Michael Gove said recently that a Conservative victory in the General Election would ‘cement’ Scotland’s place within the UK. What does that mean exactly? The Conservatives might well win the General Election in the UK, but they certainly won’t win it in Scotland. They are the second party, a second party that comes a very long way behind the SNP in vote share and number of seats, yet they’re a party which thinks that it possesses the absolute right to dictate to the people of Scotland about whether or not Scotland will be “allowed” to have a conversation with itself about its own future.
It is a shockingly anti-democratic stance for a party to take in what is supposed to be the mother of all democracies. Yet for the most part the media in Scotland and the UK doesn’t challenge them on this. It’s taken as a given that Westminster has the legal right to refuse Scotland a referendum. The moral and political right is never questioned. It is taken for granted that voters in the rest of the UK have the absolute right to dictate to Scotland what Scotland’s future is to be, taken for granted by the very same people who would howl in outrage about the supposed EUSSR if the EU had refused to allow the UK to hold a vote on its EU membership.
The Conservatives apparently have two positions on another independence referendum. There are those like Michael Gove who rule it out in perpetuity, because he doesn’t understand – or doesn’t care – that a union without consent is occupation. A union without consent is unsustainable, and when it does finally come to an end that end will also spell the end of the Conservatives in Scotland as a political force. Michael Gove, if he maintains his anti-democratic stance, is signing the death warrant for both his precious union and for his party.
His colleague, the Governor General and Secretary of State for Boris Johnson in Scotland, Alister Jack, had – at least until Michael Gove slapped him down – conceded that there might just possibly, maybe, perhaps, be a conversation about considering another referendum if the SNP were to win an absolute majority in Holyrood in 2021. In other words, the Conservatives are taking it upon themselves to decide what other parties stand for. So if you plan to vote Green, Socialist, or for some other pro-independence party in the next Holyrood elections, Alister has helpfully decided for you that your vote won’t count. It’s only the SNP which is allowed to support independence. Alister Jack and Jackson Carlaw said so. And yet this shockingly anti-democratic position is far too liberal for the likes of Michael Gove.
Meanwhile today’s news where we are, the leader of Labour’s Scottish branch office, Reingold Lurkseater, announced that he grasps the concept of voting. Up to a point. That this revelation made the front pages of Scottish newspapers, and moreover was condemned by the Conservatives, tells you pretty much all that you need to know about the dire state of democracy in a Scotland that remains a part of the UK. Ragnarok Lacksvoter’s announcement was the simple acknowledgement that if there’s a pro-independence majority in Holyrood in 2021, then this might constitute a mandate for another referendum, even if the SNP don’t win an absolute majority all by themselves but need the votes of other pro-independence parties. This is apparently news in Scotland. It is considered news in Scotland that democracy is a thing. Or at least that democracy is a thing up to a point. Consider our gobs well and truly smacked.
The Tories were appalled and outraged that Romulus Lickwindower had conceded that Scottish people might be allowed to vote for a pro-independence parliament. In Torywold, voting is divisive. What’s not divisive is to impose Westminster rule from above and not allow Scotland to have a say in the matter. We’re glad that they’ve cleared that up for us.
Naturally BBC Scotland, STV, and the massed ranks of the Scottish press are appalled at the deeply authoritarian and anti-democratic stance that the Conservatives, Labour, and the Lib Dems are taking. The Scottish media ave been rigorously questioning the Tories on why they think that they have the right to subvert the democratic will of the Scottish people. Newspaper reporters have been doorstepping every Tory candidate about what right they have to stand for election in a democratic vote when their party has said that it won’t acknowledge the outcome of democratic votes that it finds displeasing. It’s the main topic on the news, and the BBC in Scotland is worrying away at the topic like a wee dug with its teeth firmly locked into Jackson Carlaw’s bahoochie. Because wee dugs suffer for the cause.
The press in Scotland isn’t ceasing to question the candidates in this election about why they think that Scotland voting parties which support another independence referendum doesn’t actually count towards another independence referendum. What’s so magic about Holyrood in 2021? Is it that they genuinely believe that Scottish issues cannot be decided in Westminster elections? Because if that’s true, then what precisely is the point of a UK General Election in Scotland. There is no point, and the press and broadcasters are constantly asking all those who oppose another independence referendum in Scotland why they’re bothering to stand at all.
That’s the same Scottish media that has been fearlessly hounding the Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem parties about what right do they think that they have to ignore the mandate for another independence referendum that the Scottish Parliament already has. It’s the same Scottish media that has always responded to assertions that the result of the 2014 referendum must be respected with questions about how those parties have failed to fulfil the promises and commitments that they made in order to win it.
The media in Scotland is ceaseless with the message that a union without consent is indistinguishable from occupation, indistinguishable from a colony, and a union without consent is not a union that can last. With their contempt for Scottish democracy, the Labour, Lib Dems, and above all the Conservatives are merely bringing closer that independent Scotland that they fear so much. Because in that independent Scotland they will no longer be able to call for haunners from south of the border in order to impose their will on a Scottish electorate that has rejected them. Thankfully we have a Scottish media that is dedicated to holding power to account and is constantly hammering them on that message.
Oh wait. No. Sorry. Silly me. That was a dream. The media in Scotland is just telling us what the anti-independence parties say, and for the most part it is nodding approvingly. It’s not the job of the media in Scotland to hold power to account unless that power is the SNP and it involves hospitals or trains. Westminster power, for the media in Scotland, is like the weather. We just have to put up with it. We can complain about it, but we just have to suffer. It’s the British way.
Well we don’t. We don’t have to put up with it. The way to demonstrate that is first of all ensuring that the anti-democratic parties of British nationalism are rejected at the polls on 12 December. The way to demonstrate that is to keep up the clamour for Scotland’s right to decide its own future. The way to demonstrate that is to support that part of the Scottish media that does recognise Scotland’s right to decide. One way or another, Scotland will have its say. But it will only have its say if we don’t shut up about it. It’s up to us to hold the powers of British nationalism to account. Nae other bugger is going to do it for us.
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