A guest post by Samuel Miller
Other than the daily white noise of Essenpee badness, has anyone else noticed the lack of serious political news out there? Maybe we all got spoiled in May, June and July when daily we were bombarded with the Scottish elections, EU referendum and the Brexit result fallout. As for the effects of the latter on her majesty’s guv and their ‘honourable’ opposition? Popcorn sales shot through the roof in Scotland as the Conservative and Labour parties serialized the political equivalent of the latest summer disaster movie.
The grand Tory pissing contest of Brexitmageddon had everything a Hollywood producer could ask for as lead characters and parties were thrown into full on chaos. You didn’t dare leave your screen, even for a pee break, as resignations, back stabbings, retirements, sackings, abdications and coronations flew everywhere and seemingly all at once. And now? Now it’s so quiet out there… you could hear a fish fart.
Cue the traditional silly season of ‘news’.
Oor meeja (bless em), presenting a daily diet of stories constructed from ingredients so thin you’d struggle to come up with an appetizer, let alone a three course meal. ‘Course that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening out there, simply that it’s being carefully managed and the government press office have their cell phones on mute. As readers will recall, we’ve recently theorized why both Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon need time on their side right about now. It’s a safe bet to say, that however quiet it appears to be, governments north and south of the border are more than likely a hive of activity. The clock is ticking down and between you and me I’m guessing it’s PM May who is feeling that autumn is approaching way too quickly for comfort.
We may not know when article 50 and the ongoing omnishambles that is Brexit negotiations will be enacted, but we do know that the autumn budget isn’t that far off. Philip Hammond’s ‘fiscal reset’ will be the public’s first clue as to the immediate future of the UK’s economy post referendum and for many it may well prove a cold hard shock to the system. Not so much of a shock for anyone familiar with Conservative austerity ideology or its effects to be sure, but I’m guessing that’s all about to change. For some folks out there it’s probably a good day to make sure you’re sitting comfortably with all breakable objects of any value safely out of reach.
The one bright light on the horizon for the PM is that Labour’s leadership stooshie should overlap this impending ‘bad day at work’ quite nicely. Readers are well aware by this point of the struggle between the two factions for the soul of the Labour party. Depending on how the leadership vote unfolds and concludes, there is a very real possibility that the Labour party, as we know it, will face a darker and longer night in the wilderness than anyone could have possibly imagined. If some permanent schism does occur? I’d be stunned if titles supportive of Conservative government didn’t hit the rinse and repeat button messily and all over the place right through Mr Hammond’s autumn budget statement.
So what is the one thing common to all of the above and how is it pertinent to Scotland and the readers of this site?
That’s right! No one in Scotland, not in the street or in public service, has any say or control over party and parliamentary events that will have very real consequences for all of us. The party of government and their loyal opposition are probably in the middle of the worst legislative systemic failure in the UK’s post war political record and the Scottish electorate basically have to wait for them to get their collective shit together.
Or do we?
We know the Scottish government have been busy on the Brexit front. They have assembled their committee for assessing options. They’ve hit the road consulting with relevant bodies in Europe and they’ve set in motion preparations for an indyref bill (just in case). First Minister Sturgeon has recently held a Q&A session with EU nationals to keep those concerned as appraised of the ongoing situation as possible and the SG have even scraped together a few quid from last year’s underspend to help out the economy. No, it’ll be nowhere near enough in the end, but if it saves just one business, one job? They are now however, at that point where they are restricted in actions they can take as a government until Brexit is actually triggered.
What of Scotland’s electorate?
Well, those who continue to support the current political union and the Westminster system of government will have to simply sit on their hands and hope for the best. That’s pretty much all they can do.
Then there are those who support the idea that a Scottish electorate is best served by a government in Scotland.
If, as many suspect, the finding of the SG’s consultative committee is that remaining a member of both unions is at best extremely problematic and at worst a constitutional impossibility? Then its highly probable that as soon as article 50 is set in motion the Scottish government will move to pass that referendum bill through Holyrood. This will allow the Scottish electorate to resolve for themselves the current constitutional crisis and you can’t say fairer than that.
In which case, this could prove a fairly busy and productive period as pro YES groups seek to ‘put the band back together’. That’s the thing about political engagement in a popular sovereignty. There are always places to be, things to do and LOTS of people to talk to.
What do you think?
N.B. This will be my final post before the heid honcho gets back. I’d just like to thank folks for visiting the site whilst Paul’s been having a well earned break and also for the excellent contributions to the threads. Much appreciated.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984