What a week in Westminster! The crises have come thick and fast – from foreign policy, to immigration, to civil liberties in the UK.
In all of these issues, Holyrood is powerless. Scots have to sit and watch from the sidelines knowing that, despite the fact that almost all of its elected MPs support independence, Scotland remains trapped in a failing UK. Here are three reasons why this week shows Scotland’s urgent need for independence.
1. Scotland’s MPs have led the call for a ceasefire in Gaza – but foreign policy remains firmly in the hands of the UK Government.
Many MPs from other parties voted to support the SNP’s motion, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, in Westminster earlier this week. That involved 56 Labour MPs, including eight members of their shadow front bench who all resigned from their posts. Although Scottish Labour officially supports a ceasefire, both Scottish Labour MPs sided with UK Labour and voted against the motion.
Holyrood plans to debate the issue next week and it is likely that a majority of MSPs – including members of all parties – will vote to support a ceasefire call. Representatives from the Scottish Greens, Alba, the SNP and Scottish Labour have all come out in support of a ceasefire.
There are an increasing number of countries who take this position. An independent Scotland would have been one of them.
But – as it is – the UK government speaks for Scotland on this issue – as it does for all other international affairs. It makes no difference if a super-majority of Scotland’s elected representatives differ from the UK Government on this – or any other issue of international affairs. Scotland has no independent voice.
An independent Scotland would be free to make its own interventions in international diplomacy.
2. The UK Government has appointed a Foreign Secretary from the unelected House of Lords.
The new holder of the hugely important post of Foreign Secretary was not democratically elected. Former Prime Minister David Cameron was appointed on a system of patronage by the Prime Minister. He got the job in a reshuffle after Suella Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary. Among her other recent controversies, Braverman called for the Metropolitan Police to ban a peaceful march.
Cameron was given a title just so he could take the job and can now sit in Westminster’s Upper House for the rest of his life. There, he will not face questioning by elected MPs but instead from the likes of Boris Johnson’s tennis partner Ross Kempsell, and the son of a Russian oligarch, Lord Evgeny Lebedev. The House of Lords is an affront to Scotland. It contains not one supporter of Scottish independence among its 800 plus representatives. This swollen body contains many people who donated money to the Conservative Party – including Malcolm Offord, most famous for creating propaganda videos for the No campaign in 2014. He failed to win election to Holyrood. Now he is an unelected “Lord” who represents Scotland on important trade missions.
When out of office, David Cameron shamefully attempted to use his contacts in government to get public money for a dodgy business model – Greensill Capital. The company eventually went under, costing the British public an estimated £5 billion. Cameron’s efforts to launch an investment fund in the UK and China are now also drawing scrutiny. Is that who Scots want to speak for us on the world stage?
An independent Scotland would control these great offices of state and could fill them with democratically-elected people who are able to represent the views of Scots.
3. The UK Government is pursuing an inhumane and probably illegal immigration policy
Not content with criminalising people who arrive in the UK to seek asylum, the government is trying to put them on planes and fly them to Rwanda to be detained there while their claims are processed. Suella Braverman famously said it was her “dream” to see this taking place and the policy has been backed by her predecessor Priti Patel and the last three Conservative Prime Ministers.
When the Supreme Court ruled this was illegal, the government said it would find a way around this by trying to circumvent the law. This will bring them into conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The UK Government has indicated that in that case it would remove the UK from the ECHR – but that guarantee of respect for individual rights underlies both the devolution settlement and the Good Friday Agreement. This threat reveals the UK Government's contempt, both for Scotland and for civil liberties.
As well as being inhumane and illegal, UK Government immigration policy doesn’t work for Scotland. Many sectors in Scotland have suffered since losing access to free movement after Brexit. The small boats issue which the South of England obsesses over has ironically got much worse since Brexit and the ending of EU agreements over allocation of asylum seekers.
An independent Scotland would control its own immigration policy. It could work with other EU countries to manage the situation with regard to asylum seekers.
Scotland’s need for independence has never been more acute. The Westminster government is increasingly dysfunctional. It is now failing to meet even basic standards when it comes to respect for human rights, democracy and civil liberties.
Currently, the UK Government makes the big calls, controls the great offices of state, and represents Scotland on the world stage. But Scots looking at the current bourach can be confident that Scotland can do better for herself.
Independence is Normal