UK Politics

Why the SNP is revolting

BY Iain Martin | iainmartin1   /  13 June 2018

What are the SNP complaining about now? Why is the party revolting at Westminster? There was a scene in the House of Commons today when the party’s Westminster leader – former banker and, whisper it, one of the good guys, the anti-Salmondite Ian Blackford – was ordered out of the chamber. He was followed in a walk out by SNP MPs primed for this stunt.

Cue a stramash, with much shouting and strutting about by SNP MPs for the benefit of the television cameras. It was like an argument on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, in which there is much confected outrage but no actual blows landed. Haud ma jaicket, as we say in the West of Scotland. That is hold my jacket, while I make efforts born of bravado, efforts which never come to anything, to strike this gentleman on the nose.

Anyway, all this SNP chicanery can be difficult for non-Scots to follow. We need not detain ourselves for long, but when there is a tendency in London to take the SNP at its own estimation it is worth providing a short cut-out-and-throw-away Q&A guide.

What is the SNP complaining about now?

The SNP is always complaining about something. Always. You can set your watch by it. They would rather have the grievance, because it is much easier than getting on and improving the education system, which they have notably failed to do since assuming power eleven years ago. Constitutional complaint is everything to the SNP. It trumps all other considerations.

Is there a Brexit “powergrab” by the Westminster government, as the SNP claims?

(Wearily) No. Westminster has been devolving like mad for twenty years. The Tories cannot give powers away quick enough. Taxation, welfare. There is so much devolved that the SNP cannot cope with the powers it already has. Devolution is never enough for the SNP, which wants independence and cannot accept that it lost the 2014 referendum.

Come on, don’t they have a point here? Westminster is refusing to automatically devolve every power that comes back from Brexit to the devolved nations. And…

No, at this rate Brexit will be so soft (inside a Customs Union and the Single Market) that nothing will come back anyway. However, the government id come close to an agreement with the Scottish government (it got agreement with Wales) on how the powers would be distributed post-Brexit. Nicola Sturgeon blocked it.

Why?

Because the SNP, which would rather have the grievance, is trying to get up a campaign for another referendum to the annoyance of most Scottish voters. Hence the need to confect a tale of Scotland being done down by England, which it isn’t.

But there has been too little time devoted to the Scottish aspects of Brexit, hasn’t there?

It’s not all about you, Scotland. The whole thing – Brexit – is being pushed through in a strange fashion as the government seeks to control the timetable and tries to stay alive when it needs DUP votes. A debate on the Scottish aspects was about to be granted, but seems to have got lost in the walk out and row.

It’s very confusing. The SNP is madly pro-EU, so why does it care about these post-Brexit powers?

Good question. Consider the curious reality that the SNP is more madly pro-EU than even Tony Blair and is demanding the instant repatriation of powers which it then wants instantly to give back to Brussels the moment Scotland ever votes for independence. If it thinks London is interested in a power grab (it’s not) then wait until it encounters Brussels and the European Commission.

Wait. It’s almost as though the entire “power grab” row  is confected because the SNP would… rather have the grievance?