And Here Are The Votes From Scotland

We have so much democracy, it’s coming out of our ears. It seems every year brings another election, every spring we’re in the run-up to a vote and now we’re facing two at virtually the same time. And next year it’s the council elections…

Elections are like an occasional cull  when we get a chance to cut the numbers and clear out the weak, leaving a healthier breed at large. This summer we’ll be firing the guns into a prone carcass, already blasted to death by over-use.

Blam! Take that, EU referendum. Badoom! Have that one from me, Holyrood. It’s overkill.

I await invites to academic gatherings debating voter fatigue and ads on television asking: Have you been the victim of Post Election Traumatic Stress Disorder? Claim compensation through our UN-sanctioned electoral consultants…

The lack of respect for national elections in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland displayed by the government’s dash to endorse the EU is another telling example of how we are truly viewed when the British chips are down. Each Celtic nation is essentially a bolt-on accessory to the main driver of UK plc – Greater England, which itself increasingly looks like a cordoned-off encampment in the Thames Valley, one whose interests are paramount and whose enrichment is a national obsession. I can find no reference to these key devolved elections in the endless statements of Westminster spokesmen organising their toy soldiers for the In/Out referendum. They have been expunged from all thinking, making clear to those millions of voters outside England just how utterly irrelevant they are in the life of the metropolitan decision-makers. Wasn’t like that in 2014, was it? They courted us for as long as they needed us. Then they didn’t just drop us but within hours of the independence referendum, but David Cameron turned our vote into an affair of English votes.

Here we are again – deciding who should govern three of the four nations of the UK while the entire London machinery looks the other way. Worse…it hijacks the airwaves for its esoteric rammy over which of two right-wing attitudes we should strike on the EU. The overlap between the two campaigns ensures that the politics of the rest of the UK will be overwhelmed as the media hyenas rip into the feeding frenzy.

It is noticeable the alacrity with which the BBC in particular rushed at the smell of blood, all sense of its duty to reflect the United Kingdom abandoned in pursuit of Dave and Boris as if the future of the country was a showdown scene in Eastenders.

You’ll look far in the next four months for items informing the rest of Britain of political events in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast which is unfortunate because it would help London-based journalists better understand their own country – they clearly didn’t during the indyref – and the three-nation election is the ideal opportunity to educate those whose only understanding of devolution rests on the historical myth of English subsidy. But then we live in a strange country in which the interests of one corner forever dominate.

The Boris Johnson caper become farcical as the speculation swept away real news, as if a single MP held the keys to the EU. I realised with a jolt that in England people will actually decide their vote on the views of a bumbling self-publicist – or at least the media thinks so. It got so bad that I woke up the other morning to hear a BBC presenter interviewing his father. Later Channel 4, consistently superior in its coverage, sent a reporter to a Northern city in England to find that some there hadn’t even heard of Johnson, confirming the once-mighty BBC operating inside its metropolitan bubble. (Would it have been too much for a journalist to point out the operatic irony of Johnson saying that coming out of the EU was the democratic thing to do? His government has a majority with only 23 per cent of registered voters -10 per cent in Scotland – and has the second largest unelected legislative chamber in the world.)

The Boris brouhaha of course is based not on our EU membership but who will lead the Conservative Party afterwards which is presumably why he waited so long to make public his view. He waited to see how the ducks lined up before calculating which was the strongest position from which to launch his leadership bid. He is gambling the answer is Leave. I certainly think there’s a strong chance Cameron will have to Leave whichever way the vote goes because this is the final showdown for the Tories on the dividing issue of the decades. Whoever is on the losing side is unlikely to forgive what is said during the next few months, leaving a wounded and factionalised party led by a man who plans to stand down before 2020 regardless.

The rest of us will now be treated to the depths of neo con thinking as the right-wing exposes its xenophobia, its small-minded nationalism and contempt for civil rights.

If you want an insight into what kind of Britain the Tories plan once released from those pesky constraints of Brussels, the House of Commons Library has produced a briefing document on Brexit. In just one policy area it advises: Withdrawal from the EU would allow for change to the following areas of employment law, which stem largely from Europe: annual leave, agency worker rights, part-time worker rights, fixed-term worker rights, collective redundancy, paternity, maternity and parental leave, protection of employment upon the transfer of a business and anti-discrimination legislation. Now ask yourself what you imagine a Tory government would do with that lot if it were freed from ensuring workers’ rights.

As I wrote a couple of blogs ago, employees already have no rights if they have less than two years qualifying experience. For unfair dismissal it costs £1200 for your day in court. We have an epidemic of zero hour contracts, low minimum wage, dismal unemployment benefits and un-livable pensions. How low could these people go with total control?

We now face the devil’s dilemma of apparently backing either Cameron’s niggardly and resentful ‘special relationship’ with Brussels or the Brexit No Deal. Each of these is so far from my view of the European Union that it feels like I’m intruding in an internal Tory Party event. I resent that deeply. My EU has always been based on social solidarity that brings together people of different cultures in a common enterprise. It established common rights that override the temporary impositions of national governments to set the European continent on a course of raising levels, guaranteeing the means of prosperity and development. It was about civilisation not commercialisation. The plan was to equalise standards across all countries allowing safety and security for people and goods. The EU was a way to float all boats.

Sadly, in recent years, we have corporatism open to TTIP, bankers crushing people, a rush to transform without caution on currency and enlargement and the emergence of corrupt figures like Barroso making up policy like some national dictator.

The answer to this is not partial withdrawal or penalising migrants and certainly not a windy promise not to engage in deeper union. It is accountability and democracy, both glaringly absent from the current institutions. We are being offered a false prospectus by the Tories, one we need to expose for the un-European sham it is. I look to the SNP to create a Scottish agenda based on the their vision of the EU not that of an anti-foreigner Dad’s Army of Britnat Bigots.

Yet such a move will inevitably distract from the job of presenting their case for the Holyrood election, a confusion we can do without. Some adroit crafting will be required to hone a winning message.

Or is it possible that a scunnered electorate will treat the Tories with the contempt they deserve and reaffirm their intention to put Scotland before all other considerations with resounding double votes for the SNP and a Scottish Yes to the referendum? Sometimes the issues seem so huge and complicated that a simple and clear answer that dispels nuance and doubt seems the right response. The Scots have learned to use the electoral system even if Westminster chooses not to hear. And in its way, this is an historic moment, one when we can put both Scottish national interest and European internationalism to the fore in one summer of politics. For Scotland and Europe, eh?

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23 thoughts on “And Here Are The Votes From Scotland

  1. Westminster and the britnat media continue to flout their arrogance and ignorance towards the people of Scotland. There will always be useful idots like Fluffy Mundell who will do as they’re told by their Westminster masters but surely now, after all Scotland has gone through, it is time to say “enough is enough”. To hell with this so-called united kingdom.

  2. Precisely Derek.

    Scotland is just going to say :
    In or out of Europe?
    Are you fecking kidding me?
    Stop wasting our fecking time, please!

    Cue healthy 60-70% in agreement to stay.

    Then can we get back to things that really matter?

    Like getting out of this moribund UK Union?

  3. While I mostly agree with many of this article’s main points, Derek, if there’s one thing that gets my goat, it’s comments like this:

    “Withdrawal from the EU would allow for change to the following areas of employment law, which stem largely from Europe: annual leave, agency worker rights, part-time worker rights, fixed-term worker rights, collective redundancy, paternity, maternity and parental leave, protection of employment upon the transfer of a business and anti-discrimination legislation. Now ask yourself what you imagine a Tory government would do with that lot if it were freed from ensuring workers’ rights.”

    These are not your words, Derek, but you agree with the sentiment.

    And my question is this: Why can’t the left put the case for these rights before the British public? Why the appeal to a higher authority to save people from themselves? In this case the EU.

    Colin Fox wrote something similar on Bella the other day, and I thought it was a craven and spineless abdication of political will and responsibility.

    If the left, or the centre left, could get its act together, then it could win the argument. Years ago, the Labour party, full of fire and brimstone, would have thumped the tables to win these rights – it wouldn’t be appealing to faceless pen pushers in Brussels to do their work for them.

    • The answer to your question is obvious….
      There is no “Left” at a UK level.
      All three main UK Parties, i.e. Tory, Labour and LibDem have embraced Right Wing politics.
      Truly all are “Tory”
      Sad but true.

    • Post Election Traumatic Stress Disorder? How about Pre Election Traumatic Stress Disorder? One day into the EU referendum campaign and already I’m heading for a lie-down in a darkened room.

  4. Choices
    1. Leave the EU?
    – but probably not completely as a Norway type agreement on trade might be required. As long as we get rid of all that human rights bollocks and continue to build up our hate for Rumanians and can sell bent sausages in the shops and can remove whats left of workers rights without Brussels putting us on the naughty step.

    2. Stay in the EU?
    – and sign up for the deal on reduced membership commitment hammered out by Cameron. This deal to replace our unofficial half-arsed membership that we have been living uneasily with for all the decades post Edward Heath. Reduced co-operation on everything except trade, banking and greedy bastard syndrome being the brave new world.

    3. Stay in the EU on our current terms of membership?
    (This option not available due to it not being part of the Tory mindset)
    – There will be nothing on the ballot paper equivalent to the NO vote in the 2014 independence referendum where those fearful of change could say NO and things would just stay the same. The similarity between now and the old days before Sep 2014 where we said no and kept the pound, kept the House of Lords, kept the existing welfare state AND stayed in the EU. Phew, what a relief. That was a close call.

    4. Embark on a full membership of the EU equivalent to Germany, France, Italy, etc)
    (This option not available due to it not being part of the Tory mindset)
    – So no choice to integrate more fully into the European project and work on the long game to improve things for the ordinary Europeans accross the whole continent.

  5. Well it appears the Scotland bill hitting the buffers and grinding to a halt , has taken second place to the English EU in or out campaign, The total disrespect and contempt shown by Mundel & Hands by refusing to appear in person before the scrutinising committee our Parliment , is just another example of a long line of U.K. Government ministers who by there actions confirm what many who voted ‘YES’ suspected ” We Don’t Matter ” we don’t appear on their radar , having voted ‘NO’ we as a Country ceased to exist , this is confirmed by the BBC and media in general blackout of this Scotland Bill Farce , while the Tory Government think of a way to blame the SNP for its failure , I wonder if those who voted ‘NO’ will finally waken up and realise they have been totally duped and lied to , or will they continue to rubbish the efforts of the SNP Government to mitigate the consequences of their actions , they have a chance in May to redeem themselves ,I do hope they take it , will they ? who knows stupidity has a tendency to repeat itself , the Labour Party in Scotland being a prime example of this phenomenon .

  6. My Cocaine …… I believe you’ve answered your own question “… Years ago, the Labour party, full of fire and brimstone, would have thumped the tables to win these rights”, past tense.

    As to why the “Left” is not putting forward the case for these Rights to the British people, the answer is that the “Left” doesn’t exist in British politics.

    Tony Blair exorcised any Socialist sentiment from the Labour Party twenty years ago and it ain’t coming back any time soon.
    Witness the internecine warfare being played out within that Party over Corbyn’s leadership and his attempts to steer Labour slightly leftwards and you can’t help but conclude he’s flogging a dead horse.
    Right now, from a UK perspective, Brussels is the only Bulwark ordinary working people have against the Tory assaults on Human Rights, employment laws, working conditions etc.

    Fortunately, here in Scotland the SNP are a ‘left of centre’ (not Socialist, I concede) party which subscribes to the EU rules & regulations.
    There can be only one conclusion therefore for those of us living here, we must gain Independence or we will be stripped of any & all rights and freedoms.

    • “Right now, from a UK perspective, Brussels is the only Bulwark ordinary working people have against the Tory assaults on Human Rights, employment laws, working conditions etc.”

      That was my point – that’s it’s a sorry state of affairs when we have to look to Brussels to solve our problems, our make the political case for us.

  7. Have repeated this many times Westminsters legal postion after seeking very expensive legal advice ” that Scotland ceased to exist on the signature of the Union , there is no doubt” and goes on to reinforce its opinion with ” there is no doubt like Wales before Scotland was absorbed by its greater nighbour ” if you voted No you validated you voted Scotland out of existence
    They didn’t respect or recognise Scotland as a country then they respect it even less now

  8. ” I realised with a jolt that in England people will actually decide their vote on the views of a bumbling self-publicist.” I can’t see English people being all that concerned about the views of Alec Salmond.

  9. I don’t think now is the time for Scots to have the EU conversation, not when another legislature uses our resources and sovereignty as bargaining chips ‘on our behalf’ (cough). In fact, this whole EU stooshie isn’t really about any of the nation partners, though its outcome will profoundly affect all of us.

    I think tackling one union and bureaucracy at a time would be the preferred option. I know we’re supposed be thrawn and such, but moderation in all things.

    To me, at this time, it makes more sense to put clear water between Holyrood and Westminster, win our independence, renegotiate our own independent EU settlement in the interim and give our country a bedding in period, in both independence and the EU. Once we’ve had say, a parliamentary term to see what shakes, then and only then, if that’s what we still wish, petition our independent parliament for our own EU referendum. A referendum where we have a conversation based on our needs and priorities, yes?

    Then of course there is the, what should be, major headline story of the fiscal settlement.

    Having failed utterly to date to live up to ANY pledge or statement made during the independence referendum, is this HMGs final interpretation of ‘the vow’, Westminster’s best offer to the Scottish electorate?

    Bit of a rhetorical question there really. If HMG had any intention of honouring what it led the Scottish public to expect as an outcome, it would have been done and dusted long since. The current settlement is not only devo lite on powers, but its fiscal structure is fatally flawed in favour of the treasury and HMG.

    The main thrust of what’s happening? No fixed settlement currently in the offing and the issue possibly being kicked upstairs to FM and PM level. As I understand it, there’s even talk of a four or five year period using some agreed upon powers and budgeting to be assessed for further options to ensure no detriment at the end of this period. And if there is still no agreed format ensuring ‘no detriment’? If HMG still insist ‘that’s yer lot’?

    Maybe just me, but I’d say you’ll have had your near federalism then folks.

  10. I really enjoyed this post. It helped clarify a few things for me, so thank you Mr Bateman.

  11. […] violence in Ireland. I don’t approve of what EU(Germany) did to Greece but Derek Bateman reflects my view of the EU. If all 3 “minor Celtic regions/NATIONS” are dragged out of […]

  12. Yup, five years no detriment and then a review.

    That should work out just nicely. 🙂

  13. At 3.34 I posted a comment which was against Alec Salmond. It is still awaiting moderation. Since my post 3 other posts have been moderated and allowed on your website. All were pro Scottish Nationalism in their content. I can only assume from this that you do not allow posts of an anti-Scottish Nationalism nature. This is one of the reasons I will never again vote for the SNP or any pro-independence party.

  14. Steve Asaneilean

    I have great reservations about the EU as it currently (mal)functions but I will almost certainly still vote to remain in.

    Why? Be the principle is good and good things have happened as a result of being in.

    Sometimes the perceived problems of the EU are actually down to Westminster (go see what they did with the EU subsidies for hill farmers which meant it ended up in the hands of their rich pals “down south” instead of the hands of Scottish farmers).

    But all this is an irrelevance. First and foremost we need an independent Scotland. That independent Scotland can then decide whether or not it wants to be part of the EU. In turn the EU can then decide if it has a place for us at its table.

    If it does then, by dint of being independent, Scotland will have more say and more ability to persuade the EU to address a Scottish agenda.

    As things stand that is simply not possible at all.

    This side show referendum on EU membership is irrelevant. Independent nation first them we can expend some energy on the future shape of our EU relationship.

  15. Alasdair Macdonald

    There are mayoral elections in London on that day, too, but the media are more interested in the individual than in his mayoralty. The management of one of the greatest cities in the world is ignored by the man reportedly running it and the media, which are located there, show no interest in how that city is to be run. To use the blanket term ‘London’ lacks nuance. This is the city which has the greatest level of inequality in the Uk. This is the place which actually swung towards Labour at the General Election in 2015. There is the Westminster/Whitehall/City/mainstream-media/international-plutocrat(robber baron) nexus which exists in the same space as millions of Londoners on zero hours contracts,are low paid, and live in poor housing for extortionate rents. Withdrawal from the EU is to deny these people their already diluted rights and it is also to preserve the buccaneering rights of the financial businesses from attempts by the EU to exercise control over them.
    There are council elections in many parts of England, too. But councils in England have been eviscerated and turnout will be low, because people do not see the point of voting for such things.
    I will be voting REMAIN, but the EU needs reform and we must use the campaign as a platform for setting out a vision for a better Europe and for an independent Scotland’s place within it.

  16. In fairness, the Chinese parliament is an elected legislature, albeit chosen via the Communist Party machinery. That then makes the House of Lords the largest unelected legislature in the world.

    As for a future under the Tory System following a Leave vote, you are absolutely right! Targets would be: workers, pensioners, the sick, disabled…and as the Westminster Establishment falters, further targets would be offered up: Polish people, Hungarians, Scots, Irish…

    Tell me that I am wrong, that we are not heading towards fascism?

  17. It is all too clear that the political agenda from London is to be dominated up until late June by the intellectual jousting of the bumbling bullies of the Bullingdon Club as “reporters” swamp Boris as he wheels his bike to the Commons and Dave criticises the hapless Leader of the opposition for not wearing a “proper ” suit and singing the national anthem.Cue for loud animal baying from the green leather benches. The tone of the debate rose by a notch.
    Far from taking the huff at the moderator holding back his asinine comment at 3.34 RTC should feel disappointed and more than a little ashamed that it was eventually published! May we hope we are spared from the revelation of other reasons that he/she will never vote for the SNP or any pro-independence party……as if?

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