An Excess of Democracy


The deed is agreed and all that is left is the doing of it

The significant sentence slipped into the Brexit Withdrawal Bill is innocuous but all encompassing: “Only the UK Government, with the approval of the UK Parliament, can act for the UK as a whole.” It was not in the draft copy. It was added later. It’s a given, outnumbered by English MPs, Scotland can never defeat the UK Government in a vote at Westminster – we’re supposed to be equals, remember – ergo, by that single statement the UK Parliament makes a grab for dictatorial powers. In effect, it is creating a veto.

A veto is one step away from over-turning any new law or social contract enacted by Holyrood, Scotland’s parliament. It gives Westminster a veto over everything.

The paragraph continues: “giving the right to the UK Parliament to act if the other nations are not in agreement … with the UK Parliament“. This places the UK Parliament in the position of having the absolute power of a monarch.

Westminster and the rabble within it show their contempt for the people of Scotland, and the other nations. The people have become the problem, not the legislature.

Westminster as right-wing think tank

Effectively this makes Westminster the tyrannical institution it has long denied it is. There has not been another era in British life since Oliver Cromwell went on the bloody rampage in Scotland and Ireland that dedicates itself to the overthrow of rights.

What England wants England gets. This is not a novel situation. It has existed over 300 years. But what is happening here is an attempt to write it in blood and soil a one-nation state. I’d warrant it’s unlawful in international law, if only somebody with the financial resources would challenge it.

Unprincipled, unethical politicians here in Scotland, and their masters in London, are whittling away at democracy. This is not about curtailing the ambitions of the SNP. What we are witnessing is the gradual marginalisation of the electorate, the reduction until meaningless of the role of the populace in political decision making.

A power grab is a power grab

A power grab was on Number 10 Downing Street’s Cabinet table for implementation well before the advent of an SNP administration. It started with the imposition of neo-liberal dogma. Capitalists took fright at the erosion of their privileges. They lobbied government.

What we see now is an attempt to wipe out advances in economic growth and social justice fought hard for and won last century. The use of student debt is one way of keeping youth docile. Warnings of no guaranteed pension is another a way of keeping the elderly in our society insecure.

The rise of democracy scares the living daylights out of the power elite. It threatens the profits of the capitalists and corporations. They look for ways of protecting their interests, they find it in cheap labour abroad. They reorganised the distribution of wealth and global trade, and wrap it up in a phony philosophy, half-economic gobbledygook, half-fascism – only the strong survive. They called it neo-liberalism.

The older generation are heavily criticised for soaring house prices. Nevertheless, they are due a lot of credit for being instrumental in creating a huge growth in democratic participation that is now under attack.

Imposition is not consent

The infamous Consent Clause, whatever you do we overrule

A New Enlightenment

The first referendum to reinstate Scotland’s self-governance gave rise to a wonderful nationwide debate on rights and political power. People began to look closely at what Scotland really earns in trade, what it produces, what it achieves in arts and sciences.

We analysed what we are capable of in innovation, in resources untapped and exploited for the public good. We checked out use of renewables. We looked at ways to protect the vulnerable with guaranteed social welfare. We saw what we are missing in international affairs. This New Enlightenment does not go down well with our English counterparts.

Westminster dislikes Scotland too involved in UK national and international affairs. This is what Samuel Huntington in a book published in 1975 called “An excess of democracy”. He saw it as a crisis. So does Westminster, Tories and Labour both. They want to restore the prestige and authority of central government institutions.

A war of attrition

Westminster sees its power under attack by Scotland’s democratic movement. It doesn’t welcome more democracy. It dislikes loss of control. They want to restrain, to curb people empowerment.

The Welsh National Assembly capitulated to the Brexit Withdrawal Bill, exactly as history says they do on so many things affecting their land. One might argue the old adage of a Welshman is an Englishman with a leek in his buttonhole proves right were it not for English incomers to Wales swinging the Brexit vote. The scummy DUP minority in Northern Ireland, delighted to accept bungs, has all but demolished the internal co-operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The mobilisation of big business is underway. The evidence is there in the creation of the far-Right ‘Scotland in Union’ campaign with its green ink brigade and dirty donations.

The Scottish Government’s determination to defend Scotland’s rights, and in so doing its citizen’s freedoms, is admirable. This is why we have governments, to protect our rights.

Scotland witnesses the last stand to defend the 1998 Scotland Act. Scotland is the last bastion of a democratic system. Reverse the situation: imagine Scotland telling England it must do as Scotland voted. Unacceptable? You bet it is.

Strike a blow against authoritarianism

I have almost reached the point of thinking we should just declare independence and take it to the United Nations. We should do it before England’s parliament emasculates Scotland’s ambitions and energies. We are the consensus. We are democracy. England keeps altering the conditions of union to suit its political agenda. Who in the business world would accept such a deal as a healthy, equal relationship? Who?

The British state wants to reduce democracy. Scotland’s task is to increase equality.



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24 Responses to An Excess of Democracy

  1. Marconatrix says:

    TBH I really think you need that holiday 😉

    What a splendid rant, but one that hopefully will have widespread support. WM seem to have overreached themselves this time, but will enough Scots realise in time?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but there seem to be two incompatible POVs here :
    1. Scotland is an equal partner in a bipartite political union with England (=Englandandwales), and Holyrood is the original parliament of Scotland revived. (And FWIW was declared as such when first opened);
    2. Holyrood and the entire Scottish government structure is simply a creature of WM, a part of the machinery of ‘devolution’ along with the Welsh Assembly and so on. And since “power devolved is power retained” (who said that?) it implies that the whole political and administrative structure north of the border is nothing but a glorified local authority. It’s powers are simply loaned from WM, and that loan can in principle be recalled whenever WM chooses, at their whim.

    So can the constitutional lawyers in the house please stand up and tell us who, if anyone, can determine which POV is valid, and how their decision can be implemented and enforced?

    If the Scottish government or parliament were to throw its current caution to the winds and declare UDI, and it could come to that if WM continue on their present bone-headed course, then what is to stop London imposing direct rule, just as the did in NI? This would be entirely logical given the POV #2 above. Would we not see Nicola and Co. spirited away to an unknown “place of safety” for an indefinite period and troops on the streets to “keep the peace”?

    In other words, UDI is a very risky strategy, genuinely the last resort, but one which cannot be delayed past a certain point. Whoever it falls to to decide will need nerves of steel … and all of our support, it goes without saying.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Good points. Readers are encouraged to discuss them. Up against the Articles of the Treaty, Direct rule is unlawful. They know that and so resort to stealth tactics. I’ll write next about the myth of Westminster as a repository of monarchical rule.

  3. Marconatrix says:

    But the crux as I see it is whether or not the present Scottish Government and Parliament can be seen to represent the Scottish party to the Treaty of Union, or OTOH whether both parties to the Treaty were perpetually joined into the UK government with the union of parliaments. If you take this latter view, and WM most probably will, then Holyrood is just an upstart pretender … and we know how that usually ends …

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    As I make clear in ‘Union, What Union?’ only the English parliament dissolved itself. The Scottish parliament remained extant. Westminster cannot take for granted automatic ownership of the other nations after every election. The nations are not England divided into village provinces.

  5. It puzzles me that, s our first commentator stated, the constitutional lawyers are not talking about this in public, or is it being suppressed? The chance to get their teeth into the interpretation of 300 years of legislation underpinned by the Treaty of Union, not forgetting the Declaration of Arbroath, is mouthwatering to anyone interested in history and the law.

    Come out from under your academic desks, out from you dusty lawyers cupboards and give a lead to all who wish the best for our land and people before we are overtaken by the machinations of those who wish to control and oppress us.

    By the way the English who live in Scotland, who enjoy the privileges and benefits of our devolution should take a long hard look at the state of affairs south the border and think hard about how they will pay the fees heaped upon them and their children for basic social needs and education.

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    I can’t agree with you more, David.

    It’s as much a mystery to me, and I guess others, those of influence don’t demand renegotiation of the Treaty. In no small way Catalonia has been doing this for years, decades, trying to have a one-sided Spanish constitution allow for substantial democratic real change, a constitution contrived by Franco’s still living fascist supporters. The UK government doesn’t call itself Francophiles, but by god its practices his policies.

    In Scotland it may come to confrontation but in the meantime Sturgeon’s policy is to garner a much consent as possible. I think we have it now.

    Like you, I believe the population is alarmed at what they are seeing and hearing emanating from England. Surely what’s needed now is a will of steel, and full support of Sturgeon’s stance.

    Incidentally, I see the former ambassador Craig Murray is calling for a declaration of autonomy. I like to think the things I write about chime with the public mood.

  7. Marconatrix says:

    Dare I play the Devil’s Advocate? The original Scots Parliament, you say, never dissolved itself formally. Fair enough, so you think it still exists in some weird constitutional limbo? But it’s individual members will clearly all have long since departed this life and so be in no position to act, and since there were no elections held to maintain that august body, I must return to my original point :

    What evidence is there that the present Scottish Parliament, created under the devolution settlement, has inherited any or all of the powers, responsibilities and status of the pre-Union body?

  8. Alan Gordon says:

    Went down to Greenock on Friday, to listen to Mike Russell, this amendment was discussed. Hard to tell if the full importance of the amendments and the delivery method went “home”. That we are seeing the deeper ramifications of the mantra “take back control”, it was not empty rhetoric.

    Thanks for another superb essay and enjoy your break.

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    Alan – take back control really means exercise full control.

  10. Alan Gordon says:

    Indeed GB indeed.

  11. Grouse Beater says:

    What evidence is there that the present Scottish Parliament, created under the devolution settlement, has inherited any or all of the powers, responsibilities and status of the pre-Union body?”

    Marconatrix – What evidence is there that the Scottish parliament has not inherited any of the powers of the pre-Union parliament?”

    For one thing Scotland is instrumental in creating the democratic structures of the England we know now, including the Bank of England which is actually a UK bank. Had both nations blended completely as one instead of retaining their separate identities a UK government would never have considered rekindling our parliament in any guise, if it felt there was no constitutional right to it. Blair endorsed it and is on record as saying, he had strong reservations, feeling it would almost certainly ‘lead to full autonomy’.

    You’ll note he did not say it would lead to an SNP administration. The electoral system envisaged was meant to avoid that. He knew a parliament – or an ‘executive’ as it was entitled to give it less status – would restore confidence in our ability to govern ourselves.

    Parliaments are an embodiment of the people’s will. ‘We’ give it status and meaning. We bring to it our history. I believe that’s what England misses, hence their understandable attempt to turn the UK Parliament into a semi-English one, a spurious development because it has always been an English parliament in all but name since 1707.

  12. doreenmilne says:

    Have a wonderful break. I’m doing the same from my life and I hope it revives you as much as my last 3 days has. Renewed intent and vigour. X

  13. Grouse Beater says:

    I shall make my fellow Scots green with envy when I arrive back with a Mediterranean tan! 🙂

  14. doreenmilne says:

    I’m looking like a lobster, it was 25° today and I went walking! I wish you luck wae that. Have a lovely body-warming time.

  15. diabloandco says:

    I get really depressed when I think of this country of mine becoming a mere offshoot of greater England . I have absolutely no desire to be English – god bless ’em – or American something I fear may happen to us all English , Welsh , Northern Ireland and Scotland.

    Now I have re depressed myself and thinking of you off enjoying yourself in Rome makes e blue /green.

    I will try to be gracious and wish you a happy holiday – chuck a couple in the fountain for Scotland while you are there.

  16. Grouse Beater says:

    Ta. 🙂

  17. Robert Mitchell says:

    I think there are plenty of English born people living in Scotland who would like Scotland to be independent so that we can be free of Westminster. My problems have been with Scots in my own family and neighbours who bang on about British Nationalism or how we are too poor, too wee and too stupid.
    As someone born in England, with English ancestry as far back as I can trace, I fail to see why so many Scots do not want to govern themselves fully. Regarding some English born residents in Scotland who have retired here for the benefits which we have paid for, they should seriously consider their positions.

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    Decades of London rule teach people we have no money of our own, reinforced by once in a lifetime Tory ‘beneficence’ offering a one-off grant for some project or other. Labour went to London with a begging bowl but didn’t tell us they were asking for a little of our taxes back.

  19. Robert. It would take Freud himself to get into the mind of the sycophantic, Stockholm Syndrome Scot. The brainwashing is at religious cult level.

    You might remember the film Logan’s Run. Where everyone had a crystal , and when it flashed you were sent to a sphere to die at 30. Of course they didn’t actually know they were going to die. They were told it was Nirvana, but it was a cull. Only when two of them broke free, and discovered the world outside had been hidden from them. Did the rest follow!

    The unionist Scots don’t know any better than what they are told by their masters. They genuinely believe that we are a basket case and most Scots are worthless. They get angry when Scots like us question, complain and campaign. It’s because they are scared. It’s fear that drives them away from us and independence.

    The unionist are terrified that we will change things. It’s why they want us to shut up. They are comfortable in misery!

  20. Andrew Leslie says:

    Sticking my oar in anent the constitutional issues:
    1) The Union with England Act (1707) did not formally abolish either the Scottish or English parliament. It unites the kingdoms (Art I) and specifies that this new kingdom is to be represented by ‘one and the same parliament’ (Art 3).
    2) Nevertheless, it would be very hard to argue that Holyrood is legally the same parliament that was adjourned 300 years ago. I cannot see what grounds for this assertion would be accepted by any court. The fact that Scotgov has made no attempt to substantiate the ‘inheritance’ through legislation suggests it knows it would be on a hiding to nothing.
    3) The Scotland Act(s) have always gone the extra mile in asserting the ultimate sovereignty of Westminster. There’s no secret about it. If you read the HoL debate on the original 1998 Bill, you’ll find constant reassurances from the government of the time that nothing in the Bill diminished that sovereignty. All the statements about the sovereignty of the Scottish people (acknowledged or not) are mere blather when faced with the reality of where power lies.
    4) But – the constitutional foundations of that power are being severely weakened, as the WM executive battles with the legislature. The United Kingdom exists on the assumption that its sovereignty is exercised in the interests of all its people. When that is no longer seen to be the case its power to implement decisions is diminished and people start to protest and rebel. As we see.
    5) At that point any government has the choice of enforcing its sovereignty or of cutting its losses. Given the current lot’s commitment to the Union is lukewarm at best, I suspect it will cut its losses.

  21. Grouse Beater says:

    You have said very little that is different from I have said, merely given it a different spin that suits English rule by a parliament loaded in England’s favour. But you are wrong in one glaring fact – the English parliament was, and had to be dissolved, in order to create a new institution representative of its newfound membership.

    The fact that so much of Scottish society and systems were left intact is evidence that England respected Scotland was a separate nation and could not expect to wipe out its existence. The same argument applies to Wales though Wales has been far more docile in comparison to Scotland in how it exercises its different political views – until recent times.

    The modern Scottish parliament is different from the old in how its membership is elected – no longer restricted to earls and members of the clergy – but similar in it does not represent Scotland fully for the simple reason it is hobbled by Westminster imposition.

    Finally, English talk of the sovereignty of ‘their’ parliament, which is true even if it denies it is supposed to be an umbrella parliament, whereas Scotland has always respected sovereignty lies in its people. And we cannot ignore we have two different law systems.

    If matters were as you argue then Blair, indeed, no leader of any political party, would have acceded to the reinstatement of Scotland’s parliament. Simply put, a bureaucratic imposition repeated by hostile MPs will never mollify a nation’s voiced heritage, passion and political ambitions. England made a treaty with Scotland, not north England, and all Treaty’s are ready for renegotiation if found unfit for a modern world.

  22. Kangaroo says:

    @Andrew Leslie
    English Parliaments record, Hansard, has apparently an entry written at the time that states that the English Parliament was dissolved. The Scottish Parliament was prorogued not dissolved although there is a record which purports to state that Queen Anne dissolved the Scottish Parliament. This is impossible as she was not and never had been Sovereign in Scotland. When the Scottish Parliament was reopened Winnie Ewing formally reconvened it. Ref:youtube reopening of Scottish Parliament 1999.
    The Sovereignty of UK Parliament is contentious, and IMHO incorrect. Under Scots Law the people are Sovereign and we “lend” our authority to both Westminster and to Holyrood to exercise it on our behalf on the particular questions that arise in each chamber. English Sovereignty rested with the Monarch until James VII was deposed and replaced with King Billy and Mary where they were appointed but having to delegate their Monarchical Sovereignty to the English Parliament. The Bill of Rights 1688 split the powers of the English parliament and the English monarch. This parliament was dissolved in 1707. A new UK Parliament opened later in 1707. So in 1707 Scottish Law making power moved to the UK parliament and still to this day Scots Law is separate from English Law as has been demonstrated inthe recent Supreme Court cases. There is no document anywhere which transfers Scottish Sovereignty from the people to any other body.
    IMHO we could easily “take back control” if necessary by simply holding a Referendum on each power eg should Broadcasting and Telecommunications power be exercised by the Scottish Parliament Yes/No etc etc. Do that with enough of the powers and we are effectively independent.
    Its obviously simpler to do it in one hit with “Should Scotland be an independent country?” but if necessary the other option is available.

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    I am always amused when opponents suggest the Scottish Parliament closed midnight on signature of the Treaty. No one thinks practical fashion. London was a long way away, a coach and horses and four days to get you there – hence bills for debate were sent to Edinburgh by horse and rider. In time, MPs discovered property in London and stayed there for the duration of the session. Once they go a taste for the metropolis …

  24. Alan Gordon says:

    Always thought that we (Scotland) need to be a complete pain in the arse to Westminster. The court rulings of late are a start and they are obviously working, going by the choreographed mass exit from the chamber when Joanna Cherry rose to speak. A nappy change?
    Kangaroo, I didn’t realise that we could vote on taking control of things like broadcasting, energy etc. Does EVEL help in this, preventing English MPs voting?

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