Exercising the democratic will of the people

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by Hazel Lewry

At the end of the day it’s what we’re all fighting and arguing about the world over.  The personal aspect for us is that Scotland should have the right to “reap her own harvest and ring her own till”.  Yet with the deep conservatism towards change so often displayed by the Scots voter the biggest question is perhaps how best to get there.

We also need to be clear that there is no real democratic right in the United Kingdom for its peoples: to get to vote every half decade or so and have no say whatsoever in between is what we’ve been trained to accept like performing seals, but it’s certainly not real democracy.  We vote, but there’s no way to make those we vote for keep their promises, and they know that.  This is not democracy but it is the system being copied in Scotland today.  Party political systems largely benefit parties, not people.

Scotland need to become a democratic independent nation, one which represents itself with quiet dignity on the worlds’ stage.  But which path to take to get there, and how best to walk it?  How best to define that democracy so that the expressed will of the people is the path of the nation?

How does Scotland obtain her freedom in a gradualist way while working for the instant gratification of full autonomy with or without the approval of Westminster, for it’s a fact that Westminster has ignored the Act of Union often enough to render it invalid.  It is surely only a well-perpetrated illusion then that “Westminster must give” in our democratic system.  All that’s needed in a true democracy under international law is the approval of the Scots people.  How do we who really care and are invested in our nation shake a multitude from apathy and get that approval?

One thing that’s been a common theme in my journeying through this world is that wherever I meet folk who know of Scots they have some very strong impressions of us, rarely bad.  Amongst the strongest themes are that we’re contentious and stubborn, or to put it simply we’re not afraid of an argument but once we entrench our position argument is largely wasted because we’ll find ways to just push back.  Although I rarely hear it mentioned I also know there’s a very strong sense of right and wrong that runs deep in the Scots psyche.  Loyalty is the other aspect that often comes up.

We certainly can lay claim to understanding ourselves as much as anyone can.  As change comes mainly in two ways, by force or through accepted democratic will, perhaps we need to look at what that understanding of our own nature can lead to socially and politically.  How can we change, or better sidestep our own politically entrenched positions to ensure the needs and futures of our children and grandchildren are best served – either within or outwith this Union.  It is indeed by looking at our next generation we have the truth of our three centuries of defined betrayal and the fiscal servitude we must protect them from.

As we Scots argue and fight over independence, would we not be better served by opening up a second front?  Take the fight for self determination to the point that Westminster is constantly on the wrong foot.  We should pick our arguments wisely and sensibly as we march towards independence, but get straight to the heart of the matter in individual cases.  We have enough proof that Scotland mainly benefits when Westminster is wrong-footed by Scotland.

I noted a post to the “Fair and Free Elections” article that said we can demand a referendum “as long as 100 of us remain alive”, a cornerstone statement of the Declaration of Arbroath.  In our modern day should this not remain our right?  At the earliest opportunity should we not put a petition before the Parliament with 101 signatures demanding the declaration be formally acknowledged and entrenched by our present Parliament as a founding document of the Scots nation?  If that’s refused then we should garner popular support for a wider petition.  It’s a document few politicians could vote against without being caught in a cleft stick.  Simply asking party leaders if they support it would likely provoke some entertaining answers.

Petitions for referendum(s) could walk alongside or follow this, but we should choose the subject wisely.  Not for FFA or independence for the first, but to set and entrench our rights to demand a referendum on any subject the Scots see as required.  This a “neutral” issue until now, one that Scots can choose freely in without party political allegiances interfering, where there are few pre-conceived or entrenched ideas of loyalty, other than the common misconception of “I have a right to a voice”.  This is a perceived right of the Scots, a right where the establishment must fight against what is obviously set to be the will of the Scottish people.  If we were to be allowed annual or biennial referendums on subjects of our choice what on earth might we exercise our democratic rights to demand?  Perhaps one day we’ll demand a referendum on independence or FFA, and that can’t be allowed to happen.   What if we said no to bank bailouts or higher taxes, PPI or Trident?  What if we decide a declaration of war requires the agreement of the people?  That would be democracy in action.

Petition Holyrood to reaffirm our rights to be a sovereign people with a voice, nothing more is needed for now, unless we vote en masse for independence.  Simply reaffirm that we the people are sovereign and require this modern parliament to pass a motion confirming that ancient right remains entrenched.  Politically it will be difficult to argue against, for to argue against such a petition is to argue against democracy itself.  Ditto the 1320 declaration.

The Unionist parties cannot accept an expansion of democracy in Scotland, for it loosens the Union stranglehold, and there’s no telling where it would lead to afterwards.  We might actually start demanding a say on the “reserved” issues of the original Scotland Bill, voting them out one by one, starting perhaps with broadcasting and energy before working our way through the rest of the list.

Isn’t it time we started using our national traits to our benefit, instead of chasing and trying to counter the Union psychologists and their less than subtle but very effective broadcast propaganda.

We must engineer a change in Holyrood to re-affirm at least a portion of those ancient rights.  Use our democratic power to shift existing loyalties and entrenched positions as we claw our rights back from Westminster on our way to our rightful place at the table of nations.  For nothing is more certain than that Westminster will never voluntarily return those rights to us.