The hapless contingent of Scottish Tory MPs aren’t happy. Partly they’re not happy because by definition being a Tory in Scotland means that you’re a miserable bastert who thinks that everything in Scotland is a bit crappy, but mainly they’re not happy because of all the delays to changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Amendments to clause 11 of the bill are necessary because, essentially, the Tory government is saying that Holyrood needs to trust it to deliver all the extra powers that will flow from Brexit, but Holyrood trusts the Westminster Tories like you can trust a naked man who offers you a shirt. It’s not like Scotland has trust issues with the Conservatives, it’s just that we know better.
Now the deadline has passed without any of the issues which prevent the Scottish and Welsh parliaments from giving their approval to the EU exit being addressed, and none of the amendments which could ensure approval from Edinburgh or Cardiff have been introduced into the bill. This is despite repeated assurances from Theresa May that her government would introduce the necessary amendments. She hasn’t done it, so you can see why this lack of trust thing is a bit of a sticking point. No one is especially surprised that the Tories have gone back on their word to Scotland. It’s not like this sort of thing has never happened before. They say that trust is like a rubber, it gets smaller after every promise gets rubbed out. Westminster’s rubber got very tiny a very long time ago. There are subatomic particles which are larger.
We’re now in negative trust territory, the default assumption is that Westminster Tories are lying. If you want people to trust you, it helps to be honest and open, and that’s something that Theresa May is constitutionally incapable of. When Theresa May starts a statement with “I’m perfectly clear” everyone knows that what is about to follow is less clear than a cryptic crossword clue written in Hungarian with every second letter missing. Although to be fair the Hungarian cryptic crossword clue is at least is a problem which has an answer. Theresa May has no answers for anything.
The government claims that there are some perfectly understandable reasons for the amendments not being brought forward, the dog ate its homework, there was an earthquake, the previous minister responsible was far too occupied watching porn on his computer, they were too busy with an entirely pointless reshuffle after the minister for watching porn had to resign, the last minute realisation that Christmas was at the end of December threw all their plans into disarray, and anyway it’s only Scotland so who gives a toss really. Besides, it’s hardly their fault that David Mundell is useless and has less authority in cabinet than the potted plant that sits in front of Theresa May so she doesn’t have to look at Michael Gove across the table. Of course it’s their fault, but there’s bugger all that Scotland can do about it so it’s not like they can be bothered to care.
Even Tories are upset now. Scottish Tory MP Paul Masterton complained in the House of Commons that he’d been given assurances from the government that the amendments would be brought forward to the bill, but the government had failed to do so. A constitutional crisis is looming, and even Adam Tomkins, the Tory MSP for saying IT’S THE LAW! admits that it’s the fault of the Conservative government. Earlier this week the Holyrood constitution committee, which includes Tory MSPs, agreed that the bill as it currently stands is incompatible with the devolution settlement. Boiled down to basics, it turns devolution on its head. The underlying principle of the devolution settlement is that all powers which are not explicitly reserved to Westminster are devolved to Holyrood. The effect of the EU bill gives all the powers currently exercised by the EU to Westminster even though they are not reserved powers. Then Westminster will decide all by itself which, if any, it will allow to be devolved.
After the deadline for amendments passed, Scottish Tory MPs had a meeting which lasted for two hours, an hour and three quarters of which were spent trying to see if any of them had a spine before it was decided that they didn’t and the last quarter hour asking each other if any of them had any football fixtures coming up. Now they’re saying that they’re frustrated and angry, and are demanding a meeting with the party whips. It’s not clear what they think that a meeting with the whips is going to achieve, other than giving them something to tell the press. It’s not like the whips are able to bring the bill back to give the MPs another shot at it. The MPs aren’t frustrated and angry because their government has betrayed a promise, they’re frustrated and angry because now everyone who hadn’t already realised it can see how useless they are.
Funnily enough the MPs weren’t too frustrated and angry before the deadline when they could actually have done something about the situation, which does tend to imply that their frustrations are nothing more than gesture politics and a desperate attempt to look like they’re not the useless wastes of space. So that’s Scotland’s cohort of Conservative MPs working for Scotland within the Union there. They voted for earlier stages of the bill because they thought that their government would implement the necessary amendments, but they also thought that if you planted a feather that it would grow a chicken. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time unless they’re Scottish Conservative MPs.
The Fluffy One, Scotland’s very own stuffed toy masquerading as a Scotland Secretary, has said that it’s “regrettable” that the amendments couldn’t be tabled in time for the Report Stage of the Bill due next week, but insisted that the changes could be made in the House of Lords as though that somehow meant that there’s nothing to worry about. Kicking the issue up to the Lords means that Michele Mone has more of an influence over the fate of Scotland than any of Scotland’s MPs do. So that’s reassuring. Scotland’s elected representatives won’t get to scrutinise the amendments, but an unelected chamber where there is zero SNP representation will. How’s that valued and much loved equal partner in a family of nations working out then?
Scotland’s getting screwed over yet again, this time because a Tory minister resigned in order to spend more time with his computer. Even porn gets a higher priority from Westminster than Scotland does. It’s the closest Scotland is going to get to a stiff resolve from this government. But not to worry, the Tories have pinky promised that they’ll absolutely, definitely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt, get all this dealt with in the Lords. The new Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, swears blind that the government is committed to working with the devolved administrations to find a solution that is agreeable to all. And it’s not like there’s any reason not to trust them is there? Scotland can place absolute trust in the Conservative government, we can trust that they’ll lie to us and screw us over.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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