Alex Salmond blasts the Deputy Speaker for breaching Commons debating protocol
The very last statement by the Deputy Speaker reveals that the entire debate was a prearranged stitch up. “you’ve done better that was supposed to have happened!!!”
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.” (The Guardian)
SNP MP’s Beguiled by Westminster Largesse
SNP MP’s present a united front but that can’t last for ever, and nor can their current levels of popularity. I do start to understand, though, how MPs get so comfortable here. 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 subsidised white wine and large groups of men (Tories? Maybe not…) getting in the 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 – the sun isn’t even past the yardarm when I see Gove hitting the Sancerre. The 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 they’ve become institutionalised. And then there was “clap-gate”, when – instead of saying “hear hear” at something they agreed with, as if they were 18th-century landowners – they broke into that newfangled concept: applause. Or as the Mail put it: “Show some respect! Furious Speaker Bercow rebukes new Scots Nats MPs for breaking strict Commons protocol by clapping during the Queen’s Speech debate.” They’ve stopped doing it now, sadly. A real missed opportunity. In the Scottish parliament there’s applause all the time – it’s like an Italian opera. But the Westminster speaker censured them when they first did it, and then there was a pause. In that moment they should have carried on and overturned a centuries-old convention like that, but instead they swallowed it. And that was that.
Now they shout ‘hear hear’ like everyone else.” “They’re also much more observant of parliamentary procedure. They’ve stopped taking photos of themselves. The Mail and Telegraph were portraying them as ignorant and unworthy so perhaps they’re trying to show they are serious. But this place does get to you. It feeds on your self-importance. You suddenly have a budget for staff, and you’re flying home on a Thursday night. I’m sure it must be happening to them because it happens to everyone. I’ve been here a year, and it’s probably happening to me. That’s the nature of power in Westminster.”
It’s not in the SNP’s interests to get comfortable here. But it’s certainly an insight into what seduces so many politicians. Why they start talking like politicians. Why they don’t ever want to leave. It’s been a brilliant rebranding exercise, the new-look SNP. They repackaged nationalism as social justice, and delivered a message of optimism and hope that the electorate bought. And they’re there, in the House of Commons, turning up, being smart and sensible… and ultimately conspiring to leave the rest of us stranded, for all eternity, shrugging in listless apathy at what passes in this country for political debate. Carole Cadwalladr (The Guardian)
The Westminster Trap
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 Herald)
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 (The herald)
English Votes for English Legislation (EVIL
English Votes for English Legislation (EVEL) breaches 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. the English Grand Committee will gradually extend its influence. 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. (The Herald)
Gerrymandering the Scotland Bill
Scotland’s only Tory MP and secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell, has proposed 80 alterations to the Scotland Bill on further devolution which are mainly composed of technical amendments. He stated: “There will be about 80 amendments , but some of them are very technical amendments in terms of the usual changing of commas and apostrophes and these sort of things.”
However, the vast majority relate to technical procedure and a rearranging of previous proposals. In three cases the amendments even reserve further 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. Minor changes include examples such as: “Page 1, line 4, leave out Clause 1”, “leave out ‘and (2B)'”, “leave out ‘the use of'” and further rearranging of previous policies. A further amendment provided extra clarity in relation to Zebra, Pelican & Puffin pedestrian crossings. Michael Gray (Common Space)
Scotland Bill: the 3rd reading of the Scotland Bill at Westminster
There are over 253 amendments, 63 of which have been lodged by the SNP, but only 6 hours of debate. The Scotland Bill is being rushed through practically before the SNP MPs have got their bums on the green benches. The SNP do not have any presence in the House of Lords, which is where most of the action on constitutional bills like Smith takes place. So, this bill could be on the statute books within months and certainly in time for the Holyrood elections in May. The Scotland Bill places a fiscal time bomb under Holyrood. The SNP MPs need to get to grips with it fast. The risk is that their MPs will get diverted, wasting time fighting meaningless parliamentary conventions while they’re being stitched up behind their backs. (The Herald)
SNP Welfare Improvements Rejected
Amendments to the Scotland Bill which would effectively give the Scottish Parliament the power to design its own welfare system have been rejected by the UK government. A vote in the House of Commons yesterday followed a third day of debate on the legislation, which largely focused on welfare powers. The SNP and Labour backed each other’s calls for Holyrood to have unrestricted power to create new benefits and top up existing ones – as well as seeking other changes. But despite a written complaint from the Scottish Government that proposals from Scottish MPs were being ignored, Scottish secretary David Mundell insisted that the Scotland Bill lives up to the spirit of the Smith Commission’s recommendations.
The rejection comes after MPs voted against proposals made by the SNP for an “Economic Agreement” between the two governments which would eventually lead to full fiscal autonomy – by 504 votes to 58. In addition, they voted against Labour’s proposal for an independent commission to examine the effects of full fiscal autonomy by 376 to 192.
Commenting on the Scotland Bill welfare vote, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said: “This was typical Tory arrogance – a single Tory MP refusing to listen to the representatives of the people of Scotland. “We saw cross-party support on the Opposition benches for SNP amendments being voted down by a Tory government with a single MP in Scotland. At a time of savage cuts to the welfare state by the Tories – causing real hurt to hard working families and vulnerable people, and driving more and more people to food banks – the choice is between having welfare powers in Scotland’s hands, or leaving them in the hands of Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne.” (Scottish Housing News)
It is Time to Boycott Westminster
I have monitored debates discussion and voting in the House of Commons from the time the 2015 General Election landslide returned 56 SNP MP’s. Day after day the SNP group have taken their places on the green benches participating in fruitless discussions and debates. Their presence in the chamber has been mocked and abused by the Speaker and politicians of the other parties who have a vested interest in ensuring the SNP group are sidelined and irrelevant.
Whilst taking up all the rights and privileges (office, travel subsistence, staff, etc) gifted by Westminster the SNP group should boycott Westminster. MP’s would by result, be enabled to spend more time in Scotland resolving problems for their constituents. The foregoing actions would be implemented without detriment to the Westminster SNP group
Political business between Scotland and Westminster would be completed through the offices of the Scottish First Minister (advised by the MP group), who would be permitted use of a committee room at Holyrood.