DICTIONARY definitions of a generation generally agree that it means about 25 to 30 years. However, in the real world of politics, for someone to claim any authority to bind an electorate, or even worse, an entire population for a generation on any matter, is beyond absurd.

The most fundamental principle in British politics is parliamentary sovereignty. By this principle no parliament can bind its successor and no parliament can pass laws that future parliaments can’t change. Thus, no law is absolute and therefore no ruling is absolute either. As a result, no parliament, politician or political party can bind future legislation, policy or any form of political contract on their successors – and we’re in our third Westminster Parliament and our second one at Holyrood since the 2014 referendum.

This is the determining principle of all British political organisation and extends throughout devolved, regional and local administration. It is also the organisational determinant of the party system. Our parties don’t (or are not supposed to, Boris) operate under the fuehrer principle. Therefore no party leadership can determine the future policy of their successors and no party leader can simply decide on a policy and demand that the party accept it as official. That is what we call democracy.

The idea that a throwaway remark, made without authority during a referendum campaign, can be taken seriously as binding the Scottish people for a generation, even if Alex Salmond or anyone else in the SNP meant that, is beyond satire, and all Unionist politicians know that as they would be the first to denounce any attempt to impose that on them.

So, just like everything Boris and the Tories do, their rejection of another referendum because of the once-in-a-generation argument is based on a lie. The Yes movement did not claim that the referendum was binding for a generation, the Scottish Parliament didn’t, the SNP didn’t and Westminster didn’t, thus, despite what any individual politician(s) may have said, “once in a generation” has no authority and cannot be used in any serious discussion.

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It was on the question of parliamentary sovereignty that the whole Brexit campaign was supposedly based. The Brexiteers refused point-blank to be bound by law, treaty or obligation on the grounds of parliamentary sovereignty, and yet these same people are determined to ignore that same principle with respect to Scotland and attempt to impose an absurdity.

To suggest that once in a generation can be imposed as a form of “thus saith the Lord” on the Scottish people is an impertinence of the highest degree and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

The rights of the Scottish people do not reside in Westminster, Holyrood or with any political party, they reside with the people of Scotland. To claim that people who may well all be dead in 25 to 30 years

(and who will almost certainly be out of office by then) can bind their successors is self-evident nonsense. What you are saying is that people born in 2014, who will reach voting maturity in 2032, cannot have a say in the future of their country until 2039 at the earliest.

What Unionists are doing is claiming that they have that right, based on nothing more than a couple of throwaway remarks by a couple of individuals, and with no political, constitutional or moral authority whatsoever. Thus, the rejection of another referendum has no authority, moral or political, and to claim otherwise is an authoritarian excess of unauthorised power that must be resisted.

Peter Kerr