Friday, 6 January 2017

submission on indyref2

The original point of starting this blog was when they would not publish a submission on their original bill consultation on an indyref, in 2010 when it never went ahead. To publish the searching issues that they were preferring not to.

So it matters to present my submission this time too:

Q1: the proposed arrangements for managing the referendum?

* on policing and supervision -
Commissions generally speaking are undemocratic, because they define their own remits and in such a way as to exclude accountability to enquiries from the public. Typically whenever we contact a commission we get back a reason why our enquiry is not in their remit. That is not a structure to earn confidence "beyond reproach" (1.5) internationally.

Just if the Electoral Commission has that power, no matter how it acts in practice, to deem its judgment as the entire arbiter of the referendum's fairness of conduct would usurp that place from the people. There points against doing that, a concern of fair campaign policing, which needs raising and preventing from recurring in this campaign, following an experience in the EU referendum.

The commission then chose not to consider it its business to take up the issue of how policing affected campaign fairness on the ground. Hence it chose not to take up the inconsistent treatment of Remain campaigners at Edinburgh Haymarket station on polling day itself as well as the days before it.

After railway staff had first indicated an objection to campaigning on the paved space in front of the station and had claimed a land boundary which our organisers were sceptical of, I emailed to British Transport Police asking for They never replied, and on polling day itself they allowed campaigning to take place for some 2 hours of the morning travel peak until our numbers were tailing off and only then intervened against those of us who remained, and refused to tell me the land boundary they claimed jurisdiction up to. This was after our organisers had promised me from their information on the land that this could not happen, and when it did happen no land information was forthcoming from them or from the Lib Dem office at Haymarket which some of the campaigners (not all of that party) were operating from. After which, in the evening travel peak I observed campaigning taking place unstopped on exactly the same land at a time when 2 publicly prominent Lib Dems were also campaigning near the same spot.

It will be an irregularity upon your referendum, as it also was upon the EU one, if the campaigns are subject to inconsistent policing, and policing carried out with refusals to evidence its jurisdictional boundaries. Even more so if carried out after campaigners anticipating a possible problem have fairly requested in advance from the police force concerned a clarification of boundaries and assurance that police will keep to them. The campaign will not then be "beyond reproach"(1.5) It is an intimidatory experience, affecting campaigns selectively and without parity.

This evidences a need to organise availability on demand of exact boundary information, to all persons desirous to campaign as well as to the 2 national campaigns. For the national campaigns it evidences a duty to the care of their participants, to obtain this land information and not to fail to back up their campaigners with it when any challenge arises. It is not acceptable to civil liberties or electoral fairness to be expected to take police officers' word on a contested jurisdictional boundary, as at a rail station, without them having to evidence it. For railway staff and authorities too, the campaign will be irregular intimidated and interfered with unless they always have to show evidence of land jurisdiction boundaries and they are absolutely never backed up in saying "You don't need evidence" and just making police threats instead. The referendum will in fact be irregular unless this possibility automatically has been excluded preemptively from happening, police pinned down to a committal line of consistency on it, an automatic right enacted for every campaigner with such an experience to have a place to put it on parliamentary record, have the action on it formally obliged to be committal not noncommittal, and this be mentioned in media and scrutinised by any visiting observers of the electoral process.

There is a duty to factuality that their campaign references to the EU referendum result include reflecting on how legitimate it is in light of the unresolved experience of inconsistency in policing of campaigners. Your referendum will automatically have no uncorrupt status if this is quietly not acted on, and will only have any uncorrupt status if this automatically is acted on.

* On section 30 and status -
Sanguine expectation to obtain a Section 30 order (1.4) is startling. At time of writing, UK government appears to disagree that this referendum is justifiable or defensible to hold at this short interval after its predecessor, and to hold to the principle of "once in a generation" without circumstantial conditions. You need to prevail by the force of your contrary argument's content, instead of by any formal powers, in order to obtain a Section 30. It can only be supposed that you are asking for it in order to have followed the proper course until you encounter a refusal, to bolster your challenge then on international grounds for entitlement to call your referendum, at worst getting into a Catalonia position over it. The context of your claim of changed circumstance, relations with the EU, by definition has to be a context of anti-racism and progressive open attitude to borders, not faulted in any way as conflicting with this. I created an item that affects whether it will be so faulted, or successfully establish legitimacy at all, as well as affects the case for a Section 30.

During the campaign of 2014 I lodged European parliament petition 1448/2014, of course benefitting from British EU membership enabling it. It was not the naive type of petition asking a favour that can be refused, it was a citation of the EU's duty to ECHR article 8, family life, and it always exists on record for anyone to cite and make use of at any time. It cited: that the EU will have an international duty to treat Scotland as a pariah state and not embrace deals with it or accept its legitimacy, if citizenship by parental descent is refusable.

Can I yet hope that this situation, which made me a No voter last time, will not be repeated, since the National's columnist Paul Kavanagh on Jul 9 included parental descent in a list of European norms for citizenship? That admission will conflict with the closed community racism of making it refusable. But sadly, your campaign during 2013 conflicted with it too but for all the 9 months from White Paper to poll I could not commit any Yes source to pledge unrefusability for this citizenship, and several answers heard at Yes meetings confirmed refusability. Resulting division of families is only part of its injustice: it meant Scots being rejected from their own country. An answer I received right at the campaign's end seemed to shift sentiment but kept noncommittal by deferring all actual decision of citizenship rules until after a Yes vote.

The UK never had any duty to host a Scottish referendum offering that moral wrong akin to the Clearances, I raised that point in post-poll submission to the Constitutional Affairs Committee's review. Last time the UK continued to hold itself bound by the Edinburgh Agreement which it had made before the White Paper, but it can have no duty either morally or internationally to grant a Section 30 for a repeat offering of the same. Most simply, and it should have acted on this thought last time too: national self-determination is for the whole community of a people, it is never for part of it to reject another part, and that whole community includes family next of kin, and that always includes first generations of diaspora. In a mobile world it is commonplace to be caused by parental movements to be born in diaspora from the country where all your belonging and practical roots are: from your country.

This is directly against the horrible school bully bigotry of birthplace racism: the idea that country is dictated by place of birth. Birthplace racism has been visibly factually wrong ever since the Babylonian exile of the ancient Jews 6 centuries BC, it would do catastrophic offence for anyone to apply it to the modern Palestine/Israel situation. It divides and allocates to different countries siblings who have identical backgrounds. Irish and Welsh nationalisms both had diaspora born leaders prominently in their twentieth century histories. Experience from the previous referendum bill indicates that if I give any named examples of diaspora born people you will refuse to publish the submission. So I refer you to the list of 55 famous examples I submitted to Common Weal on Sep 26. But this is not against having birthplace as one of the routes to citizenship. That practice rightly caters for a status quo population's continuity and that everyone has the possibility of needing a practical connection with the place where practical circumstances placed their birth even if it is not their country. To refuse this also divides families. It just needs to be clear that no state can claim anyone as a citizen against their own will by any route including this one - so for example, English Welsh Manx or Irish people who were born in Scotland and do not personally wish to become its citizens upon independence, no party can impose that they do. That would need clarifying for any set of birth citizenship rules, for because birth does not dictate country there will always be false positives - and with that clarifier, the false positives do no harm.

Instead, to illustrate by imagining our relations with an independent Wales: presumably expected to be friendly. To have Welsh born in Scotland be trapped here unwillingly and Scots born in Wales be trapped there unwillingly, would harm both countries, and blight their lives with tensions around unnecessary ethnic oppression and state responsibilities to unwilling citizens made more practically needy by cruel division from their families. Hence, both states will owe to each other as well as to their own nations, to have human rights compliant unrefusable citizenship by descent. As many members of those 2 diaspora-born groups as take this up, opt to reside in their own country unrefusably, and do not opt for residence in the other country and maybe not to keep birth citizenship of it either, the other country suffers no harm from the false positive that they could have opted to keep it.

So it was also shocking last time to see birth based citizenship tied to preexisting British citizenship, contrary to an older SNP pledge of citizenship for everyone born in Scotland. I took up the case of a person I had met in the internet comment system Disqus, resident in the US, who was born here just after a rule change in 1983 to parents who were only here on temporary student permissions: he was in the heartbreaking outrageous ethnic injustice of being excluded from British residence when his felt affinity is here. He had hoped that independence would be his opportunity, until I could get no commitment for him following the White Paper. I am still racked with anger on his behalf.

If you hold that decision of the proposed Scottish state's citizenship rules should be left until after a Yes vote has happened, it will be fatal to this referendum's legitimacy to mandate for the Scottish people, and legitimacy of claim to be held and making the case to hold it prevail. Instead, the bottom lines of compatibility of those rules with human rights must be already set and constitutionally binding before the poll, where we know for certain that that is what we are voting on, not after. This needs to be built in to your case for having grounds and entitlement to hold this referendum at all, and thence into the Scottish state's entitlement to be created at all. When your case for holding it, your case for claiming "material change" has happened, is a crisis to the survival of our open border relations in Europe, your case innately has to be an anti-racist outward looking welcoming open border stance. Hence you would blow that stance, and your claim to legitimacy of action, by having any closed border stance to elements of our own community as the Scottish people. Hence the organisability of this referendum requires this standard written in as a constitutional fundamental, a condition of the future state's status, which a post-independence parliament will not have power to undo. My Euro petition helps to bind this further.

Meeting this standard means, writing into the case and claim to hold the referendum, that the ECHR compatibility and the European citizenship norms that Mr Kavanagh listed are constitutionally binding on a Scottish state for its legitimate existence, and re fixed before the poll not after: including the following 2 specifics, committal not noncommittal:
~ citizenship by descent shall be unrefusable: every person with the descent concerned, at minimum as last time's White Paper detailed it, who applies for this citizenship automatically gets it. They are Scots of this people equally as much as the resident Scots are. There shall be no discretion to refuse it.
~ citizenship also shall be unrefusable for everyone born in Scotland, without being subject to any other condition such as preexisting British citizenship.

While 2014 was a taint on our history, a referendum held on the above basis would be a proud achievement: helping to entrench red lines of citizenship justice internationally, as standard to bind all countries, in a racism blighted era desperately needing red lines. These red lines would become a stronger leverage upon the UK too, and all that is wrong and distressing in its border practices at present, even if No wins again. Last time, despite your favouring of skilled migrants, your proposed citizenship rules appeared to me to be aimed at a certain quantity of nationalist voter with inward looking insular feelings of the nation as a clammed up community, and a perception of even diaspora Scots as disdained outsiders. An MSP disgracefully denied that anyone is Scottish who has never lived here. I found it ethnically vicious experiences, exactly what civic nationalism claimed to avoid, to encounter both a Radical Independence stall and a Green who were convinced that it was progressive to be harshly against any descent citizenship at all. Some definitions of civic nationalism I encountered seemed to make a virtue of only caring about the resident population and of labelling as ethnic any feeling for anyone else. Thus both sides chasing the anti-outsider vote.

The entire situation now claimed for entitlement to hold another referendum conflicts with and does not legitimise any repeat of that, and points against a mandate for it. Cleaning up the Yes offer into compatibility with standing for a welcoming Europe of open borders, will take renouncing all past errors of insularity and disowning the attitudes I have just itemised: not denying they exist but actively breaking with and repudiating them. As well as a great moral move, this is part of your organising to have any justification to act at all.

* on media coverage of the status -
With a background now explicitly in issues of anti-racism and citizenship rules, unlike last time, it is obvious but should be stated explicitly to avoid doubt, that the media's job in fairly covering such a campaign includes covering every citizenship issue raised. This to be a standard of whether the campaign is being fairly covered. Another issue which this includes is something which the protagonists can not make happen by themselves, can not offer to deliver as their own policy, but can support the claim for, or can say how it potentially affects them. This is the claim that the interventions in the 2014 campaign by the US, Canada, and Australia oblige them to form a pan-Western citizenship union with us. The National Jul 11 is the only instance yet of this being recorded in traditional media. These 3 countries urged a No vote on grounds that it was bad to create a border and a citizenship division within present Britain, yet this was a double standard because they all became independent from the British Empire and subsequently created hard border divisions with us. These run through many extended families thanks to the historical pattern of emigration.

The logic of their campaign intervention was that they should remove those barriers again, forming a citizenship union with us. Because they argued against us losing united British citizenship, this union would equivalently be a total joint citizenship abolishing the distinction of its holders as any particular one member country's citizen at all: that more total than the EU has ever done, and nicely harder ever to dissolve. They intervened in our constitutional future, made themselves parties in it deploying a concern against citizenship division, hence they owe us consistency with their intervention, and it means taking this seminally progressive step which is wonderfully opposite to the present momentum for increasing barriers. This scenario, if it happened, would totally alter citizenship issues' place and impact in the campaign. So the existence of a claim that it should happen is of public campaign interest.

It makes necessary also to cover proposed diplomatic policies toward the US if this great advance does not happen and present divisions continue. This includes an issue which is at the core of our state's morality to its own people in how it chooses to engage with the US, which the news media injustice of our time has included never discussing or mentioning, and which the posited citizenship union would end for us. US border control's long standing practice, in breach of the oldest human right of all, innocent until proved guilty, of judging foreign visitors who have no criminal convictions from arrest histories, and asking "Have you ever been arrested or convicted... " as one question. So much for the special relationship: close allies of the US do not get their citizens The absence of this last time from media scrutiny of the ethicality of both campaigns' intentions for our international relations, including the ethicality of police cooperation with any state willing to do this to our citizens, was another of last time's media deficiencies. It also has core relevance to the morality of supporting US wars in Asia argued as being for human rights, opposition to which we know always features in Yes campaigns.

* on balance of the campaign's scrutiny of Scottish v British political standards -
An item which featured in Yes campaigning last time, which could not be forseen, can be forseen now from that memory. This was the implication from all the child safety scandals following Savile, that British media institutions found involved in those scandals were less to be trusted as a result in their campaign analysis and portrayal of reality. At grassroots level this continued into an argument against the UK political institutions, from these scandals having a reach into the political culture. But because this was left to grassroots voters' perception, no balance was ensured. It was only applied against a No vote's merits. The balancer needed for equity between the campaigns, was for the Scottish devolved body politic to be scrutinised for for its standards historically towards the same issues.

This equity needs to be seen to happen this time, to get you an international status of fairly conducted campaign, "beyond reproach". It needs to include a scrutiny of both bodies politic for whether they function uncorruptly towards child protection. Such a scrutiny itself is only uncorrupt if the bodies politic have no veto or selective power over the content contributed for scrutiny. By definition and unavoidably, this gives an automatic right, for any person who claims to have evidence on any child safety issue of failures to prevent specific dangers to children, to have it published. Their evidence need not come from Scotland as clearly the issue is about the impact of standards shared across Britain which can have impact on society here.

Because child maltreatment can destroy life prospects unjustly, it can affect life achievements and skill levels. This gives it a link to the citizenship issues, because skill levels feature in selective immigration policies. So the racist wrong done to any section of the Scottish people rejected from citizenship entitlement includes that child maltreatment, which they may have suffered in another country in an already unhappily exiled childhood, could then unfairly cost them the skilled migrant route home.In the past campaign I heard a prominent Yes voice with anti-diaspora views suggest the skilled migrant route, to a large Yes meeting and in answer to my question. Hence, it is submitted here another consequence, of his referendum's entire legitimate basis having to be an unfaultably inclusive welcoming stance on all migration issues, bolstered by my Euro petition on that, that it has to include this entitlement to publishing of evidence on child safety issues.

Q2: the proposed technical changes to polling and count arrangements?

* on eligibility -
Agree that it is historically well established that votes on territorial status and self-determination are done by the resident population. Unavoidably the referendum's primary result should be counted from them. But there is a lot of excluded feeling around, often being expressed, by Scots who find themselves living away temporarily, e.g, for work reasons, at the time of a poll, this one or the previous. Its expression needs providing for, and there is a way.

Separately from the official ballot of the resident population, you could conduct postal ballots for the expat community to express their view: 2 separate such ballots, for those residing in the rest of Britain and the rest of the world, because these have different significances. These ballots would not be part of the official result, they would simply be counted as a point of fullness of information, so that all observers can analyse what extra meaning this casts upon the result. It might add to the decisiveness of the official ballot's result. Or, if the official ballot has a controversially close result, these extra ballots will add to the picture of the nation's opinion in debating what to do with the result.

There is no fair way to define exactly who the expat community are, and most importantly it can not be by birthplace racism as some have proposed, which wrongs the expats who are diaspora-born Scots: and no practical way to organise a register where they can all prove themselves. This is another reason why they can only be given a side ballot of opinion not part of the official ballot. The participants would have to each define and show their own connection to Scotland of any nature within the human rights basics for citizenship that ECHR article 8 establishes, and their ballots counted along with statistics as to the connections asserted.

Berwick on Tweed, of course is outside your enacted authority: but you could still give it its own extra referendum, again counted separately, with 2 questions: on its feeling on inclusion in a Scottish state as well as whether there should be one. How to do this when you have no power to organise polling stations there? You can provide postal voting perfectly easily, and provide polling stations at points just on our side of the border, on the bus routes out of Berwick: at Clappers and Foulden and Paxton.

* on transparency -
Keep a tally of how many observers from each side attend counts: not just who are registered to attend, but who actually do. For precautionary purposes of evidence and showing you had that care, in case there are any conspiracy theories about the count.

Again thank you for not choosing the corruptibility of an all postal ballot. Personal voting is more transparent. Quite right for uncorruptibility's sake, and for precaution against conspiracy theories, that you change to checking 100% of postal vote identifiers.

However what of the weakness that our polling in person system is vulnerable to personation of voters? Any voter who can demonstrate their identity with a reasonable sureness and whose vote has been stolen is entitled to still be given their vote, and the stolen vote annulled by ballot number in the course of the count. A stronger approach of care for the voter's rights than has been UK practice to date.

Q3: the proposed changes to rules on permissible participants?

* on para 3.7: national campaigns' entitlement to an all-voters mailshot -
This should not be just an entitlement, it should be compulsory for them to use it and do a mailshot. This is because each national campaign is a coalition, and has been subject to an official body's decision in getting recognised as a national campaign. Hence, if chooses not to do a mailshot, there can be recriminations where some parts of the coalition feel wronged by that choice and consequently by the campaign's selection and approval by the Electoral Commission to be the campaign. Perception of a fully conducted and fair campaign then suffers. This is a lesson from history: this actually happened to the Yes campaign for voting reform in 2011, which chose not to use its mailshot entitlement. Local Yes campaigns, including the one I belonged to, were very discontented with this decision and felt wronged that we had had no say in it, and that our consent had not been required to put that remotely led top-down national campaign at our head. That was experienced as a bad campaign practice.

Q4: the proposed campaign rules and rules on spending?

* on campaigning safety -
Any process can only ever be "beyond reproach" if all public concerns can be heard automatically not selectively. That is instead of the unaccountability of leaving it to the Electoral Commission to select which to listen to.

e.g. Legitimacy suffered last time from the perception and claim that voters felt intimidated against displaying No posters on their homes or land, and the visible fact in most places that Yes posters were overwhelmingly more common, not correlating at all with the result. It will only be clear that intimidation claims on either side are being responded to on their merits, if they are registered, accessible and checkable by the public, in a register of public concerns and it is seen by international observers that it is enforceably in practice that they have to be answered, whether by the Commission or otherwise. The sought international status of "beyond reproach" depends on it being seen in practice, not on an evadable notionality.

The policing issue I described in Q1 is another example.

* on spending -
Last time, the Electoral Commission was unable to advise how anyone should register spending if they wished to campaign for a policy point that might mean voting either way: e.g, before the point when Yes had cast the same doubt on EU citizens' continuity here as it now critiques UK policy for, what if you wanted to say vote for the most pro-immigration position subject to a moral priority of not betraying descent citizenship? That meant voting Yes only if Yes would bind itself foolproofly to descent citizenship unrefusable, and voting No otherwise or if there was any doubt. A definite unevaded answer from Yes would establish which side such a campaigner should register as: but the Commission denied being able to extract such an answer, and said it is just up to campaigners to choose which side they are on from what the campaigns have chosen to say. My enquiry showed this did not cover all campaigning positions, and it helped the fair clear informing of campaigners and voters to be avoided and muddied. This should be changed. Voters need to be able to ascertain, policy by policy, whether the vista of European border openness, cited to justify holding the vote, really is being offered to them. This is one extra route to do that wherever policies get left in doubt.