Storm warning!

The First Minister understates the issue. It is not merely that devolution is being challenged, but that the very existence of the Scottish Parliament is under threat. The threat is real. And it is immediate.

To understand what is going on one must ask why the UK Government is behaving as it is. Why are they taking devolved powers back to Westminster? What possible motive might there be? The simplest and least controversial course of action would be to follow the established principle that powers not explicitly reserved are devolved. The easiest thing would be to adhere to the existing schedule of reserved areas. The most obviously sensible way of dealing with the issue of where powers should go as they are returned from the EU would be to allocate them in accordance with what is currently devolved.

But this is not what the British ruling elite is doing. They are seizing those powers for themselves. They are arbitrarily and unilaterally adding them to the list of powers already being withheld from the Scottish Parliament. We are entitled to ask why.

They promise that these powers will be re-devolved at some unspecified later date. But we know what British promises are worth. If the intention was to ensure that the powers go where they belong, why add this extra and wholly unnecessary stage to the process? The only credible explanation is that there is no intention to relinquish the powers grabbed under the terms of the Brexit legislation.

Again, we must ask why. Surely this will make a mockery of the entire devolution project. Surely it will be a recipe for endless, and escalating, disputes between Holyrood and Westminster. Surely it will make the devolution settlement unworkable.

In the absence of any other even remotely plausible explanation, we must assume that this is the British political establishment’s aim. They want to make it impossible for the Scottish Parliament to function. They want to undermine its practicality and erode its legitimacy. They want to shut it down. They want to impose direct London rule.

Some of us have seen this coming since 2014 and the referendum vote which effectively gave the British state licence to do whatever it wanted with Scotland. And, by definition, what the ‘One Nation’ British nationalists presently dominating British politics want is to bring Scotland back into line with the rest of the UK.

The distinctive political culture that has developed in Scotland since devolution, and especially since the SNP formed its first administration in 2007, has become an increasing embarrassment to a British political elite wedded to neo-liberal ideology and obsessed with austerity.

The combination of the effective political power of the SNP; the Scottish Parliament becoming the principal locus of Scotland’s politics; and the determined democratic dissent of the Yes movement, has rendered the British ruling elite fearful for the integrity of the British state’s structures of power, privilege and patronage. History teaches us that the British state responds to such threats in brutish fashion.

It may not be politic for Nicola Sturgeon to speak too openly of the imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy. That she says as much as she has is a measure of how seriously she takes this threat. We must heed her call to defend our Parliament. We must unite to protect our democracy.

The people of Scotland face a stark choice. Either we bring our government home completely, or we will lose it entirely.

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24 thoughts on “Storm warning!

  1. bringiton

    Too many Scots think Holyrood has more powers than is actually the case and believe the Britnat spin that the SNP aren’t doing enough with what they have.
    This will be an opportunity to expose the present devolution settlement to public scrutiny.
    However,since HM press will try to ensure that doesn’t happen,I am not going to hold my breath.
    There is a real price to pay for not having democratic control over your government and if England’s Tories and the Irish and Scottish unionists have their way,we Scots are about to find that out.
    I am not completely convinced that hanging onto Scotland is entirely about resources but knowing England’s Tories,is more likely to be their sense of self importance being diminished.
    England rules the waves just doesn’t have that ring of authority.
    A bit like the USA not having an on tap UK which it can call on any time they feel the need to portray their actions as being multi national.
    So,you are correct Peter,in their soon to be straitened circumstances,it is vital from their perspective to present an image of Britannia as a one nation state.
    I think many in Ireland and Scotland are going to have something to say about that however.

  2. Bibbit

    Read the following excerpt from Malcolm X’s speech to Michigan State University, in January 1963, BUT, replace Malcolm X’s phrase ‘house negro’ with ‘Scottish No Voter’; ‘field negro’ with ‘Scottish Yes Voter’ and ‘slavery’ with ‘United Kingdom,’ and see the startling sociological and psychological dynamics running along parallel lines:

    “… during slavery you had two Negroes. You had the house Negro and the field Negro.

    The house Negro usually lived close to his master. He dressed like his master. He wore his master’s second-hand clothes. He ate food that his master left on the table. And he lived in his master’s house; probably in the basement or the attic; but he still lived in the master’s house.

    So whenever that house Negro identified himself, he always identified himself in the same sense that his master identified himself.

    When his master said, “We have good food,” the house Negro would say, “Yes, we have plenty of good food.” “We” have plenty of good food.

    When the master said that “we have a fine home here,” the house Negro said, “Yes, we have a fine home here.”

    When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with his master he’d say, “What’s the matter boss, we sick?” His master’s pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself.

    When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master’s house out, than the master himself would.

    But then you had another Negro out in the field.

    When the master got sick, they prayed that he’d die. [Laughter]

    If his house caught on fire, they’d pray for a wind to come along and fan the breeze.

    If someone came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s go, let’s separate,” naturally that ‘Uncle Tom’ would say, “Go where? What could I do without boss? Where would I live? How would I dress? Who would look out for me?” That’s the house Negro.

    But if you went to the field Negro and said, “Let’s go, let’s separate,” he wouldn’t even ask you where or how. He’d say, “Yes, let’s go.” And that one ended right there.

    So now you have a twentieth-century-type of house Negro. A twentieth-century ‘Uncle Tom’. He’s just as much an ‘Uncle Tom’ today as ‘Uncle Tom’ was 100 and 200 years ago.

    Only he’s a modern ‘Uncle Tom’. That ‘Uncle Tom’ wore a handkerchief around his head. This ‘Uncle Tom’ wears a top hat. He’s sharp. He dresses just like you do. He speaks the same phraseology, the same language. He tries to speak it better than you do. He speaks with the same accents, same diction.

    And when you say, “your army,” he says, “our army.” He hasn’t got anybody to defend him, but anytime you say “we” he says “we.”

    “Our president,” “our government,” “our Senate,” “our congressmen,” “our this and our that.” And he hasn’t even got a seat in that “our” even at the end of the line.

    So this is the twentieth-century Negro. Whenever you say “you,” the personal pronoun in the singular or in the plural, he uses it right along with you. When you say you’re in trouble, he says, “Yes, we’re in trouble.”

    But there’s another kind of black man on the scene. If you say you’re in trouble, he says, “Yes, you’re in trouble.” [Laughter] He doesn’t identify himself with your plight whatsoever.”

    End of Malcolm X Extract.

    Since 2014, I have been wondering why so many of my countrymen voted NO to independence. Now, using this simple analogy, from admittedly another time and another place, I think I understand No voters psychology a little better.

    They are Malcolm X’s ‘house negroes’; whilst I am a ‘field negro’.

    1. George Airdrie

      The rest of us read this as “I am an intolerant bigot, given to inappropriate and extreme analogies” And that is why there is no room for you in the Yes campaign

      1. Robert Graham

        The rest of us ? , Aye right pal as you seem to have appointed yourself as spokesman for the rest of US ,and the wider “YES” campaign in my opinion yer talking pish .

        Try reading what was posted , it is a very apt analogy .and wholly appropriate .

    2. Dave Llewellyn

      I have noticed the Civil Rights similarities with Scotland for the past 6 months or so and have looked at a lot of what Martin Luther King said . I did have a Malcolm X quote on my Facebook profile for a while but I think your piece is very close to the truth and I believe that if we framed the YES movement in Civil Rights terms it would have a better chance of gaining traction after the initial horror from the unionists that they could possibly be complicit in modern day slavery. You only need to look at austerity and the ever lengthening age for pensions. Another analogy from after the abolition of slavery was the practice of share cropping where the slaves would be given land to farm and sold seed and tools at exorbitant rates by a cartel of stores owned by previos slave owners. Strangely enough the loans were never possible to repay by people who had little chance and even less time to be able to count or read and where agreements were read to them and they made their mark by signing with an X. How then could you explain the concept of interest in a way that the newly freed slave could understand that his mark was basically selling himself back to his old master. We are conditioned what to think from the moment we wake til the moment we sleep. Some are more susceptible than others but who really understands the GERS figures which may as well ahve been plucked out of the air. Who would have signed up for PFI had we known that we would still be repaying the horrendous interest mor than a generation later whilst 17 schools in Edinburgh built under the scheme would be closed within 13 years of opening due to shoddy cost cutting by the contractnig companies some of who are major shareholders in the PFI schemes. Its all down to Toryfication of British society and their intent to crush beyond repair anyhing that stands in their way using the media as skillfully as Pravda ever did in the former Soviet Union.

      1. Douglas

        I think the problem is not just confined to Scotland.

        There are many ways to enslave, the chains don’t need to be physical.

        In days gone by slaves were given poor food and accommodation.

        Today’s slaves are held in check by debt; struggling to feed, clothe and house their family. There is no escape except the faint hope of a lottery ticket.

        Why do today’s house slaves tolerate this?

        It is because anger is misdirected and deflected away from those who keep them in slavery. Trump, Right wing media, British Nationalism, Bake Offs, War… anything to distract and convince people that there is no alternative.

        One of the reasons Scotland is feared by the powerful is that it might give people a glimpse of an alternative -and maybe hope for the English as well.

        This is the endgame.
        Everything will be thrown against YES.
        Everything will be done to crush hope.
        But hope will win.

  3. Bibbit

    ‘Uncle Tom’ syndrome is a concept in psychology. It refers to a coping skill where individuals use passivity and submissiveness when confronted with a threat, leading to subservient behaviour and appeasement, while concealing their true thoughts and feelings.

    In the American racial context, “Uncle Tom” is a pejorative term for blacks that give up or hide their ethnic or gender outlooks, traits, and practices, in order to be accepted into the mainstream—a so-called race traitor. In African-American parlance this is also derogatorily known as an Oreo cookie: black on the outside, and white on the inside.

    In a broader context, the term may refer to any minority’s strategy of coping with oppression, from socially, culturally or economically dominant groups involving suppression of aggressive feelings and even identification with the oppressor, leading to “forced assimilation/acculturation” of the cultural minority.

  4. Alasdair Macdonald

    Given the Sunday Times’ mendacious headline about growing support for abolition of Holyrood, there is clearly a continuing push to centralise as much power in Westminster and Whitehall as possible. The ‘repeal’ bill being debated in Westminster is about that, with its Henry VIII powers. Add in Mrs Leadsom’s blatant attempt to grab control of the Westminster committee system and it becomes clearer the authoritarian, anti-democratic nature of this government.

    With Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to discuss anything about Brexit and the disinterest in or hostility to any devolution of powers by large numbers of Labour MPs in England, the likelihood of abstention on any power grab legislation is distinctly possible, hence permitting it to pass. Despite CarwunJames’ belated conversion to more powers for Wales, I suspect large numbers of Labour MPs will dismiss him as an uppity Taffy, gone native.

    What are the odds the tomorrow or sometime next week the Radio Scotland phone-in will ask, ‘Do we really need Holyrood?’. There will be the primed callers, probably led by Master McTernan, and the reading out of a stream of ‘anti’ Tweets.

  5. Kat Hamilton

    Worrying times ahead for holyrood…wm has no intention of allowing the continued success of our parliament as it’s highlighting the negative, inward and intolerant ideology of Westminster..today’s st poll bring a classic example of how to undermine, discredit anything other than British, union and ‘the nation’…pity I don’t, won’t and refuse to be part of that mindset despite their best efforts….the next 2 -5 years are crucial to the indy movement..it’s make or break as far as I can see..with brexit chaos, living standards plummeting, and a right wing Jacob reese mogg future ahead, it’s make your mind up time Scotland..even withdrawal of mps a quick vote for self determination seems an option that should be kept in reserve…can we take our chance or blow it again…

    1. Neil lepick

      After the Smith report one of the motions called for was to make the Scottish parliament permanent,Mundel refused saying that it wasn’t needed .Now you know the reason why.??

  6. Dan Huil

    Westminster knows they are making a total mess with brexit. They’re only hope is to ratchet up the rhetoric of british nationalism. It’s them and us, they say. “Them” being the EU and any body which undermines their so-called precious united kingdom, particularly the SNP and pro-indy supporters.

    It’s going to get even more nasty with the britnat media, including the bbc, desperate to do down Scotland any way they can.

    But we will fight it. And we will win.

  7. stewartb

    This reminds me of something Craig Murray posted on 3rd May 2017, 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/ ).

    Craig reproduced this extract from May’s speech (with my EMPHASIS):

    “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 to reach their full potential as I am about young people in Doncaster and Dartford.”

    And May went 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.”

    Craig’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 ….”

    Then not long afterwards, we had the announcement of a large new civil service ‘hub’ – a ‘centre of excellence for public services’ – in Edinburgh, for UK government departments as yet unspecified other than including HMRC (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/civil-service-hub-to-bring-growth-to-edinburgh ). Forward planning for a DEFRA outpost in Scotland post-Brexit, perhaps?

  8. Brian Powell

    Labour, until a few days ago, was peddling the Ruth Davidson line of Holyrood being the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world, now they have been exposed as talking utter shite they have switched to, ‘Labour and SNP’ work to stop power grab.
    They couldn’t save England from the Tories they are useless in Scotland, simply panic politicking.
    Independence is the only way.

  9. Robert Graham

    I believe westminster will gradually strangle and neuter Holyrood slowly piece by piece out of sight and will not be reported by the unionist media in scotland . That is 99.99% of the media ,

    This will be enabled by a lot of people here because they simply dont give a f/k they just dont care , as was shown with the 2014 result , fear and stupidity abound , the Stockholm Syndrome or the more relevant Malcolm X Quotation posted above is all around .

    The english and their parliament are not the problem our compliant fellow scots are . Brown , Darling , Mundell are paid servants of a bigger movement to silence any threat to the union .

  10. Lorna Campbell

    Spot on, Peter A. Bell. If you really think about what the Tories have said they want to do by implementing Brexit, and, add to that their vision of the post-Brexit Tory Nirvana, then anyone with a modicum of sense must see that none of it is achievable with three devolved administrations being anything other than compliant. The future they have mapped out for us cannot be achieved unless devolution is pared back considerably. Anything they allow us will require to be passed through the digestive system of ‘Britishness’ (actually Englishness) first before being passed out as a useless piece of c**p for Holyrood’s delectation.

    The one problem that they do not really foresee, because they are prepared to bribe the Midlands and North of England with inducements (ship-building contracts, port upgrades to take in the oil from the North Sea, etc) is that the working class of these areas are the ones who voted Brexit, in the main, and, unless they can give them real power of the devolved variety that will lead to job opportunities and better pay, this part of the electorate is even more volatile than their Scottish, Welsh or NI counterparts. They also have more backbone, as the Brexit proved. This is a gamble for the Tories, and, if it goes belly up, so will they. There are two Englands – one in the south and one in the north. The northern one, like many in Scotland, has had its fill of crumbs. In other words, the British ruling elite will build up, and invest in, the northern England, whilst deliberately downgrading Scotland and reducing her powers to ameliorate or change her own circumstances. This was always going to be the Westminster Tory/Labour/Lib Dem way. They are, after all, the true English Nationalists and they have never seen Scotland as anything other than a colony.

  11. Lochside

    Totally correct Peter. The end game is in sight…not Scotttish Independence but assimilation of Scotland into a Greater England bythe abolition of Hollyrood as a ‘failed, costly and unpopular experiment’…my words, but unthinkable? and unutterable by our mendacious and collusive media?…I think not.

    Outmaneuvered by May’s snap election and Davidson ‘No Surrender’ campaign…1/2 million votes lost…momentum lost…will lost….Like rabbits in the headlights, the SNP watch fascinated as England’s Gory advances to swallow us up after hundreds of years of struggle, only to passively relinquish our existence without so much of a chorus of ‘Ode to Joy’ as a swansong for our nation..

  12. Tony Wright

    Have no fear and Keep the faith! IF THE Tories do not allow Scotland to go they will face the prospect of armed insurrections and the UK will become another Jugoslavija! There will be unexplainable events happening in November and will lead to ALL the Celtic nations leaving the UK!t This is prophesy and the Scots WILL get independence!!! THE ONLY way the Tories will stop it is to stop the Brexit PERIOD! It is only a matter of time!

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