Opinion

2007 - 2021

Citizens of Nowhere

Theresa MayJust when you thought that the depth of the democratic deficit could get no deeper, or the contempt shown for the Scottish people could get more stark, the Tories deliver. Hiding behind a pre-recorded interview, the Prime Minister has ruled against a referendum ahead of a Scottish Parliament vote this week.

The problem for Theresa May and her cohorts is not their terminal decline, nor the complete void of credibility in the wake of David Davis’s performance yesterday, it is not even the howls of derision her decision will cause, after all, ‘Who cares?’, right?

It is the simple truth that the Brexit shambles is dangerously out of control threatening economic carnage not just to Scotland but to the rest of the UK. But more than that there is no end in sight. As the First Minister wrote: “if PM thinks we won’t know terms of Brexit by autumn next year, she must think her own timetable will fail.”

The irony of The Prime Minister that Nobody Elected arguing about people making decisions ‘in the blind’ in the context of Brexit – a vote based on lies for an outcome still bafflingly unclear – is hysterical.

This is a democratic outrage of historic proportions. It’s reckless arrogance from a detached and deluded elite.

It is immediately being dressed up as a personal feud between two ladies, but this characterisation is unlikely to hide a the reality of constitutional crisis.

The level of denial and lack of consciousness is extraordinary. The Prime Minister said:

“To be talking about an independence referendum would I think make it more difficult for us to be able to get the right deal for Scotland and the right deal for the UK.”

Nobody in their right minds has faith in this as the Conservative government stumble and stagger towards negotiations in a European community now strengthened by the Dutch election results.

They can rule without consent, without mandate and without goodwill. They can deny a leader standing on a manifesto promise and they can deny democracy, but they do so at their own risk.

There is also the very real suspicion that the Conservatives want to make sure that the 170,000 + EU citizens living in Scotland are disenfranchised before any referendum.

It will be interesting to see if Labour and the Liberals fall into line with this, because ultimately this is not about the First Minister, or the SNP, it’s about the credibility and status of the Scottish Parliament and those who are elected to sit in it.

If Britain exists only because no-one can vote to leave it, it is finished. That is political capture not parliamentary democracy.

Still, it should make Theresa May’s proposed ‘tour of the devolved nations’ a lot of fun.

Comments (25)

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  1. Steve Bowers says:

    Nailed it

  2. manandboy says:

    So we now have ‘Mayspeak’. A new game for voters, rather like a crossword puzzle. No straight answers given, just ‘clues’ in the form of a waffle or a baffle.
    This woman is the Prime Minister of the 300+ year old country, the United Kingdom.

    Perhaps her ‘Mayspeak’ clues are in fact symptoms and therefore maybe this is not a game after all, but rather a condition requiring diagnosis and treatment.

    Unless it’s incurable, like unhinged Conservatism.

  3. john says:

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168781 Petition has started , let’s help it along .

  4. kate macleod says:

    May says no ref till after brexit, but not no ref at all ?

    i read the tories think Sturgeon may have wanted May to refuse a ref in the time frame requested, in order to raise indy support level prior to a vote.
    it could be good timing, an indy ref just after brexit – probably indy numbers up, UK govt continuing to slash essential public services, still low pay, less work. EU supportive of giving scotland some sort of deal.

    in the Conversation there is an article about how charles 1’s conflicts with the scottish (parliament) & ireland and his belief in divine right helped to temporarily destroy the fairly recent, incomplete union , and how May could do a contemporary version.

    it is known May’s views amongst her corporate peers before brexit were that it would be an economic disaster for the UK, so essentially she is saying to scotland we’re going down and we’re going to take you with us.

    hopefully that wont be possible.

  5. Rob says:

    Great post.

    I’m stunned by the recklessness and cynicism of May’s announcement today; it will make for some great front page headlines in the right-wing press tomorrow.

    But at what cost?

    Delaying a future referendum until after Brexit will almost certainly entail the disenfranchisement of EU nationals resident in Scotland; why would the British Government agree to let them vote in a Scottish referendum, when they didn’t let them vote in the EU one (unless they were citizens of the Commonwealth) and when they would be far more likely to vote Yes?

    (Incidentally, 16-year-old voters will probably be told to shove off as well.)

    Since last June the British Government has failed to assure EU citizens of what their rights will be in the coming months and years, causing much anxiety and uncertainty for so many of them, but May’s announcement today essentially punctures the lifeboat of Scotland’s EU citizens outright, and for what? To make the Brexit negotiations easier? To maintain an illusory ‘upper hand’? To gerrymander the voting population?

    The entire thing stinks, and Scotland must – must! – walk away from it as soon as possible.

    1. frank casey says:

      For what it’s worth here is the shape of things to come as seen from the leafy glades of Hertfordshire. My wife and I are both retired. I am her carer. She has Alzheimers and recently suffered a second stroke. We have been lucky thus far in having home visits. From the most part by Polish workers, all of whom have provided a superlative service. Yesterday our visitor confided to me that the company is in crisis. 11 of her Polish colleagues have resigned en bloc. She has elected to remain for the time being, but due to staffing levels is expected to work 80 hours which is not sustainable. Also no travelling time is considered between visits. as a consequence she has been instructed to falsify her time sheet. She is an articulate and committed professional being compelled to lie and suffer dangerous sleep deprivation to keep a private company afloat. I cite this as a warning. If my birth country can escape this chaos they must act quickly.

  6. Daniel Owens says:

    I wonder when the PM’s tour of the devolved nations will be cancelled because it is no longer politically expedient?

  7. Schedule 5 says:

    “This is a democratic outrage of historic proportions.”

    Err. No it’s not.

    Scotland voted by a substantial margin to remain in the UK in 2014.

    That means it freely chose to remain within the legislative framework of the UK.

    Within that framework, the constitution is a reserved matter. Like defence.

    Reserved matters can be varied with the agreement of the UK Government.

    The Scottish Parliament does not have unfettered powers to do as it wishes. But it may seek powers outwith its legally-defined competence. For example, it could decide to ask for the power to set up its own defence force.

    The UK Government does not agree to make changes to the reserved nature of ‘constitutional affairs’ at the present time for clearly explained reasons. I dare say that if permission was sough for control over other reserved matters such as defence, it would be declined

    The present situation arises as a direct consequence of the choice made by the Scottish people in 2014. The very people you claim are both sovereign and betrayed.

    ‘Once in a generation and all that’

    1. Jeff says:

      Schedule 5; “The present situation arises as a direct consequence of the choice made by the Scottish people in 2014.”

      A decision made after being told ‘vote no to stay in the EU’. Save your weasel words for those who will fall for them.

    2. Redgauntlet says:

      Amazing the complete bull you guys are capable of telling yourself in so many different ways…a bunch of rabid swivel eyed fantasists is what you are….

      The Scottish people, like most Europeans, are getting very nervous at the road map Theresa May and the Daily Mail are driving us along at 200 mph….which ends only at the White Cliffs of Dover…

  8. John lee says:

    Get a life, Scotlands greatest export is it’s people. Look around the world and we are everywhere. Proud of being Scottish and British but sick fed up listening to the continued moaning by the SNP party.
    The Fastlane Nuclear project failed, the extra money from North Sea Oil gone, the people want independence vote lost. Unless the rest of the world have a sudden urge to buy more Scottish Whisky, your sunk!
    You are now manufacturing another excuse for an independence vote on an issue the majority of Scots don’t care about. Our lives are short enough without having more uncertainty and chaos. Get on with improving the lives of people now and stop promising sticky jam tomorrow.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      It is noteworthy that John Lee switches from first person to second. FasTlane (sic – capitalisation for emphasis)?? The use of the self description, ‘proud Scot’ is usually a giveaway. Would anyone making such a claim be so contemptuous of Scots???

    2. Scotsman says:

      You’ll take your words back after two years. Wait and see how things will go wrong. You will ask EU to take you back.

    3. Kenny Smith says:

      We? Then YOU are sunk in the same sentence? Mmmhh, me thinks you fucked up there. Its great to see you all panic now, the unionists are in a mess of their own making. Tories especially since Thatcher have done more for the cause of Scottish independence than the SNP ever could. If you are Scottish which I doubt please grow a fucking spine

  9. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Good post Mike.

    I take it your question whether Labour and the Lib dems will “Fall into line”, was tongue in cheek.

    They’ve been falling into line for years. They’re both too far gone to do anything else.

  10. Jo says:

    I sat listening to May in complete shock. As Mike points out Iron Lady doesn’t fit. Irony Lady works better!

    She made the reasonable point that ‘crucial’ decisions shouldn’t be made without knowing the detail or having a picture of how the end result is going to look. Where she fell down tho’ was in applying that principle only to independence but not to Brexit! For not only has she blocked input on Brexit she’s said it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it’s happening whether we like it or not! Talk about double standards!

    I was disappointed at FMQs today. I thought Sturgeon should have openly challenged Dugdale and Rennie on May’s conduct so far and invited them to explain what they think about her stonewalling Scotland. I also wanted her to bury Davidson when she claimed to be serving Scotland’s interests despite the fact that she’s had nothing to say about our interests but has backed May to the hilt! Sturgeon needs to really hammer that home!

    This should not turn into a weekly spat on the merits of independence. NS needs to expose the failure of Labour and the Lib Dems to join her in condemning May’s arrogance. She needs to expose Davidson’s silence on the same issue when we are only in this position because of May’s appalling behaviour.

    Those claiming that Sturgeon and the SNP are going for a second Indy referendum just for the hell of it need to be nailed for their lies and for standing silently by themselves and saying nothing about May’s shocking tactics. NS really needs to expose them as the media will not do it for her.

  11. Alf Baird says:

    The 56 SNP MPs should call it a day, and end it the same way it began in 1707. They hold the sovereignty of the Scottish people and should assert it. Mrs May and her English Tory MPs hold no sovereignty over Scotland, they are an irrelevance.

  12. Gordon McShean says:

    When I was 16 there was no Scottish Parliament and I had no vote. The Coronation was the major concern in our youthful independent radical groups, since the authorities in England and Scotland refused to acknowledge Elizabeth One. I spent a lot of time painting protest notices and smashing the windows of shops that displayed Elizabeth II symbols. Ironically, I also was involved in performing a lot of neighbourhood work for the Glasgow SNP office (which tried – like the head office – to maintain a politically nuetral image). I had developed a good friendship with SNP National Secretary, Robert Curran (who once took me with him to London political excursion – memorable!). It was a surprise, then, when he arranged for me to meet with a member of another youthful nationalist group, Bill Brown, to see if we couldn’t collaborate on some more effective protest actions. This resulted in my participation in the raid on Johnstone’s Cadet armoury, where we took a load of guns and buried them (we wanted to ensure they could not be used against the many Scots who were participating in demonstrations). When police arrested and jailed Bill, concern within the SNP resulted in their advice to Robert to leave the country (he took a job in New York, after suggesting I might consider going into exile too). This has all been documented in my memoir RETIRED TERRORIST (an ironic title, since I’ve always had pacifist motivations). But the story remains relatively unknown – the media and publishers seemed to take SNP advice, playing down the whole thing (perhaps to keep controversy away from the Queen?). I’ve been in exile ever since, only risking a return to Scotland from California in 1979 to ask for personal SNP support … and finding I couldn’t even get an interview! I’m 80 now, living in NZ, and cynical about the fact that the political correctness of the SNP has kept Scotland in chains while the rest of the world has acknowledged that independence is a worthy goal for any nation worth its salt. I keenly follow news of the SNP’s new, gutsy response to England’s bald dismissal of our right to independence. I won’t ever be coming home now … but I must say HANG IN THERE!

    1. Campbell Grant says:

      Haste ye back, you may be needed!

  13. bellwether says:

    I think we need to admit that we are past normal politics here. I’m sick of talk anyway.
    I’m going to give this a couple of years then probably leave Scotland.
    I’ve been thinking of leaving since 2014. I hate the people that voted to stay in the UK. There’s no nice way of saying it, I really despise them and it hasn’t gone away. It’s wrong to hate them but I do and I will never forgive them for being so dumb.
    A few weeks ago on here I read about people discussing options like 56 SNP MPs standing down and then fighting the elections on a UDI platform. Where is that talk now? Why can’t civil disobedience be considered, strikes, picket lines, protests, etc?
    Why are people waiting on politicians to provide answers when May has demonstrated that this isn’t about politics or democracy?
    I’m starting to think Scotland is a country for frightened sheep.

  14. Campbell Grant says:

    Mrs May, freedom is not a game!

    Freedom, right to govern your country and self determination are the right of any nation, it is not a game Mrs May!

    The English / british procrastinated and blocked independence for all their other possessions, sadly history is repeating itself with Scotland!

    Scotland is being run as a colony, it’s time we ended this embarrassing and undemocratic position!

  15. Mach1 says:

    Nice to see Scottish Tory media folk commenting here (Schedule 5 indeed, and sort that absence of a ‘t’ in ‘sought’, it’s almost a signature). The most worrying thing about the coverage of the current constitutional crisis is the media itself, and in particular the craven BBC’s characterisation of this dispute as a spat between two women. It is not. It is a symptom of a democratic system in crisis, where there is a mass, progressive movement in Scotland pursuing the right to democratic self-determination, and a populist Tory party led by an unelected bureaucrat trying to square the circle with its own, alienated political base in England, people who would still vote Ukip given a chance.
    The BBC now regularly bandies about the terms ‘nationalist’ and ‘populist’ as if they are interchangeable terms of abuse, and seems to easily subsume British imperialism under matters relating to ‘the will of the people’ and the ‘country’s best interests’.
    The independence movement is not essentially nationalist and is certainly not populist in real terms. There are other constituencies, in Wales, Northern Ireland, northern England and Cornwall, among others, which are being ill-served by Westminster and whose democratic interests are not being taken into account in the machinations of a Tory party in its death throes.
    It’s time, I think, to switch off the BBC until it sorts out its skewed political coverage. Hearing the word populism being bandied about this morning sent me online to find a proper discussion of the phenomenon, as represented by the Tory party, Ukip and the monsters of the right. Helpfully, I stumbled upon an interview with Noam Chomsky. Everyone who cares about our democratic right to self-determination should read it.
    http://hir.harvard.edu/populism-terror-interview-noam-chomsky/

  16. bringiton says:

    It should be becoming clear to many people that the only glue holding the “United” Kingdom together,is not the Monarchy and the Tory party but the EU and the consequential rights bestowed on us as citizens.
    Once that has gone so will the fascade of unity within these islands and unless the central government ackowledges and addresses the very deep differences of opinion within the British nations,there is going to be big trouble ahead.
    Now is not the time for dictatorial edicts from unelected political leaders.

  17. Craig Binns says:

    Here what we are fighting against. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_sovereignty

    “The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely that Parliament … has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.
    — A.V. Dicey Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885)
    ” … The Bill of Rights 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689 were passed the following year which asserted certain rights of the Parliaments of England (which at the time included Wales) and Scotland and limited the powers of the monarch. … After 1689 English parliamentary supremacy became evident in the relation of the English parliament to those of Scotlandand Ireland. The Act of Settlement 1701 made a presumption upon Scotland: the Scots retaliated with the Act of Security 1704, which was countered by the Alien Act 1705: the issue was settled by the Union of the parliaments of England and Scotland in 1707 which created a new British parliament, though “in essence it was just an extension of the English parliament”. It is arguable whether the concept of parliamentary supremacy arose from the Acts of Union 1707 or was a doctrine that evolved thereafter.”

    Theresa May has confirmed these words.

    “It’s why we will put the preservation of our precious Union at the heart of everything we do. Because it is only by coming together as one great union of nations and people that we can make the most of the opportunities ahead … Unlike other European countries, we have no written constitution, but the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the basis of our unwritten constitutional settlement. We have only a recent history of devolved governance – though it has rapidly embedded itself – and we have little history of coalition government.”

    1. Alf Baird says:

      From Deirdre Brock MP, in regard to the Claim of Right (see https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-09-06/debates/16090639000001/ClaimOfRightForScotland):

      “It is important to note a clear difference between the attitudes struck towards Parliament in Scotland and in England. I understand that that point of difference is also noted in the legal concept of sovereignty in each nation. In England there is a belief in, tradition of, and historical precedent for the absolute sovereignty of Parliament, but there is no such belief in Scotland. The Scots’ attitude, and our constitutional law—which perhaps my learned friends will confirm—is that sovereignty rests with the people. That principle is embedded in the Claim of Right. It is not quite right to say that no Conservative has ever acknowledged that principle, because it was acknowledged by the current Chair of the Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs, the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), when he said in a debate in the House on 22 May 1997:
      “The ultimate sovereignty of the Scottish and Welsh peoples is a fact. Whatever the niceties of international law, Scotland and Wales can claim the right of self-determination if that is what they want”.—[Official Report, 22 May 1997; Vol. 294, c. 872.]”

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