Wednesday, June 13, 2018

12.06.18: The day the calling of a pre-2021 independence referendum became inevitable

Huge respect to Ian Blackford for taking a stand at Prime Minister's Questions and sending the message that the unprecedented breach of the Sewel Convention that occurred yesterday, with the mass-scale stripping of existing powers from the Scottish Parliament, was a sufficiently serious matter to warrant the disruption of the flagship occasion in the House of Commons.  It was blindingly obvious that John Bercow was advised by his clerks that Mr Blackford had the right to immediately move a technical vote on the House sitting privately, which would have interrupted PMQs by around fifteen minutes.  Indeed, Bercow initially seemed to concede that point by appealing to Mr Blackford to wait until PMQs were over, but then, as he so often does, he made the rules up as he went on to save face and decreed that the vote would have to wait even if Mr Blackford didn't back down.  He then ended up expelling Mr Blackford from the chamber, prompting the entire SNP parliamentary party to walk out in solidarity - leaving a huge gap in the benches that would have brought home to viewers just how many seats the SNP actually won last year.  Shamefully, Bercow then let his anger (and his true colours) show by making a number of fatuous British nationalist propaganda points, such as that it was a great shame that SNP MPs who had questions down on the order paper would not now be able to ask them - as if a couple of twenty-second questions followed by the usual sneering replies from Theresa May would have somehow made up for the shameful scenes of yesterday, when powers were removed from the Scottish Parliament without a single Scottish MP being allowed to speak.  (No bending of the rules from Bercow to stop the disgraceful fillibustering yesterday, you might note.)

The reason why it was necessary for Mr Blackford and the SNP parliamentary party to send this symbolic message is that the London establishment and media just don't seem to have received the memo yet.  We hear a lot about the get-out clause in the Sewel Convention that the consent of the Scottish Parliament will only "normally" be required.  That implies, of course, that to act without consent is an extraordinary constitutional exception on a par with the impeachment of an American President or something of that sort.  Do you get any sense at all that the London establishment and media have acknowledged the gravity of what is happening?  Has Huw Edwards been presenting the Ten O'Clock News from Edinburgh for the last week as the crisis deepens?  Has the sainted Sarah Smith been fronting Panorama specials?  Was it a figment of our imagination that only a token 15 minutes was devoted to the power grab in the House of Commons yesterday, rather than ten hours?  It has become abundantly clear that the Sewel Convention - supposedly put on a statutory basis after 2014 in line with The Vow - is a presentational con-trick.  The pretence of treating it with reverence was only going to be maintained for as long as there was no cost to Westminster - but as soon as that was no longer the case, it was always going to be contemptuously ignored as if everyone knew it was a bit of a joke.  Not one person in the London media seems to think this turn of events is remotely strange or surprising.  Indeed, they seem more surprised today that Ian Blackford was actually taking the Sewel Convention and The Vow seriously.

There is, of course, no going back from the walk-out today.  The SNP membership would not accept that a matter that was serious enough to prompt a walk-out from the Commons is not serious enough to also necessitate a pre-2021 referendum on independence, in line with the mandate secured two years ago by the Scottish Government.  What's more, I simply don't believe - regardless of Sarah Smith's relentless propagandising to the contrary - that the SNP leadership will ask the membership to accept that.  It is inevitable that a pre-2021 referendum will now be called.

Events since the first indyref - betrayal of The Vow, followed by the Brexit vote, followed by Brexit mutating into a Hard Brexit, followed by the destruction of the devolution settlement - have occurred at a gradual enough pace that it's sometimes possible not to see the wood for the trees.  Let's take a step back.  The people of Scotland narrowly voted against independence in September 2014 on the basis of specific promises that Scotland would remain in the EU, and that the Scottish Parliament would become more powerful.  Instead, Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against its will, and powers that the Scottish Parliament has held since its inauguration in 1999 are being taken away.  Either one of those two material changes in circumstances would make the case for a second referendum unanswerable.  The two in combination make it a slam-dunk. 

This isn't a strategic calculation about whether we dare risk asking the question again in case the answer is No.  It's about giving a betrayed public the right that they deserve to revisit a decision they took on the basis of a false prospectus.

68 comments:

  1. Agree wholeheartedly with SNP move today.

    As far as I am concerned, my MP has done his best work since being elected today.

    I care not a jot that they weren't around to ask pointless questions during Prime Minister's Evasions.

    Moreover, given that Scottish MPs can almost never effect a vote in Westminster, I feel like the prospect of their move hurting me in the least is vanishingly remote.

    Instead, I am pleased that they appear to be willing to stand for this nonsense no longer. Relieved, as well, I daresay.

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  2. "Brexit mutating into a Hard Brexit"

    Don't you think we are heading for a kind of open-ended soft brexit? It doesn't seem clear to me what brexit is going to look like. When we know more, I can see a referendum being scheduled though.

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    1. On what planet is departure from the single market and the customs union not a Hard Brexit? This is like a form of mass hypnosis where we're even dutifully adjusting our own terminology to suit the UK government's narrative. No, what we're heading for is not a "kind of open-ended soft Brexit".

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    2. I almost think that there was never really any such thing as 'soft' Brexit, in least in terms of EEA/EFTA/CU/SM meaning that the four freedoms would have to be acknowledged. I would accept that there are degrees of integration but I suspect Brexiteers won't care for such nuance and that the Tories know it (hence the apparent 'indecisiveness' of the government which is much more 'too scared to tell one group or other that they are not getting what they want').

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    3. Most of the brexit talk suggests that we are more or less staying in the SM/CU "Temporarily", until we [achieve impossible technological solution]. I actually can't remember the definition of soft brexit, but i think staying in the aforementioned fits the bill. Obviously it might not happen in which case, hard brexit.

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    4. "Temporarily" - so what? Your point is...?

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    5. They just voted to take the UK out of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. That alone makes it not just a hard brexit but a dangerous one in my opinion.

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    6. Remember the 'backstop' position -- the absence of a border between NI and Ireland will continue until the EU is happy with what is put in place. I don't think one should assume, because it is soft-brexiteers who are now rebelling, that Mrs May is heading for a hard Brexit. Perhaps she has always wanted an end atate in which we are not formally in the EU, the Customs Union or the Single Market, but in which as much as possible of our relationship with the EU, continues as if we are.....?

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    7. It's a bit silly of you to play dumb as an "internet man debating tactic" James.

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  3. This does feel like it could be big. From a presentational point of view, the footage of the Speaker/other MPs laughing after the SNP walkout will not have done much for Westminster's image, to say the least.

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  4. SNP MPs need to work - within the rules - to bring as much of WM's work as possible to a halt. They can abandon conventions like pairing, Parliamentary language, whatever. Make the museum collapse in its hallowed traditions.

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    1. Replacing "the Right Honourable Member" with "the eejit opposite" would be a start! Especially if it was Ross Thomson!

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  5. The Tories have clearly decided that they do not need the Scottish parliament to manage Scottish affairs on their behalf.
    The resurrected office of their Scottish Secretary can now do so and without any inconvenient democratic accountability being required.
    Tories and democracy are an oxymoron and after last night's shenanigans,that goes for the other Anglo parties as well.

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  6. They should come home to Holyrood and sit with the whole Scottish Parliament to report on what happened. If the MPs in the other parties don't want to take part, tough.

    Those Westminster MPs who laughed and jeered are idiots, and they have no sense of history. Here's an article about what happened in the House of Commons on 8 March 1917. http://tinyurl.com/yc7bnm35

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  7. No need to rush back to HoC any time soon. Stay away until after Summer recess? And get busy on the National Assemblies?

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    1. Nope, the only reason this is in the news is because they walked out. If they're all sitting at home in their underpants they achieve nothing.

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    2. Actually it would be big news if Scotland's majority party (in Westminster terms) adopted a Sinn Fein-style abstentionist stance. I don't think it would be a good idea to do that, but the idea that it wouldn't be noticed is a bit silly.

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    3. IMO a carefully selected plan to disrupt WM business at every opportunity would be far more productive. Use their own arcane rules against then (like Alex Salmond used to do). They won't like it up em. :)

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    4. I totally agree Luigi... I think Ian Blacford will be working on that right now..! If he enlists Alec Salmond as an 'adviser in parliamentary tactics' that would be no bad thing either..!

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    5. Of course it'd be noticed, but then as the long "in the sitting room in their underpants" months and years stretched on, they wouldnt' be noticed or be able to be that useful.

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  8. I despair of all this, particularly of the media.

    I lived in the south of England from 1982 to 2006. That's all the way through from the Thatcher reign of terror, the poll tax, Major's unexpected victory in 1992 (which prompted me to join the SNP), the cross-party agitation for a Scottish parliament from 1992 to 1997 including the Constitutional Convention, the Blair victory and the devolution referendum in 1997 and the establishment of the Holyrood parliament in 1999.

    I felt sad that I wasn't in there getting involved on the ground (or only occasionally as I managed to get home for a week or a few days) and I would have liked to have been able to watch Reporting Scotland, but I didn't feel uninformed. I had a regular order for the Herald which covered everything in depth and there was enough on television for even someone chained to South Today to follow what was going on. The pro-devolution campaign was given a great deal of coverage and even the SNP's pro-independence message was included and put in context.

    Now, though, I'm living less than 20 miles from Edinburgh and I feel as if I'm blindfolded and have cotton wool stuck in my ears. It's like being in a sensory deprivation chamber so far as balanced media coverage of the biggest constitutional crisis of the century is concerned.

    If it wasn't for online sources and social media I would have almost no idea what was going on. It's good we have these things so that those of us who are interested can seek them out. However the general public are being treated like mushrooms here and I have no idea how we can possibly overcome this.

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    1. I totally agree. Welcome to East Germany where the SED are still clinging on.

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  9. An entire party immediately walking out, leaving half of Scotland unrepresented can’t be helpful. Scots Labour and Scots Lib Dems MPs wouldn’t do that even if they disagree with the government.

    I like the SNP’s passion but they sometimes go too far in my opinion.

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    1. How are your plans for a new federalism going?

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    2. Labour and the Lib Dems would rather sit on their hands than serve the people via the devolution settlement they claim to support.

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    3. "Scots Labour and Scots Lib Dems MPs wouldn’t do that"

      You're right. They wouldn't. They would - and did - just sit on their hands as their country was sold down the river. But hey, they're still claiming their expenses, and that's the most important thing.

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    4. Labour and Lib Dems do sweet FA but abstain as it is. What do you suggest would they do different? Stand up for Scotland? That'll be the day that pigs fly.

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    5. The Lib Dems joined Donald Dewar's Labour crowd AND the SNP in walking out of Westminster when Major's government wouldn't set up a Scottish Affairs Committee.

      (Interestingly, the reason for the Tories slowness then was that they had too few Scottish MPs to have a majority on the committee. Labour [i]conceded[/i] that the Tories could shore up their numbers with English MPs and the Tories still dragged their heels, so Dewar led a walk-out.)

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    6. Want a list of all the Scottish Labour MPs who walked out with Donald Dewar in 1987 for the Tory disrespect for Scotland? I can get it for you. It is a long one. In those days, Labour actually had a backbone.

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    7. And the Tartan yellow bastard Tories walk out in support of selling out Scotland to the EU unelected quango.

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    8. Donald Dewar led a walkout of 50 Scottish Labour MPs in 1987.

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    9. Scott H...Donald Dewar led a walkout of all Scottish MPs bar the Tories in 1987, not just the Labour ones. No chance of that much solidarity for Scotland in Westminster nowadays.

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  10. The SNP membership site is being stretched to its limits. There are shades of what happened post Sept 2014 occurring. I think Mundell, Lidington and HoC pomposity has pushed one button too many. At this juncture I would say the bets are off and anything could happen. I wouldn't be surprised if there is an Indy poll this Oct.

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    1. Jeez, if you're saying that, things are getting serious.

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    2. Things seem to developing a momentum of their own...mostly because May's team seem to instinctively go for the most destabilising option. I would have said a vote could be as late as 2020 but that seems the least likely option now.

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    3. I want to spend the minimum amount of time possible out of the EU so the sooner the better. I'm hoping something will produce that long-anticipated surge for Yes in the opinion polls as we just go for it in whatever way is possible.

      "There is a tide in the affairs of men" and all that. Well, we need that flood-tide and then we need to grab it.

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    4. I left the party because of corruption in our local group. I'm now considering holding my nose and re-joining. Now that is desperation.

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  11. Yes, it's shaping for IndyVote2 by May 2021.

    But are you really going back to these people to ask their permission for a special referendum before then?

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    1. Who's talking about asking permission?

      Call the referendum, dare them to try to stop it.

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  12. 2021? 2020? People, the enemy are at the gates. Holyrood has already been hobbled. This is urgent. We're in a race to be independent before Westminster, newly emboldened by how easy it is, starts lopping off more of Holyrood's powers to give to the Scotland Office.

    The EU deal will be known by October. By then, the 'fog of Brexit' will have lifted and we'll see the shitstorm that's heading our way. That's when we need to call the referendum for March 14. Otherwise, I think we're toast.

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  13. The Scottish Government should should not propose a referendum on Independence but on Rescinding The Treaty of Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments

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  14. Jocko Nat sis should be sacked along with their Sinn Fein IRA terrorist pals. Nae Work Nae pay. Wasters.

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    1. Dummy tits to be issued to the Scottish English haters.

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    2. GWC2 your're Arlene's bitch and a waste of space.

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    3. Anonymous, you are a Junker EU bum boy and Barniers mouth relief.

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    4. And the award for Dumbest Scot of the Year goes to...GWC2. That's all we have to go on as he's not brave enough to share his name.

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    5. Aye the old Jock McStasi fascists would love names and addresses.

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  15. Noticed Tory chief whip cuddling up to clerk of house ( whispering in his ear) throughout ??

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  16. Folks, please don't engage directly with the troll.
    I'm trying to house-break it.

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    Replies
    1. I note the Jocko weans are back in their seats in the Commons. The old pound sign is always the winner.

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    2. They get paid whether they turn up or not, silly.

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  17. Pre-arranged stunt by the Natz, that's why the reporter was waiting outside the doors for them. If they'd stayed they could have actually had the discussion they asked for...

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    1. If the speaker hadn't gone "ok, when do you want to hold that vote. No, sorry, I'm going to ignore your answer" then they wouldn't have had an excuse.

      They probably are all prepped to walk out together on any number of issues, but Westminster still has to give them the excuse.

      And I'll ask you: 9 wolves and a sheep voting on who's for dinner. What's the logical thing for the sheep to do?

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    2. It could only be pre-arranged if the speaker was part of the arrangement. It was his refusal to properly follow House rules that led to the walkout.

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    3. Tonald O'Taig MickBumfluff.June 14, 2018 at 4:23 PM

      The Nat si tosspots were outside the Commons taking selfies like a bunch of Nat si women on a hen night in the Barrowland.

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    4. Alex Salmond says it was pre-arranged and his idea...

      https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/alex-salmond-claims-credit-for-snp-commons-walkout-1-4755781

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  18. None of the Nat sis in the Commons condemns the EU Commission decision on the Galileo Project. Further proof they are EU grovelling slime balls.

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  19. Remember, folks, please don't engage directly with the troll.
    I'm trying to house-break it; its neglectful Tory masters didn't bother, so someone has to.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This never gets old:

    https://youtu.be/DiMXuEmqAHA

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You forgot to address this to the troll, pal.

      Delete