Brexit Britain, a Post Democratic Selfie
13th June 2018
Everywhere we see the evidence of a broken democracy. We have widespread election fraud, a government railroading Westminster votes and the super-rich who bankrolled Brexit laughing at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. We have a twenty-year devolution settlement broken and a constitutional crisis emerging amongst a mixture of frustration and impotence.
Fifteen Minutes of Shame
Before she donned the khaki Ruth Davidson was pretty clear about the relationship between voting NO and devolution. One of her many campaign promises looks stained with lies and reality now.
Ruth: “A vote next year for Scotland to stay within the UK will be a vote to strengthen devolution” #Scotland1st
— ScotConservatives (@ScotTories) March 26, 2013
Last night in a twist on Warhol’s ’15 minutes of fame’ maxim, David Mundell has found himself 15 minutes of infamy, shredding the devolution settlement and wrecking the torturous cry that this is a ‘partnership of equals’. This morning he pleaded on radio:
“Even if we’d had 100 hours of debate, the situation wouldn’t have changed,” says Scottish Secretary David Mundell about Withdrawal Bill on #GMS
It was a bit of a giveaway. It says essentially: you are captive, your voice is meaningless no matter how long we let you speak.
In a piece of darkly comic gallows humour Mundell added that the legislation provided “certainty for business and families in Scotland as we leave the EU”.
Theresa May and her colleagues have given the best case for independence ever. Mundell speaks the truth when he says this is the constitutional settlement Scots voted for in 2014. It surely is and this just needs played back to people. This is just a threat being carried out. They told us they’d ignore our votes, strip out devolved powers and deny our MPs a voice, and that’s what they’re doing.
Devolution or Brexit?
We’ve known for a long time that you can have Devolution or you can have Brexit, but you can’t have both. Last night that became crystal clear for everyone as Westminster’s facade of being functioning democracy for all of Britain collapsed in a new farce.
The numbers are stark. We had 15 minutes allocated for debate about devolution at Westminster, and zero minutes given to a single Scottish MP.
From the archaic working practices of voting and visceral toxic language of the floor of the House of Commons, to the utter contempt of the super-rich, as Aaron Banks and Andy Wigmore walked out of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to have drinks with Iain Paisley and Sammy Wilson.
This is a photography of the four people holding the entire country to ransom. The Super-Rich meets climate denying religious zealots for drinks. This is Brexit Britain, a post-democratic selfie.
What exactly was the point of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee interviewing these people?
Damian Collins MP, chair of the committee responded after Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore evidence today saying:
“Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore themselves put on the record that they frequently lie, exaggerate, misspeak and misunderstand. So it is difficult for the Committee to know if we should take all of their answers seriously when it comes to data sharing and misuse, campaign spending, and their meetings with high ranking Russian officials. They accuse other witnesses to this Committee of being dishonest, yet admit to the inconsistencies in their own evidence. Our inquiry is about getting to the truth of these matters, which is of substantial public interest. We will be writing to them to follow up on various points raised during their evidence, and the hard copy evidence that was submitted by Mr Wigmore today.”
Let’s hope he has some success, I wouldn’t hold my breath though.
https://t.co/OtwHiulEeE pair @Arron_banks and @andywigmore walk out of their appearance at the @CommonsCMS, saying they don’t want to be late for lunch with DUP’s @ianpaisleymp and @eastantrimmp in the House of Commons bar. pic.twitter.com/izFVHgnWii
— Iain McDowell (@IainKMcD) June 12, 2018
This is Not Normal
You couldn’t argue with Kirsty Blackman who said the lack of debate on the Scottish clause was an “undemocratic shambles,” which had “damaged the reputation of this House irreparably”. Nor could you question Mike Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister, who condemned the lack of Commons debate on the bill’s Scotland clause, saying: “The fact that they rail-roaded this measure through with no time for speeches from anyone other than the UK Government Minister shows utter contempt for Scottish democracy. This is a dark day for devolution.”
As our American friends are used to repeating about the implications of the POTUS behaviour: this is not normal.
Iain Macwhirter writes:
“Anyone who believes that, after seven years, normal devolutionary service will resume needs to think again. The UK Government will clearly not allow the Scottish Parliament to reverse any or all of the changes made in the “transition period”, since these are deemed crucial for the functioning of the new, post-Brexit UK internal market. They are for keeps. Moreover, the precedent will be established that Westminster can now over-ride any and all of Scotland’s devolved responsibilities whenever it considers it necessary – which is pretty much all the time. Home rule is over. If Mrs May was trying to make the case for an independent Scotland, she could hardly have done better.” More here.
We should be on guard against the procedural formality and ritual of Westminster acting as a filter against our outrage. Normal functioning devolution is over.
The problem isn’t the open contempt of the Westminster Government, its the supine response of Scottish Unionists to this reality.
Of course the U.K. Labour’s abstention is quite reprehensible (and incomprehensible). This is the self-styled ‘Party of Devolution’. They are now not just against independence but acting directly against devolution. That’s an incredible place for the party of Keir Hardie, John Smith and Donald Dewar to be in. But more than that it’s a reflection on Labour’s incoherence and the SNP’s impotence. Despite having by far the biggest tranch of elected MPs ever – the SNP were strangely muted. It now would be a good time to have an honest open dialogue about the party’s Westminster strategy and the options for disruption and direct action or withdrawal. If you are endlessly complicit in this process of national humiliation, at some point you have to ask yourselves, what is being achieved here?
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