Sovereign is as sovereign does!

I am about to break a cardinal rule of semantics, if not grammar. I am going to put the words ‘honest’ and ‘sincere’ in a sentence alongside the name Michael Gove. There! I’ve done it! The things I do for you people! It’s not easy even to hold words like ‘honest’ and ‘sincere’ in ones head while thinking about Michael Gove. Or any members of the British political elite, for that matter. The mismatch is just too jarring. But this is one occasion when it is possible to say that Michael Gove is being honest and sincere while maintaining a decent argument against being sectioned.

When Michael Gove says “this party and this government will never allow” anyone to “break up this family of nations” he is being perfectly honest and totally sincere.

They will not permit it. It will not be allowed to happen. No qualifying clause saying ‘unless the people of those nations vote for it’. It simply will not be tolerated. You might dismiss this as empty rhetoric, pointing out that it was said in a speech to the British Conservative Party conference and that Gove is a ‘fluffer’ whose job it is to get the assembled faithful’s hearts good and hard. He knows which bits to tickle in order to achieve the standing ovation he wants. And nothing tickles a Tory mob’s fancy so much as a bit of Jock-bashing. It’s political pornography. If Gove was a magazine he’d be stuffed under some teenager’s mattress with several of his pages stuck together.

What makes it more than mere Tory titillation is the fact that the rhetoric is backed by actual power. The power over Scotland afforded the likes of Michael Gove by the Union. When he intimates that the British government will never allow Scotland to exit the Union, he knows that the Union guarantees the British state the ability to overrule the democratically expressed will of Scotland’s people. British politicians aren’t in the habit of stating this quite so baldly. It’s usually considered politic to maintain the pretence that British democracy is as would be commonly understood by the term. It isn’t, of course. As has been amply demonstrated by Brexit. Although the ‘managed’ nature of British democracy (demockracy?) was already obvious from the infrequency with which we actually get the government we vote for.

Wikipedia’s definition of managed – or guided – democracy is wonderfully concise.

Guided democracy, also called managed democracy, is a formally democratic government that functions as a de facto autocracy. Such governments are legitimized by elections that are free and fair, but do not change the state’s policies, motives, and goals

Here in Scotland we can vote for anything we want and may well get what we vote for – just so long as getting what we vote for doesn’t significantly compromise the interests of the British ruling elites. Should we vote for such a thing then our democratic choice will be ‘guided’ into some more acceptable alternative while the British propaganda machine works in various ways to ensure the undemocratic reality is concealed or disguised.

Devolution provides a perfect example of managed democracy in action. Scotland voted for devolution. Scotland got devolution. Perfectly democratic? You might think so. I couldn’t possibly refrain from commenting. We were supposed to think we’d got what we wanted. And for the most part, people were convinced. But the devolution we got was only what the British were prepared to give in order to ‘guide’ us away from choices which would have put the Union, and thereby the British state, in serious jeopardy. Devolution was never about restoring powers to Scotland. Devolution was only and always a device by which the power differential between Scotland and England-as-Britain could be maintained while – with the aid of the British media – giving the appearance of creating a better balance.

The British have always been surpassingly good at creating these concepts of convenience. The very idea of ‘Great Britain’ is just such a concept. A screen to sit between the people and the reality of managed democracy, obscuring and distorting their perception. We in Scotland look to Holyrood as the locus of rightful political authority. We have been encouraged to do so both because this suited the egos of the politicians who sit in the Scottish Parliament and because this made it more difficult to discern the British wizard behind the curtain operating all the main levers of power.

The British regime now in power has little patience for political niceties. To the extent that this regime is informed by an ideology rather than moment-to-moment self-serving expediency that ideology is best described as hard-line British Nationalism – with the cerebral bits excised. Not because the regime or any of those who art part of it are necessarily persuaded by or committed to this or any other political ideology. But because hard-line British Nationalism plays well with the constituency whose votes keep them in power. Jock-bashing plays well with this same constituency. So the Jock-bashing grows more explicit. More blatant. More honest and sincere.

Michael Gove is being honest and sincere when he proclaims that the British state will never allow real democracy in Scotland. He really means it when he implies that the British will seek to preserve the Union at absolutely any cost. He genuinely believes that the British government has the power to prevent the people of Scotland making any democratic choices which might threaten the Union. The power which is enshrined in the Union.

Scotland cannot have both democracy and the Union. The Union is fundamentally anti-democratic. The Union must be broken for democracy to prevail. Democracy cannot prevail while Scotland’s Government and Parliament operate strictly within the legal and constitutional frameworks established by the Union for its own protection. So long as our elected representatives accept the British Crown in the British Parliament as the source of all legitimate political authority then democracy cannot exist because democracy relies on the principle that all legitimate political authority derives from the people. The people are sovereign.

Our political leaders must heed Michael Gove when he says the regime he serves will never allow Scotland to end the Union. The idea that this same regime might willingly and honestly cooperate in a process which might result in the Union being dissolved would be laughable were it not so tragically stupid. The SNP+SGP/Scottish Government must purge itself of such notions and do so openly. The Yes movement should be entirely focused on demanding that our Government explicitly reject the authority that Michael Gove asserts.

It’s no use merely reciting the the principle that the people of Scotland are sovereign. Our political leaders must act as the democratically elected representatives of the sovereign people of Scotland.

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5 thoughts on “Sovereign is as sovereign does!

  1. “If Gove was a magazine he’d be stuffed under some teenager’s mattress with several of his pages stuck together.”

    I must object: that is too horrible an image to conjure with!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is no doubt that from the Andrew “The UK is back in Scotland – Get Used to It” Bowie, to Oliver “Scotland is falling behind the rest of England” Dowden, to Michael ‘Never!, Never!! Never!!!” Gove the British are increasingly shrill and confident not to say cocky in their dismissal of this country’s right to self-determination.

    But in terms of what they think of, and will do with, Scotland’s democracy they are telling us the truth.

    And in plain sight.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Peter, thank you for that post.
    Nevertheless, when you say : ” … British state the ability to overrule the democratically expressed will of Scotland’s people.”
    That is something actually not true. There is no denial of uk democracy. I understand what you mean, everybody in Scotland could understand.
    6.5 billions of humans on that planet wouldn’t. We vote, there is a result and everybody see the result, the result is respected. Outside the very North of that island, people think that we are completely schyzophrenic :” they want Independence but they voted twice against it…?
    What we complain about is that kind of “democracy”. This is no democracy and as long as we don’t change the rules : idiotic “first past the post” that result in non elected folks having as much power as the ones we elect, the D’Hondt method, uncaped private donations to political parties, Scottish residential franchise which is UNIQUE in the world, open to fraud postal vote ( not talking about proxy here), private companies with delegated powers to manage the elections from a to z ( in Haddington’s councill election this month, as the number of applicants for positions were massive, which is a good thing, we were ask to cast a vote, A POSTAL VOTE THAT WE ARE ASKED TO SEND TO ….LONDON.
    in order to be counted !!!!!
    That very local election is managed by CES ex RES … A DISGRACE…a double whammy for me, I did not vote. )
    If we don’t change the rules we will be beaten whatever type of election we vote for and the FRANCHISE is for me the main aspect that urgently needs to change, not that it could be beneficial or not for the Indy case but because it is not fair for the very people of that country…
    That will imply at last, defining what is it to be Scottish, Scottish Nationality AS EVERY COUNTRY HAD DONE FOR THEMSELVES ALL OVER THE WORLD and amongst them of course, models of democracy like my own country France. If talking about Nationality is forbidden here on the field that some will call you RACIST AND AGAINST INCLUSION , what about France then for example, The Land of shelter for prosecuted people all over the world. Is France a racist country when it authorizes Nationals only to vote on National matters (as all the other democratic countries in the world ). A French National is : Born in France or from French Parents or someone who has been granted Nationality : 5 consecutive years in the country, residency, no conviction, having family member there, knowledge of language and cultures … with all these requirements is France a racist and not inclusive country ????
    I have voted in 2014, was one year in the country, I was more than surprised to be allowed to, happy at first but seeing the real wider implications of it, i will now be MORE THAN HAPPY NOT TO VOTE IF SCOTTISH REQUIREMENTS EXCLUDE ME AND WILL, WITH ALL CONFIDENCE AND TRUST, LET THE OUTCOME IN THE HAND OF THE REAL ELECTORATE … THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE.

    Sorry Peter i diverged widely from the subject… but i am really p.o with most of what is going on in the Nationalist movements because they never address the primary vital issues we have to fight against …

    Take care


    Liked by 3 people

    1. “voted twice against it”

      I must have missed one!


      Nobody was asked to send their postal vote to London. Postal votes are sent to the elections team at your local authority. Councils run the counts in their own areas.

      Liked by 1 person

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