Even if, by a Herculean effort of imagination, we were to suppose that David Mundell was sincere when he talks of ‘more powers’ accruing to the Scottish Parliament in the wake of Brexit, that still leaves unaddressed the nagging question that bedevils the whole devolution project. Who decides?
Who decides what powers are devolved? Who decides what powers are withheld? Who decides the manner in which powers are devolved? Who decides the criteria by which the Scottish Parliament is judged to be unworthy of certain powers?
Only the people of Scotland have the rightful authority to determine and constrain the powers of their democratically elected parliament. It can never be acceptable to those who adhere to the fundamental principles of democracy that this authority should be usurped by the sole representative in Scotland of a party which has been repeatedly and comprehensively rejected in Scotland.
Unionists may simply be defined as those who have never thought to ask these questions. They are people who have never spent so much as a moment reflecting on the moral and democratic legitimacy of the British state’s claim of authority over Scotland. They have uncritically accepted they supremacy of Westminster. They have never scrutinised the Union or its implications. Unionists just don’t think about that sort of stuff. For them, the British state is always the standard against which all else is judged. And, because they never question the authority of the British state, they accept without question whatever the British political elite tells them.
Cast your mind back to the first independence referendum campaign. When did you ever hear a unionist challenge even the most patently ludicrous assertions oozing out of the Better Together/Project Fear propaganda machine? It simply never happened. The UK Government and the British parties could, quite literally, say absolutely anything – and unionists would take it as gospel without the slightest hesitation. Remember ‘roaming charges’? Remember ‘thousands of treaties’? Remember ‘alien invaders’ and ‘RAF bombers’? None of this drivel was interrogated by unionists.
And they still question nothing. The anti-independence campaign has been proved to have lied on matters such as pensions, jobs, the bank bail-out, EU membership and much else besides. But unionists still refuse to doubt the proven liars. Even with the experience of the first independence referendum and all the dishonesty and duplicity of the British establishment, unionists’ irresistible instinct is still to believe everything they’re told by the British parties and their accomplices in the media.
Just as an example, despite what is now known about the despicable conduct of British Labour in Scotland during and subsequent to the first referendum campaign, they can still pump out a baseless smear story about SNP MPs expenses in the sure and certain knowledge that unionists will not question its veracity in any way at all.
Appalling as all of this may be, it is as nothing compared to the failure to question the democratic credentials of the British state’s representative in Scotland. Here we have David Mundell, a man who has no mandate whatever in Scotland, arrogantly assuming the right to overrule the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and the Scottish electorate. And no unionist will even pause to wonder if this can possibly be right.
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