The “Great Tory Power Grab” has been coming for some time. From a British establishment perspective, devolution has gone terribly wrong. It was never the intention that Scotland should have a real parliament. It was never envisaged that we would have a real government and real political leaders treading the world stage alongside UK leaders rather than walking a respectful distance behind.
It was never part of the plan that Holyrood should become the primary locus of Scottish politics. Nobody foresaw the extent to which devolution would result in Scotland developing a distinctive political culture.
The British state does not happily tolerate rivals. Challenges to the supremacy of its political elite are regarded as an affront to the natural order. The British establishment fears and hates the SNP. Democratic dissent poses no problems. The British political system has evolved to be able to easily withstand the action of popular movements. What can’t be crushed is absorbed. But a popular movement with access to effective political power is a different matter. The SNP is a threat because it provides a progressive independence movement which would otherwise be ineffectual with an agency able to challenge the British political system from within.
The combination of the Yes movement, the Scottish Parliament and the SNP represents a very real threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Contrary to popular belief, the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament was not designed to prevent the SNP gaining power. It didn’t have to be. It only had to be designed to prevent any single party from gaining an overall majority. This should have ensured that some combination of the three British parties would always be able to keep control. That all went wrong in 2007. Ever since then, the British establishment has been desperately seeking a way to retrieve the situation. The SNP is the lever. The Scottish Parliament is the fulcrum. The Yes movement is the force. Removing any one of these from the equation will end the threat.
The full might of the British state’s formidable machinery has been brought to bear on the Yes movement and the SNP. Both have been targeted by a massive and totally unprincipled propaganda campaign such as is seldom seen in peacetime. The SNP has been the main target, because it’s easier to attack a party than a principle. But this onslaught has not been effective. That troublesome trio of components remains intact. Despite the best efforts of an almost universally hostile media and a devolution process which has been transformed into a weapon against the SNP administration, the threat to the British state persists.
Brexit offers an opportunity to take out one of those vital elements – the Scottish Parliament. The nature of the devolution settlement is such as to make Holyrood vulnerable to the actions of a UK Government desperate, stupid and unscrupulous enough to use its powers to effectively cripple Scotland’s democratically elected parliament. What we see in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is the playing out of a process which many have anticipated ever since it became evident that the No vote in 2014 had not been the death blow to both the SNP and the independence movement that the British establishment had hoped for.
Surely nobody now can be in any doubt about the malign intent of the UK Government. A government that has been repeatedly and emphatically rejected by the people of Scotland is now set upon ripping the heart out of the Parliament that is elected by the people of Scotland. Every citizen of Scotland, regardless of their views on the constitutional issue, must now ask themselves whether they are prepared to tolerate this. And those who continue to insist on preserving the union even at the cost of our Parliament and our democracy must face some hard questioning.
Picture from The NationalViews: 18031
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