The SNP don’t speak for Scotland on Trident
I’m against the renewal of Trident. Not strongly and passionately against like many are as I can see both sides of the argument.
However, if push came to shove and I was solely responsible for UK defence decisions I wouldn’t renew Trident and I would spend the money on conventional forces. Me making the decision on behalf of the UK wouldn’t be very representative so luckily we have elected members of parliament to make these decisions for us.
This week our politcians voted with a comfortable majority to renew Trident. However many are annoyed that only one of Scotland’s 59 MP’S were in favour. This has led many on the left to call this an affront to democracy and another example of the Scottish people having something forced on us that we don’t want. Angus Robertson MP suggested as much just before the vote when he said.
If Scotland is a nation, and Scotland is a nation, it is not a normal situation for the state to totally disregard the wishes of the people, and this government has a democratic deficit in Scotland, and with today’s vote on Trident it’s going to get worse, not better.
However, despite what he is saying and despite what I would do if I were in charge, it is hard to make a conclusive case that the SNP speaks for Scotland on this issue.
Opinion polling suggest that we are pretty split on the question. What Scotland Thinks suggests less than 40 percent of us wish to scrap Trident and various other opinion polls back this up. Even an SNP commissioned Survation poll only showed 47 percent of people were against the renewal although there was a high number of don’t knows.
You could argue that as the bulk of Scottish MP’s voted against Trident and as we elected them to represent us it is anti democratic that we have to keep the system. However, this is a strained argument. Not least because it is unlikely that Trident renewal would have factored into the decision making process of most Scottish voters in the 2015 General Election. More importantly though, the system by which we elect MP’s to Westminster isn’t the best one for selecting people who accurately reflect the views of the populace. The SNP won 90 percent of Scottish seats at the General Election but only received 50 percent of the popular vote. Even in the unlikely event all voters who voted SNP did so to stop Trident still half of us never voted for them.
This is important in the context of the independence debate, as incidents like this are used to stoke grievance about the perception of Scotland not getting its way. The problem with this approach is that it only appeals to the core demographic who already support independence. The problem of the will of Scottish MP’s being ignored at Westminster is an old one and everyone who could be persuaded that this is a bad thing would have been persuaded in 2014. Whether it is a bad thing or not depends on your perspective. It only seems a bad thing if you are not at some level comfortable with the UK as a decision making entity.
The main problem with UK politics isn’t that decisions made at Westminster can override the opinion of the bulk of Scottish MP’s. The problem is that, due to the system, the people making the decisions are not representative.
Just as the SNP shouldn’t have 90 percent of the seats with 50 percent of the votes, the Conservatives shouldn’t have a Government with 37 percent of the Vote.
Due to the voting system the Scottish Parliament more fairly represents the political views of the people of Scotland and this was the main selling point of independence for me. I believe, maybe over optimistically, that the more representative your Government is the more it will work in your favour. If the UK government was representative, or if there was any hope in making it so, there wouldn’t be a chance of us ever winning an independence vote. Neither would there be a Brexit or the rise of Trump as all these things are mainly fuelled by the feeling our system doesn’t work for us anymore. Scottish Independence is a fast track to a less corrupt system that there is no tangible movement for at UK level.
When we complain about every decision that goes against Scottish MP’s at Westminster we alienate another potential Yes voter. Each decision has to be taken on its own merit.
With regards to Trident renewal, a massive chunk of the Electorate will either be happy or unconcerned about the decision.
Westminster does make lots of decisions that are not in the best interest of most Scots but neither are they in the best interest of most other UK citizens. Instead of constant grievance mongering we need to accentuate the differences between the Scottish and UK legislatures and argue that the Holyrood system could work better for most people. That said, despite what those of us on the left may think, despite the fact the UK system is unrepresentative; on Trident Renewal MP’s voted in line with what most British people want; and also in line with what a slight majority of Scots think. Which shows, even a bad system can be representative sometime.
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