EVEN though we do not as yet know what the court is going to say, the publication of the UK Supreme Court ruling tomorrow on the independence referendum case brought by the Scottish Government has already proven highly informative about the relationship between Scotland and the other nations of this so-called United Kingdom.

Although the case turns on the narrow legal question of whether the Scotland Act gives the Scottish Parliament the legal authority to implement the manifesto commitment of the Scottish Government and proceed with an independence referendum without the permission of the Prime Minister, the wider ramifications of this case are immense.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is easily the most constitutionally important case ever to have come before the UK Supreme Court in its 13-year-long existence, going as it does to the very heart of the nature of the United Kingdom as a state.

This is a case which could potentially give a definitive answer to the question of whether the United Kingdom really is a voluntary union of nations which respects Scotland's traditional right to self-determination, or whether this is a union founded upon compulsion in which Scotland and the other nations of the UK must obtain the consent of the elected representatives of the largest nation in the UK before being permitted to ask themselves about their status.

If the latter is indeed the legal situation, it destroys the traditional claim of generations of Scottish Unionist politicians who have always assured Scotland that it is up to the people of Scotland alone whether Scotland remains a part of the UK or becomes an independent state. 

We will have learned that the generations-long understanding of Scotland's place in the UK is a lie, a convenient fiction peddled to the people of Scotland by successive British Governments who were content to allow Scotland to believe that it is a partner in a voluntary union as long as there was never any realistic chance of the people of Scotland putting their assertion to the test and voting for independence. 

There is an appreciation in Scotland of these wider implications of the court case, and much anticipation of the ruling. However, in England, it appears that not only is there little or no understanding of the potential ramifications of what this case could mean for the entire UK, including England – there seems to be very little awareness that it is even taking place.

On Sky News over the past few days, I have noticed more attention being paid to the question of whether football fans in Scotland are supporting the England team in the World Cup than a court case which could potentially either see Scotland hold an independence referendum next year or destroy the traditional understanding of the very basis of the United Kingdom as a voluntary union of nations.

The reality is that people in England do not really care. The wider British media doesn't really care, they have no real reason to care, the way that the UK is constituted already ensures that England gets what it votes for – albeit within the constraints of the unfair first-past-the-post system so beloved of the two large parties.

The position that Scotland currently finds itself in, where its elected government is being prevented from carrying out a major plank in the manifesto upon which it was elected, could never arise in England.

Westminster is the de facto parliament of England, a parliament in which an overwhelming majority of MPs represent English constituencies. Should that de facto English Parliament ever be told that the law prevented its governing party from carrying out one of the manifesto commitments it was elected to implement, Westminster would simply change the law.

Yet in this supposed union of equals, the exercise of democracy in Scotland can be thwarted by politicians that Scotland did not vote or and whom Scotland cannot hold to account. Tomorrow, we will find out if this so-called United Kingdom respects the democratic will of the people of Scotland or not. 

Whatever the court rules, most people in England and the supposedly British media will be far more interested in the progress of the England football team than in whether the state that we all live in is really democratic.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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