Election 2015: On the Campaign and Results & Lazy Arguments
Guess who is back? Back again.
After the election campaign, I wanted to put my thoughts to paper or maybe film but finally decided on paper. Film might come later.
In case you missed the election last week, the Tories were elected to parliament with a majority, the Liberal Democrats collapsed and the SNP swept nearly all of Scotland’s seats.
Now the Tories have a majority, they have decided to govern like true Tories, now that a certain liberal party aren’t holding them back.
Theresa May is bringing back the Snooper’s Charter. This is a government surveillance bill that will allow the police and intelligence services to spy on your internet communications whether it be skype, facebook, IM or anything else in case you are a terrorist or plotting a crime. It assumes you are a criminal or a terrorist before you’ve even committed a crime.
The Tories want to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA). This is an Act that enshrines the European Convention of Human Rights into British law. It’s an Act which means UK citizens don’t have to go to a European Court to protect their human rights from the state.
The rights in the HRA are:
- Right to life
- Right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way
- Right to be free from slavery or forced labour
- Right to liberty
- Right to a fair trial
- Right not to be punished for something which wasn’t against the law
- Right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
- Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- Right to freedom of expression
- Right to freedom of assembly and association
- Right to marry and found a family
- Right not to be discriminated against in relation to any of the rights contained in the European Convention
- Right to peaceful enjoyment of possesions
- Right to education
- Right to free elections
- Abolition of the death penalty.
This begs the question, which of these rights do the Tories disagree with?
There is a small comfort that they want to introduce a British Bill of Rights, but that could mean we give human rights only to British citizens and anyone considered not British enough is denied their human rights.
On top of all that Prime Minister Cameron has said: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”
That’s the Prime Minister of the UK saying that even if you obey the laws of the land, the state will not leave you alone.
Only a week has gone by and already the Tories are saying: bye bye to our civil liberties and our human rights.
I’m really missing that liberal party. What were they called again?
That’s right the Liberal Democrats.
Going to give half a credit where its due, Nicola Sturgeon, the unelected First Minister of Scotland has said that she will do everything in her power to block the scrapping of the HRA in Scotland.
Here is the point where I disagree with Sturgeon and nationalism. I don’t want to just protect Scotland from the repeal of the HRA. I want to protect the whole UK from the repeal of the HRA. I want to protect my brother, my sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law down south from having their right to life, right to not be tortured by the state, right to be free from slavery or forced labour taken away from them.
David Cameron, however did rule out a second independence referendum, much to Nicola Sturgeon’s displeasure.
My First Minister thinks that the Prime Minister for the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland has no right to rule out an independence referendum for a part of that Kingdom. Or that he has no right to rule it out when she herself, said that this election was not about independence. That promise lasted all of what 3 days.
But then again Ms Sturgeon’s election rhetoric was full of holes, particularly the main plank of her election strategy.
“Providing a stronger voice for Scotland to protect Scotland’s interests.”
Two big problems with that: how do you define “stronger voice”? How do you define “Scotland’s interests”?
Let me first tackle “stronger voice”. We had 59MPs before the election and 59MPs after the election. The strength of Scotland’s voice on that basis is exactly the same.
The boundary review is going to kick in again and that is set to reduce Scotland’s representation by 7MPs. I’m going to assume that you will fight like you did during the last parliament to keep Scottish representation in Westminster at 59MPs.
Now Scotland has 8% of the UK population and 9% of the representation in parliament. The boundary review is set to equalise that representation so that we have the same amount of representation as we have population.
That begs the question to Ms Sturgeon and the newly elected SNP MPs, why do you think a voter resident in Scotland is worth more than a voter resident in England or the rest of the UK?
Now that 56 out of 59MPs are SNP MPs i.e. 95% of our representation is SNP on 49.97% of the vote, do we really have a stronger voice?
The SNPs success has effectively denied the majority (50.03%) of Scotland a voice at Westminster. The majority were only denied because they had the audacity to disagree with each other on what is in Scotland and the UKs best interests.
The Prime Minister and the to be appointed leader of the Opposition should be constantly reminded throughout this parliament, that the SNP still represents the minority view point of Scotland.
This will be the first parliament in decades with the fewest amount of Scottish MPs in government capable of influencing the direction of the UK Government. Even Thatcher had more Scottish MPs in government, both in cabinet positions and ministerial positions than will the newly elected parliament.
Under every single objective measure, “Scotland’s voice” is weaker now than it was before. So I have no idea how you expect the people of Scotland to hold you to account on this so-called “stronger voice”.
We come to the second problem with your central election plank. What is in “Scotland’s interest”?
I’m pretty sure the whole point of democracy is to debate what the interests of the organisation, community, nation are and how best to resolve those, yet you just painted your opponents as anti-Scottish and that the SNP were the only party to put Scotland’s interests first. You allowed us the electorate to make that mean whatever we wanted it to mean so that come the next election, there was no possible way for you to be held to account because your promises meant absolutely nothing and you could get away with doing and saying whatever you want.
Take the forthcoming EU referendum for example, there will be many in Scotland and throughout the UK, that is in our interests to get out of the EU, whilst many will disagree. Yet last October Ms Sturgeon and her SNP cronies argued that Scotland should get a veto in any EU referendum. Ms Sturgeon said it was “democratically indefensible” to take Scotland out of the EU against its will if the UK as a whole votes to leave.
About a month before hand before the Scottish independence referendum, Ms Sturgeon was arguing the opposite, that it was democratically defensible to take local authorities out of the UK against its will.
Before Nationalists throw a temper tantrum and start throwing toys out of their prams by crying: “but we’re a nation.” Democracy doesn’t care!
Democracy couldn’t care less if you are a nation or not.
Democracy is a tool for people to decide together what they should do. Democracy can be used in an organisation or globally, where everyone’s vote weighs the same regardless of position, education level, nationality and regardless of where you live.
It is either democratically defensible to take local authorities out of the UK against their will and to take Scotland out of the EU against its will or its democratically indefensible.
You cannot pick and choose when something is defensible and when its not. Your logic has to be consistent.
But that’s not the only time SNP supporters or voters have used illogical or unreasonable arguments.
I went along to the Ayrshire Matters, Scottish independence town hall debate, and the opening argument by someone who recently canvassed for the SNP but denies he is a nationalist was that we should all vote Yes to independence in order to see Scotland in the country drop-down menu online. That was the quality of the debate. I expect a 12 year-old to make that argument and I also expect 12 year-olds to be able to tear that argument to shreds.
I’ve heard from two people, one in person and one online, their anecdotal evidence as to why zero-hours contracts are bad & they both denied the substantiated evidence that tells us that employees on zero-hours contracts are just as happy as people on regular contracts. But both these people used their own unsubstantiated evidence to deny and argue that the substantiated evidence is wrong, which is a completely unreasonable argument.
Don’t get me wrong it makes them compassionate human beings, one of them is hearing harrowing stories about zero-hour contracts and think they are a disgrace but the argument of “I hear it all the time…” is a Katie Hopkins style argument that all people named Tyler are bad influences because she hears the name Tyler being screeched by mothers at school gates. This denies all the Tyler’s who don’t get screeched at unrepresented in the sample and the evidence ends up being skewed towards troublemakers or anyone with a parent who will screech your name because they forgot to kiss them goodbye.
The same is true in the debate around zero-hours contracts. It is a well-proven fact in psychology that people are more likely to complain than they are to say they are happy or satisfied with something. Therefore you are more likely to hear people voluntarily complain about zero-hours contracts than hear people voluntarily say: “I’m on a zero-hours contract and I like it.”
In fact most people will not ordinarily volunteer what kind of contract they have unless you ask them and even then they might refuse to tell you, unless you are seriously persuasive.
Even the substantiated evidence we have on zero-hours contracts does nothing to work out if the people who are dissatisfied with their contract are weighting one or two events out of proportion either because it just happened recently or because when they think about their contract, they think of one or 2 negative things are readily brought to mind but 98 or 99 things they like about their contract are ignored.
Now some of those biases are almost impossible to get rid of in objective evidence, but we should try to get the most objective evidence possible and base decisions on that.
Abuses of zero-hour contracts should be stopped but we should not make policy or legislation on the back of “I hear it all the time…” arguments.
Today, the Prime Minister and the First Minister will meet for the first time since the election. Let’s wait and see what happens.