Without respect

Theresa May’s reported remarks about respect have the hollow ring of political rhetoric. So much so that one wonders if the word has any meaning for her.

She talks of “the respect we show to one another as fellow citizens”. But her casual disdain for the devolved parliaments and her government’s treatment of the powerless and the vulnerable suggest that she does not understand the concept of respect in the way most of us do. As she uses the term, it has more to do with obedience than with esteem. More to do with deference to established authority than with valuing individuals and their civil and human rights.

In the lexicon of the British political establishment, respect is a matter of convenience. A matter of expediency. When Theresa May talks of respect she means unthinking submission to the ruling elites of the British state.When she asks for respect she expects uncomplaining subordination of all civic interests to an increasingly dire British nationalist ideology.

In truth, respect is commanded, not demanded. It is earned, not exacted. Institutions and processes, as much as individuals, must be seen to be worthy of respect. When a vote has been held we all respect the result only to the extent that respect is due. To automatically afford complete respect without considering the nature of the process by which the decision was arrived at would be to deny human intellect. Genuine respect can no more be bought with votes than it can with cash. Democracy is not strictly a numbers game. A simple tally of ballot papers is not enough. There must also be trust in our democratic institutions. The people must have confidence in the process by which a decision is reached.

The institutions of the British state cannot command respect. Where informed consent is regarded as an alien and dangerous concept; where fundamental rights are viewed with extreme suspicion; where the exercise of self-determination is held to be a threat to the established order, there can be no confidence in the democratic process.

Theresa May insists that we have a “responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the result”. By which she means we are absolutely required to accept a particular interpretation of that result and implementation of the decision to take the UK out of the EU. I would insist that our first responsibility is to democratic principles and our own conscience. I would insist that we are absolutely required to assess the legitimacy of the result in the light of what we know of how it came about. I say that both the outcome and the subsequent actions of the British government should be afforded only such respect as they may be entitled to. I’d suggest that doesn’t amount to much.

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8 thoughts on “Without respect

  1. John Docherty

    Good analysis ,on Tories ( values ) /attitude towards Scotland ,? Your silence or lack of indepth analysis on your rescent visit to Glasgow ,speak volumes ?

    We continue our fight towards a free Independent Scotland ,maintaining our stance that only by a totally United One Voice ,will we achieve our objective ,

    1. Peter A Bell Post author

      Unless I’m misunderstanding your comment, you may be reading too much into the fact that I have this far had little to say about the SIC conference. Immediate reactions are for Twitter and Facebook. I like to have a good think about things before attempting a more in-depth analysis.

  2. bringiton

    The only things the Tories respect is wealth and power.
    They have had our wealth and retained our power so…..no respect for Scotland.

  3. Gregor

    I very much enjoy reading the contributions to this website (from all the contributors) – you are a real asset to Scotland, the independence movement, and in the quest for social justice. Thanks.

  4. Andy McKirdy

    This is the very thing, the one thing, I don’t get and never will get about NO voters. The English government and the British establishment treat Scotland with no respect and utter contempt and always have done, except now they are not even pretending that they’re not.
    I will never as long as I live understand how any Scot can be content to be treated this way. I guess there were always people in all of England’s colonies that were happy to be subservient!!!!

  5. ScotsCanuck

    Andy, NO voters are not Generic … they fall into several categories, for example :-

    a) British not Scottish (extreme, can never be persuaded to Independence)

    b) Financially British (better known as “I’m alright Jack”, hard to persuade but as the Pound tanks & their Pension buys less, it’s possible.

    c) Not sure, play safe (I want to vote YES but I’m unsure …. a group of voters who can be persuaded if the message and potential for them (& especially their offspring) offers hope for tomorrow.

    This is obviously a generalisation of the NO voters … but it is significant as there is no point in wasting resources on (a.), applying limited resources on (b.) but maximising available effort on (c.) because we only have to convince a percentage of these voters to vote YES (and anecdotally they have said they wanted to vote YES) and we get the result we strive for.

  6. Andy McKirdy

    All true ScotsCanuck, but what they all seem to have in common is a blindness too or an acceptance of this contempt and lack of respect.

  7. manandboy

    On the ball, once again, Peter.
    With Indyref2, you seem to have converted undoubted potential into regular match winning performances, and must now be regarded as a true first team player in Independence colours.
    I for one, am delighted to see this emerging prominence, and send my best wishes for the continued growth of both your skills and influence.

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