When we take all the present and voting members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together – a total of 110 – we see that they make up but a fraction over 17 per cent of the entire chamber. In the course of any debate it requires only 322 English MPs – that just over 60 per cent of England’s members – to defeat the combined will of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. When the will of Scotland – making up a mere 9 per cent of the Commons – is at odds with 6 out of 10 English voters, as it frequently is, Scotland is subjected to the will of England.
If this is what counts for democracy in London, and if this is how Scotland is to be treated – as a subject to the will of England, then “taking back control” refers to Holyrood as much as it does to Brussels. Without any real prospect of a reasonable trade agreement with the EU after Brexit, and friends abroad as reliable as Trump’s “America First,” London’s economic future is completely dependent on its access to our resources. Britain’s departure from the EU is therefore inextricably linked to its war against the Scottish government and the independence movement.
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.
Britain is no different with regard to its power structure than any other bureaucratic state. Power is not truly in the hands of the people – the demos or the representatives it elects. In the bureaucratic state, which all democracies are, the locus of power is the upper reaches of the state bureaucracy. What makes the United Kingdom different – even from many other constitutional monarchies – is that this bureaucracy of state is thoroughly dominated by the hegemony of a medieval royal estate.
We pay our taxes in Britain and Northern Ireland to ensure our government – correction: her government – can slash social welfare spending, cut essential services, and cripple the health service, while paying her almost £40m annually.
Scotland is neither a county nor a region of the UK. Scotland is a nation, a country in its own right – and as such, being one of the two kingdoms proper that constitute the United Kingdom, it is an “equal member” in this community of nations.
When it comes to a move that threatens the economic wellbeing of everyone in the UK, and one that Scotland has completely rejected, Scotland is powerless to protect both its interests and the democratic will of Scottish people.