Who can deny that the plight of the Brain family is a totally unsatisfactory situation? It is surely obvious to all that, Scotland’s needs and priorities being different from those of the rest of the UK, we absolutely require the power to formulate our own immigration policy. This is undeniable. So why is it being denied by the Westminster elite?
It would be easy to dismiss the refusal to devolve powers over immigration to the Scottish Parliament as just another example of the British political establishment’s condescending paternalism. The Sweaties are not to be trusted with anything so complicated or important. We’re not ready for that kind of power. We’re not mature enough. It’s something that must be left in the hands of the grown-up politicians in London. Because they’ve done such a bang-up job of managing immigration up to now, haven’t they? They’ve really established their credentials.
But there may be rather more to it than that. If, as we are repeatedly assured by unionists, devolution is a process, then there it must be a cumulative process. As devolution proceeds, more and more powers are restored to the Scottish Parliament, where they rightfully belong. The only alternative being that it is a two-way process, with devolved powers being grabbed back by Westminster. If it is a cumulative process then there must come a tipping point – a point at which the question ceases to be a matter of which powers should be restored and which should continue to be withheld and becomes instead a question of how the continued withholding of powers can be justified.
Understandably, the British state is anxious to defer this tipping point as long as possible. Ideally, they would like to avoid it completely. But they will be increasingly desperate to withhold competences, not for reasons which have anything to do with the good governance of Scotland, but simply because of the need to postpone that moment when the gravitational pull of constitutional justice overcomes Britannia’s jealous grasp on power.
In all of this there is one question that ever more insistently demands an answer. Who decides? Who decides what powers are restored to the Scottish Parliament and what powers continue to be withheld? What right do they have to decide such things?
Why are these decisions not being made by the people of Scotland? Are we not sovereign?
Questions about how the Brain family is dealt with are obviously important. But there is a much larger and deeper issue at stake here. This is not merely an issue of justice for one family. It is a matter of justice for an entire nation.Views: 1664
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