Why give some people more democracy than others?

Oxford with EU flagThe UK’s vote narrowly to leave the EU was not uniform across the country. For example, in London, nearly 60% of people voted to remain in the EU. In Scotland, 62% voted to remain. And in Oxfordshire, nearly 57% of people wanted to stay.

However, in the post-referendum fall-out, it seems only one of these areas may be given a chance to remain part of the EU. It is likely that the Scottish government will now seek to hold yet another referendum on Scottish independence, sold as a way for Scotland to remain in the EU. The question is, why should people in Scotland be given this choice, while those of us who live in other pro-EU parts of the country are denied the same opportunity?

How can anyone who claims to support democracy, and who believes in not being isolationist, think that the answer is to go it alone, to abandon the rest of the people in the UK who share the same view? It’s “I’m all right, Jack” mentality. Surely democracy is universal? Everyone should be given the same chances to vote on the same issues.

The referendum question was whether the UK should remain a member of the EU. There is no mention of Scotland or any other part of the UK. Even if Scotland were to become independent and to be allowed to join the EU (which is far from certain), the 62% of Scottish voters still would not be getting what they voted for. They voted to the UK to remain in the EU. As over two thirds of Scottish exports are to the rest of the UK, but only about 15% to the EU, leaving the UK in favour of the EU would appear to be a rash decision. It is actually in Scotland’s best interest for the whole of the UK to remain in the EU, or at least the single market. It’s therefore slightly heartening to see this morning that Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Parliament could block the UK’s exit from the EU. The people of London and Oxfordshire would be grateful for that.

The irony is that Scottish nationalists were always traditionally in favour of leaving the EU. Today, at least a third of those who support independence actually would like to leave the EU. Yet it is hard to imagine them voting against independence in a future referendum on the grounds that they don’t want to be in the EU. Calls for a second Scottish referendum are therefore pure opportunism.

Please, let’s have the best possible outcome for the sake of all of us across the UK who do not agree with isolationism and selfishness, whether that’s by blocking exit from the EU, or by negotiating to retain as many of the benefits of Europe as possible. Otherwise, the people of Oxfordshire want their independence referendum, too.

7 responses to “Why give some people more democracy than others?”

  1. Dave Brown

    You rather miss the point that Scotland, unlike Oxfordshire, has always being a separate nation, albeit loosely bound to the UK for the last four hundred years. And that most of the inhabitants of Scotland seem themselves as Scots first, whereas few residents in Oxford would consider themselves Oxonions before Britons

  2. Jonathan Rawle

    Obviously I’m well aware of that point, Dave. So you would agree that the push for a second independence referendum has little to do with the EU vote result and is just opportunism, particularly given the Scottish Nationalists’ historic support for leaving the EU?

  3. Dave Brown

    Ho, I don’t agree that it is just opportunism – though, being politics, there will always be a large element of that. I am not sure of the relevance of the historic attitude. Things have changed a great deal since 1975 and many people voted differently this time than they did back then. The possibility of an independent Scotland was a joke back then whereas now it is a realistic prospect, but only within the EU.

    I too, and half the population of High Peak, am heartened by the possibility of the SNP blocking exit. I am also encouraged by the reluctance of the leaders of out to actually go ahead with invoking clause 50.

    I suspect that we will end up with some compromise such as the Norway position. And I shudder to think what the reaction on the council estates will be when they realise that there will be no change in immigration.

  4. Jonathan Rawle

    I don’t recall seeing immigration or the single market mentioned on the ballot paper. As long as the UK is no longer a member of the EU, the government will have followed through with what the people voted for. We can still be a member of the EEA or whatever, and have the same level of immigration. As much as I dislike him, Boris Johnson made a good point today when he said leave voters need to accept the result was hardly overwhelming. The “council estates” will simply continue to vote UKIP as they do at present. We all know the party is really just BNP-lite dressed up as something to do with Europe.

  5. Dave Brown

    I didn’t see austerity or education reform or repealing CHR on the ballot paper at last May’s general election. It is not the custom in the UK to print the manifest on on the ballot paper. We obtain our knowledge of the party’s intention by listening to the candidates speak and by reading their articles in newspapers. If those speeches and articles are downright lies, as were many of the Brexit’s then faith in the political system is even further diminishe.

  6. Jonathan Rawle

    In an election, there are manifestos. There were no manifestos for the referendum, and each side had numerous different supporters, all with their own ideas. Some Leave supporters campaigned on the basis of retaining the single market and freedom of users, other on pulling out of both entirely. So now, post-vote, whose version of Brexit do we follow? Or should there be an immediate election?

    Also, if voters feel cheated in an election, the government will lose the next one. With this referendum, there the result is forever. There is no second chance. So they could lie as much as they wanted.

    Of course, this just underlines why referendums are a bad idea. See what one of the leading experts on Parliament has to say about it:

  7. Dave Brown

    At least we agreed on the fact that referenda are bad things. They are naked democracy and, whatever Churchill said, that is a bad thing. It is a pity that our current parliamentary democracy has clothed it in the unsuitable clothing of a two party system.

    And I think we should let the discussion rest there 🙂

Leave a comment

By browsing this site, you agree to its use of cookies. More information. OK