Back before the independence referendum, Ruth Davidson told us that a vote to remain a part of the UK was a vote to strengthen and entrench devolution. Aye. Right. As far as Scottish democracy is concerned, the Westminster Parliament is the biggest waste of time since someone tried to explain to Scottish Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw that roadsigns in the Gaelic language don’t actually cause potholes. When Ewok Mundell, the supposed voice of Scotland in the UK cabinet, failed to present the necessary amendments to the EU Exit bill at the third reading or the report stage some months ago, he faithfully promised Scotland’s MPs that they’d be able to debate how the EU Exit Bill was going to affect the devolution settlement when the bill was returned from the House of Lords to the Commons. Well fat chance of that.
Instead of a strengthened and entrenched devolution we got a motion passed in Westminster that permits the UK Government to trash the Scotland Act, to throw a bucket of cold water on the last dying embers of the Sewel Convention, and to thumb their nose at the result of the Scottish devolution referendum. In the UK, the only referendum results that need to be respected are those that suit the Tories.
No Scottish MPs were called to speak. Instead of Scotland’s MPs holding the Westminster Government to account for its handling of Scottish interests, we got just over 15 minutes of Tories using the debate as an opportunity to slag off the Scottish Government, followed by an hour of points of order, most of which were equally composed of Tories using the debate as an opportunity to slag off the Scottish Government. This is what passes for Scotland’s ability to hold the UK Government to account in the House of Commons. Several of those Tory MPs seemed indignant that anyone from the SNP should express any opinion at all.
The devolution issue was only allocated a short amount of time by the British Government’s managers. There was no time to move any amendments. There was all of 19 minutes allocated to discuss Clause 15 which deals with devolution (originally Clause 11 of the EU Exit Bill). This is the clause which seizes powers over devolved competencies for seven years. Scotland’s MPs were not given any time to debate and discuss it, despite the promises made by the Scottish Secretary of State.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford addressed the Speaker of the House of Commons, asking what options were available to MPs to ensure that the British Government really understands the real concern that people in Scotland have about this unprecedented power grab and how can Scottish MPs make sure that their voices are heard. A Tory MP shouted in reply, “suicide”. You’ll have had your valued and equal partner in a family of nations, Scotland.
The Scottish Conservatives naturally sided with their bosses to allow the devolution settlement to be unilaterally trashed by the British Government, and the Labour party and the Lib Dems did bugger all to stop them. You can expect the Tories to do all they can to destroy the powers of the Scottish Parliament. It’s what Tories do. Well that and answering every question with “Scotland doesn’t want another referendum.” Being surprised that the Conservative party is bent on trashing the devolution settlement is like being surprised that Dracula doesn’t give blood donations.
Labour on the other hand pose as the party of devolution. The devolution settlement was their baby. Labour sold the devolution settlement to Scotland after the long dark nightmare of the Thatcher era as a means for Scotland to protect itself from untrammelled Tory rule. Yet when that devolution settlement is threatened by the Conservatives, Labour wrings its hands and does nothing to stop it. They would prefer to see the devolution settlement destroyed, a settlement that the people of Scotland voted for in two referendums, rather than stand against the UK Government and take the same side as an SNP administration in Holyrood. When Scotland is threatened, you can always count on Labour to abstain.
You know, personally I may be a strong advocate for Scottish independence, but holding the view that Scotland is best served by remaining a part of the UK is a perfectly legitimate opinion. It’s not my opinion. I think those who hold that view are profoundly mistaken, but there is nothing inherently dishonourable in the belief that Scotland should remain a part of the UK.
However what really sticks in my craw is when opponents of independence are so terrified of adding fuel to the fires of evil separatism by overtly criticising the UK Government’s treatment of Scotland and its trashing of the devolution settlement that they refuse to stand up for Scotland within their precious UK. It means that even on their own terms they are failing because they would rather that Scotland was abused within this so-called Union than give succour to those of us who seek self-determination. That is dishonourable. That is contemptible.
By failing to stand up for Scotland’s interests within the UK all they are proving is that the only way Scotland’s interests can be served is through independence. They are making the case for independence by demonstrating that Scotland’s voice cannot be heard within the framework of the UK. That’s precisely what we saw in the sham debate in the House of Commons this evening. For those of you who cling to the quasi-religious belief that St Jeremy of Corbyn will deliver us from Tory evil, you got your answer today. Jeremy doesn’t give a toss about Scotland’s interests. When push comes to shove you can rely on the Labour party to abstain. Hugh Gaffney made a wee intervention before abstaining. It wasn’t a remotely useful intervention, but at least we can be grateful that he didn’t say anything racist or homophobic.
It’s at moments like this that you wonder what the point is of Scotland sending MPs to Westminster. And the answer is, none. There is no point. The Tories were always going to ram this measure through by fair means or foul. It’s clearer now than it ever was that if Scotland is going to make her voice heard, it can’t be done through the British Parliament. That’s not a Parliament that speaks for us. It’s a Parliament that dictates to us. It’s a Parliament that ignores us. It’s a Parliament that treats us with contempt.
After the independence referendum, the playwright Alan Bisset pointed out that those who voted No might have thought that they were demonstrating their faith and belief in Britain, but that’s not how the British establishment saw it. The British establishment saw it as weakness and vulnerability. They were always going to see the No vote as the opportunity to take advantage, and that’s precisely what they’ve done. This is what contempt looks like.
Enough of this farce.
Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland
The Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.
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Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.
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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