Why is Scotland facing the biggest question in its constitutional history? Nationalism? Self-sufficiency? Or a political awakening?
The question of independence is a difficult one to tackle simply because of the political implications it brings. Whilst I shall continue to campaign against Scottish independence (For many reasons, I think I should need another article to explain) we should not neglect to explore a political analysis of why independence has become an issue for Scotland.
British politics is arguably at the lowest ebb it’s ever been in. (In terms of the amount of people who belong to a political party.) So who actually supports ‘party politics’ in the UK today? With a growing theme in political conversations being “They’re all the bloody same!” We have to question the legitimacy that governments are given if only a minority is going out to vote.
Are minority governments legitimate in a true sense? If we, in a Hobbesian quest, give over our rights to an elected ‘sovereign’ (the state) we thereby give over our ability to make decisions. This is fine when we feel a government is legitimate, or when we support a government. We can accept the sacrifice of diminishing our own personal rights to a small degree. But, when we see governments as illegitimate and non-representational of the electorate we then begin resent our political structures and see it as an imposition on personal freedom.
Now this is important in terms of how many of us associate ourselves with politics as a whole. We know there are many people in the UK who simply won’t vote. Why someone is compelled not to vote is usually because they disassociate themselves from the political system, they almost give up. They see it as corrupt and oppressive.
So what does this have to do with Scottish independence? Living in Scotland in the run up to the referendum on independence has been a shock to the system. Politics is a hot and lively issue; there is a noticeable political awakening. A country where the Labour party is dying on its feet and where the word ‘Tory’ is a joke, yet the SNP is extremely popular. To me this situation is interesting in terms of the direction and focus of Westminster politics.
We need to ask why Scotland is facing this referendum? The fact that the SNP has done increasingly well in recent years should be something explored in its own right. What does it say about British politics when so many people support a party (the SNP) that dissociates itself with Westminster politics? What does it say about the current party systems of the UK? Why has devolution been a growing trend since the millennium?
The disconnection from Westminster politics should be at the heart of the discussion within the unionist movement. If the campaign is for the UK to be ‘Better Together’, then it should be exactly that ‘Better'. “What on earth are you talking about ‘better’? What does that mean?”
What I mean to say is that Scottish independence has raised some serious questions as to how people feel about British politics. How people feel that they are not represented by the major parties. Who are seen as ‘corrupt’, ‘full of career politicians’ and who are ‘all the same.’ Unless these core issues about the legitimacy of our representation is questioned here in the UK then movements like Scottish independence that aim to loosen Westminster’s grip will continue to run the agenda.
The debate around Scottish independence has thus far neglected to cut to the root of the problem – Westminster.
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