Over on social media Tory supporters are still greetin like snottery nosed weans whose X-Box has been taken away because of their detestable behaviour. It’s not fair! Apparently we now live in a country where it is a far worse crime to say that certain behaviours and political policies are detestable than it is to implement, espouse or support detestable political policies which by any objective standard are cruel, inhumane, or unjust and which have led to the deaths of many tens of thousands of people. Because the real hard done by individuals here are Conservative supporters on social media, not those whose lives have been blighted or cut short by the policies of a party that they continue to support despite a mountain of evidence that it is actively malign.
The performative outrage of Tory supporters on social media is a joy to behold as they howl their anger into the heartless and compassion free void of their echo chambers. What are they expecting to achieve? To get some undecided voters to go : “Well that’s it, I feel really sorry for those poor Tories. Never mind that I work every hour god sends but I can’t feed my kids, never mind that I can’t heat my house, never mind that I don’t know if I will be able to keep a roof over my family’s heads, they’ve got my vote.” Aye right, that’s about as likely to happen as Suella Braverman suddenly discovering a social conscience.
What those Tories on social media fail to grasp is that neither Nicola Sturgeon nor anyone else who believes the Tories to be detestable cares about their butt hurt. As far as Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are concerned dyed in the wool Tory supporters are politically expendable. They are never going to back the SNP under any circumstances but publicly calling out the Tories for being detestable will bolster her standing amongst the large majority of voters in Scotland for whom the Conservatives are anathema. The Tories are happy to consider remainers, Scottish independence supporters, migrants, EU citizens, benefits claimants, the disabled and the poor as as politically expendable, but oh how they squeal when it’s their turn. So repeat after me, Tory snowflakes, we don’t care about your feelings.
However the big news on Tuesday was the first of a two day hearing at the UK Supreme Court into the Scottish Government’s case about whether Holyrood has the right to proceed with an independence referendum without the approval of Downing Street. In strict legal terms it’s the approval of the House of Commons which may or may not be required but in practical terms in the semi-democracy of the United Kingdom that means the permission of the Prime Minister, an office whose current incumbent is a representative of a party that Scotland has consistently rejected at the ballot box since 1955 and who enjoys her power with no public mandate derived from a UK General Election but rather was put in office by a vote of her own party members.
It is safe to say that this is one of the most important cases ever heard by the UK Supreme Court, a case which has immense constitutional ramifications and which goes to the very heart of the nature of the British state itself. This case will determine whether the United Kingdom is in fact what generations of British politicians have assured us that it is – a voluntary partnership of free nations, or is Scotland a de facto prisoner of an unequal union where the democratic voice of the people of Scotland counts for nothing and can be vetoed by a Prime Minister with no democratic mandate from Scotland.
The sad truth is that if the Labour and Conservative parties had respect for the democratic will of the people of Scotland then this case would never have been necessary in the first place, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross angrily called it a disgrace that the Scottish Government is bringing this case, the real disgrace is that he and Labour’s Anas Sarwar refuse to accept that their parties lost the May 2021 Scottish Parliament election and are still trying to impose their will on the people of Scotland regardless.
Democracy can only function when those parties which lost the argument at the ballot box accept the verdict of the people. No one is saying that the Conservatives or Labour must now actively support another referendum. They are free to continue to put their case against another referendum to the people of Scotland in future elections, and if they win a majority at Holyrood they can prevent another referendum from taking place, but what they cannot do while claiming to be democrats is to prevent the people’s will as expressed in the May 2021 election from being implemented. Yet that is precisely what they are trying to do now. It is indeed, as Nicola Sturgeon said, a disgrace that the Scottish Government is having to take its case to the UK’s highest court in seeking to hold an independence referendum. This should not be decided by judges, it should be decided by the people and it was decided by the people in May 2021.
Despite what the Tories claim, the SNP did accept the outcome of the 2014 referendum, the Scottish Government did not attempt to declare independence anyway, Scotland remains a part of the UK, but because we are supposed to live in a democracy, supporters of independence remained free to put their case to the people in subsequent elections, that is how democracy works. Because of widespread unhappiness in Scotland at the difference between what Better Together promised in 2014 and what the Conservative party at Westminster has actually delivered,in May last year the pro-independence parties secured a majority at Holyrood elected on an unequivocal mandate for another independence referendum. If the Tories and Labour had honoured their 2014 promises to Scotland we might not be in this position now, but they didn’t, and they are resorting to undemocratic measures in an attempt to prevent the people of Scotland from holding them to account.
If the Supreme Court finds in favour of the British Government it will be a ruling that Scotland has been lied to for generations by British politicians who have always told us that this is a voluntary union and that the people of Scotland have a sovereign right to determine their future for themselves. It will be a ruling that the Union as it has always been understood is dead. This is a seismic case and whatever the final ruling turns out to be it will shake the foundations of the union and may very well be the key event that brings the whole crumbling edifice crashing down.
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