The Sewer Convention

It’s been a good week for the Scottish independence movement. The British nationalist parties have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they fail even on their own terms and are incapable of defending Scottish interests within the context of the UK. The SNP has, at last, finally found some bottle and is no longer going to play like good little girls and boys according to the rules of a game which is stacked against Scotland. The grassroots indy movement is reengerised and enthused and thousands of people have signed up to the SNP and many more are getting involved in the local independence groups which are reorganising and reestablishing themselves across the length and breadth of Scotland.

Meanwhile, lost amongst the fire and fury of the SNP walkout. Ewok Mundell has announced in the Commons that according to the British Government’s understanding of the Sewel Convention, the British government can unilaterally take action to change, reduce, or alter the powers of the Scottish parliament when no agreement can be reached with Holyrood. Which as James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop points out shows that Mundell has just rewritten the bloodied and tattered remnants of the Sewel Convention to mean that instead of consent “normally” being required from the Scottish Parliament before Westminster can alter devolved powers, now consent only needs to be sought. That in turn means that the British government can propose any such changes or alterations to devolved powers as it pleases, and if the Scottish government doesn’t agree then the British government can go ahead anyway. In fact according to Mundell, the British government is required to act under such circumstances. Not so much a Sewel Convention then, as a Sewer Convention allowing Scottish powers to be flushed away at will.

In effect, the Sewer Convention means that Westminster can dispose of devolved powers as it likes and the consent of the Scottish parliament is not required. That’s a huge difference from the previous understanding of the Sewel Convention and on the face of it is a massive reinterpretation from what was previously understood as the position. There are only two possible explanations for this apparent change.

Firstly it could be that Mundell’s declaration has been the intent of the British Government all along. This would not be surprising, amongst other developments this week we’ve seen Remainer Conservative MPs complaining that their own government has been dishonest and disingenuous in the supposed guarantees it gave to them to stave off a parliamentary rebellion earlier in the week. If this Conservative government isn’t even prepared to deal honestly with its own MPs, then uppity Scots have got nae chance at all. It is entirely plausible that when the Conservatives signed up to the Smith Commission and agreed to enshrine the permanence of the Scottish parliament in law and to give the Sewel Convention legal force, they never had the slightest intention of abiding by it. That’s why they framed it in such a manner so as to give themselves a get-out clause as wide and broad as the gap between Ross Thomson’s ears.

If that’s true, then all by itself it counts as a change in material circumstances and gives a justification for a second independence referendum, because it means that the Conservatives have acted on bad faith and never had any intention of respecting the result of that referendum that they keep telling everyone else to respect. The result of the independence referendum wasn’t just that Scotland voted No, it was that Scotland voted No on certain conditions. One of those conditions was a legally binding guarantee of the permanence of the Scottish parliament and its powers. As I’ve pointed out on this blog before, the people who need to be held to account for the outcome of a vote aren’t the people who lost it, it’s the people who won it.

Certainly subsequent developments, with the legal ruling in the Supreme Court that the Sewel Convention had no legal force, and the shameful way in which the British Government rammed through the changes to devolved powers in the EU Exit Bill without even permitting Scottish MPs to debate the matter, demonstrate that the fundamental basis of the devolution settlement has been traduced and destroyed. That’s a very far cry from the stronger and more entrenched devolution that we were promised in 2014. The fact that former Daily Record editor Murray Foote, the architect of the infamous Vow, now tells us that Ruth Davidson was furious about proposals to strengthen the powers of Holyrood in an attempt to win a No vote strongly suggests that the Conservatives were always going to seek a way to renege on their commitments to the people of Scotland.

The second possibility is that Mundell doesn’t understand the Sewel Convention. Which means that the man who is entrusted with defending the devolution settlement in the British cabinet doesn’t understand the devolution settlement. If that’s not proof that Scotland’s interests can’t be protected within the context of the UK, then nothing is. If Mundell is not sacked forthwith, then all by itself that’s a constitutional crisis which warrants another independence referendum because it means that the very person encharged with defending the devolution settlement is actively undermining it.

Meanwhile, in a major coup for the independence cause, the self-same Murray Foote has now come out in favour of independence. You might not have been happy with his role in support of the Better Together campaign. You might be deeply upset by the way in which British nationalists pulled the Vow out of a hat in the last weeks of the campaign when postal votes had already begun. However the more prominent that a convert to independence was within the anti-independence campaign last time, then the more powerful an ally to our cause that person is this time. So let’s not begrudge or complain about Murray Foote’s conversion. We need people who voted No last time to come over to our side if we’re going to win this time, and if those people are not made to feel welcome and accepted then they’re going to think twice about making the leap. So get over your grudges, smile sweetly and save your harrumphage for private.

The power of Murray Foote’s conversion to yes lies precisely in his role in creating the Vow. Ever since 2014 we’ve had a succession of British nationalist politicians smugly tell us that the Vow has been fulfilled when the evidence is very much to the contrary. But now whenever one of them tells us that the Vow has been fulfilled, all we need to do is to reply that the very man who wrote it disagrees with them. The Vow is now dead. It’s been killed off by the person who created it.

Tomorrow the decidedly very much alive dug and I will be at Inch Park in Edinburgh speaking at a rally there organised by the Yes Hub in Edinburgh. It’s going to be the first of many events over the coming months. The momentum is on our side, but we have a lot of work to do. Let’s get working. Let’s block the Sewer Convention and ensure that it’s the British nationalists who are left covered in their own constitutional crap.

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81 comments on “The Sewer Convention

  1. Carol Sadler says:

    Well said Paul.The stars are finally starting to align,tick tock.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug The Sewer Convention It’s been a good week for the Scottish independence movement. The British […]

  3. Andy Anderson says:

    Agree 100% Paul. They the Brit Nat government and all Brit Nat parties have no where to hide.

    Vote Scotland, vote YES, vote for self determination. Let’s be Free again.

  4. Excellent rallying cry, Paul. Wish I could be at the Edinburgh event … and indeed all of the upcoming events. Be assured that I am there in spirit!

  5. John Low says:

    Just wish Murray Foote was still editor of the Record! However, I’m sure he can get his voice heard.

  6. Robert Harrison says:

    They’ve wheeled out Gordon Brown to say independence will be worse how desperate are they to call him back into play.

    • Kenzie says:

      Who on earth thinks that anyone in their right mind listens to him?

    • Cubby says:

      Gordon Brown – the Man with no shame. I don’t think he will get a good write up in the history books.

      The Dependency mindset of the British Nationalists in Scotland is downright embarrassing. Grovel grovel.

      • Grovel Grovel PFI PFI – the man was a disaster both as Chancellor and as Prime Minister. He only ever did the right thing by mistake or for the wrong reasons, as far as I could tell. (Unsupported allegation – shame on me!)

  7. tintochiel says:

    “The second possibility is that Mundell doesn’t understand the Sewel Convention.”

    Well, quite possibly, Paul, given that he thinks Scotland was extinguished in 1707. This disreputable and shifty little man makes Toom Tabard seem a man of backbone and substance.

    However, as Mike Russell made clear in a recent talk on “Scotland and Brexit”, the senior British officials he has to deal with daily are similarly ignorant of devolved powers and have little grasp of detail or relevant legislation, David Lidington included.

    Arrogance and ignorance are a terrible combination but they will be the downfall of WM in this struggle: unfortunately laws, treaties and fine print can’t be dismissed by the wave of an Etonian hand or a misguided ruling by the Speaker of the HoC.

  8. Jason Smoothpiece says:

    Good stuff Paul I have up until now thought we would have to wait for the demographics to change before we moved forward.

    There is now a change in the air evidenced by the 7500 new SNP members.

    I am aware of a conversation, between No voting types who are now angry at the cheating of the sneering Labour and Tories.

    The coin has dropped even among the slowest folk in Scotland I believe our people will soon be running our affairs.

    • Cubby says:

      Jason – the coin does indeed take different lengths of time to drop for each individual. For those of us who were lucky enough to have the coin drop early in our life we should, as the dug says, not chastise them for taking so long to get there but welcome them. I have always believed that potential is there for approx 75 % of the population – as per the 1997 ref vote of 74.3 %. On the other hand the no surrender mob will never let any penny drop. The good news is that their numbers will continue to dwindle in an independent Scotland.

  9. Graham says:

    The Foote note is a welcome yin, no matter how belatit. N iviry day it Westminster is a Sewer Convention. Look it Moandull. He’s no a man. He’s a nyaff, a numpty wee jobbie ye’d ping ootay yer way tae get tae the bar. His voice, the mournful plaintive bleat ay an eyerolling dying sheep caught oan a barbed wire fence, wid gie ye the aural boak. He disnae understand nuhhin aboot nuhhin.

    Look it him!

    Seriously. If ye kin stand tae, LOOK IT HIM!

    Haud that gaze…
    steady is she goes…
    look him in the greedy bleary beady rodent een…
    n tell me…
    kin ye imagine meeting him n haeing an intelligent or interesting conversation aboot ONYHING, IVIR? It’s clear Davidsonofabitcher-bookend Moandull is a dullard, a dolt, a dimbulb, a dipshit, a dickhead, a bellend, a moaner, a groaner, a swooner, a shitsong crooner, a tuneless goon, an Orange future mirage manufacturer, a whiner, a complainer, a nonentity, a Quisling, a 19th century colonial English explorer type swatting it troublesome cybernat flies buzzing roond his sweatdripper pith helmet, a sudoforic snorebore, an explosion ay fart bubbles in a puddle ay career incompetence, a tantrum-tossing tosser toddler, a footstamper, a harumpher, an inverteBrit walking-upright enigma, a self-loathing lubed-power-channels-servicer, a democracy tamperer, an aw-wee-shame scared barefaced liar, a shiteing it fae ay fae decency n dignity uncivil indentured servant, a bacteria transmitter, a responsibility-scamperer, a reality-scarperer, a none-less-sharperer, a perfect erectile dysfunction nightmare, a hornfree faker in a hoorhoose, a moangoose thit laid nae golden egg, a London-table-scraps beggar, a screw loose in a well-soiled machine ay historical incompetence, an office-free talking squawking orifice, a pure state ay a secretary ay state fir fuck all, a jellyfish chimera, a mental midget, an ugly optical swillusion, a thrills killer, a shitespiller, a gladhander, a hearty-meal backslapper, a Union Jacksy arselicker, a crumbsucker, a thumbscrew-tightener, a wean-frightener, a laughable zero sum game, a guff diver, a horrible phantom ay a bad smell in Westminster corridors ay the power-crazed, a zombie economy shuffler, a debts deliverer, a shell game shill, a mean queen’s shilling pockets-filler, a zoomer intae nae-man’s-bland, a rocket hauf-man on an explosive Challenger visit tae naewhaur, a crack on a country’s windshield thit wid make ye fail yer hard-worked-fir independence MOT, a new debilitating STD strain, a gravy train rider, a sanity party crasher, a cash flasher, a me-my-mine grab-and-smasher, an SNP-basher, a Scotland-trasher, an SOB, a POS, a LOL in the political proceedings, a division breeder, a sedition treader, a Beano reader, a whimper-no-a-banger, a rage against the dying ay the right wing, a colicky scattish cringing gut spasm, a dry orgasm, a wrang-side-ay-history bettor, a switch-hitter bitter thegither pimp, a gless jaw sporter, a shattering scream fae his violated internal mirror iviry time he gazes intae it, an awfucknaw follicle forest facial feeder, a nae great surprise, a left-oan-the-shelf-fulfilling prophecy ay nae particular useful revelation, a UK Tory-supporters-sedative drug dealer, a fake-details-squealer, a report-fudger, a Holyrood mumbler, a baw-fumbler, a hauf-empty tumbler, a mumbled jumble ay empty promises fawing tae the laughing Royal Mile like deid reality-theft magpies shot oot ay the bluenwhite Saltire-saluted tireless sky by the oncoming yin o clock cannon boom signifying
    the messy perfect birth
    ay the long overdue
    lovely future indy
    shape ay oor


  10. Tintock says:

    By chance I watched the SNP walkout from PMQs and immediately thought that it was a huge metaphor for Scotland walking out of the UK. Together with the continuing doubt about the status of the Irish border after Brexit and the apparent surge in support for reunification in Northern Ireland, I look forward to when rUK has morphed into UKEW – the United Kingdom of England and Wales.

    • AnnieM says:

      Only you can’t have a united kingdom when only one of them is a kingdom.

      • Cubby says:


        Correct. But what the hell let them call themselves what they want. It’s the Welsh people i would feel sorry for and always have.

  11. Alba woman says:

    Wow Graham thank goodness there are folk like you around at such a time including WGD of course….if I were Blundell reading your fantastic descriptions of my character I would pack a spotted hankie on a stick and wander off to wherever forever.

  12. Graham says:

    Thanks. Glad you liked it. Moandull just under-the-skinspires me. It’s a 20-minute wordsplurge. Better than shouting about hating him, to me. I like to do these sort of wrecking text exercises sometimes for fun.

  13. Alex Smith says:

    Graham – Awesome!

  14. Scotland is not a partner in the UK, it is part of the UK.
    Game set and match.

    • Graham says:

      What’s this ‘UK’ acronym you speak of?

      Oh wait, sorry, I am writing this from the future. 😉

  15. Macart says:

    I know there’s a few dominoes yet to fall this summer in order to belt and braces this galactof**k of Westminster’s, but after that clown shoed buffoon Mundell’s remarks on Scotland? Wanting them to get on with it now basically.

    They were given every chance since 2014 to keep their word and effectively win the argument. They didn’t even make the attempt. They didn’t feel they needed to and acted accordingly.

    That was mistake number one. Their second was allowing themselves to be recorded acting like the arrogant, patronising, self entitled and vindictive creatures we know them to be. Forcing choices and decisions on those who didn’t vote for them. Dragging people against their will into harms way and taking what they want from those same people simply because they believe they can.

    They won’t be able to avoid making the next couple of mistakes either. Their nature won’t allow them to and it will cause untold distress for a great many people.

    We can put it to rights though. So as Paul urges? Time to get to work and be ready.

    • Cubby says:

      Britnats – unlimited levels of arrogance combined with unlimited ignorance – a disastrous mix (for them)that will terminate the union. The poster boy for this – Ross Thomson.

      Ross Thomson = total Tory Bampot.

  16. Macart says:

    Oh, and one more thing. This is a job description from HMG’s own site:

    The main role of the Scottish Secretary is to promote and protect the devolution settlement.

    Other responsibilities include promoting partnership between the UK government and the Scottish government, and relations between the 2 Parliaments.

    (My Bold)

    Just sayin’ Mr Mundell, but you may wish to read that… some day.

    • Stuart Mcnicoll says:

      Love it, trouble is, fluffy and his handlers understanding of Scotland being part of the UK is completely at odds with the legal reality. By the time Scotland is finished with them, that cliff is going to look pretty appealing.

  17. Graham says:

    Whae says he kin read onyhing apart fae the writing oan the waw? Why dae ye hink him n his pissy hissy fit spat-spitters are panicking sae much? Dinosaurs lumbering taewards the tarpit ay political extinction wi heavy bones ready tae drag them doon intae the amnesiac muck firivir.

  18. 'Part of the UK' says:

    ‘Don’t want to be part of the UK any more’.

    Can we perhaps get The National to interview Lord Smith to get his opinion on how the Smith Commission and its implementation is going – in respect of the permanence of the Scottish Parliament.

    Given recent ‘worst-case’ leaked reports from our Brexit Bulldog on the general availability of indeed anything after 19th March 2019, and in particular the availability of pharmaceuticals/antibiotics (predicted to run out after as little as two days in Scotland and Cornwall – these are parts of the UK to the north and south-west, respectively of the more important part in the south east) as may possibly cure the Plague of Boils on its way for anyone who may have attempted to ‘prorogue’ the permanence of the Scottish Parliament, (as warned/foretold by Lord Smith)…

    … the current situation must must at least be of some concern to ‘all those involved’ – you know who you are!

  19. What is Mundell up to one might ask? Scotland isn’t a partner in the UK he says, it is a part of the UK. If that is the case then there is no Union, there is no UK. The video below explains what these corrupt Tories are up to now in Scotland. Why exactly, do they want to disempower the Scottish Parliament? What are they up to at the Scottish Office? They are going to ransack and poison our land with fracking. That’s what.
    You might say that surely Mundell being Scottish means that he would be against this. Well he may be. But it turns out that the Tory whips have so much dirt on him, that they could bury him forever, if he doesn’t play ball.
    Watch the video. Take a deep breath first.

  20. Andy in Germany says:

    “If that’s true, then all by itself it counts as a change in material circumstances and gives a justification for a second independence referendum,”

    Surely it’s a material change anyway, even if the Tories were acting in good faith (cough) in 2014 and were really genuinely, absolutely utterly committed to greater devolution powers when the agreement was made, and only changed their minds this week?

    I understand that’s not likely enough to be presented as a third scenario, but…

  21. Kat hamilton says:

    You perfectly summed him up Graham..A charisma free zone if ever I saw one…A toady of the establishment, awaiting his ermine reward…Ian Blackford played a blinder in exposing the underhand tactics of wm, both at home n overseas…cudnt be better…plus extra snp members, who like the new style of non compliance…been a good week..

  22. There’s no such country as the U. K. The country should be known as Great Britain as stated in the Treaty of the Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments.
    Westminster is becoming more of a dictatorship every time it sits.

    • great britain is not a country it is a state, a state comprised of two kingdoms, one kingdom of which is comprised of the country of england, the principality of wales, and the province of NI and the other kingdom which is comprised of the country of Scotland. Thats why borders exist between Scotland/england, and NI/Eire.

  23. Welsh Sion says:

    A petition you may like to sign:

    Although it’s associated with 38 Degrees, it is in fact being organised by a member of the public.

    Sign and share.

    • Catherine says:

      Sorry, I think that we should not be promoting 38degrees. After the Scottish Referendum, they allowed Gordon Brown to highjack a petition which I and many others had signed and then allowed Gordon Brown to put his name to it and present it as his petition. I sent them an email saying take my name of that petition if Gordon Brown has anything to do with it.

      I’m sorry to say I think 38 degrees looks at the trend and then jumps on ‘the bandwagon’.

      I have to be honest and say that I would not support any of their petitions.

  24. great britain is not a country it is a state, a state comprised of two kingdoms, one kingdom of which is comprised of the country of england, the principality of wales, and the province of NI and the other kingdom which is comprised of the country of Scotland. Thats why borders exist between Scotland/england, and NI/Eire.

  25. Welsh Sion says:

    Great Britain is neither a country, nor is it a state – it is a geographical expression for one island in the North Atlantic Ocean, which is to the east of the geographical entity known as Ireland. This consists of the kingdom of Scotland, the kingdom of England and the nation of Wales (and perhaps, the ancient kingdom of Kernow/Cornwall). That’s why there are borders between England and Wales, and Scotland and England.

    The state (or more correctly, nation state) is not a country either. This is the so-called United Kingdom. Known to me as the Disunited Kingdumb, comprising the previously mentioned elements of Great Britain and the province of Northern Ireland. (It is in fact simultaneously the nation state with the longest name in English at the United Nations and also the shortest.)

    • Marconatrix says:

      Just to add that the island of Britain was so called because at one time it was mostly inhabited by Sion’s cultural/linguistic ancestors the Britons. The ‘Great’ was simply to distinguish it from their colony over the channel in Brittany (‘Little Britain’), nothing more than that. Not ‘excellent’ or ‘noble’ or ‘magnificent’, just physically more extensive than it’s offshoot. And as for the English … just a load of immigrants 😉

  26. James Fleming says:

    We really have to stop using nice, cute names for Mundell. By doing so we give the impression that the sleekit wee nyaff is harmless, bumbling and, essentially, friendly and good-hearted. None of which describes our colonial governor.
    I really can’t see why you’d call him an ewok. Sure, lots of Star wars fans hate them, but they are (as written, anyway) brave, doughty fighters battling to escape the oppression and abuse of an autocratic empire abusing them and their homes and stealing their natural resources whilst inflicting environmental damage on their environment. Not really a description of Governor Mundell, is it?

  27. bearinorkney says:


  28. During the 1296 – 1357 YES campaign Robert I found it possible to forgive John de Menteith, so I am sure that accepting Murray Foote into the fold will not be a problem.

  29. Marconatrix says:

    A real cracker, Paul. An unadulterated pleasure to read. Don’t you get that feeling deep down that a Turning Point has been reached at last? 🙂

  30. Cubby says:

    As. I have said before the wee ginger dug is the supreme wordsmith. A great talent that deserves a Scotland wide audience.

  31. Elspeth says:

    Great, as ever, Paul

  32. Margaret says:

    These Wrangs Must Noo Be Richted

    As summer turns tae autumn, an the nichts are drawin in
    Ye’ll hae a chance tae richt the wrangs, that Scottish haunds hae din
    For thaim nae longer wi’ us, when the days wir dark and drear
    They kept the caunle burning bricht, so oor wey wid be clear
    Oan Scotias sile by Scotias haunds these wrangs must noo be richted

    As ye climb upon the shooders o’ thae giants o’ Scottish men
    When ye gang tae pit yer cross doon as ye staun an’ haud yer pen
    Think o the’ pygmies we noo bear, thae couldnae lick the bits
    O’ thae men o’ steel fae Clydeside or thaim fae Ayrshire pits
    Oan Scotias sile by Scotias haunds these wrangs must noo be richted

    Tae leave oor land a better place this is the debt we owe
    An’ rid us o’ the cannydaes an’ thaim that jist say no
    Nae man wha luvs his country could ever staun and say
    Lets haun the poo’er tae ithers for that’s a better way
    Oan Scotias sile by Scotias haunds these wrangs must noo be richted

    The thocht o’ weiring ermine and a title tae their name
    Must really be enticing that they’d gie awa their hame
    So noo ye hiv been haunded oan, the caunle that wis lichted
    Oan Scotias sile by Scotias haunds mak a’ these wrangs be richted


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