I don’t get it! I just don’t get it! I don’t understand the reasoning. I genuinely don’t get it! I cannot comprehend how Mike Russell can, on the one hand, state that “there is no trust in the relationship” between the Scottish Government and its counterpart in London – “absolutely none!” – and on the other hand say that the Scottish Government is committed to a process which is crucially dependent on the British government being trustworthy. I fail to comprehend how he can say in one breath that “it would be difficult to find a way in which we could work constructively together” while in the next breath insist on the Scottish Government’s commitment to the Section 30 process – a process that is totally reliant on the complete and constructive cooperation of the British regime. I just don’t get it!
This is a man for whom I have great respect. Mike Russell is no fool. He is, apart from anything else, a highly experienced politician who has been around the centre of political power in Scotland for a very long time. If anybody should have seen this coming, you’d expect it to be him. Much the same could be said for many others in and around the Scottish Government and in the upper echelons of the SNP. And yet, to all appearances, none of them had anticipated that the British would seek to destroy the devolution settlement and reimpose direct authoritarian rule from London. I really, really don’t get it!
I recall writing about this very scenario many years ago. I remember speaking to various groups about it. I recollect the matter being the topic for many a pub discussion or online debate. I envisaged a ‘power grab’ as an inevitable consequence of a No vote in 2014 and spent much of my time during that campaign trying to inform people of the potential consequences of handing the British political a licence to do with Scotland as they chose. I vividly recall being roundly condemned by many for being so ‘negative’.
From the moment the EU referendum was called I tried to persuade people that they should be at least as concerned about the constitutional implications of what would come to be called ‘Brexit’ as with the economic consequences. Most were too obsessed with trade agreements and the like to listen. I warned that leaving the EU would necessitate a constitutional redefining of the UK and that the British would inevitably seize on this as an opportunity to lock Scotland into a new Union on terms imposed with no meaningful consultation far less negotiation and over the top of all objections. Is that not exactly what is happening?
I have repeatedly made the point that as far as the British are concerned devolution was an experiment that has failed. Devolution was supposed to kill Scotland’s independence movement ‘stone dead’; remove the hated SNP from the electoral equation; and allow a return to the business-as-usual of the British two-and-a-token-bit party system. I opined that the Scottish Parliament was put on a shoogly peg by the outcome of the 2007 Holyrood elections which first put the SNP in government. Our Parliament’s fate was sealed when the voters broke the system to elect a majority SNP government in 2011. Everything that has happened since bears out what I said then. Everything!
Politically unable to use its power to kill off the Scottish Parliament at a stroke, the British establishment hit on the idea of using devolution as a weapon against the hated SNP. (When discussing British attitudes to the SNP the name must always be preceded by the word ‘hated’. The hatred is real and intense.) The new SNP administration would be bound to push for more powers. Fine! Let them have those powers. But do it in such a way as to make use of those powers a minefield of political and fiscal traps. And so they did. If you doubt me then look at the tax and welfare ‘powers’ that were devolved. Only the deftness of John Swinney prevented the serious undermining of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. Not to mention the hated SNP.
I saw all this coming. I have looked on helplessly as the worst of my expectations played out in front of me. I marvelled at how anybody could be oblivious to what was happening. I was astounded that so many evidently remained totally unaware of the implications for what was going to happen. For six years I have watched the Scottish Government sleepwalk towards the very point where we are now. I have watched as the SNP administration missed opportunity after opportunity to prevent things going as they have. I have watched with incredulity that turned to frustration that became anger that festered into despair. And now I have to listen to Mike Russell reacting with every outward indication of shocked outrage to developments that I and others foresaw many years ago. I definitely don’t get it?
I fully expect the infantile response that I think myself exceptionally clever to suppose that I know and knew better than the likes of Mike Russell. I can hear the sneering sarcasm of voices hailing me as the genius who was able to understand things beyond the ken of mere mortals. I can hear the mocking slight of being labelled a latter-day Nostradamus, able to see the future as clearly as others see their TV screens. All of which totally misses the point. The point being that I do not consider myself exceptional in any way. I don’t think I’m particularity clever or astute or prescient. If I did then I would understand perfectly why others apparently fail to see what I see. It would be totally unsurprising to me that Mike Russell and his colleagues have brought Scotland to our present predicament ignoring all the warning signs and passing every exit. I would be writing this if I thought myself unique or rare in my ability to interpret political moves and discern trends. What I don’t get is that, given I am not some marvellous phenomenon; given I am neither remarkable or exceptional; given that I am endowed with no skills or abilities that aren’t possessed by every other person in Scotland excepting only political journalists and others afflicted with intellectually debilitating conditions, why didn’t everybody see this coming? That is what I don’t get.
My entire point is not that these things are difficult to fathom but that they are easy to comprehend.
Given that Mike Russell obviously sees the British political elite for the devious, dissembling, dishonest and corrupt gang of rogues and reprobates that they have shown themselves to be, I also don’t get why he and Nicola Sturgeon and Keith Brown and John Swinney and the rest of the people to whom we have entrusted both the nation’s governance and the fight to restore Scotland’s independence can so obdurately insist that we must walk into yet another of their traps in the form of the Section 30 process. Why? Why can’t they see the Section 30 process for what it is? I simply don’t get it!
Nor do I get the ‘reasoning’ which concludes that even if the Section 30 process is a trap we should walk into it anyway so that the world can see the British government for what it is – the kind of government that respects neither the principles of democracy nor the rule of law nor even basic rules of decent human behaviour. Why would we imagine the world would be interested? Even if they were interested, why would we suppose the world is unable to see this without us sacrificing our nation to provide them with a working demonstration on Albion’s perfidy?
As well as seeing the British government for what it is, were we to stride willingly into the Section 30 trap would the world not see Scotland as the kind of nation that willingly walks into obvious traps for no reason other than to illustrate something that is already plainly evident? What message does it send to the world that we would be so appallingly stupid? Why would we work so hard at sending that message while working just as hard at avoiding sending a very different message? I DO NOT GET IT!!!