“It is not for the pursuer to stand in the shoes of parliamentarians”. These are words written into arguments on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Lord Advocate. Now, considering the pursuer is simply standing for 10,000 ordinary members of the electorate, it takes it to a whole new level of arrogance.
Politicians in this country like to trot out the phrase “the People of Scotland are sovereign” whenever it suits them and they can gain electoral advantage from it, but in reality that’s not really how the people are perceived in this country – as being sovereign.
I am a true believer in the sovereignty of the people of Scotland – it’s not just mere words to me. Over the past year and a half, I have been living that sovereignty, which has the literal definition of being “where power is derived from”.
In the people’s action, I went to court on the back of a promise to ordinary members of the yes movement, to have a very simple question answered that politicians have (deliberately I believe) failed to answer for over two decades. It was first opined in 1998 during the debates for the creation of the Scottish Parliament by the Tory Shadow Lord Advocate (go figure) that if the question about whether or not the Scottish Parliament could legislate for a referendum on independence were to be left unanswered, it would continue to fester.
Two decades on and the politicians have still failed to answer that very important question, and so the sovereign people of Scotland decided to simply ask the question and have the court make a declaration that it is within the competency of our elected parliament to call a referendum on our own constitutional future.
The Advocate General of the UK Government and the Lord Advocate has not advanced any argument against our original opinion that the Scottish Parliament could legislate for Indyref 2 – they have only put arguments forward that the sovereign people of this country do not have the right to ask such questions, that only politicians do. They have effectively tried to argue that the people (who politicians keep saying are sovereign) have less standing than parliamentarians.
I reasonably find that disdainful. In my view, parliamentarians in Scotland are merely elected to their position so they can put forward the voice of those who elected them. If anything politicians have a lower standing than the people that elect them, that’s what the sovereignty of the people is supposed to be about. However, politics in this country has been infected by a virus. The viewpoint of automatic self-entitlement of politicians. The belief that they are somehow better than the people they serve, that your vote is their automatic right.
I’m sorry, I do not agree. The people are sovereign and they have the right to slap down a politician if they are not doing their job. They say accountability has disappeared – unfortunately, that’s not true – it never existed.
I dared to ask a very simple question of the court (and continue to do so) – do we have the right to have a vote on the constitutional question without the interference of those who would try to usurp our democratic rights. That question has not been responded to, instead, from both the Lord Advocate and the Advocate General, the response can be summed up as “you are but a mere plebian, with no right to ask such questions”.
How can anything change when questions that need to be asked, can only be asked by those with a vested interest in not having them answered? It’s the literal definition of the turkeys voting for Christmas. Public law in this country requires a radical overhaul!
The Lord Advocate and the Advocate general have deployed tactics like using tweets (which the entire world knows are hyperbolic in nature) to try and smear and undermine. They have filed motions that have been rejected, but then tried a motion in a different way to try and seek the same thing by sneaking it in the back door. They’ve abused the process by trying to have the case transferred to a different jurisdiction of the court just so they can then have it kicked. They have challenged minutia and deliberately delayed. There was even that time they filed a motion, we spent a week drafting a response (at great cost) and then they decided on the last day to drop it before requesting we all assume our own costs. They have interjected and wreaked havoc, only to then withdraw to wreak more havoc.
They are able to do this because they have unlimited access to taxpayers funds and they use them indiscriminately with no semblance of fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer. All in the pursuit of stopping a reasonable question being answered by the court on something which politicians have failed to answer for 22 years.
The one thing that does make me bitter and disdainful (and I think it reasonable), is that for daring to ask a simple question such as this – a question which politicians should have answered 22 years ago, the repercussions for me personally are substantive.
Angus MacNeil, Andy Wightman and Kenny McAskill all provided affidavits to the court in support of the action. Neale Hanvey and Douglas Chapman donated to the crowd funder. However, out of the 129 MSPs and 59 MP’s from Scotland, not a single one joined the action. The reason for this is a protected expenses order.
Had I been a parliamentarian, it would have likely been granted, shielding me from liability for asking a simple question but not being a parliamentarian, it was no chance! Then of course the fact that I wasn’t a parliamentarian (who are merely vessels to communicate the sovereign will of the people) I somehow don’t have standing. This is the equivalent of the manager have no right to an audience before his boss, but his subordinates do. Politicians work for the people, not the other way around.
The Lord Advocate and the Advocate General have shown a pattern of repeated behaviour of deliberately trying to cause unnecessary delay and create unnecessary costs in this case – all with one aim of trying to deplete our funds. They have indiscriminately used public funds to do so.
I have had the accusation fired at me on more than a few occasions that this case is about my personal ego, but I can assure you it isn’t. If I wanted to stroke my own ego, there are better ways that I could have done it rather than expose myself to the complete destruction of my entire financial future just to have a simple question answered that has been used by the UK Government to continually beat my fellow yes supporters with for two decades. The question of whether the Scottish Parliament can call indyref2 without Westminster permission and the ambiguity surrounding it has featured prominently over the last decade – how many times have you seen a unionist politician declare that we cannot have the right to engage in the democratic right to vote without the permission of our tory masters?
By complete financial destruction, I really mean it. As an unpaid carer on carers allowance and income support, the sum raised in the people’s action will go to pay for our legal team. If this case is lost on standing alone (the right to bring the case) then the question will never have been explored about whether we have the right to hold indyref 2 without the permission of Westminster – but the consequences for me personally will be financially devastating for the rest of my life. That’s how much faith I have in our movement – I am facing bankruptcy just to have a simple question answered which will end the ambiguity now and for all time.
Such accusations of ego, I think reasonably are incredibly hurtful. That’s just the truth of the matter. But what really angers me is that any person, irrespective of the question they are seeking to have answered by the court, should face financial ruin just because the government has unlimited access to public funds and feels like putting the person into a hole – just because they themselves have failed to answer the question.
Andy Wightman actually spelt it out in his affidavit to the court that the only reason he was able to take part in the Article 50 case he brought, was because as a parliamentarian, he was afforded a protected expenses order.
I have seen communications between certain members of certain parties who I will not name because of the election, but suffice to say, the opinions can be reduced to flippant remarks of “oh well! If we bankrupt him, at least the question won’t be answered”.
Not one politician joined as a pursuer in this case, and the reason for that is simple – they were too afraid of the financial fallout for them personally.
My run for Holyrood is about independence first and foremost, but primarily it is about this case. If the UK Government and the Scottish Government say that only parliamentarians have the right to ask such questions, then by me becoming one, then reasonably I can ask the said question, right?
But my standing is about more than that – I intend to have a very serious conversation in parliament about the fact that people are denied justice every single day in this country when the government cocks up and policy fails because the cost is too high for them to pursue it. It’s alright for the rich, but what about the commoner.
This is probably the reason that carers are the lowest paid “benefit claimants” in the UK and that the law defines them as lesser than any other worker, just to deprive them of basic working rights. Andy Wightman’s book on land grabbing summed it up in the title: “The poor had no lawyers”.
Fundamental change in this country needs to come – that change will not come with stacking our parliament with lawyers, and doctors and professionals. The poor (all demographics) are hugely under-represented in parliament, and that needs to change. Otherwise, Holyrood just becomes another Westminster.
My experience of being a carer with a disability, of actively assisting people with the DWP as a volunteer, and the ins and out of the peoples action have shown me the worst of Government and of Parliament. My experiences over the last decade have shown me pretty much every failure and pitfall in the system, a conflomeragion of failures which come together in the perfect storm. Those experiences take their toll. I’ve seen more tears in the last 10 years with my voluntary work than any person should have to see; and I am rightly sick of it.
I can choose to walk on by and ignore it, or I can choose to confront it and try to change even a small part of it. I choose the latter! I’m sick of it and no