By Tommy Sheridan
The time for shadow boxing is over. Incessant dithering and empty talk has gone on too long. We live in extraordinary times and in extraordinary times often extraordinary measures are needed. In 12 weeks’ time Scotland will be dragged out of a European Union they voted overwhelmingly to remain in by a government and Prime Minister Scotland voted to overwhelmingly reject. The democratic triple lock mandate the Scottish Government possesses for IndyRef2 must be organised to coincide with the 31st October Brexit date.
Scotland hasn’t voted Tory for 64 years and ‘Back Door Boris’ Johnson was appointed Prime Minister by less than one percent of the UK population. It is an unprecedented situation. Never before in British history has a government without a parliamentary majority picked a new Prime Minister without a general election. In the past when governing parties have changed the Prime Minister without a general election at least they had a majority in the House of Commons. The new appointed PM has always lacked credibility and legitimacy, as was the case with Gordon Brown in 2007, but at least they had a majority of elected seats. This current Tory Government has no such majority. They lost it in 2017 and since then have had to buy off the 10 DUP MPs from the North of Ireland to stay in office.
‘Back Door Boris’ Johnson earned his nickname before he scurried out the back door of the Scottish First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh last week. He became Prime Minister of the UK in a shoddy, unprecedented, undemocratic and back door manner when he secured less than 100,000 votes from amongst Tory Party members.
That means he has secured less than one percent of the 46 million registered voters across the UK. He is therefore ‘Backdoor Boris’, the Mr less than one percent PM.
Yet he has pontificated on one of the biggest and most serious issues facing Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales as if he was speaking authoritatively on behalf of the whole UK. He doesn’t and his ‘No ifs, no buts’ cast iron No Deal Brexit commitment on 31st October is irresponsible bluster which could cause economic chaos and even more problems for those already struggling to make ends meet.
Thousands of jobs are under threat, food supplies could be restricted and provisions of essential medicines are in danger. None of those insecurities will affect Johnson and his millionaires in Cabinet. They all have plenty of wealth and money to protect them from any potential economic catastrophe.
Of course the dire warnings from economic Think Tanks, major car manufacturers, the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Council and many other reputable organisations may just be scaremongering and a No-Deal Brexit won’t be the disaster many predict. The point is the only ones in the firing line of this gamble are the working classes and the poor. The millionaire politicians and their cronies in business will be insulated and protected no matter what happens.
But in Scotland the consequences are even direr for 62% of the country rejected the Brexit suggestion in 2016 and every opinion poll and election since has saw that rejection remain as high or grow.
Boris Johnson has not an iota of democratic justification for withdrawing Scotland from the European Union on October 31st and while the SNP has spent many months trying to save Britain from Brexit it should have been concentrating on saving Scotland from the British Union.
They asked the Scottish people for a mandate to hold a second independence referendum in the Scottish general election of 2016. They received that mandate. The Scottish Parliament then debated and voted in favour of organising IndyRef2 in March of 2017. The SNP stated candidly that if they won a majority of the Scottish seats at Westminster in the snap general election of June 2017 it would represent a further endorsement of the IndyRef2 mandate. Of the 59 seats available the SNP won 35 of them, a clear majority and the second best result in their entire history.
The democratic mandate to hold IndyRef2 exists in black and white. It is undeniable.
In the dark days of Thatcher throughout the 1980’s she used to scoff at demands for a democratic referendum to decide Scotland’s position in the British Union. ‘The Scots need only elect a majority of MP’s to this place’, she used to say, ‘and they can have their independence’. Well in two successive general elections, 2015 and 2017, that is precisely what the Scots have done. The feint hearts within the SNP are too timid and susceptible to the vehemently anti-independence press and media who pronounce that another referendum can only be held with ‘permission’ from Westminster. What utter drivel.
There is no written British Constitution. All we have is a set of practices and conventions which are always gerrymandered to favour the status quo. How puerile is it to suggest that we can only arrange a democratic vote on Scotland’s continued membership of a voluntary union entered into over 300 years ago as long as the bigger party in that Union allows us to do so? That is not a voluntary union that is a prison.
Scotland has its own democratically elected Parliament. We already run many of the important areas of Scottish life. We have a distinctive education and legal system. We have a vast array of natural wealth and economically valuable resources. We possess more natural oil and gas supplies than any country in the European Union. We don’t require ‘permission’ to hold an independence referendum. Breaking from the restrictive and exploitative British Union is not about permission it is about democratic will conjoined with collective courage, vision and wisdom.
Conventions and practices with the British Establishment serve and defend that Establishment. We don’t want to respect the British Establishment we want to break it.
There is no convention for an unelected PM chosen by a governing party without a Parliamentary majority. There is no convention for subverting the declared will of the Parliament. Johnson’s chief political adviser, Dominic Cummings, stated clearly at the weekend that Mr One Percent Johnson will use the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (2011) to ensure a No-Deal Brexit takes place on 31st October “whatever the circumstances” no matter the will of Parliament https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/05/brexit-will-happen-on-31-october-whatever-the-circumstances-no-10.
The rules of the British Union are unwritten for a reason. It is so they can be used as necessary to save the Union. We have to stop playing to rules which are rigged against us and designed to subvert democracy.
The Scottish Parliament must be reconvened in the next two weeks to agree to the organising of an October 31st IndyRef2 poll. Westminster should be politely informed of the Scottish Parliament’s intention and then the people of Scotland in 12 weeks’ time can democratically vote to stay with Boris and his British nationalist bigots or leave the union and forge a new path as an independent nation allowed special status within the EU and free to pursue our own collectivist, communitarian vision which positively encourages greater redistribution of wealth and immigration instead of sticking with Boris and his serve the rich and scapegoat immigrants philosophy.
Only 45% of Scots voted for independence 5 years ago in 2014 so it will be a gamble to hold a new poll at such short notice and with most opinion polls indicating either neck and neck results or slight majorities for YES. However there is no need for a long campaign. People in Scotland know the issues and recognise now the folly of falling for Unionist lies and distortions driven by the ‘Project Fear’ Better Together Campaign which is now a busted flush.
The people of Scotland deserve the chance to launch the lifeboat and depart the British Union Titanic which is heading for the rocks of greater despair and narrow British nationalism and jingoism.
We have to stop reacting to what the Unionists do and say in Westminster and start taking our futures in our own hands and asserting our democratic right to test the will of the Scottish people again.
Come on SNP leaders show now the leadership required. The mission to save Britain from Brexit was always a mistake but it is now also futile. We have 12 weeks to save Scotland from Britain. That is a much more honourable and important mission. Let’s do it.
This article was written by our Political Adviser, Tommy Sheridan and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole