The vow was the cunning plan of the Unionists in the last fevered days of the independence referendum. The entire point of the vow was to phrase things in a sufficiently vague manner so that the Westminions could claim that what was on the table was superdooper devomax, the most federocious federalissimo, and the devolviest devolving in the devolution of devolvement, when in fact what they intended to do was whatever it took to ensure that Scottish independence supporters would never put the shiters up Westminster ever again. A year on and the Westminions claim that the vow has been delivered, a claim that they keep repeating in the vain hope that if they say it often enough then someone other than the editor of the Daily Record might actually believe them.
The problem for the Unionist parties is that fogginess smothers both ways. According to a recent opinion poll, a mere 9% of Scots believe that the vow has been fulfilled, because just as the Unionists constructed the vow so that it could mean anything at all, the people of Scotland came to their own conclusions about what the vow was going to mean. We decided it was going to mean what the Unionist parties implied it meant in the days before the independence referendum, and we decided we were going to hold them to that promise – which is why there was an SNP landslide in May. However Westminster is fixated on the referendum vote and would prefer not to think about the subsequent election.
The piss poor proposals of the Smith Commission were Westminster’s response to the referendum vote, they’ve still not responded to May’s election results. The result of that lack of response is to tell Scotland in no uncertain terms that how we vote in Westminster elections doesn’t matter, but if that’s the case they’re also telling us that Westminster doesn’t matter either. They can’t have it both ways. They want to have it both ways, but they’re dealing with an electorate which can recognise a pauchle as quickly as it takes to say that the vow has been delivered.
Monday evening’s debate on the Scotland Bill was a farce. Well I say debate. It was a debate in the same way that a drunk man in a different room with his fingers in his ears going la-la-la-la is taking what you say seriously. The Westminions were notable only for their absence, and unlike Aliestair Carmichael most of them didn’t have the excuse of being up before a judge for telling a big fat porkie. They were in the Commons bars instead, with their fingers in their ears going la-la-la-la we’re not listening to what Scotland is saying. Then when a vote was called the gentlemen and ladies of the Commons who had voted to deprive Scottish MPs from having a say on English legislation scurried out from under their rocks to vote on Scottish legislation. And they voted down every amendment put forward by the party which was returned in 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies just a few short months ago.
There were a few MPs from English constituencies in attendance, and they got most of the speaking time. For the first half hour of the all too short time allocated to Scotland by the Commons, we were regaled by a discourse on the importance of English devolution. Then we got the balloon brained Alberto Costa, a Scottish Tory who represents an English constituency, telling us how it was a good thing that there are no Scottish representatives on the Commons committee that’s going to strip us all of our human rights, because human rights are a reserved matter. In Alberto’s world, Scottish MPs are not allowed any influence on British matters. But as the evening unfolded we discovered that Westminster doesn’t want Scottish MPs to have any influence on Scottish matters either.
Although they were asked a number of times, Tory ministers have refused to confirm that any top up payments made by the Scottish Government to mitigate tax credit cuts won’t be clawed back by the UK Treasury and the DWP. That’s just a risk you’ll have to take, smirked Fluffy Mundell when he was asked directly about it by Mhairi Black. Which means that’s precisely what the Tories will do. Any additional payments made by the Scottish Government to those affected by tax credit cuts will be deemed income by the DWP and the Treasury, and other benefits will be cut accordingly and the tax paid will be raised proportionately. The effect will be zero benefit to those affected. The politicking and positioning of the last few days was shown to be a charade by Mundell’s refusal to give a simple answer to a simple question.
Being genetically incapable of imagining that Scotland can have control of anything, Labour voted against allowing Scotland to control abortion law, because we need a male dominated Westminster to defend Scotland’s women from the female led parties in Holyrood. The move was motivated by nothing more than anti-Scottish racism, the deep rooted belief amongst certain sections of the British establishment that Scots are atavistic primitives who think feminism means allowing the little woman to decide what’s for tea.
Despite making a song and dance for the last couple of weeks about how the Scottish Parliament ought to mitigate tax credit cuts, Labour voted against the devolution of tax credits, thus making themselves look like massively hypocritical opportunists. Since the Tories were going to vote the measure down anyway, Labour could have voted for it safe in the knowledge that it wasn’t going to pass, and then the Tories would have copped all the blame. Instead they allied themselves with the Tories yet again. Labour’s only got one job along with its one Scottish MP, and that’s to oppose the Tories. They can’t even do that.
That wasn’t here here you heard in the chamber of the Commons, it was the sound of nails being hammered into the coffin of the Labour party. In this debate Labour proved that not only is it determined to frustrate the will of the Scottish people, that it’s self-centred and selfish, that would be be bad enough, but on top of all that it also proved that it’s very very stupid. But then you only need to hear James Kelly MSP open his gob and you can work that one out for yourself.
The Union is dying, and it’s dying because the people who say that they love it don’t love it enough to keep it alive. They love their power and their privilege and their entitlement far more. And with every move they make to keep hold of their power, the end of the Union comes ever closer, smothered to death in a fog of conceit. But the fog will clear and we can see an independent nation taking shape. Bring it on.
My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.
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