The underlying principle of devolution is – was – that any power not explicitly reserved would be assumed to be within the gift and competence of the particular devolved administration.
The Internal Market Bill being voted on tonight, 14th September, gives the UK Government power to refer Scottish Parliament legislation to a Westminster department (led by an unelected peer) for review, even in all clearly devolved areas. It is an effective power of veto over anything that Scotland’s democratically elected government decides to bring forward. It gives the a Government led by a party that Scotland’s very distinct political culture has chosen to roundly reject since 1955 powers over Scottish health, education, justice, transport, culture, sport, housing, & economic development. It is a direct attack on the Scottish Parliament, and the devolution settlement endorsed by 74% of Scots in 1997.
You can expect Scotland’s Conservative MPs to vote for this en masse, as that is what they see as their job. We are bought and sold for English gold.
Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was working in Scotland as a Westminster spy at the time of the 1707 Act of Union. In a letter to his bosses after the signing of that fateful betrayal, he wrote: “for ever single Scot in favour of it, a hundred opposed it”. The Douglas Rosses and Alister Jacks of this parish are the Defoes of our time, only without the writing talent or the decency not to pretend to be anything other than an agent provocateur.
The ending of Scotland’s parliament and sovereignty is surely barely less popular than it was in the time of Defoe, and yet Scotland is denied an independence referendum by a Tory Government who only won 25% of the vote in Scotland at the general election, haven’t won a national election in Scotland in 65 years and who are delivering a Brexit that 62% of Scotland’s voters rejected whilst breaking both the Good Friday and Withdrawal Agreements thus making economic the economic catastrophe that I believe has been the objective of these rapacious disaster capitalists from the start a dreadful inevitability.
If the UK government ploughs ahead, rejects any amendments and breaks international law by trashing the very agreement that they authored, championed and won a majority on the back of, the transition period will end in exactly two weeks. The EU will, I believe, quite rightly stand its ground. With no deal in place, ports will be closed to British products. This is much less a problem for London because it is largely about the money markets and financial services, but for Scotland’s farmers and its wider food and drink industry – which employs around 400,000 people – it will be devastating. And this could happen two weeks from now. This has always been the plan. I am now genuinely terrified.
There are plans to legislation for a second independence referendum very soon after the May 2021 Holyrood elections. This will be too late. If this Internal Market Bill goes through – and with a massive Conservative majority it almost certainly will – then we will very quickly find that legitimate Scottish democratic process has been diminished to the point where we don’t even have the democratic structure to build a brave new world where the earth has already been scorched.
This isn’t even political any more. It isn’t even about independence. We’re way beyond that now.
This is about living in democracy that cares about rules. This is about not living in a corporatist state. And if you care about that then you should call for a normal independent Scottish nation. Not in May, but tomorrow.
This is the last exit lane.
I always finish these pieces by saying we’ll meet further on up the road. But which one?
One of these roads is the road to nowhere.
The other one isn’t.
Let’s all meet further on up that one.
Stay safe everybody.