Time is running out for an agreement between the Scottish Government and the UK Treasury on a financial settlement for Scotland. Now Labour has accused the SNP of creating an artificial deadline, because Labour are taking the side of the UK Treasury in this process. The discussions relate to the much hyped new tax responsibilities which Westminster wants to foist on Scotland in lieu of a proper devolution settlement, tax responsibilities which Governor General Fluffy Mundell gleefully described as a trap for the Scottish Government.
The trap is that Westminster wants to force the Scottish Government to raise income tax in order to protect public services. Westminster has refused to devolve any other major tax, and it’s not accidental that the one major tax for which they are willing to give partial control to Holyrood is the tax which has the greatest direct impact on the wage packets of ordinary working people. Westminster is keeping its paws firmly on taxes on businesses. They hope that they can force Holyrood to raise taxes on working people, which will then cause fewer voters to give their support to the SNP and to turn to the Tories instead.
Saving the Union and increasing Conservative support in Scotland in one. It’s yet another example of Westminster treating Scottish devolution as an instrument of short term party political advantage instead of trying to respond honestly to the aspirations and desires of the Scottish people. Everything about previous devolution settlements has been about short term Unionist party political advantage, and everything about the latest settlement is too.
The thing about traps is that you’re supposed to keep your trap shut about them. Traps work because they’re a deception, because they’re hidden. Putting a big advertising sign on your trap, like Fluffy did when he gleefully announced in the press that the UK Government had created a cunning trap, stops your trap from being a trap. It turns it into a roadblock. No sensible person is going to walk willingly into a trap when the trap setters have told them that it’s a trap.
Now Labour and the Tories are complaining that the Scottish Government is proving reluctant to walk into the trap. How very dare those evil nationalists. It’s entirely unreasonable to demand that when Scotland gets a devolution settlement that it should be a settlement to benefit the people of Scotland. Everyone who is anyone, and that would be anyone who is a Unionist politician because they’re the only ones who count, knows that it’s totally unreasonable to expect a devolution settlement to benefit anyone who isn’t a Unionist politician.
Labour is upset because the deadline imposed by the Scottish Government is looming, and it’s now looking as though no agreement will be reached. The deadline exists in order to give the Scottish Parliament ample time to debate the agreement before the May elections and if there hadn’t been sufficient time to debate it in full, Labour would have been amongst the loudest at complaining.
Personally, I’d be quite happy if there was no agreement. The Scotland Bill is the homoepathic remedy to the demand for real devolution, so watered down that it no longer contains any real devolution at all. All it contains is the appearance of devolution, an empty tartan box with more powers written on the side by Davie Mundell.
We started off with the infamous vow which waffled its way onto the front page of the Daily Record. The vow was phrased in a vague way to allow it to be presented as substantial powers, as home rule, as the nearest thing to federalism possible, without the Unionists having to commit to anything much at all. It was a lie from the start. Then during the succeeding Smith Commission the Unionists did all they could to remove what little of substance remained. Abortion? Oh no, you can’t have control over that. Scots are primitives who need Westminster to show them what is civilised behaviour. Trade Union rights? Oh no, you can’t have control over that. Scots might end up protecting the unions from the depredations of the Tories. We’ll let you have roadsigns, as long as you promise not to put Gaelic on them.
Smith was supposed to be the Unionist parties’ response to the referendum campaign. They’re refusing to give any response at all to their pandafication during the following general election. They don’t want anyone to intrude on their private grief at being reduced to a single representative each.
So instead of them taking the election of 56 SNP MPs as a warning from Scotland that we expect the Unionist parties to be serious about their promises for the most devolved parliament in the world, for home rule, for devo max, for the nearest thing possible to federalism, what we got was EVEL and Tory and Labour MPs seeping out the bars like spilled drinks in order to drown out every single amendment to the Scotland Bill put forward by Scotland’s own MPs.
If the Unionists ignore reality for long enough they hope that reality will change more to their liking. If their Westminion pals in the press keep up their litany of SNP bad for long enough, then eventually Scotland will realise that the SNP is as mendacious and venal as the Unionist parties, and will go back to voting Unionist. But Scotland doesn’t vote SNP because Scotland is in love with the SNP, it votes SNP because the SNP represents an escape route from Westminster and from being taken for granted, ignored, sidelined, and treated like a child.
The General Election might as well never have happened as far as Scotland was concerned. The Unionist establishment has no response to their near destruction in May last year, and will likewise try to downplay their impending decimation this coming May. Scotland isn’t important. Scotland doesn’t matter.
And that’s precisely what will lead to Scotland becoming independent, the realisation amongst No voters that their votes in the British Parliament count for nought. It doesn’t matter what we want, we get what we’re given and there’s nothing we can do about it. Scotland is outvoted, outnumbered, and outraged.
The best response to the pathetic Scotland Bill is to tell Westminster to stick it where EVEL doesn’t shine.
There won’t be any updates to the blog until Monday. I’m off to London for the weekend to visit family.
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