Tuesday 7 July 2020

Strugeon's eunuchs.

There has been quite a lot of talk about various polls taken in Scotland relating to support for the SNP and Scottish independence. The most important thing to say is that both polls and polling organisations have become thoroughly discredited lately and should be ignored. The organisation that commissions a poll not infrequently gets the desired result from the polling organisation because it tweaks the sample and the results to please those that pay the bills. The whole thing has a whiff of corruption.

The Covid crisis has given Nicola Sturgeon a unique opportunity to appear on TV screens nearly everyday with a carefully scripted message and a compliant media feeding her questions for which she already knows the answers. It is obvious when comparing the media in London and the media in Edinburgh that the Scottish media is tame while the London media is wild. Nothing approaching the grilling given to Dominic Cummings could ever happen in Scotland.

Why does the Scottish media agree to a format that emasculates them so that they become Sturgeon’s eunuchs? Scottish journalists could decide to stay away from Sturgeon’s press conferences as would the London press corps if such emasculation was required. It is worse to have a tame press than no press at all.

Panic and defeatism sets in with a certain sort of Pro UK Scot whenever a poll suggests that support for independence might have risen a few points. The Scottish nationalists don’t panic, and they are never defeatist.

It is the fundamentals that matter not the polls. The SNP argument is already bad. It has been made worse by Covid and it is about to get still worse.

Sturgeon’s handling of the crisis from March to May was broadly similar to the British Government’s. But since she decided to go it alone with easing and ending lockdown it has created a long-term problem for Scotland.

The British Government is balancing the need to save lives with the need to open the economy as quickly and as fully as possible. This is because lockdown while saving lives is also costing them. Funding the NHS costs money.

Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme is a British Government policy administered partly by the devolved Governments. It will end for the whole of Britain at the same time. Those parts of Britain that decided to not follow the British Government timetable for easing lockdown will suffer the consequences. If Sturgeon wants to continue to bail out Scottish businesses and workers, she can raise taxes and cut spending in Scotland to pay the bill.

Who will get the blame for this? This being Scotland of course England will get the blame. But it will still be the case that the Scottish economy will be worse off in relation to the British economy because of Sturgeon’s tardiness and ultra-caution. She may well gain short term support from cautious Scots desperate to keep Covid away, but when the Scottish tourist industry ceases to exist and jobs that were saved in England are lost in Scotland because of our slowness, I wonder how long that support will continue. If Scotland declines while England prospers in the months ahead, we will know who to blame and it won’t be the English.

The Scottish media and opposition politicians are beginning to talk up next years elections for the Scottish Parliament. We’re doomed they say. The SNP are going to win a huge majority and then they will demand an independence referendum or else they will unilaterally declare independence. We couldn’t possibly say No. That would be undemocratic.  

No one points out that subordinate state legislatures in Germany,  USA or anywhere else for that matter cannot vote for independence nor can they declare it. To do so would be undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal. 

The legal basis on which we have a Scottish Parliament at all The Scotland Act 1998 with its subsequent versions clearly sets out what are devolved issues and what are reserved ones. Constitutional matters, i.e. Scottish independence (and also incidentally quarantine) are reserved.

When a party has a manifesto for an election it cannot logically have a policy on a matter that is outside its legal competence. The SNP can no more have a manifesto commitment to independence for a Scottish Parliament election than they can have a manifesto commitment on defence. It is none of their business. 

It is the equivalent of the British Government telling Sturgeon what to do about a devolved issue like health. 

It was legitimate for the SNP to have a manifesto commitment to independence in the 2019 General Election, but unfortunately, they lost. In order to win a UK General Election, you need a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. The SNP does not have such a majority. It matters not one little bit who wins the most seats in Scotland because it is a UK election not a Scottish election.

The Conservative Party did make a manifesto commitment about Scottish independence during the 2019 election. It said that there would be no second referendum and the matter was settled. The Conservatives won an eighty-seat majority.

The SNP cannot overturn a manifesto commitment voted on by the British electorate as a whole on an issue within the competence of the British Government with an illegitimate manifesto commitment to a Scottish Parliament that cannot legitimately decide the issue. That would be unconstitutional and contrary to the Scotland Act.

The correct response to the SNP gaining a few percentage points in the polls therefore is that it doesn’t matter if you win all the seats in the Scottish Parliament, there still won’t be a legal independence referendum. If you try to do anything illegal, we will respond appropriately.

I can already hear various veteran “Pro UK” Scottish journalists saying we couldn’t possibly do that. Opposition politicians too will tut tut. That would enflame opinion in Scotland, blah, give more power and money to Scotland, blah. They appease rather than oppose.

Scottish opposition politicians are of the view that while the SNP are allowed to do anything to achieve their goal, we must do nothing to hinder them, but rather we must cooperate and not even put up an argument. They do this not only because they are cream faced loons, they do it because they share the SNP’s assumptions about Scotland. They think of us as separate and are therefore already halfway to separatism. They too are Strugeon's eunuchs.