INDEPENDENCE supporters are used to the phrase “now is not the time”, but as the Court of Session convenes today and tomorrow to hear the People’s Action on Section 30, they may be allowed the opportunity to shake off Downing Street’s patronising rejection.
Martin Keatings, convener of Forward as One, launched the legal action to prove that Scotland does not need approval from Westminster to hold indyref2 and has lodged almost three dozen pages of legal arguments backing his claim.
Over the next two days Lady Carmichael will hear from counsel for both sides before making a decision that will have profound political consequences regardless of the outcome.
Should it go Keatings’ way he will become more of an indy hero than he already is and the ball would be put firmly in the court of the SNP-controlled Scottish Parliament, who would be free to call the plebiscite.
If the decision goes the other way, the establishment will breathe a sigh of relief which, however, might only offer temporary respite as Keatings has indicated in that event he would take the matter to the UK Supreme Court.
Counsel doesn’t come cheap and the independence and disability rights campaigner has turned to crowdfunding to keep the action afloat.
Two funding campaigns have been backed by more than 10,000 people and raised more than £230,000, even with Keatings telling them he would have to “approach the movement for further fundraising”, should it drag out.
READ MORE: Revealed: Majority of Scots back using May election as default indyref2
He told The National he raised the case to get an answer to a question arising from the time the Holyrood parliament reconvened: “Because it was a promise to do so if the UK Government refused Section 30 for a second time, and because politicians have systematically failed to provide an answer to this question for 22 years. We have over 10,000 supporters now and between the two fundraisers over £230,000.
“We have affidavits from members of both parliaments as well.”
The first of these affidavits comes from Kenny MacAskill and Angus MacNeil, both SNP MPs who have been critical of the party’s slow progress towards independence by pursuing – and being refused – a Section 30 order from Westminster.
Backing from the Holyrood camp came when former Green MSP Andy Wightman lodged his affidavit with the court last week. He said: “In order to fulfil my responsibilities in relation to debate, representations and legislative proposals concerning Scotland’s constitutional future, I need to understand the relevant provisions of the Scotland Act. For these reasons, this case is of great significance and value to me.”
It would take a brave gambler to place a sizeable wager on the outcome of the Section 30 case, which apart from its legal significance is seen by many as a “head or heart” matter.
Blogger Grouse Beater summed it up thus: “In a nutshell, the action seeks to prove all countries have a right to self-determination, without exception,” – a sentiment few could disagree with.
Through both his funding campaigns, Keatings has been completely transparent with his legion of supporters, posting regular updates even on what appear to be the most miniscule of arguments, although it could be said there are no such things in a case of such magnitude.
His supporters welcome his openness, as can be witnessed in their comment pages. Pledging £25, Steve wrote: “Wishing you and your legal team all success Martin. I hope good and truth prevails, for Scotland’s sake.”
Robert, who pledged £20, wrote: “No pressure, but the destiny of Scotland could be in part in your hands.”
Keatings, who has maintained an outward air of calm throughout the legalities, told us he is ready: “All I can say is that we are as prepared as we can be. The movement has responded with the dedication I’ve come to expect from them and our legal team has risen to the challenge.
“Like a thousand other activists for a thousand other causes, I wait for the dawn.”