2007 - 2022


ontheimportanceoflanguageBy Mike Small

“What would the world’ve thought of Scotland if we’d disenfranchised English or EU migrants for ?” asks the Herald’s chief reporter David Leask as news breaks that more than 1.5 million EU citizens living in Britain will not be able to vote in the EU referendum, as they are in local elections.

The world and most notably the ‘UK’ media would have slated us as separatists and Blood and Soil nationalists. Of course they did that anyway. It didn’t matter that the Scottish referendum was based on a generous, civic and expansive base: if you live here and you’re on the electoral roll, you get a vote. The generosity lost us the vote, but it was still the right thing to do. ‘Why build another wall?’ was the plaintive one-dimensional plea from the Unionist campaign. We’re Better Together we we’re told because we live in an interconnected world, and, my favourite, ‘independence doesn’t really exist any more’.

Perhaps not over-brimming with the milk of human kindness, Alex Massie wrote: “Who cares? Plenty of Scots residing in UK didn’t get a vote in indyref either. Them’s the breaks.” It’s a sort of casual dismissal of a decision that may have huge implications – not just for the 1.5 million but just for the European Union but for the continuing British one too. A YouGov poll yesterday put 68 per cent of Scots would vote to remain in the EU. If England votes Out and Scotland votes In, further cementing the disparity between the citizen – subject divide, will that be case of “Them’s the breaks” too? The decision further marks a gulf between two countries with different visions of our place in Europe and our role in the world.

Cameron’s short-term gerrymandering plays well to his xenophobes and the anti-EU rabid right, but the excluded 1.5 million have soft power and it helps clarify who the real ‘separatists’ are. It will also go down extremely badly in the rest of Europe, not that they care, but with negotiations coming up this could prove important. Cameron will meet Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, French President Francois Hollande, Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the next week.

The bill – set out this Wednesday – will also rule out giving the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds, an idea put forward by Angus Robertson here. The government has also ruled out extending the right to vote in the upcoming EU referendum to all British citizens living abroad, despite a promise made by the Grant Shapps that it would. Okay, so ‘Shapps in Untruth Shock’ is maybe not a headline you are going to read anytime soon, but the rank hypocrisy of the story being told about the two referendums and the political cultures behind them is stark.

It feeds the already emboldened Anglo-British voice, personified by the likes of former Defence Secretary Liam Fox who called the idea of EU citizens living in Britain being allowed to vote the “unacceptable dilution of the voice of the British people.”


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Comments (27)

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  1. Calum Craig says:

    Couldn’t agree more…

  2. Patrick Hogg, Biographer of Robert Burns says:

    Excellent piece Mike. What more could illustrate the open, welcoming civic ‘nationalism’ of the Yes Movement during the Ref campaign, than our natural giving nature of friendship and equality to automatically ensure everyone in Scotland could vote, CONTRASTED with the Nasty Separatist Nats of Westminster and their Right Wing Splendid Isolationism Nationalism that is repugnant to equality and any decent human being with a trace of humanity in their bones. Ye Tories ye revolt me fae the very soul ye inhumane pack of absolutists!!!!

  3. bringiton says:

    Surprised they haven’t proposed excluding other foreigners like Scots from having a say (not that our votes will probably make any difference to the outcome).
    The referendum is all about Johnny Foreigner not being allowed to run England’s green and unpleasant land.

  4. MBC says:

    To be fair I don’t think we could have excluded EU citizens, as because we’re not a state, the indyref like the Holyrood elections, counted as a sort of local election, not a national one. As EU citizens can vote in local elections, so they were allowed to participate.

    Still, the point has already been noted and raised by Bonnie Greer.

  5. R Tyler says:

    Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is married to the new New Labour MP for Aberafon. Who just happens to be the son of that great friend of devolution Neil Kinnock…..

  6. Redgauntlet says:

    A truly outrageous decisions by the nasty party…that “English sense of fair play”, you just can’t keep it down…

    …I hope all you people who voted to keep us in this rancid Union, this joke of a UK, this anachronistic throwback to the middle ages, will take a good hard look at yourselves today. Denying the vote to the young, to our European friends, to the ex-pat Brits in Europe….an utter democratic travesty and a farce… that is what the UK stands for these days.

    As for you EU citizens who voted NO to indie. What were you thinking friends? This was always going to happen…

    1. Heidstaethefire says:

      Keep the heid, Red, Inanhoe wouldn’t rant like that. We’ll need to get these “no” voters on side for the next time. Rubbing their noses in their mistakes won’t help the process.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Not rubbing anybody´s nose in anything, merely pointing out the obvious…so many of us said this was going to happen back at the time of the referendum….they will drag us out of the EU, the only principle governing the decision to exclude ex pats AND EU citizens – you could argue for the exclusion of one of those groups and be coherent (if not principled), but not BOTH of them – is that it favours a No vote.

        I actually think Cameron is acting, the man is a dim-witted charlatan, he wants the UK to leave the EU, he pretends he wants to reform, he wants to appear to be reasonable, but he wants the UK out…incredible….we are going back in time….

        1. Hullo... says:

          I honestly don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s the same just on a bigger scale. It’s simply bluff for a better deal. Let’s face it, if the snp really are as pro Europe as they say they are, why didn’t they say they would join the euro? It would have shut darling up in a flash. Sure times are hard for the euro but why tie yourselves to the people your trying to leave?

          Let’s face it there are many anti english folk for the snp as there are normal people too. There are also anti Europe folk as well as normal people who would want to leave the EU. Then there are the ‘normal’ normal folk who will put their flags down and think what’s right. Let’s face it the folk down South are far more capitalist for one thing. Do you think they want more barriers for their business.

          But why are people so afraid of the question? I thought the national question was a good thing that came out of the scottish referendum? Why not engage with all the folks on these isles? Let’s all have this conversation. Scotland being politicised was supposed to be a good thing. Let’s politicise everyone else.You never know you might even suprise yourselves and change direction. It’s incredibly early days, I would like to hear more on what it would really mean other than just boring old ‘immigrants’.

          As 16/17 voting. I’m personally a no. The argument being if you can get married and die for your country then you can vote. Surly if that’s the case let them drink at 16/17. However I say no because I wouldn’t want 16/17 year olds killing on my behalf thus I wouldn’t let them serve, so I reject this argument.

          As for the civic/blood soil thing. That’s too deep for tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

          Let’s face it people we’ll still be in Europe in 2 years time but let’s not waste this chance to have a chat up and down the country.

          Peace out

  7. George Gunn says:

    The “deme” in democracy means “resident”. So the Tories are not lovers of democracy. Hardly a radical statement but one that should alarm us all.

  8. Greeneye Lynagh says:

    “The generosity lost us the vote”

    No it didn’t. Letting those born outside Scotland vote in the indyref boosted the No vote, but not to the point where it changed the result.

    1. Jim Stirling says:

      Actually allowing non-Scots born folk to vote { which I agree with } did indeed allow the no side to triumph.

  9. Sandra Daniel says:

    I find all this anti brit stuff very upsetting I come from Scottish ancestors who came to live in England for work & sadly stayed. I would love to see the SNP take over at Westminster our family friends etc did not vote in this Cameron government the SNP are far superior, so please dont taint us All with the same brush

  10. HiltonTongs says:

    but where is the Eurovision? we seemed to be caught up in an endless debate about immigration and not asking what needs to change about the EU.At present and for some considerable time the EU has become dominated by right wing governments and parties under the watchful eye of the financial sector and NATO/USA.

    Continued membership under the present regimes agenda serves the few and this would be the same with increased or decreased immigration. There is no protection or pulling & sharing of resources as Greece have found out and the promise to bring the Baltic states etc up to the same living standards seems like another vow gone astray in a frenzy of privatisation.

    The EU needs radical change or faces huge unrest as creating uncoordinated polarised economics in a super state run for the few is no long term plan for the many.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      I agree. An agenda for the radical reform of the EU, on a properly democratic confederal model, really does need to be articulated and pursued with vigour.

    2. Neil says:

      Wow are the Hilton Tongs still on the go? I used to throw bricks at them in the youth (YRM).

      1. HiltonTongs says:

        YRM doesn’t ring any bells.The Gringo and Woodside Mods were the local rivals,we are probably talking different cities.

      2. Paul A. says:

        Not sure if the Hilton Tongs ARE still on the go, given that Hilton Academy (my Alma mater) closed down in 1988.

        I used to hang about with a group of guys in the early 80s who were the last manifestation of the Young Hilton Tongs or YHT. We had long standing rammies with the Northfield Sensibles (I kid you not!) and the Woodside Mods. …so that definitely dates these antics to the first half of the 1980s.

        Happy days! 🙂

  11. Jones says:

    You might want to change the Ukraine on that map?

    1. HiltonTongs says:

      So does most of the EU but please don’t mention the 40 burnt tae death in a trade union building in Kiev.

  12. kenneth McHardy says:

    Scotland and her political actions conducted by the SNP will always have to strive to be beyond reproach. If we are not, the unionist parties the uk press will present a twisted tale. Pan other tactic we saw in 2007 was how labour wished to introduce added scrutiny to the new SNP government.

    uk can do virtually what it wants, it’s a sovereign state where the elite beleive they are indeed.beyond reproach. We can see that with one of the elite’s lackies, carmichael.

    Scotland should never stoop to uk standards, this would sully us and our reputation.

    Imagine an Aberdeen hospital trying to attract a top oncologist from France or a Glasgow engineering company trying to attract Danish engineers skilled in renewable energy technologies.

    Why would you come to such an unfriendly state as the uk?

    The depth uk politics will fall to in the run up to this referendum will become apparent to a less compliant, more assertive and confident peoples of Scotland during this campaign.

    To capitalise on this the SNP need to be positive, assertive, put Scotland first and not share a platform of any description with any unionist party.

  13. Mark Stephens says:

    ” It didn’t matter that the Scottish referendum was based on a generous, civic and expansive base: if you live here and you’re on the electoral roll, you get a vote. The generosity lost us the vote…”

    The sentiment expressed in the first sentence is undermined by the implication of the second. If “the people of Scotland” are the people who live here (civic nationalism), then there is no *us* and *them*, we are all equal citizens, regardless of where we were born.
    “The generosity cost us the vote…” implies the generosity of the Scots born cost the Scots born the vote – in turn implying that the Scots born are more equal than the non Scots born and only their generosity allowed non Scots born the vote.
    On a practical level, on whose authority could a restriction on voting have been placed? The referendum was triggered by the SNP winning a majority of seats in the 2011 Scottish election, the electorate for which included non Scottish born UK citizens and non-UK EU citizens. (And indeed some of its MSPs were not born in Scotland.) It would be mighty curious to have the Scottish Parliament disenfranchise some of the people whose votes provided its mandate, and the mandate for the referendum.

    1. I was speaking from the honest position of the ‘us’ being the pro indy movement (in all its multifaceted internationalist glory)

      1. Neil says:

        Them and us is pish. We are going to get a whole tirade of project fear against independence from the EU next.

  14. Neil says:

    And the people that support independence are UKIP.

  15. Neil says:

    The EU independence ref is pretty much the same deal as the Scots independence ref. Probably without the loaded question. It is the same sentiment.

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