A judgement by the Supreme Court in London that a Scottish independence referendum cannot be held without the backing of the Westminster parliament has made clear that the ‘United Kingdom’ is a union that exists by force, not by democracy.
Although appearing to strengthen the Union under British law, the decision announced on Wednesday has shattered a myth that Scotland and England are in a ‘voluntary’ union, one which supported by the will of the people.
A flash poll published on Wednesday night has shown that the demand for Scottish independence has sharply increased as a result of the judgement. It showed that Scottish voters are now more likely to vote for parties that support Scottish independence by a margin of more than two to one.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to find another way “for Scottish people to express their will” after all five Supreme Court judges ruled that an independence referendum cannot be held without the backing of Westminster. Under the law, their decision that cannot be appealed.
“We must and we will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will,” she said. “In my view, that can only be an election.”
Speaking in Edinburgh (pictured), she said: “As long as there is breath in my body, I refuse to give up on the basic principle of democracy.”
She continued: “This is no longer about whether Scotland becomes independent, vital though that decision is. It is now more fundamental. It is now about whether or not we even have the basic democratic right to choose our own future.
“Indeed from today, the independence movement is as much about democracy as it is about independence.”
The decision has ramifications for the prospect of a ‘border poll’ on Irish reunification. While unionists will be encouraged in their desire to avoid ever holding such a referendum, it will also have reinforced the republican argument that British rule continues to be imposed on the Six Counties by force, not by consent.
In a post on social media, an Irish Republican Socialist Party activist said that “what we are witnessing in Scotland and the denial of democracy by London towards Scottish Independence is a prime example as to why, we, United Irelanders should not put all our eggs into the Border Poll basket. London does not respect democracy; it fears it.”