From Feudalism to Democracy via Faslane?

From a Union based on consent to one based on coercion?

All parties at Holyrood (except the Tories) voted in 2020 to enable all who live here to vote here. 

They were being clear that, wherever in the world you’re from, you belong (and that includes recently arrived refugees, though not yet asylum seekers). You belong and – if you’re 16 and over – you have the right to decide. 

Contrast this with Boris Johnson -and the whole tottering edifice of the colonial UK establishment – refusing to allow us to decide our future despite the overwhelming electoral success of the SNP, and the fact SNP and Greens both promised us voters a referendum. 

Kate Forbes MSP says this “is undemocratic and fundamentally changes the Union from one based on consent to one only based on the force of law.” 

But that gets it completely wrong.

The Govt in the UK parliament has a big majority of MPs based on a minority of votes. It’s rule in England is fundamentally undemocratic (45% of voters in England backed the Tories in the 2019 GE, 42% backed Corbyn – even in England the Tories should have to negotiate with other parties not ride roughshod) and Tory rule in Scotland is abhorrent (75% voted against it). 

Tory laws – the hostile environment, the Police bill, refusing to allow people in Scotland to choose their future – do not express the democratic will of the people. They are a forced march from consent to coercion. 

We may well need to move towards peaceful direct action that connects the harm of wasting wealth on nuclear weapons, the harm of so few landowners holding so much of our wealth, the harm of burning our kids future by continuing to extract oil and gas, to the fact we have the wealth and kindness to welcome and care for everyone here. 

That sense was clear in the parties (except the Tories) uniting to enfranchise all who live here. 

Maybe we need to move from divisive party politics to rule by ordinary people, enfranchised as empowered citizens assemblies, called to deal with a bundle of issues.

A 100 folk – a random representative sample of the population – that meets for 6 months to consider and decide on the issues to be decided on, and then sets up another half dozen citizens assemblies to meet for 6 months to hear the evidence from the experts (including calling evidence from whoever they wish) to chart the way ahead. 

Deep, not depleted, democracy. 

Instead of accepting the ongoing rule – of the  royals, lords, city of London,  landowners in Scotland – who embody the conquering forces that enclosed the land in England, let people starve in Ireland, cleared communities in Scotland, and used the dispossessed to colonise others elsewhere, maybe we need to imagine ourselves free already, to carry into action that freedom to reclaim ourselves to care for all, by disentangling ourselves from dominating colonial ways of thinking and acting that still hold us in thrall. 

We would be WISE to stop being feudal. None of us in Wales, Ireland, Scotland or England are helped by that ‘united kingdom’. It’s not who we are. 

We can become free of it, we can reclaim our communities ability to flourish, we can engage in everyday and outrageous acts of kindness and defiance. 

Peaceful direct action may need to be the consequence of this most boring but consequential of elections. 

Comments (5)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Alice says:

    Do like the idea of the ongoing citizen’s assemblies……would like to see ,once direction agreed, the citizens working with those who implement policy decisions , right through to seeing the policy in action. Further, a chance for all involved to monitor and evaluate outcomes of such policies.

    We will have to disregard the gaslighting of the Unionist politicians and the British media and behave as if we are in the early days of full independence.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Citizen assemblies may have their uses (although like juries they could in theory be nobbled), but they don’t have a role in training up people in general and giving them experience of collective decision-making. Democracy should involve putting the work in, keeping yourselves informed, and not leaving politics to others all the time. Having said that, devising new political activities that are enjoyable as well as productive are going to be welcomed by those who want to free ourselves of British Imperial rule or dreary party regimen. I expect video games with their enormous powers of engagement, modelling complex systems and connecting vast numbers of people concurrently or asynchronously will play some role in future politics (although they have to be made accessible). One reason is that video games are especially well-suited to explore concepts like fairness (yet video games are generally weak at tying activity to real-world-environments, so will need to be complemented by activities better suited for that).

    1. Justin Kenrick says:

      Absolytely agree: citizens assemblies should be the tip of the democratic iceberg (in a fourishing democracy where all are engaged)

      Fantastic idea about using video games as a form of engagement, explpration and input into the process.

  3. ceri says:

    Case we’ll put.

  4. Jennie says:

    In Sweden, the first layer of democracy is the Kommun, elected representatives for a very local democracy – usually around 10,000 people, more in more densely populated areas. For a country of 9 million, there are 290 of these ‘municipalities’, some of which cover a large geographical area. They raise local taxes and deal with education, health, welfare, emergency services (except policing, which is reserved to the national government), planning.. you can look it all up on Wikipedia. There is a lot of lateral communication between Kommuns, which also form regional groupings. Because the units are small, it’s hard to avoid responsibility as well as power – if your planning decision is a bad one, you’re going to hear about it when you go shopping or socialising. Because they’re small, it’s not daunting to stand for election and try politics out on a small scale. So people can work out if it’s going to suit them to progress to representing more people in the regional councils (of which there are 21).
    It’d be good to see local government in Scotland reformed along similar lines because it works a lot better there, there’s much more communication in all directions, laterally and vertically – and it goes both ways.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.