It is not often I cut and paste full articles, but I was directed to this one in the online version of the Scots Independent, by Crinkly. The article's author is Jim Lynch. Here it is in full:
There is no doubt that the election of an SNP Government sent shock waves through the Westminster establishment; the original cunning plan, master-minded by the then Secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland, Jack McConnell, was that no way could the SNP ever get a majority of seats, so the “settled will” of the Scottish people could carry on ad infnitum.
Two things went wrong with that scenario; in the first instance, it was not the “settled will” of the Scottish people, but the “settled will” of the Labour Party. The second was that the steadying influence (from a Unionist point of view) of a coalition government was blown to high heaven by a pointless and hapless Liberal Party; they thought they could play hardball, and dropped it. So then the Dewar “safeguards” kicked in; included in the legislation was a clause that stated the Scottish Government, known then as the Scottish Executive, did not have to pay attention to certain votes in Parliament; this was to stop uppity Parliamentarians frustrating legislation. The Labour Party did not like it when the SNP took advantage. The Unionist parties all thought that the SNP minority government would crumble within weeks; two and a half years now, and counting.
What is interesting, when we stand back and look at the picture, and the various components thereof, is how the Unionists retaliated.
After the Scottish Elections Gordon Brown refused to speak to Alex Salmond; this went on for about five weeks, and must have been driving Brown’s PR advisers crazy. Glenn Campbell of BBC Scotland asked Mr Brown outright for a comment, and Brown just ignored him and got into his limo, and all on prime time TV too. This harmed Brown as the British people did not need a petulant Prime Minister.
Then after 10 years of devolution, it was time to take a “fresh look”; it had not been necessary before, because the Unionists were in control, but now these pesky Nationalists were talking about Independence, so Wendy Alexander came up with a Commission, the Calman Commission, to look at the whole issue, well, excluding Independence, of course. The Unionist majority rammed it through the Scottish Parliament, Gordon Brown appointed the members, and gave them some cash to add to what they had screwed out of the Parliament, and they spent about a year before coming up with some proposals, promptly kicked into the long grass by both Labour and Tories, while the Liberals sat with a communal petted lip on the sidelines.
One of the SNP’ main manifesto proposals was a Local Income Tax, to abolish the hated Council Tax, which had been put in by the Tories to abolish the hated Poll Tax which had also been put in by the Tories; this had to be abandoned by the SNP, who do not have a majority of votes in the Scottish Parliament, so could not have pushed the proposal through. One of the factors was that the Treasury said they would not make the current sum of £400 million a year payable as Housing Benefit available to the Scottish Government, so a big black hole; incidentally the Treasury and the Unionists all claimed that it would not have been possible for the Inland Revenue to deduct Local Income Tax through the PAYE system. Strangely they all enthused over a Calman Commission recommendation to transfer more tax raising powers which did just that!
As described in last week’s Flag, the office of Secretary of State for Scotland was taken out of the wheelie bin and provided with £8 million to “assist” Scotland, aka The Labour Party in Scotland.
Richard Lochhead, Scotlands’s Fisheries Secretary, included this item in his speech to the SNP Conference in October: “I am going to Luxembourg for tomorrow’s European Agriculture and Fisheries Council. But when I get to the Council Chamber tomorrow, I won’t be allowed to sit at the top table. I’ll get to observe but not to participate. I’ll be representing Scotland but not able to put Scotland’s case. At a recent Council Meeting, the UK Minister had to leave early. Did he offer his seat to the Scottish Fisheries Minister? No – wait for it – on orders from Downing Street, he insructed one of his civil servants to take the vacant seat.
“So we had two civil servants at the top table – neither of whom would be able to point to Peterhead, Lerwick, or Eyemouth or Stornoway, or any fishing port on a map!”
The Unionists are adamant in their opposition to a multi option Referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future; Wales will be having a Referendum on their constitutional future as it was written into the Wales Act, and the Unionists find no problem or inconsistency with that proposal.
The Scottish Government has been told it cannot set up an Investment Bank to access European funds unless it is run by a private company; Wales already has an Investment Bank run by a public company. The Treasury sees no problem or inconsistency.
Despite Scotland having the most advanced policy to combat climate warming, the First Minister was not a part of the British official delegation at the recent Copenhagen summit; at the last meeting in Johannesburg, First Minister Jack McConnell was a part of the UK team.
At a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Jersey in November, there was a vote, and it was agreed that the Secretariat for the Council be based in Edinburgh; the Council consists of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. The UK representative, Peter Hain said NO.
And now we have the forthcoming televised debates between the leaders of the three London parties, Labour, Tory and Liberal for the forthcoming General Election. This will be broadcast in Scotland, and we will have all the presentation of the English political scene filling our screens, confusing the electorate, because they will be talking about Education, devolved, Law and Order, devolved, well the Law anyway, the National Health Service, devolved, and a host of things they are nor responsible for in Scotland.
They met the broadcasting authorities and carved it up between them, and steadfastly refuse to allow the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, to take part in any of these debates. The SNP forms the Scottish Government, and at the last country wide electoral contest, the European Election, it polled more votes than Labour, and more votes that the Tories and Liberals put together; we will have to listen to these with a minimal following in Scotland debating issues of vital importance to Scotland, because while most important issues are devolved London still holds the purse strings.
And our faithful media; the Sunday Herald, in its record of the year gone by, reported gleefully that the SNP had not won the rock solid Labour seat in Glasgow North East; somehow they forgot that in the European Election earlier in the year the SNP had out-polled them all! In their Business section they highlighted the Edinburgh tram debacle, conveniently skating over the fact that Glasgow Labour MSPs helped push that through the Scottish Parliament, against the SNP Government’s plan. To paraphrase – you can take the Herald out of Glasgow, but you can’t take Glasgow out of the Herald.
These incident appear one by one, as a steady drip, but taken together they are a flood, and a part of the portrayal of the SNP picking fights with Westminster!