I didn’t realise that the article on the Scotland/EU flag that I contributed to The Orkney News would engender such an interesting debate on several fronts, and I have enjoyed reading all of the contributions, even those opinions which I don’t particularly agree with. That’s the nature of things for all of us I guess and long may such lively courteous debate take place.
Living where I do I particularly enjoyed the exchange between Ben and Christer about the Orkney flag and, again, I applauded the good humoured conclusion it reached.
For me personally leaving the EU was a mixed blessing. I am sorry that we have left a largely cooperative democratic group of countries with which we have common cause. I am also sorry that we have fractured important markets for our goods and services which we may yet come to sorely regret. However, the vote in favour of Brexit was made democratically so I agree we should abide by that decision and deal with the consequences accordingly and, significantly, together. My view is that we now all have common cause to discuss the best way forward for the UK for as long as it stays intact, and to ensure that all of its citizens have a good future. That debate is exemplified for me in the exchange between Roy and Ben on The Orkney News Facebook page, both of whom make comments that deserve further discussion.
I am not sure what our immediate future holds though and I am more than a bit concerned about the consequences of the Power Grab legislation that was voted through Westminster as The Internal Market Bill and received Royal Assent on 17 December 2020. This Act of the Westminster Parliament strengthens the hand of London government on matters that are currently devolved, therefore diluting the powers of the three devolved legislatures, and through it, we have the embers of further discontent and discord. During the passage of this Internal Market Bill I was also disappointed by the poor level of opposition to this legislation by the Conservative, Lib/Dem and Labour parties in Scotland as all three of these parties have supported and promoted legislation that has made a significant and positive difference to the people of this country since Scotland’s modern Parliament was officially opened on 12 May 1999. Much of this type of legislation hasn’t even been considered and/or discussed in Westminster, let alone made it on to the statutes of the London Parliament.
At a time when we are all having to deal with Covid19 and Brexit this smacks of the age old tactic of getting legislation through which the government knows is going to be unpopular when the voters have other, more pressing, problems to concern themselves with. Consequently, The Internal Market legislation goes through largely unchallenged. Smart, but odious, tactics!
Going back to the debate in The Orkney News that was sparked by the Scotland/EU flag, I noted that there was a fairly lively discussion about the best way forward for Scotland into the future if it were to become an independent country, with some folks saying it should be in the EU, others against, and suggestions of EFTA as a possible option. I would just note with anyone reading this piece that two of the EFTA countries are tax havens and that one of these countries only gave women the vote in recent years.
I also noted comments about Scotland’s finances and the Scottish Government’s white book in 2014. I understand some people’s scepticism about the 2014 publication, and would recommend the book “Scotland the Brief” by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp to folks concerned to know if Scotland could afford to be an independent country.
There will be time for further debate on the future of Scotland but as long as Covid19 is a threat people are, and will continue to be, more worried about their family, friends, homes, jobs, etc. So, in the short-term, we need to Stay Safe and somehow work cooperatively to make Brexit work despite any reservations we may have about the new world we live in.