Friday, December 16, 2016

Yes, "The Vow" could have been delivered - but the UK government chose not to do it

I've been meaning to make an additional point about the UK government's outrageous legal arguments relating to the Sewel Convention. I noticed on Twitter a few days ago that some independence supporters seemed to be getting two different concepts muddled up, and as a result were grotesquely (albeit unwittingly) giving the Tories something of a free pass. Basically the confusion relates to the words 'unenforceable' and 'repealable'. There is a strong argument (not unchallengeable, but strong) that it would be next-to-impossible to enshrine the Sewel Convention into law in a way that is unrepealable, simply because of the principle of absolute parliamentary sovereignty. Any law can in theory be repealed by simple majority vote. But the crucial point is that for as long as any such law is on the statute book, it ought to be perfectly enforceable.

To give an example : the Canada Act 1982 terminated Westminster's power to pass laws for Canada. Even if you argue that the principle of parliamentary sovereignty theoretically means that decision can be unilaterally reversed (a point that might be accepted by the UK courts but certainly not by the Canadian ones), there would actually have to be an "Act to Repeal the Canada Act" before Westminster could return to regulating the drains in Toronto, or whatever. So here's the problem - the Scotland Act 2016 didn't even get us that far in respect of Sewel. It used self-sabotaging language to render itself unenforceable, even while it's on the statute book. That was a deliberate choice of the UK government - there was nothing inevitable about it, and they have quite openly boasted in the Supreme Court about how the law was framed to ensure that nothing whatever changed (in particular by the insertion of the words "it is recognised" and "normally").

It's a distinction we must be absolutely clear about. That the Sewel Convention is not unrepealable is arguably part-and-parcel of the UK's most fundamental constitutional principle. But that the Sewel Convention is unenforceable right now was a political choice made by the London government - and that choice was made in brazen contravention of the "Vow" that secured the No vote in September 2014. They mustn't be allowed to get away with the fiction that an unenforceable declaration of commitment to Sewel was the best they could possibly have done within the confines of the constitution, because that simply isn't true.

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Even by his own exalted standards, Mike "can't be arsed" Smithson of Stormfront Lite fame has been making some dubious comments of late, so I just thought I'd take a moment to deal with a couple of his daftest points.  Firstly, he ludicrously claimed last week that the polls on Brexit were not actually wrong, and that anyone who says otherwise is talking "rubbish".  To support this notion, he pointed out that 59% of polls in the last month of the campaign showed "non-Remain leads" (meaning either a tie or a Leave lead).

There's a hole in that logic that a poorly-educated hamster could see through.  If public opinion changes during an election campaign, as it clearly did in the run-up to polling day in June, it will very often be possible to artificially select a time-frame that makes the polls look much more accurate than they actually were.  For example : everyone knows that the polls (with a single honourable exception) got the 1970 general election hopelessly wrong.  They pointed to a Labour overall majority, and the real outcome was a Conservative overall majority.  But between 1967 and 1969, the Tories had actually been way in the lead in the polls, before Labour seemingly turned things around.  Mike Smithson would doubtless argue that, contrary to the universally-held perception, the 1970 polls were not wrong, because over a three-year period they showed the Tories ahead on average.  That would technically be accurate, and is no more or less silly than what he's said about the Brexit polls.

To credibly pray in aid a poll that gets the result broadly "right" a month before polling day, there must at least be an absence of evidence that public opinion changed significantly in the intervening weeks.  Unfortunately for Smithson, the evidence that there was a late swing to Remain as June progressed is overwhelming.  In early June, YouGov "correctly" gave Leave a 4% lead, but the eve-of-referendum poll from the same firm put Remain 2% ahead, and the on-the-day poll saw the Remain lead extend to 4%.  Other firms showed a similar trend.  The likelihood is that all of those polls were inaccurate, and that when Leave appeared to be slightly ahead, they were actually ahead by a significant margin.

It seems Smithson would like to think that the high level of advance postal voting is an adequate excuse for the inaccuracy of the later polls - but it isn't.  If people had already voted by post, the polling firms asked them how they had actually voted, rather than how they planned to vote.

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Elsewhere, Smithson rather desperately used aggregate numbers from a tiny handful of by-election results to demand that the BBC should revert to treating his own party (the Lib Dems) as more important than UKIP.  Now, it may well be that the BBC have been guilty of giving UKIP disproportionate coverage over the years and thus unleashing the Brexit monster, but what's done is done - they can't now ignore the fact that UKIP received almost one-and-a-half million more votes than the Lib Dems in the general election, and have remained ahead of the Lib Dems in most opinion polls over recent months.  Even since Richmond Park, there has been a poll giving UKIP a slight lead over the Lib Dems.

I would hope that somewhere, deep down, Smithson has just enough self-awareness to be embarrassed about his wildly unrealistic demands on behalf of his own party - especially bearing in mind his offensive and downright Orwellian claim a few years back that the SNP were guilty of "censorship" for simply trying to gain fair access to the televised leaders' debates.

47 comments:

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    ReplyDelete
  2. The mistake many of us made during indyref1 was to assume that the London establishment and it's representatives here in Scotland would act in good faith.
    The Smith Commission and subsequent admisssions in open court have laid bare the fact that they weren't and never will as far as Scottish self determination goes.
    I suspect the proposals coming from the Scottish government next week with regard to Scotland's continuing realtionship with rUK and Europe will allow many Yes/Leave voters to get behind it.
    This should more than compensate for the loss of No/Remain voters who see the UK as a unitary state.
    However,as far as Westminster promises go....once bitten...
    Merry Xmas James and wishing you a Troll/Pest free New Year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glasgow Working Class 2December 17, 2016 at 1:16 AM

      The political naive like yourself need trolls.

      Delete
  3. Don't worry. I believe dinosaur Brown is hovering desperate to give us more vows or wows or something. He'll sort it all out no doubt..
    Good to see posts here again, they've been missed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only most of them are missed. Natalie Ball and a certain Glasgow Working Class 2 lunatic would not.

      Delete
    2. Whoever invented that wee scrolly wheel on my mouse was an absolute genius. I can whizz past uninteresting posts in jigg time.
      Leaves me a happy bunny :D

      Delete
  4. Brown made a 'vow'. It wasn't delivered.

    Nuff said about Brown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glasgow Working Class 2December 17, 2016 at 10:40 AM

      I vow to thee Nat si idiots. Nat sis vow to end foodbanks and tax the rich. Nat sis vow to top up welfare cuts. Aye right.

      Delete
    2. Have you been ill? It took you so long to comment I was getting worried. Perhaps you shouldn't beat yourself off to pictures of Teresa May in leather trousers so often.

      Delete
    3. The rhododendron was presumably waiting for fresh instructions from CyberBrit Central...

      Delete
    4. Glasgow Working Class 2December 17, 2016 at 4:16 PM

      Dinnae worry Conan just a glitch in the Travelodge wifi. When did you decide to give up oan socialism and join the Yellow Tories?

      Delete
    5. QED. CyberBrit HQ has told the rhododendron what today's line of petulant raving is - tired reheated cabbage about Yellow Tories (copyright "Scottish" Labour, 1979).

      Delete
    6. A letter in today's Herald complains that the budget is designed to drive the middle-class out of Scotland. Seems the SNP can't win.

      Delete
    7. Glasgow Working Class 2December 17, 2016 at 7:57 PM

      If the Nat sis do win and when border controls are implemented the middle class are going no where.

      Delete
    8. Good for you, sticking to your script. CyberBrit HQ would demand nothing less, of course...

      Delete
  5. Amusing footage of May getting ignored by everyone at the EU summit. Seems Britain just doesn't rate anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Britain and all its friends...

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    2. Similar reception to showing up at your in-laws' dinner party whilst in the middle of your divorce.

      It doesn't help that she was the Home Secretary which is a position with limited exposure to other EU ministers, head of governments and so on. Most of those people had probably never heard of her before this summer.

      If they have decent briefings on the state of politics in the UK, they also know she's practically a lame duck PM who doesn't really have a mandate for anything except Brexit means Brexit.

      Delete
    3. Glasgow Working Class 2December 18, 2016 at 7:01 PM

      Just goes to show that we in Britain do not have any friends unless we bow to the EU unelected fash establishment. The downfall of the EU beaurocrats would a Xmas 2017 treat.

      Delete
    4. Except that, despite constantly bending over for them, the UK is viewed with total contempt by America too now. It's embarrassing how friendless we are.

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  6. Should anybody care.

    If you want to read a herald article in full. Right click and save the page. Then open the saved page link and you can indulge in every word of yoon propaganda and lies from maggots like gordon, leasky and hutcheon.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Glasgow Working Class 2December 18, 2016 at 6:34 PM

    Knickerless tae unvail Scottish Battle Plan to avoid brexit. We have to assume the wee shit will reveal where our exports will depart and imports arrive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, sticking to your script like a good little sockpuppet. CyberBrit HQ would demand nothing less, of course...

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 19, 2016 at 10:39 AM

      You need transport infrastructure tae trade ya Nat si knob. Channel Tunnel, M6 and M1 nae merr. Or will it be a Berlin Airlift from yerr Nat si pals!

      Delete
    3. What a good little CyberBrit you are. Maybe Auntie Cruella will give you a sweetie.

      Delete
  8. Glasgow Working Class 2December 19, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Kim Yung Eck says Yes will win referendum within twa years of Brexit. Whit about a referendum now ya wee sleekit timorous beastie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CyberBrit HQ should be careful what it sends it's rhododendron to argue for...

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 19, 2016 at 5:13 PM

      You fash are rhododendron fertiliser better known as keech.

      Delete
    3. Yep. No thought involved there, just insults. The rhododendron is sticking closely to script today, like a good little operative.

      Delete
    4. Glasgow Working Class 2December 19, 2016 at 8:40 PM

      I am not a flower, honey. So do try politics and policy Nat si bhoy although that is beyond your feeble mind. But do try!

      Delete
    5. Oh, but sweetie, you don't do politics. CyberBrit HQ wouldn't allow such autonomous thought. You just stick to your little knee-jerk script like a good rhododendron.

      Delete
  9. Does anyone know if the leader of the Liberals knows who Willie Rennie is? Does anyone know who the leader of the Liberals is?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Glasgow Working Class 2December 19, 2016 at 9:20 PM

    Looks like Merkel the pal of Knickerless has let more terrorists into her country to kill her citizens. And wee Knickerless wanted droves into Scotland. Ye hiv tae laugh at their incompetence. Avoid Christmas Markets courtesy of fuckin idiot politicians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Warped creature. Crawl back under your rock before daylight burns you.

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 20, 2016 at 8:36 AM

      Ignorant thick as shit creature.

      Delete
    3. Warped creature. Crawl back under your rock before daylight burns you.

      Delete
  11. Glasgow Working Class 2December 20, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    Knickerless to warn May about leaving the single market. Is this the same Knickerless that wants to leave the Union and the EU!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Warped creature. Crawl back under your rock before daylight burns you.

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 20, 2016 at 3:57 PM

      You have a new repetitive comment fash bhoy. Does it make you giggle while fondling yerself?

      Delete
    3. No thought involved there, just insults. The rhododendron is sticking closely to script today, like a good little operative.

      Delete
    4. Glasgow Working Class 2December 20, 2016 at 9:10 PM

      Unlike yourself my brain is operative.

      Delete
    5. No thought involved there, just insults. The rhododendron is sticking closely to script today, like a good little operative.

      Delete
  12. Glasgow Working Class 2December 20, 2016 at 9:07 PM

    Knickerless and her fash are shiting themselves scared to go for a referendum. They will have to go over old ground again mainly the currency jobs and the economy.
    The fash have been in power how long and are clueless about a Scottish currency!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CyberBrit HQ should be careful what it sends it's rhododendron to argue for...

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2December 21, 2016 at 5:39 PM

      May tells Frau Knickerless tae f aff. Nat sis upset an moanin. Position normal. Merry Xmas fash.

      Delete
    3. No thought involved there, just insults. The rhododendron is sticking closely to script today, like a good little operative.

      Delete