A good speech from Neale Hanvey.


Opening the Westminster Hall Debate today (Wednesday) on a further independence referendum for Scotland ALBA Westminster Leader Neale Hanvey MP will state:

I beg to move that this House has considered “Government policy on a further independence referendum for Scotland.”

Today is St. Andrews Day, and on this National Day there is a particular significance and a particular imperative, because last week the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC) told the Scottish Government they couldn’t exercise their democratic mandate to hold an independence referendum. 

But there was something else in that judgement, something that simply cannot be tolerated.

And that was the suggestion that somehow Scotland, as a nation doesn’t possess a right to self-determination. And in suggesting that the London Supreme Court overturned what’s been the accepted legal, historic and political position that the UK is a voluntary Union. 

Scotland’s separate constitutional tradition is perhaps best summed up in the view expressed by Lord Cooper in the case of MacCormick v Lord Advocate that  “the principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law”.

The Supreme Court has appeared to repudiate that.

Last week’s judgement rendered the UK a state of glaring contradiction. Contradictions of our shared history, contradictions of equality, of common law and respect to our distinct legal systems, of politics and representation, and indeed the democracy the UK enthusiastically claims it seeks to preserve the world over yet moves to block Scotland at each and every turn.

Can the minister imagine the circumstance, where having entered the Common Market and ratified all subsequent treaties leading to the European Union the EU parliament had moved to block his Party’s Brexit vote, or set a limit when and if such a vote could be held? 

The notion is ludicrous, because democracy is not a single event, it is an evolving and continuous process. That is how civilised people behave, how freedom of thought and freedom of expression are peacefully demonstrated. These are the foundations of inalienable human rights.

Chair, I will consider these contradictions concluding with a commentary on the Supreme Court’s judgement.

We’re often told in this place that Scotland must be proud of a shared history as part of “the most successful political union ever”.

I will test that narrative and ask the minister to consider our shared history though a Scottish Prism.

Before the union The English Alien Act of 1705 threatened economic sanctions if Scotland did not settle the question of royal succession or enter negotiations for a political union.

The treaty itself was met with vociferous opposition both inside and outside Scotland’s parliamentary chamber, but given threats and enticements, a majority of Scottish Parliamentarians were persuaded.

The people were never consulted. 

It so often goes that this is all ancient history and irrelevant to a modern Scotland in a respectful union of equals.

Last weeks judgement challenged that previously understood narrative.

But what of that Modern Scotland? 

In my lifetime the political complexion of Westminster rule has rarely reflected the polity of Scotland. We have endured repeated Tory Governments that Scotland did not vote for, or Labour administrations who took us into illegal wars we wanted no part of.

Where the socioeconomic policies have destroyed our communities, exploited our resources, and worked against the utility of the people of Scotland contrary to the articles of union.

It is the pursuit of such policy, social and economic that has driven a stake of hopelessness into the heart of once proud communities.

As noted in the pleadings of the Hon Member for Edinburgh South West in her Prorogation UKSC case “The 1707 Parliamentary union between England and Scotland may have created a new State, but it did not create one Nation.”

Scotland was an independent nation for millennia before its coerced incorporation and it remains a distinct and internationally recognised people and country. ( editor my emphasis)

No clearer is this evidence than by the much earlier and continuing union of the Crowns. Where our shared monarch does not accede to a single throne of Britain but takes the separate crowns of the realm for Scotland and England.

As a member of the EU the UK possessed and exercised their veto yet claimed their sovereignty was impeded by membership.

Scotland has no such mechanism in this place and is always subject to the wiles of the polity of its larger neighbour exemplified by Brexit.

How does this constitute access to meaningful political process as claimed by the UKSC judgement?

In signing the Atlantic charter of 1941 wartime PM and hero of the Conservative party it was Winston Churchill, who brought into being the principle of self-determination of peoples as set out in the United Nations charter in paragraph 2 of articles 1, 73 and 76. 

And Margaret Thatcher in her memoirs, stated that “as a nation, they [Scotland] have an undoubted right to national self-determination”. (The Downing Street Years, Margaret Thatcher).

And John Major when Prime Minister who said about Scotland “As I have said before, no nation could be held irrevocably against its will.” (“Scotland In The Union – A Partnership For Good” 1993).

In 1989 this place reaffirmed and acknowledged the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs.

During the passage of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill in May 1997, in an exchange between Alex Salmond and the late Donald Dewar.  Donald Dewar responded that he “should be the last to challenge the sovereignty of the people” accepting the right of the Scottish people to a choice including Independence should that be their wish.

None of these senior politicians ever placed a limit or sought to constrain that democratic right to self-determination.

Indeed, in the wake of the 2014 referendum the Smith Commission agreement was signed by all of Scotland’s main Political parties. It stated:

“It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future, should the people of Scotland so choose.”

Of course the Good Friday Agreement sets out a reasoned and internationally considered timescale of every seven years to consider constitutional change.

A political generation of seven years is not unreasonable, but Scotland is now a year beyond and yet no further forward.

It is therefore imperative if there is a consented, legal and democratic route by which the people of Ireland, north and south, can choose their own constitutional future in a border poll every seven years, then what is the consented, legal and democratic route by which Scotland’s sovereign right to determine their own constitutional future can be respected?

And, that is a right underpinned by Scots common law which rests on the Claim of Right that asserted and continues to assert that it is the people who are sovereign.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of the argument that Scotland has the right to self-determination in international law was described last week as “very problematic“ by Michael Keating, Emeritus professor of politics at the University of Aberdeen.  

He states: “The way is now open for the UK Government to say that there is no time or way for Scotland to exercise its acknowledged right of self-determination”.  

He has quite rightly pointed out that in invoking the Canadian Court’s ruling on Quebec, the UK Supreme Court failed to mention or consider a further aspect of the Canadian judgement, namely, that

“if Quebec or any other province did vote for independence by a clear majority on a clear question, the Government of Canada would be bound to negotiate.”

This aspect of the Canadian Court’s ruling is significant and in essence reflects a situation where legality meets political reality.

Professor Keating goes on to argue that in going beyond the “letter of the law” and looking at broader constitutional issues this risks undermining “conventions and understandings” on which the UK’s “largely unwritten” constitution depends.  These are wise reflections which both the UK Government and the UK Supreme Court would do well to consider.

With regards to Kosovo the United Kingdom has stated in its submission to the International Court of Justice that it “considers that the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo was not incompatible with international law. It was not made in haste or in a political vacuum. Rather, it flowed from the failure of the two sides, and of the international community, after long and sustained effort, to secure any other framework.” 

And further recognising:

“that developments since 17 February 2008 have crystallised Kosovo independence and cured any deficiency that might initially have existed.

And these developments are succinctly crystallised by Robert McCorquodale, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, who has himself appeared as an advocate before the International Court of Justice, and the UK Supreme Court has examined the dissolution of the USSR and its influence on developments in the Right to Self Determination.  He states:

“Lithuania’s declaration of independence had substantial impacts on the understanding and application of the right to self-determination.  The right to self-determination, which is a human right acknowledged by all states, changed from being limited to people within traditionally colonial territories to applying to all states, including to peoples within states.  This development has had profound effects today, such as enabling people in all states worldwide to seek to exercise their right to self-determination.”

This challenges directly a key assertion of the UKSC leading it to conclude the Scottish Government could not independently consult the Scottish people about independence and it was in the gift of Westminster.

Yet a public petition entitled “The Treaty of Union 1707 is no longer fit for purpose, and Dissolve The Union” was submitted to this place in 2019 and was rejected for the following reason – and I quote.

“We can’t accept your petition because this would be a decision for the people of Scotland and not the UK Government or Parliament.”

And on this I wholly agree.

And for all the reasons given above the UKSC position cannot stand unchallenged, particularly on our national day. So today I invite others to sign the Declaration of St. Andrew’s Day, published in my name as EDM 633 which asserts,

“We the people, elected members and civic organisations of Scotland assert that our nation has the right of self-determination, to freely determine our political status, and to freely pursue our economic, social and cultural development. Mindful of the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people we will democratically challenge any authority or government which seeks to deny us that right”

On Wednesday 23rd November 2022 it became clear the wrong case had been argued at the wrong time, in the wrong court.

Just as Westminster and the UKSC are part of the British state apparatus, so too is the Scottish Parliament. But if Scotland’s parliament is denied agency over the future of its people where stands democracy for the Scottish People?

In Scots law there is no sovereignty higher than that of our people and here today I have asserted that right into the record.

Neither Scotland’s claim of right or the aspirations of the Scottish people to be a normal outward looking independent nation are the sole purview of any one political party or any individual party leader.

And as we now learn the UK Secretary of State intends to act as a territorial Viceroy banning the Scottish Civil Service from advancing the democratic will of the Scottish people, I give him fair warning; the independence movement extends far beyond the Scottish Civil Service. 

If anything such an undemocratic move will simply galvanise and liberate the movement, decoupling our ambition from the daily trials of Government.

We are the nation of the enlightenment, and our movement possesses minds with more ambition and vision than any government or civil service that is subject to diktats from London.  

At the start of my contribution, I said this was an issue of contradictions, but let me say today, on St. Andrews Day that there is no contradiction in Scotland.

Scotland is a proud and ancient Nation going back millennia and no one, but the people of Scotland shall impede limit or restrict our right to self-determination.

It is precisely a week since the Supreme Court gave its judgement on the right of the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence. 

Let me be clear, to paraphrase Charles Stewart Parnell who said about another nation which was once part of the United Kingdom,

“No man, has the right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation.  No man, no Court, No Government has the right to say to another country, ‘Thus far shalt thou go and no further’”


A good speech from Neale. I think more aggressive than usual. I hope it was influenced by the events that surround the Liberation.Scot Paper that seems to have lit a fire in the Independence Movement again. The Salvo slogan of “Know your past, shape your future” has never been more relevant to what it is today.

I am, as always



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  1. Powerful speech to be reflected on but you may want to correct the small typo – 23rd November 2023 (UKSC judgement) to read 23rd Nov2022 –

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What the times demand…an ancient nation «en marche».
    Sanct Andro, Naomh Aindreas, and in my ancestral language ܐܰܢܕ݁ܪܶܐܘܳܣ, protect Scotland/Alba from all enemies.
    ܐܡܝܢ, amen.
    Scotland needs all the help it can summon.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. Do you know that when Jesus was making the blind see, it possibly has another meaning behind it.


  3. Why no words like this from the SNP either in Westminster or in Holyrood. maybe they dont know their Scottish History but that’s a poor excuse. The fact that they have not challenged this verdict says it all really. They have failed Scotland massively.

    Liked by 9 people

  4. Great speech Neale….and the first time many points have been made to our opponents. Quoting the text of Parnells speech it fits exactly a counter to Lord Reeds opinion. It’s got to be said….were Neales points ever put by our Lord Advocate? Should not Reed have known of them and Scotlands history by his so called superior education. I’m bound to believe he did not know. I remember Dr James Wilkie and MacCormicks Scotland UN Committee having talks on Scotland as a Nation and I understand the UN agreed we were. Perhaps a job for a researcher to establish the outcome in detail. I am sure such a ruling would trump the Supreme Court. Btw why did the High Court agree to the Supreme Court deciding on this matter?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I don’t expect they taught Scottish History in the schools or universities Lord Reed attended, though in fact it was a difficult subject to find until relatively recently and missed out a lot of important facts even then.

      Liked by 6 people

    1. I hope they didn’t but if they did perhaps they should consider what a ‘Good look’ walking out has in the eyes of independence supporters – at least this independence supporter has them down as badly behaved , spiteful ,ignorant weans ‘ useless to the cause.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Today we had the unedifying spectacle of Ian Blackford asking Rishi Sunak what he (Blackford) should do to assert the rights of the Scottish people. You may remember him asking John Bercow the same question some years ago.

    Plainly, Mr. Blackford is a slow learner.

    So it is refreshing to read the words of Neale Hanvey – with one caveat. To state that this was the ‘wrong question to the wrong court’ is to ignore Alex Salmond’s precipitate actions in 2014. That was the time to put the right question to the right court


  6. “Debate” was in Westminster Hall. If you read the Hansard Text you can see that Angus Brendan MacNeill was instrumental in supporting Neale, as was Kenny McAskill.

    Feels like a topic which needs more than 1/2 hour in the Parliament annexe. I feel quite invigorated by the tone of it and relieved that some politicians are actually trying. All the SNP who didn’t attend should be docked a weeks wages.

    Despicable show by the house con-jock John Lamont, another once in a generation prick. I think I’ll mail him a shite.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. According to Frantz Fanon, in colonialism the dominant national party elites “first hesitate and then choose neutralism”; much as we see with an idle SNP taking the independence movement nowhere, just like a motor in neutral does not move.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Explorers about go on a journey of discovery in uncharted lands were rumoured to suffer panic attacks.
      They got over it in the excitement of «the new».
      So many politicians are just wimps.
      No imagination

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Re my above comment the Britnat media, is tipping Stephen Flynn MP to take over the role.


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