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Commentary: UK Supreme Court Verdict on the Scottish Referendum 2022

In November 2022, the First Minister’s promised independence referendum came to a shuddering halt. As disappointed as I was with the content and conclusion of the UK Supreme Court’s judgement, it would be a lie to say it was unexpected.

Any suggestion that the UK state apparatus would willingly concede a millimetre on the current constitutional arrangements was fanciful. However, from the depths of my disappointment it is ultimately useful to the cause of independence that the dishonesty of 2014’s “Voluntary Union of equals” assertion is now fully exposed as the lie it always was.

This outcome can’t have been a surprise to the Scottish Government petitioners either. After all it was the SNP Scottish Government’s previous Lord Advocate James Wolffe KC who, in collaboration with the UK Government’s Advocate General, thwarted Martin Keatings’ People’s Action on Section 30 which sought to determine the matter only a year or so ago.

In that case the SNP Government’s position was that Keatings’ action was premature and hypothetical as the legislation necessary for the action to have legal merit had not yet been introduced. Keatings was subsequently denied right of appeal to the UK Supreme Court for the self-same reason argued for the SNP Government.

Fast forward a year and the FM has appointed Dorothy Bain KC as Lord Advocate and instructed her to take the question to the UK Supreme Court in absence of any opinion in Scots law from a Scottish Court. It’s fair to assume that the matter of constitutional competency came up during the selection process, so it is curious that the FM would choose to appoint someone unwilling to support her government’s supposed central ambition.

It’s not complicated. If your liberty hung in the balance would you instruct a lawyer that told you they had no confidence in your case? Of course you wouldn’t, it makes absolutely no sense. Indeed prior to deliberations the UK Supreme Court stated that any MSP could’ve introduced such legislation, and that the Lord Advocate’s approval was unnecessary.

On Wednesday 23rd November 2023 it became clear that the the wrong person had asked the wrong question, at the wrong time, in the wrong court.

So what now?

Well, is not the time for stepping back, it’s time to push forward as one united movement. To that end, we held an open to all independence conference in Perth on 10th December (you can read more about this here).

Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands.

Join us.

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