Lords a-tripping

I’m sure most people’s first instinct will be to scoff at the suggestion from unelected Lord Empey that the democratically elected Scottish Parliament should operate under the paternalistic oversight of Westminster. But we should be cautious about too casually dismissing such ‘thinking’. It may be that this is no more than some silly notion that occurred to His Lordship during a long afternoon winding down in the bar following an over-indulgent lunch. The arduous business of signing in to collect his daily attendance allowance will fair take it out of a Lord.

It may be that it’s all just as ‘bonkers’ as it appears. But it may also be that we have become overly inured to such ‘interventions’, due largely to the efforts of Gordon Brown. It could be that we hear so much deranged drivel from British politicians that our senses have become dulled. Boris Johnson alone produces enough inanity, idiocy and sheer insanity to overwhelm those instincts which should be triggering alarms.

As a precaution, we should always ask what may have prompted outbursts such as this latest one from Lord Empey. It may seem reasonable to assume that he has succumbed to the hallucinogenic effects of inhaling the spores of a fungus that grows on dead stoat cloaks. But, at the very least, we should reflect on the nature of a political environment in which even Lords a-tripping suppose it acceptable to suggest measures which are, on the face of it, a gross affront to democracy and profoundly insulting to voters.

There is such a thing as kite flying. The political manoeuvre whereby some obscure and disposable individual just close enough to power to be noticeable is assigned the task of running an idea up the flagpole to see what sort of reaction it provokes. This is necessary because those in positions of real power are generally so far detached from real-world concerns as to be incapable of working out how normal human beings will react. What if instead of – or as well as – being under the influence, Lord Empey was under instructions? What if the idea of Westminster taking greater control of the devolved administrations didn’t come to His Lordship in a moment of claret-inspired clarity or by way of an ergot-induced epiphany, but in a whispered suggestion from some worm-tongued functionary in the service of the executive?

If this is all a bit too conspiratorial for your tastes, then consider the possibility that Lord Empey has always viewed the Scottish Parliament as inferior and in need of Westminster’s gracious guidance but that, heretofore, he had felt constrained to keep his own counsel on the matter for fear of being thought a batty old buffoon. Only now, with the rise of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism, does he consider it safe to voice his concerns. Only now is there an atmosphere in which it may be thought acceptable to suggest, on the basis of not a scintilla of evidence or reasoned argument, that the Scots’ innate inability to manage their affairs and tendency to violent squabbling requires preemptive action from their British betters.

Lord Empey may have exposed himself as an arrogant and offensive lackwit. But he has also demonstrated yet again that the British political system is a world in which arrogant and offensive lackwits flourish and bring their mad, malign influence to public policy. This is not something to be lightly dismissed.

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14 thoughts on “Lords a-tripping

  1. Hugh Wallace

    We should never make the mistake of believing that our political opponents are stupid. “[A]rrogant and offensive”? Oh yes, but not necessarily stupid… I think you are right, Peter, there is so much ‘buffoonery’ emanating from Westminster that we are becoming inured to it. Especially as our complicit media does nothing to highlight how constant remarks of this flavour are.

  2. Davy

    It would not surprise me if the “lord Empey” is testing the waters for May and her cronies, she can’t get what she wants from Nicola Sturgeon on brexit, so she is trying to find a back-way around the Scottish government.

    Still one of the plus’s of being independent is that we will be rid of that unelected bunch of legal benefit thieves.

  3. PJM

    These Islands advisor Onora O’Neill and Reg Empey were both given high honours at the same 1998 ceremony down in that London. Life Peer and Knight Bachelor respectively. I’m sure they know each other well from thon Den of Vice we call the Lords.
    Getting a sense very much of a lot going on behind the scenes and kite flying is only a very small but necessary part of it. As for conspiracies…well, we would be naive not to think there’s a lot of activity going on. Some speculation on this score is hardly conspiracy theorising when it might help make a connection that another hasn’t fully realised yet.

  4. stewartb

    I’ll leave aside Lord Empey’s reference to Scotland and Wales as ‘regions’!!

    A reading of the full (short) House of Lords debate gives some further indications of where this all might lead at least in the short term (see: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2017-11-20a.53.0&s=speaker%3A25042#g53.1 )

    – an amendment to the MoU that frames how Westminster Government and the devolved governments enable, and

    – a tightening of Westminster control post-Brexit, probably via the soon to be devised Common Framework Agreements.

    I also recall this from 3rd May 2017 when Craig Murray posted a cautionary article under the title “Theresa May moves to replace devolution with Westminster control’. This followed a speech by May in Glasgow (https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/page/6/ ).

    Murray reproduced this extract from the PM’s speech:

    “But the devolution of powers across the United Kingdom must not mean we become a looser and weaker union. We cannot allow our United Kingdom to drift apart. For too long the attitude in Whitehall has been to ‘devolve and forget’.

    But as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am just as concerned that young people in Dundee get a good start in life and RECEIVE THE EDUCATION THEY NEED (my emphasis) to reach their full potential as I am about young people in Doncaster and Dartford.”

    And she goes on:

    “We need to build a new ‘collective responsibility’ across the United Kingdom, which UNITES ALL LAYERS OF GOVERNMENT, to work positively together to improve the lives of everyone in our country. As the Government serving the whole United Kingdom, formed in a Parliament drawn from the whole United Kingdom, the UK Government exercises a responsibility on behalf of the whole UK that transcends party politics and ENCOMPASSES ALL ASPECTS of our national life.”

    Murray’s take on May’s speech was notable. He stated: “In Glasgow today she notified Scotland of a specific intention for Westminster to intervene in devolved areas to ‘improve outcomes’ in Scotland. There is no other possible logical analysis ….”

    And then, shortly afterwards the Tory Government announced plans to establish in Edinburgh a new civil service ‘hub’ – a “centre of excellence for public services” no less – for UK government departments as yet unspecified other than including HMRC. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/civil-service-hub-to-bring-growth-to-edinburgh )

  5. Eddie

    I wholeheartedly agree with this Pete and I am of the same mind as Davy. This is just not some old drink befuddled old privileged soak looking for his five minutes of fame. We need independence as soon as possible.

  6. James Coll

    I think we must recognise this is one in a sequence from the Tories. MSP’s Liz Smith and Sir Edward Mountain have spoken in terms of reducing or even removing Holyrood. Did one of ‘the infamous 13’ not speak in similar vein? Now it’s a Tory lord. Labour MP’s have been less than enthusiastic about our parliament – even ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ seems to regard Scots Law as a bit of a problem – though why this should ever be the case he failed to enlighten us.

  7. Robert Graham

    Good article Peter ,
    This Unionist mob wherever they come from , British mainland or Ireland must as their first and only mission is crush Independence here or as they have tried to in Ireland, the worst possible outcome of Brexit will be a United Ireland ,
    The prospect of these nutters making their way to Scotland doesn’t bare thinking about, while these deranged head cases are slightly held at arms length due to the stretch water that keeps them away from normal people, but we can’t build a wall to keep them in .
    So first test the waters, see how much you can get away with before resistance is encountered, the slow neutering of Holyrood is probably underway, out of sight because the civil servants answer to Westminster not us , and every move that the SNP may make is instantly reported to their masters at Westminster .

    1. David Mooney

      This would possibly explain why the Scottish Office has expanded its workforce so much over the last few years.

  8. Jas

    It’s not inconceivable that there are already ‘secret moves’ being made to thwart any eventuality of Scottish independence. This probably includes intelligence agencies and think-tanks of one kind or another. They will be exploring many ways to stall, impede and, no doubt, undermine the possibility of losing Scotland which is, if nothing else, a vital economic and strategic resource.

    The damage it would do to English/British pride and reputation is, in itself, immense. So are there cogs of conspiracy winding away behind closed doors? It would amaze me at this stage if various plans were not well underway.

  9. hettyforindy

    Absolutely correct. These people are tutored in what to say, who to say it to, and when.

    There is a serious risk of Scotland having it’s parliament dismantled and the likes of this guy will be feeling emboldened by the situation in Catalonia. The Spanish have managed to suppress and oppress a people, even within the EU, so with a rock hard Brexit round the corner, the UK right will be rubbing their dirty, scheming lying hands together at the thought of netting yet more of Scotland’s resources. At the same time, putting the SNP and anyone in favour of independence in their place.

    Add to that keeping Scotland poor, begging bowl in hand, being portrayed to the world as useless.

    This is about painting Scotland as a rogue, little nation which cannpt manage it’s own affairs and so needs to be controlled and kept in check. Where have we seen that before.

    Let’s see what the Tories attempt to take credit for in Scotland in the next few months. Scotland, vote for the union, or you will be crucified.

    The anti and othering and silencing of Scotland will be stepped up, we may see false flagstuff happening soon, and the fact that this guy mentions the ‘troubles’ in relation to Scotland is extremely concerning indeed!

    Thanks for a great article.

  10. Astragael

    I don’t suppose Empey’s Ulster Unionist and Orange Order background would have any bearing on his stance?

  11. Ann Rayner

    Conspiracy? Possibly, as I noticed Tory MP for Penrith, one Rory Stuart, has had his ‘Lost Middleland’ fantasy programme revived on BBC4. Strange timing as this was made pre 2014 referendum and purports to show how we are all the same from a Mersey-Humber line up to the Clyde-Forth, roughly the Antonine Wall.

    Rory, who is a ‘Scot’, must have got a great deal of money from somewhere to attempt to brainwash us. Not only does he show clips from his time in Afganistan to demonstrate parallels, but he gets a trip with marines in a landing craft to demonstrate how scary the Viking invasions must have been for the inhabitants of this mythical region.

    Given his premise that we are really all the same, it is strange that he does not explain why those south if Hadrian’s Wall accepted Roman rule while those north of it did not.

    There is a pattern emerging, including the crass attempts to brand all our food, drink and driving licences as ‘ British’. Is there a cunning plan or is the Establishment getting scared?

  12. Brian Powell

    Should be remembered that there were those politicians and newspaper commentators who say NI should just rejoin the UK and the Commonwealth plundered again for workers.
    It is always there and true it should be jumped on at every possible opportunity.

  13. Ian Foulds

    I accede to the very intelligent contributors here but, what the heck are we actually going to do about it, without the treacherous ones knowledge and before it is too late.

    I will be happy to know that the proper measures are in hand, without revealing any information and just hope I can be of some use, despite my early dotage years!

    Thank you,

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