Politics as it is practised

A guest post by Samuel Miller

The past week has been an educational experience in terms of politics as it is practised UK style. We’ve had media cock ups, which wouldn’t look out of place in a carry on film. There have been yet more court developments in Labour’s ongoing bout of self abuse. Two of Scotland’s branch managers held a bit of a social media spat over who is the most anti Essenpee. We’ve even had Labour’s one and only MP in Scotland having a bit of a fallout with his own shadow Scottish Secretary.

It’s like a cross between Game of Thrones and Shakespear’s Julius Ceasar out there, only without the laughs.

FFS! We’ve just had a Tory bloodbath which resulted in the UK now in the midst of pulling itself out of the EU. Their own ill conceived, clown-footed omnishambles has seen the pound plummet, markets lose billions and leave the UK facing, at very least, a soft recession. The UK’s electorate are divided, with an unprecedented rise in hate crime since the Brexit vote. Westminster’s political credibility is currently the laughing stock of the international stage and a looming constitutional crisis on their own doorstep could see the end of the UK as we know it.

OK, that last one? There may be an upside there (cough).

Quite literally though, the main players in Westminster and their branch managers in Scotland are tearing each other apart. About the only thing these lunatics agree on is that the Essenpee are bad.

That would be the Essenpee who haven’t crippled an economy, alienated the poor, the helpless, the disenfranchised or…. the furriner. They haven’t started any wars, or committed billions to renewing the most appalling weapon system in existence. They’ve balanced their books, proven themselves capable in government and are currently busy trying to scrape together some underspend from last year’s handout to ease impending Brexit hardship in the Scottish economy. Y’know also, just to add yet a further degree of difficulty, they’re having to clean up an international and constitutional mess they didn’t cause and didn’t invite in the first place. Yet STILL, for all that, they’re bad. Probably also ‘vile’ in point of fact.

How did it come to this? Is the big chair in Downing street worth all of this? Is this the inevitable end result of a parliamentary sovereignty?

The established order, a crown and parliamentary sovereignty. In short, the fox running the hen hoose. Elected and unelected chambers of a closed shop, where the members set the agenda and decide among themselves what’s in our best interests. All of that wealth, influence, patronage (corporate and otherwise) and government. A system which can create and end any law, the supreme authority in the land which no court can overrule and only future parliaments can change legislation of. Oh and going back to that influence thing? When you effectively have your own state broadcaster and can name a newspaper’s political affiliation by it’s title then controlling the message isn’t much of a problem.

One word – Frenchgate.

Quite a set up. So yeah, you can see why political parties sold on this system of government might be a bit over competitive and aggressive in their campaigning. You can see where the art of persuasion by debate, over time, becomes the the art of naked manipulation and misinformation. You can see why competing ideologies over what is best for a population becomes bitter tribal warfare where the population becomes electoral coin and collateral damage. You can’t make an omelette and all that, or the end justifies the means, right?

THIS is politics as it is practised UK style.

This is the politics which uses and abuses our trust, manipulates our opinion and treats sections of its own population as acceptable losses. The greatest trick the establishment ever pulled, was to convince the electorate they were powerless to change anything for their own benefit. We CAN change how we are governed. We CAN choose to either live in service to a state or return the state to public service. The choice is yours…

So what KIND of politics and what KIND of country do you want to live in?

Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984


Answers on a postcard please

A guest post by Samuel Miller

A bit sooner than expected for a second post, but then this happened:

“The number one thing Nicola Sturgeon could do right now to boost the Scottish economy is to remove the uncertainty of a second independence referendum, she could take that off the table right now.” David Mundell Secretary of State for Scotland

Spookily only shortly after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the availability of £100m funding to boost the Scottish economy and support for jobs. Oh and her well received visit to Berlin.

Do readers think we should list the reasons as to why the First Minster of Scotland, in fact any First Minister of Scotland regardless of party, should remove the option of an independence referendum from the table given the current situation? In point of fact any option? I mean its not as if there aren’t enough clues for the poor soul.

Scotland is a country (not a region) with its own laws. It is party to a bipartite international treaty and its devolved government currently finds itself in a constitutional and economic crisis NOT of its own making. In fairly recent history two referendums, with fairly hefty and far reaching consequences, have been held with the participation of the Scottish electorate.  The outcomes of both referendums however appear to be somewhat constitutionally incompatible, which some folk may consider a bit of a tough nut to crack if you ask me.

The point is, that beyond all other desires, the SNP government is bound by one driving idea. The will of the Scottish electorate is sovereign and that regardless of where that will leads them, they believe it is the duty of the Scottish parliament to carry out the wishes of its electorate to the best of its abilities, end of.

Which pretty much explains the whole ‘ we will explore all possible options’ thing:-

Listen carefully.

As the UK government’s representative in Scotland, Mr Mundell is basically asking, (more like telling), the First Minister to ignore entirely one result voted for by the electorate of Scotland in favour of another. Oh and to effectively dump the idea that the opinions of the Scottish electorate matter in our political partnership.

In order to adhere to the democratic premise that the Scottish parliament derives its direction from the will of the electorate, it should be utterly unthinkable for ANY option to be taken off the table until that option has been categorically ruled out for whatever reason (legal or technical) and yes that includes remaining in both unions if at all possible. The Scottish electorate have basically instructed their parliament to square a circle and it may well come down to the ballot of an independence referendum in order to make that happen.

I repeat – Near as I can see and it’s hard to say otherwise, this constitutional and economic omnishambles was not invited or created by the Scottish Government. It is however where we, as the voting public, find ourselves and I cannot see any responsible First Minister removing options from the table which would provide their electorate with a means of resolving the problem for themselves.

Some folk may find this a bit cynical, but I think Westminster government and its office in Scotland may be aware of this already.

Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984


No Justification? Aye Right!

A guest post by Samuel Miller

There’s an itch I’ve been meaning to scratch since I first heard the phrase ‘there is no justification’ malarkey for another referendum on Scottish independence and its about time sandpaper was applied to that itch.

“As far as I’m concerned the Scottish people had their vote, and a very clear message came through, both the United Kingdom and the Scottish Government said they would abide by that.” Theresa May, July 2016

The Scottish Conservative leader insisted there are no “so-called indyref triggers that justify another referendum”, as her party’s manifesto vowed to support a “fresh positive drive to promote the Union”. Ruth Davidson, April 2016

“Now is the time for calm heads. Labour’s manifesto ruled out a second referendum in the lifetime of this Parliament and we won’t be changing our minds any time soon.” Kezia Dugdale, June 2016

I’d thought of looking for something Willie Rennie or Alistair Carmichael might have said, but frankly life is too short to deal with anything either he or Scotland’s most infamous fibber might have to say on the current crisis, pro or contra. Their encouragement along with the contributions of the more relevant parties above, are kinda why we’re here enjoying all this better togetherness currently.

So when is it justified then? I mean that’s the first question that pops into my mind. Just what would or could possibly justify a referendum on Scottish independence in the minds of Westminster leadership or Scottish branch office leadership? The answer is apparently – Nothing.

There appears to be no argument, no circumstance, no hardship, no democratic deficit, no catastrophic failure of government or constitution, no need great enough within Scotland’s population which would motivate or move their support toward an independence ballot. Why, you might ask? Well, basically any number of reasons in my opinion. Most importantly though, they appear fully invested and committed to their party ideologies and decades of party narrative. Who knew?

I’d hazard that some may actually BELIEVE in the UK experiment and the established order in society. Some may wholeheartedly accept the UK parliament’s concept of ‘British identity’. It’s also entirely possible that some simply may be far more mercenary in their world view. Political machines with only a limited sense of identity, but a whole lot of investment in their career trajectory. Believers in a UK where the parochial ‘region’ of Scotland is a starting point, but the end game is in big lights elsewhere. Come hell or high water though, these politicians and their parties believe in a crown and parliamentary sovereignty. Worse in the case of the branch office management. The local franchise put the parliamentary sovereignty of the UK before the accepted popular sovereignty of Scottish tradition. Essentially they like the idea of the public servants telling you how the country will be run and only require your input once every five years to sign the cheques they write in your name. No change there then for the Conservatives, but as for signatories of the Claim of Right such as Labour or the Libdems?

Here’s the thing though. We live in a modern, western parliamentary democracy (such as it is) and as in any democracy, there exists a covenant between government and the people in its care. A party of government or system of government makes promises, pledges, assurances n’ such through manifestos. The electorate then vote yea or nay on these statements and the party/government of the day gets the opportunity to deliver. If said government does not live up to, or deliver on, the majority of those pledges then there are inevitable electoral ‘consequences’ for such failure. We do live in a democracy, yes? People do have an inalienable right in our democracy to expect that their governments honour their commitments to and their covenant with the population, right?

Now, you kind of expect that no party of government will live up to 100% of its pledges and assurances in any given election. Some will be pie in the sky wishful thinking, or simply poorly thought out and unworkable. Some will be overtaken by events and circumstances beyond the control of the party/government in question. Most, if the party are any good at the day job of governing (and they have any sense), will be kept. Such is day to day politics. How and ever we’re not talking about an election here. We’re talking about referendums past and future. We’re talking about systems of government and their covenant with their population, ALL of their population. So what should happen when there is a catastrophic failure to deliver on core pledges and assurances made to your population during a referendum?

Do the electorate say ‘c’est la vie’ and walk away? Do they say, ah well, their heart was in the right place, let’s just forgive and forget? Or and this may be more likely, do the electorate look for redress, for answers from those who led them to believe one thing, but delivered a significantly different other?

Maybe just me, but I reckon people do have somewhere to go with that last viewpoint.

The list of those failures to deliver on pledges and assurances made during Scotland’s 2014 indyref are pretty damning by this point and have been highlighted or catalogued extensively by this site and others over the past twenty three months, so I’m not going to bore people to death going over what is already common knowledge. I am however going to drop in a couple of links to what I consider some ‘must have’ reading on the subject and let the reader decide for themselves.

Business for Scotland

Wee Black Book

Almost two years ago 55% of our electorate voted to retain a political union based on a particular vision. Is there a significant percentage of that vote who believe in the UK experiment right or wrong? Who have no problem with their victory of two years ago? Absolutely, no question and that is, of course, their right.

How and ever, I don’t believe for an instant that 55% of the electorate were deceiving each other or anyone else on the future of the UK. I’d reckon that for many, their beliefs, their uncertainties and their votes were exploited and abused by those who led and backed that winning campaign. The UK they voted for, the Better Togetherness they helped campaign for, simply has not materialized. The state construct they helped to maintain and its system of party politics, is solely responsible for the current constitutional and economic crisis. It is also then surely responsible for the other pledges and assurances it made to Scotland’s population back in September 2014.

At the end of the day this isn’t wordplay in some political debate, a joust where clever semantics and faddling with figures scores points and wins a prize against an opponent.  Oh and no, it’s not acceptable for some rent a quote MP to say ‘ well that’s politics’ either. This is our lives, our futures, our most basic rights and freedoms we’re talking about here and no policy wonk, no MP, no public SERVANT has the right to say to the population ‘thus far shall you come, but no farther’. If anyone sets the boundaries of a nation and its governance, it is the population of that nation and it is their right to hold their representatives and public servants to account. It is their right to hold them… to their word.

THAT, you would think, should be justification enough.

Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984