Why do we have democratic elections? We have them because the alternative is armed conflict. Elections are a proxy for tribal warfare where the tribe with the biggest army usually wins. Votes replace soldiers.
It isn’t perfect, god knows the Westminster system of first past the post is one of the worst democratic systems, but it’s better than killing one another.
Over the last few months I’ve become increasingly disturbed by what amounts to an erosion of the integrity of the system of democracy we have in Scotland. It started at the last Holyrood election when the winning party was somehow deemed to have failed because they fell short of an overall majority.
The SNP won the Scottish election by some considerable margin. No other party came close. Yet the Scottish Conservatives were awarded the plaudits by the Scottish media by dint of having replaced Labour in the position of second … a very distant second.
Ruth Davidson has dined out on this media travesty ever since.
The bombastic Unionist MSP has swallowed the hype to such an extent she now believes that it is she who earned the right to speak on behalf of the Scottish people.
It’s culminated in the Scottish Conservative leader now declaring that the SNP will still not have a mandate to hold a second referendum even if Nicola Sturgeon’s party win over fifty per cent of the vote in next week’s general election.
This is a staggering thing to say when you remember it comes from the representative of the party expected to form the next UK government. All the more so when that same UK Government may find itself with uncontested power despite polling less in percentage terms than the SNP.
What Davidson is in fact saying is that Scottish democracy is worthless. Scottish votes somehow do not count unless Davidson says they do. Davidson wants Scottish voters to send a message to Nicola Sturgeon … but only the message Davidson dictates.
If, as expected, the SNP garner the bulk of Scotland’s Westminster seats then they will have won their third national election in succession where the constitution was front and centre.
The SNP won the 2016 Holyrood election on a manifesto that called for a second indyref in the event Scotland was dragged out of the EU against her will. Nicola Sturgeon’s party won the local authority elections despite Unionists turning it into a proxy vote on indyref2. If the party pulls of the treble then the mandate won in 2016 will be rock-solid.
What scares Ruth Davidson of course is the prospect of losing a second independence referendum. A second campaign will highlight the false promises Unionists made in the first. The biggest being the promise to protect Scotland’s EU membership. Ruth Davidson herself gave that pledge.
Thus, the refusal to accept the SNP mandate isn’t about respecting the result of the first referendum, it’s about denying the results of subsequent elections. And this is why I’m concerned. Ruth Davidson’s anti-democratic rhetoric is dangerous.
Once we delegitimise the democratic process then we send a message to voters that they can no longer affect change via the ballot box. We disenfranchise them. We neuter them. Moreover we force them to turn to other methods.
Where does the independence movement go when the door closes on the peaceful democratic path?
We are frequently told that we must do more to persuade young people to engage with politics. But what signal does this send to our youth? More worrying, what signal does it send to those young radicals who have taken up the invite only to find the democratic door slammed shut in their face?
The main stream media has thus far singularly failed to address Ruth Davidson’s very dangerous anti-democratic rhetoric. Instead they have helped normalise it.
The media, especially BBC Scotland, has spent this entire campaign telling us it is about indyref2, yet here we have Ruth Davidson effectively warning she’ll refuse to accept the result.
The media needs to call out the leader of Scotland’s British Nationalists, and fast.
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