This more assertive attitude from the SNP is certainly welcome. But it continues to be directed at the wrong target. It is not the Tories, in particular, who make a mockery of Scotland’s democracy. It is the Union. By focusing on the Tories, the SNP risks giving the impression that things might somehow be better if British Labour was in power at Westminster. The reality is that, while things might be different in certain respects, the Union would remain.
It is not what one or other of the British parties does with the power afforded them by the Union that is problematic for democracy, but the fact that the Union affords them that power. It is the Union that mocks Scotland’s democracy.
Of course, there are reasons enough to detest the Tories. But even in a world where Tory policies weren’t abhorrent, democracy must abhor the fact that those policies can be imposed on Scotland regardless of the will of Scotland’s people. Back in the real world where Tory policies are abhorrent, it is the fact that Tory governments can be imposed on Scotland that makes a mockery of our democracy. The Union is always the problem.
Even during those relatively rare periods when Scotland actually gets the the Westminster government that its people vote for, our democracy is mocked by the fact that this is no more than a coincidence. Scotland’s votes count only when, and on condition that, England agrees. The Union allows Scotland to make democratic choices. But the Union only allows those choices to be effective when they are the same as the choices made by England. The Union does that. Not the Tories.
The focus on Brexit also seems wrong. In the first place, it represents only a particular instance of Scotland’s democratic will being treated with contempt. The insistence that Scotland will not be allowed to exercise its right of self determination is every bit as offensive to democratic sensibilities.
And why would anybody imagine that things might have played out differently had there been a British Labour government in London? Brexit is a product of the British political system. The British Labour and Unionist Party is a component of that system in exactly the same way that the British Conservative and Unionist Party is. The forces which are driving Brexit would have acted on a British Labour government just as they have acted on a Tory one. The detail might have differed – the names, the faces, the rationalisations. The ultimate result would have been the same.
If it wasn’t one British government, it’d be another British government. It is wasn’t Brexit, it’d be something else. If it wasn’t now, it’d be later.
The common thread in all of this is the Union. The Tories and Brexit may be easier targets for the SNP. But unless and until people clearly understand that these are merely proxies for the Union then they may be left thinking that Scotland’s democracy could be rescued by making cosmetic changes to the British government and/or by the calamitous Brexit project being abandoned.
It is surely time for the SNP to unambiguously identify the Union as the the true blight on Scotland. The only way to ensure that our democracy isn’t turned into a mockery is to #DissolveTheUnion as a matter of the utmost urgency.
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