Today the appeal hearing called before the highest judge in Scotland, the Lord President, Lord Carloway. Also presiding was Lord Menzies and Lord Docherty.
The submissions from the Advocate General were basically the same mantra wheeled out in previous hearings. The assertion that the ordinary man or woman does not have the right to ask reasonable legal questions in court of law about their own constitutional future.
I would be lying if I did not think such a thing repugnant. It is antithetical to the principle of a democratically accountable Government and legislator. In Scotland the people are sovereign. Sovereignty is defined a being where power is derived. This means that parliamentarians in Scotland have no more special status than the ordinary citizen (although some like to think they do).
The impression I got from counsel representing the Advocate General was that it appeared as if he was reading a pre-written script.
Unfortunately the submissions from the Lord Advocates office could be summed up as “what they said”.
At one point it was put to the defenders by Lord Carloway if they believed that no member of the electorate should be able to bring forward such an action before the court and the response he got back was “Yes! Absolutely!”. I must admit that I was tempted to kick the monitor off the table at that point.
The entire argument from the Lord Advocate and Advocate General appears to be that the only mechanism that should be available is one after the fact, after the damage has already been done. Which is extremely dangerous. The other assertion is that the other mechanism available is for it to go through the process in the Scotland Act, which is interesting considering the fact that the only people that can initiate that process is? You guessed it! The Lord Advocate or the Advocate General – Such things are only for the old boys club don’t you know!
Aidan O’Neill QC for the peoples action, seemed to be fired up today. He was in fine form. One comment he made, which stuck with me and relects my own sentiments was:
“Holding office makes you not a master, but a servant. A public servant of the people.”
And this is exactly one of the main threads in this case – access to justice. The idea that asking reasonable questions (which politicians have failed to answer for two decades) are the feifdom of those politicians. It’s an egregious standpoint, mainly because politicians don’t want this question answered because it may be politically inconvenient, and so their response to that is to try and trample any ordinary person (who seeks to make an informed choice) who tries to do something they have failed at consistently.
In any case, the matters have been put to the three bench panel of the inner house of the court of session with Scotland’s highest judge presiding. Now we just have to wait for the decision to see what happens next.
As always I will update you as new information becomes available.