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Within Our Grasp – a response…

Common Weal has published a lengthy document called “Within Our Grasp”, about Independence for Scotland. Although published by them, this document states it isn’t necessarily the policy of Common Weal – but it’s written by the Director of Common Weal, Robin McAlpine!  I once had a bit of a debate with both his faither, Tom McAlpine, and his mither, Isobel Lindsay, at a CND meeting. Now I’m having a bit of a debate with their son.

Robin says “I’ve had a 25-year-plus career as a senior campaign professional, working at a very high level inside the Scottish establishment”. That’s his job. He has made a twenty five year career out of being “at a very high level inside the Scottish establishment” and “campaigning to change government policy” from within that establishment. But, he says, this document isn’t published out of any further personal ambitions : “I am very happy with my job and I will not be applying for any other jobs and I don’t seek to be appointed to anything”.  He just wants to put forward “my best attempt to map out (pretty comprehensively) the path forward”.

Robin says the final goal of an independence movement is an agreement with the remainder of the UK. “The easiest way is to agree mutually on a binding referendum and negotiation process”; however, “there are other routes to reaching that agreement  – so long as we remain focussed on getting there”.

Personally, I see independence as an on-going process, which probably will include rUK agreement, at some time during that process.  Even the USA reached agreement. Within less than ten years from signing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams was at Buckingham Palace formally presenting his credentials to King George as the first American Ambassador.  (He later succeeded Washington, as the second President of the USA.)

I disagree with Robin MacAlpine’s emphasis on a “Section 30 Order”. Placing too much emphasis on this acknowledges a supremacy which it’s far from certain Westminster actually has. There’s nothing to stop the Scottish Parliament from pressing ahead with a “consultative referendum” without “permission”. That word “consultative” is largely superfluous. According to Westminster’s theory of parliamentary supremacy (a purely English concept, without any basis in Scots Law), ANY referendum in the UK is always “consultative” anyway.  For example, Westminster could, in theory, have said, about the Brexit referendum, “okay, we’ve noted your views, but it’s up to us what we do”.  In practice, such a course of action/inaction would be political suicide.

Robin says “a court challenge on that could go either way”. True. But let it be Westminster doing the challenging. Let THEM take it to court. Let them be responsible for saying “We will not allow the people of Scotland to decide”.

“There is a body of about 25 per cent or so of the public which is unmoveably unionist” – that, we agree on. About a quarter of the population will probably never be persuaded. That is “normal”. In the USA, about a quarter of the population couldn’t be persuaded to back independence. Huge numbers of loyalist refugees headed for Canada. So many refugees, in fact, a mainly French-speaking country became a mainly English-speaking country.  I don’t think anything remotely like that will happen with Scotland. If anything, I think there might be a flow of English folk heading north of the Border. But we do have a large unionist minority who can’t be persuaded to vote Yes for independence. I think most of them will eventually come round, and become good citizens of sovereign Scotland, AFTER independence. But, in the meantime, there’s no point wasting time arguing with them. Efforts should be focussed on folk who might actually be persuade-able.

Robin says “everything must be carefully managed”. Despite saying he isn’t applying for any job, it turns out he does have ideas about “carefully managing”, well, EVERYTHING. The reality is, mass movements are never like that. You can’t “manage” absolutely “everything”.

Robin says “Mockery” can be very powerful, because “politicians hate being mocked”. Robin, some of us are way ahead of you.

“The aim is to make UK Government Ministers unwilling to come to Scotland (because of mockery and unpopularity)”

Again, Robin, some of us are WAY ahead of you. It was reported that Boris Johnson was taking a “holiday” in Scotland. Some of us saw this as a propaganda exercise designed to say “Look, I’m just like you”, and also to say “Look, I’m welcome in Scotland”. Although he has, allegedly, been North of the Border since Monday, in practice, he’s in hiding. Because  “politicians hate being mocked”.



by Dave Coull

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