The SNP doesn’t have a mandate to call a second independence referendum. That’s the view of Unionist politicians like Ruth Davidson. It also appears to be the view of BBC Scotland presenter Gordon Brewer.
Brewer made a bizarre claim on the Sunday Politics Show when, during a discussion with Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw and Scottish Green Co-convenor Patrick Harvie, he said the SNP administration doesn’t have an indyref2 mandate because the party is relying on support from the Scottish Greens in next week’s vote in Holyrood.
He said: “It’s not just about the Greens, the point is the entire argument of the SNP is that they have a cast iron mandate, but they don’t have a cast-iron mandate if they’re relying on the support of a party which doesn’t have any mandate.”
Brewer made his remark after an exchange with Harvie in which he also claimed the Scottish Greens had no right to back Nicola Sturgeon’s stance. The presenter suggested Harvie’s MSPs should in fact abstain from a Holyrood vote due to take place this coming week.
But Brewer’s claim is nonsense. The Scottish Government doesn’t require Scottish Green support in order to secure a mandate and win a vote on whether to request a Section 30 order. The SNP has more MSPs than all three Unionist parties combined, 63 versus 60 [59 if you discount Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh]. If the Scottish Greens abstain there is still a pro-independence majority in the chamber.
The bogus mandate claim followed an equally bogus claim from the BBC Scotland presenter on whether there is support for a second independence referendum amongst the general population. Pressing Patrick Harvie on whether the Scottish Greens themselves should consider backing the Scottish Government, Brewer said the following: “Every opinion poll shows people don’t want a second referendum.”
This is simply untrue. There have been several polls which return a variety of results on the question of whether voters back a second referendum or not. Some show a majority in favour and some show a majority against. The most recent poll shows a virtual dead-heat.
This of course is another strand of the Unionist narrative. Indeed it appeared as the number one story on BBC Scotland on Sunday after Ruth Davidson was helpfully invited onto the Andrew Marr show.
Davidson’s invite allowed the Scottish Tory leader to make all sorts of assertions about the SNP and a second independence referendum.
Within minutes of making these mini-speeches, her message was being broadcast across the BBC airwaves. It appeared on Radio Scotland bulletins.
It was the number one item on Reporting Scotland.
What we are witnessing is not news. It’s propaganda dressed up as news. The aim is to condition the Scottish electorate into accepting the legitimate mandate earned by the SNP, which gives Nicola Sturgeon the right to call a second independence referendum, is in fact illegitimate.
This is an attack on democracy itself by those charged with protecting it. Unionists and their media allies are attempting, through stealth, to deny a democratically elected government the mandate handed to it by voters.
MSPs are elected through a proportional system – albeit one that’s imperfect. Majority governments are meant to be near impossible to achieve in a Scottish election.
In essence what Unionists are saying is that – barring a majority – no party can ever have a mandate to implement its manifesto. Worse than that, according to Unionist wisdom, it is they who won the right to prevent a referendum.
Unionist politicians like Ruth Davidson are, in effect, using the media in order to disenfranchise Scottish voters. Presenters like Gordon Brewer so need to be at the heart of these political machinations that they allow themselves to be used. To call out the charade is to be on the outside looking in.
So Gordon Brewer invents a line of argument that allows him to continue the propaganda. He should know the Scottish Government doesn’t need Scottish Green votes. He should also know that polls don’t actually show people are against a referendum. But who cares if it means he gets to play the role of the intellectually superior host who has his finger on the pulse.
This nonsense will continue as long as there are career minded presenters like Brewer willing to go along with it. It has to continue if the UK Government is to withhold consent for a Section 30 without causing support for independence to rise in any meaningful way. If the electorate can be persuaded that it is in fact the SNP who are attempting to circumvent democracy and the UK Government that is its protector, then a second referendum can be blocked, perhaps indefinitely.
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