David Cameron’s macho posturing over Scotland’s place in the EU evidently found favour with those who share his contempt for the people of Scotland. But his supercilious, imperious attitude can only only more eyes in Scotland to the true nature of the intolerably asymmetric political union with England.
It would be an unwarranted compliment to the intelligence of those who groaned at Angus Robertson’s question to suppose that their reaction was prompted by the realisation that it was intended to elicit precisely the kind of arrogantly dismissive reply that Cameron gave. But the truth is that these exemplars of British democracy were showing their annoyance at Scotland’s democratically elected representatives having a voice in THEIR a parliament. In his response to the SNP Westminster leader’s question, Cameron was pandering to what can only be called anti-Scottish sentiment, in that it is an attitude which favours the marginalisation and exclusion of Scottish MPs.
Cameron was correct to say that the agreement he signed with Alex Salmond required both sides to respect the outcome of the first independence referendum. The Scottish Government has fully honoured this undertaking. Nobody in the SNP administration has ever questioned the result. Nobody! Ever!
But there was nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement to suggest that a NO vote implied a relinquishing of Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination as defined by the Charter of the United nations. Alex Salmond could not have signed away that right even if, for some wholly unimaginable reason, he had wanted to. And Cameron cannot strip Scotland’s people of that right no matter how desperately he would like to secure the British state’s grip on Scotland.
Regardless of anything Cameron says to win the approval of other British nationalists, there is no way that he can prevent a second referendum. Hard-line unionist will stridently insist to the contrary, pointing out constitutional matters are reserved to Westminster. Realpolitik relegates this fact to the status of an irrelevant technicality.
However much some may find comfort in what they assume to be the Westminster elite’s ability to overrule the democratic will of Scotland’s people, sharper intellects in the British establishment will be well aware that trying to block a referendum for which there is unquestionable demand would be politically catastrophic. Attempting to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination would inevitably provoke a massive constitutional crisis.
And it would be bound to fail. Even if the British Government wasn’t forced by international pressure into a deeply embarrassing climb-down, the Scottish Government would simply go ahead with a “consultative” referendum. A referendum which, whatever the actual question, would surely result in a decisive victory for the independence movement.
This is precisely the situation that Cameron sought to avoid when he “granted” the first independence referendum. For all it was portrayed a generous democratic gesture from a beneficent British state, the fact is that Cameron had no choice.
There will be a second referendum. Nicola Sturgeon is already preparing the ground and demand from voters is growing. The tide of Scotland’s democratic independence campaign is flowing. Cameron’s blustering, ineffectual efforts to turn back that tide leave him looking like a silly Cnut.