Scotland’s half baked baker’s dozen of Conservative MPs have been terribly upset of late. They tell us that they’re unhappy that their government hasn’t introduced the necessary amendments to the EU Exit Bill to make it comply with the devolution settlement. That’s despite the fact that promises were given by the British government to make the amendments, promises which were ignored. They’re very disappointed, they tell us. They think that the actions of the government in kicking the bill up to the Lords aren’t good enough. Now unelected peers will have more of a chance to affect the bill than Scotland’s elected MPs. So much for bringing back control from Brussels to the House of Commons. Tory MPs wring their hands while their government wrings the neck of the devolution settlement.
Labour, to its credit, for once decided to do something other than abstain, and introduced an amendment of its own. The bill leaves Scotland and Wales at the mercy of a Conservative power grab. The Labour amendment would have removed the restriction on the devolved legislatures from altering retained EU law in areas in which the devolution settlement says they have competence. The amendment would also have established a procedure for reaching agreement on UK-wide frameworks on those policy areas which are currently legislated for at the EU but are devolved within the UK. It was a reasonable and sensible solution to the problem, one which could have ensured that the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd would not oppose the Brexit Bill and spark off a constitutional crisis.
Labour’s amendment was defeated by 321 votes to 297, a majority of 24. If Scotland’s 13 useless wastes of space had voted with the opposition, they’d have defeated the bill. Instead they voted with the government to deprive Scotland, and themselves, of the chance to influence the course of Brexit. They’re happy to allow cabinet ministers to make all these decisions on Scotland’s behalf, without checks, without scrutiny, without accountability. They’re happy to overturn the devolution settlement which says that all powers which are not specifically reserved to Westminster are devolved. And they are happy to do all this without giving the people of Scotland a say in the matter. They’re defending Scotland’s interests like a blow to the head with a hammer defends against brain injury.
If a Scottish Tory MP says that their party supports the devolution settlement that was agreed in the 1990s and supported in a referendum, a vote that was described at the time as the settled will of the Scottish people, then you know that they’re lying. You know that their protestations that they’re terribly upset are meaningless. You know that they have as much interest in doing what’s right by the people of Scotland as they have of returning ScotRail to public ownership and protecting the NHS from privatisation. Despite the fact that all of Scotland’s MPs except the unlucky 13 voted against the power grab, despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament has not been consulted nor its consent sought or granted, despite the fact that the Scottish people have not been asked and have barely been kept informed, the Conservatives have taken it upon themselves to change the underlying principle of the devolution settlement.
These changes will be made without even the House of Commons being involved, Conservative ministers have arrogated the rights of the people of Scotland to themselves, a right to self-government which the people of Scotland sought, demanded, and approved in the referendum of 1997. So much for respecting the result of the referendum. The Conservatives have now lost all right to demand that anyone respect the result of a referendum, when they’ve run a coach and horses through the Scottish devolution referendum of 1997.
Not that any of this is particularly interesting to that British press that kept telling Scotland how much we’re loved and valued by the British establishment. The most prominent Scottish story in the Guardian at the time of writing this blog post is that salmon season has opened on the river Tay. This is the same Guardian newspaper which told us shortly after the General Election that Scotland’s new cohort of Conservative MPs were going to vote as a bloc to protect and defend Scotland’s interests. Uh … Huh. Nice to see the Guardian holding them to account. Oh no. The other thing. Apologists for British rule in Scotland can protest all they like to the contrary, but this is what it looks like to live in a colony. Scotland, only relevant for huntin’, shootin’, and fishin’, and of course for the oil, as somewhere to park the nukes, and as a retirement home when you sell off the semi in Surrey.
All those people who say that they hate Thatalicsammin, Thatniclasturjin, Thatessenpee, the minute that Westminster uses a power that it’s grabbed from the Scottish Parliament and shafts them with it, those people will be nodding along in agreement to newspaper articles quoting Tory MSPs who blame the Scottish Government for not doing something to mitigate the situation. It’s hard to believe that the Tories are not trying to prepare the ground for the destruction of the devolution settlement. They’re not so stupid as to try and abolish the Scottish Parliament outright, instead they’ll just strip it piece by piece of power and authority, all the while blaming it for its lack of power and authority.
So the next time a Tory demands that an independence supporter respects the result of the 2014 referendum, remind them that their Conservative government is traducing the result of the 1997 one. Remind them that in 2014 we were told by those same Conservatives and their Labour and Lib Dem allies in Better Together that we were voting for stronger devolution, a form of devolution that was more entrenched, a more powerful devolution. They’re not respecting the promises they made in that referendum either. Referendum results will be respected, just as long as it’s a referendum result which gives more power to Tory politicians in Westminster and which is an assault on what’s left of democracy in this country.
Anyway, never mind any of that. Let’s concentrate on the real issue here, the one that’s going to occupy the British nationalist media in Scotland for weeks to come. It’s snowing in January. Nicola Sturgeon must apologise.
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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