For Real Independence and a Scotland of Equals
Wednesday 16th December 2020.
SCOTIA FUTURE SLAMS UK ATTORNEY GENERAL’S SILENCE ON GIVING SCOTS GAELIC EQUAL RIGHTS ON THE BALLOT PAPER AT ELECTIONS
Cllr Andy Doig, the Nominating Officer for Scotia Future, which stands for real independence and a Scotland of Equals, has revealed that during the party’s registration process with the Electoral Commission it came to light that Scots Gaelic is banned on ballot papers at elections, unlike Welsh and Irish Gaelic . Cllr Doig who has written to the Attorney General of England and Wales about the ban but not yet received a response, said:
“In the process of recently registering Scotia Future with the Electoral Commission it came to light that Scots Gaelic is not allowed to be used on the ballot paper in elections in the UK. Applicants are allowed to register up to six descriptions that can be placed on the ballot, and we wished to register our name and a slogan in Scots Gaelic that could be used if we decided to fight seats in the West Highlands.”
“When we pointed out to the Commission in London, who deal with party registration, that under Scots law Gaelic was one of the official languages of Scotland, they said this was irrelevant as the Commission was established prior to this Act and that electoral matters were reserved rather than devolved in any event, which is of course unfortunately true.”
“Welsh is legally entitled to be on the ballot paper in Wales as the 1999 Act which established the Electoral Commission enshrined Welsh as a legal UK language. When I asked the Commission staff in London about the position of Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland they said it was enshrined under the Good Friday Agreement so could be placed on the ballot there.”
“While the Electoral Commission in Edinburgh were sympathetic to the point we raised they had to defer to London. This is nothing less than discriminatory for Scots Gaelic speakers so I have written to the Attorney General for England and Wales to request that the 2005 Gaelic Act be homologated into law, south of the border, sadly after nearly two months he has not replied and this is treating Gaelic speakers with total contempt.”
E Mail to the Attorney General for England and Wales from Cllr Andy Doig of Scotia Future, 6th November 2020
Dear Attorney General,
I am writing to you in your capacity, as one who advises the Westminster Parliament on legal matters, about a serious electoral anomaly which is discriminatory towards speakers of Scots Gaelic, this language being one of the ancient indigenous languages of the British Isles.
In the process of recently registering our new political party with the Electoral Commission it came to light that Scots Gaelic is not allowed to be used on the ballot paper in elections in the UK. Applicants are allowed to register up to six descriptions that can be placed on the ballot, and we wished to register our name and a slogan in Scots Gaelic that could be used if we decided to fight seats in the West Highlands. The Commission said this was not allowed. Only Welsh or Irish Gaelic were allowed.
We made the Electoral Commission aware of the fact that the Gaelic Language Act (Scotland) of 2005 makes Scots Gaelic an official language of Scotland, but as electoral matters are reserved to Westminster they said MP’s would need to change the law. Under the 1999 legislation which established the Electoral Commission Welsh was always allowed on the ballot, and Irish Gaelic can be used in Northern Ireland due to the Good Friday Agreement.
Given this discriminatory position towards Gaelic speakers would it be possible to homologate the 2005 Act into law south of the border, without the necessity of additional legislation going through Westminster, to allow equal rights for Scots Gaelic speakers on ballot papers in Scotland.
Cllr Andy Doig, BA Hons (Div),