The stench of British nationalist desperation is overwhelming. With seventeen opinion polls in a row showing a majority for independence, and equally consistent indications that the SNP is on course to trounce The Conservatives, Labour, and the LibDems in this year’s Scottish elections after promising to deliver another independence referendum,a referendum which the independence movement is highly likely to win, the parties of the British establishment and their allies have all but given up on making a case for the UK in Scotland and switched their efforts to attempts to suppress the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine Scotland’s future for themselves.
We saw this over the weekend with Johnson’s shameless suggestion that there should not be another independence referendum until most people who voted in 2014 are dead. He notably refused to answer the question his outrageous suggestion raised, if a British Prime minister is going to block another independence referendum for decades to come irrespective of the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland as expressed through the ballot box, then what mechanism remains left to the people of Scotland which allows them to choose the form of government best suited to their needs.
Johnson has exposed as spurious the Conservative argument that the SNP said in 2014 that that year’s referendum was a once in a generation opportunity as a justification for his refusal because no politician who claims to be a democrat has the right to bind the hands of the electorate. It ceases to be a democracy hen the electorate is not permitted to change its mind, all the more so when it is are not permitted to change its mind in the light of changed circumstances, all the more so when those doing the refusing are the same politicians who created and caused the changed set of circumstances. In effect the Conservatives are arrogantly telling the people of Scotland that they are not going to allow us to hold them to account for taking Scotland out of the European Union and for their abject failure to honour the promises and commitments that allowed them and their Better Together allies to win the referendum in 2014.
Now that the ‘you can’t have another referendum’ line is patently failing to stem the rise in support for independence and is doing nothing to attract back remain supporting no voters who have defected to yes, indeed it shows every indication of being counterproductive and is only succeeding in alienating Scottish opinion even more, Some of the Bitter Together stalwarts are attempting a new tactic. No, they’re not actually suggesting that the British government should pay heed to what the people of Scotland are telling them, don’t be daft. They’re not about to break the habits of the past 300 years. In the British scheme of things it’s the people of Scotland who should obey British governments, not the other way about. Instead diehard British nationalists are airing the possibility of a different kind of voter suppression. Over the past few days, the arch unionist editor of The Times Scottish edition Magnus Llewellin, the equally arch British nationalist former Conservative MSP Brian Monteith – who now edits an online journal giving a platform to the swivel eyed lunacy end of right wing British nationalism in Scotland, have both called for May’s Scottish elections to be postponed, citing the Coronavirus epidemic as an excuse. They would of course have made the exact same call if the polls were showing the SNP to be on course for a historic defeat, and if you believe that you probably also believe that Alister Jack is a great champion for Scottish interests in the cabinet and that the Orange Order is primarily an organisation dedicated to traditional folk music.
The were joined in their faux concern for Scottish public health by Blair McDougall of Better Together who suggested that the Scottish elections should be delayed until next year. Of course neither Brian Monteith nor Magnus llewellin called for Brexit to be delayed because of the pandemic, and neither, as far as I am aware, are calling for the local elections in England, also due in May this year, to be postponed. It’s only Scottish democracy that British nationalism wants to be suspended, just when it appears that Scottish democracy is about to impose a historic defeat on British nationalism. You know, it’s almost as though they are terrified of the verdict of the people of Scotland on whether this UK we are actually living in lives up to the UK that we were promised we’d be living in if Scotland voted no in 2014, Oh wait, that’s exactly what it is. For Better Together it’s only the losing side in the 2014 which must be held to account. Not them, never them. After all the entire point of the Union for Westminster is that the people of Scotland should have no effective means of holding Westminster to account. Their poutrage (and no that’s not a typo ) would be deafening if the SNP was doing poorly in the polls and it was an SNP politician who had suggested postponing the election.
Of course there is no reason to delay the Scottish elections. It is entirely possible for campaigning and voting to be carried out online, via the media, and in a socially distanced way. In any event by May we can reasonably expect that all high risk people will have received the vaccine and vaccination efforts will have made significant headway into the rest of the population.
What we are seeing now are British nationalist parties and media outlets running scared of the democratic will of the people of Scotland now that they can see control slip out of their grasp. In doing so They are merely reinforcing the most powerful argument for Scottish independence, that it is only through independence and with a government directly responsible to the people of Scotland and no one else that Scotland can enjoy true democracy.
This is what a political panic attack looks like. By adopting tactics from the voter suppression playbook of the American Republicans, opponents of independence are merely showing their true anti-democratic credentials and making it all the more imperative for Scotland to escape their malignant political influence. And despite their transparently anti- democratic panicking, that’s exactly what Scotland is going to do in 2021.
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