John Drummond writes the ‘Constitution Column’ in the Sunday National, a role he shares with Dr Elliot Bulmer. He is also the host of The Nation Talks show, broadcast every Wednesday at 7pm on the IndyLive channel. He is firm advocate of a written constitution for Scotland, to this end he is also chair of the Constitutional Commisssion. Here he discusses how the ‘Tories murdered decency and morality’, and democracy is next on their hit list.
by John Drummond
This UK government has largely destroyed decency and morality in public life. Now British ministers are taking aim at democracy.
In all that follows, the underlying message is that the Tories are hugely aided by the fact that Britain, unlike most civilised countries, does not have a written, codified constitution to protect citizens from the range of government abuses outlined below.
The recent Scottish elections were a test bed for irregular practice. Dark money flooded in to ensure that Tory seats were safeguarded. Labour and LibDems also benefitted from this mysterious largesse. Facebook and other social media were inundated with messages urging tactical voting across Scotland.
To provide context, sources say that the parties spent these amounts at the Scottish election. Tories £110,255; Labour £187,809; Greens £40,165; Lib Dems £42,262; SNP £59,299; and ALBA £25K. No one is suggesting all of this unionist spend is questionable, the point is that NONE of it ought to be dodgy. Shadowy groups used undeclared funds to funnel votes in marginal seats to unionist candidates.
By the way, it is interesting that Labour got so much less ‘bang for their buck’ than the others, and lost ground. They must have very deep pockets indeed to countenance such a poor return on their investment.
While the Electoral Commission looked the other way, pseudo-Green parties were conjured up to mislead Glasgow voters, thereby likely robbing the real Greens seats to which they may have been entitled. British government corruption has extended to the language itself. This week the Queen announced the UK government’s plans for us. These included a truly risible proposal for ‘fair’ elections. Think about this.
A government that secured 56% of MPs on less than 44% of the vote wants ‘fairness’. Do they plan to fix this particular unfairness? Good gracious no. Instead, they plan to remove voting rights on pain of the production of photo ID. A notion, by the way, that PM Johnson himself roundly condemned in the past.
It’s not even a serious problem. While real doubts surround the use of postal votes, there have been very few fines for offenses that might have been prevented by the use of a photo ID. Voter impersonation accounted for only 3% of cases of alleged electoral offences in the 2018 English council elections. Of those eight cases, seven resulted in no action and one was resolved locally.
In the 2019 general election 32 million votes were cast and there were NO cases of in-person voter fraud. We do know the chilling effect of imposing strict voter ID rules from the United States, where such rules discourage ethnic minority voters from going to the polls. An Electoral Commission study in 2019 suggests younger and ethnic minority voters to be least likely to meet photo ID restrictions. Older voters being less likely to be affected. Guess the age of the average Tory voter?
Real culprits are easy to find, of course. It was Vote Leave who ended up paying almost £250,000 in fines and costs after they were found guilty of electoral fraud.
Here’s a list of some of what is about to change.
a. The PM will now control when a general election takes place,
b. It will be harder for people to vote.
c. It will be harder to challenge government decisions; and it will be harder for anyone to protest about any of this.
The proposed reforms would ring fence government decisions beyond the reach of the courts. And they would also permit ‘quashing orders’ to allow a public body time to rectify its position after an adverse judgement. Experts claim this would allow unlawful acts by the government to be ‘untouched’ or ‘untouchable’.
In short, the result is to expand the power of the executive and undermine any challenges to that power. Some you may also struggle with the fact that these very considerable constitutional changes come from an administration that condemns any discussion of the constitution in Scotland during post-Covid recovery.
Anyone with even the slightest commitment to democracy ought to deplore these obscenities and argue for the swiftest return to civilised democratic ideals. Or rather you might think so. But instead, right wing commentators and unionist cheerleaders applaud these moves and rejoice that the SNP has been ‘stopped’. They should beware. Their usefulness to the British state ends the moment their scribblings cease to affect public opinion in Scotland. The British state will soon have the means at its disposal to deal with those deemed unable or unwilling to support its objectives.
To sum up, the UK is now the place where democracy goes to die.
Tune into the TNT Show for guest interviews of people in the news or who make the news. On the subject above, John Drummond talks to London-based Professor David Edgerton, author of “The Rise and Fall of the British Nation”.