Saturday, 19 February 2022

Saving Boris and the Tories


Lord Frost has said that devolution needs to be rolled back to “save Boris, the Conservative Party and the country”. Leaving aside the not insignificant question as to whether saving Boris and the Conservative Party are objectives which either Wales or Scotland are so keen to achieve that they’re willing to have powers taken away from them to bring it about (although their wishes don’t matter anyway – he seems to have absolutely no intention of asking them), there is surely room for at least a little bit of doubt as to whether such actions would achieve those objectives anyway. And as for ‘saving the country’, if by that he means preserving the union, then I can’t think of anything less likely to achieve that objective than arbitrarily and unilaterally taking powers away from the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd. And his suggestion of “re-establishing our sovereignty in Northern Ireland”, with its inevitable consequence of a land border between the Republic and the North, doesn’t immediately strike me as a recipe for peace and stability either.

It all says a lot about his mindset, though. He claims that having different policies in the four parts of the UK is a nonsense, yet this is a man who also believes that 28 European countries agreeing a common set of policies is also a nonsense. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is English exceptionalism at its best (or worst, depending on perspective). Only England can make rules; others must merely obey. Still, I imagine that there are more than a few SNP politicians delighted that the extremists of the Tory Party are showing their colours so openly. It’s an ill wind, as the saying goes.


Jonathan said...

Lets examine why "SNP politicians" might be "delighted". This rests on 2 propositions. 1. That Westminster is doing something bad. I agree, it is and does. Proposition 2 is that the Scots will do something about it. I wonder. Believing that outraged people will act is a very attractive notion. But is it true? Consider. The Western World had a nervous breakdown in early 2020, after which things became "strange" and "exceptional" with few using the word "dangerous" or similar. I am not the only one to believe that, at this point, we lost something. The thing being the ability to act if we are outraged. Many many people, not me, threw away the ability to act. The US Democrats supported by Silicon Valley and MSM, knowing that they had two years to enact their agenda (US Midterms, see) went for it and many followed. We have now reached the point where Canadians, epitomes of civilised, now see scenes like this on Youtube. And defend what they see. Borthlas, you can't seriously think, do you that the Welsh (a) will feel outraged and (b) do something about it?

John Dixon said...

I share your doubts about whether the Scots - never mind the Welsh - would actually do something about it if the government attempted to enact Frost's proposals, but we are, of course, dealing with hypotheticals here. Given that we know from the polls that the Scots overwhelmingly support devolution and that they are roughly evenly divided over the independence question, and whilst accepting that it might well be a huge mistake to underestimate the stupidity of people like Johnson and Frost, my own working assumption is that this is mostly just union-jackery bluster and will not be followed through by action on the sort of scale suggested by Frost. For sure, there might be a few attempts to claw back some powers for London - some of them, no doubt, ending up in the Supreme Court - but reversing devolution on the scale he seems to be calling for looks extremely unlikely to me. Bearing in mind that it only needs 1 in 20 Scots to make the switch from 'no' to 'yes' to turn 'evenly divided' into a significant lead, my starting point was simply that politicians supporting a 'yes' will be delighted by Frost's words, which seem almost calculated to encourage waverers to support independence.

What happens if I'm wrong, and they really are that stupid? No-one knows, but the probability is that that significant 'yes' lead turns into an overwhelming one. Assuming that London continues to refuse a second referendum and changes the law to remove the current ambiguity about the Scottish government's right to hold a consultative referendum (both of which seem probable - the likelier it is that they will lose the referendum, the greater the incentive not to hold one), at what point does that give the Scottish government the mandate it needs to act unilaterally? The answer, I suspect, is the one you have pointed out to me several times over recent years - when they can do so with a degree of confidence that they will get international recognition.

As for Wales - well, I fear that our role will be to follow not lead, but the prospect of being a mere appendage of England in the new Englandandwales might convert more than a few to the idea of independence here too.