Monday, 19 August 2013

Despairing of the UK: Scottish opportunity

We are culturally disposed to feel respect and loyalty to our country of birth.  On the whole I believe this is a good thing.  It makes us more likely to sign up to the social contract: cooperate with law enforcement agencies, pay our taxes, behave responsibly about litter, and a host of other things to make us good citizens.  But what do you do if you think your country is taking measures against the populace, overt or covert, which are clearly a breach of their part in the social contract?  And, worse, if they ignore the wishes of large sections of the populace leading them to a genuine sense of disenfranchisement?

This is the situation I find myself in as a UK citizen largely as a result of the revelations given to us by Edward Snowden.  Of course I am not alone.  Other British people are similarly outraged.  Furthermore, residents of several other countries - the USA and New Zealand spring to mind - are also outraged by the behaviour of their own security agencies.  Instances of these agencies over-reaching their mandate are too many to enumerate but the present furore over the harassment of journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda is typical.

To return to my question: what should I do?  The sad answer is that I have no immediate recourse.  All I can do is to continue to make my views known and to use the democratic process to express my strong disapproval of the slide towards totalitarianism.  We are still a long way from an East German state so peaceful protest has still to be order of the day.

However, in the UK, there is a constitutional issue on the horizon that could enable a large swathe of the UK population to express their disapproval of HM's government in a very significant manner.  Next year there will be a referendum on Scottish independence.  Scotland has felt a sense of disenfranchisement for many years.  Currently it has only one Conservative MP (out of over 50 seats) and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Conservatives are hated in Scotland.  The arguments leading up to the referendum are already becoming heated and, in some cases, quite silly (just recently the question of whether Scotland would continue in the British Commonwealth has arisen, as if the Commonwealth meant anything other than just a consortium of sporting nations).  But the mood from Westminster is chillingly uncompromising and, if I were a Scot, I would not hesitate to vote "yes" for independence.

So, if I were a Scot, I would be adding another injustice to an already long list suffered under the English jackboot.  This government has proclaimed loud and clear that it does not care about the civil liberties of its people.  The Scots have a chance to save themselves and who could blame them for seizing it?

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