“A fly in the ointment” is an idiom we’ve all used to explain something wrong, unwelcome, or unpleasant that gets in the way. It can range from a small defect that spoils something valuable to something unhelpful that undermines otherwise good fortune.
Since the days after the 2014 independence referendum, the fly in the ointment of Scotland’s advance to Statehood has been the absence of a clear mechanism with which to honour the commitment given in paragraph 18 of the Smith Commission report which states without caveat; “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.”
Blaming any Prime Minister or First Minister won’t change the fact that despite the Edinburgh Agreement establishing a clear democratic process, the Scottish Parliament is a creature of the UK State and power reserved is power retained.
To remedy this, my Scotland Self-Determination Bill seeks to introduce equality of opportunity to the Scottish people with that currently enjoyed by the people of Northern Ireland at Section 1 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998); a referendum every seven years if one is supported by the people.
The obvious fly in that ointment is the recent UK Supreme Court judgement which, as well as boxing in Scotland’s Government on independence, claimed the Scottish people do not have a right to self-determination.
Well, this past week I published an expert legal opinion from esteemed international legal expert, Professor Robert McCorquodale, and his opinion dismantles that element of the judgement.
According to Professor McCorquodale “As the people of Scotland are a people for the purposes of the right to self-determination, they can exercise it. The choice of the means to exercise is for the people to decide and not for the State.” Furthermore, he explains that the UK, as a signatory to multilateral international human rights treaties has “expressly accepted that the right to self-determination is a human right… which is binding under international law on all States”.
This puts the UK Government firmly on notice that the people of Scotland will have their democratic say. However, the opinion supports the view that any such campaign must be fought and won, not by a single political party, but as one Scotland United. Failing to campaign this way would taint the case for independence, and that’s one fly in the ointment we must prevent.