The upcoming decisions of the Supreme Court will prove important, but might it be the decisions of a new UK Prime Minister that matter even more? In boxing, the knockout punch, the killer blow, is often the one nobody ever saw coming! This wasn’t a killer blow, but it has a very important lesson for us ─ I want to take you back to events in 2014.
Most of those reading this post will always remember the 18th of September 2014 ─ but will have completely forgotten what happened exactly four days later. Just four days after the result of the Referendum was announced, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, stood at a lectern outside 10 Downing Street and announced EVE ─ English Votes for English Laws.
Yes, that has since been repealed. But please ask yourself this – at any point from say 2012 to 2014 did you ever hear of the plan to introduce EVEL? Was everything that EVEL involved ─ was all of it, every word, every dot and comma, just thrown together in a rush in just 4 days? Or had it all been pre-prepared for use as and when and if required.
If that is a lesson we should learn from, please ask yourself ─ what is being prepared behind closed doors right now? What is it that we may not be seeing but might prove to be a killer punch?
Let’s start with the fact that, behind doors closed to us, whether we like it or not, and whether we voted for it or not, we are about to have a new Prison Governor. (In an earlier post I said that I saw the Scotland Act as our prison ─ so Prison Governor is appropriate, and I am guessing a she.). Remember, she will have 320 prison guards and a UK Parliament majority of MPs. That gives her as much power as she could wish for ─ either to introduce new laws or amend existing laws, such as the Scotland Act, in any way she might decide.
Q1: Does she have any such plans?
How about her comment saying she would change the Scotland Act to give parliamentary privilege to MSPs, in order to create more “robust questioning” of ministers and increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament to “hold the Scottish Government to account.”?
How about other comments: “I think the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is ignore her.”? Or ” … making sure that all of our government policies apply right across the United Kingdom.”?
For that last quote think of the Internal Market Act where legislation passed, even unanimously, by the Scottish Parliament can be struck down by the UK Parliament. Think also even now how funds can be diverted away from the Scottish Parliament and given directly to Unionist controlled local authorities.
Call foul, say these are punches below the belt, complain as much as you like, but maybe there is even worse to come.
Q2: Does our new Prison Governor have any help creating her plans for Scotland’s future?
How about Lord Frost, the UK’s former Brexit negotiator and vocal Liz Truss supporter? Does he have a plan to stop independence from effectively ever being achieved? In the Telegraph he has been quoted this way:
Of course, any government would have to respect the settled will of an overwhelming majority in Scotland to govern themselves. But those terms have to be defined. I would suggest 75% of seats in the Scottish Parliament in favour of independence, over a 10-year period, legally binding. Without that, a referendum should simply be impossible.
Lord Frost added that the “devolution settlement is not written in stone” – suggesting that as it has evolved since 1999 “it can evolve back, too”.
Think back please to the lesson from 2014, and EVEL. Instead of endlessly repeating “No”, or “Not at this time” – might plans already be in place to amend and severely restrict the Scotland Act?
But hang on, you may rightly ask, what about the Supreme Court in October? OK! The Court submissions emphasise that it won’t lead to a referendum on independence itself, but it is set up to remove any doubts over the powers of the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum. That’s got to be important, surely!
Most knockout punches happen after you have been distracted and made to look elsewhere, that’s when the killer blow lands, the one you never saw coming!