Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

The UK Scots voted to stay part of doesn’t exist now

The UK Scots voted to stay part of doesn’t exist now

There have been some daft arguments put against allowing people in Scotland to have a choice about the future of their country.

You have no mandate Ruth Davidson tells Nicola Sturgeon. Really? Did the SNP not mention this in their manifesto for the Scottish Parliament election last year? Let’s check. Maybe it’s buried away somewhere. No wait. Page 24 has a whole section on a second referendum. It says: “We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum … if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”

Okay, but the SNP lost the election. Mmmm, not quite. Actually at nearly 47% the SNP got more votes and a bigger share of the vote than ever before. True, due to our proportional system they lost a couple of seats and narrowly failed to get an overall majority. But they won the election by a country mile in what was a resounding endorsement of Nicola Sturgeon’s party.

Yeah but they’re only able to force this referendum through with the support of the Greens who never said anything about it in their manifesto. Oh come on. Who’s kidding who? Everyone knows the Greens are as keen on independence as anyone. You can’t seriously suggest Green voters are unhappy with how they’ve voted in parliament on this.

All right, so the pro-Indy parties have a majority in parliament, but there’s no appetite amongst the public for another referendum. Really? Actually, whilst only a quarter of people say they would like a referendum straight away, a clear majority say they would like one before Brexit actually happens. And that of course is exactly what the Scottish parliament is suggesting. Once the Brexit deal is known but before it’s too late to do anything about it, people in Scotland should have their say.

But a referendum will be divisive. Now that’s a bit rich from a party who have just divided the whole of the UK down the middle over Brexit with a campaign that quite deliberately whipped up antagonism against migrants. Talk about pots calling kettles!

In a democracy we have a vote when opinion is divided. So in one sense you can say that any referendum is divisive.  But the only way to eliminate that completely is to not have a vote on anything. I guess you could argue that dictatorships for all their faults aren’t divisive.

In fact, debates and decisions about how we want our country to be run need not be divisive at all. They can resolve differences, leaving us more united and our democracy stronger as a result. I believe that the overall effect of the 2014 referendum was incredibly positive and that we emerged from it more engaged and more aware of the political circumstances our country faced. And if we are to continue the discussion about our constitutional future then it must be done with tolerance and respect for differing points of view.

Why don’t you respect the 2014 result then? But I do. The reason why we need to have another referendum is not because the people who lost didn’t respect the last result. It is because the people who won changed the deal. The UK Scots vote to be part of in 2014 simply will not exist in the future. That has led many, many people to change their minds on the matter. And in a democracy when people change their minds they are allowed to express that.

Yeah, but what about the oil? Later.

 

Article first published in Edinburgh Evening News - 30th March 2017

 

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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
18 January 2018
Tommy's Blog
My work for you in Westminster
This week Parliament was back debating the EU Withdrawal Bill as it entered the Report stage in the House of Commons. Before I update you on those debates, I want to let you know about a report the Scottish Government have published.On Monday the Scottish Government released its second paper on the potential implications of Brexit on Scotland and the options available to us.  Scotland’s Place in E...
Tommy Sheppard
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Tommy's Blog
Well we finally have it. The coalition were defeated in the House of Commons last night. Despite their attempts to cajole and bully their backbenchers, 11 Tories rebelled and Amendment 7 passed by just 4 votes.  And while Ministers are now jumping to say that it isn’t significant, that it’s only one vote and that Brexit is on track their faces told a very different story in the Chamber.This is imp...
Tommy Sheppard
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Tommy's Blog
It’s difficult to know where to start on last week’s Brexit developments. On Monday the Prime Minister was left scrabbling around after the DUP flexed their muscles and refused to agree the deal with the EU that would enable to them to move on to Phase 2 of negotiations.By the end of the week the deal was done and a joint statement was issued from the UK Government and negotiators from the Europea...
Tommy Sheppard
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My work for you in Edinburgh East
Tommy's Blog

I used my Evening News column this month to talk about fireworks following the extreme antisocial behaviour on bonfire night. I've also written to the Minister asking for the UK Government to toughen up licensing laws. And if they aren't willing to do that, devolve power over fireworks to the Scottish Parliament so they can act. Read the full article here.

 

Tommy Sheppard
30 November 2017
Tommy's Blog
My work for you in Westminster
The EU Withdrawal Bill entered its committee stage this month in the House of Commons.  As it is a constitutional bill it is considered by a committee of the whole house – in other words all MPs consider it in the main chamber. While hundreds of amendments were tabled, only a few are selected for a vote each day. There will be eight days of debate in total, three of which took place in November. O...