Ruth Davidson, who supposedly wants us all to stop talking incessantly about independence, never stops talking about independence – claiming that Nicola Sturgeon never stops talking about independence and wanting her to stop talking about independence.
Meanwhile, the people who never want to stop talking about independence accuse Nicola Sturgeon of not wanting to talk about independence; want her to start talking about independence; and want want Ruth Davidson to stop talking about stopping independence.
There’s a reason we don’t see much political satire on TV these days. It would be too difficult to distinguish between an episode of Spitting Image and an edition of the Andrew Marr Show.
But – and I’m going to shock you here – Ruth Davidson is right. She’s right accidentally, coincidentally and for the wrong reasons. But, this being Ruth Davidson, she has to take what she can get. It’s unlikely she’ll ever do better.
She’s right to talk about independence all the time because the constitutional issue is, ultimately, the only issue that really matters. All other political questions always come back eventually to the matter of who decides. We all should follow Ruth Davidson’s example. We SHOULD be talking about independence all the time.
The First Minister of Scotland and leader of what is effectively the political arm of the independence movement certainly should be talking about little else but the constitutional issue. Because any and all other issues facing Scotland crucially depend on how we answer the question of what constitutes legitimate political authority in Scotland.
Ruth Davidson will, of course, insist that the people of Scotland answered this question in 2014. She will obdurately continue to insist on this no matter how often it is explained to her how the right of self-determination works or how it is possible for a referendum to produce a result, but not a decision. As I wrote some months ago,
Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum is illustrative. While it was perfectly clear that a Yes vote meant independence by way of a reasonably well described process, there was no indication whatever of what a No vote meant. Initially, it was said to be a vote for the status quo. As the referendum campaign progressed, however, all manner of stuff was hooked onto the No vote – up to and including ‘The Vow’.
In practice, a No vote meant whatever the British establishment wanted it to mean. This turned out to be pretty much the opposite of everything that had been promised. And something very, very far from the status quo that was originally offered. Thus, the referendum produced an indisputable result, but no decision. Because the No option was effectively undefined, a No vote in the referendum could not settle the issue. There was nothing to settle on.Alpacas might fly
Superficially, the 2014 referendum result may seem to imply the people of Scotland opting to forego the opportunity to be a normal democratic nation where important decisions affecting people’s lives are made by a parliament and government they elect. From the self-serving perspective of British Nationalists, the 2014 referendum result had to be interpreted as the people of Scotland saying they wanted ultimate political power to lie, not in their own hands, but in the hands of the British political elite of which Davidson flatters herself to think she is a part.
No account of Ruth Davidson’s character would be complete without the terms ‘superficial’ and ‘self-serving’.
To be scrupulously fair to Davidson, there is little to indicate that she is intellectually equipped to comprehend that a referendum might produce a result without a decision. It is certain that, being immersed in and suffused with British political culture, basic democratic principles such as self-determination and popular sovereignty must be alien and anathema.
Ruth Davidson is what she is because that is what the British establishment requires her to be. She is what she is because that is what she had to be in order to serve the British ruling elite and, thereby, have some kind of political career. She is what she is because that is all she is capable of being.
Ruth Davidson never stops talking about independence, not because she recognises the importance of the constitutional issue, but because it’s the only thing she supposes she understands. The tragedy is that she really, really doesn’t.
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