The recent Austrian elections have seen a jump in support for far right political parties. Oh dear, oh deary, deary me. Its not the first time a large number of Austrians seem to favour right wing nutters most civilised people would find hideously offensive in recent years, previous such support earned the land of mountains and schnapps sanctions from the EU. And then there was the unfortunate Kurt Waldheim affair and the disputes over certain parts of his war record before that. And then going back several decades there is, of course, a rather more extreme example of Austrian support for mad right wing lunatics. Its nice to see that Austria doesn’t feel it has to tiptoe around its rather unfortunate mid-20th century history. While right wing nutters are everywhere (disgustingly some people even voted for them in some local English councils; those self same people pretend they aren’t supporting racism and bigotry but they ain’t foolin’ anyone) in a country with the still fairly recent history Austria has you would think they’d be keen not to be seen as the sort of people who love a good, strong, right wing orator. Listen to that sound? Is that the sound of many brushes polishing jackboots?
So, Labour have made a humiliating climb down in the Scottish election campaign. They have been playing the independence bogey man card in their fight against the Scottish National Party, their main rivals. The SNP have promised to hold a referendum to allow the Scottish people to decide if they wish to move from a devolved parliament to full independence. Labour said that constitutional matters were a reserved power to Westminster and the Holyrood parliament could not even mount such a referendum.
Now you will notice this is London saying not only that the Edinburgh parliament does not have final say over independence, but on simply holding a referendum. Now obviously constitutional change would have to include all of the UK legislative bodies. But to threaten to block a possible referendum being held by a possible SNP government in Edinburgh? That is something else – that is effectively saying that London will not even allow the Scottish people to register their opinion. Does democracy so frighten these people?
For starters that is immoral and profoundly undemocratic. It is an action which is also very ill-considered, as this kind of thing will infuriate most Scots and drive them towards the nationalist camp and increase an anti-Westminster and possibly anti-English sentiment, neither of which are productive. Today Labour backtracked to say they would never block a referendum, but the damage is done. Labour have once more shown themselves to be a centrally-driven party who think nothing of over-riding Scottish concerns when it suits their London office. Im not making any pitch here for or against possible independence, but the right for Scottish citizens to have their say on the matter is utterly paramount. It is a matter of simple democracy and of the right of self-determination for all nations that is guaranteed under international law.