Union­ist par­ties are deny­ing democ­racy

Rutherglen Reformer - - Clare Haughey -

As the party con­fer­ence sea­son draws to a close I have been re­flect­ing on the mixed mes­sages com­ing from the Labour and Tory gath­er­ings.

While the Labour Con­fer­ence in Liver­pool pro­duced more Brexit ques­tions than it an­swered, the Tory event in Birm­ing­ham was sub­dued and over­shad­owed by Boris-ma­nia, as Boris John­son po­si­tioned him­self for a bid at the party lead­er­ship.

There were, how­ever, ob­vi­ous sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two con­fer­ences. Firstly, both par­ties have di­vided and in­co­her­ent po­si­tions on Brexit and, sec­ondly, the Scot­tish re­gional branches of both par­ties were trip­ping over them­selves to deny the Scot­tish peo­ple a say, not only in the Brexit process, but in any fu­ture op­por­tu­nity to de­cide our own con­sti­tu­tional fu­ture.

In a daz­zling dis­play of an­tidemo­cratic rhetoric, Richard Leonard an­nounced that UK Labour would deny the peo­ple of Scot­land their right of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion by block­ing an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, al­though he was un­able to con­firm that he had run this past his boss, Jeremy Cor­byn!

Next up, Ruth David­son sud­denly ap­peared from a sum­mer spent avoid­ing the me­dia to de­clare that the Tories would also bar the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment from call­ing a fu­ture ref­er­en­dum, re­gard­less of any ex­ist­ing or fu­ture man­date the Par­lia­ment might have.

This, of course, to­tally con­tra­dicts her pre­vi­ously held po­si­tion in July 2016 that the Prime Min­is­ter should not to block a re­quest by Ni­cola Stur­geon for a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in the wake of the vote for Brexit, and in 2011 when she agreed that a Par­lia­ment with a ma­jor­ity of SNP and Green MSPs, elected on a man­date to call a ref­er­en­dum, should have the power to do so un­hin­dered.

Mean­while, carp­ing from the side­lines, the Lib­eral Democrats are say­ing that they will not sup­port the next SNP bud­get un­less the govern­ment takes a po­ten­tial in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum off the ta­ble.

They make this call at the same time as de­mand­ing that the SNP un­con­di­tion­ally back a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on Brexit. Hypocrisy of the high­est or­der.

The pat­tern emerg­ing, there­fore, is that these union­ist par­ties, who can­not win a man­date for their own ver­sions of union­ism in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and, sig­nif­i­cantly, could only muster 40 per­cent of West­min­ster seats in Scot­land at the gen­eral elec­tion, are con­spir­ing to si­lence Scot­land.

By de­fault, Labour and the Tories, in par­tic­u­lar, are in­sist­ing that Scot­land should just meekly ac­cept what­ever Brexit they might even­tu­ally cob­ble to­gether, re­gard­less of how detri­men­tal it might be for Scot­land’s in­ter­ests.

This is a shock­ing and sin­is­ter de­nial of democ­racy from so-called demo­cratic par­ties and can­not be al­lowed to stand un­chal­lenged.

There is al­ready a cast-iron demo­cratic man­date to give the peo­ple of Scot­land that choice based on the 2016 Holy­rood elec­tion, sub­se­quent vote in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and the elec­tion of a ma­jor­ity of SNP MPs in 2017.

By threat­en­ing to block any at­tempt to al­low the peo­ple of Scot­land to have their say on our con­sti­tu­tional fu­ture, the union­ist par­ties are run­ning scared of democ­racy.

In the event of a “bad deal” or “no deal” Brexit, Scot­land must look to its own in­ter­ests and de­ter­mine its own fu­ture, and no truly demo­cratic party would deny the peo­ple of Scot­land their in­alien­able right to do so.

This is a shock­ing and sin­is­ter de­nial of democ­racy from so-called demo­cratic par­ties

Labour Clare Haughey has ac­cused Richard Leonard of be­hav­ing in an anti-demo­cratic way

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