I support Scottish independence as a vehicle to achieve the equal, accepting society I want to see. The other reason that I support it is that for the last 10 years or so, Holyrood has been going on a fundamentally different path from Westminster in regards to policy. This creates a disconnect which can only be sorted by independence in my view. However, the last few weeks have not been about furthering the case for independence – it has been protecting the Devolution Settlement and on Tuesday 12th June 2018, a dangerous precedent was set in lieu of the constitution and the devolved assemblies
Until this point, Westminster and Holyrood have accepted the will of the other in most fundamental matters. However, the Green Party, Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats stood with the SNP in voting to refuse consent to Westminster’s plans for powers in devolved matters currently held in Brussels. Only the 31 Conservative MSPs voted against doing this. On Tuesday 12th June 2018, 15 minutes were dedicated to debating that section of the EU Withdrawal Bill, during which no Scottish MP spoke – at which point Westminster formally voted to override the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament.
The following day, in protest about this, the SNP’s 35 MPs walked out of the Commons in protest about this after Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP group of MPs was expelled from the house for refusing to sit down, as an act of protest/defiance at how he felt Scotland and the will of the Scottish Parliament had been treated.
The UK doesn’t have a codified constitution, only various conventions which on the whole are abided by. However, what this does is leaves the door open for these conventions to be ignored, and both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair did this multiple times (notably, by “guillotining” debates). And today was an example of that, by openly ignoring the express refusal of the Scottish Parliament to consent to the plans – and go ahead with them anyway. This is an affront to the Scottish electorate, who voted for the Scottish Parliament just over 2 years ago in May 2016.
In 1987, Donald Dewar (who would go on to be the architect of the Scottish Parliament and the inaurgural First Minister of Scotland) led a walkout of 50 Scottish Labour MPs because of how Scotland had been treated by the Government, so there is a precedent of doing this, and while it is certainly petty and some constituents will justifiably be angry at missed votes by their MP, what this stunt has done is put the SNP and their antics in the news headlines, as their stance is explored. A friend of mine who works in the constituency office of an SNP MP told me that the afternoon after this action, someone came into his office asking how to join the party and the number of new members in the hours after this action has reached the tens of thousands. The stunt has achieved its objective of making the public aware of SNP discontent with the events of the last few days and making them aware of the disconnect between Holyrood and Westminster.
The SNP membership rallying around Clara Ponsati at it’s party conference in Aberdeen made me incredibly proud to be a part of this party and today, I hope that people can wake up to the fact that Scotland has been put upon by Westminster since the outset of the Brexit negotiations and I worry that this will set a precedent for Westminster to impose its will on Scotland whenever it steps out of line and to allow it to effectively undermine the Scottish Parliament, All in all, the SNP has put itself back into the public spotlight and from the point of view of a party member, this can only be a good thing.