Scotland and the British government are heading for your actual constitutional crisis, but according to certain sections of the media in Scotland it’s all very arcane, and people aren’t going to get very upset about it. Apparently it’s all about highly technical stuff to do with obscure agricultural standards, nothing that those of us who aren’t obsessed with the minutiae of policy wonkery in the food labelling industry need to worry our pretty little heads about. According to Iain McWhirter some Scottish journalists claim that they are bored by the whole affair. Oh look, Meghan Markle’s dad might not be going to the wedding. There’s some real proper British news there. That’s the news where we are and not the news where you are, so naturally it’s far more important. It’s got a crown on it and everything. Oooh the royal drama squirrel.
The truth, of course, is that there’s nothing technical and obscure about the current constitutional crisis. The reason that parts of the Scottish media are telling us that no one is interested in it is because they’re reporting it as an excercise in obscure constitutional technicalities involving even more arcane areas of public policy, and not what it really is. What it really is is a gross betrayal of a solemn commitment made by the British government to the people of Scotland. However the bulk of the Scottish press isn’t reporting it like that, and then having done their best to ensure that no one is going to be interested in the story, they tell us that no one is interested. I’m shocked and surprised I tell you. Never saw that one coming. Imagine that, the Scottish press doing their best to protect the British state from the consequences of its own mendacity.
It’s quite straightforward. In 2014 the British government promised the people of Scotland that the powers of Holyrood would be entrenched in law. It was one of the key aspects of the Vow. The Scotland Act was changed in order to reflect that promise. We received a solemn vow that no Westminster government would ever meddle with the powers of the Scottish Parliament or change those powers without the express consent of Holyrood. Now Theresa May’s government is doing exactly that. Even though all the MSPs in the Scottish Parliament except the Tories have voted, by a huge margin, to resist any change to Holyrood’s powers, even though the key commitment of Westminster in order to win a No vote in 2014 was that Westminster wouldn’t tamper with Holyrood’s powers without Holyrood’s express consent, Westminster is going to press ahead and impose its changes on Holyrood anyway. That’s not technical or obscure. There’s nothing arcane about it. It’s perfectly simple. Scotland was lied to.
If that wasn’t enough, the British government is also taking the Scottish Parliament to court in order to challenge a bill which the Scottish Parliament has passed by a substantial margin, a bill which the Scottish Advocate General, the top legal officer in the land, has ruled within the competence of the devolved administration. The British government is taking the Scottish Parliament to the same Supreme UK court which has already ruled that the provision in the Scotland Act that no changes could be made by Westminster to the powers of Holyrood without Holyrood’s consent has no legal validity. The British government hasn’t just lied to Scotland, it’s also suing Scotland in a court of law because Scotland objects to being lied to.
That’s what this crisis is about. It’s about Westminster lying. Again. It’s about Westminster arrogance. It’s about Westminster’s deception and breach of trust. If Scotland cannot have any faith or trust in the promises and commitments of the UK government, then what exactly is the point of us being in this so-called Union? If the legal commitments of the British government to the people of Scotland are meaningless, if Westminster reserves the right to tear them up as it sees fit, then Scotland is not in a Union. We are not a valued and equal partner in the families of nations of the UK. We are not leading the UK from within. We’re a subordinate part of a British unitary state with no more rights than an English county council, because all that we have we have on the sufferance of whatever government is in power on the banks of the Thames, and that government can dispose of Scotland’s powers exactly as it pleases.
Westminster promised us one thing, now they’re doing the exact opposite, and they are smugly informing us that there is nothing we can do about it. How’s that equal and valued partner in a family of nations working out for you all then? When you are told that the power of the Scottish parliament is going to be entrenched in law, when you get a solemn vow to that effect, when it’s written into law, you are supposed to take that as an absolute guarantee, and not as “Holyrood’s powers are guaranteed except when it’s inconvenient.”
If the guarantee of Holyrood’s powers means that they are not going to be guaranteed when they’re inconvenient to Westminster, what exactly is the point of the guarantee? A guarantee that tells you that you can have something as long as it suits the other party, and you get absolutely no input into deciding when it suits, is no guarantee at all. It’s no different in principle from putting out your hand and begging for alms. And that is precisely how Westminster sees us.
Meanwhile David Mundell, the man who is supposed to be Scotland’s voice in the UK government, whose job description, such as it is, entails defending and protecting the devolution settlement, is instead doing the exact opposite. Yet he is the sole representation that Scotland possesses at the highest levels of the UK government – a man who has been shut out of cabinet Brexit negotiations and who sees his job as being a messenger boy for Theresa May and not as a defender of Scotland’s rights and interests. He should resign, because he is every bit as useless as Westminster’s non-guarantee of Holyrood’s powers.
They tell us that Westminster will only co-opt Scotland’s powers for a limited period. Do you believe them? They have done nothing but lie, deceive, use weasel words, and been mendacious and underhand in their dealings with Scotland, and now they expect us to trust in their good faith. Their problem is that they have no good faith and no one trusts them, and that’s entirely due to their own bad behaviour.
The fact of the matter, no matter how much the British nationalist media in Scotland tries to obfuscate, is that this constitutional crisis only exists because the British government has lied to the people of Scotland, repeatedly. It’s that simple. The only guarantee that Scotland gets from Westminster is the guarantee that they will lie to us.
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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