SOLD BY A PARCEL OF ROGUES

This week’s article from Yours for Scotland regular columnist Mia. When we cast our votes for the SNP on the general election 12 December 2019 we thought we were voting for independence. We were guided by the words of the cover letter attached to the SNP manifesto and signed by Nicola Sturgeon: “A vote for the SNP is a vote to escapeContinue reading "SOLD BY A PARCEL OF ROGUES"

SOLD BY A PARCEL OF ROGUES

This week’s article from Yours for Scotland regular columnist Mia.

When we cast our votes for the SNP on the general election 12 December 2019 we thought we were voting for independence. We were guided by the words of the cover letter attached to the SNP manifesto and signed by Nicola Sturgeon:

“A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit.

It’s a vote to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”

You can only escape Brexit with independence.  Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) keeps you trapped in England’s market, trade deals, currency and downgraded standards. With FFA, Scotland’s future is not in Scotland’s hands. It is in the hands of England MPs.

So why is the SNP asking for FFA?

I think if we had full fiscal autonomy, we would be able to respond fully to some of the needs. That’s not what I’m asking for here, but what I’m asking for here is some pretty basic powers and flexibilities around the borrowing issues.” 

Kate Forbes, June 2020

On 12 December 2019 Scotland gave the SNP a mandate and 48 seats to stop Brexit and to put the future of Scotland on Scotland’s hands. Yet, our Cabinet Minister for Finance and Economy 6 months later still begs for “pretty basic powers” when she should be getting ready to handle all our fiscal powers after the SNP should have declared independence after the election.

But it is her mentioning of “FFA” after 5 years of SNP majorities in Westminster that is alarming.

In January 2021 the Scottish government published “Scotland’s Fiscal Outlook: The Scottish Government’s Medium Term Financial Strategy”. 

Ms Forbes tells us in that document that the current fiscal framework for Scotland is insufficient and inadequate. Yet the party refuses to use the mandate gained in 2019 to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands by bringing the powers back.

I now wonder if begging for powers is part of Sturgeon’s SNP culture so when they have been handed a mandate to bring back all our powers, they do not know what to do other than keep begging for more powers.

The Guardian published this headline in September 2014:

“Nicola Sturgeon expected to champion maximum devolution in the UK”  

You would think that after 7 years and 3 majorities in Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon would have moved on fromchampioning devolution in the UK.

In June 2019 this headline was published in the Herald:

“Nicola Sturgeon: ‘Boris Johnson asked me if full fiscal powers would buy off SNP’”

The article claims Ms Sturgeon was offered by Johnson full fiscal powers to “buy the SNP off”, on the 9th May 2015.  This is the day after the GE 2015, when Scotland sent 56 SNP MPs to Westminster and we were expecting negotiations for independence to start.

At no point the article says that she rejected the offer. What the article says is:

“The context around the remarks is not clear, but Ms Sturgeon joked it would be the “starting point” of her relationship with Mr Johnson if he secures the top job”

When you put side by side those past headlines with somebody from the SNP attempting to sneak Devo Max under the radar, with the enabling of Brexit by the SNP, with the fabricated need for an S30, with letting our mandates expire, with the never ending excuses and with Ms Forbes begging for powers and dreaming of FFA, you begin to worry that Johnson might have bought the SNP off that day after all.

But Johnson did not secure the “top job” until 2019.  It is very hard to believe Sturgeon would have been sitting on her hands quietly 4 years holding the SNP MPs on a leash and letting the process of Brexit continue smoothly, waiting for “the starting point” to arrive to number 10, unless some kind of agreement was already on the table.

Just in a few months after the 9th May 2015 the pre-legislation processes for Brexit would have commenced and Westminster needed the SNP to be compliant, otherwise that legislation would have never been passed or Brexit completed in time to avoid the new EU taxdodgers legislation.

The 3 ballot option is not new. On 12 September 2020 The Times published an article stating that “a campaign to give full control over tax and spending powers while remaining in the UK is to be launched” . The article even gives you a hint why Westminster may be keen on it: 

Home rule would give voters the option of Scotland staying in a monetary union with the rest of the UK, while running its own economy and social welfare system.

You do not need to be an economist to realise why England might be desperate to keep Scotland using Sterling. Scotland’s assets not propping Sterling might make it tank. A huge difference in value between Sterling and Scotland’s currency may become an obstacle for England to continue using Scotland’s market as if it was an extension of its own. Because the Bank of England controls Sterling, this would give England full control over Scotland’s currency, interest, markets and ultimately the economy. For Scotland’s banks to issue notes with Sterling value, they have to back those notes with a deposit in the Bank of England equivalent to the value of those notes in circulation. If there is no monetary union, the Bank of England has to return that deposit to Scotland in full.

The campaign for home rule announced by The Times was linked to a book written by Ben Thomson, founder member of the think tank “Reform Scotland”. This think tank is described as “right wing” and linked to conservatives by Wikipedia and Open Democracy. According to the Herald, it was at an event hosted by “Reform Scotland” in 2019 where Sturgeon mentioned having been offered by Johnson FFA on 9th May 2015.

From the speech delivered by the First Minister at that Reform Scotland Event in 2019, this part jumps at me:

That is why I have offered talks to other parties who oppose independence to discuss what powers they think Scotland needs to face the challenges of the future. If substantial proposals arise from that, my hope is that the parliament can present them in a unified way.

Sturgeon could not be pursuing independence in 2019 if what she was seeking was full consensus among diametrically opposed parties before deciding what powers to bring back to Scotland. Can you ever see an agreement from Tories, labour and libdems on delivering all our powers back to Holyrood? I cannot. Sturgeon’s strategy to deliver independence is clearly designed to take a very, very long time.

On the 9th May 2020, Nicola Sturgeon sent a tweet in remembrance of that same day 5 years before, when we sent 56 SNP MPs to Westminster:

The tweet had a picture of her taken from the back while wearing a very smart black outfit with a hat and the following text:“Five years ago in London, on the day after the 2015 General Election.  I was about to go to the service for the 70th anniversary of VE Day (hence the hat).  This is me on the phone to David Cameron.  It seems like both 5 minutes and a whole lifetime ago”

If you do a google search for “Sturgeon and VE Day 2015 and Boris Johnson” and click on “images” you immediately see a couple of pictures where she is wearing the same outfit as the picture in the tweet while she walks and talks with Boris Johnson. It is obvious that something very important for her happened that day which made it stick in her memory and remember it 5 years later. 

Of course a cynic like me might think the tweet might have been some kind of warning to someone that she had been waiting too long and getting inpatient. After all, the word “lifetime” is one unionists love to use when telling us how long we have to wait for the next referendum to happen.

She did not have to wait much longer for the cavalry to arrive, because in July 2020, the political commentary website “Reaction” published an article written by Richard Bath with the title ““Give Scotland Full Fiscal Autonomy and call Nicola Sturgeon’s Bluff”.

The article suggests “Instead of ceding a referendum if the nationalists dominate next year’s elections, the granting of full fiscal autonomy would instantly transform the terms of the debate.

The author also writes in the article “the UK gov should not cede on a referendum, but automatically hand over to Scotland this so called Full Fiscal Autonomy”

A quick look at “Reaction” shows there are an awful lot of Tories, ex ministers of defence, lords, Sirs, Viscounts, political advisors and other rancid establishment types among the board of directors and advisors of this “political commentary” website.

In September 2020 The Times publishes the article regarding the campaign to give Scotland full fiscal autonomy. Since then, different figures in Labour, unions, think tanks and even a former director of Scotland’s Office came to her rescue by embracing the idea of a third option in the ballot.

In March 2021, “The Express” published this headline: 

“Nicola on the brink as new plan that could silence the SNP forever emerges”

This article made reference to the article published by Richard Bath in Reaction 8 months before.  Clearly the Express was amplifying the message.

On 9th May 2021, one year after Sturgeon’s tweet, Andrew Willshire published an article in the Spectator with the title: “How Boris can beat the SNP at its own game”. 

The paper proposes a way to delay independence indefinitely by suggesting the referendum should be offered to the Scottish people only once Scotland is in a position to function as an independent country and is in a financially viable position.

The author assumes the SNP does not really want independence and will take forever to build the required frameworks for this, so he suggests Johnson to hand all the work to the Sgov. But with the caveat that all frameworks and white paper have to be done under the supervision and agreement of Westminster, giving them the opportunity to stall this at every step. Westminster, of course, can find one thousand ways to take control over our assets to make Scotland look financially inviable

If establishment types are attempting to float FFA, unionist rags like The Express are amplifying and normalising the message, an increasing number of unionist politicians are asking for a third option to be included in the ballot and Gordon Brown has been released from the crypt again to talk about it too, you can guess that something nasty is gurgling in the sewers of Westminster.

There is another very interesting point in Willshire’s article.  The author highlights the uncertain position of Westminster with regards to their potential challenge in the courts of legislation passed in Holyrood to hold a referendum without Westminster’s consent.

The author is not convinced the courts would rule against Holyrood. There is a very good reason for this if we look at the ruling on the Keatings’ case on February 2021.

The ruling was that the case was “hypothetical, academic, and premature” and that because Mr Keatings was not a member of parliament, “the pursuer lacks standing to bring it”.

The judge also said “For the reasons given above, I would have reached the same conclusion even if a draft bill were available for consideration”.

From this the assumption is the case was shot down in flames only because there was no firm legislation for the referendum in place. But this is odd because in 2019, during her speech to Reform Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said this:

That’s why we are laying the groundwork for another choice on independence, through the referendum bill introduced to parliament two weeks ago”

She was referring to the Referendums (Scotland) Bill, which became Act on the 29th January 2020. That was a whole year before the ruling on the Keatings’ case.

When you read the information about the Referendums (Scotland) bill in the Scottish government website, you can read:

“This Bill does not relate to a specific referendum but on 24 April 2019 the First Minister made a statement to the Scottish Parliament called “Brexit and Scotland’s Future”. In it, she said the Scottish Government would introduce this legislation so that giving people a choice on Scottish independence in the current term of Parliament was an option”

So, if this bill was already in place, what made Mr Keatings’ case “premature, hypothetical or academic”? It could only be the lack of a date and the lack of secondary legislation to determine, for example, the question in the ballot. Was it deliberate not passing that secondary legislation to make the court case fail or was left because at that point they did not know if the third option should be included?

The ruling does not say much about the Scottish Parliament not having capacity to hold the referendum without an S30 if the full legislation had been in place. So we are none of the wiser.

Increasing noises and unionist moves towards finding a way to bypass the referendum suggest they are certain Scotland will vote for independence in a referendum where the options are simply yes or no.  They are clearly considering different options, but the consensus appears to be that unionists would do anything to avoid a yes win emerging from the referendum. 

62% in Scotland voted to remain in the EU, therefore Brexit is a huge driver for independence. They have been removing the push for independence from remainers by delaying the referendum for long enough to make Brexit look like the status quo, and by changing our laws to make the return to the EU pretty much impossible in the short term.

If the SNP has settled for FFA, then it makes sense that so many MSPs left before the 2021 election. They knew independence would not be achieved in the next 5 years. It would also explain why it was so important for them to remove Mr Salmond from the SNP and politics.

It would explain Sturgeon fondness for the S30 route, knowing that one will never be granted.  This would give Westminster time to complete the Brexit process while she kept us quiet waiting for the referendum that never arrives.

Settling for FFA would also explain why somebody in Sturgeon’s cabinet was actively trashing the Keatings’ case to stop us find out if Scotland’s parliament might already have the power to call the referendum.  I wonder if the attempt to sneak the English convention of Westminster sovereignty into law with the EU Withdrawal agreement was in preparation for a potential future legal dispute on this. 

An agreement would also explain why Sturgeon refuses plebiscite on independence elections and why Sturgeon prefers Tories and labour in Holyrood than Alba.  

It would explain why the SNP cooperated with Westminster to drag us out of the EU, why they handed our powers to Westminster, why they allowed Scotland to be trapped in this “internal UK market” framework and in damaging trade deals with Australia and New Zealand.

It would explain the recent alignment of the SNP with UK’s foreign policy and why there is no interest in increasing the yes vote, but rather to reverse it.

It would explain why it was considered acceptable to use the 600,000 pounds that went missing for something other than the referendum or why the fundraiser for the referendum was stopped before it reached the target.

It would explain why the Parliamentary inquiry was a farce as it was the investigation in her potential breaches of the ministerial code.

It would explain a lot of things.

All these manoeuvres aimed to stop at all costs a yes win just a few years after 2014, makes you wonder if Scotland might have already voted yes in 2014 but some last minute intervention to correct the result, and I do not mean just the vow, forced the result around.

We all know the powers that be in this union never give in an inch unless the alternative they are facing is worse. Johnson’swillingness to hand Sturgeon FFA one day after the GE2015 suggests they already knew then that Scotland’s settled will was independence, not devo max.  The preoccupation of unionist think tanks, parties etc about finding a way to force on us FFA suggests the same. 

The only way they can fool the electorate in Scotland now is by getting us to accept FFA without giving us the option to vote for yes.  They cannot keep telling us that what the majority wants is FFA if yes emerges as the winner, or force on us FFA after we have issued a yes vote and still claim Scotland’s is voluntarily in the union.

My bet is they are going to attempt at all costs to force FFA on us and change the constitutional agreement quickly before we have any opportunity to vote for independence

I am, on behalf of Yours for Scotland.

.MIA

MY COMMENTS

Once again Mia’s research into this raises even more doubts about the commitment of the Sturgeon Government to further the Independence issue. it is a very sad day indeed when the very people who were entrusted to take Independence forward are now the group suspected of doing their best to delay and obstruct progress.

BEAT THE CENSORS

Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.

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