Democracy under serious threat

The SNP top duo conspicuously failed to attend a service of reconciliation on Sunday following the Scottish referendum outcome.

Salmond and Sturgeon1SNP leader and Scottish First Minister has revealed much about his character since being defeated in the recent referendum on Scottish Independence. But the most concerning aspects from all the media coverage, are the reports that Alex Salmond and his deputy and SNP heir-apparent Nicola Sturgeon seem intend on achieving their aims in spite of the democratic process, and apart from the democratic process which has just run its course.

A high-profile church service of reconciliation was held on the Sunday immediately following the vote, but Salmond and Sturgeon conspicuously failed to attend. Though organised by the national Church of Scotland and with leaders from all the main parties in attendance, the SNP was represented by the Finance Minister John Swinney and only two other SNP MSPs.

Alistair Darling, a Labour MP, who led the Better Together campaign during the referendum, told the Labour Party conference in Manchester: "Some people haven't entirely accepted this result .
"Apparently the first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, said today, well he'd lost the referendum but never mind, he might be able to seize power some other way."

Mr Darling added: "I say this to Alex Salmond - you lost the argument, you lost the referendum, you've lost office and now you've lost the plot."
"Salmond may regret the result but this reaction is dangerous and wrong."
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: “Having decisively lost a democratic referendum on independence, Alex Salmond is now suggesting the Nationalists can ignore the sovereign will of the Scottish people. “His words are fundamentally undemocratic and an insult to the people of Scotland.

“Salmond may regret the result but this reaction is dangerous and wrong. Alex Salmond lost. It is not for him to try to overthrow the will of the Scottish people in some sort of coup.”

Ms Lamont called on his likely successor Nicola Sturgeon to “distance herself from these disgraceful remarks”.

She added: “While the rest of us seek reconciliation, Alex Salmond seeks more division. Scotland will not have it.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie urged Mr Salmond to “calm down and take a bit of a breather”.

He said: “On Friday, the First Minister said he would work constructively with other parties. By the time he recorded his interview on Saturday, he had changed his mind. Within hours of a result he said he ­accepted he showed that he just can’t help himself.

“The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition, former prime minister Gordon Brown and senior political figures across the parties have been clear that a No vote at the referendum will not mean no to positive change.

“The First Minister still has a real role to play in the process on more powers that is already under way, as promised. I hope that he will take some time for reflection and embrace the positive agenda for change rather than scrabbling round for a new grievance to nurse.”

The Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw commented: “The First Minister’s grace in defeat barely lasted a day.

Voting figures“He claimed on Friday that he accepted the outcome of what was the largest democratic vote in Scottish political history yet, going by today’s extraordinary outburst, there is anything but acceptance in the Salmond household. Instead, there is petulance, bravado and a crass finger cocked at the majority of Scots. Scotland spoke very clearly and quite decisively: the majority made clear that the ‘sovereign will’ of the people of Scotland is to remain in a UK in which further responsibilities are ­devolved to Holyrood.

“Mr Salmond misunderstood the will of the majority during the campaign and now he seeks to misrepresent it in defeat.”

To put the vote in a geographic context the pro-independence majority areas of Scotland are shown in blue on the map below.

A web-based campaign called “The 45” – referring to the 45 per cent support for Yes in the referendum – has sprung up, supported by, among others, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars, who urged Yes campaigners to use their “consumer power” to boycott pro-Union businesses. The newly formed campaign group, 'The 45', have released a list of brands, businesses and media organisations that they will be boycotting because they "scared Scotland" in the run up to the referendum. On Facebook, the campaign group wrote that it is time to "send shivers" down the spines of the businesses that apparently scared more than two million people into voting No. Asda, John Lewis, Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury's and Iceland are among the supermarkets that have faced the wrath of pro-indy Scots.

In effect these developments and the bellicose rhetoric still emanating from Alex Salmond are fuelling the division within Scotland which the whole referendum process has created. In effect what we are witnessing in Scotland is an inverse image of the dynamic which is pulling Ukraine apart. These are critical days which can well do without "dangerous" people in charge of running the country.

Referendum map

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The Editor, 22/09/2014