Letters: It’s Scotland’s votes that keep the Union in balance
The Scottish Government’s latest article on independence, Renewing Democracy through Independence (“Sturgeon ‘willing to talk to new PM’ over referendum proposals”, The Herald, July 15, and Letters, July 16), appears to be based on an alleged deficit of democracy in Scotland because the government elected at Westminster does not always reflect the same party as the majority of MPs elected in Scotland. The same could of course be said of many other parts of the UK and that is the nature of democracy rather than a deficit of democracy in a union of nations whose democratic standards are respected and envied around the world entire. I certainly wouldn’t trust the SNP or any political party for that matter to ‘renew’ this democracy.
After three centuries of this successful political union, neither Scotland nor England are a separate political entity and it is of no practical but academic interest to measure their respective and varying influences on the decisions of Westminster.
On the other hand, if we choose to go this route, we find that in 1966, for example, a UK-wide Labor majority of four seats backed by a Scottish majority of over 20 seats indicates that while the rest of the UK had voted for a Conservative government, the Scottish vote again brought about a Labor victory due to the democratic union rather than a democratic deficit in England.
On at least one occasion, in 1955, when Scotland voted for a Conservative government, a Conservative government was elected, but the more usual pattern has been for the election of Labor governments to reflect the majority vote in Scotland. Indeed, better psephologists than I have suggested that Labor cannot win a general election in the UK without winning in Scotland.
The real democratic deficit in Scotland today is seen in the dissipation of the resources of the Scottish government in promoting a separatist program which it is well aware that the majority of its voters voted against.
These are however very superficial considerations and the true reflection of Scottish participation in Westminster democracy is not only in the numerical results of past votes but also, for example, in the presence and potential of the Scottish vote to determine the UK identity. Government. Without this presence, there may well currently be a greater risk of an unwelcome right or other dominance in Westminster, which would undoubtedly be detrimental to Scottish interests as well as the interests of the Union as a whole. , even though Scotland had left the Union. The best protection of Scottish interests seems to be to remain within the Union and keep Scottish hands as close to its levers of power as possible.
Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.
BREXIT WILL END THE UNION
If it is clear that it will not be long before Ireland becomes a united republic, as suggested by Ken Mackay (Letters, July 15), then surely it would be wise for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom in same time as Northern Ireland leaves .
I am fully convinced that the vote in the European referendum in 2016 by the people of England and Wales to leave the European Union was the catalyst that will bring about the end of the United Kingdom as a political entity. If Scotland and Northern Ireland leave together, the Act of Union 1706 and the Act of Union 1800 can be repealed at the same time.
Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.
THE LOW LEVEL SPIRAL
Child poverty in the North East of England has overtaken London as the worst in the UK; London, where high housing and transport costs and low wages for many have traditionally produced child poverty. More than half of the children in Tower Hamlets live below the poverty line. Overall, London has 35% of children living in poverty, but that percentage is now overtaken by the North East of England at 38%.
And Scotland? Twenty-one per cent of children live below the poverty line, a dreadful statistic, but you have to compare it to the English average of 29% and Wales at 34%, figures taken from the End Child Poverty Coalition. Scottish Child Payment makes a difference. So has the rise of Universal Credit during the pandemic, which makes its withdrawal all the more shameful.
As future unelected prime ministers struggle with promises of tax cuts, pledging to clothe, house and feed the most vulnerable would be like water in a desert. The UK is a country where the average household earns nearly £9,000 each year compared to Germany or France. He is in a permanent downward spiral.
Frances Scott, Edinburgh.
THIS IS NOT DEMOCRACY
GORDON Fisher’s letter (July 14) about our millionaire leaders knowing nothing of the realities of ordinary life was perfect.
What is really sad is that the vast majority of the population accepts that it is so, that it always has been and that it always is so.
When the British Prime Minister is forced to resign due to foolishness and scandal, it is assumed that some 200,000 members of the Conservative Party will elect the next leader. Not the 68 million people who make up the country, including 5.5 million Scots who have even fewer choices in the matter.
Call it a democracy? Westminster is a club, a reunion for old public classmates, and a retirement home for those who never quite knew what a hard day’s work is.
I am talking mainly about the Conservative Party here, but not exclusively.
There are MPs, I’m sure, who are in politics for the right reasons, but serious questions need to be asked of those who backed Boris Johnson, and now think they are the ones driving the country forward.
They stabbed him in the back, then patted his back. Are conservative supporters stupid enough to think that one of these millionaire or billionaire candidates can offer a change for the better?
Andy Stenton, Glasgow.
ACT OF UNION SCANDAL
ALEX Gallagher (Letter, July 12) writes that the Act of Union of 1707 was “formed by the voluntary agreement of all parties…and its legal status has never been disputed.” The reality was that in 1706 Scotland had been pushed into a corner by England desperate to secure the Protestant succession of Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James VI. English troops had been sent to the frontier; the Royal Navy was at sea and the destructive Aliens’ Act, which would have severely damaged the Scottish economy, was due to come into force at the end of December. The Scottish Parliament reluctantly agreed to appoint a team of negotiators to agree the terms of the draft Act of Union. Tellingly, all 31 Scottish Commissioners, hand-picked by the London-appointed Lord High Chancellor, the Earl of Seafield, were supporters of the proposed Union.
The agreed terms were received with shock by Scotland. Representation in the new parliament of the United Kingdom was extremely disadvantageous for Scotland. Only 45 MPs were to join the 513 English MPs (Cornwall had 44 MPs) and only 16 peers were to join the 190 English peers in the House of Lords. Scotland was to lose its weights, measures and currency and take on a share of England’s colossal national debt of £14 million. What really upset the Scots was the choice of the new flag. Cromwell’s Commonwealth Union Flag had shown the crosses of St Andrew and St George quartered. The new Union Jack had the cross of St George above the cross of St Andrew.
We must remember that the Scottish Parliament was not democratically chosen. Most of the approximately 200 members chose themselves. Popular opinion was expressed through demonstrations or petitions. A total of 96 petitions were submitted from across Scotland – none of them supporting the proposed Act of Union.
There was a lot of commentary at the time of the 2014 referendum about what Sir Walter Scott’s view might have been. It is quite clear that Scott supported the Union but resented the terms that had been agreed upon. He bitterly noted that “Scotland’s interests were greatly neglected…and as a result the nation…regarded this as a complete surrender of their independence by their false and corrupt statesmen into the hands of their proud and powerful rival. “.
And yes, Burns was right to be “bought and sold for English gold”. The Earl of Glasgow received £200,000 to win Union support while honors and awards were generously doled out. Scotland’s oldest nobleman, the Duke of Hamilton, received an English dukedom, the Order of the Bath and the Order of the Thistle and was appointed British Ambassador to Paris. Finally, an attempt to repeal the Act of Union at Westminster in 1713 was defeated by only four votes.
Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.