50% plus 1 is not what democracy is about?

(c) YouGov January 2020

From Brenda Robb

I have been reading Fintan O’Toole’s book Three Years in Hell: The Brexit Chronicles. As I am originally from N Ireland I have an interest in the political situation there as well as in Scotland and of course with the focus on Brexit here there are issues discussed that  affect us all. However there was one part in particular that caught my attention which I feel might be a useful topic for all of us hoping for an independent Scotland to consider. It is also quite timely now that different factions are either criticising the Scottish Government’s intention to hold a second referendum next year or frustrated that referendum plans & dates have not yet been announced

Anyway, Fintan discusses the Irish Brexit conundrum from various angles including how some folk see recent developments as a step towards Ireland becoming unified. He questions whether this is really the case, or at least the now likely case, pointing out that the Good Friday Agreement was only made possible by blurring the hard  & deeply ingrained opposing positions into an acceptance that the people of Ireland can choose to be either British or Irish or both

But it is this next bit that made me think. He says 50 per cent plus 1 is not what democracy is about, That kind of crude majoritarianism is precisely what the Belfast Agreement is meant to finish off…. Harmony, friendship, multiplicity, a unit not of territory but of people – not “we beat you by one vote so suck it up”. Pushing for a border poll in which a majority of one vote would solve all our historic problems is as pointless as it is delusional. Sovereignty is a matter not of land but of the mind, it will be whatever its people agree to make it.

I understand, and sympathise with, the urgent calls for a second Scottish referendum. Many folk have been seeking independence long before me and want to see it happen as soon as possible. We see the chaos and mismanagement in Westminster and rail against policies imposed by a government we didn’t vote for, in a game we can never win due to first past the post elections and the dominance of the English vote. But, do we want independence to mean roughly half the population of Scotland ends up feeling cheated and forced to accept a loss of their Britishness? We know this feeling from the opposite perspective, we’ve seen it with Brexit, are we clear headed enough to accept a simple reversal is not good enough?

For what it’s worth, my feeling is that losing a second referendum would be disastrous. I do believe the steady governance, the attempts to improve life for all in Scotland and the forging of alliances to bring about progressive change however limited just now are all building that sense of Scotland as a nation, that awareness of our ability to make good decisions and how a fairer, more inclusive Scotland could look. All the bombast of those convinced we only need to shout loud enough to get what we want makes me think both of the early Irish nationalists and strangely enough the DUP – neither prepared to build bridges, neither able to admit others might disagree with their beliefs

I think we will have a referendum next year as NS has been pushed into a corner on this. Given that opinion is still roughly at 50/50% what can we do to better the chances of securing a decent rather than a marginal whinge? Why do we seem to be waiting for the SNP to lead the way? 

TuS gives us factual info & statistics to counteract negative stories

WGD gives us positive narratives to keep morale up and to challenge negative stories

The National mostly reports positively on Scottish politics

All 3 give us room to respond and to share our views

Many folk though are spending their time bickering among themselves, creating divisions and discontent. Why not instead try to counter unionist arguments, forge alliances wherever possible, accept minor roles and limited recognition can still contribute to a bigger whole. So you haven’t got the land reform, the community led decision making, the fire and passion that you are looking for – is that reason enough to throw the toys out of the pram? An independent Scotland is in our hands, not the gift of the SNP – how do you think we can achieve it?


10 thoughts on “50% plus 1 is not what democracy is about?

  1. Yougov 46% No. It was the same before 2021 elections where SNP and Greens won. Same before local elections. Polls aren’t everything


    1. Totally agree Alex that polls aren’t everything. However the unionist/indy support is pretty evenly balanced, with votes split between different parties the SNP core support wins more seats. We are quite entitled to claim 50 + 1 is enough especially seeing how lower vote percentages win Westminster majorities through the first past the post system, I just believe that longer term a close result would keep the focus on constitutional issues. I guess I was just trying to explore Fintan O’Toole’s thoughts on this and to get other folk’s opinions too

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Brenda Robb and Fintan O’Toole make good points and the kinds of things that she lists in her final paragraph are all desirable.

    However, the strategy has been to advance by legal and democratic means. That, too, is desirable.

    But, supporters of independence are not idealistic airheads. We have lived as British SUBJECTS for all of our lives and know well how perfidious Albion and its media and unionist party cohorts have operated through the centuries. We need to attract ‘swithering’ unionists to the case for independence and peaceful and legal means is attractive to them (as it is to many dyed-in-the wool supporters of independence.)

    The continuing intransigence of The Tories, Labour and the LibDems in the face of continuing significant support for pro-independence parties in elections, forces people to confront the inherent undemocratic anomaly of the unionist parties and the Britsh establishment (which has never been democratic).

    As things are unfolding in the North of Ireland we see similar stresses appearing (but they were always strongly there in Ireland). Labour, in Wales has stressed its ‘Welshness’ and has agreements with Plaid Cymru.

    If a 2023 referendum is ‘lost’ this is not a ‘disaster’. It will be a setback, but for many the idea of self-governance will not go away. There are other tactics as people such as Ghandi and others in ‘The Empire’ showed. There is also, the likelihood that England itself might grow in awareness of how it is treated by the British state and might split, too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, disaster was an ill chosen phrase here, setback is more measured and I agree the idea of self governance is not going to disappear. There is a grain of truth (?) in Scottish tory, labour & lib dem reasoning though as if we ignore party divisions the unionist v indy support is broadly level. But they do then need to recognise similar problems in England especially, until we get a different voting system for Westminster why should we not then accept a bigger share of elected MSPs here in Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Given the partisan nature of the media operating in Scotland, setting the narrative and managing the news, it is extremely difficult to see YES expanding to the 70’s/80%’s (which we all desire).
    Conversely, this the Unionists are desperate for the SNP/YES vote to collapse, and they use a totally compliant media to do the dirty yards for them.

    Will things improve with time? Given England’s increasing reliance to Scotland energy resources, I believe the propaganda will only get worse.
    We have to bite the bullet at some point, and put it to the people.
    Sturgeon should ask for the “right of self-determination” (NOT ask for a specific referendum) to allow Scots to set their own course.

    When refused, as all the Brit Nat pundits delight in informing us will happen, she should state this refusal is illegal in international law, was recognised by Churchill in the Atlantic Charter, and she will therefore be guided by the results of the next general election to start negotiating independence.

    At heart, Westminster is an English parliament.
    Ditto the Supreme Court.
    The UK Constitution is a nonsense.
    Scotland MUST assert its own sovereign right.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Monarchy, by dint of its titles, processions, procedures and folderols is also and obviously an England institution as well.

      And the disgraceful BBC.

      And “Scottish” Labour, Toadies and Dumbs.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Agree that “Conversely, this the Unionists are desperate for the SNP/YES vote to collapse, and they use a totally compliant media to do the dirty yards for them.”
      Trouble is I worry that we can muck it up all by ourselves just with bickering and faction splits, which in turn are exaggerated and fed by sleekit forces
      Right of self determination sounds so much more reasonable and could also be used to ensure we are never again left to plead for permission to express our preferences. I’m hoping someone somewhere has made a note of all the supportive phrases re Ukraine’s right to sovereignity (excuse any spelling errors), especially from some diehard unionist politicians

      Liked by 3 people

    3. “and she will therefore be guided by the results of the next general election to start negotiating independence.”

      at the next GE (I Believe) photographic ID will be required.
      that is likely to reduce the Yes vote more than the No vote.

      IMHO the FM should go for it this term.
      and as you say G. O. The level of Yoon Propaganda is likely to increase.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Are we asking them to lose their Britishness? As far as I’m aware they are free to keep their British passport, they will merely have the country run by the parties Scotland elected. The financing of Scotland will then be 100% transparent rather than just be ‘estimates’.

    We cannot continually keep diverting our fixed budget to mitigate every cut Westminster makes, it’s not viable in the long term. Other services and infrastructure takes the hit from this diverted money, OK for a few years but not a long term solution.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. All very true but it took ages to reach a solution to Irish identities. It can be done but might require rUK to accept the situation and to work cooperatively – not one of their strengths I fear!

    Liked by 1 person

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