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Self-Determination and Sovereignty in Europe
The war in Ukraine has produced another surge in commentary and opinion that the Scottish referendum will never happen; should never happen, and if it ever happens it will surely be lost (etcetera). The SNP are perpetually on their knees, Sturgeon is perpetually ‘over’, and so on (and on).
The logic and the evidence is scarce but given a platform and a relentless deadline to produce copious amounts of negativity, Scotland’s commentariat never fails to deliver.
Second is the argument that the war in Ukraine has exposed the vile nature of ‘nationalism’, as Russian imperial aspirations are shrouded in flag-waving propaganda.
Third is the argument that what Ukraine has shown is the essential nature of the nuclear deterrent. This argument is played out by the Herald’s Iain Macwhirter (‘SNP should call Patrick Harvie’s bluff and scrap the Green coalition’).
Here he argues that: “The SNP’s alliance with the Scottish Green Party has become a liability. Even the most sycophantic of Nicola Sturgeon’s coterie must now see that. The Greens conference at the weekend confirmed that interests and objectives of the SNP and their coalition partners are irreconcilable. The Greens are a party that opposes economic growth in principle, just as the Scottish Government is trying desperately to boost it. The Greens prefer to import Vladimir Putin’s bloodstained oil and gas rather than use our own energy under the North Sea. They want to leave Nato just as the alliance is being threatened by Putin’s missiles. They argue, perversely, that the bloodshed in Kyiv could end if only Nato got rid of its nuclear deterrent.”
But it’s the columnist’s confidence about the ‘madness’ of the Scottish Greens policy on Trident that echoes around British public life with bellicose hubris and exceptionalism.
Trident cannot be used and hasn’t defended the people of Ukraine. Yet it does put a target on our backs. We’ve known this a while. Scottish CND’s ‘Target Scotland’ listed the dozens of likely sites that would be first on Russia’
As James Meek has written (The Power of the New Ukraine): “Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, much has been made in Britain of the EU’s openness to Ukrainian refugees compared with the barriers put up by London. But it’s a depressing reflection of how mainstream anti-immigrant assumptions have become in the UK that virtually no one in Britain is aware the EU gave Ukrainians visa-free access years ago, as a reward for their country’s sacrifices in Europe’s name. Since 2017, as a result of that and of Brexit, Ukrainians have levelled up and Britons levelled down to identical rights of EU entry: 90 days’ stay without a visa.”
Cleaving to Britain in these times is an exercise in self-humiliation and exposure to dangerous risk.
The second of the ‘impossibility of independence’ arguments is that the war in Ukraine has shown the dangers of vile nationalism (sic). Yet even as this is being trotted out the same voices will be adding the blue and yellow flags to their profiles and extolling the absolute principles of ‘self-determination’ and the rights of ‘sovereign nationhood’ which need to be defended, everywhere in the world except … right here.
There’s an irony in all of this that some of the ‘dereliction of the imagination’ from the Unionists side is mirrored within the Yes side.