Supreme Court confirms that Holyrood’s new powers are a sham
This is an update to our earlier blog: The most powerful devolved parliament? Let’s ask the Supreme Court. Today we got a predictable answer to that question.
In that blog we argued that from a Scottish perspective, what was really on trial was unionist political spin. We argue that many high ranking pro union politicians deceived the Scottish public by overstating the powers of the Scottish parliament. In fact they continually talked up the vision of a new UK as a partnership of equal nations while simultaneously denying Scotland any meaningful nation-like powers.
Here is a snippet from the earlier blog detailing some examples of politicians misleading the public about new powers:
We also argued that having the Sewel Convention written into the Scotland Act was part of this deception.
It was heralded at the time as an important step by unionist politicians. It gave the illusion that the Scottish parliament should be consulted when the UK government legislates on issues affecting Scotland. We can see from today’s judgement that this was a sham and that the convention was worded in such a halfhearted weaselly way that it doesn’t have any force.
The inclusion of it in the Scotland act was just for show:
What the judges are saying is that the reality of the powers promised by Mundell, Brown and Cameron don’t live up to all the spin.
They were loudly talking up more powers and a partnership of equals but they were quietly making sure the legal reality was completely different. Today the Supreme Court confirmed what we already knew. What is called a “union of nations” is actually a unitary state with some hamstrung devolution. The message of today is that the will of the devolved nations will always be secondary to the will of England.
We don’t vote for the Tories, tough. We don’t want to leave the EU, tough. We don’t want to leave the European Convention of Human Rights, tough. We need lots of skilled immigration, tough. We don’t want our laws rewritten without consent, tough.
On a positive note, I have noticed that this decision has been met with disappointment on social media by some establishment commentators.
Those who were eager to believe and promote the spin of a powerful Scotland within a partnership of nations.
Have to say it plainly, this is a depressing moment for those of us who’ve consistently backed home rule for Scotland within a reformed UK
— Kenny Farquharson (@KennyFarq) January 24, 2017
One can only hope this is a breakthrough moment of realisation for the likes Kenny Farquharson.
He does seem to be blaming the Supreme Court but they were only doing their job by enforcing the law. He should be blaming the actual lawmakers who wrote and gave us the Scotland Act while spinning the ‘New Reality’ yarn. A fiction that his ilk bought into and then helped to promote.
I won’t get too confident that today will change the minds of the opinion formers.
We saw similar public displays of angst in the days after the EU referendum. It only took them a few days to contort themselves back into bastardised versions of their previous positions. No doubt they will soon be telling us it’s a terrible situation being dragged out of the EU but it’s better than the risk of being a normal country.
Whatever happens, the question posed in our previous blog has been conclusively answered.
The nation of Scotland is to be removed from the EU without even the consultation of the parliament of Scotland. This could not happen to the Faroe Islands, Wallonia or Fribourg.
Q: Is Scotland the most powerful devolved parliament.
A: Not even close.
The new question should be what are the likes of Kenny Farquharson going to do about it?