Devolution and Independence: Deception and Lies

November 7, 2016

 

Britain is being continuously lied to about the whole process of constitutional change. At the beginning, in the late 1990's, the government of Blair assured us time and time again that devolution would be 'an event' (IE a one off happening) and not a process, or more or less continuous series of changes. The Scots, Welsh and the Province of Northern Ireland would get a parliament/assembly with devolved powers but this would be 'within the UK' and the House of Commons would retain responsibility for major issues (finance, foreign policy, the army ETC).

 

This hasn't been adhered to. Over the years subsequent to devolution all the devolved bodies, but especially the Scottish parliament (and to a significant but lesser degree, the Northern Ireland Assembly) have slowly but surely accrued more and more new powers to themselves until we get to the current position where the Scottish parliament will have the highest degree of devolved autonomy that exists anywhere in the world (after the latest Scotland Bill comes into force).

 

We shouldn't be surprised at this as Tam Dalyell predicted this happening back in the 1970's during House of Commons debates on an earlier, similarly mad, attempt at devolution. Tam was a proud Scotsman who often fiercely and intelligently fought for Scotland's interests in the Commons against all (especially English MP's) who took Scotland for granted or who treated her unfairly and/or patronisingly, much to the chagrin of those people guilty of such actions. He fought Scotland's corner in the Commons with great pugnacity and intelligence. However he realized that blinkered nationalism would lead Scotland into disaster. He also realized that Scotland's best interests lay in maintaining the Union. He dismissed devolution as '...a one-way highway to independence with no roundabouts or turnoffs'. In his later years he criticized devolution as unworkable as it is in the nature of devolved assemblies to continuously attract more power to themselves, ending in the demand for independence. And look how true that turned out to be.

 

During the debate in Parliament in the mid-late 70's on devolution Tam attacked devolution as unworkable as he thought that two parliaments in one country would simply lead to conflict over who controls what. Having two parliaments in a unitary country leads to the devolved region breaking away from the other part of the country as the two provinces can't agree on who controls what and as the devolved region accrued more and more powers to itself it gains the (often false) impression that it can go it alone - it seeks independence.  Again, recent experience has proved him right.

 

The Scottish independence question has been beset with lies and distortions from all sides. The SNP simply told (and continues to tell) one bold face lie after another in order to bamboozle Scots into voting for independence. It's now obvious that they did this because they had no concrete policies for the post-referendum period if they won. Vague promises built on sand were all they offered (with a good dose of extremely unpleasant anti-English rhetoric). Luckily the sensible Scots saw through their mad plans.

 

But even the 'unionists' have misled us. Cameron's 'Conservatives' weren't really unionists and indeed actually believed that it would be good for Scotland to leave the Union, as this would mean that they would rule the rump UK in perpetuity as they could easily get a substantial majority in the Commons if Labour voting Scotland is removed from the electoral equation. His successor Theresa May is no different, and, whilst saying publicly that she doesn't think that a second Scottish independence referendum is needed, has made no firm commitment to the Union and gives the impression that she would not defend it if Sturgeon started banging the independence drum again. She is cut from the same patrician cloth as Cameron and would simply cave in to the SNP's demands for another referendum. What's more, even though she didn't have to, she would respect the result. She can't be trusted to maintain the Union.  Corbyn's neo-Trotskyite Labour Party is indifferent towards the Union and this is highlighted by his assertion that '...I am not a unionist'.

 

The so-called 'Conservative and Unionist Party' are the worst of them all. Before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum Cameron promised that a 'no' vote would settle the question 'for a generation'(25-30 years?). He asserted repeatedly that this was a 'one off deal' and that this didn't set a precedent that would enable future referenda to be held. After the nearly 2-1 'no' vote he re-asserted this. He called the vote 'decisive'. Then, in order to frighten people into voting for staying in the EU he brought up the bogeyman of a second Scottish independence referendum if we left. Sheer scare-mongering and hypocrisy.

 

He knows he has the legal power (from both the original devolution Acts and the Smith Commission Report recommendations) to rule out a second Scottish referendum. It is perfectly clear from both the original devolution Bill and the later Smith Commission that the House of Commons retains full jurisdiction over constitutional matters, including the calling of referenda, not Holyrood. All this threatening of a second Scots referendum vividly displays the Conservatives real lack of honesty about the constitutional change issue-they have no real intention of sticking to Cameron's original 'one off deal' pledge and will simply cave in to future demands for referenda from the SNP. Their misplaced patrician gentlemanliness means that even though they have the legal right to they won't deny the Scots future referenda if they ask. They can't be trusted on this issue.

 

We have been continuously lied to and misled from day one about constitutional change by everybody involved in the process and their deceit will lead the UK to ruin, unless we stop them.

 

© 2016 Stephen Bailey.

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