Again, the country has never been asked.
Is Great Britain any less a nation than Scotland, Wales or England? Does Great Britain not have a clear identity – clear enough to this writer at least as will be discussed later – with a long (300 years is a reasonable chunk of time) and reasonably distinguished history?
Great Britain is a nation. Other identities – English, Welsh, Scottish, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh etc. can proudly co-exist and thrive alongside. With independence, the identities are asked to compete and voters to decide on which identity should prevail; creating division and antagonism.
Self-determination should apply as much to Great Britain as any of its constituent parts.
The fact remains that the UK Parliament delegated powers for an independence referendum to the Scottish Parliament but, unlike devolution, the only MPs who could claim to have a mandate on this great constitutional issue were six Scottish Nationalists. So, is it fair on voters that neither side is prepared to admit that, whilst technically legal, the referendum itself may not have been valid?
No matter how well intentioned, Westminster made a critical constitutional decision without the electorate’s consent. It is a shame that MPs didn’t feel they could trust their constituents and seek a mandate for the greatest constitutional question in 300 years.
We don’t have a written constitution as we have always relied on the good sense of the people and our elected representatives. Whilst we can have every confidence in the former, we are now less sure about the latter. The humble thing to do would be for Parliament to apologise to the electorate.
Democracy and Great Britain are both at risk of having been holed below the water line. Parliament may have come to the right decision in authorising the referendum, but they did so by taking the rest of the country for granted. They cut out the middle man.
For the sake of our democracy and the future harmony within Great Britain, it is the duty of every voter to insist on a satisfactory answer from his or her MP to the following question:
“On what authority did you vote on the future of Great Britain?”
Let us hope they have the humility and courage to answer.