In June 2012 I wrote an article speculating about what a No vote in the first independence referendum would mean for Scotland. The following now seems quite prophetic.
The British political establishment will rapidly move to assert the sovereignty of parliament and affirm the subordinate nature of the devolved Scottish institutions.
I wasn’t right about everything. It would be remarkable if I had been, given the extraordinary nature of Scottish politics in the years following publication of that piece. Some things that I predicted would happen if Scotland voted No, such as the scrapping of the Barnett Formula in favour of a ‘needs based’ calculation, didn’t come to pass simply because of the SNP landslide in the 2015 UK general election. I don’t think anybody could have foreseen that. Things have proceeded at a slower pace than I anticipated. But there can be no disputing that I was correct about the general trend.
What we are witnessing is nothing less than the dismembering of Scotland’s democracy. It is now painfully evident what the price of that No vote in September 2014 will be. As I warned more than five years ago, Scotland is being “well and truly reminded of its place in a union which will come to look more and more like a thinly disguised Greater England.”
This is not intended as bragging about my political perspicacity. That would be the bitterest boast. Much of this was easily foretold. It is no more than realpolitik. The British state sees Scotland’s democracy as a threat. It stands to reason that it will move to nullify that threat. And, being the British state, it will not be constrained by principle or even sound political sense. Brutish Britannia will have her way at any cost.
My purpose here is, not to say, “I told you so!”. although that is a temptation hard to resist. The reason I point out how right I was all these years ago about how things would pan out in the wake of a No vote is to, hopefully, lend some weight to a further warning about where things go from here.
Back in 2012 I said,
The Scotland Office will be given a much bigger role, with scrutiny and oversight powers giving it effective control over much of the work of the Scottish Parliament – even to the extent of significantly expanded veto powers for the Secretary of State.
The British political establishment may not be bold enough to shut down the Scottish Parliament completely. Although I wouldn’t rule it out. Instead, it may be death by a thousand cuts. The so-called ‘Tory power grab’ is, in reality, a move by the British political elite intended, in large part at least, to facilitate the emasculation of Holyrood.
In fact, an eviscerated Scottish Parliament, able to assert a spurious democratic legitimacy but ultimately powerless, might suit the British state’s purposes better than imposed direct rule. The future of Holyrood may be as a ventriloquist’s dummy operated by Westminster with the aid of the British parties in Scotland.
I could be wrong about all this, of course. Just because I got it largely right before, doesn’t mean I must be right now. But, given what the stakes are, do you really want to gamble on me being wrong?Views: 2985
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