Two and a half years ago, almost to the day, I stopped blogging on political matters as the argument I cared about was over for the time. My last post on the subject started “Oh Scotland. I think you’ve made a big mistake.”
You may not be surprised to hear that I still think that (especially if you follow me on Twitter).
The events of today mean that it’s time to be prepared to use whatever small platform I have again, reluctant though I may be to do so.
Since September 19th 2014, the promises made by “No” campaigners to win the Scottish independence referendum have mostly been watered down or abandoned altogether – a bit like the promise of more money for the NHS that was going around on an infamous bus last summer.
One of the reasons I thought Scotland had made a mistake was that I saw the EU referendum result coming – although like everyone else, I was surprised by how quickly it came, and the degree of incompetence involved. It was inevitable though – given twenty years during which pro-EU politicians didn’t dare to stand up for it against the poison of the newspapers, a referendum had to happen at some point, and the result was not surprising. I just thought it would take longer.
Well, OK, regrettable as the outcome is, that’s democracy. But what’s not OK is that the promise of staying in the EU was a major part of the Unionist case in the Independence Referendum. What’s not OK is that leaving the EU has major effects on all sorts of things that affect Scotland. What’s not OK is that, without even consultation never mind approval, Westminster is now talking about taking back responsibility for devolved areas like agriculture and fisheries. What’s not OK is that Scotland voted to stay in the EU by a far larger margin than that by which the UK voted to leave (62% Remain as opposed to 52% Leave).
What’s not OK, outside Scotland, is the effect on Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.
What’s not OK is that the UK government hasn’t even responded to compromise proposals put forward by the Scottish Government, despite having promised to reach an agreed position before Article 50 was invoked.
And what matters most of all is that a party with one MP out of 59 in Scotland, and at a high point for them, the votes of 22% of the population, think that they can say “no” to a Holyrood majority for a new Independence Referendum, arrived at in a proportional system, based on a manifesto commitment to deliver exactly that under exactly these circumstances, because it’s a time that doesn’t suit them. There is no higher test of the will of a people – except for the referendum that’s being sought!
And as for “now is not the time”, well, the proposed time period for the referendum (between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019) is exactly the period during which other EU governments will get their say on the final deal that’s due to be agreed by September 2018. Why is it inappropriate for the Scottish people to have their say during that same period?
(One caveat: that Holyrood majority won’t actually materialise until the debate next week, but the chances of it not occurring are somewhere between extremely low and non-existent).
Meanwhile, the same party playing these games’ one Scottish MP is under police investigation for possible election fraud, along with others in his party. They lied that they cooperated fully with the Electoral Commission in that investigation when the Electoral Commission had to take them to court to get their cooperation. Today they introduced the so-called “rape clause”, which will require tax credit claimants to prove they were raped in order to receive assistance for a third child. Their main Brexit negotiator when questioned in committee had to admit that he knew almost nothing about what was going to occur. That’s only in the last couple of days! How dare these paragons lecture us?
Imagine if the EU had said the UK couldn’t run their referendum, or when they must run it? That’s the direct analogue of what is happening here. If you are a democrat, you can’t support that. Conservatives, and Labour and the Lib Dems who support them should be ashamed of themselves.