You would think it might occur to our political leaders that one of the reasons people across the UK voted for Brexit – and why in other countries such as the USA, Greece, Italy and Austria there has been a push-back against their political elites too – is that politicians stopped listening to the people, so the people stopped giving them their votes.
For years people kept complaining about greater integration with the rest of the European Union, but still that ever-closer union carried on. The Maastricht and Lisbon treaties that changed the arrangements went ahead without our consent. One minute politicians promised the people a say – as Gordon Brown did over the Lisbon Treaty – and the next they went back on their word.
What had once been called an opportunity to improve our economic prosperity was becoming a superstate with all the trappings of flags, passports, an anthem, institutions and yes, an army (this last fact can now no longer be denied).
When other countries did have votes, the EU made them repeat them if it did not like the outcome. In Greece and Italy, prime ministers were effectively replaced by command of the EU – and in Rome it has just happened again.
Here in Scotland, we had our own referendum on independence under the terms demanded by Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon on when the vote would be held, what the question would be and who would get a vote. Salmond and Sturgeon called it a “once in a generation opportunity” and then pumped it up by calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. There could be no doubt this was the moment to choose and then move on.
So we chose, and we chose to stay in the UK, but we have not moved on, for Salmond and, especially Sturgeon, have not accepted the vote and continue to do everything they can to force us to have another one.
Now we are hearing calls for Sturgeon to go ahead and have a vote without legal authority – made by no less than an SNP-supporting human rights lawyer. Have these people no sense of right and wrong, no understanding of the division they are perpetuating in our country?
Last week at First Minister’s Questions, Ruth Davidson embarrassed Sturgeon by asking how many early years primary school classes in her Glasgow constituency were meeting the much-acclaimed SNP target of 18 pupils or less?
The First Minister could not give her a figure so Davidson told her – it was only four out of 91. Davidson also asked how many more Scottish pupils were taking higher exams in biology, chemistry, physics and maths since 2014 – to which the answer was none. Fewer are sitting them and fewer are passing them.
Sturgeon has said she should be judged on her record of education. So why – when it is clear there is a job to be done in Scotland – is she over in Brussels causing trouble about the Brexit negotiations? Why is she not meeting teachers, meeting parents, meeting academics, meeting everyone who can turn education around?
This is what I mean by disconnect. We were given a say on independence and the EU – and we made our choices.
Sturgeon then talked-up a second referendum and the people chose again in the general election, supporting unionist parties that opposed one by 62 per cent to 37 per cent and costing her 21 MPs.
The First Minister has to start listening to her people or when we are given the opportunity, she will no longer hold that title and her colleagues will be removed along with her.