Friday, December 2, 2016

UK government boasts that "The Vow" was a gigantic con-trick

As we all remember, a key part of the panic-stricken last-minute "Vow" that helped to secure a narrow No victory in the independence referendum was the promise that the devolved Scottish Parliament would be made "permanent".  Implicit in that pledge was that the Sewel Convention (which, among other things, prevents the powers of the parliament from being altered without the consent of MSPs) would be put on a statutory footing.  Without that safeguard, "permanence" would plainly be meaningless - the parliament could be left as an empty shell, unilaterally stripped by Westminster of all or most of its powers.

It was widely noted that, technically, it was next to impossible to guarantee either the permanence of the parliament or the inviolability of the Sewel Convention, because the sovereignty of the Westminster parliament means that any constitutional law can simply be repealed later on.  Nevertheless, the UK government insisted that the Scotland Act 2016 provided as much assurance as was humanly possible to give within the UK constitutional framework.

A number of us were a tad sceptical about that, and couldn't help wondering whether the use of weird and seemingly redundant wording within the legislation such as "it is recognised that" and "the UK Parliament will not normally legislate without consent" were deliberately intended to be self-sabotaging, and to render the whole thing unenforceable.  Not at all, we were told. That was just paranoia.  Yet more SNP grudge and grievance.

Hmmm.  As it turns out, all it's taken is eight months since the Scotland Act passed into law, and the UK government are already openly admitting that we were correct in each and every respect about the cynical game they were playing.  So desperate are they now to head off the risk of the Supreme Court granting the Scottish Parliament the kind of say over the Brexit negotiations that might actually befit "the most powerful devolved parliament in the world" (ahem), they've dropped all the former pretence, and have submitted a legal argument that explicitly argues that the wording of the relevant section of the Scotland Act deprives it of all credibility.

"The legal irrelevance of the Sewel convention is expressly accepted"

"the convention does not purport to prescribe an absolute rule. Its content is only that “Westminster would not normally legislate” (emphasis added). Whether circumstances are ‘normal’ is a quintessential matter of political judgment for the Westminster Parliament and not the courts. There are no judicial standards by which to measure such a question..."

"Nothing in that analysis is affected by the amendment of s. 28 of the Scotland Act 1998 (by s. 2 of the Scotland Act 2016) to include: “(8) But it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”. All s. 28(8) does is to recognise the terms of the political convention in legislation. That does not render the application of it in any particular instance a justiciable matter for the courts. It is trite that legislation may include provisions which do not give rise to justiciable legal issues. The content of s. 28(8) is the same as that of the convention, save that its purely political nature is further emphasised by (a) the opening wording that it is “recognised”, and (b) its placement immediately after s. 28(7) which affirms the unconstrained legislative competence of the Westminster Parliament."


In plain language, this is a boast that the supposed placing of the Sewel Convention on a statutory footing was a con-trick. Further, it's an invitation to the Supreme Court to confirm that the deception was pulled off successfully. That whole section of the Scotland Act, we're being told, was the equivalent of a pretty illustration in a textbook - ie. for decorative effect only. At best, it was like forgoing a marriage certificate in favour of a small tattoo saying "Jenny and Kevin 4eva".

The eccentric notion that the government which crafted the law, and not the courts, should get to decide how to interpret the meaning of the word "normally" reminds me a touch of the F├╝hrerprinzip in Nazi Germany (ie. the government's word is above the written law), or the right of the communist Chinese National People's Congress to interpret the Hong Kong Basic Law. The rule of law in democratic countries does generally rest on a basic separation of powers - the political legislature passes the law, and then the non-political courts interpret and enforce it. That is the only way of ensuring non-arbitrary application of the law.  Apparently, Westminster's exercise of overlordship in Scotland is exempt from that general principle.

The UK government's lawyers could have saved themselves a lot of time by submitting a legal argument that simply read : "OUR CONTEMPT FOR THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND IS ABSOLUTE. WE LIED, WE CHEATED, AND WE NO LONGER CARE WHO KNOWS ABOUT IT. SUCK IT UP, JOCKS."

43 comments:

  1. A brief skim of the argument is that Sewel doesn't apply because the case hinges on use of the Prerogative, not prerogative as it's written and thus doesn't impact on devolved matters as they deal with domestic law.

    The reason that argument is facile is that ruling by the High Court is that A50 does affect domestic law an the individual rights of citizens. Until the Supreme Court overturns that decision the question of whether Sewel applies or not is unanswered. For them to accept the Government's argument they need to decide in it's favour before the the case is heard.

    Another concern in their argument is that they ignore the inconvenient fact that advice on the use of the Royal Prerogative is partially devolved. Which means that, for what it's worth, the First Minister can advise the Queen to withhold Royal Assent from any Acts of Parliament concerning devolved matters.

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  2. Westminster,the Masters of Con.
    All the lies they told during our independence referendum and the EU one.
    The lies they are now telling about repatriation of powers from Europe.
    When they talk about bringing back control,they mean to London.
    They will use access to our fishing grounds as a bargaining chip,again,in order to get preferential access for the City,again.
    Bet Spain are now wishing they had backed us during our referendum instead of perfidious Albion.
    Eu citizens who reside in Scotland and were lied to by,in particular British Labour,about their continuing status as Scottish residents now being viewed as another bargaining chip by London.
    The only lesson everyone can learn from this is that Westminster cannot be trusted and I hope our neighbours in Europe don't make the same mistakes as we have.

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  3. Yep, they lied, big time and some, too many fell for it. If we are dragged out of the EU, get ready for some very dirty play from WM. I reckon they will attempt to undermine the Scottish parliament by removing some devolved powers. Education anyone? The well off in Scotland won't like it if their sprogs have to pay tuition fees. Did I hear that the UKok Gov are going to scrap the winter fuel payments and that the SCOTGOV, ie, the SNP, plan to keep that in place. Just as they have mitigated UK cuts, with the EMA for poorer kids, bedroom tax, bus passes, (you don't get one until you are 64 in Gateshead), ILF for those needing support due to disability. Help to buy scheme, enabling first time buyers get on the ladder, building affordable homes for people, renewables.

    The WM tory and red tory right will try to destroy Scotland, especially if a yes vote looks likely, which it really must by now.

    Good to know we have Ireland on side, and hope they are watching proceedings, and how the WM, HoC's and HoL's operates. I am sure that Ireland will pass on some observations to other EU countries, who were less interested in Scotland, but now see us in a much more positive light.

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  4. Westminster arrogance and ignorance.

    Also: So Hammond says there will be no brexit deal for Scotland. So Scotland will have to obey Westminster. Aye right. Even britnats like Hammond know if Scotland is prevented from staying in the single market in particular and the EU in general Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish parliament [SNP and Greens] has every right to call IndyRef2. Indeed Holyrood should not bother with IndyRef2 and just have a straight vote on ending the union with England. Constitutional crisis? Too bloody true. The more constitutional crises the better. Time for Holyrood to get bloody angry.

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  5. An Englishman's word is his bond-----yup, the bond that binds Scotland to our xenophobic neighbour.
    As BBC Scotland becomes evenmore the broadcasting arm of May's separatist, narrow nationalist junta, ruling by FIAT, we will need to beware of lies told to us in a Scottish accent. They will be lies just the same!

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    Replies
    1. At least it is now out in the open.
      Their mission in life:
      To promote harmony and cohesion within the British state.
      I.E. oppose Scottish identity and independence of thought.

      Delete
  6. The hard bit is getting the so called unionists to read this and fully understand the meaning,suckered aye,but did you lot have to get us screwed along with you?

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  7. An English man's word is not bonded unless there is a handshake or signatured paper to that effect. I see no handshakes on common agreements between England and Scotland or signed documentation that contain 'get-out' clauses that would be accepted by the receiver ie. the First Minister. She's a Lawyer hersel' and no daft aboot legal speak and suchlike.

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  8. Glasgow Working Class 2December 2, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    Whit a bunch of pessimist moaners you Jocks are. You are taking over fae ra Scousers with yer hard done tae stories.

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    Replies
    1. GWC2 *not* Scots again. Quelle surprise.

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 2, 2016 at 10:10 PM

      A wis talking aboot the Nat si narrowback welfare junkie Jocks and not the clever entrepreneurial Brit/Scot Jocks that drive the economy.

      Delete
    3. Glasgow Working Class 2December 3, 2016 at 1:33 AM

      "Whit a bunch of pessimist moaners you Jocks are."

      Delete
    4. Poor Nadine. So angry. So tearful. So drunk. So sad...

      Delete
  9. Glasgow Working Class 2December 3, 2016 at 1:34 AM

    "Whit a bunch of pessimist moaners you Jocks are."

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    Replies
    1. Nadine, my angel, did you stay up all night pretending to be a Glaswegian again? It's not healthy.

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  10. James, apologies if you've commented before, but can you confirm what the SNP were polling in the subsample in the YouGov GB wide poll 28-29 Nov? It looks like 50% to me but I'm not the best at interpreting those data tables!

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    Replies
    1. The figures are SNP 50% Con 18% Lab 15% LD 5% UKIP 2%

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  11. I was wondering why the You Gov polls have consistently 20% Voters from the rUK when the figure is naturally 8.7%. Their “pool” is strange.

    Then i noticed that they advertise for “members of their random ” pool in the Scotsman. It i think largely explains their strange results.

    If you source your pollsters from an asylum, why do you wonder that your results are mad even after you have “corrected” the sample.

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  12. Glasgow Working Class 2December 4, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    I love Jock womens knickers, especially Sturgeons. Thats why I call her knickerless. I stole all of hers to wipe myself with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poor Nadine. So angry. So tearful. So drunk. So sad...

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 4, 2016 at 7:24 PM

      I am certain James will know the impersonator above at 4 Dec, 9:51 am. No harm in those that watch wummin hingin oot the washin if it helps them bash their meat!

      Delete
    3. Glasgow Working Class 2December 5, 2016 at 5:48 AM

      I am certain James will know the impersonator above at 4 Dec, 7:24 PM. Hiv the bottle tae use yer ain name ya racist tory scumbag. Go on dae it prick.

      Delete
    4. Nadine, my angel, did you stay up all night pretending to be a Glaswegian again? It's not healthy.

      Delete
  13. Meanwhile, in another place. M Smithson moans about ukip being given more coverage by the bbc than his beloved libdems. Which is odd as i distinctly remember him and his herd attacking A Salmond FM for making exactly the same point when the bbc helped elect coburn.

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  14. I dont blame the English because of our inability to want to self govern that lies with 55%.

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  15. Glasgow Working Class 2December 4, 2016 at 10:18 PM

    Italy could be next tae get oot of this mafia ridden corrupt EU.. All the waster middle class university elite that run the EU may actually hiv tae find a job.
    Wee Knickerkess and her devout camp followers are going no where. The real Scottish are the Unionists. The Nat sis are on the run and losing. Conan the Librarian will need tae study plumbing and get a real job. Nothing like handling shite as well as talking it.

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    Replies
    1. Glasgow Working Class 2December 5, 2016 at 5:47 AM

      I love Jock womens knickers, especially Sturgeons. Thats why I call her knickerless. I stole all of hers to wipe myself with.

      Delete
    2. Tory sockpuppet who isn't from scotland Class 2December 5, 2016 at 5:50 AM

      "Whit a bunch of pessimist moaners you Jocks are." -
      Glasgow Working Class 2

      Delete
    3. Poor Nadine. So angry. So tearful. So drunk. So sad...

      Delete
    4. Can it be that GWC2 is BrianSpanners girlfriend? They have that synchronicity.

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    5. Nadine is what Spanner would be without the celebrity followers' list.

      Delete
  16. Time to withdraw our mps back to Scotland and announce that the bi partite union of Scotland and England is over. Enough is enough time to move onwards and upwards. What are they going to do? Bomb us like Syira. England has few friends and plenty of enimies.

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    Replies
    1. Glasgow Working Class 2December 5, 2016 at 11:29 PM

      It would be a good idea to withdraw them without pay as they are a useless bunch of nonentities. More money made available for the public services.

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 6, 2016 at 1:25 AM

      I am certain James will know the impersonator above at 5 Dec, 11:29 PM. Hiv the bottle tae use yer ain name ya racist tory scumbag. Go on dae it prick.

      Delete
    3. Nadine, sweetheart, please stop doing to yourself. Prosecco and late nights don't mix, my angel.

      Delete
  17. Time to withdraw our mps back to Scotland and announce that the bi partite union of Scotland and England is over. Enough is enough time to move onwards and upwards. What are they going to do? Bomb us like Syira. England has few friends and plenty of enimies.

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    Replies
    1. Can't say I agree with your point, Iain. UDI is a tightrope we're better off not walking - for example, Kosovo declared UDI from Serbia after a brutal war and, almost nine years later, still isn't recognised as an independent nation by over 40% of UN members. Better to do this via #indyref2 so that our status as an independent nation will not be open to question.

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 6, 2016 at 10:57 AM

      Go fur it and get trashed again at the polls. Declaring UDI would be an act of fascism and against the democratic wish of the Scottish Unionist majority. You could take over the Croy Post Office! I wonder whose flag you would raise Nat si bhoy! You fash are a hoot.

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    3. Nadine, my darling, prosecco for breakfast never ends well. You know that, sweetheart.

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    4. Glasgow Working Class 2December 6, 2016 at 6:53 PM

      Scottish education at a very low level. Perhaps James should turn back to Labour and kick the fash nonentities into touch.

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    5. Glasgow Working Class 2December 6, 2016 at 8:03 PM

      "Whit a bunch of pessimist moaners you Jocks are."

      Delete
    6. Nadine, my angel, did you stay up all night pretending to be a Glaswegian again? It's not healthy.

      Delete