Politics in the United Kingdom is increasingly resembling a toilet pan down which democracy is being flushed. There’s already a clear mandate for a second independence referendum. A bill for a referendum has been voted through by the Scottish Parliament with a majority achieved entirely legitimately according to the most impeccable processes of democracy, and yet the Unionist parties refuse to recognise it. There’s a serious question hanging over the democratic process of a country in which the normal rules get suspended when the state feels it’s in its interests to do so. Scottish democracy is conditional on what the British state will allow.
Both Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson have gone on record to state that they’d refuse to recognise any mandate for a second independence referendum even if the SNP managed to attain more than 50% of the popular vote. The logic of their argument is that there is no point in anyone in Scotland voting at all. But then that is the logic of Unionism. Within the Union it doesn’t matter what Scotland votes for because Scotland gets what the rest of UK decides to give us. Scotland is a permanent minority in a state which struggles with the distinction between democracy and majoritarianism.
The reason they refuse to recognise the right to another independence referendum is because they fear that they’d lose. If they were confident of winning, if they were so convinced that the people of Scotland would vote convincingly for the Union, they’d have no problem with it. That’s the exact same reason that Ruth’s boss in Westminster repeats her now is not the time mantra, because according to Theresa May the only time to hold another Scottish independence referendum is when it’s certain that the pro-independence movement would lose it.
Not that Theresa’s judgement on matters of vote-winning is particularly acute. She called this general election after stating clearly several times that she wasn’t going to call an early general election solely because the opinion polls suggested that she’d be returned with a crushing majority. Having spent the entire campaign to date robotically repeating soundbites and keeping as far away as possible from anyone who might ask her a question, telling everyone that she’s strong and stable while doing more turning than a windmill in a hurricane, she now finds that the polls are slowly turning against her. It’s still likely that she’s going to win, but it’s no longer beyond the bounds of possibilty that we’ll end up with a hung parliament. That would be fitting, Theresa May has made this election entirely about her, and yet like the supreme monarch she fancies herself as she refuses to submit to the same cross examination that every other wannabe Prime Minister in recent times has endured. For Theresa May, democracy exists solely in order to acclaim her.
Theresa May is still refusing to participate in the party leader’s debate due to be held on Wednesday evening. Obviously her handlers have decided that no Theresa May is better than a bad Theresa May. She’s sending some minion instead, because in the Conservative party a monkey has evolved more human warmth than the organ grinder. It just shows how robotic and alien that Theresa May comes across to the general public that Amber Rudd counts as relatable and humane. That’s the Amber Rudd that said she’s still not sure what the cap on the dementia tax is going to be because her boss hasn’t kept her fully briefed on all her U-turns.
Theresa’s given a number of reasons to justify why she’s too feart, sorry, too strong and stable, to debate with Jeremy Corbyn and the other party leaders. She’s not debating because she debates Corbyn anyway at PMQs, when she can get away with not having to answer any of the questions that he puts to her. She’s not debating because she’s more interested in meeting members of the public, or at least members of the public who’ve been carefully vetted in advance and who’ve been told that their jobs are on the line if they don’t stand in reverent silence while Theresa tells them how strong and stable she is. She’s not debating because, as she recently told the press, debates are a bit pointless, as opposed to what she prefers to do, which is the mindless intonation of stock phrases and making the same speech repeatedly in front of a handful of Conservative supporters deep in a forest in Aberdeenshire. And she’s not prepared to debate because she’s far far too busy preparing for Brexit, which in her case entails involves avoiding all questions, preaching about a coalition of chaos, and holding a photo opportunity in a factory in Kent. Theresa May expects the public to place absolute trust in her when she doesn’t trust the public enough to speak to them on their own terms.
Of course we all know the real reason why Theresa won’t debate with the other party leaders. It’s because she’s got all the warmth of the planetoid Pluto, and all the wit of Pluto the cartoon dog, and like the Greek god Pluto her mission is to take us all to the lowest depths of hell. Theresa is to witty and engaging banter as plutonium is to health food. But what do you expect from a woman who’s going to turn the country into a plutocracy.
There’s a connection between Theresa May’s haughty disdain for engagement and her lackey Ruth’s disdain for the outcome of Scottish votes. Both occur because the British state has no written constitution, no clear division of powers, and no effective means of holding politicians to account. Democracy in the UK has always been a thin veneer on the British establishment’s firm grasp on power and wealth, but now increasingly they’re no longer even bothering with the veneer. The pretence of democratic engagement has been replaced with a sneering disregard for accountability. The voters get what they decide to give us, and they can’t even be bothered to tell us what they have in mind when they’re up for election.
The contempt in which Theresa May and Ruth Davidson hold the democratic process needs to be met with contempt from the voters, and sending them both a firm and clear message on Thursday of next week that we don’t appreciate the way in which they take Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, for granted. We need to tell them that we won’t be governed by an organ grinder who throws poo on democracy like a monkey.
Audio version of this blog, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/the-monkey-and-the-organ-grinder-wee-ginger-dug-31st-may-2017
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