A referendum can be a victory for democracy, provided everyone knows what they want to happen. Well done the Irish, I am so proud of my Irish connections, (including my half or part or whole Irish children and grandchildren, global citizens that they are.) The UN Human Rights convention can lay down principles, but every country must find a way to allow their citizens access to remedy when the principles fail them. A written constitution, the means of changing it, and access to the courts are all as necessary as parliamentary representation, if not more so, in ensuring this.
It returns me to my daughter’s comment on Facebook on what I like to call Black Friday.(19 September 2014) She wrote ‘I cannot believe we voted no. I actually cannot believe it. Devastated.’
Her post expresses the shame that the Scottish electorate allowed themselves to be so undermined and bamboozled that they couldn’t even take responsibility for what hapens here. When I first lived in Ireland in the 1960’s, I spent many hours in the National Museum in Dublin exploring the memorabilia of the uprising. I also talked with my father in law in Cork about the terrible pain the people went through to become independent. The resistance to that desire and the post traumatic shock for everyone involved has its violent and ugly resonance to this day. And all we had to do was to cast our vote to get a chance for democratic control of ourselves.
We now have the reward of an insane foreign policy that equates endangering the survival of the planet with nuclear weapons with ‘security’ and a social security system that relies on foodbanks and prisons while we only educate the rich.
Maybe we lost the referendum in part because we are like children who are so unused to being offered good food rather than a beating that they run from an outstretched hand. We have forgotten how to answer a question about how we think things should be done collectively, tand hat we are easily panicked into imagining that a bunch of half-educated politicians with little life experience have some sort of expertise and know things we don’t.
Well actually, they do know things we don’t. That’s the rub.
If we had a constitution that included democratic control of foreign policy, and no secret deals between our government and the governments of other countries, (not a new idea; advocated by the Womens International League for Peace and Freedomwhen they formed at the Hague in 2014, one of the 21 resolutions the published with the aim of stopping the carnage then raging across Europe) then we’d live in a nuclear-free Scotland, we would never have gone to war on Iraq and I’d have had time to learn Gaelic.
So UN Conventions can provide the framework, and Westminster cannot repeal the UN Convention on Human Rights or in any way get rid of our legal rights under that convention. But when our (legal) human rights are thwarted in Scotland, it is the UK Human Rights Act that gives us the route through our courts to demand remedy. The UK Act is binding under Scots Law through the Scotland Act that dictates the current devolution agreement.Without the Act, we have the difficult task of going through the European Court or failing that International Court (ICJ) and getting them to tackle our government.
Scotland has a separate legal system, and human rights are a devolved matter. Westminster cannot repeal Scots Law . If this happened, it would constitute a breach of the Scotland Act itself., and deny our legal system’s process. The other option would be for Westminster to revoke the Scotland Act itself and remove devolution and the Scottish Parliament.
This does not mean that everything is under control so that we need not take steps to prevent the unthinkable. Never underestimate the capacity of the British Empire Remainder to thwart its own legislation to achieve the gameplan.
I know also that this is all a technical pain in the arse to follow, but really, if they mess with human rights in Scotland I hope that we can remember our reaction to Thatcher’s Poll Tax, be inspired by the Irish people’s common sense response to the religious bigots and be informed and aware and ready to take action compared to which the Poll Tax campaign will be seen as a polite reminder. They may know things we don’t. We can do things they can’t stop.
My daughter ended her Facebook post with a question. What now Scotland?