Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Who runs Scotland - Salmond or the Supreme Court?

Like a good soldier I've staked the ground before the battle. After a television piece outside Westminster this morning, I walked across Parliament Square to survey the site for what will be a historic clash.

Really, I don't know why all these tv cameras were sent to Bannockburn yesterday - the real battle over the referendum is to be fought here, in the UK Supreme Court, across the road from Westminster. It's a fine building, and looking back across towards Big Ben I see that Room 2, the Scottish Room of the press gallery, has a view from the high ground.

David Cameron and Alex Salmond are set to meet over the next few weeks, but barring a renewal of respect vows, the fight for the future of Scotland will be slugged out by lawyers in the highest court in the land.

At least now we know why Salmond and Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill went so overboard in their attacks on the Supreme Court last June.

Salmond got his demonising of the Supreme Court in early over the Cadder case, whether an accused person should have access to legal advice where they are detained by the police for questioning.

Salmond knew then what we know now, that his plans for referendum will be challenged in the Supreme Court within 28 days of the bill being passed by majority in the Holyrood Parliament. If the Advocate General. Lib Dem Jim Wallace, doesn't do it then the Attorney General, Tory Dominic Grieve, will. That's is some proto-unionist or legal academic doesn't do so first.

To avoid the courts Westminster and the Scotttish Government, which are both issuing consultation papers on a referendum, have to agree on everything that they can't agree on on now.

You can see the scene in the bleak midwinter of 2015, when the cameras have taken up their entrenched positions to snipe at lawyers coming and going from the constitutional battlefield in the Supreme Court.

George Osborne, Salmond's real nemesis if you read this week's events closely, might be the incumbent in Downing Street, a Tory liked even less in Scotland than the current Prime Minister.

Salmond will be on Sky News, he doesn't do the British Broadcasting Company first, bemoaning how he would have had a referendum by now, if it hadn't been for that Union Jack court in London.

By then, he'll say, it's too late to have the two question referendum that London (whenever he says that he means "the English") deny him because the next Holyrood election is due in May 2016.

His slogan for the 2016 campaign is already written: "Who runs Scotland? - Alex Salmond or the Supreme Court".

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