On Thursday night I went to bed comforted by the sight of Nigel Farage conceding defeat in the European referendum. I awoke on Friday to find that Nigel had been a tad hasty and that the Leave campaign had indeed snatched victory. Within a few hours David Cameron had announced that he wouldn’t be staying to clear up the mess he had created. Shortly after that Nicola Sturgeon had announced that a second Scottish independence referendum was now very much on the table.
Previously I had noted that the EU referendum had never really got off the ground in Scotland. I myself saw it as England’s referendum; England’s arguments about by and large England’s problems. Front and centre was the immigration debate. The polite argument about being able to control borders, about being able to plan for services and housing was a fig leaf for an undercurrent of racism, and that fig leaf dropped off on Friday when a Leave victory was announced. In the days that have followed the racism and hatred that was hidden spewed forth. Messages posted on doors and lamp posts that “Polish Vermin should go home”. T-shirts worn proudly calling to “SEND THEM BACK”. A gathering of right wing English patriots in Newcastle waved a banner calling for an end to immigration and for the start of repatriation. The message was clear. Migrants, immigrants, Muslims, foreigners, call them what you will, aren’t welcome.
The message given out in Scotland was, like the vote itself, completely different to the vote in England and Wales. Scotland is your home, and you are welcome. Personal experience and the experiences of other Scots in England shows that in many quarters the Scots are viewed in the same light as any other foreigner. We are as unwelcome and as hated as the Poles and the Romanians. More so if the Daily Mail comments section is anything to go by.
The links between the hard line unionists in Scotland and the right wing in England are strong. The sharing of Britain First imagery, the emphasis on the union flag, the poppy, “our boys”, and the monarchy, these are common links, strong common bonds. So it’s no surprise to see that some of the most vehement opposition to the EU in Scotland has come from this quarter. I’ve heard the arguments about how undemocratic it is to have another country ruling over us, about how undemocratic it is being ruled over by an unelected elite, and about how undemocratic it is to have an unelected EU President.
Yet these same individuals will see no wrong in being ruled over by an unelected monarch. They will see no wrong in our political system now comprising more unelected Lords than elected MP’s. They see no wrong in having a Parliament in another country set the laws in this country. In fact not only will they see no wrong in these things but they will actively argue for these principles, while failing to recognise that principles cannot be dropped when they don’t suit. In the words of Groucho Marx “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others”.
If democracy is your principle, defend it.
If unelected politicians are an affront to democracy, stand up against them.
If unelected heads of state are incompatible with democracy then campaign to have an elected head of state.
If you agree that the people best placed to make the laws in a country are the people who live there, then fight for their right to do so.
And if you think that all those things should apply across the globe except in Scotland then you are neither principled nor democratic. You are British, you are a hypocrite, and you aren’t a Scot.