I WASN’T aware that the question of Scottish independence had ever been off the table. I know that British politicians and media often assert that the SNP are obsessed with the constitutional issue to the exclusion of all else, and have abandoned the independence project altogether. But that’s just the contradictions and inconsistencies of increasingly shrill and irrational British nationalist propaganda.

Here in the real world, the SNP remain the only political party unequivocally and unconditionally committed to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

Some may find it curious that an academic of Tom Devine’s standing has, apparently, fallen for the nonsense about Nicola Sturgeon having “put independence on the back burner” (Tom Devine in warning for Scotland over Brexit ‘precipice’, The National, December 1). I prefer to see this as a warning of just how pernicious the British state’s propaganda is.

I’m more intrigued by the good professor’s notion that Brexit isn’t going to happen. It is extremely difficult to see how the Brexit fiasco might now be stopped. We certainly cannot proceed on the assumption that Brexit isn’t going to happen. Not even with assurances from Tom Devine. We have to assume that it will go ahead exactly as planned – if you’ll pardon my wry humour.

Which means we must consider what implications Brexit might have for the independence campaign which, let us recall, remains very much on the table.

The first thing to make absolutely clear is that a new independence referendum is not critically dependent on Brexit in any way. The issues are, obviously, linked. But it is important to recognise that there was always going to be another referendum, regardless of the whole Brexit thing.

It is also crucial that we avoid getting totally hung up on the economic implications of Brexit. The only thing that matters here is that the people of Scotland voted Remain. There is no “deal” which can outweigh that vote. It is the constitutional implications which should concern us most.

The UK quitting the EU and Scotland restoring its independence are both, first and foremost, constitutional issues. Economic and trading relationships follow from the constitutional arrangements and not vice versa. As the Irish border situation clearly illustrates, in the absence of a satisfactory constitutional settlement, trade issues become totally intractable. There is no solution to the Irish border situation which is not a constitutional solution. Economic solutions derive from and depend on the constitutional situation being resolved. There is no trade deal that will resolve the issue.

The constitutional issues will be resolved. The problem is that the “solution” is going to be imposed on Scotland by the British state without negotiation or consultation. The British political elite will unilaterally determine Scotland’s new constitutional status as part of the process of defining the UK’s new constitutional status outwith the EU. There is no intention that the people of Scotland will be permitted a say in the matter. There is no intention that our elected representatives will be party to the process.

Unfortunately, in 2014, the people of Scotland chose to hand political power to an elite which is entirely driven by economic and ideological imperatives and totally contemptuous of democratic principles. We have a chance to retrieve the situation. We must hold another independence referendum no later than September 2018. And we must vote to take back the power that was so recklessly squandered in 2014.

I would expect Tom Devine to understand and support that proposition.
Peter A Bell
via thenational.scot