Scottish Tories vote for Holyrood power grab

Yesterday, was the anniversary of the day that the people of Scotland voted to resurrect the Scottish Parliament, hundreds of years after the Treaty of Union shut it down.

How ironic then that on the same day, 20 years later, 13 Scottish Tory MPs voted to make a mockery of that decision.

Twenty years ago we voted to take responsibility for many of our own affairs.

We voted for devolution against a backdrop of years of despised Tory rule presiding over years of decline in Scotland. When polled, most Scots think that this decision has been a success, even many who were against the idea at the time. Yet despite our new found confidence as a nation, and despite the popularity of Holyrood, recent events have shown how precarious our new found powers are.

So strange that on the anniversary of a vote that was in part a reaction to hatred of the Tories in Scotland that we should see 13 Tories voting against the spirit of that anniversary.

Stranger still, that those 13 Tories were elected after running a single issue General Election campaign. Their sole policy being the subversion of a democratic vote in the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum.

Their vote yesterday was the culmination of a series of Brexit events that have highlighted the precarious nature of devolution.

  • Prior to the EU referendum, the Tory government ignored the request from Holyrood that all nations that make up the UK should have to vote the same way in order for a referendum result to be considered valid.
  • The country of Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Parliament has no power to stop or even shape our exit.
  • The Tories told us that Scotland will be consulted every step of the way but the Joint Ministerial Group that was set up to facilitate this has not met since February.

Last night, the 13 Scottish Tory MPs voted for a process that ignores Scotland.

They voted for a Bill that shows contempt for the will of their own constituents and the will of the Scottish People as a whole.

By voting for the EU Withdrawal Bill in its current form they also voted to diminish the power of the Scottish Parliament going forward. Not only will the Bill remove competencies from Holyrood but it will also allow Westminster to change Scottish law without seeking consensus or even talking to Scottish MSPs. You don’t need to believe me, the Law Society of Scotland says so as well.

I understand the counter argument that they use.

That the EU referendum was fair in that every citizen of the UK voted and the majority voted to leave the EU. That a person in Scotland got the same vote as any other UK citizen and that, as MPs, they have a duty to honour the will of the people of the UK as a whole.

There are two reasons that this argument is bogus.

The first is that Scotland is not just a mere region of the UK. Scotland is historically and culturally a country. Even UK spin and the propaganda that won the 2014 referendum admits this. We are meant to be a pooling and sharing, family of nations. The UK stands for the United Kingdom not the Unitary Kingdom.

20 years ago we voted to reinstate not create the Scottish Parliament and anyone who accepts that Scotland is a country should be outraged by the injustices I have listed above.

Still, that argument will not chime with some.

There are those who are predominantly British and who like that Scotland is nothing more than a region of a unitary state.

Fair enough, but the second reason the Tory argument is bogus is that no one voted for Brexit in its current form. Yes, we voted to leave the EU but even if you think that should be honoured, there is no justification for the way it is being done.

Yesterday’s vote was about the procedure of our withdrawal, not the withdrawal itself.

When the UK voted for Brexit people did not vote to give the UK government dictatorial powers to do what they please. They did not vote for the hard right dystopia that Gove, Fox, Johnson and Davis are scheming to inflict upon us.

The Scottish Tory 13 who were elected on the sole mandate of subverting Scottish democracy have ignored the will of Scotland in order to waive through Parliament a bill that will damage the Scotland we voted for 20 years ago.

They are shepherding a Brexit policy they, their constituents and their country doesn’t want and a policy that puts to bed the myth that the UK is a union of any sorts.

Thanks to these Tories we are leaving a true union and replacing it with an unfair, undemocratic and morally bankrupt unitary state and we are awarding the rulers of that state dictatorial powers.

20 years on from Scots voting for a bold step in the right democratic direction and we have started to slip backwards towards a gloomier past.

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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