It was this week, 315 years ago, that the final vote was taken in the Scottish Parliament to approve the Act of Union with England. On January 16, 1707, the Scottish Parliament voted 110 to 67 to join the English Parliament in a new unitary state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
It is very instructive for anyone who believes in regaining Scottish independence to watch what happened in the days and weeks leading up to the final vote and to learn what happened on that day. fateful. Because it is in this history that I believe that Scotland can have a method to leave this current absurd union.
It goes without saying that the Union was achieved by methods which we would not consider democratic. Universal suffrage was over two centuries away and the two parliaments were simply not representative of the peoples of Scotland and England.
As anyone who has taken the trouble to study the Union of 1707 will know, it was arranged in Scotland by a patch of thieves, as Burns called them, mostly but not all aristocrats who took bribes. blatant vindications to bring about the Union so ardently desired by Queen Anne and her political lapdogs with securing the Protestant succession via the House of Hanover their main obsession, as evidenced by the opening Articles of the Act of Union .
After years of back and forth, from 1705 everything had been “settled” by a commission appointed by Queen Anne, and from October 1706 the Scottish Parliament passed the law, clause by clause, with some opponents. like Saltoun’s Andrew Fletcher making impassioned defenses of Scottish nationality.
In the country, massive opposition grew, with no less than 80 petitions organized in market towns across Scotland calling for an end to the Union process. There were riots in the streets of the main towns and the army was summoned to defend Edinburgh against a rumored uprising in November 1706, while a huge English force assembled and prepared to march into Scotland to put down any rebellion .
There were genuine fears that the Church of Scotland would be overrun in the new state and the Scottish Parliament soon passed an ‘Act for the Securing of Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government’ to appease the Kirks. .
The parliamentary opposition to the Union was hopelessly divided and slowly but surely every article was passed. Union supporters and their leader James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry soon realized they were going to win while James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton, self-styled Leader of the Opposition, wavered.
The final meeting to discuss the Articles was set for January 16, 1707, and the minutes of that meeting show how disgusting the whole Union process had become. For after ratifying the Kirk Law, the main business of the day was a spat between the Dukes of Queensberry and Hamilton over who would continue to take precedence.
As the records show, Hamilton said: ‘My predecessors and I have been in continuous possession of having the first seat and first vote in parliament and were first called to the lists of parliament after memory of man, and on this protest, I take instruments and wish that this one be inserted in the archives of the parliament”.
Even then, all Parcel wanted was to secure their status, which resulted in greater gains from the English Parliament – Queensberry received £12,325 from them. The vote on ratification duly took place, and again it’s interesting to see the names of those who voted No – did many of the current earls and lairds know their ancestors were against the Union ?
Parliament last met – at least until 1999 – on March 25, 1707 when Queensberry implored its members to “promote a universal desire in this kingdom to become one in hearts and affections, for we are inseparably joyous for the sake of our neighboring nation.
However, the Union failed to deliver the promised economic boon, and six years later a motion to dissolve the Union was introduced in the House of Lords. He was defeated by four votes.
Of course, all of this happened in a context different from our modern democratic state. So how does this country of Scotland withdraw democratically and legally from the Union? The answer is the same as the methodology for joining the Union – by a vote in the Scottish Parliament, joined, I would say, by Westminster MPs.
I would strongly recommend that the Yes movement, the SNP and the Scottish Greens prepare for a general election in late 2023 or 2024 when the aim must be to secure 50% plus one of the votes cast. Since the SNP and the Greens will run on an independentist manifesto, obtaining a majority of the votes will give an indisputable democratic mandate for the calling of a legal referendum, that is to say: the option of Article 30 which, like it or not, is the preferred choice of the SNP leadership to end the Union.
If Boris Johnson, or his successor, ignores this mandate and refuses indyref2, then our elected representatives must come together and vote to end the Union. Our representatives will have the power of democracy and the sovereignty of the Scottish people behind them and no court, no international forum can ignore this fact.
On January 16, 1707, the country of Scotland did not cease to exist, but to become a nation state again in its own right, we must look to history and conclude that there is a lesson to be learned – unions can be concluded, and unions can be left, by the exercise of democracy.