According to some press reports circulating on Thursday, Theresa May’s government doesn’t believe that there’s a mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum. That’s the government that has no mandate whatsoever for grammar schools, but is pressing ahead with them anyway. That’s the government that has decided that the referendum vote to leave the EU gave it a mandate to define what sort of exit it wanted, and it’s decided on the most brutal, the most right wing, and the most destructive and xenophobic Brexit possible. If you look up the word hypocrite in a dictionary, you’ll see it defined as Theresa May.
The SNP have a very clear mandate to press ahead with a second independence referendum. It was stated in black and white in their manifesto just a few months ago that they hoped to be re-elected as the Scottish government on the basis of, amongst other things, the promise that if there is a substantial and material change in Scotland’s circumstances in the UK that this would be grounds for a second independence referendum. They specifically cited the possibility of a Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will as an example of a substantial and material change of circumstances. Mandates don’t come much more explicit than that. The exact wording of the SNP manifesto was as follows:
We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.
That was just five months ago. The Conservatives might like to believe that Scottish voters have short memories and even shorter attention spans, but we all know what the SNP was elected to do. And they were re-elected as the government in a parliament where the electorate of Scotland ensured that there is a majority of pro-independence MSPs. That is a mandate. Even the Daily Record, the publisher of the infamous Vow in 2014 acknowledges that it’s a mandate, as clear and definitive a mandate as it’s possible to get. Claiming that is not a mandate undermines the entire democratic process. The Unionists are always going on about how the SNP must respect the result of the 2014 referendum, which is a bit rich coming from a bunch of clueless xenophobes who won’t respect the result of the 2016 election.
Back in 2011 Ruth Davidson stated that parties have to win a mandate for a referendum. They have to put a proposition to the electorate, and then win sufficient support that they can ensure a majority will support it in the Scottish parliament, whether as a majority government or with the support of other parties. If a party can do that, it has a mandate for an independence referendum. That’s exactly what happened in May 2016. Ruth needs to respect what the Scottish people decided. She needs to respect what she herself admitted.
But then these are the same people who looked upon the comprehensive electoral rejection of the Scottish Tory Michael Forsyth in 1997 and gave him a seat in the House of Lords where he still continues to exert his malign influence over our laws and legislation. Without a shred of irony, Mikey campaigned for Brexit during the EU referendum, telling people how unfair, unreasonable, and undemocratic it was that our laws should be made by unelected people who are not accountable to us. You don’t say Mikey, you don’t say.
The strength of the SNP’s mandate for a second independence referendum is all very different from what Theresa May claims is her mandate to do what she likes about Brexit and to do so without MPs in the Commons having a say in the matter, despite the fact that one of the main planks of the Brexit campaign was to restore the sovereignty of the Westminster parliament. The other main plank was Boris Johnson, who’s now the UK’s scary clown. Or at least he would be scary, if he wasn’t so risible. What’s scary is that we’re being led by clowns into an uncertain future where there are right wing monsters lurking in the shadows, demanding to test the teeth of immigrant children.
This is the nightmare that Britain has become, where the Tooth Fairy has morphed into Nigel Farage and will deport you if your teeth seem foreign, and where the only apparent strategy for the British economy post-Brexit is to rely on jam and biscuit exports. Stuff that’s really bad for your teeth. The British Empire biscuit will conquer the world, and we’ll build a future where the currency will be the jam jar. The jam jar is already pretty much on a par with the pound as it is.
The Scottish Government doesn’t just have a clear and definitive electoral mandate to press ahead for a second independence referendum, they have a moral imperative to do so. Because this Britain is morally bankrupt. This is a British government which has sold its soul to right wing populism, to extremism, to hatred and to fear of all things foreign. This is a Britain where hate crimes against minorities are soaring. This is a Britain where the centre ground is defined as a right wing dystopia of odium and demonisation. This is a Britain that has no space in it for Scotland. Just a few years ago they were falling over themselves to assure us that Scotland was a loved and equal partner in this family of nations. Now we know it’s a family that’s ruled with a rod of iron, with orders not with discussion, with fear, not with love. And it will remind Scotland of its subservient place.
This is not the progressive and forward looking Britain that Scotland was told it was a beloved part of. That Britain doesn’t exist. It was destroyed by the arch-Unionists themselves.
Meanwhile the leadership of the Labour party in Scotland, having been equivocal in the aftermath of the Brexit vote about whether it might support a second independence referendum, saying that they needed to see how things transpired, has now come out firmly against one. I wonder just what has occurred in the confused and angry and hateful few months since the Brexit vote to reassure Kezia Dugdale so? She’s not for saying.
The UK government shows every intention that it intends to pursue the hardest of Brexits, the cruellest of Brexits, the most blood and soil nationalistic Brexit. It’s a Brexit that will cut Scotland off from the rest of the world. It’s a Brexit that tells us that the Union of 1707 is no longer in our interests. We need a new Union. We need to remain a member of the European Union as an independent state.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-20th-oct-2016
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