Monday, 30 March 2009

Not a Calman influence...

I've been reading Sir Kenneth Calman's comments regarding the Calman Commission's upcoming report. The title of the BBC's piece, "Calman warning to SNP government" is another piece of bizarre biased reporting from the Beeb (not to mention somewhat questionable grammar).

Said Sir Kenneth yesterday:

"If it [the Scottish Government] doesn't wish to help with that process - and we would like it to help - then it will be quite difficult for them to criticise at the end. If you don't vote - you shouldn't criticise the outcome."

I understand the principle of his comment, I do. But I don't think his comparison works. Let me explain.

I encourage everyone I know to vote come election time. Everyone tells me what a waste of time it is, that whoever gets in willl just do the same as the last lot and that nothing will change (which is, I suppose, also a fair charge). But my point is always that if you don't make your view known by voting for someone - anyone - then you forfeit your right to complain about anything politics related (which is most things).

But this is slightly different. In an election, everyone has the opportunity to put their point across. Anyone (with certain caveats) can stand in an election if they don't think they agree with any of the other candidates. No one's view is excluded from the democratic process and people can make up their mind on who to vote for from a variety of different viewpoints. That's how democracy works.

The Calman Commission is not an election. Not everyone's view is represented. Some views (notably those supporting independence) have been disallowed from discussion. By my reckoning, if your views are not only not represented but have absolutely no means of being represented within that body, you are well within your rights to criticise that body.

By Sir Kenneth's reckoning, the Unionist parties in Scotland shouldn't be allowed to criticise the Scottish Government's National Conversation on the very same basis - that they haven't gotten involved in the process.

Both arguments are absolutely barking. Criticism and debate are part and parcel of a healthy democratic process. And the Scottish Government, like everyone else, will be well within their rights to criticise Sir Kenneth's Commission when their findings are made public.

To think otherwise, is just plain stupid.


subrosa 30 March 2009 at 11:21  

What I find strange Malc is that Calman now wants the SNP on board although they denied them the right when this mock commission was set up.

Obviously Calman now wants to look like the good guy, the 'all inclusive' etc.

Malc 30 March 2009 at 11:25  


I think he now recognises that, for the Commission to have any legitimacy in the eyes of the million or so folks in the Scottish electorate who voted SNP, then it must have some - at the vey least - tacit agreement from the SNP.

The SNP have actually played it pretty well. They might get some fiscal powers without having any real involvement in what is essentially an empty body.

Lallands Peat Worrier 30 March 2009 at 12:31  

Welcome to the final swirl of a busted flush.

What, too soon? Lets see what they report. Give them a final prod around the bowl with the brush before summoning them for public inspection.

Nevertheless, you are right Malc - and that being so, I don't have to type up my vexation with this sort of dribble (although I perhaps would have employed less temperate tones.)

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