A guest post by Samuel Miller
Aye, it appears that the political classes and assorted meeja types are at a bit of a loss as to why no one will listen to their air biscuits of wisdom currently. Their cunning plan to date seems to be comprised of an avalanche of editorial, twitter snark (whatever that is) and general broadcast sound bites from assorted punditry aimed at either a. Convincing the public they have undergone mass brainwashing/enforced indoctrination or b. Shaming the same public into a realisation that they have been an unwilling victim of the biggest mass political con of the decade and therefore are essentially just dim. Oh, and you’re all the wrong sort of nationalists if you support independence for Scotland. To coin a popular phrase these days… You’re all vile frankly (sigh).
Basically, y’know, insulting and antagonising people, which is always a great way of winning folk over.
Now all of this has apparently been perpetrated by those evil masters of deception and duplicity, that sinister, single issue fringe cult of Essenpee (bad) inc., who are…wait for it… planning to continue arguing for independence. That is quite some feat for a party that struggles to get the gopher in any daily title’s editorial bear pit to answer the phone, never mind have said title print pro Essenpee propaganda for the mass market to get all brainwashed over. Oh and as for favourable broadcast coverage? Safe to say, it appears that the media in general aren’t fans of either the Essenpee or the concept of Scottish independence.
So I thought it might be a bit of a help if we telt them just why we personally vote the way we do and why we’ve kinda turned off to what they’re saying.
I’ll start shall I?
What I believe – Put simply, I believe Scotland is a country. I believe the population of a country are those best placed to make decisions about their own needs, governance and future. I believe the electorate of a country should expect to elect and be governed by the party of their democratic choice, one that will reflect and administer for their priorities, their particular needs and their aspirations. I believe in personal and collective choice, democracy and responsibility. To quote a rather well known American fella, I believe in a “government of the people, by the people, …”. I don’t consider myself superior to anyone else, but I’m damned if I’ll be considered less than anyone else because of my country of origin, or because I wish to see that country exercise its democratic rights on its own behalf.
I believe stewardship and governance of a country is all about the future, the next generation and that it is the present generation’s duty to act as caretakers of the country and custodians of that future. In short, to leave behind a better place for future generations, or at least not to feck it up so badly its of no use to anyone. I also believe in interdependence, NOT DEPENDENCE, that Scotland rejoining the family of nations and adding its own distinctive voice would be a friend to the world and a source of strife to none.
Doesn’t seem hard to understand and to me it doesn’t seem like a big ask for all politicians and parties in Scotland to accept as a concept with some merit. Yet this is NOT the system of government the population of Scotland currently lives under and so, unsurprisingly, I personally support a movement and parties who aim to rectify this state of affairs and return Scottish government to what I consider its natural home, into the hands of its own population. Again, not a hard concept to grasp.
So why don’t I listen to politicians from established political parties such as Labour, Conservative or Libdem anymore? Bearing in mind that upon a time I did, what changed? Where would you start with an answer? My own lifetime personal observations and experiences, (as an ordinary bod), of politics as it is practiced in the UK is a good catch all. However, best to put some meat on those bones. Starter for ten: None of those parties believe in the premise of an independent Scottish government, nor even true equal partnership, home rule via FFA (shrugs). Apparently their only interests as fully paid up members of the Westminster establishment is limited devolution as decided by a fairly loaded, anti democratic and self serving system of central government. This system decides the disposition of our sovereign powers, our economy and our resources in a parly where our representation is a bit on the outnumbered side when it comes to voting on constitutional issues and/or day to day legislation. Even if almost every single Scottish MP decided FFA was a good thing (which they did), the nature of the chamber, the system and the vote under the current constitutional arrangement would ensure it was an option that never came to pass. Ohhhh wait….
Simply listing the Westminster system’s abuses against its own population could wear your fingers down to stubs. Illegal wars, decades of mis managed economy, expenses scandals, cash for access and questions, patronage for favour, an unelected chamber, government compromised by the corporate world, political ideologies creating wealth disparity on an eye watering scale. Oh and let’s not forget to mention naked party political manipulation of the population and democratic process. Playing one section of society, or voter demographic, against another simply for electoral gain. All of the above affect the UK and its constituent parts both separately and as a whole. The parliament and its system is figuratively and literally broken and may as well exist on the moon as far as the bod in the street is concerned, so divorced are the decision makers from the lives of the population. Just a thought mind, but perhaps a parliamentary sovereignty operating on elitism and patronage isn’t the grandest starting point for any kind of democracy? Still, pretty much acceptable business as usual for an entire class of professional politician. All of which neatly leads me back to having a government that is directly answerable to its electorate, a popular sovereignty.
The poorly managed deindustrialisation of Scotland in pursuit of a rust free, greed is good, finance sector driven economy and ‘trickle down’ theory may top a personal list or two for readers. A shift in economic ideology that left one time working/manufacturing communities employment free deserts which spiralled slowly and painfully into lasting poverty. Moving through the years, the misrepresentation and squandering of Scotland’s resources and contributions may get others top spot (‘family of nations’, right?). Imposition of the poll tax, the introduction of the crippling PFI schemes, Bedroom Tax, Benefits ‘reform’, sanctioning, the growth of food bank culture… A never-ending litany of ill conceived and what felt like, most times, punitive legislation. All of this topped off with a constant reminder by our politicians and our media that we simply weren’t good enough to manage our own affairs. I’m sure readers could add literally yards of their own examples to the list.
The Scottish electorate turned out repeatedly, loyally and hopelessly over the years to vote time and again. There was no one else to vote for you see, no other system in place or even possible for long enough and people wore disappointment, depression and apathy like an old jacket. It came to the point where we simply expected to be the butt of the joke. Yet after the inevitable failure to tackle any damn thing with anything other than scapegoating and half arsed, short term policy or sound bites, not a single party of government, (which would invariably be either Conservative or Labour), could or would simply hold their hands up and say, we got it badly wrong. They never felt they needed to I suppose. We were, for all intents and purposes, a captive audience.
Decade after decade of these parties doing what they wanted, not what they were asked, or what should have been expected. No, they were too busy jockeying for political power. Too busy using, manipulating and abusing the public trust and perception in a system where the public became pretty much electoral coin, and a means to an end. Decades of Scotland’s electorate only rarely achieving a share in a government it actually voted for thanks to a massive and obvious democratic deficit. Most times? Living with ill suited or downright harmful legislation passed by self interested members with only the smallest of mandates. Legislation ‘debated’ and voted upon in a chamber where the Scottish electorate’s representation was not only hopelessly outnumbered, but the overriding perception was that historically they were more than content to follow a wider ‘party line’ than defend the interests of their own electorate. That would be the very definition of politics as it is practiced in the UK then.
The question, I believe, isn’t why don’t folk listen to those political parties and their media advocates anymore, but why SHOULD they?
Amazingly though, the politicians and the media commentariat are confused, hurt, enraged and outraged that their electorate/readerships/viewers/listeners are increasingly ignoring and abandoning the traditional in search of other more reflective representation and/or sources of information.
The Scottish referendum, to me anyways, was a heads up for the public. The hugely one sided flow of ‘information’ from the media shocked and horrified an independence movement who literally begged them for fair representation. The media’s willingness to give near unchallenged access and column space to proponents of the pro union campaign and their much criticised negative narrative, left a bad taste and bitter memories for the independence vote post referendum. During the campaign, it wasn’t simply that they were poorly represented by the press, but badly and sometimes cruelly misrepresented by both elements of the media and their campaign opposition, with absolutely no thought for collateral societal damage. That campaign strategy would come back to haunt both establishment parties and the mainstream media in the 2015 general election.
Again the question isn’t why aren’t people listening anymore, but why should they? Why should people support a party political system and media that abandoned them, that clearly holds them in contempt and supports political and constitutional views that are polar opposites from their own? A system that saw no problem at all with its actions during that period and in one particularly famous case of more recent times, (an excellent example of media and politics UK style in action), didn’t have a problem printing unsubstantiated leaked information from high office in an attempt to undermine an opponent and affect public opinion during a general election campaign. Ayup, ‘politics as it is practiced… etc.’.
The answer would seem fairly self evident to me. The independence movement and that would be near half the Scottish electorate, have absolutely no reason whatsoever to listen and both establishment politicians and the media achieved this sad state of affairs all by themselves.
How they change this is up to them, but the current cunning plan of constantly shouting ‘you’re stupid and/or deluded’ ever louder, doesn’t appear to be a winning strategy.
Or just google Tartan Stalinists, McMess, Cunning Nats, Most Dangerous Woman in Britain, One Party State, SNP BAD etc, etc, etc, etc. (again SIGH).