It should be clear from Nicola Sturgeon’s comments regarding a ‘triple lock’, and from the approach to a new independence referendum set out in the SNP manifesto, that we face two quite distinct battles. Before we can even contemplate fighting and winning the 310-year struggle to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, we must first win the battle to secure our democratic right of self-determination against a fanatically determined onslaught by the forces of far-right British nationalism, aided and abetted by those too thoughtless to realise that it is democracy itself which is under threat.
Yesterday evening, having enjoyed the positive, upbeat atmosphere of the SNP manifesto launch in the morning, I attended an election hustings at which the candidates for the Perth & North Perthshire constituency faced questions from what I estimate to have been around seventy voters. The event was chaired by The Courier’s political editor, Keiran Andrews – whose main concern appeared to be avoidance of anything resembling robust debate. Which was a pity, as there was a lot of stuff issuing from some of those on the platform that thinking persons had every right to get ‘robust’ about.
When somebody is seeking to deprive me of my fundamental democratic rights, I reserve the right to get angry. When someone is displaying an arrogant contempt for the Scottish Parliament, I reserve the right to be seriously offended. And when someone spices their anti-democratic British nationalism with naked hypocrisy, I reserve the right to be disgusted.
This last is a reference to Peter Barrett, who, with not so much as a hint of embarrassment, enunciated the British Liberal Democrat position that The ‘British people’ MUST be given the opportunity to vote on a key constitutional issue (Brexit), while the people of Scotland absolutely MUST NOT be permitted to vote on a key constitutional issue (independence).
This brazenness of the double-standard is really the only thing that distinguishes Mr Barrett’s anti-democratic British nationalism from that of the candidates for the other British parties. The less said about David Roemmele (British Labour in Scotland) the better we might avoid being needlessly, perhaps accidentally, insulting. Suffice it to say that Mr Roemmele is the very epitome of a token candidate. He may well be a very fine individual. But to say that he wasn’t on top of his brief would be a massive understatement. I found myself growing increasingly annoyed at those who sent this guy into an election contest so horribly unprepared. If there was a sympathy vote, Mr Roemmele would be in the running for mine.
On a more serious note, what I take from his underwhelming performance is the overpowering sense of BLiS as an ‘organisation’ which has absolutely no regard for its own candidates, far less those it expects to vote for those candidates. The only thing David Roemmele seems absolutely certain about is that he adheres to the unapologetically anti-democratic British nationalist line adopted by Kezia Dugdale – and, for all we know, Jeremy Corbyn.
It was left to Ian Duncan (British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland) to more fully articulate the argument that the people of Scotland should be denied their democratic right to decide how their nation is governed. Although it wasn’t so much that he set out a clear case explaining why voters should vote against their right to vote, as that he simply scoffed at the very notion of the people of Scotland having the power to choose.
The man who is standing as a candidate for a party whose entire election campaign is based on a proposal to block the democratic process gave the impression that he considers it utterly ridiculous that we should be concerning ourselves with constitutional issues. The man on whose behalf local Tory loyalists are distributing leaflets which contain nothing whatever but a fanatical insistence that there must not be a new independence referendum, seems to think it inappropriate that we should be discussing a new independence referendum.
There is a reason Tories, and other British nationalists, don’t want to talk about the constitution. There’s a reason they are, on the one hand, so dementedly obsessed with preventing a new referendum and, on the other hand, so anxious to relegate the topic of the constitution to the status of a triviality that has no place in our political discourse. The reason is that the constitution is fundamental to politics. Because constitutional politics is concerned with that most basic of questions – who decides?
Ian Duncan is asking the people of Perth & North Perthshire to approve a single very explicit proposal – that the people should not be allowed to decide. That the power to decide should, instead, be handed to a British political elite.
Some in the audience at the Soutar Theatre agreed that we should be discussing narrower issues. Unfortunately for Ian Duncan, one of those issues was the appalling two child cap and the obscene ‘rape clause’. And this was where we were treated to a glimpse of what it means to hand power to a British political elite. As questioner after questioner pointed out catastrophic flaws in this ill-thought policy, all Mr Duncan could offer was a string of vague platitudes along the lines of ‘we might have to take a look at that’. Or ‘we may need to have a debate about that’.
This wouldn’t be acceptable even if it only related to the ‘rape clause’. But the underlying message applies across every area of policy. And that message is, “Just trust us. We’re the elite. Let us sort it out. Never mind that we can’t tell you how we’ll do that. Pay no heed to the fact that we keep changing our minds about things even before we’re elected. Just vote for us, and then go back to your comfy chairs and let us get on with it.”
You’ll excuse me if I reject this arrogant presumption. I want nothing to do with British ‘demockracy’. I don’t trust British politicians. Why would I, with the lies and empty promises of Better Together / Project Fear still fresh in my mind? Why would I trust anybody who is so fanatically obsessed with denying my democratic right to choose?
I’ll be voting for Pete Wishart (SNP). I’ll be voting for him for a number of reasons. His proven dedication. His demonstrated abilities. His tireless efforts on behalf of constituents and country. His experience. But, above all, I will be voting for Pete Wishart principally because of his unshakeable commitment to the democracy now under threat from rampant British nationalism. A commitment to ensuring that the power to choose remains in the hands of Scotland’s people. A profound belief that our future should be decided by us, not for us.
I’ll vote for Pete Wishart because I know that, like every other SNP candidate in this election, he would answer each of the following questions with an emphatic and heartfelt Yes!
Do you acknowledge Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination as guaranteed by Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, and agree that this right is vested wholly in the people of Scotland to be exercised entirely at their discretion?
Do you accept the authority of the democratically elected Scottish Parliament and recognise the validity of its decisions as a true reflection of the will of Scotland’s people?
Do you denounce the efforts of the British state to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination and condemn the disrespect of the Scottish Parliament evident in the refusal of the British political parties to accept its ruling on the matter of a new constitutional referendum?
Why not put these questions to the candidates in your constituency. We could call this game, ‘Spot the democrat’.Views: 3395
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