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.
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?