How might it be possible to take the British government’s assurances to the devolved administrations seriously? That this is the first meeting to discuss the EU Withdrawal Bill in eight months tells you all you need to know, even if you are now inclined to accept with weary resignation the fact that the UK representative comes out of that meeting lying through his teeth. We’ve all become so accustomed to such dishonesty from British politicians that it is now barely remarked upon. Note how Mike Russell just takes it in his stride.
Maybe he shouldn’t. Maybe Mike Russell and the rest of the SNP administration should be more forthright in condemning the lies and deceit of British politicians. Maybe they need to be a bit less diplomatic and a little more outspoken. Perhaps the public should be made more aware of just how sleekit the British establishment is.
Damian Green provided the British media with the story he wanted told. He did so fully confident that his version of events would never be questioned. The British print and broadcast media will now complete the task of manufacturing the ‘truth’ that the British state requires. The silly fuss about a Westminster ‘power grab’ has now been dealt with and if the devolved administrations keep going on about it then it is they who are being unreasonable. That’s the narrative. Nothing to see here. Move along.
What really happened at that meeting is that the British side offered as a concession the very discussions that were supposed to have been taking place anyway but which they’ve avoided for the last eight months. That’s a third of the entire negotiating period that Article 50 allows. Once again, the devolved administrations are fobbed off with a condescending promise that they’ll be allowed a few minutes to make representations to some British potentate assigned the task of placating them. But, crucially, the ultimate power to decide remains reserved to the British political elite. In accordance with centuries of tradition, the British assume the role of final arbiter of negotiations in which they are an interested party.
The British position is that they will allow the devolved administrations to talk to them on condition that those administrations accept entirely whatever the British decide. That is democracy in the British state. The fact that the Scottish Government has massively greater democratic legitimacy than the UK Government counts for nothing. The democratically expressed will of Scotland’s people counts for nothing. We are supposed to be content that our democratically elected representatives are acknowledged even to the minimal extent of being permitted an audience with a British minister. To expect more would be presumptuous.
Independence is not about Brexit. A new referendum was always going to happen. It didn’t need Brexit as a ‘trigger’. What the whole Brexit fiasco does is throw a glaring spotlight on the reason independence is essential and inevitable. It demonstrates, in a way that only the most intransigently bigoted British Nationalists can remain oblivious to, the fatal flaws which have lain at the core of the Union since its imposition on an unwilling Scotland. It highlights the grotesque asymmetry of power within the British state. It makes plainly visible the British ruling elites’ casual denial of popular sovereignty.
It is essential that Scotland’s rightful constitutional status be restored because the present arrangement is a sore affront to democracy. An affront which can only worsen as the British state responds defensively to the challenge of democratic dissent. The No vote in 2014 gave the British government licence to do as they please with Scotland. We have to revoke that licence.
It is inevitable that the independence movement shall persist until it succeeds because any constitutional settlement which succeeds in terms of the aims, objectives and ambitions of the British state necessarily fails in terms of the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people.
Brexit is just one among myriad reasons why we must, as a matter of the utmost urgency, bring our government home.
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