The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

Many will know that I have been a supporter of the above, trying to seek clarification on Section 30 and our rights to hold a referendum. And anyone who has been paying attention will know that the SNP have thwarted us at every opportunity.

When Nicola became the leader of the SNP I was still a member, but seeing how she has high-jacked the party and the Yes moment, tried to stop AUOB’s activities, tried to get an innocent man jailed, Spent our money (ring-fenced for indiref2 that they no longer have) abused her powers over the police, the courts, then lied to the public and SNP members, all to remain in power as First Minister. I have no love for the woman, that much is plain, and I now believe she is no friend of Scotland in fact quite the opposit. If there is any justice left in Scotland then Nicola Sturgeon will get her comeuppance. As far as I’m concerned “Hanging is too good for her”. The rest I leave to Martin to explain.

So, the election is over. Immediately after which the Tories began saying exactly what we thought they would with regards to section 30. The SNP said exactly what we thought they would say with regards to section 30, none of it comes close to the reality of the situation and the SNP’s bill is definitely going to be challenged by the UK Government.

What comes next in this little saga, is that the UK Government are going to use the time challenging the SNP’s bill (if they ever get around to actually putting it to Holyrood because they’re already starting to do what they did at the last election – namely quoting longer and longer timescales) to modify legislation at Westminster and remove certain aspects of that bill from the competency of Holyrood. At which point the court will have no choice but to rule on the law as it stands at that time, declaring the bill to be incompetent. 

If that sounds familiar, it should be, because it is exactly the trap the SNP walked into with the continuity bill.

Conversations with counsel are such that we see no reason to appeal to the UK supreme court in this case and on that front you only have the Scottish National Party to blame. The constitutionality of the Scottish Parliament legislating for indyref 2 and the constitutionality of the SNP’s own bill being ruled competent have been scuttled by the SNP themselves. They could have had both confirmed if they’d merely joined this case and fought for the powers of the Scottish Parliament – but because the paperwork didn’t have an SNP logo on the top, instead the same fight will have to be had again at a cost of millions to the taxpayer. 

Make no mistake, this case has not been a wasted, arguments have been crafted and researched, which I am sure that the Scottish Government will be able to use when they have the same fight again and Westminster cuts their knees out from under them.

With respect to the current status of this case, what happens next is quite simple. The funds raised will go to pay all of the legal counsel we hired. The UK and Scottish Government will seek expenses over and above that, and for daring to ask a very simple legal question which politicians have failed to answer for 22 years, I am now likely to be sequestered (made bankrupt). But not to worry, because with nothing to lose, I’m now free to stop walking on eggshells and say exactly what I would like to say.

Be under no illusion. The UK Government was not the stumbling block in this case. The Scottish Government (that’s the SNP to ensure no mistake) first tried to have the case struck out saying it was filed under the wrong process. When that didn’t work, they tried to have it moved to a different process so it could be struck out, which counsel classified as an abuse of process. They deliberately filed a motion which we had to prepare for and draft a response, only for them to drop it at the last minute.

Every request they made came with the same request that “both sides should assume their own expenses”. Simply put, the Scottish Government used your tax money to deliberately delay and deliberately undermine this case.

If this were not bad enough – when it was leaked (we presume by the UK Government) that the Scottish Government had said exactly what it thought about all of you supporting this claim, namely “it is not for the pursuer to stand in the shoes of parliamentarians” (bearing in mind the pursuers are you 10,000). They withdrew from the case, knowing that all of their arguments would take a month to remove from the record, adding further cost and further delay to proceedings. But those arguments did not disappear. Instead, the Lord Advocate (who I see resigned yesterday, and I hope the door hits him in the ass on the way out), who was called to represent the Scottish Parliament (and who is a member of the Scottish Government) adopted those same pretentious and arrogant arguments of the Scottish Government. The fact that it was the Scottish Government Legal Directorate who was arguing on his behalf tells you all you need to know. The Lord Advocate was arguing for the Scottish Government, not the Scottish Parliament.

Indeed, we repeatedly called on him to state who exactly he was representing. We only ever got one response in one hearing which never actually answered the question. That response was “the Lord Advocate is not a member of the SNP”. This was a political spin because we did not ask him if he was a member of the SNP, we called on him to say who he was representing, the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Government. They made out it was the Scottish Parliament, but having adopted all of the arguments of the Scottish Government, and the fact that the legal counsel was the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, well, you can wrap a turd in coconut but you still can’t call it a snowball.

What it boils down to is that it’s not for we mere plebs to ask questions of Government.

Of course, before the election we warned that the SNP’s bill was not, in fact, a bill, and I am now free to say this quite publicly – they’re using that bill and promising to pass it was a lie – it was a fraud perpetrated on the electorate. The SNP don’t know if they can pass that bill or not, because they have never tested whether it would be legitimate or not. How do we know this? Because it’s literally the point of the people’s action.

The Scottish National Party has lied to the movement. They have presented a “draft” bill and claimed that they can pass it. The irony is that because it was a draft bill and not a bill, this is the reason the court has refused to opine. 

On the day we filed the court summons, Nicola Sturgeon was on TV making the statement “if the court says it is lawful, it is lawful”. On the day that the details of the Scottish Governments view of the ordinary electorate were published “not for the pursuer to stand in the shoes of parliamentarians”, miraculously an announcement of a “draft bill” was made. What you did not see was the panicked emails popping up all over the place just before it. It was no coincidence that the “draft bill” coming “before the end of the parliamentary term” popped up on the day it did.

Let’s be clear. The SNP could have easily tested the question in our case and passed that bill through parliament with a clause talking about the circumstances it would be used/activated. A clause stating a majority vote of parliament for instance. It did not need to be a draft bill, it did not need to stay a draft bill; and the electorate did not need to be lied to in the run up to an election being told that the Scottish Government could pass it, when they know damn well they might not be able to.

When they do attempt to pass it (if they ever do), and the UK Government challenges it, removing competencies from the Scottish Parliament and preventing that bill from becoming law, I have no doubt that the new Yes Men in Nicola’s cabinet will stomp their feet and shake their fists – but remember one simply inescapable fact – they had the opportunity to confirm their own bill and that the Scottish Parliament had the power to pass it. Only now, another legal battle will be required, it will likely cost millions between the UK Government and the Scottish Government dooking it out, and in the long run, the Scottish Government will likely lose because they will get hit in the face with the same metaphorical 2×4 that they did with the continuity bill.

The question for the people’s action is – is it finished? The answer to that is no. There is a plan B, but it will not be implemented for quite a while. However, we will not be proceeding to the supreme court. Had the Scottish National Party, the supposed party of independence, actually stood shoulder to shoulder with the grassroots on this, we’d know that the bill was likely to pass, all that would have been required is the SNP to pass it in short order. They could have then said to Westminster, mutually agree the terms of indyref2 or we’ll do it ourselves. But no, the SNP putting their party before the movement, choice to torpedo a case and blow their own toes off in the process – the blame for what comes next lies squarely on their shoulders, and while I am sure that their media team will have 20 meme’s and one line quotes for their elected representatives by tomorrow, no political spin is going to wash the stain that they actively blocked the electorate from asking a reasonable question about their own constitutional future, blew their own toes off, laid the groundwork for their own bill to fail and the UK Government to screw all of us.

On another note, and this one goes out to all the organisers of events around the country – there’s nothing more offensive than the SNP leadership consistently saying on one hand that we need to convince the other side to vote yes, but yet their own records show that absolutely zero resources have been allocated to that task for years. The other thing that should be called out is the constant comment about being out and campaigning. Apart from the pandemic, the movement has been consistently campaigning since 2014. AUOB, SIM, Forward as One and others around the country holding rallies on a regular basis. What was absent was support from the upper echelons of the SNP. 

We’re fast approaching a situation that is going to become intolerable for most of us in the movement. We’ve desperately tried to stop it, but for the arrogance of a select few in the upper echelons of Government, the worst-case scenario is unfolding before our eyes. 

Mark my words, the people’s action on Section 30 is not over. It merely has to morph into something different and change direction. Pressure now needs to be applied to the SNP and as for legal matters, I will not disclose what happens next until the time is right (I hope you understand), suffice to say, if the SNP are annoyed take issue at the minute, just wait for what comes next.

Martin Keatings | Convener – Forward as One via Crowd Justice

Many a true word was said in jest.

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