Never let it be said that we are anything other than a broad church on Reaction. That’s why we published Stephen Clear’s interesting assessment of the row over Brexit and Scottish devolution. There is a lot of other comment around on the subject today, some of it north of the border and some of it south of the border where the SNP is still too often taken at its own estimation.
The devolution meets Brexit row itself is so boring that I’ll avoid getting into too much detail. It is even more boring than the Customs Union Max Fac v Customs Partnership row raging at Westminster, where even the participants are bored.
The Scottish Brexit row came up when I interviewed Nicola Sturgeon on stage for The Times at an event in London the other day. On other matters, amusingly she thanked me for my “pejorative question” when I asked her if higher taxes and more government intervention are conducive to economic dynamism. We talked about a lot else besides.
But I must say this narrative of a Westminster power-grab on Brexit and devolution is the biggest load of confected Nat hokum since the last lot of Nat hokum. It is classic “we’d rather have the grievance” drivel. Such hokum and drivel is traditionally delivered by a frowning SNP minister adopting the outraged tone of an aggrieved customer in the old Jenners tea room in Edinburgh when they reduced the number of sultanas in the scones.
Westminster has thrown masses of new powers at Holyrood. There’s welfare and taxation. And with Brexit will come a whole heap more. The Welsh administration has signed a deal to manage the process sensibly. The SNP refuses. Why?
It is about independence. It always is. Everything is about independence with the SNP.
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The SNP activists want a new independence referendum, because they always do. Sturgeon is committed to providing it and needs a grievance, a fight, that will allow her to “stand up for Scotland.” It is a fake crisis. It is nonsense.
So far, the voters are not having it. Scottish voters are, as was always obvious, far too sensible to want a referendum anytime soon. Imagine throwing in Scottish independence on top of Brexit. What an offer! In the middle of one constitutional fandango imagine Scotland separating from its largest market by far, that is England, and applying to join the EU, which means applying to join the euro, but asking to keep using the pound. And perhaps Alex “Russia Today” Salmond could come back to run Scotland’s foreign policy and relations with Nato and the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, after almost twenty years of devolution the school system in Scotland is unreformed and struggling, at a huge human cost to poorer Scots. The NHS in Scotland is unreformed too with no prospect of change. Income tax is up. Stamp duty is higher. The First Minister’s Baby Box policy is falling apart. Policing is a shambles. And Scotland has still not qualified for a Football World Cup Finals since the Scottish Parliament opened…
Our last outing, which was not a success, was to the World Cup in France in 1998. I blame the Scottish government…