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By Jason Michael
ONLY A FEW WEEKS AGO, during a talk in the Highlands, Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP parliamentary group in Westminster, dismissed out of hand the suggestion that the British government would rescind the Scotland Act and close Holyrood – saying the people of Scotland simply would not accept it. The people of Scotland have accepted quite a bit since September 2014. We have accepted being taken out of the European Union against our will, and this despite the promise that voting to remain part of the United Kingdom would protect our place in Europe. We have accepted the autocratic decision of the London government to shut our democratically elected government out of the Article 50 negotiations. We have accepted the refusal of the British Prime Minister to grant us another Section 30 in order to hold another independence referendum – in spite of that having three separate democratic mandates. When Ian Blackford tells us what the people of Scotland will and will not accept, it appears to me that my compatriots are willing to put up with an awful lot. Scotland would, I suspect, accept the closure of the Edinburgh parliament because the truth is that there is no recent tradition in our country of mass radical resistance.
Scots are genuinely and rightly concerned about the future of devolution. There is nothing permanent in the current constitutional arrangement, and nor can there ever be. It matters not a jot what the Scotland Act says or what any one politician says; sovereignty in the United Kingdom rests only in Westminster. No law and no treaty can bind the power of this or any future London government to any particular course of action. We can talk about the Claim of Right and Scots Law all we like, the legal reality, for so long as we remain a part of the United Kingdom, is that the absolute power of the Crown in Parliament – England’s notion of state sovereignty – reigns supreme. What this means is that the British government can enact legislation to close down the Scottish parliament and return our presently devolved powers to the House of Commons when it sees fit. Legally, we are entirely powerless to change this situation.
So, the question is: Will the British government end devolution in Scotland? While there is no way to predict with certainty what will happen, it is reasonable to assume that, under certain conditions, this is what it will do. The majority of Brexit supporters and a number of Conservative MPs south of the border would rather see the breakup of the union than lose their chance to leave the European Union. This poses the British government with a dilemma; given the size of the Scottish economy – well in excess of £200bn – and the projected cost of a no-deal Brexit to the economy of the whole of the United Kingdom – also north of £200bn, the London government knows it cannot afford the Brexit England is right now demanding without holding on to Scotland. The Scottish government has already withheld legislative consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill and will continue to be a thorn in the side of the British government throughout a process that will seriously damage Scotland and likely put us at a significant trade disadvantage to the six counties in the north of Ireland. While the Scottish National Party remains in government, and for as long as there is a pro-independence majority in Edinburgh, the Scottish parliament has the power to derail England’s Brexit.
As Brexit draws nearer and as the true costs of a chaotic “Apocalypse scenario” hit the ground after 31 October, the resistance of the Scottish parliament will increase. There is only one solution to this dilemma: London will only be able to keep Scotland and deliver England’s Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom if the Scottish parliament is at least temporarily suspended. Today the Prime Minister visited Scotland to conduct an ominously named “devolution review.” Her finding – likely written before she left Downing Street – was as follows:
It would suit the political aspirations of the present Scottish government for devolution to fail… the [Labour] Welsh government was willing to make a compromise [on the Withdrawal Bill], whereas the Scottish government was not… an SNP Scottish government will only ever seek to further the agenda of separation… If we do not use every policy lever within our reach to strengthen that union, no one else will.
What she is saying is rather simple: The Scottish government is an enemy of the current constitutional arrangement, devolution is working to the benefit of Scotland and not England, and that unless the SNP is ousted the British government will use every power at its disposal to “strengthen that union.” What “every policy lever” means is exactly what it says on the tin: The Westminster parliament has unlimited power and unfettered sovereignty. It can do whatever it wants and whenever it wants – up to and including closing the Scottish parliament – to ensure that the union is working the way England wants it to work. She made it clear to the people of Scotland that this threat – and this was a threat – has been made because we, the Scottish people, are continuing to vote for the wrong party – the SNP. Coming at this as the head of the English government, the Scottish National Party has become a real and present danger to the political aspirations of the English-British state. If we do not do the right thing for England and put the SNP out of government, then the British government will do it for us. There is no other way to understand what she has said.
It seems clear to me, and it is equally clear that I am not alone in thinking this, that the future of devolution hangs in the balance, and that the London government is right now weighing up the benefits and potential costs of such a move. England wants Brexit. It wants Brexit even if that means losing Scotland and the north of Ireland. The English-British government has to give England what it wants, and it has to do this without losing Scotland. Tonight, we can rest assured that people are burning the midnight oil in Whitehall to solve this conundrum – and it’s a no-brainer: Brexit can only be won and Scotland kept if a way can be found to neutralise political resistance in Edinburgh.
The axe is already at the root. Fighting to preserve the devolved parliament under the present conditions is an utter waste of our time and efforts. Holyrood, as a devolved administration of the United Kingdom, will always be vulnerable to the whims of England and the British parliament. Devolution is not and never has been power returned to Scotland. This is true only in a notional sense. The power devolved to the Scottish parliament is leased power – a share in the power of Westminster in Scotland. As such, it will always be subject to Westminster and the decisions of the British government – a political context in which Scotland is kept at such a democratic deficit so as to be completely powerless. There is and has only ever been one reality in which power is returned to Scotland, and that reality is independence and the reclaiming of our national sovereignty from London and the Westminster parliament. Securing independence is the only protection we now have from this threat, from this ultimate power grab.
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13 thoughts on “The Threat to the Scottish Parliament”
We need to make a move very soon before we leave the EU. Given the 2 contenders for PM job are both dictatorial brexiteers then our future is grim unless we get out of U.K. very soon.
I have to admit that up until now, I have been in the wait and see how brexit pans out brigade, but I now realise that this is actually a bigger threat than brexit itself. I read that Michael Gove is currently beavering away in the background to make this happen.
Ive believed for some time now that Scotland will be punished for going “off script” and voting against the Westminster machine.
I agree with your premise; but wonder if there are enough fascists in Whitehall to overturn all of the recent entirely legal elections held in Scotland in order to facilitate a Brexit that has split the London establishment in a way not seen since the revolution in Ireland.
Entirely agree. It’s too messy just to slowly strangle Holyrood, it needs to be decapitated and an appropriate Government of National Unity pretext will undoubtedly emerge between now and October 31st. The democratic deficit is too great for Scotland to overcome be it at Westminster and their Commons majority supplemented by the British House of Lords, the glaring democratic deficit of the coronation of a new Prime Minister, remember Perth was the only Scottish hustings and there are 11 more to come. The SNP have produced a lot of bluster since May’s “Now is not the time” moment but have given every impression of having been overcome but our very own example of the Stockholm Syndrome.
Thanks Jason. I think that what you call the “Extreme Centrism” of the SNP will lose Scotland its independence. I’m disappointed in the SNP. Could it have acted in 2015 when we had 56 SNP MPs in Westminster, and taken Maggie Thatcher’s view seriously? Could those MPs have withdrawn from the English parliament of the UK, and resiled the Treaty of Union and revoked the Act of Union? Well, it’s spilled milk! Someone needs to wipe it up! Who, and how?
I totally believe this will happen. Westminster has no other option but to close down our Parliament to silence the most effective voice and get its own way. Of course that will also clear the way for Westminster to further rob Scotland and pay for Brexit with Scottish wealth to say nothing of the takeover of oil etc. I sincerely hope that Scotland has an answer. Our powers that be must be fully aware of this probability. I refuse to believe we are totally powerless but we will have to wait and see. Nicola will not show her hand just yet. Nor will the Independence Movement.
On Sat, 6 Jul 2019, 2:50 a.m. Random Public Journal, wrote:
> Jeggit posted: ” Tweet By Jason Michael ONLY A FEW WEEKS AGO, during a > talk in the Highlands, Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP parliamentary > group in Westminster, dismissed out of hand the suggestion that the British > government would rescind the Scotland Act and clo” >
It will, of course, be touted as a “temporary“ measure just to “navigate our way through Brexit” and there will never be any intention of reinstatement. A great many Scots will almost certainly just shrug and go “what can ye do?” and get on with struggling through life. This is what they will rely on and is my biggest fear for Scotland.
I have felt that this is the path Westminster will take , but surely in the next general election we can ( through snp ) stand on an independence ticket and deliver independence through a majority
Too true. It’s time to stop pussy footing around and unilaterally declare independence and take it to the UN.
I share this thought that I have had for some time, but which has seemed a bit ridiculous or craven up to now. Perhaps it is still so…
1. It is an old maxim, and Nicola Sturgeon knows it, that it is only worth calling a referendum if you are certain to win it.
2. A referendum on Independence is not certain to be won right now.
3. A referendum on preservation / entrenchment of the Scottish Parliament is, however, completely certain, with support across the political and demographic spectrum of Scotland, except perhaps the hardcore Unionists – 30% max.
A victory in 3 would send a positive and strong message south, unite the non-Tory vote, shore up Scotland’s democratic rights at exactly point where they are now threatened, show the progressive parties of Scotland working together, and start to break down tribal barriers in Scottish Politics on positive developments like citizens assemblies or other cross-party initiatives. It may even be enough to roll into independence on its own momentum, but that is optimistic, even for me.
Jeggit looks into the Pandora’s box the SNP leadership refuse to acknowledge as they repeat ( hoping something will come along ? ) the statement that ” Scotland will not stand for it ” which comforts me not when ranged against the malign power of the British state. Desperately hoping there is a credible Plan B craftily concealed until we see the whites of their eyes.
It is almost unbelievable that the british governent would do this to the scotish people against their will. Dont ever mention the “mother of democracy” again.This would be an act of dictatorship !
I think that in the event of Westminster trying to close down Holyrood the correct approach would be to take them to court. Last year Westminster passed the motion that the people of Scotland have the power to decide their future. The Scottish people voted by a substantial majority to have a devolved parliament. An attempt to close it would be an act in defiance of established Westminster legislation.