In the days since the historic Supreme Court ruling that Scotland has no right to an independence referendum through its own internal democratic processes, and the incomprehensible decision of the court that Scotland has no right to self-determination as it is neither oppessed, a colony, nor denied a meaningful say in its own affairs, immediately before ruling that Scotland has no meaningful say in deciding whether or not it can have an independence referendum or not, Anglo-British nationalist politicians have been falling over themselves to de-legitimise the mandate for another referendum given to Holyrood by the voters of Scotland in May 2021.
This is because they know that they stand exposed as democracy deniers, undemocratically refusing to allow the people of Scotland the referendum that they so clearly voted to have, resorting to laws that they themselves have created in order to obtain a ruling that it would be unlawful for Holyrood to do what the people of Scotland elected it to do.
There is one thing that we must get clear right away, and this needs to become a change in language that is widespread and standard across the independence movement, following this ruling we can no longer permit opponents of independence the indulgence of the political fiction that they oppose Scottish independence because they are opposed to ‘nationalism’. This ruling has made it abundantly clear that there is no longer a union in the sense that it has been understood for generations. Indeed the court went out of its way to rule that Scotland has no right to self-determination, and is utterly dependent on the voting choices of England in order to be ‘allowed’ to revisit the question of its relationship with the other nations of the British state.
The political opponents of independence are therefore not advocating Scottish participation in a voluntary partnership of equal nations – like the EU – they are advocating the subordination of Scotland to political decisions made in England and to denying Scotland the right to gainsay or challenge these decisions. England, the largest nation in this so-called union is not subject to the same constraints. Scotland and Wales can be bound by the electoral choices of voters in England, but the converse does not hold true. The parties opposing independence are thus proponents of Scotland having an inferior status within a state which is effectively the political expression of Greater England and which denies Scotland the right to self-determination. As such they are not unionists, they are not anti-nationalist, they are the parties of Anglo-British nationalism and must be characterised as such.
Even the most obdurate Anglo-British nationalist politician accepts that the question of independence dominates the political landscape in Scotland, however they are determined to ensure that the question is never addressed by the electorate, in no small measure because they fear the response that the people might give. They like to blame it on the SNP and ‘grievance mongering about Westminster’ deliberately ignoring the fact that ‘grievance mongering’ only achieves the persistent political traction that it has done in Scotland when people feel genuinely aggrieved. But the cause of this must never be examined, far less addressed or remedied.
In order to maintain a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, the Anglo-British nationalists are on an all-out campaign to re-write history and to deny that the current Scottish Parliament does indeed possess a mandate for another referendum. That is appalling enough, but it is even more appalling that most of the Scottish media allows them to get away with it.
In the Commons on the day of the Supreme Court ruling, the patrician governor general Alister Jack asserted that the Scottish Parliament does not have a mandate for another referendum because only 30% of the electorate voted SNP in May 2021. He further went on to dismiss the Scottish Green MSPs entirely on the spurious basis that the Scottish Greens don’t stand in the constituency vote and therefore in the tortured reasoning that passes for Jack’s logic the votes of Green MSPs don’t really count. However if we are going to discount the votes of list MSPs – then the SNP would have a crushing majority at Holyrood. But Alister Jack seems to believe it’s up to him to pick and choose which MSPs count towards a mandate.
By Jack’s own measure only 29% of the electorate voted for the Conservatives in the December 2019 General Election, but this would not lead him to admit that the Conservatives do not have a mandate in the Commons, or that he should not be in a job.
It is incredible that this needs to be spelled out, but it must be because Jack, Douglas Ross, and their fellow Anglo-British nationalists insist on conflating elections and referendums. May 2021 was not a referendum on whether Scotland should have another independence referendum, it was an election to the Scottish Parliament, a Parliament which uses a broadly proportional voting system designed to avoid one party winning an outright majority. It is a system deliberately designed to bring about multi-party governance, this makes it doubly desperate for Jack to attempt to discount Green MSPs.
So once more for the democracy impaired – election winners are not determined primarily by percentage of vote share, particularly in the first past the post system beloved of Westminster, they are determined by seats won. It’s the party or parties with most seats who win power and the mandate to implement its manifesto. Once that majority is won, the government holds its mandate until the next election. It does not lose it mid-term because of opinion polls. That’s how elections in the UK work, it is how they have always worked in the modern era. Labour and the Tories’ appeal to opinion polling does not negate the mandate won at the election of May 2021. If it did, Brexit would not be happening.
No British Government has won a majority of votes cast since 1935 when Stanley Baldwin leading the National Government (a coalition of Conservatives Liberals and some Labour MPs) won 51.8% of the votes cast, but even this fell short of a majority of the electorate.
in 1931 the National Government won 67.2% of votes cast, which on a 76.4% turn out works out at 51.3% of the electorate. By Jack’s ludicrous logic – if we are calling it logic – this was the only occasion since the introduction of the democratic franchise that a British government has won a mandate to implement its manifesto. All other governments, including the ones in which Jack has been a minister, have been illegitimate.
Jack is not entirely stupid. He and Ross and Sarwar know how elections work. They are merely dishonestly trying to create public doubt about the Scottish Government in the hopes of disguising their contempt of democracy, and doing so in the knowledge that the Scottish media will allow them to get away with it. The more that they do so, the more they confirm the view that the Scottish independence campaign is now the Scottish democracy campaign.
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