Nicola Sturgeon’s Speech at the Doors of Westminster
“The SNP will be the principled opposition in this place to the Conservative government. The SNP has worked long and hard in this election to make Scotland’s voice heard. To have people in Scotland in such overwhelming numbers put their trust in us is fantastic, but also is a big responsibility. We are determined to make Scotland’s voice heard here in Westminster, but we are also determined to be that voice for progressive politics that we promised to be during the election. To stand up to policies from a Conservative government that will damage Scotland and to make common cause with others of like mind from across the UK.”
No mention of independence from the Party leader who preferred set the tone by committing the Party to the promotion of progressive politics. Whatever that meant!!!
Beguiled by Westminster Largesse
The House of Commons is a comfortable place to be. The terrace bar, with Big Ben bonging into the night, has the best view in London: to the left, the soaring faux-gothic buttresses of the Palace of Westminster, to the right the London Eye, straight ahead a scene of double-decker buses crossing Westminster bridge. It’s like the opening scene of a Hollywood film set in London. And all around, arresting sights such as Michael Gove drinking heavily subsidised white wine and large groups of men (Tories? Maybe not…) getting in the even cheaper champagne it’s the best workplace ever. There’s a ton of bars and restaurants where MPs hang out at all times of the working day. SNP MPs have colonised the Sports and Social Club, which is where a lot of the parliamentary staff go, and which has a karaoke night. And there are always colleagues around to gossip with. People keep having conversations about “the Tories’ evil plan”, which I only belatedly realise is actually their EVEL plan. It’s only been a couple of months, but the consensus is that the SNP MP’s are fully institutionalised and chastised where needed. Firmly in the past is the “clap-gate” incident when – instead of uttering “hear hear” at something they agreed with, as if they were 18th-century landowners – they broke into the new fangled concept: applause. The Daily Mail piped in: “Show some respect! Furious Speaker Bercow rebuked new Scots Nat’s MPs for breaking strict Commons protocol by clapping during the Queen’s Speech debate.” Portrayed by the Unionist Press as ignorant ruffians unworthy of a seat in the Commons they now comply with all parliamentary traditions and procedures. (Carole Cadwalladr)
The Commons sews its seeds in all who enter it. In an instant raw politicians are made to feel they are no longer simply human. They are “special”. Accompanying their large salary there is a budget for staff hire, generous allowances affording the lease or purchase of luxury accommodation in the most expensive capital city in the World, travel and subsistence and other allowances totalling well in excess of £150 annually. Head spinning stuff!!! Its beguiling influence is addictive and its destructive power has compromised many SNP MP’s who first went there in 2015 .
The Westminster trap – another view
You go there full of cocksure rebelliousness. Stupid rules – who cares about the rules. You get into fights in the playground with the older boys, and take no crap about clapping in assembly. But “Westmonster” as some SNP people call the UK Parliament, has been around a long time. It has seen off socialists like Keir Hardie – who caused outrage because he wore a deer-stalker to parliament. It dealt with Parnell’s Irish nationalists, with Suffragettes, Militant Tendency and grade-A parliamentary delinquents like our own Alex Salmond, the first MP to disrupt a Budget Speech in 1988. And it’s still there, with all its fripperies and anachronisms, like the cloak room hook to hold the Hon Member’s sword. The Palace of Westminster is a powerful institution which uses its own often archaic rules and conventions as a means of diffusing political discontent. You see it with Scotland’s MPs. Suddenly they are wearing ties and suits, speaking respectfully to Mr Speaker, agreeing not to clap and promising to be “good parliamentarians”. (Iain McWhirter)
The Sewel Convention Con Trick
The Sewel Convention, under which Westminster supposedly refrains from ruling on devolved issues without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, is froth, mince, tripe, baloney and codswallop. It has no legal force. The clause in the 2016 Scotland Act, which supposedly placed Sewel on a “statutory footing”, was just there to fool the natives into thinking their Parliament’s powers were “entrenched” and irreversible. Holyrood’s legislative powers are clearly and explicitly on loan from Westminster and liable to be over-ridden as and when the UK Government chooses. No one will believe a word UK ministers say in future about the powers and constitutional standing of Holyrood; not that many of us did in the past. (Iain McWhirter)
English Votes for English Legislation (EVEL)
English Votes for English Legislation (EVEL) breached the fundamental principle that all members of the house are equal . Non-English MPs, by Commons convention, no longer vote on “English” bills. This means that Scottish MPs are excluded from whole areas of legislation where they are denied a vote. A change slipped through by parliamentary sleight of hand and the English Grand Committee will gradually extend its influence. But the Scottish Government opposes the change because many supposedly “English” bills on the NHS or income tax, have financial consequences for Scotland. It also means that Scottish MPs are second-class citizens.
Gerrymandering the Scotland Bill
Scotland’s only Tory MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, Mundell, proposed 80 technical amendments to the Scotland Bill , stating: “some are amendments in terms of the usual changing of commas and apostrophes and these sort of things. However, the bulk of them relate to technical procedures and a rearranging of previous proposals. In three cases the amendments will reserve additional powers to Westminster. Under clause 43, the Scottish Parliament will not be able to raise levies on postal operators, electricity or gas for the purpose of funding consumer advocacy.”
Scotland Bill: the 3rd reading at Westminster Allocated 6 hours of debate to decide on 253 amendments.
The Scotland Bill was rushed through without adequate discussion before SNP MPs parked their bums on the green benches of the House of Commons ensuring that the legislation would be on the statute books well before the next Holyrood elections. The bill as it stands is a stitch-up and places a fiscal time bomb under Holyrood.
SNP Welfare Improvements Rejected
Proposed amendments to the Scotland Bill submitted by the SNP giving the Scottish Parliament the power to design its own welfare system were rejected by the Unionists. Unionist politician and Scottish Secretary Mundell insisted that the Unionist’s stance was fully in accordance with the Smith Commission’s recommendations. The rejection came after the Unionists also voted against proposals from the SNP for an “Economic Agreement” between Westminster and Holyrood which would eventually lead to full fiscal autonomy. They also voted against a proposal for an independent commission to examine the effects of full fiscal autonomy. Responding, Angus Robertson MP said: “This is typical Unionist arrogance. Mundell, the only Tory MP from Scotland arrogantly refuses to listen to the representatives of the people of Scotland and supported by his Unionist colleagues vetoed without reason or explanation every single proposal submitted by the SNP. And this at a time of savage cuts to the welfare state by Unionists causing real hurt to hard working families and vulnerable people, forcing hardship on and driving increasing numbers of Scots to food banks. Welfare powers should be transferred to Scotland honouring the spirit of the 3 Party Leaders’ Pledge to the people of Scotland just before the Scottish Independence Referendum.”
It is Time to Boycott Westminster
I monitored debates, discussions and voting in the House of Commons from the time the 2015 General Election landslide which returned 56 SNP MP’s. Day after day the SNP group took their places on the benches and participated in fruitless discussions and debates. Their presence in the Commons was mocked, abused and ridiculed by the Speaker and Unionist politicians who protected their vested interest by ensuring the SNP group were side-lined and rendered irrelevant. The response from the SNP contingent should be to withdraw participation from all business of the Commons including committees. This should be done while retaining all rights and privileges (office, travel subsistence, staff, etc) the right of MP’s. The boycott of the House of Commons would enable SNP MP’s to spend more time in Westminster resolving their constituents problems and concerns. The foregoing could be implemented without any financial detriment to the Westminster SNP group. Political business between Scotland and Westminster would then be completed through the offices of the Scottish First Minister (advised by the MP group), who would be permitted permanent use of a committee room at Holyrood.