Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

A bad day for democracy

It is a fantastic result, … Scotland has spoken, … we have had record turnout.

So, surely a good day for democracy?

If you believe that democracy is about a glorified opinion poll every so often, Yes.

But if you believe it means the people’s voice being heard and acted upon, No.

There will be disillusion, because Scots won’t get what they may have voted for, and the rest of us have not been consulted.

It has been an example of all the problems of our so-called democracy.

  • You excluded the option (Devo-Max) that most Scots indicated that they wanted.
  • You made it a Scotland only question.
  • You invited 16 and 17 year olds to vote – but on this question only – they won’t count when it comes to the next Westminster and Holyrood elections.
  • The Separatists – and at the last moment the Unionists woke up to the fact that this was a vote without accountability. You could promise what you liked – because unlike a General Election you can’t kick the blighters out five years later if they don’t keep their promises.
  • The Separatists offered a prospectus of aspirations presented as certainties reliant on the benevolence of the rest of the United Kingdom that they intend to spurn.
  • The leaders of the three Unionists parties promised (without mandate on behalf of the disenfranchised part of the UK) a form of Danegeld to the Scots – presumably funded by the disenfranchised.

We now face either:

  • Shouts of betrayal from Scotland as the more reactionary English MPs – for once probably voicing a widespread unease felt across England – dig their heels in and delay delivery of the three fools’ last-minute panic-induced “Vow” of Super-devo. This could be beyond the May 2015 General Election – and possibly even beyond the 2016 Holyrood Elections. This will play into the Nationalists hands, or,
  • Shouts of betrayal from England (and possibly Wales and Northern Ireland) as Scotland gets the bribe promised by the three fools and the democratic disparity between Scotland and the rest of the UK becomes even more marked.

Or possibly worse still:

  • We get a hurried rapid recasting of the UK as a semi-federal union. It will happen with little consultation and will be cobbled together by a previously anti-federal Government putting expediency before a good long-term settlement. Trying to reform the whole UK in step with the panic-promised timetable for Scottish Super-devo is asking for trouble. Something has got to give.

We can’t have significant UK constitutional change delivered at the end of a Scottish separatist gun. As a minimum it has to be considered and then be a major issue at a General Election. Arguably if a referendum was good enough for the Scots, it should also be good enough for the rest of us.

Yesterday was a pause in a long process – as a minimum we have to recognise that the Scots have been discussing constitutional change as a very live issue for two years. To think that the fag-end UK government can deliver UK wide constitutional change with just two months consideration (from the end of the pre-election party conferences in October to the promised white paper by the of November) is an insult to all of us. Most of us have been forced to be bystanders as both the Scots have deliberated (and the three fools have played with) our constitutional future. And that situation does not look as if it will change.

The referendum and its aftermath is not a good advert for Democracy.


A timetable to deliver change was set out by former prime minister – and Scottish MP – Gordon Brown. It was quickly endorsed by the UK-wide parties.

Immediately after the result became clear, Prime Minister David Cameron aimed to show the UK government was grabbing the initiative by announcing Lord Smith of Kelvin, a former BBC governor, to oversee the implementation of more devolution on tax, spending and welfare.

He said draft legislation would be ready by January, as per the timetable laid out by Brown.

Under the former PM’s proposals, a “command paper” would be published by the present UK government setting out all the proposals by the end of October.

A white paper would be drawn up by the end of November, after a period of consultation, setting out the proposed powers.

A draft new “Scotland Act” law would be published by Burns Night (25 January) 2015 ready for the House of Commons to vote on.
BBC News website 19 September 2014 : Scotland votes ‘No’: What happens now?

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