12 Jun 2017
June 12, 2017
Scottish journalist and writer Iain MacWhirter has, amongst other things, been writing and commenting for some time about way the Tories will use Brexit to centralise the UK, change the Scotland Act and impose more Westminster power on Scotland. You can Google his pieces at The Sunday Herald on the subject and here’s a good brief and video to get you started.
Today, it’s been announced that Ruth Davidson is to attend UK cabinet. She’s downplaying it and playing it up at the same time, of course. The first through direct comment to the media, the latter by the usual not-very-back-channel means.
But of course there’s a Scottish Secretary with nothing to do (he doesn’t run a spending department) except attend cabinet and give the Scotland perspective on any stuff which comes up there. So what on earth is Ruth Davidson doing attending cabinet?
The simple answer is that, unelected as anything other than an MSP in Scotland (there isn’t even an official leader of the opposition), and unappointed to any UK government job, she’s now running Scotland in every way as much as the Scottish First Minister is. Arguably, Davidson is even more powerful that Scotland’s elected leader.
The First Minister has to work within a budget extracted largely from English departmental spending allocations, and has the option to utilise tax-raising powers tightly circumscribed by Westminster. While the unelected and unappointed Ruth Davidson in now in effect responsible for shaping UK government policy, and policy for English spending departments, for Scotland. And of course to the extent that any Scottish politician can influence UK government policy in the UK-wide reserved policy areas, that will be Ruth Davidson.
The Tories are now unashamedly, and unconstitutionally, reeling in devolution in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, their position is so weak that they’ll have to use DUP and Scottish Tory MPs to even pass England-only legislation and in this way they’ll prove that English Votes for English Laws (Evel) was only ever a means of ensuring that the big English dog would be able to wag the ‘daft wee pretendy nations’ tail.
And in case anyone doubted that the UK has become an expression of England politicians serving England, once again of the 130 UK ministers, every single one in every single spending department (apart from one Wales MP) is an England MP or peer. A single Scotland politician is the entirely pointless (he has no spending powers and his job is now being done entirely by Ruth Davidson) Scotland Secretary. The almost equally pointless Wales department has a couple of Wales MPs and of course the Northern Ireland office is also entirely populated by England politicians.
The UK is now, in governance terms, simply Greater England. The Tories like it that way, but it really can’t hold.