Neale Hanvey MP takes the case for Scottish independence to the international community
I would like to begin today by thanking Petru and the organisers for an excellent meeting to share our progress towards the independence of our people and our lands.
While the history that led to colonisation will be different for each of us, and the obstacles we face in the future may also be different, we are united in the honourable ambition of liberating our people.
It is true that conflict has played a part in securing independence in many countries, but Scotland’s movement has always sought to advance our cause through inclusive “Civic Nationalism” which adheres to the values of freedom, tolerance, equality and individual rights. We seek independence through the strength of our arguments and through the course of international justice.
This philosophical position was essential for building support in the grassroots in 2014 and resulted in an explosion of political education and discussion across Scotland. In cafes and bars people would discuss, revenue, tax, energy and GDP with confidence and knowledge. The best weapon is to arm the people with information.
As we approached polling day support for independence sat at 51% and the energy seemed unstoppable. However, the unionist campaign saw the danger and PM David Cameron and other leaders made grand promises of more power, and less risk, commonly known as “the Vow” on the front page of Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper. It will be of no surprise to anyone here, but a better description would be “the Lie”.
I tell you this because it illustrates how not only the land is colonised, the structures of government are colonised, but many peoples minds are colonised by fear and mistaken beliefs. It is very hard for them to believe the truth and see reality. However, without any organised campaigning since 2014, support for independence has remained steady around 50%. Once you see the opportunities of independence you cannot go back.
The result of the Brexit referendum vote in Scotland illustrated very clearly the different priorities between England and Scotland. This was a great opportunity to campaign for independence, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prioritised “stopping Brexit”.
This is problematic for two reasons. It has been a tradition for Scottish Nationalist MPs not to vote on matters that only effect England, and they voted for their Brexit. Secondly the central constitutional objective of the SNP is independence, not impeding democracy in England. The submission of the Scottish Government to Brexit was a grand folly.
Since then Westminster under Boris Johnson has become an increasingly English Nationalist government. It has been immersed in corruption and sleaze and has enacted laws that limit the Scottish parliament and enable them to interfere in Scottish governance in outrageous and extraordinary ways.
Throughout this time in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021 the people of Scotland have handed multiple democratic mandates for a further referendum on independence and every time the First Minister has failed to progress the case for independence leading many to become disillusioned and frustrated.
There is a poem by Robert Burns in which he talks about the unification of England and Scotland and how the lords of that day were “Bought and sold for English gold”, calling them “a parcel of rouges in a nation”. So in a similar way to Corsica our land our people and our freedoms were handed to our colonists for the profit and enrichment of others. All of this was done without the consent of the People.
When I entered front line politics in 2012 as an SNP councillor, I was clear that my guiding ambition was to play a full part in the restoration of independence to Scotland. Over the past 10 years that commitment has only strengthened as the need for independence has grown ever more urgent. From oil and gas, to wind, tidal, wave and hydro Scotland’s vast energy resources keeps the UK powered and Her Majesty’s Treasury pumped full of cash.
Make no mistake Scotland is the broad shoulders of the UK.
However, as an SNP MP I discovered a parliamentary party that had become too comfortable in Westminster, who enjoyed the privilege of their status, who wouldn’t discuss independence, and had made no progress with preparations for a future campaign.
As in all political parties there is disagreement on policy, but the Nationalist movement had always been united in the push for independence. It has become increasingly clear that the priority of the First Minister is not securing independence, but using the cause to consolidate her personal power, and to pursue “gender self-identity” as her main policy ambition. Anyone who disagrees with her, like me, has been targeted and harassed as a consequence.
There is no greater an example of this than the vexatious allegations made against Former First Minister Alex Salmond. Despite being acquitted on all charges, Nicola Sturgeon and her followers continue to smear and attack Alex.
In 2021 Alex formed the ALBA Party and I left the SNP to join him immediately. Our clear focus is securing independence as an urgent and pressing need.
One in three Scottish households live in fuel poverty. A quarter of our children live in poverty. With, 8% UK Pop, 96% UK Crude oil reserves, 63% UK Natural gas reserves, 90% UK Hydropower, 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal resource.
Scotland’s vast energy potential far exceeds the needs of our people, yet we receive no revenue, no jobs and no tangible benefit.
In a recent Parliamentary question I asked the UK chancellor to tell me the true value of Scotland’s energy to the UK treasury I also asked him set out how the UK will service their massive debts when they can no longer fleece Scotland of her resources following a vote for independence in 2023. He failed to answer the question.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised a referendum on independence in 2023, but she is using UK state apparatus to seek “permission”. Permission she is unlikely to get. She has failed to act on any previous mandates, and has accepted refusal without any meaningful objection. This timid approach will not work.
In fact the only real opposition to these refusals has come form the ALBA party when we challenged Boris Johnson at the start of PMQs. The moment was chosen for maximum political exposure. The most dishonest and disreputable Prime Minister in UK history was about to begin his farewell after resigning in shame and we were determined that Scotland would be heard, and our mandate for independence would not be ignored. For my point of order, I addressed Boris Johnson directly “Mr. Speaker, that charlatan has no mandate, no right, and no authority to dismiss the voice of the people of Scotland” I started, going on to say “Someone who no longer commands the support of his own party, has no right to hold our nation hostage. Not him or his unelected successors. Scotland’s Claim of Right must be respected!”
For those who dismiss what we did, make no mistake our action that day amplified the cause of independence far beyond the Common’s chamber. Our intervention has been reported across Europe and beyond to Mexico, China and many places in between.
This intervention was silenced by the Speaker who instructed us to “shut up or get out”. That is is the message from the UK to Scotland and we will choose “get out” every-time.
The cost-of-living crisis being endured in Scotland is a direct and wholly unnecessary consequence of Westminster rule. It’s not Scotland that should fear independence, be in no doubt it is Her Majesty’s Treasury who fear the double impact of losing Scotland’s ‘free money’ revenue and having to pay an independent Scotland a fair rate for our energy surplus, our water, and our exceptional food and drink.
Our reward for our vast contribution of energy, food and drink and water? To be fleeced of those resources, charged for transmitting our energy, denied access to associated revenue and berated, ignored and ridiculed in Westminster.
There is much to prepare for and valuable work happening in the grassroots movement. I do not believe they will accept “No” for an answer again.
Scotland’s people need not suffer this iniquity, but we need to corral the justified anger into peaceful and persistent public demonstrations and build an unstoppable drive towards independence.
The SNP may be seduced by power, but that can only continue if the people trust they will deliver independence. ALBA are making preparations to carry the torch of independence working with many others to do so.
Whether it’s Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, or a New Labour Prime Minister each of them have made clear they will attempt to veto the right of Scotland to determine its own future.
There is much to learn from movements such as Estonia, but all of us who are engaged in the struggle for independence must unite, stand, and speak together on the international stage. I hope this is something can build on from this meeting.