Category Archives: Whigs/Democrats

No more referendums?

referendum scottish photo
Photo by duncan
I believe Brexit is going to such an epic disaster that stopping it is much more urgent than achieving Scottish independence (I’d prefer both, of course), but time seems to be running out.

One of the main problems is that none of the main parties in England seem to be able to do much about it. I’ve discussed before why I think that a new anti-Brexit party is needed down south. For a long time, nothing seemed to be happening, but James Chapman’s new party seems to be ticking the boxes (even though I don’t think the Democrats is nearly as good a name as the Whigs).

Most of the policies he has suggested for The Democrats are good and sound (in particular I’m delighted that they would enfranchise EU citizens like me). From a Scottish perspective, however, one of his ideas would be quite revolutionary:

At the moment, practically everybody in Scotland agrees that the best way to achieve independence is through a referendum. However, if The Democrats get into power and ban future referendums, how can Scotland achieve independence? As far as I can see, there will only be three ways:

  1. A pro-independence majority at Holyrood will be able to trigger independence.
  2. A pro-independence majority of Scottish MPs at Westminster can declare independence.
  3. A majority of all MPs at Westminster (not just the Scottish ones) will need to vote in favour for Scotland to become independent legally.

It’s unlikely that all three options would remain on the table. The Supreme Court would probably decide on one of them if somebody asked them. If they go for the last option, I have my doubts that such a vote could ever be won, which could effectively place Scotland in the same situation as Catalonia, which at the moment seem to be going down the line of an illegal referendum (seen from a Spanish point of view) and a subsequent UDI.

Although I agree that there are many democratic problems with referendums – especially the fact that the losers might have to implement the result while the winners are criticising them from the sidelines – I still believe it’s the best way to make huge decisions such as whether Scotland should be an independent country.

It is, however, just about possible that The Democrats will get into power in the UK within the next five years, so we need to start thinking about how to deal with them. Will their antipathy towards referendums make them unelectable in Scotland, or will it be extremely popular amongst unionist voters? Will they be able to work closely together with the SNP, given that they both agree on Brexit, or will they become sworn enemies?

Perhaps the new party will never get off the ground, but politics is certainly very volatile at the moment, so we should be prepared.

Only the Whigs can save England now

Whigs' Vault
Whigs' Vault.
I don’t normally blog about English politics, but the political turmoil south of the border is creating havoc up here, too, so here are a few modest observations and a possible solution.

My observations are these:

  1. The Liberal Democrats seem to have found their mojo again, but many people will never vote for them again because of the way they sold out of their principles to enter into government with the Tories. This means that they cannot become a large party in the foreseeable future.
  2. The Labour rebels who are planning to vote against Brexit are afraid to break away from Labour because of the failure of the SDP in the 1980s.
  3. The few Tory rebels clearly don’t feel tempted to join either the Lib Dems or Rebel Labour.
  4. And yet, there is a huge need for a party to represent the 48% who voted Remain in England – in the other nations of the UK, we have plenty of parties that will stand up for us.

Surely the solution is to create a new party, based on the Liberal Democrats but with enough changes to ensure that voters won’t hold them responsible for the Coalition Government. As for the name of this new party, it would be natural to resurrect the Whigs – they were known to emphasise the supremacy of Parliament (which Theresa May and her merry Brexiteers clearly aren’t too keen on), and they were of course the Tories’ old foes.

Pro-Brexit Labour can then merge with UKIP, but I expect the Conservative embrace of Brexit means they’ll struggle electorally.

The Whigs can then become England’s natural progressive party, and hopefully it could adopt a constructive attitude towards the SNP and perhaps even start supporting the right to self-determination for all the nations of the UK.