The big scientific news this week is that researchers in the USA have succeeded in restoring some brain function to the brains of decapitated pigs which have been dead for several hours. This is the best news that the British government has had for quite some time, as it means that Theresa May will now be able to find some Conservative candidates for the slaughter that her party is going to face in the forthcoming European elections.
It’s looking extremely likely that the UK is going to have European elections on May 23. Theresa May still thinks that it’s possible for some version of her deal to pass through the Commons before May 22 and to avoid the poll, but then it’s also possible that she might make a public statement that this entire Brexit mess is entirely her own fault. However possible is not the same as probable. It is possible that the Scotland Secretary David Mundell is more effective as a spokesman for Scotland in the Conservative cabinet than a stuffed teddy bear wearing a tartan bow tie, but it’s not probable. It is possible that Ruth Davidson is a substantial and serious politician with well thought out policies which defend Scotland within the UK and is not just a one trick we-don’t-want-another-indyref pony in search of a photo opportunity, but it’s not probable.
Denial of the probable is this British government’s stock in trade. It’s the closest thing that they have to a strategy. We’ve now reached the point where British policy towards the EU consists of foot stamping and temper tantrums and the insistence that up is down, black is white, and David Mundell serves a useful purpose.
The Conservatives are handicapped in launching a campaign for the elections because of their insistence that the vote might not take place, that if it does then we’ll be leaving the EU within a couple of weeks anyway, and their utter inability to come up with some coherent policy that everyone in the party can agree with. Meanwhile Labour is keeping its head down and hoping that no one will notice that it’s trying to make out that a second referendum is an option while at the same time trying to prevent one from coming about.
The other parties have the advantage of a coherent message. It’s a pretty tragic state of affairs for mainstream British politics when David Coburn is more coherent than they are. David has resigned from Ukip and is now a supporter of Nigel Farage’s Nigel Farage Vote Nigel Farage As Seen on the BBC Party. Nigel has clearly been taking some lessons from Ruth Davidson. Nigel’s new Brexit party is doing unfortunately well in the polls, having eclipsed a Ukip which has now tacked very firmly to the far right. The two swivel eyed Brexit parties are now spending much of their energy slagging one another off, putting to very good use the reservoirs of hatred that they’ve built up over the years.
Effectively these EU elections are going to be seen as a dry run for a referendum. It will be a choice between parties which want the people to have a say, parties which want the most extreme Brexit possible, or a Labour party which doesn’t really know what it stands for and which is hoping that its confusion will be mistaken for moderation.
In Scotland, the choice is simple. You can either vote for parties which want Scotland to have a say on Brexit and on the future of Scotland, or you can vote for parties which are hell bent on making sure that Scotland remains as marginalised and sidelined as it has been during this entire sorry Brexit process. The Labour party in Scotland is led by a man who wants Brexit to happen, who doesn’t want Scotland to have a say, and who deludes himself that there’s such a thing as a good Brexit. The Tories only have one policy in Scotland, which essentially boils down to “Shut up and do what you’re told.” The Lib Dems want a second referendum because we were lied to in the first about what we’d get, but not a second Scottish referendum because the Lib Dems were amongst those doing the lying that time.
Even if you want Scotland out of the EU, you need to vote for the SNP or the Greens. Those are the only parties which promise the people of Scotland a choice and a say on their own futures, on the future of Scotland. Wanting Scotland out of the EU is a perfectly respectable position, however if Scotland is to leave the EU then that needs to be negotiated by a government which is answerable to the people of Scotland, which respects and listens to Scotland’s needs and concerns, and which above all has a mandate from the people of Scotland. Brexit was sold to us as being about sovereignty. From a Scottish perspective the overriding priority is first to establish the sovereignty of the people of Scotland, and not to surrender Scotland’s future to parties which don’t recognise it and who treat Scotland as a region, not a nation, not a country.
The deadline for registering to vote is 7 May. EU citizens can vote in these elections (although 16 and 17 year olds cannot). A recent study from the electoral commission found that as many as one third of 18 to 34 year olds are not registered to vote. This is the age group which is most likely to support remaining in the EU, and in Scotland the age group which is most likely to support independence. Speak to the 18 to 34 year olds amongst your friends and family, and encourage them to register to vote if they haven’t done so already. We need younger people to vote, otherwise older generations will write the future.
If you have moved house, or have changed your name, you need to register to vote again. If you are a UK citizen living in the UK, you can register to vote online. The link is here https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote In order to register you will need your National Insurance number. If you don’t know it, it will be on a payslip, a letter from the benefits agency, or a tax return.
You can also use this online service to register to vote if you are a UK citizen living abroad. If you are a UK citizen who lives in an EU state, you can choose to vote in the UK or in your country of residence. If you live in any other country, you can vote in the UK. If you live abroad and wish to vote in the UK’s European elections, you must have lived abroad for less than 15 years. You will also need your passport details to input into the site.
It is hugely important to ensure that you are registered to vote. Only two things are going to matter when the results are totted up – the number of people in the UK who voted for pro-EU parties over pro-Brexit parties, and the number of people in Scotland who voted for pro-indy parties over British parties. The first will give us an indication of the strength of feeling in the UK as a whole for a second vote on remaining in the EU, the second will give us an indication of the strength of feeling in Scotland for a second indyref. Scotland has the right to write its own future. It’s up to us to let our political masters know.
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