Tag Archives: Ukraine

“.. A FESTIVAL OF DEMOCRACY, AN EDINBURGH TATOO OF ARGUMENT”

This is one view, of many similar, on the current debate over Scottish Independence that is going to climax on 18 September (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/04/scottish-independence-yes-vote-leaner-meaner-scotland?). An amazing 85% of voters are expected to turn out on the day (http://whatscotlandthinks.org/questions/on-a-scale-of-0-to-10-how-likely-is-it-that-you-would-vote-in-an-referendum-on#line), in stark contrast to an Independence referendum in 1979, where a majority for independence was turned down on the grounds that the turnout of less than 40% of the electorate was below the minimum required for a binding result (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_devolution_referendum,_1979).

After weeks of heated discussions centering mainly on fiscal and economic issues, the debate has enlarged considerably to include social, health, defence and relations with the European Union. These themes were debated recently by panels of representatives for the Yes Scotland and Better Together, as well as active participation by the studio audience (see previous post). They continue to be discussed in town-halls, trades unions and street meetings around the country and may be a strong reason for the recent surge in the polls for a Yes vote. Whatever the outcome, the real struggle will come after the vote when campaign promises will have to be transformed into political realities.

It is surely telling that the joint leaders of the current Coalition government in Westminster, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, are invisible in the debate. The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, together with ex- Prime Minster Gordon Brown and other heavies from the party, have begun campaigning in Scotland for Better Together (https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/pipe/336102/labour-to-wheel-out-big-guns/?). In order to make a credible message they are having to distance themselves from their Conservative and Lib-Dem “allies” in the movement, opening Miliband to the charge of campaigning for the next General Election rather for or against Scottish Independence (http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/salmond-miliband-is-blind-to-the-real-fight-in-scotland.25245155?). An independent Scotland would result in the removal of approximately one sixth of Labour MPs, leaving the Westminster door open for a major shift to the right. This would be warmly welcomed by Euro-sceptic Conservatives and UKIP (see previous post).

At a time when the political future of Ukraine is the subject of armed conflict and with the still fresh memory of years of fighting in Northern Ireland and the Balkan region, the Scottish people have shown the world that it is possible to conduct an intensely democratic yet non-violent discourse on the future of their country. That is an all-too-rare victory for the democratic way of governance.