So what’s more democratic? Would it be option a) allowing the people to have a say on a topic when there is clear evidence that public opinion has shifted, or would it be option b)insisting that the result of a previous vote must be cast in stone and preserved forever? Or at least for as long as it takes Ruth Davidson to stop banging on about how she’s not going to allow another referendum, which is the same as forever. Ruth will still be refusing to allow another referendum after there’s been a second referendum and the Yes campaign has won it.
Ruth thinks it’s option b, because under that option her opinion is the only one that counts. This is what a Scottish Tory considers democracy, and it’s easy to see why Ruth might have been led to that conclusion because after all the opinion of Scotland’s sole Conservative is the only opinion belonging to a Scottish MP that counts in the House of Commons. When you’re a Conservative naturally your views trump those of everyone else, that’s what being British is all about after all. Tory opinions are so all pervasive that the only way that Labour can get elected south of the border is by turning itself into a Tory clone.
Kezia Dugdale has a similar opinion to Ruth Davidson, or at least she does this week. A week or so back she was open to the idea of allowing Labour politicians to support independence if they wanted, she could even conceive of circumstances when she might vote yes herself, but then she clarified that those circumstances were themselves inconceivable. Labour is opposed to another independence referendum this week, because it’s just before an election and they’re desperate to shore up their hard line Unionist vote and stop it wandering off to the Tories.
Labour has changed its mind so often and on so many issues that it’s hard to tell what Labour’s position is on anything, because they change their policies more often than your average person changes their underpants. But then no one really pays much attention to what Kezia thinks, not even most of what’s left of the Labour party. And come Thursday there’s going to be even less of the Labour party left. Labour’s been changing its collective underpants far more frequently than your average person does as they face up to the prospect of their impending doom.
The great Russian writer Dostoyevski once said that there was nothing like the prospect of impending execution to concentrate the mind, but that doesn’t seem to have worked in the case of the Labour party in Scotland. But then of course that presupposes that they have a mind to concentrate. The Labour party in Scotland has James Kelly instead. The only consistent policy position you’ll find in the Labour party in Scotland is that the SNP is very bad.
In the interests of full disclosure, it does have to be added that Wullie Rennie is of a similar opinion. Admittedly no one gives a toss what Wullie thinks about anything, except possibly his views on the timetable of the number 17 bus from Cowdenbeath to Kelty. But then you can get an app for your mobile for that, which means that Wullie is the first party leader in recorded history who could be replaced by a mobile phone notification without anyone noticing. The Wulliapp is recognisable by the sound of its droning hum, which not coincidentally sounds very like the engine of an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 double decker. Unlike the bus though, Wullie doesn’t meet emissions standards, as he spouts far more in way of brain damaging rubbish than a diesel engine, and he also carries far less on top.
Labour attempted to develop a similar app for Kezia, but its high pitched whine was inaudible to the human ear and only made all dogs within a three kilometre radius bark wildly and pee on the carpet. Since they’ve already got enough on their hands clearing up the mess that Jackie Baillie makes every time she makes a pronouncement, the idea was aborted.
Anyway, having had our referendum in 2014, the Unionist parties claim that Scotland isn’t going to be allowed to change its mind on the question of our status within the UK, not even if the Unionist parties break every single promise and commitment that they made in order to secure the no vote that September. There may be a promise that was made to Scotland by the Better Together campaign in the summer of 2014 that hasn’t been broken yet, although I must admit that I am struggling to think of an example. They did promise that it was only by virtue of a no vote that we’d still get Dr Who on the telly, but we’re not even getting a new series this year, although we may still get a Christmas special.
The Unionists believe that Scotland shouldn’t be allowed to reconsider the situation even if circumstances radically change and the previously unthinkable actually came to pass, as it would if Scotland was faced with being dragged out of the EU against its will or Jackie Baillie made an announcement about something that turned out to be well costed and numerate.
There’s a slow drip drip in the polls, and support for independence is growing. Eventually it will reach the point where independence can safely be called the settled will of the Scottish people. We may reach that point sooner rather than later, given the way in which the Unionist parties act as though democracy is optional as far as Scotland is concerned. But even if the polls show that there’s a clear, consistent, and settled majority in favour of independence, the Unionist parties still don’t want us to have one. They’ll be insisting that everyone respects a no voting majority that has ceased to exist.
The reason that the Unionists don’t want to give the Scottish people the chance to ask themselves the question about Scotland’s place in the world is because they are afraid of the answer that they’ll get. They’re desperate to retain control over us because they know they’ve already lost it. The question is still going to be asked, sooner or later, and the answer will be independence. Scottish democracy will not be silenced.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993
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