Britain doesn’t do referendums. The idea of allowing the people to take democracy into their own hands, and make important decisions by themselves, like adults, is alien to the British political system. Clement Atlee once claimed that the referendum was a tool of dictators and social democrats have parroted his words ever since.
This tradition implies that British politics is best left to a professional elite in Westminster who think and act on behalf of everyone else. It is assumed that Joe Public is too stupid to participate directly in democracy but is magnanimously granted permission to put a cross in a box every five years.
The only time there has ever been a British-wide referendum was in 1975. The referendum question asked was: “Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community?” The Yes campaign won by a margin of two-to-one. And that folks was that for participatory democracy in the UK.
Scotland has a troubled history of referendums. The infamous 1979 referendum on setting up a Scottish Parliament had a high turnout of 64%. The Yes vote won by a small margin. But the Westminster Parliament rigged the election and over-ruled the majority decision of the people of Scotland. A lesson in British-style democracy was learnt.
Now the London government has decreed that the second ever British-wide national referendum will take place on 5th May 2011. This referendum will be on whether or not to move to AV voting in each constituency. In reality it is a minor electoral change to the Westminster system which will do very little to move towards genuine proportional representation.
If the London government propose tokenistic tinkering with their electoral system then fine, that’s up to them. What is more significant for Scotland is the timing of the AV vote which has been scheduled for the same day as the important Holyrood elections in 2011.
As the SNP have commented: “It just shows that the Tory-led coalition government with the LibDems is treating the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland with contempt.”
It gets worse. The British Royal Family have since announced that the wedding of the heir to the throne will take place on the Friday before the Holyrood election. A national holiday has been announced. The Scottish elections will be further diminished. It is worth noting too that Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has stated that this election will be fought primarily on the case for Scottish Independence.
It is hardly surprising that those of a more conspiratorial bent are suggesting that this is a grand pincer movement by the British establishment to diminish the importance of the forthcoming Scottish elections. That may or may not be the case. But we can be sure of one thing: neither of these events would EVER have been scheduled to coincide with elections to the Palace of Westminster.
- Q. How should Scots respond to this disrespectful imposition of an irrelevant referendum on the same day as the election of our national parliament?
- A. We hijack it. We use it for our own, much more important, objectives. We turn the AV referendum into a referendum on Scottish Independence.
So with this in mind, we, the undersigned, call for all Scots who support our country’s independence to write the word INDEPENDENCE in bold letters across the AV voting slip on 5th May.
Let’s make sure the piles of “spoilt” ballot papers rejecting the British electoral system – and rule from London – are greater than those voting Yes or No.
This way we can finally have our first national referendum on Scottish Independence. The beauty of this initiative is that the London government will fork up their own cash to print and distribute a voting slip to every person in Scotland. Which is very generous of them. Thank you London!
Spread the word. Use your vote on 5th May. Vote INDEPENDENCE.
Support this initiative by removing the names and organisation at the bottom of this message, insert your own, and circulate as widely as possible. We are all Spartacus!
Kevin Williamson & Mike Small
Editors, Bella Caledonia