YOU can always tell when Scottish independence is back on the UK political agenda. There are reports in the British press that Orkney and Shetland want to secede from Scotland. Last week on Sky News there was a report whose headline screamed that Shetland wanted independence from Scotland, followed a few seconds later by an interview with the head of Shetland Islands Council, who insisted that the recent vote in the islands represented no such thing.

But that didn’t deter Sky News, which knows Shetland opinion better than Shetland does, and Scottish opinion better than Scotland does. This is because you get a better view from the lofty heights of London.

What the eager reports of the imminent secession of Shetland or Orkney really tell us is that the British state believes that it has the right to partition Scotland. It did it before, with disastrous results, but if there’s one constant in British nationalist mythology it’s that you can’t learn from the mistakes of the past when you refuse to concede that the UK ever made any mistakes.

There are many good arguments for Scotland’s island communities to have considerably greater local powers but, as supporters of independence, we must never allow the British state to interfere with Scotland’s territorial integrity. These are debates which can only successfully be had within an independent Scotland. Right now there are good arguments for the centralisation of power within a devolved Scotland, in order to better stand up to a Westminster which presides over one of the most centralised states in Europe.

It’s precisely because it weakens Holyrood’s ability to stand up to Westminster that the Labour Party and the Conservatives are now big fans of a degree of decentralisation within Scotland that they will not countenance in England.

Debates about decentralisation within Scotland are precisely that, debates to be had within Scotland. They are none of Westminster’s business. Scotland is not a colony to be parcelled up as Westminster pleases. Scotland is one of the founding members of the UK. The territory of the Kingdom of Scotland which created the UK will be the same territory to leave it.

When Scottish independence has once again clawed its way back into the consciousness of the British media, there are also reports about the unfairness of the existing franchise and how it really needs to be changed. Changed in a way that makes independence less likely, of course. Or gerrymandered, to use a more accurate term.

How terrible it is that people who don’t live in Scotland have no say about the future of a country that they no longer live in and which they may very well have no intentions of ever returning to. But that doesn’t stop the metrocommentariat insisting that votes should be granted to people to decide the future of Scotland based upon their childhood memories. It’s the politics of nostalgia. How terribly British.

The underlying assumption here is that it’s the British state which will decide who gets to be a citizen with voting rights in that independent Scotland which the British establishment is so desperate to strangle before birth.

Britain will decide who is to be a Scottish citizen, not Scotland, and that decision will be made by Britain on the basis of literal blood and soil nationalism. The very thing they accuse supporters of independence of.

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We get earnest editorials in the right-wing press telling us that what Scotland needs is a more robust demonstration of British patriotism to make us fall back in love with the UK. Although they never explain why it is that sticking a Union flag on something is patriotic, but sticking a Saltire on something is nationalism. As the British Government threatens to break international law, rip up the Good Friday Agreement, and trash the devolution settlements in Scotland and Wales, Scotland’s disenchantment with a delinquent Britain that many no longer recognise is only going to grow.

WE are living in a rogue state with no respect for its treaty obligations, a Government which goes back on the promises it made to Scotland to strengthen and entrench devolution. And all the while we live under the shadow of a No-Deal Brexit, threatening to compound the economic devastation that has already been wrought by a coronavirus epidemic which the British Government has mishandled in the worst possible way.

It’s all very far from the safety and security Scotland was promised, from the stability and certainty that was held out to us in 2014 by Better Together. Instead, we’ve got a Government that deals in lies and fantasies, careening towards disaster, promising a “moonshot” when it can’t even deliver a safe bus route for the commuters it insists must return to work.

We have a Government in Westminster which has contempt for the rule of law, contempt for the international community, and contempt for Scotland. It is desperately flailing in order to prevent Scotland slipping out of its grasp. The Conservatives know they can’t say no to demands for a referendum in Scotland forever, because the longer they refuse the democratic will of the people of Scotland, the more decisively that Scottish opinion will shift in favour of independence.

At some point, the tensions that are building will find a democratic outlet. The Conservatives can say no to a Section 30 order, but they can’t say no to a Scottish election where pro-independence parties seek a direct mandate, not for a referendum, but for independence itself. They can’t say no to a referendum without a Section 30 order if the courts rule that it’s lawful.

They can’t say no to a Scotland which withdraws its representatives from Westminster and sets up a national convention. If Scotland is driven to any one, or more, of those measures, the Conservatives and the UK will already have lost.

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The Conservatives know that, too, which is why we’re hearing about the secession of Shetland and how unfair it is that people who don’t live in Scotland can’t vote. Their resolution is already cracking.

With a determined and united effort, the people of Scotland can smash it entirely. Winning Scottish independence is a battle of wills – and it’s Scotland which invented the concept of thrawn stubbornness.