There is No "Right to Self-Determination" when it is the Wrong Thing to DoTweet
We don't talk about "Scotland's right" to this or that. Rather, we ask, what is the responsible thing for Scotland to do in its unique circumstances? What is the right thing, what is the moral thing, for Scotland to do? The following by Alistair McConnachie was posted on this site on 27 July 2012.
We hear separatists say, "Scotland has the right to self determination", as if such a statement alone ends the argument.
They ignore two points. Firstly, Scotland is largely self-determining already, and secondly, even if Scotland has "the right" for more, it is the morally wrong thing to do if it means breaking up a great relationship! Breaking up our relationship is not the dutiful or responsible thing to do within the context of our islands.
To deal with the first point: As we stated in our speech Five False Premises of Scottish Separatism in London on 19 June 2012, the idea that Scotland is not somehow a self-determining nation already, cannot be seriously substantiated.
Prior to devolution, Scotland was in exactly the same position as England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Scotland was a self-determining nation, which was part of a bigger self-determining entity called the United Kingdom. After devolution, Scotland self-determines nationally through the mechanism of electing representatives to Westminster and through electing representatives to Holyrood. To an extent, it could also be said to do so by electing representatives to Strasbourg.
However, we know that when the separatists speak about Scotland "having the right to self-determination", they don't care about the fact that Scotland already has self-determining ability at local, Scottish, British and European levels. Instead, they want a complete root and branch break with the rest of the United Kingdom.
That is why they get dogmatic about "Scotland's right to self determination". They want to break the British connection entirely and so they choose to ignore the extent to which Scotland already possesses a considerable self-determining ability.
What they are doing is moving the argument to another level - from a factually-based argument about the extent of existing democratic structures in Scotland (an argument which they are likely to lose) - to a "moral" argument about "Scotland's right"; in effect, "Scotland's right" to break its British connection.
So this brings us to the second point: Just because someone has "a right" to do something, does not mean it is the correct and proper thing to do. One can have "a right" to do something, but it can be the wrong thing to do.
Scotland is in a close relationship with the rest of the UK. When you are in a relationship you do not automatically have "a right" to do what you want. You forfeit, to a large extent, your "right" to "do your own thing."
The statement that "Scotland has the right to self-determination" - meaning that Scotland has the right to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom - ignores Scotland's moral duty and responsibility to its family and neighbours throughout these islands.
Within the context of the United Kingdom, Scotland has no more moral "right" to go off and do its own thing than a husband or wife has a right to turn his or her back on the marriage and go away and do their own thing.
Theoretically, we can agree that Scotland has "the right"; but to walk out on, and break up, a relationship when there are people who depend upon you, when there are people who love you, and when you depend upon them also, is wrong. It is not the responsible thing to do. It is not the moral thing to do. When your "right" means breaking up the family, then it is the wrong thing to do.
Therefore, while the separatists will say, "Scotland has the right to self determination", we ask, "Does Scotland have the right to break up a great relationship?"
We answer, "Scotland does not have the right to break up a great relationship because that would be the wrong thing to do!"
As we stated in our speech in London on 19 June 2012 "The only sense that we are not self-determining is that, as part of the UK, we are obliged to consider and often accept the views of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in our overall system of government. But that is a good thing because these people are family and we share the same home with them. To ignore them, or to forbid them to have any say about what we do in our common home, would be shameful and immoral."
So we don't talk about "Scotland's right" to this or that.
Rather, we ask, what is the responsible thing for Scotland to do in its unique circumstances? What is the right thing, what is the moral thing, for Scotland to do?
The moral thing, the right thing, the responsible thing for Scotland to do, is to stay in the Union and help to make it work, for the good of all.
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You can find out more about Alistair at the About Alistair McConnachie page. And here is a link to Alistair McConnachie's Google Profile.