THE letter from William Golden in last Thursday’s National echoes similar calls which have been endlessly recorded in the paper for the last six months. The answer to William’s call is never – we will never see the SNP put forward an exciting, positive case for independence until they find a positive route to independence.
The previous SNP leadership led us into a boxed canyon when they took a case to the UK Supreme Court that resulted, as many of us expected, with the rejection of their case and the claim that the Scottish Government was merely the creation of the Westminster “Scotland Act” and therefore could do nothing on constitutional matters without Westminster’s permission. The new SNP leadership has not even attempted to address this.
This has left the independence movement, including most SNP members, in utter confusion, and the talk of election results giving us a mandate to negotiate our independence with the UK Government just adds to the confusion.
This issue is not complex, it is very simple. There is no such thing as British sovereignty. There is the English concept of sovereignty and there is a quite distinct Scottish concept of sovereignty. This is not something new, it is well established in English and Scottish constitutional law.
Sovereignty in Scotland rests with the People, not with King Charles III, or with Westminster, or with the UK Supreme Court. It is not possible in one state to have two sources of sovereignty, so if sovereignty in Scotland rests with the Scottish People, it follows that the UK Government has no legal authority above the Scottish People and neither does any UK court.
The SNP conference has called for the establishment or reconvening of a constitutional convention. Such a body, if widely representative of the Scottish community, could exercise sovereign power. So if we want Scottish independence and more sovereign power for the Scottish Government, this is the institution which can provide it.
If the SNP recognise this and get sovereign authority from the convention, and particularly if they get authority to establish their own currency, they will not need to look for negotiations with the UK Government. The UK ministers will be desperate to negotiate with them, because the very idea that the Scottish economy would come out of Sterling will cause a panic in the Bank of England much greater than that caused by the Liz Truss policy. Sterling would be under pressure and this would force the UK Government to want to convene talks with the Scottish Government.
If the SNP leadership just pause and think about sovereign power, they will see a clear route to independence lies in front of them, and if they recognise this and address it, they will get support from the independence grassroots again – polls show they are currently at 54% in Scotland. So, the exciting way forward that William is looking for is right in front of the SNP leadership.