British position on political powers amounts to nauseating mendacity


Derek Bateman follows up on this week’s Supreme Court ruling that devolution doesn’t amount to much, legally speaking.

Sometimes there’s only so much you can take without blowing a gasket. And I find the breathtaking mendacity of the British over the entrenchment of powers to be nauseating. Although not all surprising, so it’s the apparent connivance of those who whistle merrily while this is done to us that attract my ire.

Derek Bateman
Derek Bateman

I mean, they must know it by now, don’t you think? It must have hit many of them like a sledgehammer even just the morning after the indyref when Cameron spat back at them with his ‘This is all about England’. Now the very basis on which many voted No is shredded in front of us – by the government’s own lawyer, confirmed by the courts.

You were lied to, Scots. And there’s isn’t a hint of atonement. On the contrary, there’s what the BBC reports as ‘relief’ in government that Scotland’s parliament won’t have to be consulted or have a vote before we are pulled out of Europe against our expressed wish. Allowing us a say would, we are told, have been a nightmare for ministers. Oh, dear. Sorry to be a nuisance. This, in the Family of Nations, the Union of Equals. They inserted weasel words to wriggle out of their commitment. And they are happy and proud to get away with it. (There are no words for the MSP drones who thought this was a ‘victory.’)

And, as my fury suggested, while I acknowledge the unprincipled duplicity of Tories, I struggle to comprehend why anyone resident in Scotland would accept such treatment.


But there we are. That’s our country and that’s our people. And to those who make the claim that one possibility is excluding non-Scots from voting – in order to exclude English incomers more likely to vote No – I say that’s going backwards. The whole point about our vision for Scotland is inclusion and fairness within a democratic state. If you live here, you’re one of us. Apart from all kinds of ethnicity checks and social division that would flow from it, it is a contradiction of what my nationalism stands for. On an entirely different point, the anecdotal evidence is that English arrivals are a hugely positive influence on everything from shops and services to transport and business. Many a spot in rural Scotland is enlivened by the enterprise of English cousins. They deserve both a vote like everybody else and to their own opinions. It is perfectly understandable that they retain ties to England and the UK. I just hope they’ve begun fraying recently. And anyway my mum was English. So there.

I hope those same folk who are attracted by low house prices, decent services and a good environment realise that it is devolution from London that has delivered a lot of that in the first place. So they can have faith in Scots to run our own affairs.

(There are others I hear who buy a house for elderly relatives and dump them knowing that personal care is free in Scotland. Cheers!)


You do wonder at the relationship we now have with England and the sovereign government when they are actively seeking not to debate with us. Even if you accept the legal point that we are sub division of a state and the courts decide we’re not legally entitled to formal engagement on a matter of state, is it unreasonable to think they might consult us anyway? You know, show some decency, a touch a democratic sentiment, a friendly wish to make sure they understand our position before proceeding…If it were you dealing with another person, wouldn’t you take seriously your responsibility to do the right thing by someone to whom you owe loyalty or respect? It’s just such a miserable, mean, dismissive approach from what look and sound to me increasingly like bigots and bullies.

But, you know, you can put aside all this constitutional stuff and forget all about Scotland and self-government and still feel mad. Underlying all of these issues is something much bigger and more obscene. It is the theft of youth.

Not only are mostly older Scots, in my view, ruining a modern, European future for our children by keeping Scotland within the iron grip of a blatantly scornful and small-minded kleptocracy, but all across the European nations a generation of the well-off is systematically denying to the next the very advantages they themselves enjoyed.

The great advances in social mobility came about from left-leaning governments in the post war years putting in place free health care, a welfare safety net, cradle-to-grave education, free access to university – with living grants – international exchanges to aid cooperation, taxation regimes that spread wealth more evenly and gave life chances beyond most peoples’ imaginations when the war ended.


Today, in a world we have choked with poisons on land and water and a planet haemorrhaging under climate acceleration, we are closing off those options and strangling the chances of the young. We have, outside Scotland at least, lumped them with lifetime mortgages for their education, devalued their degrees, abandoned steady employment and liveable pensions while embedding increases and benefits for the elderly. We have bequeathed them erratic, serf labour, low incomes, no savings, with impossible hurdles into the housing market cutting off their chance to accumulate moderate wealth. They are surrounded by institutional hostility. We tell them in all we do that we don’t love them.

As a generation we behave to our youth as a British Tory government acts towards Scotland. We lord it over them. We take their future for our short-term gain. We remain intransigent when we could bend to smooth a path for them. Brexit will hurt our young people. Many fewer will experience the thrill of borderless travel and international friendship, or shared qualifications and overseas employment. The endless possibilities of a revived Scotland built on renewables and shaping an economy for our own needs remains blocked off by a dying generation that has elevated selfishness to the highest form of politics.

Will they go to their grave slavering about good old Britain or will their last act – metaphorically at least – be to free our children from ageist tyranny and bequeath them a real future?


  1. England was never a good fit with our European neighbours,always politically and culturally more in tune with the US of A.
    Whereas Scottish Social Democracy has been and for now continues to be mainstream European thinking.
    However,Europe is going to have to decide whether it continues with the Thatcher/Reagan dogma where people serve the market or return to people values which brought prosperity and more importantly,social stability to Europe.
    They are well shot of England’s troublesome Tories with their never ending vetos and opt outs…let’s see how far they get with Trump displaying that sort of attitude.
    If May thinks she is Trump’s best buddy,she should ask Alex Salmond how long that lasts when he doesn’t get his way.
    They really must be desperate to get into bed with that particular rogue elephant.

  2. The Great Repeal Act, taking EU laws out of uk legistration, needs consent from Holyrood before it can be passed. Or does it?

  3. A devolved administration is still a dependent administration. Westminster vouchsafed and might on a whim even withdraw the ‘gift’. Our country must internalise the raw, hard-nosed, nasty politics of power informing the BritState system. Too many of us seem to be acting like naïve, provincial, awestruck country cousins. A more sophisticated, even politically ‘cynical’ element in the Scottish electorate would be a good thing. Sovereignty for our people is only possible with independence. Without it we remain very much pathetic losers and also rans.

  4. it is not possible for the unite kingdom government to give Scotland a devolved government they do not have the power. the power is in the Scottish members of the union of parliament and once they return a Scottish parliament to edinbugh the union is defunct.

  5. “There are no words for the MSP drones who thought this was a ‘victory.” …… oh!, I’ve got quite a few choice ones Derek ….. but the nub of your article is spot on, I can sum it up with the old saying “a body who kens the price o’ a’ thing but the value o’ nothing” … great analysis (as usual !!).

  6. Depending on a second indy referendum is flawed for a number of reasons, not least that it will most likely again be fixed (assuming Westminster allows a ref2 in the first place), and anyway even if Yes won we now know for sure that Westminister could and probably would vote against the outcome, or dilute ‘independence’ to such an extent it would be worthless, like Smith. Scotland should not depend on Westminster to draft our Independence Bill.

    That leaves the only real solution being for the 56 SNP MP’s to do what they are and always have been entitled to do as the democratically elected representatives of Scotland (MSP’s being nae mair than cooncillors, legally), and that is to dissolve the UK Parliament (as far as Scotland is concerned) and re-establish the Scottish Parliament (a real one this time). If they do this prior to the invoking of Article 50 at end of March they will also ensure Scotland remains in the EU, for now at least, while RUK has its Brexit.

  7. The Scottish people are sovereign so we are. We choose our path, don’t we? Well no, sorry. The Gina Miller case shows that actually the Westminster Parliament is sovereign. The old unwritten but perpetual rule – the Sovereignty of Parliament, dominates the landscape still, despite new regional assemblies being allowed to pop up (by Westminster of course).

    Our parliament in Holyrood, and the Welsh one in Cardiff and Stormont in NI could be stopped, abolished at a stroke with a bill as short as the disgracefully empty Brexit bill this month. A couple of lines, a token debate and a vote in both houses. Parliament abolished for a second time in Scotland’s history.

    But Section 1 of the Scotland Act 2016, which declares that the Scottish Parliament is permanent, could stop this happening, couldn’t it.? Well no, it wouldn’t. A later Act will overrule an earlier one, even if the drafting lawyers fail to even show the courtesy of mentioning the legislation overruled. So the truth is that S1 of the Scotland Act is empty rhetoric, designed to appease the natives. They’ll be duped into thinking that at least they got something out of Brown’s vow and the ‘give ’em as little as possible then don’t even deliver that’ Smith Commission.

    Well said Derek in your article above – every word is right. We older Scots have to put our children and grandchildren’s prospects higher than our own self serving hesitancy. In all conscience we have no alternative.

    Neo-Liberalsim, harking back to the divisive policies of Victorian Britain, prevails in England so it prevails over us. It will probably go on for some time in the US too. It is a failed doctrine which nevertheless is perpetuated by the elite so that they can continue to accumulate riches which are hardly taxed at all while the poor are squeezed further and further and scapegoated for societies ills just for good measure.That’s our future and our legacy to our children and grandchildren unless we change course. The strong probability sadly is that they will fall into the scapegoated poor category, but if they work hard and get very lucky they just might make it into the elite! That means they get to exploit the poor. What fun!

    Scottish independence is not a daft romantic notion as our opponents sometimes assert. It’s not the moral high grounds to distance us from unsavoury political viewpoints elsewhere in the UK. No, it’s neither of these things. To have the kind of Scotland we can have some pride in we have to seize back sovereignty from Westminster and their compliant judges who happen also to be members of the obscenely bloated, costly and unelected assemblage of spongers known as the House of Lords.

    If we want a Scotland which reflects our own values and pursues our objectives rather than those of the elite, then we must do it soon. It would our legacy of shame if, when we die, our descendants remember us as the generation who thought of ourselves first and left them to cope in Brexit UK. There’s much work to be done over th next couple of years.


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