For me, The big story today isn’t that an even less suitable individual than Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson now holds one of the great offices of state – that’s been on the cards since the greased piglet (sort of) resigned in the wake of a tsunami of scandals.
No. The story that got my attention was the one where his successor is planning to draft legislation that would mean that for Scotland to be a completely normal independent nation it wouldn’t be enough for it to just win a simple aye/no question – we’d need fifty percent of the entire electorate to vote for the normality of self-government for the vote to carry.
Would it aye.
So, good people. I started to look at the numbers. And this one stands out.
Bear with me.
If the 50% rule she proposed had been in place for the EU referendum of 2016, and based on the turnout on that fateful day, Leave would have needed another six million votes to win. Six. Million. So basically nae chance. In an indyref, we’d need 60%, assuming a similarly high turnout to 2014, just to clear the 50% caveat.
It’s an extraordinarily high bar that suggests that they (Westminster) think the Supreme Court will rule next month in favour of the Scottish Government in terms of “allowing” (my inverted commas) a vote – and that they therefore need to move the goalposts. Like, now.
It’s fascinating and revealing, in equal measure, and in that context Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to refer the question of legitimacy to the court looks more savvy with every single passing day. People who do detail make good public servants.
Who knew, eh?
Here’s the other thing about Brexit.
It never occurred to the Westminster government to ask permission from Brussels. Quite right too. Whither a marriage where you have have to ask to leave?
Why should they? Can you imagine the palpitations of the frothing gammons if they were told to write to the EU and ask for permission? I mean, who won the war? If it wasn’t for us we’d all be speaking German! And so on, and so, deeply, desperately, depressingly, on. And yet not for viewers in Scotland. And now for the news where you are. It’s aye been. We beg for a piece of what’s already ours.
It’s beyond bonkers and utterly insulting.
It started with Lord Frost saying we needed polling at 75% for a decade – and then they might think about it. Maybe. In other words, never. Back in your box, you ungrateful Jocks. Tak a drink. There, there.
History echoes. And repeats.
A dear farmer pal of mine from Ullapool mentioned today the infamous George Cunningham Amendment from the ‘79 vote which set the bar at 40% of the total electorate. So the majority of those who actually voted said “aye” but a fairly low turnout – no surprise, the proposed powers of the “assembly” were pretty limited – meant that the bar wasn’t cleared. Which put our parliament back a couple of decades. Cheers for that, Geordie. We’ll remember to thank you at our leisure.
Some more numbers.
On the assumption of a similarly huge turnout in 2023, we’d need 60/40 to make the (very hypothetical) Truss amendment in a (very actual) indyref2. She can get tae, obviously, but regardless of amendments and gerrymandering I actually think we need 60/40 or even higher (1997 was 62/38 on the question of tax powers, ever higher on the general question of devolution) to quash any fears about legitimacy. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there’s actually a kind perverse merit – despite it being an insult to our democracy- to what the new premier is suggesting. I think we need those kind of numbers to nail it to the bloody wall, forever. No excuses, as the great Henrik Larsson’s tee shirt used to say. And, by the way, I believe those numbers are completely achievable.
And the other thing I was thinking was this.
Not incidentally, where the hell are Labour on this? Devolution was brought about on their watch, and yet Sarwar et al have gone awol as our democracy is trashed. Blair too, come to that. He was in charge in ‘97. He’s not normally slow to pipe up. Where is he? What is the point of him? And them? Their silence, as our democracy is trashed, it’s complicity. It’s appalling. How dare they.
And finally – Scotland is now ruled by a neoliberal, vapid, dogma-driven disaster capitalist funded by the darkest money you could possibly imagine – on the say so of about 80,000 people. Imagine living in a place where you are lectured about settled wills and democratic legitimacy by a person who you never voted for from another country’s parliament whose worldview and ideology are diametrically opposed to your own whilst actively harming your economy and even your very democracy. And yet this is Scotland today. This is where we are.
Finally, finally – god, I could murder a drink – she is being sworn in. Here. In Scotland. Because of – ahem – the mobility issues of an old woman who by accident of birth happens to be head of state.
Enough already. Give me a break.
It’s a clear message. And that message is: “Scotland, know your place. We’re in charge. Eat your cereal”.
And yet. And yet.
The late Canon Kenyon Wright wrote these words.
“What if they say ‘we are the state and we say no’”?
“Then? We say ‘we are the people and we say yes’”.
We’ll have had our better together. We’ll have had our family of nations. We’ll have had our “lead us don’t leave us”. For Truss and her ilk, the existence of a functioning Scottish democracy is an affront. Power devolved is power retained. This is full-blown muscular unionism and an assault on Scotland’s very democracy.
What are we going to do about it?
We can be the people we want and claim to be. Or we can be ruled by people whose worldview is another country.
But we cannot be both. We can’t boast, then cower. We talk the talk. We must walk the walk. Otherwise, what has it all been for?
Enough. Get us out.
Keep the faith good people.
I’ll meet you further on up the road.