Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Tories think the Scottish Parliament should be permanent in a non-permanent sort of way

A few years ago, I stumbled across what was almost certainly the most moronic advice column in the history of the known universe.  It was American, naturally.  A woman had written in to ask what to do about her husband, who was stubbornly refusing to have a vasectomy.  The response from the resident agony aunt was along the following lines : "He's thinking about leaving you, sweetie.  He wants to have more children with another woman.  There's no other possible explanation for him refusing to do what you want."

And I thought, WHAT?  It only takes a matter of micro-seconds to come up with two equally plausible reasons for him refusing to do it -

1) A vasectomy is bloody painful, and has significant potential side-effects.

2) You don't have to be planning to leave your wife to recognise that circumstances can change in unpredictable ways, and that nobody can know for certain what their situation will be a few years down the line.  It's not irrational to think that taking a potentially irreversible step is something you could conceivably live to regret.

Now, this may be a slightly tortured analogy, but it seems to me that the UK government promised us in September they would have a vasectomy (by making the Scottish Parliament permanent) and have since had cold feet about the idea.  So which of the above two reasons apply?  It can't be the pain and the side-effects, because accepting the SNP amendment last night wouldn't have caused any such complications.  That only leaves reason 2 - the nagging feeling that, even though it doesn't seem likely now, they might eventually regret taking an irreversible step. 

So when they say "we will never abolish the Scottish Parliament, but we can't possibly relinquish our legal power to abolish it", what they really mean is "we're just a bit worried that we might change our mind about not wanting to abolish it". 

Which kind of misses the point of what the word "permanent" means.  Trying to square a permanent Scottish Parliament with the concept of absolute Westminster sovereignty, as David Mundell did last night, is as ludicrous as having a half-vasectomy done as a compromise.

A permanent Scottish Parliament, and indeed a statutory basis for the Sewel Convention, IS the end of absolute Westminster sovereignty.  If you weren't prepared to deliver that, why did you ever "vow" it?

*  *  *

I've seen a lot of despair today about the apparent inability of 56 SNP MPs to have any impact at all on the outcome of parliamentary votes, but in fact the situation isn't quite as grim as many people believe.  Look at it this way - the most important power held by the European Parliament is to dismiss the entire Commission, and if you believe the official record, that power has never been used.  But of course in reality, it was used to devastating effect in 1999, when the Santer Commission resigned to avoid the humiliation of being sacked.  The point being that if an administration backtracks to avoid a defeat it knows is coming, that's effectively the same thing as a defeat.  Precisely such a scenario has occurred over the last 24 hours, with the government giving ground after the DUP signed an SNP amendment to the EU referendum bill (to ensure that the referendum date doesn't coincide with devolved elections). 


  1. I don't think the 56 SNP MPs have done too badly either. Given what everyone was expecting before the GE compared to how it turned out, people need to be realistic.

    As it is, they've done a good job keeping Scotland very much in the public eye (the MSM are definitely helping out with that too :-D) and seem to be find some allies as well. People need to give them some time - its barely a month since they were elected.

  2. It's just another way of telling us jocks to get back in your box and jolly well know your place.

  3. I think they (the SNP) are doing a great job, showing up Westminster's contempt for the will of the Scots electorate. The same contempt that the Scottish (sic) Labour party had/has, for the Scots. And we all know how well that went, for Labour.

    1. Indeed. You have to ask what would 56 Labour MPs have done to stop Tories humiliating Scotland? Not a lot IMO. They would be supporting them! At least our battle-hardened SNP MPs are shouting loud for Scotland, and shining a light on the despicable behaviour of the unionist parties at WM.

    2. They, Scottish (sic) Labour, would do what they have always done. Sit on their hands and pander to London Labour, regardless of the consequences to their electorate.

  4. Not surprised by events so far, the fact that little of this is being reported in the mms just highlights the long term effect this democratic deficit will have on the union and that's what we need to focus on.

    1. That's the point, isn't it? We're horrified, because we know about it. But if the BBC and the rest of them aren't reporting it, it loses all impact.

    2. Correct rolfe, it might also be why the staff at BBC Scotland are getting more and more upset with their bosses...

  5. Its all a bit like the way they have dealt with everything else.
    Somehow Ireland was not really independent it was just a "Free State".
    Canada and Australia not independent they were Dominions.
    All those colonies they ran away from weren't gone they were part of the Commonwealth.
    Pretence and delusion to help them survive.

  6. I'm getting this impression that what we're witnessing in Westminster is the 'Grand Coalition' arrangement being enacted somewhat differently with Labour playing the silent partner

    Any and all means to suppress Snp input

    Plus the MSM blackout on anything Scottish

    All a bit sinister but would explain a few developments