Another great post from the regular Yours for Scotland columnist Mia
Devo max, home rule, full fiscal autonomy or federalism have been in the mouths of unionists, particularly those of a labour inclination, forever.
However, since the end of 2020 there has been a significant increase in noise related to the concept of home rule, devo max and full fiscal autonomy (FFA) across the unionist spectrum, including political parties, particularly labour, and think tanks.
Seeing unionists attempting to find ways to trash a yes vote is no surprise. What is suspicious is to read on the 5th January 2022 in The National that somebody from the SNP itself, appears to be championing this deception too.
What is worse, is that they appear to be selling it as if it was a way to unravel some sort of manufactured “constitutional logjam”. There is no logjam. There never was one. What we see is what has all the appearance of a collusion among the entire political spectrum to stop us voting for independence and forcing us to keep welded to England so it can survive out of the EU.
This tacky new attempt at deception is not just obvious, it is insulting.
This so called “logjam” could have been untangled rather easily if Sturgeon did not deliberately locked herself (and us) into the S30 route and instead had called an advisory referendum, as the EU ref was. Alternatively, she could have used any of the last 5 elections as a plebiscite on independence.
Actually, because this is a parliamentary sovereignty, the only thing she has to do to untangle the “logjam” is to call a vote among the Scotland MPs to end the union. That is all what it took to enter Scotland in the union, wasn’t it?, a vote by the Scottish MPs. So the “logjam” is of course yet another attempt to fabricate a problem in order to float as “solution” what the powers that be had planned and agreed for us without our consent all along and have been waiting for 7 years to force down our throats to stop independence.
In my opinion this is an assault on democracy to an even bigger scale than the vow was.
It is fascinating that they are all trying to resurrect Devo Max/FFA when in 16 June 2015 England MPs voted in mass to refuse Full Fiscal Autonomy for Scotland, refusing Scotland full control of tax and spending.
But not just that. On that day, England MPs refused crucial amendments for Scotland. One of them, if approved, would require the consent of the Scottish Parliament if the UK Parliament wished to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998, as it applies to Scotland.
Remember the noises we heard about changing the Human Rights Act after Brexit? Clearly England MPs were already positioning themselves in June 2015 to be able to change that Act as it applies to Scotland, even before the EU ref vote had taken place and Brexit was anywhere near the horizon.
The other amendment England MPs rejected that day was one that if approved, would have put the Sewel Convention into law. If the Sewel Convention had been put into law, the UK Parliament would have only been able to legislate in devolved areas with the consent of the Scottish Parliament. Any further devolution powers sent to Scotland, or even FFA will not change the ability of the UK parliament to rewrite our laws at their leisure.
In other words, in June 2015, that is a whole year before the EU referendum took place, England MPs trashed any idea of Devo Max, Home Rule or Full Fiscal Autonomy, and had positioned themselves already, by stopping the Sewel convention becoming law, to be able, after Brexit, to overrule legislation passed in our Scottish parliament, despite the promises of the vow.
This leads you to wonder if the plans for Brexit, for the power grab and for the re-writing of Scotland’s laws after Brexit had being designed well in advance that vote, well before the EU referendum had taken place and, allegedly, before anybody knew if Brexit would even happen because as we were told so many times, “it was the will of the people”. The question is the will of which people.
The whole thing gives you a feel that we are being forced to follow against our will a path somebody designed in advance for our country without us taking part in the design and this somebody has been using rigged “democratic” votes as a tool to make us believe those are our choices rather than those of somebody else. This leads one to wonder not if any election has been rigged at all, but rather how many elections and referendums in the last 7.5 years have been rigged to make us stick to this path..
How do they get us to vote for what they want and not what we want? That is easy. They do that by removing from the ballot paper the options they do not want us to vote for and substitute them with an even worse alternative to the status quo, by refusing us the vote, as Sturgeon has been doing for 7 years, or by deliberately including extra options they know will confuse and divide the vote, as this third option is clearly designed to do and the vow did before that.
What became clear in 16 June 2015 is two things. First, that the England MPs do not suffer gladly letting go of our powers and hence control of Scotland. The other thing that became crystal clear that day is that promises of Devo Max, Full Fiscal Autonomy or Home Rule prior any vote in a referendum are completely meaningless and futile until the UK parliament actually approves them.
Let’s not forget that at this point of 2015 when full fiscal autonomy for Scotland was refused by the England as the UK parliament, the SNP held an absolute majority in Holyrood and 56 out of 59 of the Scotland’s seats in Westminster.
This means if Sturgeon really wanted “full fiscal responsibility” as she championed for in 2015, she could have put enormous pressure and have simply demanded it, threatening with ending the union if she didn’t. If this was not granted, or independence attempted to be stopped, she could threat them with ensuring her party would change immediately its policy on the need for a referendum prior to declare independence, and would make sure that from them on, each and every single election would become a plebiscite on independence. And that of course would include the upcoming Holyrood one that would take place just one year later and crucially BEFORE the EU referendum the powers that be needed so tax dodgers and tax havens could see their beloved Brexit to come to fruition.
You just have to take a look at a map to see how such move from Sturgeon would have made the powers behind Brexit soil themselves, because if Scotland had declared independence before the EU ref took place, England would have been totally isolated, surrounded by EU countries and hard borders, without a huge chunk of what it perceives as its “domestic” market and without Scotland’s assets to be able to negotiate with. You can predict that, as one investor said years ago, with virtually nothing left to sell, England’s currency would sink. Even just the continuous threat of Scotland’s independence with election after election being a plebiscite would put the UK in an impossible situation to negotiate trade deals. There is no way in such circumstance they would have ever managed to get the English people and indeed the MPs themselves to vote for Brexit, so her bargaining power at that point was huge.
Any good negotiator worth their salt would have immediately capitalised on that and we have no reason to doubt Sturgeon would have attempted something with all that power she had been entrusted with by the Scottish people. She is certainly ambitious, a talented and experienced politician and if it is true what she says, she profoundly dislikes Tories. I doubt she would let the opportunity to enjoy watching Tories squirm in pain in pay back for all the damage she saw Thatcher doing to her people, pass her. It is very, very hard to believe that she did not at least attempt to use that bargaining power to get something.
Our problem at this point is to figure out what it is Sturgeon would have wanted most at that point in time, if independence or that full fiscal responsibility she was asking for in 2015 plus any other sweetie thrown into the bargaining pot. And that is, I think, the crux of the matter here,
Had it been independence what Sturgeon wanted the most, and in my opinion we would be independent by now, because she would have found a way to either use any of those elections to deliver a referendum or a plebiscite. But there is of course also the possibility that, understandably, Sturgeon would not want to leave England to sink because having a country struggling at the other side of the border could be harmful for Scotland. It would not be unthinkable then that even if independence was the preferred option, they would have waited for England to secure some trade deals and reach a more stable position. The problem with this option is that it does not explain the internal market bill threatening our own farmers and the rewriting of Scotland’s laws that is taking us further and further away from the EU making our position more vulnerable.
Had full fiscal responsibility been the preferred option, then we better get ready to wear the kebab like costume because it is quite likely that this three option ballot might well be just one of the alternatives that are being tested to see which one sticks in the process of looking for a vehicle to deliver one almighty stitch up to independence supporters.
Needless to say that in a scenario where the preferred option had been FFA, talks by the S option had been FFA, talks by the SNP about returning Scotland to the EU, any government sponsored think tanks and groups on this would have been complete and utter deception bogus.
These are all speculations, of course, trying to explain what we see. These speculations could be way off the mark. Only time will tell if she did not use that bargaining power at all, potentially wasting the best opportunity she would have been presented with in her career, or she used it to reach some sort of agreement.
The fact that for 7 years we have not seen a single extra power departing the UK parliament and arriving into ours (I am referring to powers sitting in Westminster before all those powers that were sitting in Brussels and that should have come directly to Holyrood, arrived), suggests that if indeed there ever was an agreement reached, it must have had inbuilt the condition that Brexit would be have to be allowed to take place, Scotland would have to leave the EU with England, and free trade between Scotland and England had to continue, hence the internal market bill.
With the determination of England to trash the standards to allow for a USA, Australia and New Zealand deal, free trade between Scotland and England can only be ensured to happen if Scotland lowers its standards too and remains out of the EU for the foreseeable future. What is clear to me is that if Scotland today is out of the EU, it is because the SNP never did anything serious to stop it. What I am now wondering is until what extent they might have actually facilitated it.
I am speculating, of course, but the existence of such an agreement would explain an awful lot of things, for example why Scotland finds itself out of the EU today and drifting further and further away from it as the SNP lets the UK parliament rewrite our laws and trash our standards without, other than light posturing, lifting a serious finger to stop it. What we don’t know at this point, of course, is what the SNP has consented on “our behalf” without us knowing it.
Going back to the intervention from that person of the SNP supporting the inclusion of this third option, I can only see two plausible interpretations. Either these people have forgotten about how the MPs rejected Full Fiscal Autonomy in 16 June 2015, therefore asking for something that cannot be delivered unless the UK parliament votes for it, or there is a very strong reason why all these people believe it can now be delivered. In other words, something has changed between 16 June 2015 and now that has the power to reverse the decision of almost four hundred MPs. Considering that the inclusion of devo max in the ballot will only serve to divide the yes vote, the latter option would throw serious questions on the assumption that for the last 7 years the SNP has been seriously pursuing independence and Scotland to remain in the EU.
I see only two options out of this. One is a political party that allows us to use the general election 2023 as a plebiscite election. The other is to find a way to trash this 3 option nonsense. So we better brace for a) the incoming shower of smears directed towards Mr Salmond and ALBA to stop them standing a chance in that election (non-jury trial?), and b) to be drown in 24/7 propaganda to ram down our throats this 3 option ballot stitch up version or a rehashed and embellished alternative.
Mia outlines the numerous opportunities that have been spurned by the SNP since 2015. care to explain why First Minister?
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland.
BEAT THE CENSORS
Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.
Are available on the home and blog pages of this website. A subscription ensures you will be notified of all future articles and you will be joining thousands who have already done so. You will be very welcome.