Thursday, 27 August 2020

Fiddling the rules

Last week, the Times reported (paywall) that Michael Gove had been ‘enlisting old enemies’ in an attempt to ‘save the union’. The thought of Gove working with George Galloway, former Lib Dem Minister Danny Alexander, and former Labour Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell manages to be both bizarre and entirely credible at one and the same time. That these people all think both that ‘saving the union’ is vital and that they are the people to do it is also entirely credible and more than a little bizarre. On the other hand, to many independentistas it is more likely to look like the dream team they would choose to go up against for the next referendum. Perhaps the unionists actually want to lose. If only they could also persuade Boris to personally lead the crusade against independence, Scottish independence could be more or less guaranteed.
With the polling figures increasingly turning against them, it appears that at least some of them want to try and amend the rules about who can vote. Instead of only those registered to vote in Scotland, Galloway has suggested that the franchise should be extended to Scots living elsewhere in the UK, a suggestion which Gove described as ‘interesting’. The assumption, obviously, is that those Scots who’ve left Scotland to live elsewhere in the UK will be more inclined to vote ‘no’, (although I’m not as certain as they seem to be about the validity of that assumption – ‘Gorau Cymro, Cymro oddi cartref’ as the saying goes) on which basis, the surprising thing is that they’re thinking of restricting it to the UK. Scots living outside the UK might be even more opposed. Leaving aside the ‘minor’ practical difficulty of devising an electoral register across the whole UK which identifies who is Scottish and who is not (have they even thought about how to define that, let alone identify the relevant people?), there is another obstacle as well. If it is to be a vote based on whether a voter is Scottish or not (however that may be defined), on what basis should people who are not Scottish but who choose to live in Scotland be allowed to vote?
Of course, logic and consistency are not words which deserve to be used in the same sentence as Galloway and Gove (unless properly and definitively negated), but the application of that little piece of logic shows that a proposal to base the franchise on the nationality of the voter is a double-edged sword. The only reasonable and fair basis on which to decide whether a territory is to become independent is for the people who are registered as living there to take the decision – whatever their origins. Trying to adjust the electorate to include others on the basis of their nationality is a blatant attempt both to gerrymander the outcome and to turn the debate into one about origins and roots. It’s also likely to be very divisive – so exactly what its proponents want, and something for which they could and would then blame independentistas. The idea is unlikely to disappear as long as the unionists are staring defeat in the face.

1 comment:

(hd)^2 said...

Carmarthenshire library, and I think most Welsh councils, offer the Pressreader app which gives full access to newspapers & magazines from around the world. Great way to avoid the paywall, just need your library registration details. Help offered from your friendly library staff to setup, if needed.