Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.

nothinghaschanged
Back in 2017 during the general election, when Theresa May announced her U-turn on what Labour had successfully described as the dementia tax, she stood before the assembled press and intoned, “Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.” We know now that this wasn’t a mere attempt to brush away a politically embarrassing change in course by downplaying its significance, the kind of thing politicians frequently do, it was an insight into Theresa May’s soul. There are abandoned cars with no wheels or engines rusting away at the back of a scrap yard which have greater agility than Theresa May. There are fossils trapped in rocky sediments buried deep underground which have more life in them. The reason she loathes the EU’s principle of freedom of movement so much is that she’s incapable of movement herself.

Today, Wednesday, Theresa May stood before the House of Commons and yet again submerged herself in her fantasy world where nothing ever changes. This House has indulged itself for far too long, she lectured, as though her own self-indulgent red lines and refusal to negotiate with anyone except Jacob Ree Mogg hadn’t existed and she hadn’t spent the past two years offering the DUP cheques on the border. Nothing was her fault. Everything that had come to pass was the responsibility of MPs, of remainers, of the EU, of those who wilfully contradicted her, and only when they all returned to the one true path of St Theresa the Immobile could right and order be restored to the universe.

She stood at the dispatch desk and nodded solemnly at the righteousness of her own words. She glared at the opposition benches with the contempt of a Tory, immobile and unshakeable in her God-given right to rule. How dare they have different opinions. How dare they continue to defy her. At no stage did she display the slightest awareness that she had any role at all in the creation of this sorry mess, with her fetishisation of her red lines, her decision to put the unity of the Conservative party above all other considerations, her refusal to reach out and build a consensus, her bribery of the bigots of the DUP, and her inability and unwillingness to listen to anyone.

We are in the greatest crisis in the post-war history of the UK and the British state is led by a person who talks about respecting the will of the people while repeatedly ignoring the procedures and processes of parliamentary democracy. The only meaningful thing about her meaningful votes is that she means to keep repeating them until she gets the result that she wants. Theresa May’s plan to get her deal accepted remains the same as it was before it went down to the biggest defeat in Commons history. It remains the same as it was before it went down to the fourth biggest defeat in Commons history. It remains the same as it was before the Speaker told her that she can’t keep bringing it back to the House. This is stubbornness as a pathology. This isn’t being a “bloody difficult woman”, this is the behaviour of a person who has become unmoored from reality.

On Wednesday afternoon the Speaker of the Commons decided to permit an emergency debate to go ahead. The Prime Minister was notable by her absence. She was too busy writing her letter to the EU begging for an extension of Article 50 until 30 June. Just last week her government was arguing that any extension would have to be a long one since a short one off extension would be pointless. She didn’t even bother informing cabinet of her decision, yet now it’s what she’s asking for so that she can continue her pointless dance with the ERG. Everything changes so everything can remain the same.

This is a timetable that the EU has already hinted strongly that Theresa isn’t going to get. The EU has stated this week that they’re not disposed to grant a short extension merely in order to allow Theresa May more time to waste. They will only grant a short extension on the condition that she can win that vote that she’s already lost twice and which the Speaker has told her that she can’t keep putting back to the House. And no, they’re not going to renegotiate it. But the Prime Minister didn’t get where she is today by listening to anyone, and she certainly wasn’t about to start now.

She hadn’t even been listening to the person telling her when she needed to get her letter off to the EU, and so she missed the post. EU sources were saying late on Wednesday afternoon that EU leaders won’t be making a decision on Thursday about extending the deadline, because the letter arrived too late. You might think that getting important letters off in time was fundamental to basic office management. The fact that the UK can’t even manage that tells you all you need to know about why Chris Grayling and David Mundell still have jobs.

Then after sending her letter, and without even bothering to send MPs a copy, the Prime Minister called a meeting of party leaders in order to reach a cross-party consensus on a letter that she’d already sent. It’s the appearance of listening, without any of the substance.  Jeremy Corbyn took the huff and refused to attend, because members of The Independent Group were present.  He wasn’t about to let Theresa May win any competitions in immaturity and toddlerish foot-stomping.  Reporting on the meeting, Ian Blackford of the SNP said it was the same old same old, my way or the Brexit cliff, from Theresa May.

We were then told, by the Irish Prime Minister no less, that the Prime Minister was going to make an announcement outside Number 10 at about 8pm in the evening. We’ve now reached the point where we have to rely on Dublin to tell us what’s going on in London.

Hacks started getting excited that perhaps she was going to announce her resignation, or perhaps she was going to announce a general election, or perhaps she was going to abandon some of her infamous red lines in an attempt to gain cross party support, or perhaps none of the above. The last couple of times she did her lectern in Downing Street thang she said absolutely nothing of any importance or relevance at all. It’s a fairly safe bet that this time will be no different and it will indeed be none of the above. Theresa May makes announcements as a way of occupying some time and going through the motions of politics without any of the actual motion or politics. She’s long since perfected the political art of constructing sentences that are devoid of semantic content and don’t answer any questions. It’s the only real political talent that she’s got.

Then just after 8.35 pm Theresa marched out in front of her lectern to make her much anticipated announcement with a look on her face that could fry half a pound of mince from halfway across the solar system.  She told us how tired the public were of the indecision and the stalling.  She didn’t mention how tired the public are of her.  It’s all Parliament’s fault for not being able to support her.  It’s all the fault of MPs that there’s going to be a delay to Brexit.  It’s not her fault, oh no.  She spoke about how divisive a failure to progress with Brexit would be, she didn’t mention her role in creating those divisions.  So she’s determined to keep putting her deal to the Commons until she gets the result she wants. Bugger the Speaker. Bugger parliamentary convention. Bugger parliamentary democracy.  Bugger everyone.  Bugger reality. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.

Meanwhile a poll published today found that 90% of people believe that Brexit is a humiliation for the UK. So Brexit has produced a general consensus after all then. However in one important sense Theresa May is perfectly correct. The British state continues its decline into political chaos and what’s left of its reputation is being flushed down the Brexit toilet. We were screwed last week, and we’re screwed this week too. The UK is the land of cognitive dissonance, a misplaced exceptionalism, and nostalgic fantasy passing for policy. It’s five to midnight and nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.

Scotland, it’s time to wake up. This is not the UK that we were sold in 2014. It’s a UK that has sold us all out.


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The security and stability of a constitutional crisis

constitutionalcrisis
Well that’s buggered that then. Today in the House of Commons the Speaker John Bercow blindsided Theresa May by telling her in no uncertain terms that her government can’t just keep bringing the same deal back to a vote in parliament in the hope that it will eventually get a different result to the two rejections it has already received. His decision has blown what passed for Theresa May’s strategy out of the water. That strategy was one of taking all the options off the table, until eventually MPs were left with just her deal. The speaker has now taken her deal off the table. Her tactic involved running down the ticking clock until enough MPs were alarmed into voting for her deal. John Bercow just silenced the clock.

A meaningful vote that has no effect other than to make the Prime Minister bring her deal back for yet another attempt is not a meaningful vote at all. John Bercow’s decision means that the meaningful vote held last week was a whole lot more meaningful than the Prime Minister had intended. She thought that she could keep returning for another go as often as she wanted. That was obvious from the language that she used when addressing the House in the immediate aftermath of her second defeat. She showed not the slightest awareness that her deal had been rejected and displayed every intention that, since she had just received the wrong answer, she was going to keep asking the question until she got the answer she wanted. And then she prattled on about respecting democracy. Self-awareness is not Theresa May’s strong suit.

There is a long standing parliamentary convention that a motion can’t be brought back for the consideration of the Commons if it has already been rejected earlier in the parliamentary session. Like all the conventions which underpin what passes for a constitution in the UK it’s not a law, but rather a tradition of practice which relies upon the willingness of governments and opposition to respect gentlemanly fair play. Or at least to repect fair play as far as other members of the British establishment are concerned, the rest of us have never enjoyed the same considerations. But that’s always been the British way.

This government hasn’t shown much interest in respecting those traditions. Might is right with Theresa May, and she’d have gotten away with it had she enjoyed a parliamentary majority. The British system allows, indeed encourages, the government of the day to act with the untrammelled powers of a dictator. If Theresa May had a majority, she would never have needed to keep bringing back her deal to parliament, because she’d have had the power to ram it through the first time. Theresa’s problem is that she persists in acting as though she has a majority and as though she has unlimited power, when she is in fact the head of a minority government which is riven with infighting and factionalism.

The effect of John Bercow’s ruling is unless there is major and substantive changes to the deal that it cannot be brought back for parliamentary consideration. Since the EU has already announced in no uncertain terms that it is done negotiating and the withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation, Theresa May has no room left for movement. There is no new deal or substantially different deal that the government can bring before the Commons.

If Theresa May is still hell bent on bringing her deal back for another go, she has only two options left. She can call a general election, and hope to return with a majority in a new parliament. But that means she’ll have to ask for a lengthy extension to Article 50 from the EU, and the chances are that her exasperated party will seek to replace her with a different leader. Any general election will most certainly be fought over Brexit and would be an effective referendum on whether the electorate wants Brexit at all. The Conservatives might be facing a weak and ineffective Labour party, but that’s not who worries them. They’re far more worried by a resurgence of Ukip and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party.

The other option is so prorogue Parliament for a few days and then to recall it in a new session in which the clock has been reset and the Speaker can’t block a vote on the deal on the grounds that it has already been voted upon during the same parliamentary session. But that means that the government will have to request permission to prorogue Parliament from the Queen, who acts in such matters on the advice of the Speaker as well as the advice of the government of the day. Politicising the monarchy is a very high risk strategy.

Brexit was all about English nationalists wanting to restore full power to the UK. They kept banging on about the sovereignty of parliament while practising the untrammelled power of the executive. The great irony is that Brexit has now surrendered the fate of the UK to the 27 other members of the EU. They’re the ones who will decide what happens next. They’re the ones who will decide whether to grant an extension to Article 50 which is long enough for the UK to try and sort itself out, or whether to kick the UK out of Europe on Friday of next week with no deal at all.

The EU doesn’t want no deal any more than anyone in the UK with a modicum of common sense, which clearly doesn’t include sections of the right wing press, a large part of the Conservative party, and the swivel eyed spittle flecked Brextremists. That means that the chances are that we are now facing a lengthy extension to Article 50.

The only deal which has any chance of getting through the Commons is for May’s deal to be accepted conditionally on confirmation in a public vote, which requires an extension of Article 50 long enough for the vote to take place. The vote would have to be between no-deal, May’s deal, or remaining. It’s the only sensible way out of this mess. But there’s no guarantee that a government which is in thrall to those lacking in sense will embark upon the sensible course of action.

This is an unprecedented constitutional crisis. No one knows what’s going to happen. Our jobs, our security, our futures are all at stake. Back in 2014 Scotland was told that we needed the UK’s institutions to guarantee our democratic stability and security. How’s that working out for you all?


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The BBC’s Pickle Nick

BBCbritbias

It’s now been confirmed what those of us who were paying attention had known all along. During the independence referendum campaign of 2014, senior journalists within the BBC saw their job as being to discourage and belittle the independence campaign, and not as being to report fairly on the biggest constitutional question facing Scotland for three hundred years. During that campaign, the BBC, a supposedly public service broadcaster, wasn’t acting as a public service. It was acting as a state service acting in the interests of the British state.

First of all was the news that the BBC’s Inside the Indyref documentary was to feature the story that the BBC’s senior political reporter Nick Robinson had taken over a news item first presented by BBC Scotland correspondent James Cook. James had presented a fairly balanced and nuanced report on a speech from the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, on his view of the currency union then being proposed by the Scottish Government in the event of independence. The speech didn’t rule out a currency union, and just last year Mark Carney confirmed that that a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would have been entirely feasible. At the time, Alex Salmond believed that Mark Carney’s speech had been helpful to the yes campaign.

That was, more or less, what James Cook had presented in his report. In the report James talked about how the Bank of England believed that “careful consideration” would be needed before entering a currency union. But Nick Robinson wasn’t at all happy with this. He took over the story and suddenly it became a dire warning of the economic cataclysm that would befall us all should a currency union go ahead. It would, according to Nick, raise the spectre of turning Scotland into Greece. Only without the sunshine, the boozed up Ryanair flights from Prestwick, and the ouzo. Nick explained that a good reporter should explain a story to the public and in his opinion the governor of the Bank of England was clearly warning that the sky would fall in.

Although this incident was reported in the press last week, and trailed as forming a part of the BBC’s documentary series on the referendum, it was omitted from the broadcast programme. Because reasons.

Now Nick’s intervention wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if there were other incidents, even just one incident, of a senior BBC reporter looking on a colleague’s reporting of an event during the independence referendum campaign and saying, “Here, just hang on a minute. That’s really terrible. It needs to be firmed up so that it paints a far clearer picture.” And it just so happened that the clearer picture to be painted was one that was favourable to the yes movement.” That’s what a lack of bias looks like. That’s how any reasonable minded person would define fairness and balance.

Such interventions do exist, unfortunately they only exist in one of those parallel universes visited in the cartoons by Rick and Morty. That would be the one in which Nick Robinson was in fact a giant sentient pickle. Pickle Nick! Although to be fair there are plenty of people in the Scottish quarters of this universe who believe that the BBC is disproportionately managed by vegetables anyway. However in this universe, you will search in vain for an intervention from a senior BBC figure seeking to present a news report in a more favourable light for the yes campaign. That’s about as unlikely to happen as an episode of Question Time from Motherwell that doesn’t feature a flute band member having a rant about how much he hates the SNP to a predominantly Brexit supporting audience. Now I’m not saying that it’s never happened. It’s just that if it has then I’ve got a televised interview with a pickled gherkin.

That was last week. Or in the case of the flute band member, most weeks. This week’s episode of the Inside the Indyref documentary features a contribution from former BBC correspondent Allan Little. Allan presented a documentary during of the indyref campaign in which he travelled to Scandinavia and looked at other small independent nations and how applicable the Nordic model would be to the very different circumstances of Scotland. It was widely regarded as being a balanced and fair contribution to the independence debate by someone who was concerned to present the issues in an equal handed manner. Unfortunately Allan doesn’t think that all of his BBC colleagues had the same concern as he did.

According to Allan, certain employees of the BBC thought that their job was to demonstrate the “foolishness” of voting yes, and believed that the independence movement was motivated by “chippy Scots” and the “wilyness” of Alex Salmond. In other words, the indyref coverage of some BBC reporters was motivated by their racist and negative stereotypes of Scottish people. Their working assumption was that independence was wrong.

In saying as much, Allan was merely confirming what the former Channel 4 presenter Paul Mason had said in the aftermath of the indyref that the BBC was a “Unionist institution”, and said of the Corporation’s news coverage during the indyref, “Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I’m out of there.”

This is just the latest in a long series of issues that the BBC has with reporting fairly on the Scottish constitutional debate. Allan’s revelations come just as the BBC is coming under justified criticism for its repeated and consistent failure to give political coverage to the SNP, the third largest party in the House of Commons. Like the Westminster Parliament and the British government, the BBC is another British institution which is systematically failing Scotland. Those failures are not going to be remedied or addressed by an underfunded ghetto channel. They go to the very top of the BBC, and flow from the DNA of an organisation which regards itself as a British institution.

The question is, how can an institution which sees itself as the cultural glue of the UK report fairly on a democratic movement which seeks to remove one of the constituent parts of the UK from British rule. It’s obvious from the BBC’s repeated failures that it can’t. It is philosophically and institutionally incapable of doing so. It’s long past time that the Scottish Government started to press for the devolution of broadcasting. The BBC has got itself in a pickle, and it’s not just because of Nick.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast – Friday 15 March 2019

Welcome to the 15 March edition of the Wee Ginger Dugcast, in which The National’s Callum Baird and I discuss Mini reverse lights and their insistence that you’re going to advertise the union fleg, the BBC’s consistent omission of Ian Blackford in particular and the SNP in general, and of course the latest meaningful vote on Brexit that turns out not to have been so meaningful after all.

 


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A matter of self-respect

lackofrespect
Another day, another dying of democracy in the House of Commons. What’s the point of parliamentary votes when the government, a minority government at that, feels free to ignore them? But that’s where we are now. Remember, all this mess was created by people who claimed that they wanted to restore the sovereignty of the British Parliament, yet we have a government and Prime Minister which ignore parliament and press on with what passes for their plan. That would be a plan to make us all poorer, a plan to restrict our civil rights, a plan to strip us of our European citizenship. There’s no agreement on anything in the House of Commons, except that this is absolute chaos, that what remains of the UK’s international reputation as a stable democracy has been resoundingly trashed by the UK itself, and that David Mundell has not resigned.

The first amendment to be voted on today instructed the government to ask for an extension to Article 50 in order for there to be another referendum on the EU. Labour decided that it was not going to support this amendment, following on from Corbyn forgetting to mention his party’s support for another referendum after the government was defeated the other day. So if you were looking to the Labour party to rescue us all from this Brexit mess, think again. All Labour is fit for is abstention. As the amendment was voted upon in the Commons, the vast majority of Labour’s MPs sat firmly on their benches – because that’s the only way that they can cover their arses.

As expected due to the failure of Labour to back it, the amendment was defeated. This doesn’t mean that there can’t be another EU referendum, but the magnitude of the defeat gives a boost to the Brexists. Jacob Rees Mogg took to social media to self-congratulate himself on the death of a second referendum, but Jacob’s gloating is premature. You’d think he would recognise when something is undead, but apparently not. The chances of another EU referendum are less than they were, but they’re not entirely gone yet.

Then the House voted on whether to take over control of business from the government. That amendment was defeated by the narrowest of margins, allowing Theresa May the slimmest of lifelines. That just left Labour’s amendment, and the government’s own amendment. Labour wanted the House to agree to ask for an extension of Article 50 beyond the 29th of March in order for Parliament to try and find something it could agree on. Labour’s amendment didn’t specify a time limit. It was defeated by 16 votes.

That only left the government’s own amendment, which sought to ask the EU for an extension of Article 50 until 30 June for the purposes of passing the necessary legislation – assuming that Theresa May’s deal has passed. This amendment passed by a large majority.

So that’s where we are now. The government has pledged to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 even though it’s been swearing blind for the past two years that it wasn’t going to do so. It’s entirely within the gift of the EU to decide whether to grant an extension, and they may very well decide that there’s no point in extending the Article 50 process until 30 June when it’s obvious that there is more squabbling within the UK than there is at a serial adulterer’s will reading. Some figures within the EU have noted that it’s pointless to grant another extension unless there is some credible justification from the UK for what the extension can achieve. The EU doesn’t see much point in granting extra time to the UK just so that the UK can continue to disgree with itself. On the other hand there is talk in some EU circles of granting an extension, but only a much longer one. Despite the text of the government’s amendment that a longer extension would require the UK to participate in May’s EU elections, this is not necessarily the case.

Thank god we’ve got a strong and stable British government eh. Just imagine the chaos and confusion if we didn’t.

Oh.

We’re now just two weeks away from Brexit day, and the UK has been reduced to begging the EU for extra time so that it can try to sort itself out, but still without any clear idea of how it’s going to achieve that. All we hear is the “will of the people” from politicians who are determined to ensure that the people never get to express what their will is, because apparently the referendum of June 2016 was the final word in democratic expression which trumps everything else for all time. It’s a democratic expression from voters in the rest of the UK which grants the British government carte blanche to overrule the will of the Scottish people, because it seems that only some voices count in this Mother of a Parliament.

At every turn, we have seen the will of the people of Scotland marginalised, sidelined, and ignored by a British government which eagerly leapt upon the Brexit vote of June 2016 as a mandate to destroy our employment and civil rights, and to undermine and hollow out the devolution settlement. Even if by some miracle Brexit can be avoided, this sorry episode has only illustrated the utter contempt in which Westminster holds the people of Scotland and their elected representatives. This is not the UK that we were promised in 2014, and that all by itself counts as a material change in circumstances which justifies another Scottish independence referendum. It is fundamental to democracy itself that a people have a government which treats the people with respect. Scotland doesn’t have that as a part of the UK.

All we have are sneers, the snide insults of Michael Gove, a spineless Scotland Secretary who puts his own career first, and a Prime Minister who speaks about a precious union without having the slightest concept of what a union actually entails. The UK and its institutions are unfit for purpose. Democracy is based on respect, and there is none for Scotland within the UK. That means that independence is a matter of self-respect.


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Watering the dead plant

fairshares
Theresa May didn’t speak in the Commons on Wednesday as the House debated whether to rule out a no-deal Brexit. Her voice had given up on her, which is what happens when you say nothing repeatedly for over two years. The quality of a what a person says is proportional to the amount of time that person listens to the opinions of others, and Theresa May has never knowingly listened to another opinion in her entire life. So instead Michael Gove made the government’s case for her, because he’s possibly the only person in the entire Conservative party less capable of consensus building than Theresa.

Michael habitually adopts the lofty tone of a man who firmly believes he occupies the moral high ground even though he’s stuck in the glaur at the bottom of a cesspit of his own creation. There is not a second which goes by without Michael managing to project the impression that he is so very very pleased with himself and all his works. There’s only one opinion which is important to Michael Gove, and that’s Michael Gove’s very fine conceit of himself. As the Victorian intellectual John Ruskin once remarked, a man who is so wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.

The gist of the speech was that fault of the failure of Theresa May’s deal lay with everyone except the Brexiteers and the Conservative party. It was the Labour party’s fault, it was the SNP’s fault. It was the fault of remainers and the EU. The only people whose fault it wasn’t were the people who had created the disaster in the first place and that Conservative government which had consistently ignored all other opinions except Conservative and DUP opinions and which had set out from the outset to pursue a hard Brexit based on Theresa May’s inflexible red lines and her fixation on immigration.

After spending much of his speech oozing the slimy snideness which is his main selling point and insulting everyone on the opposite benches, the man who along with his Conservative colleagues bears much of the responsibility for the mess that the UK is currently in called on the other parties to work together with the government to clear it up. It speaks volumes about the character and quality of this sorry excuse for a government that at a time when cross-party engagement is vital, they chose a man to speak who only knows how to insult, belittle, and sneer. At one point he refused to give way to the SNP’s Joanna Cherry, who was doubtless about to correct him on a point of fact. It’s because Michael said people had had enough of experts that we’re in this mess.

Unsurprisingly, he failed to make any on the opposition benches warm to the government’s position, but then that was never his purpose. Michael Gove’s purpose is now and always was the furtherance of Michael Gove’s career prospects within the Conservative party. He was playing to his own back benches with an eye on the Tory leadership election to come.

The motion put forward by Michael Gove on behalf of Theresa May says that says the Commons will not approve Brexit on 29 March if there is no deal, but it notes that no deal remains the default legal position unless both the UK and EU ratify an agreement. It’s a sign of the weakness, indeed chaos, of the government and its abject loss of authority that Theresa May has signalled that she will allow the Conservative party a free vote. If she succeeds in getting her motion passed by the Commons, there are, unbelievably, even at this late stage, suggestions that Theresa’s deal could be brought back to Parliament a third time, like repeatedly watering a dead plant in the hope that it will blossom. That’s why she is still refusing to take no-deal off the table. She’s still playing the same game as before, trying to run down the clock in a game of Brexit chlorinated chicken.

The Speaker accepted two amendments to the government’s motion. Both are as mired in confusion as the Government. One amendment is the so-called Malthouse Compromise, which calls for a short delay to Brexit in order to give the government time to prepare to leave without a deal. It would then offer the EU a “standstill” agreement until 2021 while a magical solution is worked out and some unicorns can be recruited to staff the cake shops along the Irish border. The EU has already ruled this out. The fact that this amendment is even being considered tells us just how divorced from reality Brexit has become. The Tories like it because it’s the only amendment that both wings of their divided party could pull behind. Speaking in favour of the amendment, Damien Green said that the House should just ignore the fact that the EU has already ruled it out. Because unicorns and cake.

The other amendment is the Spelman amendment, put forward by the Conservative remainer MP Caroline Spelman. This amendment would rule out a no deal Brexit under any circumstances and at any time. However late on Wednesday afternoon and under pressure from Conservative whips, the Conservative MP announced that she was going to withdraw her own amendment. An irritated Speaker then replied that it had already been tabled and other MPs could move it instead, but Labour didn’t seem that keen. The Conservatives don’t want this amendment to be voted upon as it will split the party and could lead to the resignations of cabinet ministers. The fact that it’s the only amendment which has any basis in reality is a secondary consideration to the party political interests of both Labour and the Tories. This nasty little episode all by itself illustrates how unfit the two main political parties are as parties and as a government.

Meanwhile there are reports that certain Brexiteers in Leave.EU and Ukip are lobbying right wing governments in Italy, Poland, and Hungary in an effort to get them to use their veto against any extension of Article 50. According to reports a group of Conservatives went to Poland last week in order to lobby the far right Polish government against any extension. So much for “We want the British parliament to be sovereign.” Now we have Nigel Farage and the Brexists begging the EU for help to leave the EU. There’s a word for conspiring with foreign governments in order to damage the interests of your own country. It’s not a pretty word.

The Brexit debates overshadowed the Chancellor’s Spring Statement. The SNP’s Kirsty Blackman intervened to emphasise the damage that a no deal Brexit would do to the economy. She asked the Chancellor for full Barnett consequentials for Holyrood in order to help Scotland cope with the Conservatives’ ruinous policies, and she raised concerns about financial sector assets being moved abroad. Finally she asked for an easing of visa constraints in order to help Scotland attract the immigration it needs. The Chancellor sniffily retorted, “Scotland gets its fair share, and precious little thanks we get for it.” Westminster takes Scotland’s money, gives us some of it back, borrows for things we don’t want or need and lands us with the bill, then demands that we’re grateful for their kindness.

In the end the Commons voted narrowly in favour of the Spelman amendment that Spelman rejected. Even though the Conservatives were furiously whipping against it, by 312 votes to 308 the House voted to take no deal off the table under all and any circumstances. By a majority of four votes the Commons voted to take something off the table that will remain on the table. By itself this amendment won’t change the law, but it’s yet another blow to what little remains of the authority of a Theresa May who is doggedly persisting in watering her dead plant.

We then saw the ludicrous spectacle of the Prime Minister voting against her own motion because she refused to accept the amendment.  Despite all the attempts from the Conservatives to strongarm their remainers into voting with the Prime Minister, she lost by an even bigger margin than before.  Then she stood before the Commons and said that nothing much had changed.

The next step is for an extension of Article 50.  We have a government which has lost all control, but which is continuing as though nothing has happened.  How much longer can this farce go on for?

There’s precious little thanks for Scotland remaining in the UK. There’s precious little thanks for Scotland sacrificing its future and its opportunities on the altar of British nationalism. All we get is contempt, disdain, and a complete ignoral of our needs, our desires as expressed through the ballot box, and our future. We can either keep watering Theresa’s dead plant of British nationalism, or grow some fresh green shoots in a new Scottish state.


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How much longer can we put up with this mess?

Westminster is in chaos after May’s deal suffered another catastrophic defeat. Scotland’s voice is being ignored again. The BBC cut away just as Ian Blackford was starting to speak TWICE in the same day. A UK representative explained to Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Russell that they were “not bright enough” to understand the Brexit deal.

We’re being insulted, sidelined, ignored, and taken for granted.  This so-called union and its failing institutions are failing Scotland, even on their own terms.  Remember all the grand promises made to Scotland by Better Together in 2014, remember all the fine words and honeyed voices, and compare them with what has actually been delivered.  Remember them the next time that opponents of independence promise a fine future for Scotland within the UK.

Here Scotland is, teetering on the brink of a British made catastrophe, and parts of the Scottish press prefer to print warnings against a Scottish currency made by opponents of independence who warned in 2014 against keeping the pound.  This is a shameful shambles, and Scotland needs a pro-independence newspaper more than ever.

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