The Con­ser­va­tives don’t wish to de­bate, but to dic­tate terms to Scot­land

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane - Mar­garet Ferrier Com­m­mons Com­ment

The Scot­land Bill has now made its way through the com­mit­tee stage at Westminster, and mirac­u­lously it has done so with­out a sin­gle SNP amend­ment be­ing ac­cepted.

De­spite the Bill fall­ing woe­fully short of pre-ref­er­en­dum prom­ises, the Tories have largely de­cided to ig­nore our man­date.

Scot­land made its voice heard loud and clear on May 7, yet the Tories still have their fin­gers stuck in their ears.

We pro­posed amend­ments to help strengthen the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment, to en­able Scot­land to truly thrive and be­come a fairer place.

These amend­ments were made in line with our elec­tion man­i­festo, and so with the pop­u­lar will of the Scot­tish peo­ple.

Yet the soli­tary Scot­tish Tory MP con­tin­ues to sub­vert democ­racy.

He seeks to dis­en­fran­chise the most po­lit­i­cally en­gaged cit­i­zens in the UK, at the risk of the Union.

Sim­i­larly, the Labour Party need to be taken to task over their un­will­ing­ness to de­bate.

Ian Mur­ray pre­sented amend­ments to the Bill in the cham­ber on Mon­day evening, yet was woe­fully sup­ported by his col­leagues.

Only a hand­ful of Labour MPs both­ered to show up – and those who did seemed more con­cerned with chal­leng­ing the SNP than the Tory benches op­po­site.

My col­leagues right­fully chal­lenged Labour MP Graham Allen for re­fer­ring to us as “bit­ter sep­a­ratists” in the cham­ber.

Mr Allen in­deed spent the ma­jor­ity of his speech tak­ing on the SNP, seem­ingly obliv­i­ous to those on the Tory benches op­po­site.

Tory poli­cies, Tory ve­toes, and Tory ar­ro­gance, are tear­ing the Union asun­der.

It is a sad in­dict­ment of the cur­rent state of the Labour Party that they choose to con­tinue their Bet­ter To­gether al­liance on the green benches.

It would ap­pear that the lessons of the ref­er­en­dum have not been learned, and that they choose not to ac­knowl­edge the new po­lit­i­cal land­scape in Scot­land.

As the Scot­land Bill trun­dles to­wards the House of Lords, many will be left ques­tion­ing demo­cratic process on these is­lands.

A room full of un­elected Lords and Ladies will now po­ten­tially have more of a say on de­vo­lu­tion to Scot­land than 98 per cent of Scot­land’s demo­crat­i­cally elected MPs did.

Far from a quirk of process, it’s noth­ing short of a demo­cratic out­rage.

With Scot­tish votes for Scot­tish laws be­ing ig­nored, the Tories now turn their fo­cus to English votes on English Laws (EVEL).

The pro­pos­als to change Stand­ing Or­ders to ex­clude Scot­tish MPs from votes that ap­par­ently af­fect Eng­land only are ridicu­lous.

My col­league Kirsty Blackman wrote to the Leader of the House to ask for clar­i­fi­ca­tion as to what ex­actly con­sti­tutes an ‘Englis­honly’ mat­ter.

The Gov­ern­ment re­sponded, list­ing the Scot­land Bill as one of the ar­eas of leg­is­la­tion con­sid­ered to af­fect Eng­land and Wales only.

This has sub­se­quently been re­tracted as an “un­for­tu­nate ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror”.

I’d de­scribe it as more Freudian than ad­min­is­tra­tive.

The Tories don’t wish to de­bate, but to dic­tate terms to Scot­land.

If they are not care­ful they’ll drive many more to pray for Scot­tish In­de­pen­dence, and the first words of that prayer will be ‘de­liver us from Lords and EVEL’.

Unim­pressed Mar­garet Ferrier has hit out at plans for English Votes for English Laws

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