Democracy is not a one-off event

So there we have it. No three page missive setting out why Scotland can’t have a second independence referendum, but a hastily thrown together note full of lies. If this is the basis for refusal of our First Minister’s request for a second independence referendum, then Westminster reasoning is hanging on a very shoogly nail.

In the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement and after there was no promise given by either Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon that the 2014 referendum was a ‘once in a generation event’. On a few occasions it was spoken of as a once in a generation (not once in a lifetime) opportunity, which is a very different thing from event.

This is a phrase Boris Johnson has used with regard to the opportunity to leave the EU, and also with regard to the December general election (‘BORIS JOHNSON has today urged Sunday Express readers to back the Conservative Party in a “critical once in a generation election” on Thursday.’ Does this mean Johnson now believes no further general elections should be held for forty or fifty years? Does he have the agreement of Westminster or voters for that? In indyref1 the phrase was used, as it normally is, to underline the importance of a course of action, in this case part of an exhortation to vote. The phrase is rarely taken literally – only apparently by Tories.

Yet Tory spin doctors (or more likely Dominic Cummings) have decided to build their entire case against independence upon it, upon the remarks of two people, one of whom is no longer in politics. This looks very much like a personal vendetta to weaken the SNP from the top down, borne out by Alister Jack’s insistence at the weekend that there would be no second indyref in Nicola Sturgeon’s lifetime. Not in his lifetime, or Boris Johnson’s lifetime or parliamentary tenure. But in our First Minister’s lifetime. This has disturbing connotations.

The First Minister’s response to the Johnson refusal letter

In 2014 people in Scotland voted, on the back of many assurances, the most crucial being that our EU membership could only be retained by voting NO, to give Westminster and the Union another chance. All the promises given then have now been proved mere dust blowing in the wind. Because of this many Scottish voters now feel conned, manipulated, let down. Their annoyance is driving them, in ever increasing numbers, onto the independence side.

Chris Law MP

This is a serious face palm moment. If this is the best argument that can be put forward by the PM then they have ran out of steam.
No nation can bind another nations future in perpetuity & any vain attempt to do so will only hasten it’s independence. #itstimetochoose #indyref2

The Scottish Government has respected the outcome of the 2014 referendum. It has consistently tried to work constructively with the Westminster government, as have SNP MPs and MSPs, but all have been derided, jeered at, shouted down, sidelined and ignored. Amendments to bills affecting Scotland have been voted down by MPs who could not even be bothered sitting in the Chamber to listen to the arguments. Our Scottish Parliament is to have powers grabbed back from it. This is the parliament that in 1997 74.29% of us voted for, with 63.48% of us also in favout of it having tax raising powers.

Response to the Johnson letter from Patrick Harvey, Scottish Green Co-Leader

In Scotland our Holyrood parliament is held in far higher regard than Westminster. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2017, (pre Johnson’s premiership) indicated that 61% trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests with only 20% trusting the UK Government. 74% of people said the Scottish Government should have most influence over the way Scotland is run. Since the advent of devolution in 1999 levels of trust in the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests have been consistently higher than those in the UK Government.

Stewart McDonald MP

The problem for the Prime Minister is that many Scots have psychologically left Westminster behind, and our Parliament in Edinburgh is seen as the centre of political representation and democratic expression. His position simply will not hold.

Scotland is not stagnating. If Boris Johnson and other unionist cronies visited more often they might be more aware of Scotland’s achievements, despite Westminster’s best efforts to curtail these. That Jess Philips, a contender for the Labour leadership, is parroting the same insulting guff as Johnson tells us Labour is still in bed with the Tories. Better Together never made it to the divorce stage. We know from official figures, repeated endlessly on social media though rarely in the actual media, that Scotland, in many areas of our public services, outperforms the rest of the UK; in other areas Scotland holds its own against London and the south-east of England. Unionists are indulging in psychological warfare against Scotland to keep us thirled to the UK.

Johnson’s letter is not written with the gravitas or choice words or thoughts of a statesman. Instead it reads like the work of a petulant fourteen year old boy with a map of blackheads and plooks on his face and a questionable magazine inside his schoolbook, clowning around in an attempt to persuade others in the class that he’s the king of the castle and can get one over on his schoolteacher. The wording may be slighter better than Trump’s efforts, but will make his European counterparts and those in the EU parliament and commission shake their heads in disbelief and mark it nil points. Many will make the comparison between the PM of the UK and Scotland’s First Minister, widely acknowledged as a stateswoman of international standing. No guesses as to the runaway winner.

Murray Foote

It’s telling that Johnson and Gove’s sole and wafer thin defence for denying IndyRef2 is invoking a line from a former FM while avoiding the incontrovertible case presented by the material change that is Scotland’s loss of EU membership.

Democracy is not a one-off event with a result set in stone. Democracy is a journey, a road to be travelled, otherwise the 1832 Reform Act would never have been enacted or even proposed. Neither would any of the legislation in the almost two centuries since. Women were excluded from those franchise reforms and had to fight against entrenched views to win equal rights including the right to vote. It’s possible that many of the excuses against giving women the vote were as empty, pathetic and manipulated as Johnson’s, but this travesty of a response to a request by Scotland’s First Minister must come within a whisker of the worst. The logic of Johnson’s argument is that we should still send children up chimneys, men should continue to walk in front of motor cars with red flags and that the Tories should rule, unchallenged by a Labour Party, forever.

A Private Members Bill recently introduced in the House of Lords

This reply from arrogant Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, is not only to the First Minister of Scotland. This is personal. He is replying to each one of us who in successive parliaments and elections voted for our Scottish Government to pursue, on our behalf, the right to have the opportunity of deciding what kind of future we wanted. Johnson’s insulting, puerile response is a slap in the face to each one of us. He is demeaning and humiliating us by not treating our wishes with respect through his use of a ragbag of inventions and falsehoods meant only to rubbish our aspirations. This is far from good enough. And in a twenty first century democracy we should not accept this treatment.

Meanwhile, a Private Members Bill has been introduced in the House of Lords, and although it is said to have little chance of success it just might receive Tory backing in order to force us Scots back into our box.

However, one glimmer of brightness can be found in the comments of Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, who, when interviewed on ITV Borders after the Prime Minister rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s request, said he intended to deliver indyref2 in 2020 to help end the current uncertainty.

“I think a referendum this year is the right thing to do. I intend to deliver it because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the right thing to do because it ends the uncertainty. It’s really important the uncertainty comes to an end.”

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