As I write, it has just been confirmed that Boris Johnson, inexplicably British Prime Minister, has spoken to the Queen to request that Parliament is suspended until October 14. We do not yet know if or how the head of state has responded. But does it matter? Isn’t it enough that the approach was made? Does this action alone not clearly enough signal the totalitarian ambitions and ant-democratic intentions of the British political elite?
Is an attempted coup less offensive to democratic principles than a failed coup? Is a failed coup any less reprehensible than a successful coup? Once politicians declare their ambition to use the power that democracy gives them to thwart the democracy that gives them power, how much more do we need to know? Once those politicians have demonstrated their intention to flout the fundamental precepts of democracy in pursuit of some narrow ideology, should we ponder whether they are actually capable of doing so?
When those politicians initiate the early actions which presage the abrogation of democratic processes and the dismantling of democratic institutions, is that not the appropriate time to put an end to their ambitions?
There is always an excuse. There is always a plausible reason for ‘side-stepping’ democracy. The circumstances require it. Or they can be made to require it. Or they can be made to look as if they require it. The public can always be persuaded that what is being done is in their best interests. Or they can be convinced that it’ll all turn out all right in the end.
When we take our democratic rights and protections for granted it is easy to imagine they cannot be seriously threatened. It is easy to believe that democracy is a fixture in our politics; in our society; in our lives. We are always happy to be told that we don’t actually have to do anything ourselves to ensure those democratic rights and protections. We are not generally stupid. But apathy and indolence can make as just as vulnerable.
The reality is very different – as we are now discovering. Our democracy is fragile. All the democratic protections we enjoy are worthless unless we are prepared to invoke them. All the democratic rights we assume to be inalienably ours are as nothing if we are not prepared to shoulder responsibility for defending them.
The people of Scotland are sovereign. But, even in Scotland our ability to fully and effectively exercise our sovereignty is limited – constrained by the Union. We cannot hope to alter the course of events in England. Our elected representatives can cry outrage until they are hoarse. It will have no meaningful effect. The Union is purposefully designed to guarantee that Scotland’s voice is always inconsequential within the British state. Many of our elected representatives are ideologically committed to ensuring that Scotland’s voice remains inconsequential. Do not expect the British parties in Scotland to stand up for the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. Expect them only to submit to an anti-democratic coup in England rather than compromise their precious Union.
The people of Scotland are sovereign. This means that all legitimate democratic power derives from the people. The corollary of which is that all democratic responsibility ultimately resides with the people. If we do not
The people of Scotland are sovereign. If our ambition is a better Scotland and our intention is to prevent the British political elite trampling that ambition underfoot, then it’s time we started acting like the sovereign people of Scotland.
There is an opportunity for you to assert and affirm your sovereignty on Saturday 31 August by joining the Forward as One March & Rally in Dunfermline. Assemble at Viewfield Terrace from 10:30. Depart 12:00 sharp. Rally Pittencrieff Park (The Glen) 13:00.
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