We need a definition of democracy first, this Wikipedia one will do;
“Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws”. Add in majority voting and that’s our UK Parliamentary democracy. One person one vote, majority rule, tested every five years.
From the act of Union in 1707 the UK had a form of constitutional democracy, albeit of a limited nature, practically, full democracy took place in 1918 with the “representation of the People Act” evolving into a “Liberal Representative Democracy” in which state powers are limited and the representatives we vote into parliament take decisions on our behalf, which we, being part of the democratic system, agree to abide by, even if they do not match our personal preference. We are honour bound to accept the majority vote. Anarchy would reign otherwise.
To one extent the actual act of agreeing an independence referendum is anti democratic, almost ten percent of our democracy might leave to the detriment of themselves and the ninety percent remaining. It is such a monumental step it really should have been put to the whole democracy. If separation occurs, the resultant aftermath, in the two resultant “democracies” will be unpleasant, both in terms of negotiation and economics, but that’s another debate.
The wider world will be watching the outcome and many countries will be nervous in terms of internal separatist movements, such as Catalonia in Spain. The number of European separatist movements are many
However, being selfish and looking solely at the UK, the real aspects of indyref are the perceived lack of representation within the UK parliament and the feeling that they, the separatists, can do “better” (very doubtful and subjective) and that we are different, special, a separate country. This totally ignores the high level of integration of businesses, families and traditions interweaving Scotland and England (and Wales/Northern Ireland).
Of course Scotland has a strong identity as one of the four corners of the UK, but in the act of Union we agreed, by our own parliamentary resolution via majority vote, to extinguish the nation state of Scotland. This was done in unison with England who did likewise and extinguished themselves to join with us in a Union (let’s leave Wales and Northern Ireland to one side for today).
Together we formed one of the greatest countries in the world, The United Kingdom. For 307 years we have, by way of democracy, helped shape the world, developed an advanced society and fought world wars and depressions side by side with and for each other. If we leave the UK it will be as traitors to our UK democratic heritage, an abandonment of like thinking people just across our arbitrary Roman border. We are all right Jock?
Separatists think, erroneously, that they are pushing for democracy, they are not, we have democracy now, it is absolutely representative, it’s just they don’t agree with that representation, conflating our parliaments physical location with “outside” control of Scotland. It’s thinking of Scotland in isolation and separate that is the undemocratic way of behaving, we are not separate we are the UK.
Governments of all political persuasions come and go over time and sometimes the labels are interchangeable, regions, areas and communities vote a particular way as changing governments are formed.
Breaking one democracy to form a smaller more insular one makes no sense and the outcome of such a break is very much an unknown, far too many unanswered questions that will remain that way until a Yes vote happens (thankfully the odds are very short).
One reason separation might be bad for democracy is that it panders to the minority, overrides majority will and sows the seeds of separation in others, who rightly say “why not us” therein lies the problem, where does the process stop, does Cumbria or the North East attempt secession? Could London and the Home Counties separate, leaving the rest of the UK to their own devices? The thought of this accelerating debilitating Balkanisation within the UK is unthinkable.
Scottish independence is based on relatively short term resentment and a recent political schism in voting habits. Let’s not forget that at the 2010 UK GE the SNP got 19% and the Tories 17%, by and large those Tories are going to feel British democracy has failed them if we separate. Not long ago, and possibly again, they were the majority in Scotland.
The separatists appeal to the baser insecurities and prejudices of a sometimes ill informed populace (many of whom can’t grasp the distinction between using the £ and currency union)! They use smoke and mirrors and promise that things will be all right on the night. A power play at the expense of UK democracy. Scots have been at the forefront of British success, in business, politics and science and have been more than well represented at all levels, we should not abandon our democracy, we should fight for what we believe in from inside.
What’s to stop in the future any sizeable minority demanding autonomy? Once the stable door is opened, how many horses will run? Independence has such a positive ring to it though, we all want our independence as we grow up, but with age comes responsibility and putting others before ourselves, let’s hope we have grown up enough to realise this was a romantic concept, a heroic folly, but ultimately uneccessary.
Is a Yes vote a blow for democracy? I firmly believe so. In writing this a tiring sadness grips me, as the word independence morphs into partisan division, the antithesis of democracy, democracy destroyed. A vote to demolish the UK democracy is a blow to world democracy and will damage the two separate and impaired parts of a divided Britain for many generations to come. Surely we are better together?
Ps inspiration a challenge from Iain Graydon