I read that Holyrood [is] to refuse consent for the Tories’ power grab bill. I have questions. The first of which is, so what? Why would I consider this a significant development? Why might I get excited about it? What does this mean for Scotland’s cause? What changes? What is new? What is the fucking point?
Let’s look at the reality. I know many of you are distinctly uncomfortable with that. Fell free to put your heads back up your arses at this point.
The explanatory note to the original Memorandum of Understanding between the British government and the devolved administrations says it all –
The United Kingdom Parliament retains authority to legislate on any issue, whether devolved or not.
Even when the so-called Sewell Convention was incorporated into law with the Scotland Act 2016 it changed nothing [emphasis added] –
But it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.
The weasel word “normally” is all it takes for the British political elite to retain the asserted authority to ignore and/or overrule the democratic will of Scotland’s people as expressed by the Parliament elected by Scotland’s people. Supposedly, this will only happen in exceptional circumstances. Who decides whether the circumstances are sufficiently exceptional? The British political elite, of course!
This neatly illustrates the way Scotland is trapped by the Union and the legal and constitutional framework developed to defend it. It shows how it is quite impossible for the will of Scotland’s people to prevail if the British state does not consent. So the question must be asked as to how we advance the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence working within a legal and constitutional framework which effectively means that even if 100% of Scotland’s people vote to end the Union the British executive can override that choice. The British Prime Minister can simply say “No!”, and British law says that there is nothing we can do about it. Nothing!
What is the response of our own Government to this situation? They tell us we must accept it. They even laud as the “gold standard” of democracy the tricks and traps deployed by the British state to keep Scotland in check. Apparently, we must be content with our chains as they are of the best quality and very shiny.
Mike Russell will go through the motions. Legislative consent to the Internal Market Bill will be denied. The absence of consent will be disregarded. The Internal Market Bill will be come an Act. Scotland will move closer to being absorbed into a Greater England where undemocratic power, unearned privilege and corrupt patronage are the norm. And the SNP will tell us that this is all grist to the ‘indy mill’ because it demonstrates how the British political elite care nothing for democracy and so drives more people to Yes.
What they will not tell us is how this public support for the restoration of Scotland’s independence – supposing it materialises – can have any effect when the leadership of the SNP insist that we must operate within a legal and constitutional framework designed to prevent the democratic will of Scotland’s people from having any effect.
What they will not explain is how independence can possibly be coming closer when every one of the things done by the British state and accepted by the SNP leadership on the grounds that it supposedly drives more people to Yes, actually strengthens the legal and constitutional net in which Scotland is tangled.
What they will not explain is the logic of arguing that the more tightly the British spider wraps us in the silk of its laws the more likely it is that we will break free before being digested.
Perhaps Mike Russell will explain. But probably not.