. I don’t see why Scottish voters would care what rump UK gets left with once the deal is done. If they get left with another Tory Government, that’s what they voted for. Scotland is not responsible for poor decision-making south of the border.

https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2022-12/scotland-political-monitor-charts-december-2022.pdf

Likewise, outside the Scottish Labour member & supporter voting pool – no one actually thinks Scottish Labour are ready to do anything useful. 72% of people disagree that Scottish Labour is ready to form the government. Will we cope without that lot in charge?

If we squint through and get beyond the fact Starmer forgot Scotland just became independent and is negotiating and transitioning due to the defacto-ref. Keir shows his naivety about how the UK Government and election system work.

You see in the event of a hung parliament, without a deal being done to have a workable majority, you enter confidence and supply. There are only a few outcomes here.

  1. The Prime Minister only resigns when a successor is apparent, otherwise, the UK Government largely trundles on as it was. It can’t pass new legislation but the old stuff just runs. Scotland can keep negotiating with whoever the UK Government of the day is. You see the King needs to change the PM, and can only do so if they know someone will command the support of the house. Paralysis in the UK Parliament is only a help to us.
  2. Keir Starmer would be the one gifting his ‘victory’ to the Tories because the SNP or pro-Indy party would have won the Scottish Mandate on solely INDEPENDENCE. Therefore of course there would only be one condition, it would have been the only party in the UK to have won the mandate it put forward – it would be an assault on democracy and the fabric of the unwritten constitution if it was ignored. If he can’t form government alone and needs help – he knows the price, up to him to walk away from it.

Let’s take that last example for a moment, if I don’t buy a donut at the stipulated price, I don’t get to complain when the next person in line buys the last one on some sort of ‘I deserve it more’ rampage.

Pay the price, get the goods. Rodney gets his donut if he pays the Scottish donut stall.

You will notice, Starmer has conceded the Scottish Election to the SNP, he’s conceded the UK election to a stalemate, he’s forgotten how we form the government, all while demanding the only party to have won anything – denies the only winning mandate – because otherwise, we would need to explain to voters why a party, that few of them voted for, isn’t getting to do the job, few of them had confidence it could even do.

Strategist Starmer or Ridiculous Rodney?