Unionist parties are denying democracy
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