Monday, 21 July 2014

Angel's Advocate

The Parliament of Westminster

The Treaty and Acts of Union in 1706 and 1707 were between two parliaments - those of Scotland and England.
When Queen Anne opened the first session at Westminster after the union she stated it was the parliament's first sitting.
It is contained within the Treaties and Act of Union that only those bodies who created them can dissolve them.  Therefore to dissolve the union Holyrood will become the independent parliament of Scotland with full and all powers pertaining to state and Westminster will become an English parliament with whatever other arrangements staying in situ pertaining to the remaining UK.
So a Yes vote invalidates the Westminster parliament as it currently is and means it must be fundamentally altered. What an opportunity.
Moving on from that, in 1953 the Lord Advocate stated "The principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law... Considering that the Union legislation extinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England and replaced them by a new Parliament, I have difficulty in seeing why it should have been supposed that the new Parliament of Great Britain must inherit all the peculiar characteristics of the English Parliament but none of the Scottish Parliament, as if all that happened in 1707 was that Scottish representatives were admitted to the Parliament of England. That is not what was done." 


The containment of monarchic power, indeed the very concept of what it is, has always been very different in Scotland from simply handing royal prerogative powers to the Prime Minister and placing sovereignty in Parliament.  Go back nearly 700 years to the declaration of Arbroath 1320 stating 'if he (King Robert the Bruce) should give up what he has begun, seeking to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own right and ours,'  This is very clear.  If the monarch ceases to act as approved by the rest of us, they're gone.  They have no option to, as the Claim of Right 1689 accuses James the Seventh, 'invade the constitution of Scotland and alter it' from
 'a legal limited monarchy, to an arbitrary despotic power; and in a public proclamation, asserted an absolute power'
'hath invaded the fundamental constitution of the Kingdom, and altered it from a legal limited monarchy to an arbitrary despotic power, and hath exercised the same'
There is no 'divine right of kings' here, the monarch is first among equals and works for them.  If the monarch acts against the wishes of the rest using autocratic power they are no longer valid as leader.   That being the case and in the essence of Scottish nationhood, it's clear that Elizabeth Windsor has already invalidated herself or at the very least seriously put into question her role as monarch of Scotland.  In the act of using her power of veto to prevent a private member's bill which sought to make power to go to war parliamentary rather than a royal prerogative power see here  she used an autocratic power to retain an autocratic power, acting expressly against the sovereignty of the people, acting to prevent determination of the considered will of the people and acting against the principles of equality and representation contained in the monarch's appointed role as expressed in the Declaration of Arbroath.  She asserted absolute power and exercised despotic power.
Upon a Yes vote Scotland will have no monarch as leader until the considered will of the Scottish people, which is paramount and sovereign, is determined.  In this age that can only mean democratically. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Initial Response to the Draft Interim Constitution of Scotland

The monarchy providing hereditary Heads of State for independent Scotland is a totally anachronistic prospect which contradicts several aspects of even the interim constitution.     

1.      Sovereignty of the people.  How can the people be truly sovereign while retaining an actual sovereign*?  *'noun - supreme ruler, especially a monarch’  The monarchy will be symbolically and spiritually oppressive, even if we are successful in declawing and defanging it from the current death grip on democracy it enjoys in its integral position in the Westminster system.

    2.      Human Rights.  The rights to vote, stand for election and determine their own destiny are denied  to  members of the ‘royal’ family pertaining to the position of head of state, and the right to elect our own representatives at state level is denied to us. 

3.      Equality.  This perhaps the most contradictory of the statements contained in the draft interim constitution. 

At 28 the claim ‘Every person in Scotland is equal before the law and has equal entitlement to its protection and benefit’ is factually incorrect.  The monarch and the heir are currently exempt from certain parts of Freedom of Information legislation.   Not only that, none of the rest of us enjoy a right of veto over government legislation, before it goes through parliament, on things which affect our private interests. 

To state that every person ‘is entitled to be treated with respect and without discrimination on the basis of personal characteristics’ is in direct opposition to encouraging extreme deference and providing status and position due to one bloodline - a situation which permeates society with a snobbery and obsequience that is not only legitimised but promoted and actively encouraged by governmental structure.

To state that the government ‘must seek to promote equality of opportunity’ is the direct opposite of no-one but members of one family having the opportunity to be Heads of State. 

To state that the rights, powers and privileges which attach to the Crown would continue after independence, albeit subject to the constitution and Acts passed by the Scottish parliament, seems to be attempting to have a foot on two horses which are about to take off in diametrically opposite directions. It would be quite impossible for the current rights, powers and privileges which attach to the Crown to continue after independence if we are in any way serious about sovereignty of the people, human rights and equality. It simply does not compute. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

To Change Where Power Lies - To Make Power Accountable and Removable

Economics – We’ll be fine, as similar countries of similar size are now.  It’s not the point.  You’re not voting on one economic model over another.

 Identity – You will still have whatever identity you want.  Scotland is on Britain, as Norway, Sweden and Finland are in Scandinavia.  This is not something in the gift of the government at Westminster.  You’re not voting on identity.

 Alex Salmond/SNP - You are not voting in an Alex Salmond popularity poll or on an SNP manifesto.  They are the facilitators of the referendum and independence but the architects of independent Scotland will be you.  And there we get to what we ARE voting on.

 Political Governance – Democratic representation fit for the 21st century.  Something which we do not now have. 

 House of Lords – It is one hundred and four years since Westminster passed an Act saying the House of Lords would be determined by popular vote.  Despite Lords reform being in the manifestos of all three main political parties in the 2010 election, it has just failed to happen, again.  Instead it is heading for 900 of the unelected with power and influence over legislature.  We might vote out politicians but it doesn’t mean we can get rid of them, or never vote others in.  They can be appointed for life.  And we pay for them, £300 a day expenses just for showing up, free first class air and rail travel, subsidised fine dining, etc.  And if you’re a peer and you serve time for a criminal offence, no matter, you walk right back in to the Lords, while elected politicians from the Commons could not re enter Parliament.  An unelected, unaccountable, privileged elite in governance paid for astronomically by the people, who have no way of removing any of them.  The direct polar opposite of democracy.

In the Lords there is a symbol of where power comes from at Westminster.  It’s a huge golden throne.  The Crown in parliament.  That is the great power which can be used to make great changes and is so intoxicating and corrupting as it swills around the corridors of Westminster.  The royal prerogative, powers of a medieval monarch, are handed to whomsoever manoeuvres into Number 10.  The powers are not relative to the mandate the Prime Minister’s party did, or as currently didn’t, gain at the ballot box, because they’re not democratic powers.  They’re a hangover of autocracy, including power to go to war, write law and appoint ministers without reference to the rest of the cabinet, your party, parliament and certainly not the people.  The blurring of monarchy and democracy hands out this power and completely fails to hold prime ministers in check.  Small wonder this seems to have a detrimental effect on the psyche of many of them. 

There is power of veto for the monarch and heir over legislation which affects their private interests, prior to it going through parliament, and the royal exemption from law regarding Freedom of Information legislation means we do not know how many times this has been used nor when.

One instance we do know about of the monarch's power of veto being used to block a private member's bill going through Westminster was when an attempt was made to make the power to go to war one which had to gain parliamentary approval instead of being a royal prerogative power.  Elizabeth Windsor blocked the bill at the behest of Tony Blair.  An autocratic power used to retain an autocratic power.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Extremes of inequality, perpetuated and encouraged by a fossilised political system

I have seen the extreme effects of extreme poverty and I didn’t have to be a ‘poverty tourist’ to do so. One instance was in Dingwall, the town where I grew up, during the late sixties/early seventies. A woman, who to me was old but I was a child, had legs which bowed right out the way and she bowled along when she walked. It was shocking, I was shocked. My mother told me she was from Glasgow where there was a lot of poverty and poor conditions and she’d had rickets as a child, which was caused by a vitamin deficiency which affects the bones when they’re growing and vulnerable so they were damaged for life. She told me that was why we children got free milk at school as it contained the needed vitamins to ensure that never happened again. Terribly, it has been for a while
The sixties and seventies were also the time when Britain had hit its time of most equality as the ongoing results of the radical 1945 government, as well as plenty of talent, inspiration and creativity. The upper echelons were complaining to the rest of planet Earth that in Britain the poor were getting richer and the rich were getting poorer and they were threatening to leave. The appropriate response at this juncture would have been “Goodbye”, but someone called Margaret Thatcher got up and made a speech addressing these people, saying “Please stay”. They gave her her reward.
The advances of democratic and social progression were brutally halted and reversed. The establishment entrenched their position. Avarice became the philosophy over altruism, selfishness and greed encouraged. Progressives were co-opted and absorbed, some still there to be seen.
So here we are now. At least in the 60s/70s there was a consciousness, an empathy and sympathy whereas now when people are born into appalling situations, the right wing media which has the tabloids in its grasp has even intelligent people believing there will be something “genetic” wrong with that child. Some things are genetic – like haemophilia, porphyrias, low IQ, but neither the unfortunate results of extreme poverty nor extreme wealth are, despite Andrew Windsor claiming “it is training and genetics” which mean he can do his “job”. We might ask why he does it so abysmally badly then. Now there is a culture of blame rather than sympathy. This leads to some truly disgusting attitudes, to people attacking those who live in the same place as them, whose lives they would not swap with in a million years, with comments that they “should be sent to Belsen”, “should be locked up and made to fight each other to the death” – these are online comments made on the Highland News website about named families in Inverness, on a news item which didn’t even involve anyone from most of them.
Some businesses which presumably have always accepted they must deal with market forces but which apparently don’t feel up to dealing with democratic forces, ‘lords’ and ‘baronesses’ now ingrained in privilege and others who like what they have and feel complacent or cynical are threatening to leave Scotland as it sees a chance to escape the entrenched establishment death grip of the Westminster political system.
Others in the rest of Britain are increasingly seeing the potential of Scottish independence to crack this now seemingly impenetrable edifice, to undermine and destabilise undemocratic power, thereby facilitating desperately needed change there too. The claims and utterances of those desperate to retain their positions are becoming more extreme and nonsensical along with their desperation. They can feel the way the wind is blowing. The mediaeval power swilling around at Westminster is intoxicating and has been corrupting heads and hearts for centuries. The unelected can still stalk its corridors and wield it decades after the public have voted them out or they’ve ceased to bother standing for election. Meanwhile on 5th April in a speech to London Conservatives, David Cameron has ranked defeating Labour in 2015 above maintaining the Union – preparing the ground for defeat in Scotland.
Scotland becoming politically autonomous will not cataclysmically endanger the world with forces of darkness. Could anyone retaining their reason believe this? We now await how the No campaign will couch their warning that the sky will fall in, as surely that must be next. What is there truly to fear? Trident is “too dangerous” to be situated in England, but there it is on the Clyde. But independence? That is about truly democratic governance by the people for the first time, at last. Have confidence and trust that the heart of the people is optimistic, reasonable, fair, talented, creative and kind. Blind faith in the non existent benevolence of overlords who are anything but is regression to a time our forebears were always leaving behind. We’ve been held back for a long time - it’s time to forge ahead.