Scotland’s Constitution


For our children and their children’s children

‘More myths than fly around a candle’ (Inspector Clouseau)

In a previous essay I attempted to draw attention to the myth promulgated by latter-day imperialists that Scotland annulled its parliament and sovereignty forever in 1707. (The tediously unreliable Wikipedia also gets it wrong.) They aver what we have now is a loan from Westminster, and if we Scots don’t behave ourselves they will take back again.

In reality it was England that closed its parliament permanently in order to establish an all-encompassing UK parliament, or ‘the Parliament of Great Britain’, as part of the Treaty of Union.

England dictated where the UK Parliament would sit geographically. With a bit of argy-bargy it might have been established anywhere, like Newcastle, but gentrified English parliamentarians didn’t want to walk too far for a quaff and a wench.

Scotland retained and ‘stored’ its parliament, thus justifying its reopening on the 12 May 1999 in the Assembly Halls (before the Parliament was built in Holyrood) with Dr Winnie Ewing’s historic speech which stated:

 “The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened.”

‘Tradition, tradition, tradition!’ (Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof)

Misconceptions about Scotland’s constitution are usually based on the English tradition of absolute monarchy, and the way that has quietly been transmuted down the decades to become the unlimited authority of the UK Parliament.

We see it exercised today by the UK prime minister and her butler in Scotland, the secretary of state, telling Scotland what Wales accepts Scotland will accept. So there! This is a travesty of the democratic principle.

The oft heard BBC juxtaposition ‘the Queen in Parliament’ is also a bad joke. I call such sly parsing a plausible-falsehood, a 19th century concoction has no status in Scotland.

Simply put, the UK parliament is not omnipotent. It cannot, should not, expect Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for that matter, automatically to be a part of the UK after every General Election. Scotland was never merged with England as one state though our colonial masters have done their best to achieve that reality.

‘Buy two, get one free’ (Tesco)

There were two Acts of Union, one for Scotland and one for England, which ratified and implemented the 1706 Treaty of Union. The English Parliament was effectively wound up on the 1st of May 1707 to make way for the new body representing the still separate nations of Scotland and England.

Getting zealous unionists to accept this recorded fact is almost impossible, to put it mildly. It was agreed – sadly – all taxes were to be gathered by the new UK parliament’s treasury, and in return Scotland was given unfettered access to trade with England, routes previously frustrated or blocked by hostile English governments.

‘A person’s conscience never abides by majority rule’ (Atticus Finch) 

The principle that a Scottish King or Queen is not above the law is of ancient acceptance.

Tepid claims that it was never enshrined in Scots law are waffle, an irrelevance. The people are sovereign, and that’s that. The Declaration of Arbroath guarantees where power lies. That document stated in epitome what was already regarded as sacrosanct – the people ruled, not king or parliament.

Any equivocation is mere carping. But for those unionists adding yes, but no, but yes, but no, here is the clincher: before Scotland was sold for a bag of gold Scottish court did not accept nor concede that parliament alone held all powers of sovereignty. In other words, Scots law had already outlawed any theory of parliament as supreme authority well before we sent MPs to Westminster.

‘Power to the people’ (John Lennon)

What is sovereignty? It’s the place where arbitration ends; from that point there is no further appeal.

Over decades that space has grown smaller, its edifice removed brick by brick by politicians we elected whose allegiances and ambitions lay outside Scotland. The implementation of a Supreme Court in England over-ruling decisions made in Scotland has to be regarded as a betrayal of Scots sovereignty, and an assault on Scots Law.

Yet again, a fervent unionist desperate to have Scotland remain a colonial territory, will claim sovereignty was handed over to Westminster on the signing of the Treaty.  This is an egregious falsehood. How could the Scottish Parliament hand over supreme power greater than it exercised?

A non-sovereign parliament cannot transfer powers it does not have. This knowledge blasts a hole in unionist’s argument that Scotland is ruled by Westminster. It offers the freedom to hold a referendum at any time without Westminster’s permission, or agreement. It allows the Scottish Parliament to declare independence because it was in the elected party’s manifesto. If challenged by some rabid colonial, Scotland can take the matter to the United Nations.

‘If the taxman can make one person smile, he’s slipped up’ Grouse Beater

So what’s stopping us? Well, nothing, really, nothing except fear of poverty, a state engineered by generations told the lie our taxes are not enough to sustain us.

We have every justification to argue Scotland has been taxed without full and proper representation, its natural resources exploited, removed or stolen, its industries sacrificed to keep England’s economy safe, it’s people and its interests ignored.

Our wish to throw off colonial rule is a legitimate one. We don’t want brainwashed anymore into thinking we are of no importance as a nation. We want no more to hear British orthodoxy is wisdom we must heed.

‘One for all and all for one’ (Alexandre Dumas)

Of course, there’s a small matter to consider of a majority behind any declaration, the mass of citizens wanting outright autonomy. It is worth remembering, the more power is given to people the less they’ll relinquish it if asked to give it up.

I’ve wondered why supporters of civil rights have yet to reject the unionist trope that we spurn Westminster only to ‘give control’ to the European Union. The EU would be subject to Scots sovereignty in the same way as the English Parliament gave up a little.

The International Bill of Human Rights acknowledges unambiguously a people’s right to self-determination. So, since we managed to keep our Parliament and our sovereignty, we are, in effect, asking for self-governance to be reinstated. How we deal and how we live with our belligerent neighbour is a matter left to political discussion after the event.

The UN is unequivocal in its stance: the right to self-determination is a fundamental right. The UN talks about ‘peoples’ in this regard, not political parties, not governments, not legislatures, not placemen, not the press. This international law is binding on the United Kingdom ever since it signed up to the UN and registered the United Kingdom as ‘two nations, a principality, and a protectorate’. (My italics.)

‘Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people’ Jefferson

As to the age-old debate, ‘who are ‘the people?’ the answer is easy, we are the people. We define ourselves as ‘the electorate’. Currently, Westminster’s doctrine is might is right. Hence, independence is the only way to protect our constitutional rights indefinitely.

English imperialism and its accompanying authoritarian rule do their best to roll back democratic advances. Take comfort in knowing and upholding the hallowed principle, in Scotland parliament is the servant of the people. I repeat, the English doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty has no validity in Scotland. It is an illegitimate assertion.

What the people never gave away the people still own.



This entry was posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Scotland’s Constitution

  1. angusskye says:

    There seems to be a change to WordPress sites where a simple “like” can no longer be shown. So, GB, I “like” your post; in fact, it’s more than “like”. Well said.

  2. angusskye says:

    Posted the above and then had a think. It was Adblock that was the culprit so all has been returned to normal!

  3. Donald McGregor says:

    Thanks, nice thoughts.
    Didn’t Ms Ewing utter her words in 1999 rather than 2004? I think 2004 was the opening of the new building just.
    The Parliament reconvenes in 1999.

  4. Marconatrix says:

    In 1999 as I recall, though I’ve often wondered if anyone else heard them. I do hope I’m not mythstaken.

  5. Not only do I “like” your post very much, Grousey, but I like what you have done with the sectional headings!

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    Many thanks, David. The sun is out today. Today is a good day. (So far – gulp!)

    Marconatrix/Donald: As I am wont say on many an occasion, dates are my weakness. I always try to double-check, especially composing work from memory at 2 am in the morning!

    Angus: Did realise the ‘Likes’ icon has been blocked. On Adblock, I’ve been arguing with WordPress for weeks about them dumping unwanted commercials into my essays. I make a strong final statement which can be washed out followed by some stupid ad. I didn’t sign up to them. Now they want money to stop the ads. Sheesh!

  7. Franco Valente says:

    Good article as usual GB. How to get this message across to the multitude of Scots is our main challenge going forward.

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    A hard slog, Franco, when people feel they are getting by each day so why alter anything. Tell them they gain a lot and more, but will note only slow change over a decade or so and they still can’t grasp the concept.

  9. Auld Bob says:

    Thanks for that article GB. I’ve been preaching that same mantra for nigh on 70 years now and studied the history of how it came about for even longer. Matter of fact I’ve just come here from Wings after preaching it yet again. This time in relation to how even the staunchest indy supporters tend to view all matters from the Westminster Establishment’s propaganda wing POV that the Wingers have been subjected to all their lives.

    It really isn’t a difficult concept to grasp but the mental blockages brought on by the incessant brain washing are very hard to break. Here’s one wee tip for those falling into the traps. One Westminster ploy to imprint their evil messages in Scottish minds is the use of Acronyms such as, “UK”, instead of United Kingdom and their subsequent claims that the, “UK”, is a country.

    We should realise that behind this Westminster Establishment is a very long history of deliberate usage to imprint the idea in the user’s brain. They go even further and speak of themselves as, “The British Government”, which they are not. They are in fact formally and legally, “Her Majesty’s Government”, of, “Her Majesty’s United Kingdom”. However, the legal truth is that they are only Her Majesty’s Kingdom of England Government of her English Kingdom because, as you state, the people of Scotland are legally sovereign and Westminster is legally also representing the people of Scotland’s sovereignty.

    What I’m getting at is that the best, perhaps not the easiest though, way to break the brainwashing links is for us to stop using those acronyms and to type/write/speak out the full titles. The next step is to then question others if they meant, for example, “Britain or the United Kingdom of Britain”, when they used that term.

    Strangely enough it often transpires they meant neither, but instead meant the Westminster Parliament. I’ll leave your readership to contemplate all that and see how they get on.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    Excellent points, Bob. I might twitter an excerpt!

  11. Ricky Todd says:

    As always an excellent piece of writing , and an education . I hope that someone from the Scottish Government reads your blog , they might learn a thing or two . Can we the people of Scotland bypass both governments go directly to the UN to as you put it reinstate self-governance . Should the Scottish government or Scottish Parliament do exactly that . We never had a referendum to join the union , we shouldn’t need one to dissolve it either .

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    We are either our own nation or we feel we never will be again. A Treaty that is mainly based on trade can be annulled and renegotiated. And there’s no doubting the Treaty we struggle under has been England’s free ticket to abuse its neighbour for over 300 years.

  13. mikewr says:

    Are we looking at the biggest distraction in Scottish political history?
    Surely, as a Scottish parliament, we can dissolve the treaty as easily as we entered into it, by a majority vote at Holyrood.
    This asking for permission to hold a referendum is, to my mind, politically bankrupt.
    A referendum, where most of the constituents do not hold in their possession the full facts.
    Facts supplied to them by a suspect media wedded to the status quo on the side of the, dare I use the phrase, The Elite?

  14. Grouse Beater says:

    (Like Trump dissolves Obama’s Bills?) Yes, we can sit around a table and determine the Treaty is so far out of date it’s harming Scotland. Those on the other side will demand all sorts of loyalties saying the ‘concessions’ – their term – they’ve given Scotland recognises the Treaty is a threadbare contract, no need for a new one…

  15. Ricky says:

    “A non-sovereign parliament cannot transfer powers it does not have”, then the union between us and them , could it be argued to be illegal ? After commenting last night , I had a few questions , if the UN sees the United Kingdom as a principality ,protectorate and two countries , are we in essence an non governing independent nation ? But if the UN sees us as previous stated principality , protectorate and two countries , do they not recognise Great Britain ?
    Finally I think , just how many times has Westminster breached the treaty/act of the union ?

  16. Grouse Beater says:

    The UN recognises “The United Kingdom”, its constituent parts taxed by the UK Parliament, plus the UK Parliament’s ability to send troops to war zones without full approval of its members. It would take me weeks to count the number of times the UK Parliament has breached the Treaty. They have augmented it by Acts and sleight of hand down the ages, and are still at it.

  17. Hugh Wallace says:

    Great piece, GB. Now, if only those who have the means to tackle this politically & legally are reading it & taking heed…

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    If only …
    Salmond says in his account of the run up to the referendum that he knew he was on to a loser because so few people knew the real facts of where Scotland stands, and he didn’t think Cameron had given him enough time for an extended educational journey. Maybe a lot more of us know better now, and those that are unsure are convinced by what they see as abhorrent Westminster policies and doctrine.

  19. Sooz says:

    Reading your pieces is like having a long drink of cool water after a hot day at the coal face. I don’t often comment but really appreciate what you write, and am truly heartened by your quiet sense and reason.

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, Sooz. Do you live in Scotland? I always feel heartened if an appreciative reader is here and will benefit from knowledge when the day comes to vote.

  21. Sooz says:

    Yes. I’m @MediaWeasel on Twitter.

    You’re an essential part of the information bank that we all need and value, especially given the parlous state of the United Kingdom media.

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    I honestly didn’t realise I held that significance by readers. (My colleagues and friends say I’ve always undersold myself.) But telling me of people’s sustenance means the ruination of my eyesight from typing in poor light in the wee sma’ hours is worth it! 🙂

  23. bettyboopwp says:

    Oh indeed, Grouse Beater, you are and essential part of our information bank. I have your previous essay on this subject “Union? What Union” pinned to a Facebook page. I have a dilemma now as to whether I pin this one instead, or simply post and re-post it every couple of weeks.

    Over 300 years of conditioning have brought Scottish society to a state of ignorance and lack of self belief. This information must be repeated again and again wherever we have a hope of reaching into the psyche of Scots. Surely, Scotland as a whole has suffered denigration and humiliation long enough at the hands of the establishment within this midden of a union. Many Scots, unfortunately, need to be educated that they are no less worthy than any others on this planet.

    By the way, I not only “like” this article, I love it. Thank you again.

  24. Grouse Beater says:

    Eloquently said. (And I appreciate the compliment.) I’m off to business meeting in London this week – boo! Hiss! Back soon.

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