How Westminster can Build a Cast-Iron Mandate against a Second ReferendumTweet
Nicola Sturgeon claims that the Scottish Parliament has a 'cast iron mandate' to demand a second referendum. What she forgets, and what the media never mentions, is that by standing in the British General Election, and by taking up their seats, the SNP is giving Westminster – and the Government it forms – the authority to forbid a second referendum.
The SNP MPs acknowledge that power by the simple fact of taking part in its proceedings!
However, there is another way to make this constitutional fact even more secure.
In this article Alistair McConnachie says that the pro-UK parties must write opposition to a second referendum into their manifestos for the 8th June 2017 General Election. This will give them all a 'cast iron mandate' when their MPs are subsequently elected.
Posted on this site on 7 May 2017.
We hear a lot about the SNP's mandate for a second referendum to break up Britain. We don't hear so much about the British Parliament's, and Government's, mandate to keep it together.
This is because, since devolution, political debate has contracted inside a Scottish frame which tends deliberately to exclude the Big British Picture. Within those narrow boundaries, Nicola Sturgeon may have a point about 'a cast iron mandate'.
However, as Unionists, we see the frame, not as Scotland alone, but as Scotland in Britain.
Within that much more expansive frame, the forthcoming General Election offers the pro-UK parties an opportunity to change the mandate narrative in their favour.
SNP ACKNOWLEDGES AUTHORITY of BRITISH PARLIAMENT
Firstly, let's look at the constitutional reality.
The SNP and Greens, of course, will argue that it is only the Scottish mandate at Holyrood – given by the majority of pro-separation SNP and Green MSPs – which should matter. But for us, as British Unionists living in Scotland in Britain it is the UK-wide mandate which should take precedence.
In that regard, Westminster already has a perfectly constitutional, democratic, legitimate right to forbid a second referendum –a right given to it by all voters in Scotland!
And by standing in the UK-wide General Election, all the SNP candidates are implicitly acknowledging this fact too.
For example, at the last General Election, the electorate in Scotland had a choice of 346 candidates; not one of whom was an abstentionist; not one of whom said he or she would refuse to take up the seat if elected.
As a result, 59 MPs from Scotland were elected with a mandate to go to Westminster. The same will be true this time round.
That means that everyone who votes – even for the SNP – will vote for the winning MP to play a full part in the British Parliament. By doing so, we will be voting to give a clear right and authority to Westminster, and to the Government it forms, to govern in Scotland.
We will bestow upon the new British Parliament perfect legitimacy in Scotland.
Regardless of who we vote for, we will be voting to endorse (but not necessarily to agree with) whatever Government it forms.
That's the constitutional reality, and we've spoken about The Nature of Political Authority in the United Kingdom before.
Having said that, there is also another way to ensure that Westminster has 'a cast-iron mandate' to refuse a second referendum, and it is one which we encourage all the pro-UK parties to openly embrace!
PRO-UK PARTIES to state OPPOSITION to a SECOND REFERENDUM in their MANIFESTOS
All the pro-UK parties should state in their manifestos that they oppose, and will not hold, a second referendum in the lifetime of the new Parliament; the only realistic time frame given that no Parliament can bind its successors.
This means that when their MPs are elected they will all be able to claim individually, and as a party, that they have a mandate to forbid a second referendum.
This will be especially powerful for the party of Government.
It will be able to say, "We stood on a platform of opposing a second referendum for the lifetime of this Parliament and we were elected Britain-wide on that platform. The SNP may claim a mandate to try to break up Britain. We have a mandate to hold it together. Our mandate trumps your mandate!"
The other pro-UK parties will also be able to say this, even though they are not the party of government.
In short, all the pro-UK MPs in the new British Parliament – and the Government it forms – will be able to counter the SNP's mandate for separation, with 'a cast iron mandate' of their own to keep the UK together and oppose a second referendum.
They need to write the policy into their manifestos now!
Recommended Reading on Referendums:
Keep Calm and Just Say No to a Second Referendum
Time to Shut the Door on a Second Referendum
4 Reasons Why Sturgeon has No Legal Right to "Call" Referendum
The Nature of Political Authority in the United Kingdom
A Wake Up Call to Unionism