I READ Steph Brawn’s article about the Scottish comedienne Susie McCabe (McCabe: We are no longer living in a functioning democracy, Jan 6) and agree with much of what McCabe says, but her own comments highlight a fatal flaw in using the next General Election as a de facto referendum. While speaking about the Westminster government, she states: “What really has to happen is a fundamental shift in British politics and we need Labour in.” Most of the electorate already recognise this, which means that there is likely to be a move towards Labour.

The National highlighted this earlier in the same week, when referring to opinion poll results, that the SNP are likely to lose six Westminster seats to Labour. If there is such a swing to Labour, then even if the SNP win seats back from the Tories it’s going to make it very difficult to gain a majority vote.

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Remember that we will not only have that problem to take into account but we will also lose the votes of the 16- and 17-year-olds, and the EU nationals, who are very much in favour of independence. Not only that but the Westminster government, Labour or Tory, is going to insist that it should be not just a majority of the vote but a majority of the electorate. This latter is a virtual impossibility. So, unless we stop playing by Westminster’s rules, we will never gain independence.

Michael Russell, in his column on December 31 (Huge decisions await as we move into 2023 and towards independence), hit on this when he implied that the whole Yes movement must work together to devise a common strategy. Unless this includes a move away from English domestic law towards international law, we will always come up against the same brick wall of “you can’t have it unless we allow it.”

The point is that we are not tied to Westminster by English domestic law. we are tied by an international treaty, and therefore international law. When the Treaty of Union, which created the Union of Parliaments, was signed, it was signed by two equal partners – Scotland and England. And, because they were two separate nations, it could only be achieved by an international treaty.

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International law is separate from domestic law, so both countries had to pass an “Act of Ratification” to incorporate the terms of the international treaty into their separate domestic legal systems. Ratification is defined as “making something valid by formally ratifying or confirming it.” And ratify is defined as “to approve and give formal sanction to”. That is all that those Acts of Ratification did. They approved and gave formal sanction to the terms of the Treaty. They did not overrule it or diminish its authority in any way whatsoever.

Westminster has maintained that, because the Scottish Government was dissolved and the English Government continued as the British Government, it is the English Act of Ratification that has now replaced the Treaty and we are now bound to England by English law. That is a downright lie! As I’ve stated above, all that those two separate Acts did was to introduce the terms of the Treaty into the legal systems of the separate countries.

Therefore, to get out of the Treaty, and regain our independent nationhood, it’s not English domestic law that we have to confront but the Treaty itself – and that has to be done via the International Court and the United Nations.

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I don’t know the implications of following such a strategy. Would we need to declare independence and then take it to the international community to have it confirmed – as Kosovo did – or do we need to adopt another procedure? One thing we must do is forget a referendum. There’s no way whatsoever Westminster will allow one to happen and they will certainly refuse to recognise a “de facto” referendum contained within a General Election.

If we are going to be independent, we have to start acting as if we want to be. Michael Russell mentioned the American declaration of independence. They didn’t hold a referendum. Their government agreed to it by a majority. Holyrood needs to do the same.

Charlie Kerr

KEVIN McKenna is never one to pull his punches, and since the SNP’s record in government is on no showing as good as we could have expected, his weekly criticisms are no doubt to some extent warranted. But to call it “the most unpleasant political party in the UK” (There’s been Liddle bit of over-reaction to Spectator man’s Scottishness horror, Jan 11), in the face of so much and such strong competition for that unenviable title, is surprising.

I am certainly not privy to what goes on in the SNP’s corridors of power – I am a plain card-carrying member, good for delivering leaflets at election times – but in my limited acquaintance with more exalted party luminaries I have never found anything but cordiality.

Would Mr McKenna care to back up his statement? Such a serious charge should not be passed over.

Derrick McClure

ERIC Hoffer (July 1902 to May 1983) was an American writer on social and political philosophy. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is widely recognised as a classic. Despite rising to fame with the success and popularity of his writings, he continued to work as a longshoreman until retiring at 65. In his later book The Temper of Our Time (1967) he states: “What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.” This is frequently misquoted as: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” I could not help think of this quotation when reading pages 18 and 19 of Wednesday’s National, headed “Who is funding SNP MPs and how much are they getting?”

Iain Evans