The best piece of advice I ever received from a Senior Trade union lay activist was if you put two lawyers in a room you get at least three opinions.
That should inform any analysis of the carefully primed over-reaction in the press trailing the news that Monday would be a dreadful day for the Yes Campaign as a definitive report was going to be published telling you Why You Can’t Vote Yes Because Clever Lawyers Will Tell You Independence Will Be Terribly Difficult And A Bad Idea.
It now appears that the legal advice received by the Westminster Government is not what they thought it would be – despite being announced in the Ultra Establishment venue of the Signet Library in Edinburgh, with all the subliminal resonance of “we are your social and intellectual masters who reserve the right to hand down our judgements to the restless natives”…it hasn’t gone entirely according to plan.
14,000 treaties became 8,500 then 14,000 again, and then the leading academic presenting the opinion messed up the battle plan by stating that negotiations to be members of the UN or the EU would not be difficult, and that the Scottish Government’s stated timeline is entirely realistic.
We then ended the night with the risible sight of David Mundell (fast approaching Ian Davidson double agent territory in his frantic attempts to hang on to his job) , explaining that the Independence Referendum was not about the Treaty of Union as that isn’t relevant. An argument that even supporters of the Union will find mildly offensive and a woeful and deliberate misreading of history. It’s actually counter-intuitive of the No campaign to imply that Scotland isn’t an equal partner and historic entity in its own right as this flies in the face of one of the few resonant arguments in favour of maintaining the status quo, namely that Scotland is a nation bonded by “choice” to other nations to form the UK, not a subdued or conquered country. Using the language and adopting the attitudes of colonialism is a sure fire way to get intelligent and thoughtful voters considering if they wish to be governed by people who deploy such simplistic and arrogant arguments.
The issue of whether Scotland is a continuing or successor state, or even extinguished one, is probably where there will be disagreement from other academic and legal experts.
The underlying tone however from the Tory led Westminster Government is one that should be taken to task. The tone of too wee, too stupid and things will be difficult will not cut much ice with the regular and informed voter.
Important to remember - who makes laws and where do legislators get their mandate from? Are we governed by lawyers or democratically elected representatives whose role is to action their mandate from the people?