Having wondered, only a few days ago whether the Tories will try to abolish the Scottish Parliament, it was a bit of a shock to see the topic discussed openly at the overflowing standing room only Tory Party Conference, if only at a fringe meeting. Fringe meetings, like the utterances of deranged Tory peers and Tory think tanks, are good places to fly plausibly deniable kites. Whether these are intended to distract the enemy from the real plans is another matter.
Consciously or not the Tories are boosting support for Scottish Independence. The latest BMG poll for the Herald follows the slow upward trend of support for Independence since 2014 with 49% for independence excluding don’t knows. The Secretary of State for Scotland did his best to boost Independence by claiming, probably correctly for once, that there was no way Scotland, independent or not, could be in the EU after Brexit.
The Prime Minister contradicted her minions by implying that all EU powers currently devolved to Scotland would be repatriated to Westminster not Holyrood, Something Ruth Davidson confirmed earlier, and a rent-a-mouth on Television, having been corrected on the alternative facts she was peddling said to Scotland “No matter how disastrous is it for you, you have to follow us”. Or equivalently “shut up and keep sending us the oil”. Then Theresa May turned up to the Tory Party Conference in Glasgow, and spent the time boosting the morale of the faithful in her normal irritated nanny tone and slipped quietly back to London, as soon as the NHS protest there was over.
If the Yes movement could generate one tenth the rage and desire for Independence seen on social media in the soft NO voters Independence would be a walk in the park.
Are the Tories Stupid, Malicious, or Both?
There is a lot more stupidity than malice in the world. But it only takes one clever and malicious person to drive the stupid majority the way they want. David Mundell’s human cricket impersonation may be amusing but he may still have been fed messages designed to distract the Independence movement. Laugh at what they say but treat it as if it were a devious tactic and remember Tories live on a different planet.
The View From Westminster
The dastardly EU nationals are punishing us by leaving the UK in droves, resulting in longer waits to get served at your favourite restaurant, longer times waiting for a doctor or surgery and Brussels sprouts and fruit rotting in the ground and on the vine. How dare they treat us this way, instead of staying here till we can deport them in handcuffs, getting a photo opportunity in the process, to the cheers of our puppet masters UKIP. And now India has the cheek to say they do not need our foreign aid and if we want a trade deal they want freedom of movement too. They will just have to buckle down and know who their imperial masters are.
The Micks are not behaving as expected either. Following the largely ignored Northern Ireland Elections Republicans are within a whisker of a majority that could result in Irish Reunification. Even the potato eaters, who the Reverend Thomas Kingsley called White Chimpanzees, are getting out of hand despite our generously ambiguous promises that there will be no hard border, even though the suitable check point sites are being examined. Honestly what IS the world coming to when the inferior nations refuse to do as they are told. We are the Conservative and Unionist party after all, and Unionist means the Union between Northern Ireland and England, so if they go we will have to keep pretending it refers to the Act of Union 1707.
These Foreign Chappies just do NOT know how to behave.
How the Tories Could Abolish the Scottish Parliament Without a Vote
Westminster established the Scottish parliament 1n 1999 not out of the goodness of its non existent heart but because they were threatened with expulsion from the Council of Europe. Westminster has decided that if forced to choose between the Union with Scotland and Brexit they will choose Brexit, the mantra of “The Will of the people” echoing in their ears, as the Red Guard of Brexiteers drown out all opposition with abuse. With Brexit it seems likely that this protection no longer exists. There must be an increasing temptation for the Westminster government to pass a Statutory Instrument, on a Friday evening during Parliamentary recess, to repeal the Scotland act 2016 and dissolve Holyrood. A two line bill. Even if the SNP got wind of this and tabled an early day motion Labour and the Tories would stand together to defeat it. This would almost certainly lead to the nuclear option of UDI and perhaps the arrest of our SNP MPs in Westminster.
Another View From Westminster
Theresa May does not want to have to fight a Referendum campaign while Brexit negotiations are going on. She wants to have to deal with a possible Scottish UDI while negotiating Brexit even less. Especially as, if negotiations are going badly some EU countries, if not the EU are likely to recognise an Independent Scotland just to annoy the remaining UK. This makes immediate abolition of Holyrood unlikely but there is no accounting for stupidity and anger so it is no time to relax.
If Theresa May wants to take the chance of being known as the Prime Minister who saved the UK for the second time, she may try and block a referendum till after Brexit. By then the Farmers and Fishermen, among others, will be feeling the bite of losing EU subsidies, being unable to afford the petrol to drive to the Jobcentre after being declared bankrupt, definitely unable to pay their subscriptions to the Tory Party and determined to vote YES whatever the Tories promise. It is likely the Prime Minister feels the Scots will put up with this.
UDI would damage the Imitation Margaret Thatcher’s career and it is unlikely she could regain it by torpedoing a rebel fishing boat then losing the relevant log, or ordering the SAS to capture a pig farm near Mull. This would be a war that costs money, rather than making it for the elite, and the collective memory of the Troubles in Ulster, and a shortage of troops as a result of defence cuts making it impossible to do more than patrol the main cities might stay her hand. But stupidity knows no bounds.
Losing a referendum would do even more damage to her career. Her party would crucify her. She could only make that worse by putting Boris Johnson and Michael Gove in charge of negotiations with the Scottish Government.
Winning a referendum, almost certainly by a narrow margin, would result in a Scotland seething with resentment against Westminster. Even the English living in Scotland would be against Westminster. It would be a Powder Keg waiting for a Spark. The SNP would likely fold up, and their restraining influence over radicals pushing for UDI would be gone. Perhaps she would calculate that the electorate would, disgusted by Labour, move to the Tories, but a more likely result would be a surge in then number of pro-Independence MPs in the next round of elections and even more confrontations between Scotland and Westminster both in the commons and Holyrood.
But emotion will trump reason and it is always possible that one day the Prime Minister, noting a rise in anti Scottish feeling in England, who could even be Theresa May, will say “Never mind the economics, throw them out”. At present this is extremely unlikely but the political shocks of the last few years mean the saying “Never say never” is more relevant than ever.
For the first time since 2014 there is a real feeling of Independence in the air. But it is still not unstoppable, especially since the next referendum campaign will be uglier and dirtier than the last. We need to harness the rage under the surface of Scotland.