Monday, 16 March 2015

What will the SNP do for us?

There is currently a thought experiment being lead by the LSE on what a UK Written Constitution should look like, via public input. I was involved with the exercise but have removed myself from the activity simply because by the end of last week I realised that the majority of English contributors could not see past the political myth of 'Magna Carta' and when combined with the political and media campaign against Scotland over the last 14 days, plus the comments under the articles in the Guardian and Telegraph running how dare the 'Sweaty Jocks'  have a say in running England (Oops we meant the UK, honest) editorial lines,there is no real interest in understanding where we are as a UK Parliamentary Union, the constitutional and legal nature of that Union or why it is at breaking point.

The question becomes how will the Union hold together while the necessary change away from a London centric system of governance, designed to protect the City of London and other corporate vested interests, to the exclusion of the majority of the UK electorate, is negotiated?

The political awareness cycle between Scotland and England is asymmetrical, the Scots are two years or more ahead of the English electorate in thinking about what Scotland should be like and how to achieve this aim, courtesy of Commonweal, National Collective, politically orientated blogs and a high level of discussion in the pubs and on the street. My experience of the LSE projects leaves me with the sense those politically active in England are still thinking about what they do not want (more austerity, a collapsing NHS, increasing poverty) and not about what they want from a future UK political system.

Under the present Union settlement the UK Parliament can not bring forward legislation to create a federal or confederal UK because it is outwith the legal and constitutional powers of the UK Union Parliament. Any solution will have to be a fudge unless the two recalled sovereign parliaments of England and Scotland can agree a federation settlement. The most realistic solution will be to create a devolved English Parliament with all the same powers as Holyrood.

The problem then arises - just what is the point of a UK Parliament in this situation? All the remaining functions of a UK Parliament would be just as effectively dealt with by a 'Council of the British Isles' to look after issues of 'common purpose' such as the defence of the British Isles.

So if we send 50 SNP MPs to Westminster on the 9th of May we will expect them to fight Scotland's corner, reaffirm our wish for more progressive politics: yet are we also sending them to renegotiate the Union settlement in an environment where the two main parties are seeking to cling onto what they hold at all costs?

Is it right to place this expectation of negotiating a new Union on their shoulders, as a result of September's 'NO' vote in an environment which is fraught with a fevered, near hysterical anti-Scottish message?

The 'NO' win in September was in the expectation that there would be a new devolution settlement for Scotland and that settlement would be full fiscal autonomy. Cameron torpedoed that on the 15th of September with his utterances on EVEL. Labour put another hole in this particular boat with their behaviour over the Smith Report recommendations.

The expectation is for the SNP to seek to hold, which ever party forms the government, the UK Parliament to its promise whether it ever meant the 'Vow' or not. If it is clear the UK Government is not bringing forward legislation to to meet the 'Vow' in full, the Scottish people will be asked what they want to do; stick or move on.

Ms Sturgeon has offered an olive branch to the progressives in Labour, the Greens and Plaid in today's London speech. She made clear on national television the SNP at Westminster will seek alliances to stop and reverse the current austerity mayhem which is hurting the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

Tuesday's frothing at the mouth or otherwise headlines in the London media and on the BBC will indicate just what the British Establishment's view is of the SNP's offer. The initial rumbles are already indicating within Labour, the feeling is Miliband has sold the Scottish Labour MPs down the river to shore up the vote share in England and get him into Downing Street. The real question then becomes has he done this with the intent that losing the SNP hating Labour neanderthals in Scotland will make it easier to cut deals with the SNP on a confidence and supply basis?

Murphy did not want this statement on 'no coalition deal with the SNP', Miliband has put Murphy firmly in his box killing any remaining illusion that Murphy was his own 'boss' in Scotland, free from London's interference and control.

Is it too hard to suggest that Labour have waved the white flag in Scotland?

No comments:

Post a Comment