Power Grab

The Brexit farce has gone from being a widening of the democratic deficit to an attack on democracy and devolution. Scotland voted against this exercise in economic self-harm and is now having powers stripped by a centralising Conservative government clinging to the wreckage of their own absurd and unpopular rule.

Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones released this (extremely restrained) joint response:

“This week began with the Prime Minister calling for a constructive and collaborative approach from those outside Whitehall to help get Brexit right. Today’s publication of The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is the first test as to whether the UK Government is serious about such an approach. It is a test it has failed utterly. We have repeatedly tried to engage with the UK Government on these matters, and have put forward constructive proposals about how we can deliver an outcome which will protect the interests of all the nations in the UK, safeguard our economies and respect devolution.

Regrettably, the Bill does not do this. Instead, it is a naked power-grab, an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies.”

The already indefensible position of David Mundell is now growing into a hybrid position somewhere between milquetoast and lame-duck. Milque-Duck maybe?

Flashback 1: when the Daily Mail published its now famous (and widely derided) front page bleating: “Who Will Speak for England?” the editorial continued inside concluded “and, of course, by “England” we mean the whole of the United Kingdom”.

[from Anthony Barnett’s forthcoming ‘The Lure of Greatness’]

Flashback 2:


Finally though the Great Renewal Bill is beginning to cut through the Fugue of all of this. “Take back control” they said. Only we’ve taken the place of the damned foreigners and their useful, essential, popular safeguards.

Having faced years of Euro reasonableness and endless opt-outs, England has had to manufacture grievance out of nothing as an act of monumental misdirection and epic stupidity. This mindless exceptionalism is now coming to the boil.


But it’s not just Scotland and Wales that are under threat.

This is dangerous territory. As Ian Dunt notes: “There has never been a piece of legislation like this in modern British history. We have never handed the government so much power. ”

Unlock Democracy’s Alexandra Runswick today stated:

“The government has today published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, and it confirms our fears. Food standards, clean air and workers rights are just some of the things in the firing line.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this is the most complicated change in the law that Parliament has ever had to deal with. When the Government first started talking of a ‘Repeal Bill’ to transfer EU law to UK law, I was worried it could be used to change laws through the back door.

It’s supposed to ‘copy and paste’ thousands of laws, regulations and court judgements ready for when the UK leaves the EU – but it gives Ministers unprecedented powers to hit ‘delete’ on things they don’t like, without any effective scrutiny. We were promised that we would take back control but we’re getting decisions being taken behind closed doors.”

And, in a joint statement from Amnesty and Liberty they said:

“The vote to leave the European Union was not a mandate for ministers to take rights away from people in the UK. Paying lip service to protecting our rights doesn’t count for anything if those protections are not in the legislation – in black and white.”

We call on the Government to urgently:

  • Promise it will not use the Repeal Bill to roll back human rights and freedoms. This pledge should be in the text of the Bill, and must include a commitment not to erode our human rights via back-door legislation
  • Conduct a comprehensive audit of all EU-derived human rights law and take steps to keep those rights and freedoms fully protected after Brexit

Kerry Moscogiuri, ‎Campaigns and Communications Director at Amnesty International UK ‎, said:

“It is now vital that Parliament ensures our hard-won human rights don’t diminish after Brexit. The broad powers that the Repeal Bill grants ministers to change our laws are dangerously vague – they must not be used to roll back human rights that are in place to protect us all. A full audit is essential if we are to fully understand, appreciate and protect the rights that we currently benefit from every day here in the UK.”

Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said:

“If the Repeal Bill passes in this state, people in the UK will lose rights after we leave the EU. It is that simple and the stakes are that high. Every single right we have now needs to stay – from those contained in the Charter, to equality protections we’ve gained from our membership. The Government must promise, here and now, that it will not use this process to roll back rights and freedoms – and that promise must be in this Bill, in black and white.”

The question is what are the forces within Scotland and within London to resist this?

Davidson and Mundell have been caught lying, but there’s nothing new to that. The unionist bloc that has coagulated around them are probably so tribally unquestioningly dense to question anything. How much chutzpa do the Welsh and Scottish administration have? And what strength does the jubilant victorious Leave rump have to lead us into chaos?

How much to people want to defend devolution? How brazen and stupid are May’s team?

We’re about to find out.

But we’re also about to find out how this tension plays out. How committed to this fantasy are the Brexit minions? Someone should have given them a a safeword.

As Corey Doctorow wrote:

“The Brexit vote wasn’t mere xenophobia, it was self-destructive lashing out by people whom the political classes had written off for a generation.The lie of “evidence-based policy” and the accrual of the benefits of globalism to an ever-dwindling elite has created a situation where many people see no difference between doing nothing and burning everything to the ground.”


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Comments (14)

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  1. Emmylgant says:

    Did you not see this coming? Did you think Scotland would be given its independance just for the asking? When it would be so easy to strip it of its resources and its people scattered (again!)throughout the world in search of a better life?
    I already weep for Scotland.

  2. jimnarlene says:

    That wee X, in the leave box, has to be the shortest suicide note in history; alongside the no vote.

  3. Alan says:

    All rather predictable. Unfortunately independence will probably only be won after these liars and incompetents have caused so much destruction that support for the union is no longer sustainable for many who are deeply reluctant to give it up.

  4. Legerwood says:

    I caught part of an interview last night with David Davis in which he seemed to be saying that statutory instruments would be used extensively in the Repeal Bill process. As I understand it Sis are a way of avoiding debate and getting legislation on the books.

    From the UK Gov web site:
    “”Acts of Parliament confer powers on Ministers to make more detailed orders, rules or regulations by means of statutory instruments. An Act will often contain a broad framework and statutory instruments are used to provide the necessary detail that would be too complex to include in the Act itself.

    Statutory instruments can also be used to amend, update or enforce existing primary legislation.””

    If they are used then not much chance of the opposition parties being able to change things or halt changes the Gov decides it wants.

  5. Richard MacKinnon says:

    Thats the thing with bloody democracy, sometimes you dont get the result you want.
    Just how stupid are our politicians? Imagine, giving the unemployed masses of England and Wales the opportunity to vote in a referendum.
    I mean its not as if its like our referendum. Ours was the right thing to do. It was uplifting. It got people interested in politics for the first time. The disposessed, the poor, the unemployed, all of a sudden could be seen on the streets of Scotland wearing Yes badges. Beautiful.
    But this Brexit one, what a total disaster. England’s poor, I mean, lets be honest here, they really dont have the intelligence to make big decisions like this. Look at the mess theyve got us in? Clean beaches – gone. Clean air – gone. Human rights – gone.
    By the way, I dont blame this on the stupidity of Engalnd’s lumpen proles. I blame it on the politicians and that guy Farage. I mean he’s not even a real politician. Its hard to believe but its true.

  6. Kenny Smith says:

    It does make you utterly despair at our fellow countrymen that just can’t see what a den of snakes we are attached to. Uk = England it really is that simple any pretence of anything else has surely evaporated. I vote SNP and I understand why they try to stay level headed but sooner or later they are really going to have to go on an all out offensive and get a bit angry. I don’t mean forming an armed wing or anything silly like that but just being a little more robust about fighting back and getting this out into the public domain. I totally understand its not easy because we have the whole power of the state against us but billboards, TV ads, high profile law suits that make the news anything at all that starts a push back. I would like to see more SNP head guys and girls at rallies and organised events even if they are not SNP endorsed. Thankfully we have websites but the unionist faction knew they lost that battle its no surprise our sites are littered with trolls now, sewing seeds of division and doubt. Keep up the good work Mike, I’ll contribute again when I can. ( only if you promise to stop going on about Rangers though :)!!!! Soar Alba

  7. elainefraser says:

    New media not a luxury but essential in fight back. For me its about doing my bit for our kids and their future . Debate and discussion and new ideas are all vital if we are to call ourselves a democracy . Dont have to agree with everything but if we mean what we say about independence need to support spaces that do research and inform us with alternative view to mainstream stuff. Donate if you can.
    Bella, thanks again all, your hard work very much appreciated .

  8. Redgauntlet says:

    A very English coup…

    Anybody who opposes it is a “saboteur”. Put me down for that friends..I actually might become a real saboteur. I’m tempted…

    If the SNP can’t deliver independence within the current climate, you know, what is the point of the SNP?

    Nicola’s “reset” – a horrible Americanism, a horrible colonial expression – was wrong, it was the wrong thing to do. She basically handed the initiative away…

    To make an omelet, friends, you need to break some eggs. And we, friends, need to start breaking some eggs…

  9. Redgauntlet says:

    The SNP are colonized by an army of bourgeois wankers, friends. Surely it must be obvious by now?

    Only with the word “reset” I know there is some careerist wanker behind Nicola, whispering into her ear, who actually doesn’t really care about independence. He’d prefer it of course, but deep down, he doesn’t give a shit. He wants his salary and to play at being powerful.

    Fcking wankers. And Nicola is surrounded by them…wolves…

    . We don’t say “reset” in Scotland, Nicola. That’s what they say in America. Are we suddenly Americans? No, we’re Scots, so let’s talk like Scots…PLEASE… IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

  10. Redgauntlet says:

    The detestable British press talks unashamedly about “doubling down” which is, I believe, a term from American football.

    They talk too about support “surging” which is a term coined by the CIA to gloss over US involvement in Iraq. A “troop surge” is how they say an increase of soldiers in the total catastrophe which is Iraq…

    Well, “reset” is another word of the powerful, and it makes it pretty clear to me, what is going on in the SNP… I don’t need much more, no writer does….

  11. Willie says:

    Aye it’s going to get lumped on our lumpen countrymen and countrywomen now.

    The Great Repeal Bill will remove powers from the irksome Scottish Parliament.

    With a TTIP style deal with the USA described by Trump as a great, great deal, do I hear the lumpen No voters sqeal with delight at the prospect of American corporation run pay for profit health care.

    And sqeal they will as those that have the resources can exercise their consumer choice it the selection of a corporation to sell them health care.

    With something like 60,000,000 Americans without health care won’t our sick, and indeed our elderly on their lavish state pensions just love it.

    Rule Britannia, tis great to be in a country like ours is it not. We do it by choice.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Willie, if I could carry out a cyber attack on the Daily Mail, I would do so tomorrow. Unfortunately, I know nothing about computers…

      We need some civil disobedience. The SNP have taken us to the line. But they’re never going to get us over onto the other side…

      1. Emmylgant says:

        Civil disobedience is a necessity when governments deprive citizens of their civil and human rights…

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Exactly, Emmlygant….we need some structured civil disobedience by now surely? The English courts just ruled that the Scottish Parliament has no real legal power. You know, what has to happen before the young of Scotland just say “Fck this for a game of soldiers, we’ve got nothing to lose…”

          You know, occupy a building. Take over some plant. Get it right up them…..DO SOMETHING

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