I know, I know, we all know what to expect from any Hootsmon article about politics in Scotland, but I just had to read it. When I saw the title of Brian Monteith’s piece the other day entitled ‘Nationalism has become greatest enemy of devolution’ I couldn’t stop myself. We’ve all done it.
Having read the assertions of the self-confessed ‘diehard unionist’ I can only conclude that yes, indeed, there is a parallel universe, and yes, there are a number of people living in a very small, so small that you can hardly see it on a weather map, insignificant, reverent region of a mighty parallel glorious world leader country, and that small worthless region is called North Britain.
Monteith suggests that devolution is in danger. This danger comes 20 years after Donald Dewar, a fine man apart from his decision to accede to Westminster pressure to redraw Scotland’s sea boundaries prior to devolution, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, a time when a Secretary of State for Scotland actually had things to do other than spend huge sums of taxpayers money producing British nationalist propaganda to be fed constantly to the people of Scotland, and licking the expensive shoes of London’s Prime Minister, published the White Paper which set the wheels in motion for a referendum resulting in devolution.
This ‘serious attack’ Monteith asserts comes not from unionism but from the current Scottish Government, who he feels are either deliberately sabotaging Scotland’s devolved powers arrangement to strengthen their case for grievance, or because they have simply mismanaged their powers and are incompetent.
In Monteith’s North Britain, you see, we should all be deferential to the broad shouldered mother state that nurtures and watches over us with benevolence. In his world there is no Scotland as a country with a larger neighboring country ruling over it ,using its people, land and resources to further its own aims, under the guise of a partnership. No, in his world the Scottish Government, and by association those who support them, are being disrespectful, and biting the hand that feeds them.
Use the powers that our leaders have kindly given you to make the lives of Scots better, instead of complaining, is Brian’s view. Monteith suggests that from a unionist point of view when devolution was granted those with the same view as him did not complain or further oppose Scotland gaining it’s limited powers devolved status, no, they accepted it, and committed themselves to making it work. Unionist politicians , he writes, made proposals to improve devolution, proposals which have been accepted that make the Holyrood parliament more accountable. Curiously though he doesn’t mention at any point why it is that several of them have publicly stated since then that they do not recognise the authority of the parliament of Scotland, or the sovereignty of its people. The money is no’ bad though.
Clearly Mr Monteith was off work with a wee sniffle on the days when the Scottish government implemented it’s many beneficial changes for the people of Scotland to move it away from what the UK government consider to be social democracy. Free tertiary education, free prescriptions, free personal care for the aged, enhanced child care access, are just a few we could name . The soon to be introduced new social security system for Scotland based on dignity and respect, not stigmatism and resentment, will be a further use of the powers that our masters have deigned to honour us with.
Yes the Scottish government can tinker around the edges, and they are, of tax and revenue systems within the boundaries that they can , but if they are denied the financial levers and information to make significant changes it would be a fool’s errand to do otherwise. How can a devolved government make meaningful strategic financial decisions, or take steps designed to grow the economy, without knowing how much VAT is collected in Scotland, how much Income Tax is collected in Scotland, how much National Insurance contributions are made in Scotland, how much Corporation Tax is collected?
Monteith cites the recent “unnamed source’ leak about the status of the position of First Minister of Scotland being downgraded, in terms of access to Theresa May, as an example of how the SNP government has brought devolution into disrepute, and how their actions have resulted in the authority of Holyrood becoming diminished. The seeds were sown, he reckons, way back when the newly elected Prime Minister, after hosing down Gove and Boris, kindly visited Edinburgh as one of her first acts as Premier, only to suffer the ‘public ridicule’ of having her phoaites taken in front of two saltires instead of one saltire and a union flag. Wait a minute, is it not supposed to be us that are obsessed with flags? He suggests that this was a cheap shot. I would suggest that more of a cheap shot is his assertion, following the various terrorist incidents that took place recently in England, that the SNP Scottish government was not respectful or keen to show a mark of support for the victims because Scotland didn’t project large Union flags onto public buildings, like some other European countries did. That one is below the belt Brian, it really is.
The article then degenerates into comic farce where Monteith basically accuses the First Minister of an over-inflated sense of her own importance, and makes a case that if she had played nice, in the face of a robotic intransigent Prime Minister and a sycophantic Scottish Secretary, she could, by this stage, have been front and centre with the Westminster Ant Hill mob influencing the negotiations, having vital input on fishing, farming and other EU powers coming back as part of the UK’s xenophobic divorce.
What nonsense. I’m not going to list every instance here, but we all know that from day one, from the day and hour the whole Brexit decision was reached, and initially, and commendably, her instinctive act was to try and reassure EU citizens resident in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has bent over backwards, forwards and sideways, like a Red Bull fueled break dancer playing Twister, to be reasonable and respectful to the UK government’s position, but you can only be ignored and belittled for so long in these situations. 62% of Scotland’s electorate voted to remain Europeans.
There are indeed two Scotlands, and in the view of those who live in one of them,it isn’t a country at all.
It really is time for that to change.