The temple of doom

It’s being reported today (Sunday) that the British Government finds it “extremely concerning” that MPs are trying to delay Article 50 in order to avoid a no deal. It’s a bit like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when our hero and his chums are in a river and about to go over a waterfall. Theresa May would say it’s extremely concerning that people in the boat are looking to see what they can use as an anchor. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a tired and hackneyed movie containing nothing much that was new, original, or intelligent, one which kept repeating old tropes from earlier in the franchise and which had long since worn out its welcome. Very much like Theresa May’s government. It’s even got the aliens with strange heads too, which is possibly the only way to explain Michael Gove.

It’s such a mess that we’d be in far safer and more competent hands if the Brexit process was being driven by Prince Philip. He’s not sorry about the dangers he causes either. Although admittedly with Prince Philip we’d have a driver with less of a sense of entitlement. What’s driving Theresa’s ire is that tomorrow the Commons is due to debate an amendment which seeks to wrest control over Commons business out of the hands of the Government and give it to MPs. It’s an attempt to limit the overweening power of the executive branch of the government and restore it to the legislature in a state which infamously lacks a written constitution and which over the past few decades has slowly turned into what has been described as an elective dictatorship.

The phrase elective dictatorship was first used by the Conservative politician and intellectual Quentin Hogg, back when the Conservative party had intellectuals. He used it to describe the UK of the late 1960s when in his opinion the British Parliament had become dominated by the government. As a Tory, Hogg was of course using it to describe the Labour government of Harold Wilson. However back in the 1960s the cabinet, of governments of either party, was far more an exercise in collective responsibility. Cabinets contained big beasts, who were capable of standing up to a Prime Minister who was very much regarded as primus inter pares, the first amongst equals. It took the long dark decade and a half of Thatcher to transform the cabinet and the government into a tool and instrument of the Prime Minister.

The theory of UK government is that sovereignty rests in a Parliament which is elected by the people. The reality is that when there is a majority government, absolute power rests with the Prime Minister, who is able to impose her or his will. Theresa May is the head of a minority government, but one which is acting as though it had a majority. Moreover Theresa May is a Prime Minister whose personal authority is tattered and discredited. She has done nothing to endear herself to her own backbenchers, never mind the other parties.

The amendment to be debated tomorrow takes advantage of the historic weakness of the Prime Minister. Put forward jointly by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and the Conservative Nick Boles, the amendment seeks to change the timetabling rules of the House of Commons. It all sounds a bit abstract and arcane, but what MPs are trying to do is to wrest control of Commons business out of the hands of the government and restore it to MPs. That will allow MPs to bring forward bills and amendments and ensure that there is time for them to be debated and voted on, instead of hoping that the government will do so. We’ve already seen how this government is hell bent on trying to avoid being held to account by that Parliament whose sovereignty it claims to be seeking to restore. No wonder Theresa finds the amendment “extremely concerning”.

The reason all this is becoming an issue just now is that by taking control of parliamentary business back from the government, MPs will then be able to change the existing provision in the EU Withdrawal Act which the government rammed through in order to placate extreme Brexists, the clause which states that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March with or without a deal being reached. If they can do that, they remove Theresa May’s big stick, the big stick which remains her only means of exerting any authority. It’s only the threat of falling out of the EU on 29 March without any deal that allows her to continue to insist, despite the historic defeat last week, that it’s her deal or no deal.

Taking control of Commons business out of the hands of government will also allow MPs to explore the option of another EU referendum. However there doesn’t seem to be a majority for it amongst MPs, given recent reports that up to half of Labour’s front bench – those in leave voting constituencies in England – would resign in protest if the party was to support a second EU vote.

We’re in a mess. There’s no clear route out of it. Given these circumstances I have to disagree with the article published in the Scotsman by Joyce McMillan last week, in which she counselled that Scotland must wait until there is a national consensus in favour of independence before pressing for another indy referendum. I have a lot of respect for Joyce, but I think she’s wrong. The mess that the UK has got itself into means that it is absolutely imperative for the people of Scotland to have a say on this country’s future.

Joyce is concerned that Scottish independence must be achieved legally. I agree with her entirely there. Where I disagree with her is that this is not Spain. The unwritten constitution of the UK gives Scotland’s independence campaign considerably greater freedom of movement than the Spanish constitution gives to Catalonia’s. We have options in Scotland that would be illegal for Catalonia. It would not be illegal for the Scottish Government to announce its desire to test in the courts whether it could hold a consultative referendum, which is after all what Alex Salmond was planning to do if David Cameron rejected a Section 30 Order in 2012. If the courts find that Holyrood does indeed have a right to consult with the people of Scotland for their views, then the referendum would be perfectly legal. Equally it’s perfectly legal for Scotland’s pro-independence parties to convert any Scottish election into an effective referendum on independence by converting the vote into a plebiscite election on independence. As I have written before, none of these routes require Theresa May’s permission or a Section 30 order.

The time to go for a Scottish vote is when the machinations in the House of Commons play themselves out. It’s less likely this week than last week that there will be a snap General Election or a second EU referendum, but they remain possibilities. As soon as we know there won’t be, that’s the time for Scotland to make its move. One way or another, the people of Scotland must have a say, we must have a voice. Is Scotland content to remain a subordinate part of an elective dictatorship in which the dictator isn’t elected by Scotland, or do we wish to live in a representative democracy with strong checks and balances on the powers of the executive branch of government, a democracy in which the sovereignty of the people is enshrined in a written constitution.

That’s the choice facing us. We can stay in the UK’s temple of doom, or we can forge our own path.  It’s either rowing our own boat, or sitting helplessly as we plunge off the waterfall and drown in the hubris of British exceptionalism.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.

38 comments on “The temple of doom

  1. Glendon Franklin says:

    More sense than the entirety of the rest of the British media.

  2. Andy Anderson says:

    I have been banging on for some months now on exactly the sequence of events you outline Paul. Your comments on the change in power in London since the 1980’s is also correct.

    I have been trying to use this message to No voters also. As part of a discussion it does make people think.

    Very interesting times.

  3. benmadigan says:

    “MPs will then be able to change the existing provision in the EU Withdrawal Act which the government rammed through in order to placate extreme Brexists, the clause which states that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March with or without a deal being reached”.

    MPs might be able to change their EU Withdrawal Act which states that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March with or without a deal being reached”

    MPs cannot change the Art 50 Terms of Withdrawal. Brexit will happen on 29th March unless an extension is asked for and granted by all 27 EU member states

    3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Yes I agree entirely. But before Westminster can ask the EU for an extension of Article 50, they have to first remove the provision in UK law that states that the UK will leave on 29 March come what may. That’s what I am talking about in this article.

      • benmadigan says:

        Yes I do understand in your case Paul.

        But it’s the overall confusion of terms in the press and elsewhere that I object to.
        Which is typical of Westminster’s perennial “muddying of the waters” so people don’t understand what’s going on

  4. Robert Graham says:

    Good artical Paul however i cant see the Tory party inflicting more damage on the present incumbent who presently is squatting in No 10 , I am afraid this amendment wont fly .

    As for the wait, wait ,theory thats also a non runner quite apart from giving this bunch of vicious psychopaths more time to tie the Scottish Parliament in knots and even make it illegal to assemble in more numbers than two , the waiting grumbling folk who support independence will seek another route , a route that dosnt observe Westminster rules, in fact any rules ,thats what happens when democracy is disguised as tyranny .

  5. Orri says:

    It’s all very well wanting to do everything by the book but there’s no gaurantee that that book won’t simply be rewritten if we wait for too long.

  6. jake says:

    Any “extension” is more than just symbolic. After 29th March new EU financial transparency and disclosure rules kick in and become effective. If you’ve quiet money offshore in a tax haven and want to keep it way … Why else do you think the withdrawal letter was sent when it was? As always…follow the money.

  7. Macart says:

    Pretty much.

    I’d imagine this isn’t how most folk wanted to see us approach self government. I’d guess it’s not how the SNP would want it to have happened either. It is however where we are at.

    We’re here because of a decision made a little over four years ago. We have multiples of constitutional crises, as mad and inept a Tory government as has ever been and as ineffectual and divided a Labour party as there has ever been. As for the populations of the UK? Better togetherness doesn’t appear to figure highly these days much.

    Why aren’t we independent already? Why do we have to wait to be saved from UKgov chaos and the ever more intolerant and aggressive UK we find ourselves attached to? Why oh why aren’t the SNP actively promoting or pursuing an openly aggressive independence line?

    Pretty common questions across the indyweb tbs. And Jings! The explanations.

    They’ve got comfy in the role of devolution. The Westminster crowd have become equally comfy and could, in fact, have been won over by the darkside. They don’t have the bottle. There’s no spark or drive. They’re busy having a civil war (Oh FFS!).

    Yet whatever they’ve got in mind and whatever their plan? Whether we agree with it or not, they’re our best hope. The Scottish government have to literally negotiate a legal, constitutional, economic and societal meltdown with both hands tied behind their backs in terms of powers.

    It’s also entirely possible they’re the wrong folk to ask right enough. Might be the people to ask why we are where we are, should be UK gov and the people who voted no in 2014. It wouldn’t be wrong for folk to reason that we’re here in the middle of this shit storm because we didn’t take the exit door when it was lit with neon arrows shouting ‘this way to the lifeboats’.

    If the latter half of the equation above are fortunate? There might be an opportunity to light up those neon signs again in the not too distant future.

    Right now though? Now it’s going to be a process and legality ridden minefield in an unprecedented situation with spin, dirty pool and fibbery on display which’ll make indyref 1 look like the good ol’ days.

    And yes. At this point, you’d have to be a stone not feel the nerves fraying a bit.

    • Fillofficer says:

      FFS that is great Sam

    • deelsdugs says:

      Greta post Paul.
      Excellent Sam. ‘They’ve got comfy with devolution…’ retirement and pensions on the horizon…was thinking that myself not so long ago at an interbranch SNP meeting…
      And yes, the process needs to hang on just a little bit longer. My concern, like many others, is that it’s going to hang on just a bit too long, and Scotland will be another flounder in the North Sea scooped up by who knows, and flushed doon the pan.
      Hope not. Nerves are indeed shredded.

      • Macart says:

        Given where we all find ourselves, I don’t think they were left with many options on their route of travel. Bound by office, the will of the electorate (as of 2014), caught in a constitutional crisis not of their choice or making. Jeez, what a mincer. I think most folk who are pro indy would almost certainly wish it were otherwise. And as for the appalling nature of the central government they are dealing with?

        However, if someone had said to me four years ago that there was an outside chance of us getting close to another indyref in under ten years? I’d have bitten their arm off up to the shoulder for the opportunity. So… silver linings (of a kind).

  8. Roy Moore says:

    “It’s even got the aliens with strange heads too, which is possibly the only way to explain Michael Gove” Getting bored with the cheap shots. My entire household can do this, from the Filipino Scullery Maid to the The Butler, who, one has to admit, is far more Aristocratic than what I am…. Come on, more substance….

  9. Indyman says:

    On 20 June 2016 the EU Council adopted the Directive (EU) 2016/1164 laying down rules against tax avoidance practices that directly affect the functioning of the internal market.

    The UK has more offshore tax havens by a long chalk than any other country in the world. That was the trigger for Brexit as it would have meant that the posh boys tax dodging would be severely limited if the UK stayed in the EU.

    It was decided that 3 months leeway was to be allowed before proceedings would be started as 3 months worth of revenues was not worth the hassle of chasing it up, So March 29th is the deadline for the posh boys to get the UK out of the EU so that their tax dodging can continue as before with the rest of us picking up the bill.

    This is why they will be pulling every dirty trick in the book and then some to get the UK out of the EU before that date. They don’t care if the UK becomes a toxic festering morass of poverty and disease so long as they don’t have to pay any more tax.

    We don’t have to be part of that. We can be better.

  10. Brian Lucey says:

    this morning the UK wanted a bilateral with Ireland that couldnt happen, and tonight they want to amend, unilaterally, an existing bilateral with Ireland that wont happen.
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/20/exclusive-theresa-may-mulls-amending-good-friday-agreement-get/
    Are they all demented? Stupid? Has Brexit rotted their minds?

  11. Brian Lucey says:

    They have serious difficulty recognizing the independence of Ireland. 100y to the day after the first shots of the War of Independence, and we are still trying to get it into their heads – we like you, but not that way.
    Scotland – take note.

  12. john burrows says:

    An independence referendum is the only political tool available to the Scottish electorate to effect constitutional reform of the United Kingdom, while we are still in the United Kingdom.

    There is no precedent for using a UK general election as a vehicle for independence.

    If it did, we should have become independent when the SNP swept the board in 2015.

    I doubt Scotland’s own High Court would accept a UK GE was a suitable vehicle for independence. I would be happy to accept I am wrong on this.

    What I don’t understand is why we are not pressing the case that the UK government can unilaterally disregard the current mandate.

    If there are no consequences to the UK government disregarding the current mandate, there is nothing preventing them from disregarding a confirmed mandate in the next GE. Even if the SNP swept the field again.

    Only the judiciary can resolve this conundrum.

    If we continue to leave it to the Tory Party to decide this issue, we are merely allowing them to use us to enflame British/English nationalism.

    The rise of which is the very reason we are all up our eyeballs in shit these days.

    • Illy says:

      “An independence referendum is the only political tool available to the Scottish electorate to effect constitutional reform of the United Kingdom, while we are still in the United Kingdom. ”

      Not true.

      The reason why 2015 wasn’t an independence mandate was because the SNP’s manifesto wasn’t solely and entirely: “Take Scotland independent”

      They stand on that as their entire manifesto and win a majority in any election and we’ve got our mandate.

      Whichever vote we happen to get first will do fine.

      There’s literally no point in standing on a platform of “we’ll have another referendum” because we already have the mandate for that. Next time Scotland goes to the polls will be our independence vote, regardless of what Westminster wants.

  13. J Galt says:

    The British Establishment, if they wish to, will wipe the floor with the likes of Yevette Cooper and Nick Boles.

    I have to say as a lifelong Independence supporter and SNP member and remain voter as per the party line, I now have my doubts.

    Recent events, particularly in France have turned me against the EU.

    If the SNP and others at Westminster do manage to bring about a second EU referendum I will be voting against the party line – and I won’t be alone.

    • Illy says:

      You’d rather the tories have free reign to tear up every bit of human rights legislation?

      The EU ain’t perfect by a long shot, but as long as we’re ruled from Westminster, the more checks there are on them the better.

      • J Galt says:

        Perhaps you are right.

        As I watch the state thugs in action in Paris I have my doubts regarding European human rights.

        • deelsdugs says:

          Maybe the ‘state thugs’ have been orchestrated and manipulated by the brexiteer establishment to make the EU and Human Rights look a charade…

          • Anne Martin says:

            Come on guys, that’s a debate for after independence. Without indy it’s completely irrelevant what we think about the EU, same as it’s irrelevant what Scotland thinks about anything in the Disunited Kingdom.

            • J Galt says:

              Yes you’re right Anne – an argument for another day – Indy first, and if they make us go through a rejoining process we can have our own EU referendum!

        • Andy Anderson says:

          The EU does not manage crowd control and angry protesters in any country as they are not sovereign and have no police force. France manages France

  14. astytaylor says:

    The temple of doom, indeed.
    The UK is a depressing place these days.
    No wonder young folks with any get up and go about them are getting up and going.
    I talked with a young lass of 28 the other day. She was a real ray of sunshine, a real gem.
    A trained nurse. She left England at 22 and isn’t going back (except to visit).
    Who could blame her?
    An independent Scotland could be a place of hope, fairness, and opportunity. A place that attracts young people rather than repelling them. A place that would attract former get up and goers back to live.
    Don’t sleepwalk through life, Scotland.
    Wake up.

    • Hi,asty.
      I just read a transcript of May’s speech to the HoC this afternoon.
      She was ‘hearing’ but not ‘listening’ when she met a cross party delegation after her crushing defeat on the Meaningful Vote issue.
      She rules out an extension to article 50, a Second Referendum (not least because it will set the Sweaties off demanding a Section 30 Indyref 2) cancel Brexit all together, and doggedly presented yet again Hobson’s Choice, her deal or No Deal.
      Next Monday’s debate will not be a Meaningful Vote on whatever ‘amendments’ May in her mad world thinks she can negotiate with the EU, but she assures the House that Arlene and she are going to get together this week to come up with some wunnerful solution to the Irish Border conundrum which none of the rest of us have managed to come up with in 2 1/2 years.
      There won’t be a vote on May’s amended Withdrawal Deal until February now, this battered old can being kicked yet again further down the Road to Perdition.
      It’s an almighty disastrophe right enough.

      WE are heading for No Deal now, and Indyref 2 must surely begin in a Tartan Spring Uprising.
      We shall not be asking an English Administration’s ‘permission’.
      I don’t recall Cameron consulting us on EVEL at 7.00am 19th September 2014 outside No 10.
      I believe that this woman is quite mad.

  15. James cheyne says:

    The people of Scotland did not get to vote on joining the treaty of the union, in 1707,so if we didn’t vote ourself,s in.WE THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ARE NOT IN THE TREATY OF THE UNION, SIMPLE. WHY make us believe we are? These 1707 business men whom were NOT chosen or selected by the Scottish sovereign people,They are names we are all familiar with,and recognise as getting personally paid, as a direct result, they alone did a business deal. And Those names alone on that business deal are financial responsible for any financial retribution when we say enough is enough.WE the sovereign people of Scotland were never asked. Any laws or legislation imposed by England government on Scottish sovereign people since 1707 are illegal and hold no authority,including referendums, How dumb are we that we keep believing the centuries old properganda.

  16. James cheyne says:

    The people of Scotland did not get to vote on joining the treaty of the union, in 1707,so if we didn’t vote ourself,s in.WE THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ARE NOT IN THE TREATY OF THE UNION, SIMPLE. WHY make us believe we are? These 1707 business men whom were NOT chosen or selected by the Scottish sovereign people,They are names we are all familiar with,and recognise as getting personally paid, as a direct result, they alone did a business deal. And Those names alone on that business deal are financial responsible for any financial retribution when we say enough is enough.WE the sovereign people of Scotland were never asked. Any laws or legislation imposed by England government on Scottish sovereign people since 1707 are illegal and hold no authority,including referendums, How dumb are we that we keep believing the centuries old properganda.u

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s