Thursday, 21 January 2010

Constitutional Law According To Annabel Goldie

I was fascinated by Annabel Goldie's speech last night to the Royal College of Surgeons, reported in today's Scotsman. She reportedly said:-

"If the Conservatives do win the next British general election and we have more seats in Scotland, some will try to argue that we have no mandate…..Let me nail this nonsense now. This is a British general election, to elect a British government and a British prime minister. People in Scotland want devolution, but they also want to be part of Britain, and that means they want to be part of the Westminster democratic process".

Now, Wikipedia informs me that Ms Goldie graduated from Strathclyde Uni in 1971 with an LLB and went on to practice as a solicitor. You have to wonder what she was doing (boozing? chasing men?) the day when her Constitutional Law lecturer discussed McCormick –v- Lord Advocate (1953 SC 396), a seminal case in Scots constitutional law which contained the following judgement of Lord Cooper, the then Lord President. He said:-

"The principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law. It derives its origin from Coke and Blackstone, and was widely popularised during the nineteenth century by Bagehot and Dicey, the latter having stated the doctrine in its classic form in his Law of the Constitution. Considering that the Union legislation extinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England and replaced them by a new Parliament, I have difficulty in seeing why it should have been supposed that the new Parliament of Great Britain must inherit all the peculiar characteristics of the English Parliament but none of the Scottish Parliament, as if all that happened in 1707 was that Scottish representatives were admitted to the Parliament of England. That is not what was done."

So Annabel, here's a free refresher for you.

1. The Union did not displace the traditional Scottish constitutional law principle of the sovereignty of the people.
2. The English doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament has no application in Scotland.
3. The Conservatives will very probably win the election without needing Scottish votes.
4. But, with a small handful of seats out of 59, the sovereign Scottish people will have rejected them, and they will have no democratic mandate to govern Scotland.
5. There will, again, be a grotesque democratic deficit. Like in the 80s and 90s.
6. And people like me will not let you forget it. Not for a moment. Neither, I hope, will our MSPs.

The Tories - they STILL don't get it, do they?

R of S


  1. Good post RoS.

    Tell me, is the thirtysomething at the light or heavy end? I'm always fascinated by the Americanism of xxsomethings. They never seem to stretch to the 60somethings do they.

  2. I am arriving late to this thread but did managed to post a wee blog on the Dark Lochnagar Blogspot.

    My reading of Cameron is that his strategy is the Thatcher one of taking the UK by way of England and then if necessary doing a deal with the LibDums and / or the Ulster Unionists. He has a series of target seats and will do everything there to gain the Westminster advantage there. He has a snowball in Hell's chance to gain any significant number of seats in Scotland and is just applying Pareto's Law without understanding or even caring about the constitutional ramifications.

    He operates within an Oxbridge / Notting Hill milieu and is reportedly an autocrat. He listens only to his clique and what they tell him. Therein lies his downfall as they will increasingly tell him what they think he wants to know. It is the inevitable future of all autocrat/despots beit in the public or private sectors.

    I sometimes wonder if he ever really has met a member of the great unwashed. You don't get many of them at Oxford, The Bullingdon Club or Notting Hill. He ventures outside only on photo ops or to "consult" (aka instruct) his troops and acolytes.

    Brown is deeply in that bunker, good news only news feeds. The sandwich of good, bad and more good news is reportedly how his close staff try to handle him. That and an agility to dodge flying Nokias from the ample back up reserves.

    Carry on and keep up the good work R of S