So, “Devolution has been a Disaster” according to our current Prime Minister, Boris Johnston, but a few days later it was “Ah no that’s not quite what I meant! I really meant… and so the excuses are rolled out.
In reality however what he really means is that Devolution could lead to Independence, but we can’t scrap that Scottish Parliament just yet. Maybe in a few years once we have discredited it and taken powers away from it, thus emasculating it or neutralising it in some way etc.
Meantime, the best way forward is a Power Grab courtesy of the Internal Market Bill. Let’s take away some of its current powers and a lot of its funding, and then we’ll see what effect that has on Holyrood’s popularity with the Scottish people.
Never mind that much of the popular legislation passed by Holyrood was supported, voted through and/or even instigated by those parties which are thought of as UK parties – Labour, Liberal and Conservative. Greens too are UK parties but they are also pro independence for Scotland so they don’t count in Boris’ calculations. Also he ignores the few independent members of the Scottish Parliament who were party to setting up some of the popular legislation.
Remember too that the first two Scottish Parliaments were governments run by Labour/Liberal coalitions and they must take credit for legislation passed during the first two terms of the Scottish Parliament.
So why does Boris think Devolution has been a disaster?
He may well be correct in thinking that devolution could lead to Scottish Independence but he has no right to place the blame for that at anyone’s door other than his own given that he has decided to oil the wheels of the independence movement with his proposed power grab in Scotland
It could be that he is miffed because at no point have the Conservatives been the party of government in Scotland?
If he thinks this then he needs to be reminded that the Tories were largely obliterated from the Scottish political scene prior to devolution with them only holding a handful of seats. Today they bill themselves as the main opposition party in Holyrood.
Or is it that the legislation, not necessarily the Parliament at Holyrood that he considers to have been a disaster?
Certainly a great deal of the legislation passed by Holyrood would never even seen the light of day had anyone tried to it get through Westminster because in many cases, particularly in more recent years when Westminster has been the fiefdom of the Tories, would some ideas/suggestions for legislation ever have been given a hearing let alone active support.
What do I mean when I say that?
Well have a look below at the selection of legislation that has been approved by Holyrood governments and ask yourself – “how many of these subjects were given a hearing at Westminster? And, even if a subject was given a hearing in Westminster, would it have been voted through?
To illustrate why the Scottish Parliament has been anything but a “disaster” I have listed a selection of the things Holyrood has approved and brought into our daily lives over the years since devolution came into being in 1999.
Look below at my rough selection of Holyrood legislation and then consider telling all of your friends and acquaintances, including people you know who vote for non independence parties, of this list and other Holyrood legislation listed on the Scottish Parliamentary website, which ALL of the Holyrood political parties should be proud of as they will all have had an input to the drafting and passing of this legislation.
Established the Food Standards Agency
Abolition of Bridge Tolls – Bridges affected = Erskine, Skye, Forth, Tayside etc
Land Reform and enabling community buy-outs of land
Protection of wild mammals
Marriage Bills – extending the number and places where a marriage can take place, permitting same sex marriage, etc
Abolition of Tobacco advertising
Protection of Children
Regulation of Care
Free bus passes for elderly and people with special needs
No tuition fees for students
No smoking in public places
Mitigating the effects of the Bedroom Tax
Introduced the Baby Box
Provision of nursery hours
Environmental Standards Scotland
Introduced the Living Wage
Scottish Child Payment System
Retained Scottish Water as a public agency
Stopped awarding PFI contracts and their punitive repayment terms
Free parking for hospitals except PFI privately owned
Protecting Scottish NHS from privatisation (note: NHS England lost protection by the introduction to the Health and Social Care act 2012 https://allysonpollock.com/?p=1872)
And – most recently on 24 November 2020 –
MSPs at the Scottish Parliament unanimously approved a Bill brought forward by Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon, bringing in a legal right of free access to items such as tampons and sanitary pads.
Her Bill was passed by 121 votes to zero after winning the support of the Scottish Government and the other opposition parties in Holyrood.
Boris may well be correct in thinking that devolution could lead to Scottish Independence but he has no right to place the blame for that at anyone’s door other than his own given that he has decided to oil the wheels of the independence movement with his proposed power grab in Scotland. His limiting of the powers of the Scottish Parliament in the years ahead through this legislation could lead people to look back at the examples of progressive legislation listed above and they could then end up asking the question “why are our lives much poorer now?”