That late convert to the cause of independence, Billy Connolly, once described the Scottish weather thus: “ach, if ye dinnae like it – jist wait fifteen minutes”! The difficulty (and, if I’m being honest, the buzz) in writing about politics is that political weather changes as fast as a disappearing ray of sunshine on Stranraer Show day.
The week just passed saw the European Court of Justice ratify the Supreme Court view that Article 50 was unilaterally revocable. In other words, it’s perfectly ok for the UK to ask for the withdrawal letter back, which makes a nonsense of the Prime Minister’s statement that it’s either her deal or no deal. “Remain”, which Scotland voted for by a margin of two to one, is back in the game. Tuesday was supposed to see the “meaningful” vote on Theresa May’s Brexit “deal” but it was cancelled as it was obvious it was going to be trounced, and instead we had a vote of confidence in the premiership of Mrs May. The bouroch that is the British Government is now officially an omnibouroch.
Thursday saw the Supreme Court judgement on the Holyrood continuity bill, which confirmed that our SNP led administration did indeed act within its competencies in passing legislation that would see powers over farming, fracking and many other crucial areas return to Scotland when – if – we leave the EU against our democratically expressed wishes. The Supreme Court did also, of course, state that Westminster’s power over Scotland remains sovereign, over devolved and retained competencies alike. So a key question for us in 2019 must be this: at what point does our admirable commitment to compromise and collegiate consensus-seeking with people who have “tint their reason a’ thegither” become a lost cause? And at what point do we decide that, actually, the way to help our neighbours save themselves from themselves is to actually save ourselves first? After the Hogmanay bells, that’s perhaps the key question. Our mature response to a shambles that we didn’t choose has not gone unnoticed and there is, quite rightly, a well of goodwill, the type of which that has long run dry for a Westminster establishment. That in itself ought to give us hope.
Facts, said Robert Burns, are chiels that winna’ ding. Translation? The truth is your friend and will not let you down. Governments come and governments go, but the truth will out. Wait fifteen minutes for the weather to change? No. This year we can’t afford to change the weather. We need to be the weather. You don’t, as that great Burns fan Bob Dylan wrote, need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Merry Christmas good people. We’ll meet further on up the road.