AT the beginning of his speech this morning, Lord Reed insisted that the role of the court was to determine the legal issues of this matter, but that the political issues – “whether Scotland should become an independent country” – were for the politicians.

However, the core reason for the court’s rejection of the proposition that the Scottish Government does have the powers to call a referendum concerned was that “the practical effect of the bill would be to bring about the end of the Union, even if its immediate legal effect would be limited”.

This poses at least two difficulties. First, there is no inevitability of a Yes vote, so the “practical” effect of the bill, that it would bring about the end of the Union, at best, can be no more than hypothetical. Moreover, as the Supreme Court itself has ruled, the outcome of any UK referendum is purely advisory on the House of Commons.

Secondly, what does Lord Reed mean when he speaks of “the practical effect” as opposed to “the legal effect”? Does he mean that a “practical” consequence of any referendum could be to increase the likelihood of independence? Very likely so, and something to have been factored in by the independence movement.

However, is the court not making a political judgement here, by the judicious confusion of “political” and “practical”? Many practical issues are highly political. The history of trade union legislation, and the role of the courts speaks eloquently to that. In this regard is the court not hiding behind the split hair of “practical” but never “political”?

Lastly, the court rejected the argument that Scotland has a right of self-determination, which the court held was limited to “colonies”. Yet, the Cambridge English Dictionary defines a colony as “a country or area controlled politically by a more powerful country that is often far away”. Noting that the exclusion is “often”, not “always”, I would invite anyone to advise in what way Scotland does not satisfy that definition particularly when our representation in the Parliament from which we have to seek permission to vote on our own future, is currently just over nine per cent.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

Voluntary? That's a myth

WHEN Lord Reed, President of the UK Supreme Court, announced that the Court had unanimously decided that the Scottish Government could not hold an advisory independence referendum without the approval of the UK Government, it effectively confirmed that Scotland is not free to choose its own constitutional destiny.

While on one hand Lord Reed initially declared that the court could not “express a view on the political question of whether Scotland should become an independent country”, the primary reason presented for its decision was that such a referendum had “political consequences” in relation to the continuance of the Union (not that a referendum could legally and directly end the Union). Further seemingly incongruous opinion appeared evident in the court’s negative view of Scotland’s “right to self-determination under international law”, as Scotland was not a “colony” nor were the people of Scotland “oppressed” or “denied meaningful access to government”.

Centuries of UK governance have suppressed Scotland’s culture and the independent identity of Scotland’s people, from the bans on speaking Gaelic and wearing tartan clothing to the recent prevention of our elected parliament from protecting the rights of our children in line with international standards. The court’s partial interpretations of these terms not only seem questionable in a truly egalitarian context but in themselves appear to conform with a rather subjective political perspective.

What is now crystal clear is that any boast that Scotland is in a “voluntary Union of equals” has been rendered a misleading and scurrilous myth.
Stan Grodynski, East Lothian

Time to disrupt Westminster

WHILE the Supreme Court decided the legal position on a new independence referendum, it would appear that both main parties in Westminster, politically, do not respect Scottish democracy as expressed by the electorate who voted for a majority of MSPs with a referendum commitment in their manifestos.

That being the case, perhaps it is time for SNP MPs to show the same lack of respect for Westminster “democracy” by conducting a concerted campaign of disruption of proceedings at Westminster until a Section 30 order is granted.

Also, perhaps the Tory and Labour parties can explain why the electorate in Northern Ireland have the legal right to a referendum every seven years after the initial referendum, while they continue to deny the same rights to the electorate in Scotland nine years after the initial referendum.
David Howie, Dunblane

• THE UK Supreme Court has ruled. Scotland lacks the democratic route to self-determine its future because Scots constitute a small minority within the UK. Scotland lacks a legal route to self-determination because Westminster is “sovereign”, and Scottish representation forms a small national minority within Westminster.

Elections in Scotland cannot change any of these circumstances so a de facto referendum cannot alter the status quo. This only leaves the extra-parliamentary option (which the Tory Party also threatened with regard to boycotting a referendum), which direction of travel most people will abhor, and unless unionists can point to a legal and democratic option for Scots to give their verdict on the “voluntary” Union, similar to Northern Ireland, it seems Scotland’s future will be political chaos and worse: thank you, Supreme Court.
GR Weir, Ochiltree

It is just one path closed

I CAN almost hear the gloating and scratching of the pens of your usual anti-SNP correspondents, but the result does not change the mind of those who wish independence from an intolerant Westminster. It is just the closing of one path.

We will go on and continue to vote at every election for those parties who see the best way forward for the Scottish people is independence.
Ken Mackay, Glasgow

Voters must oust SNP

SO they got their day in the Supreme Court, and the verdict went against them. That is what the justice system is all about. The SNP, since its inception, has never been able to see anyone else's point of view. As a result of this its policies do not bode well for Scotland's future politically, economically or structurally.

What's next then? Just more protests, woad/tartan-strewn rallies, and ongoing anti-British propaganda.

Under the current minority SNP administration at Holyrood most governmental functions and public services have deteriorated markedly. Holyrood has become an over-priced, unsuccessful political pantomime. Quite sad really when one considers the aspirations of its Labour/Liberal founders.

When can we the electorate expect to see major changes in the way devolved matters are handled? Improvements are unlikely to materialise under the SNP.

So where lies the answer to the impasse which the political scene in Scotland has reached? Surely only the electorate can decide.
Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife

Give us a rest from whining

THE learned judges have ruled. I realise that grievance culture will now be in overdrive for some time, but could I respectfully request of Nicola Sturgeon and her motley crew that she takes a deep breath and starts actually governing the country properly for a change? Her obsession with independence for the last eight years has seen our public services such as health, education, the care sector and other essential resources slide inexorably downhill.

These are the areas where the SNP Government should be concentrating its effort. Please give us all a rest from the endless whining about independence.
Celia Judge, Ayr

Next few days will be telling

THE Supreme Court judgement is five minutes old as I write and already SNP MP Angus MacNeil is on TV discussing ways around the decision. Nicola Sturgeon said she will respect the answer from the judges, that remains to be seen, but it seems she forgot to pass on that opinion to her Westminster soldiers. The next few days will show how many SNP MPs and MSPs are democrats as they would have us believe.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth

Sturgeon has got it wrong

NICOLA Sturgeon says that the next General Election will be a de facto referendum on Scottish independence. Forgive me, but as someone who studied modern studies at secondary school and politics and economics at university, I was always led to believe that a General Election was the opportunity for constituents to choose their Member of Parliament at Westminster.
Leslie Mutch, Dingwall


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