The BBC is no longer even pretending to hide its contempt for Scottish independence and the constitutional debate which has defined the Scottish political landscape since prior to the 2011 Holyrood election – back when the anti independence parties were still maintaining that if the people of Scotland wanted an independence referendum then all they needed to do was to vote for a Scottish Parliament in which there was a majority for holding one. That principle has since gone oot the windae along with the convention that no Westminster government would interfere with the powers of the Scottish Parliament without the consent of the people of Scotland and their elected representatives, the notion of the United Kingdom as a voluntary union of nations, the British state’s acceptance of the right of the people of Scotland to determine for themselves the form of government best suited to Scotland’s needs, and the guarantee that Scotland could only remain a part of the European Union by rejecting Scottish independence.
The other principle that has gone oot the windae is the supposed commitment of BBC Scotland to being a public service broadcaster serving all the people of Scotland. It is now screamingly apparent that the only Scottish public that BBC Scotland is committed to serving is that part of the Scottish populace which is obsessed with the fitba, loves the royal family, and has no interest in Scottish independence.
Anyway, today (Monday 19 June), First Minister Humza Yousaf launched the latest in the series of the Scottish Government’s white papers on independence, although you wouldn’t have known that if you were relying on BBC Scotland because it did not see fit to mention it during its lunchtime news bulletin. The white paper published today was about a written constitution for an independent Scotland. You can read the paper here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/building-new-scotland-creating-modern-constitution-independent-scotland-summary/
The document sets out why having a written constitution is so important in order to guarantee fundamental rights to citizens and to protect democracy from political parties with authoritarian leanings, like the Conservative party. Under the British system the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of Parliament means party that the leader of the party which happens to enjoy a majority in the Commons effectively has the power to do whatever he or she likes without any real constraints. That is why both the Labour and Conservative parties are so wedded to it. Labour’s half baked constitutional proposals left that doctrine untouched.
We have seen the dangers of that with this hideous Conservative Government, which has trashed the Sewel Convention and is hell bent on undermining the devolution settlement without even making a pretence of seeking a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland to do so. It is also making a bonfire of the right to strike, the right to peaceful protest and is introducing anti-democratic voter suppression measures which benefit the Tories with the most spurious justification.
Central to the proposed Scottish written constitution is enshrining the fundamental principle that in Scotland it’s the people who are sovereign. Amongst other key points it proposes giving constitutional recognition to the Scottish NHS and enshrining a constitutional right to healthcare that is free at the point of delivery. The constitution would also enshrine Scotland’s status as a nuclear weapons free country. This commitment has been welcomed by Scottish CND, and will also be welcomed by the majority of grass roots independence campaigners, many of whom have long been motivated to seek independence as the only means of removing the abomination of nuclear weapons from the Clyde.
The other key proposal is for an interim constitution which would go into effect on day one of independence. This would broadly be based on the European Charter of Human Rights. the interim constitution would also mandate the setting up of a constitutional convention comprising representatives from across civic Scotland as well as constitutional experts and all political parties which would be tasked with drawing up a permanent constitution which would be formally adopted after being approved in a national referendum.
Some have wondered why this constitution cannot be drawn up now. The answer is simple. This constitution will be for everyone in Scotland, even those who currently oppose independence. All sectors of Scottish society must be involved in drawing it up. Those who are currently opposed to independence will not wish to involve themselves in drafting a Scottish constitution. They will only be willing to do so after the fact of independence. But in order for the new constitution to be widely accepted, they must be involved in drawing it up.
Whether you currently support independence or not, the launch of this white paper is an important development in Scotland’s long constitutional debate. Yet the launch of this paper was not mentioned at all on the BBC national lunchtime news, while the BBC’s “news where you are” told us that the most important story in the nation today is that some fitba team got a new manager.
This was then followed by a piece about Keir Starmer making a promise to do something that the Scottish Government has already promised to do – although the BBC didn’t see fit to mention that fact – this being Starmer’s commitment not to authorise any new oil or gas fields in the North Sea. You might have thought that the existing commitment by the Scottish Government might have been germane to a story puffing up Keir Starmer’s new found green credentials, but not apparently if you are a BBC Scotland news editor. Then we had a report about debt. Then it was back to more fitba and then the weather. Priorities, eh?
The BBC couldn’t display more contempt for that half of the Scottish population which supports independence if it tried. Never mind adult discussions about your constitutional future Scotland, let’s talk about the fitba instead and then talk about Keir Starmer promising to do something that the Scottish Government is doing without mentioning that the Scottish Government is already doing it. Some independence supporters often wonder why support for independence is not higher than it currently is after Brexit and all the chaos and mess created by this arrogant and dysfunctional Conservative party. Look at the BBC’s news selection waffling on interminably about the bloody fitba, and a Scottish press that’s more interested in ferry timetables than in the Conservative party’s destruction of democracy. That’s why. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, but if Scotland had a media that was truly representative of the range of public opinion in this country, we’d be independent already. And that’s why the BBC and the print media are determined to ensure that Scotland never gets a representative media.
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