Defending democracy

If one thing came out of last night’s leaders’ debate, it is the fact that the British parties’ operations in Scotland are absolutely committed to denying the right of self-determination that is the inalienable democratic right of Scotland’s people, guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations and by international law.

As I predicted would happen, British Labour in Scotland has been drawn into contesting the Holyrood election on the territory of virulent British nationalism to which their Tory partners in Project Fear staked an early claim.

Kezia Dugdale had a choice. She could have denounced Ruth Davidson’s anti-democratic rhetoric. She could have condemned Davidson’s blatant appeal to the questionable fringes of British nationalist ideology. She could have decried the Tories’ decision to focus so obsessively on the constitutional question. But she didn’t.

Instead, British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) opted yet again to make common cause with the Tories. Dugdale decided to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Davidson as they declared their shared determination to defy the democratic will of Scotland’s people. Seeing Dugdale and Davidson on that platform together, supporting one another in their joint rejection of the democratic process, was sickeningly reminiscent of so many occasions during the first referendum campaign when senior Labour figures shared, not just a platform with their Tory allies, but the same catalogue of lies and scare-stories.

If it wasn’t evident before, last night’s performance by the ‘leaders’ of the British parties in Scotland confirmed that, whatever other issues are involved, this election is primarily about two massively different perceptions of Scotland and its status.

On the one hand we have the British parties, now quite explicitly declaring that they are prepared to trample underfoot the democratic rights of Scotland’s people in the name of preserving the structure of power, privilege and patronage which defines the British state and nurtures the parties which represent that state.

We have two ‘leaders’ of what are falsely represented as political parties openly stating their intention to deny Scotland’s people their democratic right to express a preference as to the constitutional status of their nation. They boast that they are prepared to disregard any and all evidence of a desire on the part of the people of Scotland to express their democratic will in a referendum.

We have two people, each laying some kind of claim to political power in Scotland, who are seeking to undermine fundamental principles of democracy. They are asking us to vote for them so that they can deny us our right to vote on a matter that we have an inalienable right to vote on at any time of our choosing and as often as we wish.

If nothing else, they get full marks for their audacity.

On the other hand, we have Nicola Sturgeon quietly and reasonably affirming the democratic rights of Scotland’s people. We have Nicola Sturgeon saying that the people are sovereign. That we decide.

We have Nicola Sturgeon insisting that NO politician – herself included! – has the right to deny the people of Scotland the opportunity to determine the constitutional status of their nation. We have Nicola Sturgeon eagerly and enthusiastically declaring her commitment to the democratic process that her opponents assert the right to overrule.

And we have Nicola Sturgeon being vilified by British nationalists for daring to insist that the democratic rights of the people of Scotland take precedence over the petty partisan interests of the British parties.

The SNP set out to contest this election on policies. Their manifesto is evidence enough of that. Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale have chosen to turn the election into a battle between two ideologies. They represent the ideology of authoritarian, autocratic, anti-democratic British nationalism that holds the people to be inferior to a British ruling elite. An ideology that would sacrifice democracy on the altar of a status quo that is inimical to democratic and progressive values.

The SNP – and to some extent the other pro-independence Scottish parties – represents a politics that respects democratic principles. A politics that recognises the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. A politics that puts the interests of Scotland and its people first at all times. a politics that is open to change and willing to reform.

As the only credible candidate for the office of First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon stands for a truly democratic politics that at least strives to be responsive to the needs, priorities and aspirations of the people of Scotland – rather than contemptuously spitting on them.

If one thing came out of last night’s leaders’ debate, it is that the return of an SNP majority administration with the biggest mandate possible is absolutely crucial. But we also learned that, if we truly value our democracy, we must decisively reject the British parties.

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One thought on “Defending democracy

  1. Brian Cunningham

    All parties SHOULD be working for the betterment of the people of Scotland. One of the founding principles of Labour was home rule for Scotland and they have betrayed those principles. The Tories have and always will be a westmonster based party with the city of Westminsters needs at heart.
    I hope to god that the SNP of which I am a member learn the lessons of Labour and don’t betray us as Labour have. Keep to your word Nicola as the people of Scotland look to you for leadership and hope.

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