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By Jason Michael

SPEAKING AT DINGWALL in the north of Scotland before the weekend, SNP MP and leader of the SNP parliamentary group in the House of Commons Ian Blackford was asked a wonderful question which quite clearly dragged him out of his comfort zone. An audience member stood and states his worry that if “Boris Johnson [becomes Prime Minister] and surrounds himself with like-minded idiots, they will do away with the Scotland Act altogether.” The statement electrified the room. People are genuinely concerned that this is what the British government will do. It was also something I addressed on my recent talking tour of the country, but we will return to that later.

Blackford laughed before answering, a laugh that came with an expression which said more about his nervousness than the answer he was about to give. “You could never rule out anything that Westminster would do,” he said, before continuing:

I would simply say that if Boris Johnson or anyone else was to get rid of the Scotland Act, and therefore get rid of the Scottish parliament, the people of Scotland wouldn’t accept that. It’s as simple as that.

But it’s not as simple as that, and the big hard swallow he made after answering betrayed the fact that not even Ian Blackford thought it was as simple as that. Certainly, the Highland audience never bought his answer. The room erupted in disbelief, forcing Blackford to repeat the answer and swiftly move on to the next question. Seeing as the United Kingdom doesn’t have a written constitution, as the man who asked the question himself said, anything is possible and Westminster has done precisely this in the past. When in Dublin the first Dáil Éireann – the Irish parliament – declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1919, the response from London was to send in the British Army and suppress the parliament.

However, we are not talking about Ireland a hundred years ago. The suppression of Scottish devolution is about the present and it is about Scotland and the response of the Scottish people. So, we must deal with his assertion that we Scots simply would not put up with this. Prior to this discussion we must first consider the tensions within Westminster with regard to Scotland. Our country is moving towards independence. Of course, unionists in Scotland can deny this all they want, but their endless efforts to subvert the SNP and the independence movement highlight their very real fears that we are indeed living in the last days of the union. England – the only nation that matters in Westminster – is in something of a bind; on the one hand a majority of Conservatives and other Brexiteers would rather lose Scotland and the north of Ireland than lose Brexit, while, on the other, them with the brains know Britain’s economy depends on Scotland’s oil and gas resources – a dependence that will only become more acute after Brexit.

England will have its Brexit, but before it has what it wants it must first resolve this tension. The Scottish parliament has become a locus of resistance to London’s Brexit and austerity agendas, and pulling Scotland from the European Union against its wishes will only further strengthen resistance to Westminster in the country. In fact, left unchecked, Scotland has become the only part of the UK that has the potential to derail England’s Brexit. The occupied six counties don’t have the resources Scotland does and can be ditched without incurring any real cost to the exchequer. Scotland is a different story. When it comes to the Scottish question, London wants to have its cake and eat it – meaning, The British government must both get rid of Scotland and keep its resources. This might sound impossible, but it isn’t really.

Ian Blackford cited figures I too quoted while on tour. He spoke of the British government’s fifteen-year economic projections for any kind of Brexit scenario, showing that the whole of the UK economy would take a hit of anywhere between 2.5 and 9 per cent. His numbers were wrong. The British government report he is quoting, EU Exit – long-term economic analysis (November 2018), actually puts this economic shrinkage to between 2 and 10.7 per cent. The higher figure reflects the damage of a no-deal Brexit, and considering the 2008 economic crisis and recession – from which we are still recovering over a decade later – only wiped 2.6 per cent off the economy, this no-deal Brexit threatens Scotland with absolute economic ruin. It is over four times the magnitude of the credit crunch. More worrying than this, it takes us over the 8 per cent economic deflation threshold at which economic pain causes enough political upheaval to cause state collapse.

Britain is not going to face the prospect of this level of economic chaos without controlling Scotland’s resources, yet neither can it risk Scotland continuing to upset the Brexit dream and the hoped-for creation of the Great British tax haven. In short, London really does have to have its cake and eat it if any of this is to stand a chance of working. So, how can Westminster get rid of Scotland and keep its paws on our resources at the same time? Easy – you cut off the head. Actually, using emergency powers – which have already been prepared in advance between Theresa May and the British Army – the Scotland Act can be abolished and the Scottish parliament suppressed. Blackford himself acknowledges that nothing can be ruled out. The harsh reality is that closing Holyrood and re-centralising powers in London is the last hope of securing an economically almost possible Brexit. It’s certainly the most logical thing to do – and it wouldn’t be illegal.

We have been led to believe that the current constitutional settlement is permanent, but this is a politico-legal fiction. England’s notion of sovereignty does not allow for the permanence of the Scottish parliament or any other devolved parliament for that matter. The ‘Crown in Parliament’ is the idea that the absolute power of the Crown – an unfettered and limitless sovereignty – rests in the London parliament. Such an understanding of power cannot accept the limitation of permanent devolution. No Westminster parliament can impose a restriction on the power of future parliaments, which means that any government in Westminster can cancel devolution whenever it deems it necessary. That is the precarious legal and constitutional reality of Holyrood.

This stated, would the British government dare to do such a thing – especially considering that “the people of Scotland wouldn’t accept that?” Let’s not flatter ourselves here. Britain fought a 30-year civil war in the north of Ireland, through which it denied people their civil and political rights, murdered civilians, routinely violated people’s human rights, and as a consequence suffered a prolonged IRA bombing campaign on the British mainland and an armed insurgency it could not possibly hope to defeat. The Good Friday Agreement brought that war to an end, ensuring peace for an entire generation of Irish and English people. Now because of Brexit and England’s selfish isolationist ambitions that treaty is now in tatters. Ireland is on the brink of descending back into the dark days of the Troubles, and Westminster couldn’t care less. Only an absolute bampot would imagine that the Scotland Act means more to the British regime than the Good Friday Agreement.

Nothing of this is news to Ian Blackford. He is no bampot. He knows perfectly well what the British government is capable of doing – what it is willing to do to get what it wants. No one in the room – including Blackford – was convinced with the answer he gave. The only part he got right was when he opened by saying: “You could never rule out anything that Westminster would do.” And that is the truth of it, Westminster has limitless power over Scotland. It will do whatever it wants in order to get whatever England wants, no matter the cost. If Boris Johnson and the idiots around him are not afraid of a renewed armed struggle in Ireland, you can bet your last penny they care even less about what Scots think about their parliament being shut.

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20 thoughts on “The Future of the Scotland Act

  1. The UK will not play nice when it comes to the crunch . You highlight the fact that SNP have not developed any credible narrative to counter a distinct possibility. There is no Plan B . Any form of civil disobedience would be seized on by MSM to turn public opinion away from independence . For Ian Blackford to say
    ” Scotland would not stand for it”
    when Westminster exerts its legal authority is not in any way reassuring – as your piece amply demonstrates.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jason
    THANK YOU. I thought I was going crazy how these risks had dropped off the radar.

    Scotland and YES have had the wool pulled over their eyes thinking that Westminster is a shambles and unorganised. Westminster was never concerned with ports or customs. Instead, they have planned and implemented a devastating and brutal suite of powers:

    – Army on the streets (+ sending Scottish police to NI)
    – Stockpiling body bags and morgue freezers
    – Ministry of food supplies
    – Arming local police
    – Unwinding devolution
    – Executive free to legislate without parliament (Henry VIII powers)

    No one looking at this list of laws would think this is about moving away from EU – this list is what planning for an attack on the population would look like.

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  3. Thanks for this incisive analysis, Jason! It seems to me that Blackford exhibits what you have called “extreme centrism”, as do the other SNP leaders. They are anxious not to be seen as extremists, so they take a centrist position with regard to Scottish independence. They plan a referendum with a Section 30 Order about a year after Brexit. Yet the Tory English government of the UK have made it very clear that they will not get a Section 30 Order. It’s like Johnson saying that he’ll renegotiate the deal with the EU, when the EU continues to affirm that there will be no renegotiation.

    In order not to be seen to be extremists the SNP leaders actually take the part of the English government of the UK. I fear, like you, that the Tory English government of the UK will act to make it impossible for us to gain independence.

    The SNP have initiated the campaign for Indy2, If they don’t bring the date of the vote forward to before Brexit actually happens, someone else needs to do it. Otherwise the SNPs extreme Centrism will lose us our independence. Then the real extremist nationalists may do an IRA type campaign in Scotland, which I would never condone! That would be a tragedy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am greatly concerned that this is indeed quite possible. Perfidious Albion will stop at nothing to get their own way.
      I think SNP should inform WM that Scotland is dissolving The Treaty of Union if we are threatened by this.
      I would also point out that SNP are not going to make public any plans they may have to extricate us because MSM would eat them alive.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. ‘The Sovereign Power of the Crown rests in Parliament’. This is the argument used to claim that the Westminster Parliament can use its Sovereign power to shut down the Scottish Parliament. My question is : does the Sovereign Power of Queen Elizabeth 1 of Scotland rest in Westminster Parliament in the same manner as the Power of Queen Elizabeth 11 of England?

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  5. Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female and commented:
    Tommy Shepperd said that Westminster closing or suspending Holyrood was a fairytale when he gave a talk in Forfar last year. Keith Brown said similar. Are they playing ostrich? It’s worrying because I’m sure that one of those things will happen after Brexit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sad but true ,however it is only a matter of time and method before Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK.However I will not rule anything out and that includes a war with the EU.Scotland can declare UDI,Ido not see this happening at the moment as there is a hung parliament and a general election will also produce that.What I am predicting is that the Tories will be in opposition and the SNP will be kingmakers in the government.That means Scotland will have it’s referendum and even better,when you win independence notice the term WHEN,there will be nothing the Tories and the Brexit party can do about it.Do not worry my Scottish brothers and sisters,YOU WILL GET INDEPENDENCE

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  7. Sadly the scenario described is indeed possible. After a Brexit with no deal, a “state of emergency” could be declared “for economic reasons” and the devolved parliaments/assemblies suspended in order that post Brexit centralised stabilisation of trading legislation etc. can be implented. Edinburgh has the new Mundell Mansions to accommodate the civil servants. Promises may well be made to reinstate devolved government under a new system “in due course” possibly based on the ministry for “devolved government”, a central unit.
    Devolution may be based on 9 regions of England and one each of Scotland, Wales and Nortern Ireland. Of course these regions would be super “county councils” as areas such as health, welfare, taxation, energy, etc. etc. will all be London Westminster centred.
    I am speculating of course, but I’ll be watching for the signs of such a development, and I sincerely hope I am wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have recognised this for some time, which is why I thought that one way out was to be independent long before now. Would that even make a difference?

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  9. Hi Jason,
    You write, “When it comes to the Scottish question, London wants to have its cake and eat it – meaning, The British government must both get rid of Scotland and keep its resources. This might sound impossible, but it isn’t really.”, and go on to discuss the political moves they might make to achieve this end.
    There is another way this can be done that you do not consider, and that is if Westminster were to sell the rights to the royalties on extraction of “British” oil, before Scottish Independence is achieved. This is not as far-fetched as it might sound. After the collapse of the price of oil, Saudi Arabia sold off almost all of its infrastructure and public services to the Chinese and was on the point of selling off the oil extraction royalties too, but apparently thought better of it at the last minute when the price of oil began to recover.
    This approach would have several benefits to Westminster. The principal one would be, obviously, to raise a considerable sum of money at a time it was desperately needed to “keep the lights on” and prevent the total collapse of Sterling in the event of an increasingly likely “no deal” Brexit. It would also reduce the likelihood of Sottish Independence actually occurring, allowing all the other aspects of “cash cow” Scotland’s contributions to the English exchequer to continue.
    To prevent this happening, the Scottish Government must make it clear behind the scenes that under any such arrangement the oil will be immediately renationalised by a newly-Independent Scottish Government, without compensation.

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  10. I think WM behaving as you say, is not just possible, but LIKELY.

    But I think its very possible and LIKELY that Scotgov have a Plan too. They aren’t stupid either and they more than probably recognise, as you do, what WM is capable of. I just cannot think or believe that they are going to all the trouble of putting paperwork in place, getting world wide ‘hubs’ in place, getting the Voting bill passed, getting the written constitution in place, and getting EU on ‘standby’ unless Indy is going to happen. Nicola has been VERY firm that it is going to happen in the event of a ‘no deal’ brexit. And many MSPs & MPs have been saying that likely what has to happen will have to happen FAST. I think Scotgov are well aware that WM will ALSO make things happen fast and I think Nicola knows that other plans are needed beside a Section.30. But I don’t think they can/are willing to tell us what they are. And that’s not surprising.

    You don’t give your enemy a look at your escape plans. You don’t show your hand. You have to play with the cards you are dealt but if you play them right, even if they are deuces, you can win. But you have to know when to hold ’em… and when to play ’em. Whatever you do, you DON’T SHOW ‘EM! Unfortunately that means they can’t tell US what they are either! I found Ian’s comments weren’t really answering any questions, and he looked a bit uncomfortable about that, too. But it may well be that he knew perfectly well there are alternative plans but he wasn’t at liberty to reveal them.

    Nicola is a very astute politician. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, because she has been pretty good up to now. And let’s be honest, what choice do we have? Who else can or IS GOING TO, get us out of the pickle that is coming?? No one.

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  11. Seem to recall that re-convening the Scottish Parliament happened because of a democratic referendum.

    For Westminster to arbitrarily close it without another such referendum would be entirely undemocratic and surely cause international outrage.

    UN charter is on our side.

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    1. The devolved parliament of Scotland’s power is devolved from Westminster – the only sovereign UK parliament according to British law. The United Nations’ Charter would not protect a devolved parliament from the will of a sovereign state parliament.

      Like

  12. If always thought this
    Nothing will be resolved without violence
    Particularly with the two last contenders
    Enough talk snap I am losing confidence in your ability to act radically

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  13. About two years ago, shortly after brexit was assured by the signing of article 50, I said that Mundell was setting up s UK parallel administration in readiness for abolition of devolution.
    Brexit is predicated on industrial scale, international tax evasion, and the annexation of Scotland, it’s natural resources, and its huge export industries.

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  14. EU have made clear that they cannot & will not meddle in internal politics of an EU country. If they were to do that, they’d be accused of interference. Just as they could not come and say at the time of IndyRef1 that Scotland would be welcomed into the EU as a member. With UK being the member at the time, they didn’t want to be seen to be undermining that member. So they said nothing.

    That ISN’T to say that I like that position, where they will not interfere & castigate Spain for what is appalling behaviour toward Catalonians! It was hard to watch what was going on and not shout that EU should have been DOING SOMETHING to try & stop what was happening. But it’s a ‘rock & a hard place’. I firmly belief that the EU SHOULD NOT interfere in internal wranglings in the various member countries. That isn’t what its supposed to be about. And yes – it’s a hard position to take but you can’t make a group, with so many members, work, if you are constantly poking your noses in everyone’s business. EU isn’t about sovereignty, after all. Were we Spain, we might well be upset that our fellow EU partners were poking their noses into business that was not theirs and make things difficult for the whole of the EU. EU IS, after all, also meant to be a about keeping peace through Europe, where possible. If you are laying down the law about things that aren’t really within the remit of the group, you’re NOT going to have much in the way of peace. Perhaps on the contrary! And I’m not saying that that justifies not saying anything. Just pointing out its a rock & a hard place.

    To be honest, I’m more disappointed in the UN for not doing something about the Catalonia dispute… Now I do see that THAT should be doing more to help solve the Spanish question! I think it’s time it went to a WORLD Court and Spain was held accountable by the world, not just the EU.

    EU has been very supportive toward Ireland, and I think that shows that where they can, they’ll intervene… And they’ve also been supportive of Scotland, with several EU representatives (including Spain) making it clear no one would oppose Scotland becoming an EU member. I think it does what it can, without trying to be seen as meddling, as & when…

    Like

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