UDI – The Ghost in the Room?

A unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) is a formal process leading to the establishment of a new state by a subnational entity which declares itself independent and sovereign without a formal agreement with the national state from which it is seceding.


I know that the issue of a Unilateral Declaration for Independence for Scotland has been debated in the past and with the dominance of the SNP at the last General Election was a hot topic for a few days on social media.

Now previously I would never have considered the idea of UDI for Scotland as it could, and would be, perceived as un-democratic by many voters, would possibly split the YES/independence movement, would lead to years and years of court cases with rUK (which we will have anyway when we do become independent) and possibly would not be recognised by the EU or the UN. However the UN do recognise that:

All people s have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

However, Westminster is un-democratic in that English elected MPs dominate all proceedings in areas not devolved, the SNP can have little or no influence over matters that even effect Scotland as our voice just does not count. The SNP are routinely booed when Angus Robertson, the Deputy Leader, stands up at Prime Ministers Questions, as we saw this week when he wished Scotland and everyone else a happy St. Andrews Day.

There has been SNP bad stories since they went to Westminster, just have a wee look below at some of the headlines from the yoon press.


The simple reality is we are just not wanted unless we elect liars like Alistair Carmichael and Gordon Brown, unless we vote the way they want us to vote. Our representatives are not welcome because they turn up and cost less, the shame of it, elected MPs going to work and actually taking part in the debates and not propping up the bar. Thatcher once said that all we had to do was send a majority of Nationalist MPs to Westminster to have a mandate (see above) and allegedly Robin Cook, former Labour MP, considered the idea of UDI as far back as 1983 when he said:

‘How can we let the Scottish people suffer another Tory government hell-bent on union destruction and driving down living standards? I am seriously considering leading all Scottish Labour MP’s over the burning bridge to join with the SNP and declare UDI’.

Given the shambles that is Brexit, the broken promises during the independence referendum, continued Tory Governments we did not elect, the death of the Labour Party and the insignificance of the Liberal Democrats on top of the fact they are all just Tories anyway, maybe it’s time we started to consider all options.

UDI would be extreme and the SNP would probably never ever go for it and it would no doubt be resisted by the EU, the UN and the UK’s masters the United States of America, but as I noted during the EU referendum, when you have nothing left to lose you might as well just go for it as many did in the EU vote, especially in England and Wales.

I know that I have had enough of the UK and Westminster rule. We are not the ignorant Scots of the past, the referendum engaged us, and we learned what Westminster really is and how we are perceived. We educated ourselves on how our contribution to the UK is covered up and how we have been indoctrinated into believing we cannot and should never consider governing ourselves.

However devolution, reluctantly agreed under Tony Blair to hold off the SNP and Scottish self-determination, has given us a tiny glimpse of what self-government can mean and that’s with a parliament that virtually has little or no real power over anything.

Whomever controls the purse strings controls the destiny. As I said I would never have considered UDI in the past but on the back of Brexit, and with the increasingly likely event of a snap General Election and continued Tory Governments we do not elect all options have to be on the table.

A serious UDI discussion is now worth having, I know that I just don’t want to be a part of an uncaring, right-wing, elitist and un-democratic UK for one minute longer. It’s time for real change, it’s time to grow a pair.



    • grumpyscottishman


      Both I suppose in many ways, I don’t think UDI would happen as I really don’t the SNP would have the nerve without massive support in the polls but it is something that would certainly focus the minds of the yoons.

      Thanks for commenting.


  1. Alan

    Be patient. There’s a draft of the 2nd referendum bill getting ready, ffs.

    It will all come to a boil in March or perhaps February. Either Article 50 will be triggered and all hell will break loose or it won’t be triggered and all hell will break loose anyway. Slim possibility of another successful kick-down-the-road, justified by the German and French elections.

    If it is triggered, there’s our material change of circumstances – go for it. If it isn’t, nothing’s actually changed since October 2014, when we were all facing the dreadful prospect of waiting until 2024 or later for another attempt.

    So be patient. May’s government cannot stall forever.

    • grumpyscottishman


      I appreciate what your saying, I put UDI out there as it is something we need to discuss, we need to let Westminster and the yoons know that we are serious. The slow drip of responsibilities are just a way to keep the Scots in their box and while I understand the SNP are trying to play all sides and keep everyone happy there will come a point when enough is enough or it will never happen.

      Merkel deciding to stand means no change in Germany and France may or may not go right, it will be hard Brexit and I am not so sure we can go through another 2 year referendum campaign, I think serious consideration has to go to just saying screw it if the SNP still have such a huge mandate at Westminster, either way we face years and years of court. My only concern would be getting quick recognition from other states if we have to take the extreme path.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


      • Alan

        Who said it’d be a two year referendum campaign? The legislation was being drafted well in advance of March so it could potentially be held in late 2017. Okay, so let’s discuss it.

        Let’s suppose that instead of IndyRef2 next year, Sturgeon wants UDI. How will she get it? First option, a vote in Holyrood. Will she have the Green MSPs’ votes in Parliament? She certainly won’t have the Tories, Labour’s or Lib Dems’. Best case on a full turnout, 53.5% of Holyrood.

        She could call a grand constitutional convention instead – all of Scotland’s 194 MPs, MSPs and MEPs. This is slightly better as even without the Greens, the SNP has 123. With the Greens, best case is 66.5% – however, I’d expect the unionists to attempt to delegitimise a GCC by not turning up at all. So we don’t even get to claim a two-thirds quorate.

        What’s next, call an early election? We just had one six months ago that gave us a specific mandate to attempt independence again if we leave the EU(which hasn’t happened yet, always remember this). And another one in six months. If she calls it, she absolutely can’t afford to lose even one seat. And if we’re setting up the polls again anyway, why not go for the more clear-cut mandate of a referendum?

        Lastly, what could be more satisfying and decisive than forcing Westminister to admit they lost us, despite repeated warnings, for whoever the Prime Minister of the day is to step outside No. 10’s door and tell the world, “By the democratic will of its people, Scotland shall be an independent country.”?

        • grumpyscottishman


          Westminster won’t agree to another referendum until after Brexit, they will delay as they will say it will not be a priority and that the people spoke in 2014, they might even have to go for a GE esp if the courts rule the decision has to go to parliament which it will in all likelyhood.

          I think they SNP could include in some way a committment to look at all options including UDI as part of a future manifesto, they probably won’t but would no doubt need to do that. Assuming they did, and returned 50 MPs to Westminster they would claim that as a mandate to leave, SNP MPs would state that in Parliament as MSPs in Holyrood, set a date and let the court fights begin. They would need someone to recognise the democratic will of the Scottish people in any UDI road and that would be the difficult part but someone like Russia playing games might, EIRE might and some other countries.

          I think your idea of a another constiutional convention should happen anyway, esp if the Tories win another election, which looking at the polls in England they will with a huge majority. The Liberal win is just a protest vote in an area that swaps between Liberal and Tory anyway so really doesn’t tell us much at all. I don’t think you would have to call an election if you are clear at the outset about what you are doing. I think the mandate for a referendum is already there now to be honest, the SNP won’t call UDI as they are just not that type of party. My point is really that we need to discuss it and keep the pressure on Westminster, keep the option on the table. It’s time they started dancing to our tune.

          Thanks for discussing.


    • Brian

      and yet the polls still indicate support for independence has not risen above 50%. For the life of me, I cannot understand this. Just how many times do the Scottish people need to be kicked in the face before they vote for real change?

      • Robert Innes

        Hi Brian,

        Not so long ago when it seemed Labour still owned Scotland it was asked openly in the media, with some incredulity, “Just what does the Labour party have to do before the Scots stop voting for it?” Well we know now that all it took was sufficient time for the people to recognise and come to terms with the fact that the party we supported for so long had become rotten. But when that realisation came, we deserted it in droves – and within a very short period. – In the last poll I saw, they were down to 17 or 18%.
        Now I ask “Just what does Westminster have to do before the Scots stop voting for it?”, and I expect that when that change comes too, it will come very fast indeed. I just hope its soon.


  2. lanark

    If enough people in Scotland wanted independence, there is nothing Westminster or Washington or anyone else could do about it. The real enemies of independence are Scots themselves. All Scotland means to them is a football or rugby team and wearing a kilt now and again. They piss me off. In the event of UDI, they would fight us tooth and nail, led by their darling Ruthie. Westminster could just sit back and laugh.

    • grumpyscottishman


      I have a lot of sympathy for what you say, I often wonder, and have commented on here, how much are we willing to take. It seems a lot. Things have changed but for me we can’t wait another 200 years for that to happen, it will be too late. It has to be soon or not at all is my feelings on the issue now.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. trispw

    It looks like they will have forced us into raising taxes. Which, of course, is what they want so that they could complain that the SNP raised taxes.

    We can’t do without the services so council tax will rise.

    I can’t envisage income tax going up, unless we have to power to reduce the VAT that would balance it out for poorer people.

    UDI is fraught with difficulties. At least half, if not more of the population would be against. Only around 50% want independence and many of them wouldn’t support it being done unilaterally. The UK government could shut down the Scottish parliament with the support of many people, possibly using force.

    It isn;t unappealing but i don;t think it would work.

    But like many of your readers, I wonder how many times we are going to take sand in our faces before we start to realise that the UK is run for the South East of England and F*** the rest of us.

    Why do w let the Daily Mail win?

    • grumpyscottishman


      I think Council Tax would have to go up and I am not that much against it if it’s fair as we need to pay for public services and not just for the sake of my job but certainly for the elderly and children, people look at education as being the be all and end all but adult learning, home care, youth and childrens work etc are votal services, esp in austear times. I agree UDI will probably never be used but we need to keep the pressure up and the idea of UDI will give many yoons the skits but you never know what will happen. I actually think a lot of the interest might come from N Ireland who might actually go for unification before we go for independence and if that happens surely enough Scots will eventually get the message that the UK is over.

      Thanks for commenting.


      • trispw

        Pity we have to rely on the Irish for a bit of courage. But I hope you are right. Once it starts to fall apart the whole horrible thing will collapse.

  4. orri

    Given that definition it’s self defeating to talk of UDI as it starts with the premise that Scotland is an integral part of the UK and not a treaty partner. The point of a referendum prior to devolution would have been the assumption that a majority of pro independence MPs sought the authority to act on behalf of the people of Scotland in respect of their half of the Treaty of Union with an aim to ending it. The current talk of a “dirty” Brexit where Westminster withdraws from the EU without consultation or negotiation would not be UDI nor should Scotland doing the same.

    • Anonymous

      I think there a few ways it can go. You could have a Kosovo situation where you just declare or Rhodesia where they basically ended their treaty with the UK by a declaration. The SNP could put a similar thing in a future manifesto where as a vote for the SNP and returning a majority to Westminster is the beginning of the process to withdraw from the treaty of union and this would be the democratic mandate so there are ways to do it. However, I don’t think it would happen that way due to the risk of alienating about half the population so it will have to come about via referendum and the sooner the better.

      Thanks for commenting.


  5. Habib Steele

    Definition of UDI, “… the establishment of a new state by a subnational entity which declares itself independent and sovereign without a formal agreement with the national state from which it is seceding.” The UK is not a national state. It has been said to be “a state of nations”, which seems correct. Scotland is not “a subnational entity”; it is a nation. Scotland, as a nation, is not yet sovereign, but the people of Scotland, collectively, are sovereign in this nation. It seems to me the sovereign people in nation which is in a state of nations would be within their rights to declare their nation independent.

    • Anonymous


      The definition is the one that appears to be recognised by the UN but I am sure there are many others. I take on board what you are saying but as we learned during the independence referendum the UK is regarded at the Member State in both the EU and wider afield, but I would tend to agree with you, the UK is a political union and if one part of the union decides to end that agreement then that’s that as far as I believe anyway.

      Thanks for taking time to read my rant and comment, have a good Christmas holidays.


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  8. D.G.

    Hi, is that Thatcher quote about only needing to send a majority of SNP MP’s to WM, in order to have Independence verifiable? Did she actually say that at any time?

    • Anonymous


      As far as I Know, Angus Robertson talked about it this week while also saying it would not be considered an option.

      Thanks for commenting.


  9. Keith Cormack

    Interesting read this and I have got to the debate about two months too late but hey ho.

    I’m vaguely remember it, it was directed at Alex Salmond so he’s he man to ask but she was a Tory so I have to ask, is it true though? The comment on here from anon (23/04/17) suggesting Angus Robertson said it’s ‘not an option’ would suggest Thatchers’ comment was true.

    So the question has to be asked, why the SNP doesn’t think that the Westminster democratic process is good enough to get Scotland out the Union? Wouldn’t it be the same legislation that took us in so it should be good enough to get us out? It was also be legal and democratic who could object?

    If it’s true then the SNP has knocked back two opportunities in two years to get Scotland out the Union. What’s the point of voting SNP in a GEs if SNP majorities are of no benefit to the people of Scotland? The SNP could have had us out now.

    If this turns out to be true then the SNP could be in a big pile of steaming with its supporters and members. It’ll likely stay quiet though as it’s the story no one wants.

  10. Anonymous


    As far as I know the comment from Margaret Thatcher is true and has actually been doing the rounds again today.

    The SNP have said they would never consider UDI as it would never be accepted by all of Scotland, that’s obvious but if the Scottish Parliament took Scotland into the UK then for my mind a Scottish Parliament should be able to repeal the Act of Union irrespective of constitutional matters being reserved, what are they gonna do. It would need the vast majority of people being for independence though and we are just not there yet. Last week was a blip and in many ways a truer reflection of where Scotland currently is. However that might all change as the Tories, supporter by the DUP, make a total mess of things.

    The SNP do have to reaffirm their commitment to independence and also that a referendum will be held after Brexit. Time will tell if they will though.

    Thanks for commenting.


  11. daibhidhdeux

    As events now unfold with the likelihood of a Tory/DUP WM arrangement to govern, and with Ms May perhaps currently occupying No 10 illegally, what now and where to Scotland as a co-signatory to the Treaty of Union, and where next for its sovereign citizens?

    Perhaps the visible effects of Brexit might further focus minds as to our future path out of this ongoing and worsening constitutional crisis?

    More than interesting times; game-changing ones not only for the Scots and the rest of the remnant of the UK, but also Ireland, Europe, and the UN.

    The clock is ticking…

  12. Anonymous


    You would think that current events would focus the mind but of course there will always be the hard core that will never change their minds.

    The SNP made a mess of the GE campaign, they tried to be everything to everyone while the yoons banged on about a referendum as they have since the last one.

    Brexit will be a disaster with the Tories and the DUP, I can’t see the EU accepting anything without free movement and the right and many down south will never accept that. The perfect storm so it might help the SNP, the will tell. They will never back anything like UDI though that is clear.

    Thanks for commenting.


  13. Keith Cormack


    Would a democratically elected SNP majority at Westminster looking to dissolve the Act of Union and UDI amount to the same thing and if so how?

    What if there was no Scottish parliament how would we get out?

    What’s the difference between electing a majority of pro-indy MPs to Westminster and a referendum majority for YES? I accept that the Westminster system is not the fairest but it took us in and has been used for 310 years so I think it should be deemed good enough to get us out.


    • Anonymous

      The only reason their was a referendum was because of the Scottish Parliament, had Holyrood not been there then it would never ever happen as Westminster is viewed by many as sovereign. I would think that to dissolve the Union it would need a majority in the Parliament of Westminster to agree, and that just won’t happen without a vote in a referendum. They would never accept UDI and the law at international level is very patchy on the subject. We are trapped in many ways, the people who signed the 1707 Act of Union were played little fiddles knowingly or unknowingly, it only passed by one vote and that is the precedence for what constitutes a majority in my mind as far as independence goes. I think it will have to be another referendum either way and we need 50% +1 but I would not put it past the yoons to try and get something like a 60% level in any future act, for now those of us who believe in a YES vote are trapped. I’m no expert though I can definitely say that.

      Thanks for commenting.


  14. Keith Cormack


    I’ll stop grilling you now.

    If there is no Holyrood there still has to be a way out. The UK can’t claim to be the birth place of democracy and then not let us have a way out. I wanted to believe Thatchers words but considered that she may have over simplified. The comments on here quoting Angus Robertson saying ‘it’s not an option’ surely if it was BS he’d have said as much. Commonspace has claimed in a few articles that Alex Salmond has tried to talk Nicola Sturgeon around to other routes to indy but apparently she’s no having it. Other than UDI I can only think of this route. There has to be another way. I’d have assumed that in the event of a majority in Westminster that the leader would approach the head of state to ask that the Act of Union be repealed rather than another vote as you suggest.

    There are more questions than answers but I think the whole thing warrants a greater look. If only I had a copy of the Act of Union lying around …… I read somewhere that no such document exists.



    • Anonymous


      Ask away, I’m enjoying the conversation. I think Scotland could declare UDI but won’t ever do it. I’m not sure if the Head of State has any power on the issue to be honest. If there was no Holyrood than UDI would be the only option if Westminster did not agree but I can’t see how you would get around it without a vote. The Act of Union is online, I have a link but not on my phone. I think there is a copy of it, the original, but I think it’s in Westminster somewhere and is never really seen but I’m not 100% sure to be honest.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Keith Cormack


        I’m enjoying this too as I need to learn a few things about the Act of Union so if you have that link.

        I am off the opinion that a democratic vote by Scots with a majority for the SNP or Yes is not UDI. UDI is just a declaration but none of the examples I have read about talk about voting or elections.

        Why should another vote be needed in Westminster if Scots voted pro-indy? Would you expect there to be Westminster approval after a Yes vote in an indyref? If so Scotlands’ wishes will always be defeated. It’s not very democratic is it?

        PM’s go to see HRH every time they want to dissolve parliament for an election or when they want to form a new government (with or without terrorists) so my thinking is that if Scotland voted for a majority SNP or Yes and that was enough to dissolve the Act of Union that that is where the request would be made. It is the Queens’ government and parliament.



        • grumpyscottishman


          I’ll look for the link, its on my work pc. When the next referendum happens, and if it’s a yes vote, Westminster will accept it as they will have agreed to indy2 anyway. They wouldn’t make any negotiations easy that’s for sure but they would be under pressure to get it done by the EU etc. The Queen couldn’t approve any independence issues for Scotland, she has no real constitutional power in that sense, she does have power to block certain legislation but not that. I remember one time a so called expert said that if most or all of the Scottish MPs refused to sit in parliament, returned to Edinburgh and called a constitutional convention then indy would follow as Scotland is a country and the refusal by most MPs to sit in Westminster would be a rejection of the UK mandate but I don’t know if that is true or not. Interesting conundrum.

          Thanks for commenting.


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