By Dorothy Bruce
So there we have it, shown in pinpoint sharpness on our computer screens: Westminster in its antiquity, moribund, manipulative and tawdry. A repository for financiers and spivs out to push the country in their direction – the direction that enables them to forge contacts in high places and add even more money to their coffers.
Westminster last night reminded me of an ancient crone, a witch roused from her lair to cast her spells to ensure Mrs May and the Brexiters got their evil way. A crone, devious and nasty, unleashed to ensure the UK was drowned in her cauldron of ruin, and that those pesky nats were given a bloody nose and sent home to lick their wounds until they can be disposed of at future Holyrood and general elections. The crone even sent her voice swirling into the skinny throats of unionists to bray and gaggle in support of the gerrymandering that allowed no Scottish MP a say on the powergrab, the removal of devolved powers, enshrined in the Scotland Act 1998, from the Scottish parliament.
Last night any pretence at democracy in the mother of parliaments was buried in a lead coffin, and the institution seen in all its shabbiness for what it is – a long out-dated legislature, unable to cope with the demands of a modern twenty-first century union of countries, long outstripped in the democratic stakes by most other parliaments in the world.
More English refugees consider move to Scotland
And it wasn’t just Scottish MPs (minus of course our thirteen Tories who abandoned all previous promises of working to put Scotland’s interests at the forefront. Indeed Ruth Davidson famously said in 2013, “A vote next year for Scotland to stay within the UK will be a vote to strengthen devolution”), but many across the UK who have campaigned long and hard against Brexit vented their frustration and annoyance too. One tweeter in Scotland said her timeline had been overrun by English folk wanting to relocate to Scotland and help us win independence.
And perhaps that isn’t a thought uttered by just those against Brexit or independence. Surely many others must have been aghast as they watched while amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill made in the Lords, were summarily dismissed in a few hours of debate, with Tories gerrymandering and filibustering (aided and abetted by Labour). Indeed more time was spent in the division lobbies on votes than was accorded to discussion of many of these amendments. Voting that in the Scottish parliament and many other parliaments in the world would have taken minutes, yet eleven Westminster votes took three hours. This is only one of many anachronistic practices that form the outworn system of government at Westminster.
Equal? until made unequal
Any beliefs of us being an equal partner have been stabbed in the back. Though the exhortations of 2014 for us to lead may yet come to pass as a re-energised and enlarged independence movement rolls up its sleeves to show Mrs May and her unionists that we’re made of sterner stuff than her Westminster puppets, and we will gain our independence and the right to make our own decisions in our own parliament.
Thoughts on the way Scottish MPs and Scotland were treated by those who consider us, at best, a playground for the hunting, shooting, fishing life or just for a spell in the great outdoors, or at worst as a far-flung, subsidy-swallowing appendage to England that merits little thought or consideration as long as our resources can be plundered, were forcefully expressed. Many watching the shenanigans on TV or computer tweeted their fury, some admitted being close to tears watching the travesty whilst a number of MPs tweeted of their outrage.
Promises never delivered
Philippa Whitford, always a level-headed voice of reason, tweeted along with a video – “My Point of Order re the shambles in Parliament last night where the devolution settlement was fundamentally changed without any debate. We were told previously we’d have time to debate in detail but we got 19 mins, all of which was used by the Minister. Completely unacceptable!”
And – “Moved ‘Point of Order’ to highlight that, when @DavidMundellDCT failed to lay his amendments at Commons Report stage or 3rd reading, we were promised the chance to debate them when the #EUWithdrawalBill returned from the Lords. Well so much for that!”
And most tellingly of the anger and frustration she felt, and which was replicated in so many others –
“Absolutely. Sooner out of here the better! Scotland’s voice is not heard in this place!”
Mike Russell, Scotland’s Brexit minister said, “No one who believes in democracy can do anything other than recoil with horror from a system which does not permit any debate at all on the devolved consequences of #Brexit. @GovUK is a travesty and a disgrace. How can any meaningful negotiation take place after that?”
And on the BBC he said, “The Scottish government would be looking at ways to ‘find a new arrangement’ for the relationship between the Scottish and UK parliaments.”
He added, “We can’t carry on with devolution as it is now“.
Joanna Cherry, with her advocate’s sharp mind, tweeted – “This is the contempt which Westminster feels for Scotland’s Parliament and Scotland’s MPs. Devolution all but ignored in debate and the leader of the 3rd party told to contemplate suicide as an option.” [This referred to Ian Blackford’s point of Order, asking what Scottish MPs can do to ensure proper debate, and Tory Ian Liddel Granger shouted “suicide”.]
Our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added her thoughts, tweeting, “The Tories couldn’t have made it any clearer today that they have no respect for @ScotParl. Never again will the line that Scotland is an equal partner in Westminster system be believed. The decision to act without our consent, and the manner of doing it, will not be forgotten.”
Hundreds join SNP, over 1000 and counting
Peter Grant MP tweeted this morning – “I’ve been trying to respond individually to all the tweets from people who have joined @theSNP since last night’s Westminster outrage but there’s far too many for me to keep up with. Can I just say ‘Thank you and welcome’ to all of you at once?”
Davie 1.6 @Selki13 tweeted with some optimism – “Look on the bright side, there’s no chance of Gordon Brown or any unionist politicians promising new powers or devo-max before Indyref2. It’s Indy or oblivion for Scotland.”
Union close to collapse?
After yesterday’s shenanigans do we still have a union? Can we withdraw, as so many are demanding, our MPs from Westminster? If so, what would be the ramifications? As our finances are collected by the Westminster machine can Westminster legally withhold finance from us? Perhaps not…but then they would no doubt squirm their way around that, saying the Scottish Government was acting illegally and Westminster had a duty to bring it to heel. After all, look what happened to the EU payments for farmers. The bulk was destined for farmers in Scotland but instead got distributed amongst English farmers, leaving Scottish farmers with only a fraction of what they were supposed to get. Westminster is devious and knows how to play and circumvent the rules.
As I write this PMQs are taking place at Westminster, now become a zoo where every cage has been opened, and all the SNP MPs have just walked out of the chamber, to a backdrop of Tory jeering and waves of goodbye, because Speaker John Bercow told Ian Blackford to leave after trying to force a vote during PMQs. From here, I can hear the clapping of hands resonating wildly around Scotland whilst whoops of glee dance in the ether in support of that brilliant piece of defiance. Blackford has taken a leaf out of Alex Salmond’s book of tricks.
Angus B MacNeil MP – “Thanks all for the avalanche of support for #snpwalkout”
Hannah Bardell videod herself walking out of the chamber with the other SNP MPs, saying – “Today @theSNP MP’s have walked out of PMQ’s in protest at Scotland being disrespected by Westminster. Here’s why.”
And another tweet from our FM – “Right behind @IanBlackfordMP and @theSNP MPs. Scotland and @ScotParl are being treated with contempt by Westminster and it needs to be highlighted.”
Historic note for those unionists cawing their contempt for the walkout. In 1987, just after the election, Donald Dewar led a walkout of 50 Scottish Labour MPs from the Westminster chamber as they considered the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher was not taking Scotland seriously. Some things never change – especially those concerning Westminster’s attitude to Scotland.
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