A Question of Legitimacy
Today’s YouGov #GE2015 Scotland poll seats: SNP 48 (+42) Lab 9 (-32) Con 1 (=) LDem 1 (-10) are causing widespread panic. As the reality of the future hits home information about our power-relations are spilling out into the public domain.
The extent of official collusion and manipulation during the referendum is the first.
Today we discover that the Treasury leak to highlight the RBS story that it planned to move to London in the wake of a Yes vote was none other than Robert Mackie, the son of Catherine MacLeod who was Alistair Darling’s press adviser. MacLeod, had been the UK political editor of the Herald, became an adviser to Alistair Darling in 2007. The BBC regularly put Macleod on as an impartial journalist.
The Sunday herald reports that “The Treasury email on the issue of RBS plans in the event of independence was sent to journalists at 10.16 pm on Sept 10, around 25 minutes before the RBS board meeting on the issue had finished.”
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson commented: “These revelations leave the Treasury with serious questions to answer about its conduct during the referendum. The people of Scotland deserve the truth on this matter.”
Most of this we knew already. None of this is a surprise, it’s just the detail.
But this contempt for process and the impartiality of the civil service is rife.
Now we’re told by Sir Gus O’Donnell (the country’s former top civil servant) that a huge rise in the number of SNP MPs at the election in May will cause a “democratic legitimacy issue”. O’Donnell – speaking at an event University College London’s Constitution Unit – said the outcome of the election in May would be “legitimacy questions about the voting system” and “why is the relationship between votes cast and seats so wildly out of line”.
Discussing the prospect of an SNP landslide he said: “That’s going to cause quite a legitimacy issue.”
Suddenly they’re all worried about PR?
Faced with an excess of democracy Britain just threatens to change the rules.
Unfortunately for MacLeod, Darling and the coterie of officials breaching their own rules and guidelines, the legitimacy question is not the one they raise, it is their own legitimacy and the edifice of the British state that is exposed.
As the slide towards oblivion and exposure gains momentum the sheer venal and base attitudes that many career politicians hold are opened up.
Andrew Rawnsley, veteran political columnist and presenter writes: ” I bumped into a Scottish Labour MP, a sane chap who this time last year would have thought himself a shoo-in for re-election: he has a five-figure majority. “I’m fucked,” he declared. The SNP was going to beat him. He morbidly remarked that he was only fighting the seat “to get the redundancy”.
He concludes: “The Blue Emperor and the Red Emperor campaign as if the old duopoly were still intact. Yet everyone can see that they have no clothes.”
The truly sad quote from the Labour MP about picking up a pay check stems from a system that has bred politicians as functionaries. As Michael Sheen said so eloquently a few weeks back:
“In today’s political climate, where politicians are careful, tentative, scared of saying what they feel for fear . . . all political parties drift into a morass of bland neutrality and the real values we suspect are kept behind closed doors. Is it any wonder that people feel there is little to choose between . . . You must stand up for what you believe, but first of all, by God, believe in something.”
We’re faced with the opportunity and the burning need for real change. PR won’t do that. Changing the structure and the system of how we experience politics and how we relate to power will. Voting for the tired old system and the tired old Union won’t do that either, that’s why we’re seeing the political classes in blind panic heading for the exits.