As Scottish Politics settles into another dreary round of on-line name calling, the action has most definitely moved to Westminster where the real politicians in the real parliament hang out. Why, on a phone in this morning on Radio Scotland, John Redwood, the single Tory MP probably most responsible for the adoption of English Votes for English Laws as a policy for the answering of the West Lothian Question, could only spare ten minutes before getting back to his “real” work..
And that, to me, summed up a good deal about out now officially unequal constitutional arrangements. By force of brute arithmetic, the 55 (or 56…who cares?) SNP MPs always were an irrelevance except in propping up a minority Labour Government (just like the Irish MPs did for the Liberals in 1906), and, in the short term of “getting that ghastly business with the Sweaties over with so that we can shut them up for bit” level, Redwood was quite right to bugger off from a programme that no one important ever listens to with a feeling of a job well done….leaving the field free to Pete Wishart and whatever diminishing gang of obsessive dingbats phone-in to this kind of thing….
In the medium term, however, let alone the LONG term…(which in political terms is a couple of years…or “a generation” if you prefer) surely even John Redwood must know that he’s backing a loser.
On the workings of EVEL itself, like the insanely complex version of when you do or do not pay for a plastic bag at the shops that has been introduced by the state-averse culture south of the border…(in Scotland we don’t mind nearly so much being told what to do…it has made us terribly USEFUL over the years) , the idea that the Speaker (as a strict neutral) decide on what is is or is not an English-only bill is cumbersome and unworkable…and invidious to the role and function of the Union parliament and its officers both in theory and in practice….and that the dysfunction of the Commons will be glaringly obvious to everyone, even John Redwood, by the next election. It just won’t work. It will be an antinomian nightmare…it will stoke the resentment it seeks to cure on all sides. It’s already doing it. Even the mention of Scotland as such, as a political unit., is poison to the system.
And that’s just by Christmas THIS year.
But by next Christmas, it may well become clear to the members of the political class of the once upon a time UK that now no MP elected by any constituency in any of the nations of our Happy Family OTHER than England..can ever be Prime Minister, or Chancellor, or Home or Foreign Secretary in a UK government…in fact, it’s hard to see what they can be…
They can’t possibly even be Speaker, can they? I mean…think about it.
Which means, for example, that even were Labour or the Tories to achieve the unlikely miracle of an electoral comeback in UK elections in Scotland in 2020, their best and their brightest couldn’t possibly get a senior job in the cabinet. The political upper class, as represented in Westminster, is now closed as a practical career path…and absorption into that class is the key mechanism by which the British Political Establishment has both refreshed itself and absorbed trouble makers (sometimes Celtic). Not any more.
The only destiny available to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is dissolution. And the only destiny for the lad or lass of pairts who are looking for a career in politics…is the SNP (a LOT more suits and sharp elbows at conference!) or emigration to the Money Pit.
Plus ca change, in some ways…perhaps. Power will be where power will be…and moths always head for the flame. But in a modest way, for good and Ill…there is now a Light in the North in a way there has never been before..which is probably why those of us moist interested in Scottish politics and society should act as if the constitutional question is actually already settled and get on with trying to fulfil all those promises we made to each other and everybody else about the Better Nation we are Already in the Early Days Of..
Because when we lost the vote on September 18th last year, we had only hours to wait before the British State, just as it did in Ireland a hundred years ago, contrived to snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory…when, on September 19th, Cameron announced EVEL, he lost the Union.
As I believe I’ve said before, breaking up the UK was always a job for the English.
Oh yes…as I think I also might have said once or twice…Tick Tock