Monday, 31 January 2022

Never mind what the people want


There are 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland. The SNP won 48 of those in the 2019 general election, and there are no obvious indications that they are likely to lose any of those anytime soon. Indeed, latest polls suggest that their total is likely to increase, with some predictions even suggesting that they could win all 59. Even if the SNP doesn’t achieve quite that level of success, there seems little probability as things stand that their dominance of Scottish politics is under threat. By any definition, under the normal rules of UK politics, they have a massive and repeated mandate for a second referendum on independence.

One might think that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition might have some regard to the climate of opinion in Scotland before deciding on its policy response, but they’re far too busy being loyal. The Labour leader declared over the weekend that, if his party wins a majority in England, his new government will move quickly to reform the union in ways which he seems unable or unwilling to spell out in any detail in advance, and to do so without any form of referendum. His only red line, he says, is that the union will continue. That’s quite a red line, and the word ‘only’ is doing a lot of work there.

In essence he is telling the Scots that it doesn’t matter what they want, or who they vote for, he will consider a majority in England to be a mandate for telling the Scots exactly what they can and can’t have and then imposing it upon them. As a plan for winning back votes in Scotland, it looks to be rather lower in the cunningness stakes than anything which Baldrick ever thought of. It does have some merit for Welsh independentistas though; telling Scotland that only English votes count in deciding how they are governed might just help people in Wales to come to an understanding of how little they also count for the ‘British’ Labour Party, and how detached from any concept of democracy that party has become. Carry on, ‘Keith’!

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