A question of trust

ruth_davidsonFar from the least of the problems with Theresa May’s latest attempt to make the rough-hewn square peg of Brexit fit the well-formed round hole of reality is the question of trust. For example, when the British government undertakes to pay “due regard” to European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings relating to the rules the UK will share with Brussels, why would anyone assume this to mean that the British government will respect those rulings? Anyone even minimally aware of the British state’s record in relation to such undertakings would have to be exceedingly sceptical. Anyone familiar with ‘The Vow’ made to Scotland in 2014 would openly scoff at the notion of trusting the British political elite.

If there was any intention to respect ECJ rulings, why not just say so? Why not make that commitment explicit? Why resort to such vague terms? When such woolly language is used it becomes a matter of how it is defined. And of who does the defining.

This being the British political elite, it is safe to assume that they reserve to themselves the role of ultimate arbiters in this, as in all things. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to expect that “due regard” might be defined in the same self-serving manner as the British political elite defines the “consent” of the Scottish Parliament to whatever it is that the British political elite wants to do to Scotland. Thus, the British government will be deemed to have given “due regard” to any ECJ ruling if –

(a) the ruling is accepted
(b) the ruling is ignored
(c) the ruling is rejected

To most of us, I’m sure, this is the stuff of Orwellian madness. But, to those mired in the dogmatic exceptionalism of British Nationalist ideology, it all seems perfectly reasonable. The reasonableness derives from it being British, regardless of the content. This may seem improbable. Many will ask how it is possible – absent some pathology – for any human intellect to deny such glaring inconsistency, contradiction and illogic. But we are dealing here with minds capable of the kind of doublethink which allows British politicians to pay lip service to Scotland’s Claim of Right whilst using those same lips to spit on Scotland’s right of self-determination.

And there is no escaping the fact that the British government actually drafted an amended the Scotland Act which Jonathan Mitchell QC condemned as “a rapist’s theory of consent”.

30 (4) For the purposes of subsection (3) a consent decision is—
(a) a decision to agree a motion consenting to the laying of the draft,
(b) a decision not to agree a motion consenting to the laying of the draft, or
(c) a decision to agree a motion refusing to consent to the laying of the draft;

In any negotiation there must be trust. There must be a certain minimum confidence that the parties to the negotiation are acting in good faith. There must be a reasonable expectation that undertakings made will be honoured. The British political elite has shown itself to be deceitful, duplicitous and dishonest. They cannot be trusted. Therefore, there can be no basis for agreement.

If there is no reason for the EU to trust the British state, there is even less cause for Scotland to do so. We trust the British government at our peril. We are paying a steep price for having believed British politicians in 2014. The cost of trusting them now will be far, far higher.

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8 thoughts on “A question of trust

  1. As long as London controls the media,it can control the message.Most of the No voters I knew,never engaged with the debate and were happy for the media to give them\”rational\” reasons to justify their position.Pensions were too easy a target,we should have said that London would have been responsible for continuing to pay existing pensions which they would anyway,unless they were proposing to change the law such that you could only claim the state pension if you were resident in England.The currency issue,the \”reason\” many middle class voters used to support their position,is another matter and will have to be addressed if we are to have another go at independence.Let's hope that democracy takes root in the minds of our middle classes rather than money in my pocket does in future.


  2. People WERE told the truth about pensions. The currency issue WAS comprehensively addressed. It's not that these things weren't done. It's just that there was a major problem with getting the information to people.You identify the reason – or a large part of it – in your opening remarks. All to many people are passive consumers of media messages. They are content to take whatever is fed to them in the most superficially attractive and easily digestible way.We need people to be active consumers of media product. We need them to be prepared to seek information rather than accept what is laid in front of them. And we need them to ask the awkward questions about what is presented to them by the mainstream print and broadcast media.The best way to encourage this is to provide alternative media that is just as accessible and just as authoritative. People will then be able to compare the different messages and make a rational assessment as to which is more persuasive.We can't expect alternative media to be effective if people don't even know it's there. Or if they are not given good reason to trust it.


  3. Concise and to the point. Never trust a Tory or a Whitehall civil servant.

    Once this self evident truth is understood, there can be no agreement and no Union.


    1. Bravo on writing a superlative blog piece. (Since Since 2012, I’ve been reporting voluntarily to the UN’s human rights office, in Geneva, on the welfare crisis impacting UK’s chronically sick and disabled.)

      Montreal, Canada


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