There are times when debating with others on social media that I may have genuinely missed something or misread their tweets/posts. Or maybe they’re presenting an argument which is completely valid, and really there’s no real angle to misquote them. When those moments occur and you are wrong, the mature and sensible thing is to simply owe up to it and apologise, and usually after that everyone is happy with a resolved issue.
But with Fraser Whyte, I honestly can’t figure out how he’s defending a certain vote.
For context, the other night I made this tweet:
I wasn’t expecting much, until of course he replied.
Now a series of tweets took place between me and Fraser, to which his ultimate argument was unionists didn’t support the amendment because they oppose independence. However I made the point that the amendment was about 16/17 year olds and EU nationals.
It was pretty clear we weren’t going to agree, but let’s actually look at the amendment and see what it was ultimately about. (and again, this isn’t the main motion, if unionists voted for this amendment then it was not a vote for Nicola Sturgeon requesting a Section 30 order)
So the amendment begins with:
“believes that this gives people in Scotland a choice at a time when there is both the most information and most opportunity to act; further believes that 16 and 17-year-olds and EU citizens, who were excluded from the EU referendum, should be entitled to vote, and considers that this referendum is necessary”
Great, so we have the main idea of this amendment: giving 16/17 year olds and EU nationals the vote, especially since they were excluded from the last referendum. It also begins this with the idea of choice, which is hugely important (and kinda the whole idea of giving younger voters and EU nationals just that, a choice). So let’s look at the next part:
“and considers that this referendum is necessary given the Prime Minister’s decision to negotiate a hard exit from the EU, including leaving the single market, which conflicts with assurances given by the UK Government and prominent Leave campaigners, and which takes no account of the overwhelming Remain vote in Scotland.”
The emphasis is my own, but after that point it would be pretty hard for a lot of unionists to disagree with the picture the Greens have proposed. The Lib Dems and Labour would agree that the Tories are following a terrible path in regards to Brexit, just leaving the Tories to realistically oppose such an idea made by the Greens.
Now again, unionists will argue that their opposition to this amendment was on the grounds that is still backs a referendum. But they still could have supported the amendment and voted against the main motion from the SNP. And if you still don’t buy that, then why not look back to 2014 when Labour backed the Scottish Government’s annual budget to fight the bedroom tax.
And Labour made it why they supported the budget.
Labour backed the SNP’s budget on the grounds to mitigate the Bedroom Tax. This wasn’t a simple amendment, this was an entire budget. So despite there being mainly only one reason to like it, Labour voted for it anyway.
So what is stopping all unionists suddenly backing an amendment to support 16/17 year olds and EU nationals voting? Supporting such an amendment wasn’t voting through another referendum, they could have easily have backed the Greens and then voted against them and the SNP come the main motion. If they wanted to be bitter about it, they could have just abstained, not opposing or supporting the move for a Section 30.
The idea that unionists would vote against the principle of 16/17 year olds and EU nationals from voting is worrying. For the MSPs who voted against the amendment, they really ought to have a look at themselves and the position they have put themselves in. Many younger voters and EU nationals would have voted for their party, how do they think that those same voters will react when they see their MSPs opposed their right to vote?