Saturday, 16 June 2012

The six things Holyrood could promise to be certain we'll vote yes.

The issue at present- until Scots of a nationalist persuasion can reach into and beyond the ranks of the undecided, there remains a possibility of the referendum failing to achieve our desired result. Holyrood, the elected government of Scotland is a mirror of Scots society. The majority believe in more powers through to full sovereignty for all Scots, yet the debate drivers are focusing on entirely the wrong areas. Holyrood continues to debate on Westminster’s terms.

There’s no present indication of any change in tone or direction, the debate has been bogged down in minutiae, primarily driven by Unionist leaning politicians and an often fawning media with a London centric world view. It’s not a minutiae debate; it’s a full canvas big picture debate.

That Scots are hungry for change is without question, with more than 2/3 leaning towards either more powers or full independence. With such a healthy majority backing additional repatriation of sovereignty in some form then it should be a foregone conclusion that this will come to pass.

This conclusion has the potential of being stymied through Westminster intervention, where the range of options available to Scots will not reflect the wishes or aspirations of the nation.

Its worthwhile examining what, under a truly representative democracy, should be available to the Scots people. All variables and potentials should be on offer, and our polls would refine them as our nation sees fit. It may require multiple polls to accomplish this constitutional issue in a truly democratic society, for democracy itself is not a static issue.

Having resolved the parliament question in 1997, perhaps the next subject could simply be do we wish to continue with the status quo or do we wish more powers repatriated to Holyrood. In the unlikely event the nation votes for the status-quo the story ends until a popular up-surging through electoral returns or political agitation is indicated. If the populace votes for additional repatriation the debate continues.

Eventually we arrive at the level of self government we as a people select. That’s true democracy, that’s a fundamental right under the UN, but with London rule it will not be coming to a location near you anytime soon.

One issue that’s apparently taboo in Scotland’s mainstream media is just why anyone, not just Scots, is willing to meekly accept such disenfranchisement.

Given the absence of true democracy which is being forced upon us by Westminster, we must examine the limited choices available. Until a middle ground is defined and identified on the ballot, and all sides agree on the content of the middle ground then it must be removed from the equation. Today, although a denial of democracy, that middle ground is somewhere as likely as a significant lottery win.

Choices are therefore reduced to either the status quo or a fully sovereign parliament in Edinburgh.

There are potentially some 30% or more of Scots residents who’d fall into the undecided category, these are the devo-max supporters who must find another home, or simply stay home.

Present polling indicators on a two choice ballot are that slightly more of them may lean towards the status quo than sovereignty, perhaps by as much as 2:1. This speaks of a lack of compelling argument in favour of full sovereignty from the perspective of this significant section of the franchise. The ubiquitous Cybernat or other individual can’t address this; the leadership is required to come from Scotland’s parliament.

The challenge for Holyrood is how to sway this segment. In part Holyrood has gone some distance towards meeting that challenge with its consultation; it garnered some 20,000 plus responses.

The issue is that that number is still only around 0.3% of the population. Amongst the voting section of the population it’s somewhere around half that number. That is a woefully small percentage, less than 2 of every thousand of us, who felt this subject mattered enough to voice an opinion, although it still a magnitude better than managed by Westminster on a significantly larger base.

Scots simply aren’t moved to act, to devote time and resources necessary to the single question which would be the most important political event in their nation during the last three centuries, and few in the establishment are asking why. As this situation self evidently benefits Unionists, Nationalists must examine and respond to these fundamentals of self disenfranchisement.

To be certain of winning the referendum Holyrood must first beat voter apathy.

Everything surrounding the negative perspective appears to center around one thing, which is the “why bother” or “nothing much will change anyway” type of attitudes.

These attitudes strongly reflect the political reality of today’s Scotland, where we as a whole view politics and the political process with distrust.

It’s a system that is perpetuated by continual media scare stories and articles headlined “politician accused”. A constant stream of Westminster based scandals, Leveson, expenses, cash for honours, police corruption and sex for secrets also do nothing to inspire confidence in any elected official. Without confidence in those elected and appointed it is difficult for many to uncover the need or desire to express their right of franchise. It becomes exceedingly difficult to actually persuade them to make the effort to go and vote.

This lack of engagement, the problem with the upcoming referendum is that it is bogged down in minutiae. The media circus focus varies from the wording of the question to how many soldiers or ships a sovereign Scotland might have. Will we be £540 per year better off, or just £450, these are the detail distractions the media and Westminster are using to obfuscate, confuse and create apathy. The internet and message boards are infested with proponents of both sides doggedly arguing the hues without an apparent comprehension of the spectrum.

The referendum debate to date has been a triumph of obfuscation for London.

At day’s end these debates are simply that, they’re a distraction. The only predominant question Scots needs answered is “are we viable”, to which the widely acknowledged answer remains what it has always been, “yes”.

After that it’s simply a matter of choice as to the physical location of government and the specific political system Scots choose to select. In that perspective it is incredulous that five million voluntarily would allow fifty million neighbours to dictate to them, to dilute their franchise.

In 2014 there is opportunity for real democracy, a change the establishment in London is trying to prevent by using the micro debates false premises to create confusion, because as they themselves are well aware no government can solidly dictate future policy.

Quite simply, in a democracy if the electorate doesn’t like what the existing government is doing, they throw them out during the next electoral cycle and put in an elected leadership they prefer, usually with different policies. Sometimes this even happens at UK level, though the policies rarely change there.

The real issue about the upcoming poll is missing, and that’s the aspect of constitutional change.

The constitution when updated and enacted in Scotland should remain constant irrespective of individual government policies unless the people vote for subsequent constitutional change. This is unlike the present scenario whereby true democracy is being treated like the plague by almost all parties concerned with driving the upcoming poll.

Under the present Holyrood limitations, barring line item specific declarations of UDI by Holyrood against the “reserved powers” issues, there’s not much that can be implemented until after a positive referendum result. It can still be planned for however.

It is beyond time for Holyrood to unveil the big picture plans.

Various parties, individuals and organisations have looked into, even drafted an updated constitution for Scotland. These could be put forward for consideration after the referendum. Representatives should be placed on a panel that is assembled like Iceland’s was – people driven. Then the final document should be voted in, or rejected for amendment. Once adopted it should have constitutional hurdles to prevent needless tinkering. This should be one facet of the new Scotland we will vote upon in 2014.

Holyrood also appears to give little consideration to the fact that Scotland is a completely diverse country. We have mountains and lowland’s, we have moors and farmland, industry and agriculture, with cities, towns, villages all the way through small crofting and fishing communities to lonely dwellings in the glens. All need a voice.

Perhaps a second chamber of government is appropriate, although Holyrood at present thinks not.

The Westminster MP’s will cease to exist for us, that funding could mean each of Scotland’s regions given a vote with identical membership on this second house, a requirement being no party affiliation. Independents would give people politics, not party politics to that legislative area.

Highland could have ten members, as could Strathclyde. There would be a balance on the political representation of our communities. This is a subject that has a potential to excite many, especially if all politicians salaries and packages were tied to a percentage of the average wage.

This second house would not initiate laws, but could reject and amend proposals. The better the nation is managed, the better the nation performs, the better our politicians are rewarded. Ask the people and we will answer. We will tell you that promoting economically sound and sustainable policy is what we want.

Scots need to know that parliaments are not “just au’ the same”, that ours will be different. We need to know that all primary election promises must be funded, and that the parties making them must publish the details and timeframes before the election, then hold to the promises that are made or face a recall. Scots need to know that issues like the Liberal Democrats signed and discarded pledges will not be allowed to happen here. We will happily enshrine these principles.

When it comes to Europe we must be asked, the choice must be ours. The promise of such an expansion of democracy after the referendum will win many to the cause Holyrood is promoting. There also must be policies to make certain that if our best intentions result in a mistake today; our children are not bound by our revealed stupidity. All treaties entered into by our nation that deal with future issues of sovereignty must have sunset clauses, clauses which do not prevent popular reaffirmation. Our children must be ensured the freedom of choice that has for so long been denied to us.

We know that the Euro is threatened; we know that the pound has been inflation prone for almost three quarters of a century, and that the Bank of England is a serial de-valuer with a record stretching back even longer than that. Neither Brussels nor London has been proven capable of effective money management. With these facts self evident Scots need options for a plebiscite on currency under a sovereign Holyrood. It is not necessary to supply details at present, simply the timeframe under which we will be polled.

On the subject of Money, we need to know our land will never be in thrall to the bankers, usury agencies and financiers who are increasingly running our world. We need to know that we will continually balance our budget and that in cases where borrowing is called for beyond a certain minimal limit, we must approve it. That is a democracy I would vote for, that is a democracy which will be worth fighting for.

Six simple enhancements of democracy, give us a constitution we ourselves develop. Mandate an independent second house as a check and balance, make political promises real, make them funded and binding. If we can do this and add the choices on Europe, our monetary system and our nations finances to be all driven by the electorate we would have a system worthy of acclaim, a system worth implementing, a system that will never happen in Westminster’s corrupt halls. There is only one location Scots can ensure such a system.

Give me this and you will inspire me, give us this and you can inspire a nation, for the debate is not about the minutiae, it’s not about Unionist V Nationalist, it’s quite simply about the potential of democracy from Edinburgh against dictatorship from London.

Holyrood, show me you are aware of this divide in the debate, show me you know it’s about something far, far larger than the petty squabbles we presently hear, show me you know and understand the bigger picture.

Edinburgh, make me this promise and win not only my interest, win my vote. Grab not only the imagination of Scots, but behold a world astounded.


  1. We will have a democracy when the top job in a nation is availed to anybody through their own effort,until that is possible we will not have democracy.
    While the head of states job is hereditary we do not have a democracy.
    First independence,then we fix the rest.

    1. Independence is our goal, democracy our aim. The people should have a vote in every major policy, not just pontificated at by so-called betters. We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns.

  2. How would it work if you boiled it down for the don't knows to being a question of 'to Trident or not to Trident'?

    1. Hi there,

      I think it goes even further than that. Westminster has decided it does not want to spend money on a Health Service or Education in England, in order to cut taxes and the deficit. They have, not surprisingly, decided the Scots should do the same and are cutting our block grant accordingly to enforce this on us up here whether we like it or not. After all we're all in this together. No?

      So for those who would settle for Full Fiscal Autonomy (with Trident on the Clyde) how are they going to assure the Scots' right to decide what level of public spending we have and not have that dictated by a Tory government in London? They wont, because I tell you, that will never be allowed by the control-freaky British state.

      The only way to protect any sort of democracy in Scotland is through Independence, otherwise Westminster will continually find ways of subverting the Scots' wishes to bring Scotland back into line with current English government thinking - and that goes just as much for Labour as Tory governments.

      Vote Yes in 2014.


  3. I too am very concerned about the nature of the Scottish constitution post independence and that some policies about what kinds of constitutional changes are on the table will clearly help sell a yes vote to undecideds. I get a flavor from talking to people that there is great concern in the Highlands and Islands that they will be forgotten in the new Scottish State and I agree that as things currently stand it doesn't look good. The US Constitution provides for two houses one based on population and the other geographic. Scotland needs the Highlands and Islands and their oil so that the whole country can be as prosperous as possible. How can we ensure that they vote yes? A Senate, small and nimble, based on geographic region is an ideal solution. Love your blog!

  4. From a Shetland perspective, both Hazel and Mike are correct that a Senate of the Regions is a necessity. And there is no need for a constitution to wait for Independence. Yes, if the Scottish Parliament were to adopt a constitution it would be Ultra Vires. So what - policy works by changing attitudes as much as by the 'letter'. Assume you are aware of the Constitutional Commission event on 28th?

    1. The US declared it's independence in 1776 but didn't adopt a proper constitution until 1787, 11 years later, all while fighting a war on its own territory against a world superpower. A constitution is not required before independence but I tend to be an optimist and in my mind I'm looking at what will follow with interest!

  5. Hazel,

    Thank you for a very enlightening, well written piece. The only question I feel that we should be asked is, Should we rule ourselves, or be ruled over.

    If, as should be logical to the blindest of people, then the details of what where and when would be for the first Scottish General Election after Independence is granted. This continued obstructionist aim by the MSM and UK Politicians should be made to stop, either by the Electoral Commission, The Council of Europe or the UN.
    Too many people are saying what if this that or the next thing, in retaliation to for example the BBC's biased slanting, the Scotsman's hideous coverage, and they supposed to be Scotland's Newspaper.

    In short, vote aye and then sort out the details.

  6. I am curious as to why we as a possible new nation should have to share all of what we will do with the country that seeks to maintain a hold over us? The one thing a country does is protects its citizens(as opposed to being subjects that can be used)and we should be afforded the courtesy that is given to other countries,and if we ask you can help or not.We will have the same rights as the r UK,and I cant see Whitehall telling us what they will do to defend themselves after Scottish independence,do you?I cant see them telling us anything just now never mind when we become a "foreign country".