Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Pro-indy politicians who loathe the GRR Bill should take care not to lose the room by appearing to be on the wrong side of a dispute between Scottish democracy and Westminster diktat

Out of curiosity, I ran a Twitter poll last night to ask whether people supported the UK Government in vetoing a Bill passed by the elected Scottish Parliament.  I wasn't entirely sure what the result would be, because when I've run Twitter polls in the past, it's been clear that my followers are roughly evenly split between sympathies for the SNP and Alba, and of course we know that Alba supporters are generally extremely hostile to the GRR Bill.

The poll still has a few hours to run, but as of 2pm, here are the provisional results -

Regardless of your opinion of the GRR Bill, do you support or oppose the UK Government vetoing a Bill passed by the elected Scottish Parliament?

Support: 14.5%
Oppose: 85.5%

Now, of course this is an unscientific, self-selecting poll, but it does suggest that a very large chunk of committed independence supporters who loathe the GRR Bill are nevertheless opposed to the UK Government vetoing it.  And that shouldn't be a major surprise, because committed independence supporters are first and foremost opposed to London rule in Scotland, and there can hardly be a more extreme example of the exercise of raw London colonial power in Scotland than the vetoing of a Bill that has been properly passed by the elected Scottish Parliament.

I'd suggest there's a timely warning here for pro-indy politicians, both inside and outside of Alba, who are tempted to publicly welcome the veto because of how they feel about the GRR Bill.  We've yet to see polling evidence of how the wider public have reacted to the veto, but if committed indy supporters generally abhor it - which seems to be the case - that's what matters for a party like Alba, because that's the pool in which they're seeking votes.  There's a big danger of losing the room by seeming to be on the wrong side of a dispute between Scottish parliamentary democracy and Westminster diktat.  

Nobody is suggesting that people who hate the GRR Bill, for very good reasons, should dishonestly shed tears for its demise.  But there's nothing to be gained from going to the other extreme and being publicly seen to celebrate or gloat about the outrageously anti-democratic way that the Bill has been thwarted.  You're not going to win over pro-independence converts by indicating that you prefer Tory ministers in London to be making decisions for Scotland, rather than elected Scottish ministers.  Or by giving the impression that you're glad that the Tories are in power to be able to make such a decision.  Or by claiming that the Tories simply had no choice but to do what they did (that's most certainly not true, by the way). Or by asserting that it was somehow the Scottish Parliament's own fault that London overruled it.  Or by saying that the onus is on the Scottish Parliament to sort out the mess by coming into compliance with London's wishes.  That is not going to sound to anyone like the sort of things a pro-independence party would or should be saying.

For my money a much better tack is simply to note that, while it's a good thing that the GRR Bill will not be coming into force, the ends do not justify the means, and the Tories should get their hands off Scottish democracy and let us make our own decisions - including our own mistakes.  And it could also be pointed out to the SNP leadership that they bear some responsibility for this outcome due to their failure to push urgently for independence over the last seven years.  There would have been no Westminster vetoes in an independent Scotland.  

There's actually no downside to saying any of the above, because the Tory veto isn't going to go away just because you condemn it.  You can have the quiet satisfaction of knowing self-ID isn't coming into force for the foreseeable future, while not needlessly taking a hit for being associated with the way in which that happened.  You didn't cause the veto, so why the hell would you want to take responsibility for it?

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  1. We need to field a whole swathe of legislation that the Scots approve of and the Brit gov kills - that woud at least build a narrative unlike the present de-facto quagmire.

    1. This would be a really good strategy. At the very least, it would help seize back some of the initiative. Force the UK government to veto not just controversial legislation, but a whole swathe of bold, popular legislation too.

      In fact it's such a canny idea, that I'm afraid it's probably TOO canny for the current leadership's softly softly approach.

    2. Wouldn't work.

      The venn diagram intersection of those two things really is quite small and hindered further by a third circle - of legislative competence. Although it's lying, the UK government is claiming that there are UK-wide consequences from this legislation and that is its sole basis for vetoing.

      And the Presiding Officer is explictly required to reject legislation which has UK-wide consequences, because it would not be within Holyrood's competence to pass such things.

      If you know of some issue which has overwhelming public backing, has no UK-wide consequences and baits the Tories into intervention, by all means spit it out please.

  2. We will only learn and improve by making mistakes. Being protected against making our own mistakes is a form of enforced infantilisation.
    The Holyrood, Committee system is not optimal, open as it is to Executive control by appointment of mindless sycophants and greasy poll climbers. The public need to learn this. This is why we create bad legislation.
    The quality of individual MSPs is dismal. Chapman, Roddick, Adam, …. should be stocking shelves in your local Poundstretcher not earning £64k p.a..
    Expose these cretins to public view. Prompt the response; “They earn how much? I could dae that!”

    1. With all due respect, I'd gently suggest that people need to be *incredibly* wary about lending support to the narrative that Wings and others are pushing today, ie. that the Scottish Parliament is a second-rate, juvenile, irresponsible institution that needs to be kept on a tight leash by the altogether more sensible and grown-up Westminster parliament, in the best interests of the people of Scotland. To state what should be the bleedin' obvious, that narrative is not helping to build the case for independence. It's actually building the case for the abolition of devolution and the reintroduction of direct London rule.

      I've never bought into the wild conspiracy theory that Wings has been "compromised" and is now serving a new master. But I'd just note that he's currently behaving in the *exact* way that he would if that conspiracy theory were true.

    2. Anonymous at 3.11 pm Better with direct rule from London, admit it, that's what you want.

  3. This is the last opportunity for Sturgeon to prove she is willing to stand up for Scotland by taking on Westminster. Legal niceties will not be enough.

    1. I take it you jest - if we all get a sex change (or at the very least start cross-dressing) then maybe Mz S will manifest a scintilla of passion.

  4. Gender Reform has never been debated by the SNP.

    Self-ID was not included in any manifesto.

    Those scrutinising the bill did not do so in a balanced manner, refusing to hear evidence from those with lived experience not helpful to their pre-determined view.

    Those responsible for the bill ignored countless warnings about its impact on reserved matters.

    The parliamentary votes on what is, for many, a matter of conscience were politically whipped.

    And, of course, the view of the people of Scotland as far as it has been possible to measure it has not been represented.

    And Sturgeon has the brass neck to use the word outrage. She and this whole process are the outrage. She has given Westminster the opportunity to represent the view of the overwhelming majority of Scots on one of the most contentious issued of our generation.

    Fool does not even come close to adequately describing her.

    1. Oh for the love of God. The legislative process at Westminster is frequently an absolute joke with woefully inadequate scrutiny and MPs bullied and blackmailed through the lobbies by the whips. That is not an argument for a foreign government to charge in as a self-appointed God and overrule the decisions of the elected UK Parliament.

    2. That describes the SG government also! It's an argument to get our own house in order, there's NO scrutiny of the executive, far less inadequate, or NS wouldn't have been able to ignore all the warning shots, AND LEGAL ADVICE, about the GRR Bill contravening the Equality Act 2010.

    3. The GRR Bill does not "contravene the Equality Act 2010". Nobody seriously disputes that the Bill is within devolved competence. You're doing exactly what I cautioned against in the blogpost - blaming the Scottish Parliament for the Westminster veto. That's a very dangerous and foolish road to go down.

    4. I agree with the logic of you poll : anything that creates useful friction helps (yet look how pathetic the SNP was / is in capitalising on Brexit). Frankly, women's objections I've heard regarding GRR are weak, exaggerated, paranoid and ungenerous.

      The worrying aspects are women pretending to be men and marrying under false pretences; and young teenagers being enabled to sex change then regretting it.

    5. The worrying aspects are women pretending to be men and marrying under false pretences

      What, women posing as men in order to get married to unsuspecting male-attracted people? You're genuinely worried that this is going to be a big problem?

  5. The passion and anger being demonstrated about the GRR mess by the SNP MPs in Westminster today is quite something to behold. Even Blowhard Blackford was up for it. Why does it take this subject matter for them to get riled up? Where is the same passion for Scottish independence? Where is there passion for other vulnerable people who cannot heat their homes in minus degree temperatures? Trans people are NOT the most vulnerable people in Scottish society. You can argue they are discriminated against and vulnerable but they ain't the MOST vulnerable. A disabled person who needs electricity to keep a life support machine operating is more vulnerable.

    HR23 if you don't like being a colony. HR23 if you don't like being told what to do by Tories that cannae win an election in Scotland. HR23 if you don't like being cold in your home. HR23 if you don't like to see Scotland's natural resources stolen. Anything else is just more SNP time wasting and you just ain't an independence supporter.

  6. Joanna Cherry again showing her stature as a position ans statesperson.

  7. Off topic but did anyone get that George Galloway petition via change.org. ugh.