A guest post by Mike McCreadie
The Scottish Parliament will have extensive new powers. Fact. Extensive new powers. EXTENSIVE NEW POWERS. There, that's that then, I can get back to Downton.
It's an interesting coin of phrase, extensive new powers. It keeps being dangled around in front of us from all angles. The press love it, the parties love it, and Fluffy totally bums off it. It sounds great - it has the word “extensive” in it. And it also sounds great because it has the word “new” in it. Even better than that, though, it sounds great because it has the word “powers” in it, like Superman. It is thrice great, and can probably see through ladies' undergarments. No wonder they keep saying it. It's just that, well, it’s not something the Scotland Bill can be measured against.
"Extensive new powers", catchy though it is, is open to interpretation. For example, my wife feels that I was given "extensive new powers" when we got a telly in the bedroom. I, on the other hand, was dismayed to find that she had retained a power of veto over the plunger, especially when she wants to catch up with EastEnders at bedtime (just to be clear - that's a veto in the channel-changing sense, not the biblical sense, although there's one of them'n'all which I won't go into here). I can’t complain, though - I love EastEnders - I love it almost as much as I love running my nipples through a mangle. Which brings me neatly back to the Scotland Bill.
Objectively, the Scotland Bill will be measured against two things. Firstly, politically, it'll be measured against the Smith Commission proposals. It’ll be held up to Smith like tracing paper, and depending on which side of the fence you sit, the traced likeness will be either heralded or derided, but mostly derided, because it'll be like tracing over a picture of David Cameron's face and coming away with a caricature of Ming T Merciless, although I imagine he'd be quite happy with such a likeness, proud even. DC, I mean, not Ming - Ming would be ****ing furious, I should imagine. Like, zappy-furious.
Secondly, and way more importantly, the Scotland Bill will be measured by the people of Scotland - the ordinary man in the street, so to speak - against “The Vow”. The Vow was nice and simple - Devo Max - devolution of everything bar defence and foreign policy. Or if you believe George Galloway, even more than that, DevoMaximusDecimusMeridious, if you will, Husband to a murdered Vow, Father to a butchered Bill, and I will have my vengeance. I wouldn’t hold my breath for George to speak up about it, though. He’ll be busy spooning Putin now that Saddam’s gone cold.
But of course, we know that Devo Max has not and will never be delivered. William Hill won't even give odds on it, for a start, and in fact will eventually have you escorted from the premises, and barred, should you insist on being offered even the most outside of odds on the subject. Believe me, it's a dead duck. I probably shouldn’t have gone in swinging my claymore to be honest, though. Have you ever been tasered? Hindsight.
So why then do certain interested parties insist on insulting our intelligence and continue to proclaim that The Vow is being delivered, has been delivered already, and will be delivered later, in a bit? Well, it beats the **** outta me. Maybe it was left at the neighbours and they just haven’t let on. It seems stupid. When less than 10% of Scotland believes it, I just can't see a rationale for even pretending anymore.
The Scotland Bill, no more than a bill-of-attrition, as it is, is a bit like getting into the driving seat of a car blindfolded, and then being told, nay, goaded, into driving off, only to find that the steering wheel only turns left and the throttle has an unpredictable tendency to stick to the carpets. And then they blame you when you crash. It is the most cynical and destructive type of politics. Apart from a nuclear strike, of course. That can be pretty destructive, if I’m being honest. Look it up on YouTube if you don’t believe me.
The only possible explanation is that Labour and the Conservatives both want the SNP to fail (no surprise there, I hear you say). They want a party - a party that’s in government - to fail, and they want it so badly that they’ll happily cripple a whole country to achieve it, and they’ll laugh and sneer while it happens. And then, while those who are left tend the wounded, and make do and mend to get by, they’ll sneer again and say: we told you so.
And they’ll be right, partly. They did tell us so. They were unequivocal about it. To be fair to them, I do the same thing myself - when I’m bored of an evening I’ll often head down to the lower estates where I can look down upon the little people and say “You’ll never make it out of here, sonny!”, and do you know what, after I’ve driven over a few of ‘em, they won’t! It makes me feel all...Tory inside. And then I can go back home and snuggle up to the wife and EastEnders, happy that I’ve just identified a future workforce, all hopeless and broken and ready to comply because what other option do they have?
The real questions now do not centre around how the Scottish government can use these “extensive new powers” to benefit Scotland. That would be a stupid ****ing question, and one that won’t get any cleverererer the more times it’s asked. The real questions now gravitate towards the next referendum and when it will be. It’s inevitable. For one thing, we now know that Scotland’s last hope for fairness within the union - Labour - can’t be trusted. When a progressive like Jeremy Corbyn shoots his bolt as soon as the starter pistol goes off, and you just know that there’s no one else waiting to pick up the baton for the next leg, well, that’s it. Kiss the opposition goodbye. Noble though the efforts of the SNP 55/56 may be on the opposition benches, they just don’t have the numbers to make a difference. Factor in the pervasively obstinate and abstinate intransigence of Labour to anything even remotely SNP, and you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that nursing the massive chip on their shoulder is way more important than doing right by the people. As a side note, I think that the SNP 55/56 should buy Labour chips every Friday lunchtime, until they get the message. No fish, no smoked sausage, no DFMB (let’s not be silly), just chips. Lots and lots of chips. I wouldn’t even bother with salt and sauce/vinegar, because they don’t deserve it. Just chips. Spit in them first, obviously, but you get my point.
The Scotland Bill/Vow, call it what you will, is the end. I went from being a bit disinterested in the Indyref at the beginning to becoming a fairly strong supporter of independence at the end, but I’ve always held out hope that *something* might happen within the Union to bring about the balance and the fairness that would make it work for all of the nations within it, and thus negate the need to separate. Let’s be honest about this, a Union of nations should be stronger than the sum of its parts. It should be. It bloody should be. It just should. I’m afraid that, for me at least, hope of that is gone.
PS. Don’t spit in their chips. I was only joking about that.
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