Well, there you have it. In a country which apparently prides itself on its adherence to strong fundamental democratic values, and more often than not doesn’t mind being overly superior about it, three learned members of the judiciary have decided that an unelected Prime Minister and her government can’t just walk all over the principles that are enshrined to ensure that these values are upheld, but must instead respect and refer decisions which are to be made on triggering Article 50, to start the Brexit stopwatch ticking, to the Palace of Westminster’s established powers.
The outpouring of fury as a result of this decision defies logic somewhat in that those who are shouting the loudest that Parliament shouldn’t be involved in this decision are the same individuals who argued so vociferously that Brexit is about re-establishing sovereign powers for Westminster’s ‘Mother of Parliaments,’ releasing the UK from the clutches of the European Community. They can’t have it both ways.
The immediate backlash from the right-wing British nationalist media is disgraceful. The Mail’s furious front page today describes the three judges involved, underneath their photographs in bold lettering, as ‘Enemies of the People’. Dreadful inflammatory language, words that are capable of inciting the worst kind of behaviour from fringe extremist groups. Has the death of a Member of Parliament at the hands of a unhinged racist taught the media in the UK nothing?
As if the headline is not bad enough in an early version of their online article the Mail also seems to think it’s ok to describe one of the three judges as ‘an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer’. ‘Openly gay?’ It is 2016, what has that got to do with anything, other than to further incite the homophobes amongst their readership to acts of hatred? Although that probably fits in with the general theme of Brexit Britain, where in some sort of alternative existence it is 1955.
The Express headlines, laid over the union flag (there’s always a flag) invokes good old Winnie. Stopping short of ‘England expects’ they’ve gone for the ‘ Now your country needs you’ because ‘we face a crisis as grave as anything since the dark days when Churchill vowed we would fight them on the beaches.’ Such bluster, all because three judges have told them they must act democratically in a country which is supposed to be a democracy?
As happens every year now the Poppy debate throws up many, and varied views. However a comparison of the self-inflicted situation which exists in the UK right now, where they compare Brexit and the threat they see as a consequence of manufactured hatred and suspicion of immigrants to a time when millions died as a result of World Wars is a gross insult to the memory and sacrifice made by so many, and their families. The Fallen are now used as a political tool to promote an increasingly militaristic and unhealthy jingoism. Right wing politicians use the period of Remembrance as a means to promote their nationalist agenda. That is shameful behaviour and should be recognised as such.
The Sun, not to be outdone, are going for the throat of the campaigners who instigated the court action which had resulted in this significant court decision. Gina Miller, the main applicant in the case has committed the terrible crime of being foreign, having been born in Guyana. You can just hear the fired up drunken conversations amongst the middle aged, gone to seed, 1980’s swastika tattoo covered with red fiery skin, skin headed intelligentsia in the pub now can’t you?
The Telegraph are off on a quest to set the three judges up as pariahs with their crass headline “ The Judges versus the people” when actually they would have been more accurate writing ‘The rule of law versus agenda driven politicians.’ I’m sure I read somewhere about some countries in Europe, maybe 80 years ago or so, ostracising their law makers as a step towards achieving their political goals. It sounds very familiar and brings to mind a very slippery slope. The Telegraph add visual suggestion to their headlines too by including slightly blue tinged photographs of the aforementioned judges to make them look sinister.
All very depressing stuff. If those who accept the bile that spews forth from these newspapers as accurate and in line with their personal views are in the majority it doesn’t bode well for the future of the UK, which is increasingly a place suspicious of foreigners, insular, intolerant of minorities, a culture promoting a sense of nationalistic superiority, deferential to an elite class.
Is this the culture and future the majority of the people of Scotland want to see for their children? I doubt it very much.
I suppose a positive to take from yesterday’s High Court decision is that the Scottish Government, which up until this point have been keen eyed observers of the legal process taking place around the Article 50 issue, may now look to become party to the action themselves with a view to determining whether any triggering of the Brexit process would require a vote at Holyrood as well as Westminster.
It’s somewhat galling to hear all of the posturing and hot air accusing the judicial system of going against the will of the British people when you consider that overall in the UK only 51.9% voted to leave the EU. Hardly a massive consensus. Can you imagine what the reaction of the British State would have been had the 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence resulted in the Yes Campaign receiving 51.9% of the vote?
They’d have wormed their way out of it, claiming the independence referendum was advisory only, and not conclusive. Yet in the current instance, where the result of the Brexit referendum clearly suits a neo-liberal right wing agenda, it’s a different story. A slim margin is enough.
Scotland, as a country in which 62% of voters chose to remain as part of the European Union, one way or the other will remain in the European Union. The consequences of decisions made by the UK Government will determine how this will happen. The democratic deficit widens by the hour.
Meanwhile, whilst reading the headlines of right wing propagandists, we can continue to be shocked as the debate on Europe, immigration and the single market spirals down in a race to the bottom, where respect, common decency, integrity and humanity mean very little.
Rule Britannia? Shame Britannia.
Scotland can indeed do so much better.