Scotland’s leading pro-European campaign organisation, the European Movement in Scotland, (EMiS) today (Aug 17) launched a campaign through its affiliated local groups to defend democracy and highlight the sectors of the economy already damaged by Brexit, according to our latest news release.
The campaign, designed to galvanise Scottish opinion in the face of serious threats to our economic and political future, proclaims: “It’s time to join forces and shout ‘enough'”.
Letters to Scotland’s MPs and MSPs will be sent by grassroots activists from Fife to the Highlands and from Glasgow to Perthshire saying: “The very concept of democracy is being weaponised. A cornerstone of democracy is the right to oppose, to challenge, to debate. And yet, since the vote to leave the EU in June 2016, many people have come to believe that it means the opposite. Attempts to debate the manner of our departure from the EU have been dismissed as undemocratic.” The campaign will demand that Scotland’s elected representatives stand up for democracy and the country’s economic interests.
EMiS chair, former MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, Mark Lazarowicz, said: “Whatever people’s views on the EU, on Scotland’s future, we all need to wake up to the steady dismantling of our democracy; to understand that we risk sleepwalking into something which is a democracy in name only. As soon as it’s COVID-safe, we intend to take our peaceful campaign out onto the streets to defend democracy.”
Over the coming days the rolling campaign will “alert people who may not yet have taken an active interest in the Brexit debate to the practical implications of our final departure, which will impact all of us in some way, and some of us – farmers, researchers, patients dependent on imported medicines – to an extreme extent.”
Activists point out: “Brexit was supposed to resolve NHS funding issues, according to the (fake) promise on the bus. But the ramifications of leaving the EU for both the NHS and social care will compound the current coronavirus crisis.”
In agriculture and food, the campaign will demand that high food standards are protected in any trade deals, that climate change mitigation is prioritised, animal welfare is safeguarded and support is extended to fragile rural communities in areas such as North and West Scotland.
Here’s a model letter you can send to MPs/MSPs and the like:
“Never in our lifetimes has our democracy been so under threat.
We in the European Movement in Scotland are an avowedly pro-EU group, drawing support from across society and all political parties. But whatever people’s views on the EU, on Scotland’s future, or on other issues, we all need to wake up to the steady dismantling of our democracy; to understand that we risk sleepwalking into something which is a democracy in name only.
We have developed a political system, however imperfect, in which all sides accepted a common set of principles: that it’s wrong to lie; that we should abide by the rules; that our leaders should submit themselves to scrutiny. But that is now changing. If we’re unable to hold to account those who govern us – not just at elections but on a daily basis – we cannot be said to live in a functioning democracy. And yet, systematically, the UK government is undermining the very institutions on which our democracy depends. It has sidelined and demonised our sovereign Parliament, which directly represents voters. It is attacking the law courts and judges. It ostracises and boycotts journalists who try to hold it to account. It is politicising the Civil Service, many of whose senior, most experienced, figures have been pushed out. It treats the devolved administrations as foes rather than partners, and is threatening to remove some of the powers devolved to them in accordance with the votes of us citizens. Its lying has become so commonplace that we barely notice any more.
At the same time, the very concept of democracy is being weaponised. A cornerstone of democracy is the right to oppose, to challenge, to debate. And yet, since the vote to leave the EU in June 2016, many people have come to believe that it means the opposite. Attempts to debate the manner of our departure from the EU have been dismissed as undemocratic. We have been told that a “no deal Brexit” – with all that would entail once the transition period is over – is what people voted for, when in reality nobody campaigned for it. A whole lexicon (“will of the people”, “snowflake”, “the elite”) has been created for the purpose of closing down debate, entrenching division, and sending the message that, if you’re not for the government, your views are worth nothing.
This isn’t a hypothetical danger. It’s happening now. The day enough people accept it as somehow normal, as only to be expected because “they’re all the same”, is the day our democracy dies. It’s time to join forces and shout ‘enough’ “.
Let’s take action. We now ask you to:
- forward this email to your friends, families and colleagues
- contact your democratically elected representatives (see list below for local contact details) and – together with the messages contained in this email – send them the attached letter, which addresses the post Brexit future for our National Health Service.
You will receive four more letters to send to your representatives over the next two weeks, which will deal with Agri-Food, Research and Innovation, Culture and the future Scottish-Irish Relationship . These letters have been written to alert people who may not yet have taken an active interest in the Brexit debate to the practical implications of our departure, which will impact all of us to some extent, and some of us to an extreme extent (farmers, researchers, those dependent on certain medicines etc.). Containing the most recent facts and figures, they cover issues that we would like our elected representatives to raise with the UK and devolved governments as a matter of urgency. You may have your own local story or crisis to add.
It must be emphasised that the issues highlighted in these letters have in no way been caused by the horrific impact of the coronavirus epidemic; they are brought about both by our departure from the EU, and the very real risk of allowing 2020 to pass without a meaningful trade agreement with the EU.
A group of EMiS activists will also deliver these letters to the Secretary of State for Scotland at the end of August, by which time we hope many MPs and MSPs will have received copies from their constituents.
Please, don’t wait for someone else to take action.