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By Jason Michael
Scotland will have no power and no right to withhold consent until it is a sovereign and independent country.
Westminster has addressed Scotland’s power grab concerns over the repatriation of powers in the publication of the draft amendments to the European Union Withdrawal Bill. In a typically British cack-handed attempt to assuage the concerns of the devolved parliaments this draft proposes to return all powers to London for up to seven years. Naturally the proposed amendment to the Scotland Act gives the Scottish parliament a say in what will happen; it can either give its consent or give its consent. Yes, you read that right: Holyrood’s consent can be given, according to the draft, by giving its consent, remaining silent, or by withholding its consent.
Even a straight No from the Scottish parliament will be taken as consent by London, allowing the Westminster government to take back all of the powers regardless of the positions of the devolved national governments. Not only will Scotland be taken from the EU against its will, the very will of Scotland will be ignored by the British government in whatever it – and it alone – decides in relation to Brexit. This is no mere democratic deficit. This is the imposition of London’s will on Scotland. This is a power grab, and we have been told there is nothing we can do about it.
When the question of the 111 returning powers first became an issue the British government denied a power grab and the BBC leapt into action, portraying the Scottish government and its Brexit Minister, Michael Russell, in particular as fantasists. The British negotiators said all the while that Scotland’s consent would be sought and their sincere hope was for consensus. It soon transpired, however, that the power grab was real, and today we have again been reminded what the UK government means by “negotiation.” Britain does not do sincerity.
Nicola Sturgeon is right in saying that this is only a draft and that it can still be fixed, but it is not easy to share her optimism. Whether we like it or not, legally speaking Westminster has the power to impose its will on Scotland – that is what the “union of equals” means. In the Commons both the government and the opposition are unionist parties, rendering the SNP – which holds the majority of the Scottish seats – powerless. Once again England’s will will be imposed on Scotland.
Edinburgh QC Jonathan Mitchell aptly described this as “a rapist’s theory of consent,” and he’s not wrong. How else can such a situation be described? A decision that will have far-reaching affects across Scotland and the Scottish economy is being made for the benefit of another country and its economy outside of Scotland – in what amounts to the parliament of the beneficiary. That Scotland’s withdrawal of consent is of no consequence is an act of political and legislative rapine, but this has been a central feature of the union since its very beginning. Why this should come as a surprise to anyone in Scotland is a mystery.
All of this cuts right to the heart of the problem of the union and the nature of devolution. Devolution is not sovereignty, and sovereignty is the only political condition that can save a nation from another imposing its will on it. Holyrood is not a sovereign parliament. It is a devolved parliament, meaning that its “power” is merely that part of Westminster’s power it has been permitted by Westminster to exercise. That “power” can be rescinded at any moment.
Real power in Britain is in London, and this is a parliament established on a medieval conception of autocratic power which is completely foreign to Scotland. While in Scotland sovereignty is in the hands of the people – at least in theory, in England all power – absolute power – is in the Crown. The legal concept of the Crown in Parliament means that the absolute power of the Crown in exercised through “her majesty’s” parliament – Westminster. As long as Scotland is in a political union with England and England’s parliament is the supreme parliament of the union then that parliament has absolute power over Scotland.
Scotland’s popular sovereignty has no legal reality in this union, and our parliament has no teeth. A national parliament without sovereignty is no parliament at all, and this Brexit powers power grab has only reminded us of this sorry fact. It reminds us that our only way forward as a nation is independence.
Scotland’s popular sovereignty has no legal reality in this union, and our parliament has no teeth.
Without a referendum and a decision to end the union before the completion of the Brexit talks in Brussels we can be sure this power grab will happen. The Scottish parliament will be made weaker as a result, our economy will be negatively affected, and Westminster will have its way. This is always the way it is because the union is the legal arrangement by which England has its way. Something that is not being said loudly enough here is that these three things – power, our consent, and another referendum – are all facets of the same problem: our lack of independence.
Scotland will never have power and our consent will only ever mean what Westminster says it means until we are an independent country. Rather than talking about fighting this within the union – where Scotland, by design, can never win – Nicola Sturgeon should be using this most recent slap in the face as a last straw on which to set the ball rolling on another referendum. The time has come.
Scottish parliament: We have been treated with contempt!
9 thoughts on “A Rapist’s Theory of Consent”
We are Scottish and Irish Royals called the “Britannia Royals” from Argyll (Alba) and Connaucht Ireland called there Princes of Coolavin ! We have been in Australia since 1840 from West Bandon in Southern Ireland and the Windsor’s (Saxe Coburg Gotha’s) are our more junior cousins since 730 AD when their ancestor in Prussia (and Denmark) King Boniface d’Este married into our Royal family ! We even were/are more senior to Queen Victoria in the 1800’s ! We are Scottish Kings too! Scotland does not have a higher Sovereign than us ! They have pretenders in the Windsor lineage instead!
But Scotland’s only sovereign is the Scottish people.
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Another referendum should be instigated if this is the case that Scotland will live under the wing of Westminster no matter what Scotland wants. Scotland can be overruled.
Westminster, “Come on you tart. You know you want it!”
Holyrood, ” No.”
Westminster, “Admit it. You really, really want it!”
Westminster, ” Yes you do, you mean yes!”
Westminster, “Yes! Yes! YES!”
Holy Jesus Christ on a crutch! Westminster is endorsing the rapists theory of consent!
Saying to Scotland basically. “If you’re breathing you’re agreeing.”
We all know what Westminster is like. But to have it confirmed so blatantly, so officially.
Mrs Mayhem says, “Now is not the time!”
I say to Mrs Mayhem.
“Now is the time!”
Now’s the day and now’s the hour,
See, the front o battle lour,
See, approach proud Mayhem’s power,
Chains and Slavery!
Apologies to Robert Burns, but I’ve never been so bloody angry! Angry? No. I’m furious!
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I’m incandescent with rage and sincerely hope that the soft no’s can now see what Wastemonster is really like.
PS Did you know that there’s a glitch with WordPress and most of us can’t see the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons?
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I thought firstly the statement was the obvious Yes = Yes; No decision = Yes and No = Yes, but reading it again, and aware of how bloody convoluted legalese is, could it be that “consent motion” simply sets out the possible outcomes of the motion?
A referendum is not the only way, see Mr Murray on the same subject –
The wording is to prevent the Scottish Parliament from delaying or postponing a decision. Yes, no, or no decision are all regarded as decisions having been taken.
What the actual decision or no decision taken is irrelevant as Westminster will overrule it anyway unless it is yes.
So it’s a method to circumvent any plan by the Scottish Parliament to delay for any reason. Westminster is dictating the operational methodology of Holyrood. The presiding officer needs to step in and reject this dictate.
This article answers my question of why can’t the Scottish Parliament, its representatives, or the Scottish people take this unfair, unequal proposition by Westminster to an International Court e.g. The European Court of Human Rights. Hobson’s choice.