Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Thank God for the end of sectarian voting

Following James Macmillan's prediction that Labour will lose Glasgow East because of a revolt by working-class Catholics against the party's 'lifestyle liberalism', which I posted about here, Geoffrey Wheatcroft tries to portray the by-election as a good old-fashioned Catholic vs. Protestant battle. The reaction of the (mostly Scottish) commenters on the Independent site has been pretty uniformly hostile. 

Paulie thinks Wheatcroft's argument might be a tad simplistic, while Shuggy concedes that 'not all the article is bullshit', but takes issue with the notion that Scots vote along sectarian lines, arguing that 'it is class that is the overwhelming determinant of voting behaviour - as it is in the rest of the country'. Shuggy's post is a riposte not only to English commentators like Wheatcroft who betray their ignorance of the complexities of modern Scotland, but also to Catholic nostalgics like Macmillan who yearn for a religious communalism that (thankfully) no longer exists. As Shuggy says:

There is precious little evidence that Catholics even agree with the Vatican on issues like abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research and the like - still less that their voting behaviour is influenced by them. Anyway, the convention is British politics - thank God, if you'll pardon the expression - is that Parliamentary votes on these questions are a non-partisan affair.

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