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.Views: 10540
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