There are many reasons for wanting Scottish independence. There’s the potential for doing something about the gross inequalities that blight our country. There’s getting rid of the obscenity of weapons of mass destruction from the Clyde. There’s the prospect of a referendum on the future of the monarchy and the chance of a republic. There’s the fact that we’ll get our own stamps and the possibility that one of them might have a dug on it. There’s giving online British nationalist trolls a fit of apoplexy. There are many reasons, some of which are admittedly less important than others. But there’s one reason which is amongst the most important of all, which is possibly the most important of all. That reason is having a democracy that functions and a parliament which is actually capable of holding power to account.
We don’t have that just now. Not even close. We live in a country where the media solemnly informs us that the party which came a distant second in Scotland in the General Election was the real winner, and that means that Ruth Davidson gets to dictate what the Scottish government can or can’t do, even though it wasn’t even an election for Holyrood. If you listened to the British media, particularly its Scottish branch offices, you’d think that Ruth Davidson was God. There is however a significant difference between Ruth Davidson and God. God doesn’t think that he’s Ruth Davidson. She has infinite power, at least in her own imagination.
It’s worse at a UK level. In the UK all power is centralised in Westminster, and within Westminster it’s centralised in the office of the PM. Now that the Tories have lost their majority in the Commons, they’re no longer even pretending to take the will of Parliament into account. The Conservatives now routinely abstain on Opposition Day motions. They couldn’t even be bothered to defend their, admittedly indefensible, Universal Credit policy,even though it’s the centrepiece of their benefit reforms. The Commons voted it down, the Tories carry on as though nothing has happened. Governments aren’t to be bound by trivial matters like votes in the Commons. Opposition Day motions aren’t binding on the government, and the Conservatives are no longer even going to participate in the pretence that the Commons exists in order to hold the executive to account.
What was all that about Brexit being so that full sovereignty could be restored to the British Parliament? Oh yeah, it was every much as much a pile of steaming Jackie Baillie as the promise that if Scotland voted no then devolution would be enhanced and strengthened and the permanence of the Scottish parliament would be enshrined in law. That turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on.
Then there was the promise that Brexit would lead to all sorts of wonderful new powers for the Scottish Parliament. So far the only power that we’ve seen is the power of waffle. This isn’t a new power. It’s been the speciality of the Conservatives in their dealings with Scotland ever since, well, forever. That’s what happens when we’ve been lumbered with a Scottish Secretary of State who is as inert as helium gas and every bit as lightweight.
During the ritual of Scottish questions in the Commons, and David Mundell had firmly tied himself to the government front benches in order to prevent himself floating away. He bobbed about, trying to pretend that he had something substantial to offer. More powers! More powers! He kept repeating the phrase, but like a particularly dense parrot had no concept that there ought to be any meaning behind it. Fluffy wanna cracker. Squawk! More powers! Or maybe it was just the sound of leaking helium gas.
Our so-called Secretary of State with his £9 million a year departmental budget for UK propaganda was asked five times by opposition MPs to name a single extra power that’s going to be given to the Scottish Parliament as a result of Brexit. “There’s going to be loads of them,” said the Fluffmonster, “hunners. Squawk!”
“Aye but,” interjected just about every opposition MP, “can you be a wee bit more specific.” Fluffy puffed himself up, replacing the leaking helium that was making the pitch of his voice rise higher and higher. If he kept going then perhaps he’d soon be speaking at such a high pitch that his voice would be inaudible to human ears. “There will be a significant increase in the decision making power of each devolved administration,” he gassed.
Despite repeated attempts from MPs who aren’t Tories, because Scotland’s Tory MPs haven’t got the slightest interest in ensuring the government keeps its promises to Scotland, he refused to name a single new power that Brexit was going to deliver to any of the devolved administrations. On the other hand, he was extremely specific about powers they weren’t going to get. Immigration will not be devolved, despite the fact that prominent Brexiteers like Michael Gove had aired the possibility that it could be. That’s turned out to be as fictitious as a slogan on the side of a bus.
The opposition MPs queued up to point out that he hadn’t answered the question and hadn’t named any powers that would be devolved to Holyrood. “Oh yes I have.” “Oh no you haven’t.” And then huffily Fluffy proclaimed that the opposition was taking a pantomime approach to the proceedings. Which to be fair was true, but only because Fluffy was determined to play the role of the evil stepmother. The only powers that he was demonstrating was the power of the Westminster government not to be held to account by irritating elected representatives of the people, and the power of Tory contempt.
We live in a country where the people can be promised just about anything, and then once those doing the promising have secured the vote they wanted they can ignore all the promises they made in order to win it. The British nationalists are very fond of demanding that Scotland must respect the results of the 2014 referendum, but they have no intention of respecting the commitments they made to the Scottish people in order to secure the result. Independence means that we can live in a country where governments are bound by a written constitution, where politicians face consequences if they don’t abide by the promises that they’ve made in order to attain power. Independence means that we get the governments that we vote for. Independence means democracy. That’s the most important reason of all for wanting independence. It means we can be governed by politicians who have to answer for their politics, and no longer by helium filled parrots.
The Scottish Independence Convention is asking local group representatives to fill in a survey about their local pro-independence group in order to help the SIC collect as much data as it can on local groups. The aim of the survey is to help the SIC see where the geographical and logistical gaps are, what skills are already present in local groups, and to better help the SIC understand what support local groups need and expect from the SIC. If your local group hasn’t already done so, please click on the following link and fill in the (short) survey.
Yours truly will be presenting the local groups session at the SIC conference in the Usher Hall on Saturday November 4, and this survey will help inform that process as well as the local groups’ conference which we’re organising for Saturday 16 December in Dunblane. The Dunblane meeting, unlike the SIC Build conference, is guaranteed to be 100% Brian Spanner free.
If you haven’t already applied for a ticket for your local group for Dunblane, please do so as soon as possible. Details are on the previous post. The venue only holds 150 people, and there are only 20 places left. I’m really sorry, but some tickets have had to be cancelled because we’ve had multiple applications from certain districts and we’re trying to restrict attendance to two representatives from each local group to ensure that as many local groups as possible can participate.
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.
Wee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements
Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.