Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’

For as long as Sturgeon frames the agenda as Independence alone, London can only dictate the terms of Scotland’s return

I believe in the Union and the United Kingdom. But even I have found myself questioning just how long the Westminster Government can resist the call of the Scottish National Party for Indyref 2 or a second Independence Referendum.

Yes. The English media spoon feed us the stories that make us love to hate Nicola Sturgeon and everything about the Party she leads. And if you should ever find 40 minutes to watch Prime Ministers Questions on a Wednesday Lunchtime, you will quickly experience how the SNP’s Westminster Leader Ian Blackford uses PMQ’s as nothing more than a weekly opportunity to get his face on camera to perform.

However. Like it or not, Sturgeon and her Westminster proxy are no different to any of the other politicians that we currently have leading us from Westminster. They are out for themselves and will do whatever it takes – often shamelessly – to further their own interests and ideas. Meanwhile, they tell everyone that they respect democracy and that doing what’s best for the people is their one and only cause.

OK. There are perhaps a few exceptions. But if so, they are incredibly rare.

Truly representative politics has not existed in the UK for a very long time – if it ever genuinely has.

The twist to this story is that Sturgeon may indeed be one of the most shrewd and adroit politicians of the current age. The SNP Leader may not use her skills for the right reasons. But she does a very good job of making the politicians who lead us look today like the wet-behind-the-ears students that so many historical pictures of them already portray.

The SNP Leader’s ability to turn any political situation or event into an excuse to call for another referendum on Scottish independence is phenomenal, if not an art in its own right. But the painful reality is that things should and could have never been this way – especially so, had localism and handing back power to local communities really been at the core of Devolution’s hollow heart.

The realities underpinning continued membership of the EU have been crudely exposed by the agility of post-Brexit UK Government to secure COVID Vaccinations, whilst the EU has suffered an exquisite failure to launch. Meanwhile, the destruction caused by devolution was itself the bastard child of the European monolith, simply repackaged and sold by Blair and New Labour as part of their unbridled ambition to win favour in Brussels and surrender to the assault of further integration of the UK, regardless of the real cost.

Indeed, the irony of Labour losing political control of Scotland both in Edinburgh and Westminster would be truly delicious, would it not have been for the harsh, stone cold reality that one group of inept and self-serving politicians had weaponised another to leverage power away from their own seat of power using the very same motives as their own, whilst the cost to voters and their communities continued to grow exponentially higher all of the time.

Devolution in the hands of Labour or the Conservatives has and never was about localism, bringing back or decentralising power to the people and the communities in which they live.

Had it been so, the platform of Nationalist debate in Wales, Scotland and to a different degree Northern Ireland would not have existed as it does today in any way – simply because power and decision making it facilitates would be undertaken as close to the people these choices effect as possible. That’s the place where power has always legitimately belonged, giving the real lie to everything upon which the SNPs policy of pursuing independence is formed.

It is troubling to say that the damage to the Union may already be irreparably done. For as long as Nicola sturgeon continues to frame the agenda of political debate and public interest in Scotland around Independence, this direction of travel is only going to lead to and end up with one thing and nothing more.

Yes, there is much excitement over the government now telling sturgeon ‘NO’, emboldened as they have been by the rise of a deceptively blue wall. However, the chances are that this will never be enough. And whilst we continue to have a political class that prizes the centralisation of power using pyrrhic political devices such as the creation of Metro Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners to suggest otherwise, the power, control and level of responsibility that could and should be devolved will never be handed back to the tiers of government that already existed before the devolution shenanigans began.

The excuse that all priorities focus on our exit from the pandemic will soon wear thin with the Scottish Electorate. The call of Indyref2 will become irresistible, and especially so once the painful consequences of such excessive and profligate public spending used to underpin the flawed lockdown policies of the Westminster Government begin to become evident. The SNP will simply sell this as a London-based ‘English’ problem and not one of their own.

The debate over another Scottish referendum and Scottish Independence has to all intents and purposes already been won – aided by the ineptitude of successive Westminster Governments who like the SNP want everything to run their own way and have no time for any cause other than their own.

The self-wounding that Blair inflicted upon the Union on behalf of the EU has been allowed to fester for so long that amputation may be the counterintuitive key to reestablishing and then developing a healthy democratic relationship between london and all regions of the UK in the longer term.

The only question that London can ask about its relationship with Scotland, whilst Sturgeon continues to frame the debate, is under what terms the exiled Scots will be allowed and encouraged to return, once the SNPs destructive dalliance with power and their misuse of responsibility has hurt the very people they lead enough for more caring minds to finally reject their dangerous brand of Nationalism and seek Scotland’s Union return.

Sturgeon: Any path to Scottish Independence will do

These are strange times politically. The key players on the political scene that we do have are shining out. But the real news or the opportunity to flag it still sits very snugly under the cloak of Covid-19.

One of the political heavyweights that we should perhaps be paying a lot more attention to than we are is SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon who really does have to be flagged for how effortlessly she manages to turn every opportunity she is given to make it all about her.

When I say her, I of course mean making it all about Scottish ‘Independence’. Because frankly, that’s all the SNP Leader is about.

Whilst the viewing figures are now dictating the demise of the daily briefings from No10 – albeit only from air over the weekends, the public interest in the Lockdown and Social Distancing is clearly waning, it wasn’t always the same.

Indeed, it was notable from the start that once the SNP Leader had managed to create enough media attention to get a seat at meetings with Boris in No10, she then deliberately went out of her way to abuse the trust or protocol of the arrangement and make unilateral announcements that to the untrained eye looked like real leadership whilst she was deliberately making every attempt to show up the actual PM.

It would be a challenge for anyone to criticise Sturgeon for trying to big herself up into looking like a world statesman when that’s pretty much what all of the current political class does.

However, the track record of the SNP beyond their collective attempts to reflect any interest in their own unfolding legacy in Scotland by criticising everyone and anything else is something to behold.

Indeed, if the SNPs track record with leading the Devolved Administration was showing their form of Government as a beacon of integrity, diligence and putting public need first, we might all struggle to be critical of anything that they do.

All we see instead is the passing of the buck when there is a problem, without fail carefully placed in the vein of Westminster does it worse than we do or something along those lines. Whilst anything good that happens is immediately owned as if the Westminster Parliament’s signature on the UK Taxpayer’s Chequebook has zero to do with anything that the Scottish Parliament can do.

Devolution was of course the bastard child of the EU, regrettably administered, re-wrapped and rolled-out by Tony Blair and the 1997-2010 New Labour crew.

All this form of localisation achieved was to take more power away from the Scottish people and place it in the hands of yet another set of politicians who are in it for themselves.

Just like Blair and the Remain-obsessives who are doing all they can to make the Coronavirus Pandemic yet another re-run of the question of Brexit and Leaving the EU, the SNP see their best chances of glory being aligned not with the destiny of their own people, not even with Independence from the UK or anyone else, but with that of the EU.

 

 

 

MPs who voted against triggering Article 50 contradicted the will of the relevant constituency

February 4, 2017 Leave a comment

brexit-voteWhilst the realities of our Legal system have allowed the wishes of a group of individuals to delay the implementation of the democratic choice of the British people, any individual seeking to bolster the strength of their own argument against Brexit on the basis of this ‘technical truth’ will certainly not be putting the interests of the wider community before their own. Regrettably, those MP’s who have sought to thwart or destroy the process of Brexit in all but name are effectively misusing their responsibilities to the point where they may well bring their own incumbency into question.

Remainers persist in arguing that leaving the EU can mean that we don’t actually leave, or suggest that the Electorate will change its mind simply because the Remain Campaign was the only one telling the truth.

They argue that these reasons justify their refusal to accept a democratic mandate, but they risk shattering what is left of the already fragile status quo in which the disenfranchised majority has made clear they do not wish things to simply continue as the are.

Democracy isn’t perfect because it inevitably leaves those who have not achieved the result they were supporting feeling let down and disappointed if they fail to get their way.

Were democracy to be perfect, it would render itself obsolete simply because everyone would agree upon everything already and therefore have no need to engage in any such process.

The downside of democracy not being a perfect system is that those who disagree with a result will always look for leverage to dispute a result, just because they may have perceived that in some way they have been robbed.

To be fair, close results in elections – where perhaps just a handful of votes stand between one candidate and another – have been turned on their head just on the basis of a recount alone. But these instances are rare, and when they occur, are more likely to do so where a result has been drawn within an electorate of a very low number.

The smallest constituencies are the most likely to experience such events with the likelihood reducing as elections range from the wards of a parish councils, through those of a district level authority to the divisions of a county council and then the parliamentary constituencies themselves. Even then however, one seat ultimately being decided upon the flip of a coin is unlikely to effect the fortune or result from similar elections held on the same day within 649 others.

What all these constituencies have in common, is that no matter how small or how big, they all represent the majority view of the people who live within a specific geographical area. The result or election of an individual or individuals to represent that particular area are based on the votes of the people in that specific area alone.

Because of the current nature of British politics, it is easy to forget that even in a General Election, we all vote for an individual to represent us locally, rather than the political party they belong to.

Voters can hardly be blamed for this when the party which gains the most seats forms the government, and the leader of that group then becomes Prime Minister.

We might not even notice when our chosen candidate is not elected, simply because it can still be the case that our choice of Party for Government does. However, only one person can ever fill one seat and this means that at least one and possibly many more will not.

The practical realities of administering government require that district level authorities are responsible for the mechanics of elections. It doesn’t matter what the election and what the boundary of its constituency may be, the chances are that you will always go to the same place to vote. Other than being given one or a number of voting slips which have to then go in different ballot boxes when different elections coincide, very few of us have to think about much more besides, as the local monitoring officer manages the process which leads to the conclusion of each and every local electoral result that our individual vote contributes towards, to decide.

However, in the case of European Elections, which are decided on a Regional basis and require many different district level authorities to feed in their own locally harvested results which contribute to a much larger area, a strong result for one or more parties in that area may not be reflected in the Regional result itself, because the majority of people in other areas have within their own constituencies voted for another party or parties.

A National referendum is similarly no different, taking the process one step further to a point where every single vote counts directly towards the national result, with the relevant constituency being the entire UK.

The familiarity of the Electoral System lends itself to significant misunderstanding, particularly as many people are simply unaware of the different tiers of government which operate and certainly have no greater awareness of the geographical differences or enclosures which exist between any number of the different authorities or individual politicians who are elected by them in the same way.

This administrative anomaly works well in terms of operating a practical and effective non-digitised election management system. But it also allows data collected for specific areas such as that of a Parliamentary Constituency to be interpreted in terms of relevance just to the area in which those votes were counted alone, rather than against the backdrop of the wider, or indeed narrower area. However, in elections where a candidate or multiple of candidates is selected for a particular ‘seat’, a conflicting result for a parish ward would not allow or facilitate the election of a ‘part-candidate’ when the results of all others would provide a majority for a county council candidate and thereby ensure that individuals election.

Whilst many of the 114 MP’s have used the excuse that their own constituency voted to Remain as the logical reason for voting against triggering Article 50 in Parliament this last week, the fact that the European Referendum was itself never about the individual result or interpretation of votes from any specific Parliamentary Constituency, but rather the combined will of the nation itself, arguably renders this interpretation completely void.

The same can be said of the Scottish Constituencies too. What is more, whilst the SNP can argue that they have a distinguishable mandate, the result of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum has made the position of the Scottish region clear in terms of its relationship within and as part of the rest of the UK and would as such be no different than any other single parliamentary constituency seeking to Remain in Europe, when the Referendum was only ever about the relationship between Europe and the UK entire.

It would be ridiculous to completely overlook the alternative reasoning of these MP’s as from a certain point of view, it is arguably true. However, it is based on a subjective and arguably self-serving view, rather than the more objective one which has been adopted by many more on all sides of the political divide. One which respects the nature of the Referendum Vote and the specific constituency within which it was held.

Had the democratic view been accepted by all in the first place, the will of the majority of the British people would have already been respected. No MP would have found themselves facing a dilemma of whether or not to support their own Party, or alternatively risk the potential of being black-balled, all because to a few, democracy can only work when they believe that they alone are winning.

image thanks to thesun.co.uk

The questions of Scottish Independence, English Devolution and voter disenfranchisement could be solved in a matter of months. But control freakery at the top will only pay lip service to genuine devolution and it would be far too simple for them to use a solution that already exists…

JS63584651

Last Fridays meeting between David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon will surely prove to be yet another monumental milestone in the future of the Union.

Attempting to take the whole mile after they had been given Cameron’s proverbial inch may well have been Ms Sturgeons modus operandi all along, but the Prime Minister would do well to bear in mind that the momentum is all with the SNP at this moment in time, and especially so when it was the manipulated public awareness of that very fact that arguably put the Conservative Leader more comfortably back in No. 10.

The words of hollow statesmanship may be contrived to sound like the PM is being tough. But the word ‘no’ can all too quickly be overused and the only way that the Union may now be truly saved, will be for the Government to begin saying yes to the questions that the grassroots Scots have not even outwardly asked.

Devolving power only as far as the Scottish Parliament will do much to enhance and progress the march of the SNP towards the Independence which many of us no longer see as being any more than perhaps a few years away if things continue politically as they are. Scotland’s leaders will surely get closer and closer to attaining the level of power that they so badly crave but could never realise as long as they continue to be part of the UK.

But the people, the voters, the electors who have facilitated this Westminster-bound charge will see no real change in the lives that they live. Indeed, they may well find themselves much more poorly off and continuing to be just as disenfranchised, all because another set of politicians have sold them short as currency for their own personal and self-motivated gain.

The sweet irony of all this is that everyday people across the UK feel just the same and just as disenfranchised as the Scots, but do not experience the same kind of tribal feeling of belonging or commonality between people which has been supercharged in this instance by the promotion of Scotland’s national identity.

Nationalism in this sense truly has become far more of a danger to any semblance of a healthy basic standard of living or status quo than even austerity in time could prove to be, and the reality is that the Scottish Question could be solved in exactly the same act as any questions that have arisen about English, Welsh or even Cornish devolution.

So why exactly, are the politicians not pursuing what is arguably the most simple, straightforward and easy to implement solution. One which would connect people with decision making on their doorstep, whilst removing any need for side-stepping ruses like City Mayors. A change that could bring talk of independence to the immediate halt that anyone living in the real world knows is where it should actually be?

When you consider that this solution already exists right across the Country and would have the ability to administer the devolution of decisions that should be made locally, rather than by a Parliament that seems to many so very far away, any sensible person would be hard pressed not to ask the question.

So then; consider that below the tier of Westminster based government, there is not one; not two, but three tiers of localised government operating, with representatives in most cases already elected by the people, who could and no doubt happily would assume much more responsibility for the decisions which really matter to the localities in which they live, if the Government were to relinquish the appropriate powers and let them do so.

Parish and Town Councils are the most localised and arguably most accessible form of Government in the UK. Yet their responsibilities seldom extend beyond buying and locating dog bins or bus shelters and looking after community assets like small play areas, recreation fields and perhaps an historic Town Hall.

Next comes the District level authorities which harvest our council tax and assume responsibility for matters such as Planning, Licensing, Environmental Health and collecting our waste.

Then there are the County level authorities which look after the not-so-important roads, Education, Social Services and interact closely with services such as the Fire Brigades.

They all sound very administrative or bureaucratic and that’s because they are. People vote to elect the members or councillors that represent them on all of these authorities. But much of the responsibility many people understand them to have isn’t theirs at all. It actually reflects Laws and Policies which have been created by Westminster.

The wriggle room or space for decision making which is truly independent of the Westminster influence is scarce within local government. In reality, it is just sufficient enough that central Government can blame Councils or use them as a convenient scapegoat for political expediency. For instance, Westminster happily passes the buck over the true causes of cuts to local services whilst reducing the size of the bottom line they themselves have to account for in the drive for greater fiscal austerity.

The irony should not be lost on any of us that like most areas of government, local councils are being forced to change the way they work to save money, but the powers to instigate the changes that they really need are held back by a distant political elite which is obsessed with monetary cost rather than the real-life impact from a lack of meaningful reform.

As power is increasingly centralised towards London through the sharing of services and amalgamation of local authorities, power is being taken further away from people at every turn and it is this very act which is continually fanning the flames of discontent within an electorate that quietly knows its influence over even the most practical parts of their lives is becoming ever more remote.

The reality however, for those who have worked closely alongside all the lower tiers of government, is that when those rare moments arise when people sense there is a real chance to influence change, the presence of that opportunity can literally electrify interest in local administration and reconnect the electorate in a way that even the phoney wars which serve as our elections cannot do.

For those who have experienced this connection first hand, there can be little doubt that bringing real power back to street, neighbourhood, village and suburban level would quickly re-engage the electorate and have the potential to bring in a whole new generation of politicians from the grassroots level who didn’t simply join a political party one day because they thought they would be a pretty good prime minister.

The question is of course, why is Westminster not using the existing machinery of government to solve the bubbling crisis created by the SNP leaders and the mishandling of the issue of devolved power, when every thread of common sense and voter-centric thinking says that is exactly what they should do.

Indeed, we might also ask why the promise of City Mayors and the creation of yet more tiers of government and the political stooges that will inhabit these roles is necessary, when many councillors are already in place across the UK, who have distinct connections to our localities that focussing power on just one person at a greater distance could never achieve?

For those who have swam around the political goldfish bowl with their eyes open the answer is regrettably simple.

Its all about control, and despite the political system being infested with the self-serving at every turn, you could quite easily say that there are no greater control freaks at work right now than the occupant of no. 10 and the leader of the SNP.

Both stand to gain personally by concentrating as much power as they can within the realms and reach of their particular roles.

To one, devolving real power to potentially thousands of others who they cannot control politically makes absolutely no sense at all. To the other, giving credence to the idea that power should be focused as near to people as it is possible to do so would instantly destroy the dream of becoming the player on the international stage that British politics is otherwise currently only able to allow of the leader of one of the two main Political Parties.

Some would quickly argue that the lower tiers of government are not equipped to deal with real decisions; but that is exactly what they have been elected to do.

Others would say that responsibility needs to be taken by the people who are most capable of using it with the hint of blind acceptance that MP’s should automatically be assumed to be ‘the right people’ to govern our lives. But we might rather ask, who is better qualified to choose those representatives than the people themselves, when Westminster is now constructed of people who did no more than tick all the right boxes for their political parties and thereafter, did not do a great deal more than sign a series of forms. Can we really say that career politicians with no experience of the world outside are really the people we should entrust with the decisions that affect us all in every way?

The danger of Cameron playing power games with another political leader who is arguably far more awake and attuned to the realities of playing the public song than he could ever do so, is potentially very severe indeed.

Empowering existing councils and creating new ones where they don’t exist could potentially remove the need for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in one swift stroke. It would undoubtedly answer the question of voter disenfranchisement across England too. But it would also require true statesmanship of a kind that many of us have simply never seen.

The very regrettable and destructive alternative is the continuing empowerment of a different kind. That of Scottish, then Welsh and then potentially even English Regional or County Independence with a widow’s web of bureaucracy and additional cost that simply doesn’t bear thinking about. A concept which may play very well into the federalist plans of a politically united Europe, but would ultimately leave the real power for issues that matter to real people in their everyday lives, lying in the hands of a majority of non-elected bureaucrats and foreign politicians who were neither born here, nor have nor ever will live anywhere within our great and currently unified land.

 Top image thanks to http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk 

%d bloggers like this: