The runt of colonialism that lied and cheated us out of the plebiscite is in heat again. The first ‘UK parliament committee’, as it likes to call itself, met to discuss ways of blocking Scotland from regaining sovereignty. Listening to the first fifteen minutes is all you need for vomit to rise to your throat and fury in your heart.
NOTE: In January 2021, the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, together with the interventionist Gordon Brown, announced on separate days, they want to see a commission look at how to rule the UK in a better way than the inadequate system we have now. (Their words.) This essay, on a system planned to obstruct Scotland’s liberty and civil rights, was an early warning of what is now coming to pass.
Here is the video:
If readers keen to see self-determination restored to Scotland are hoping for a second referendum unimpeded they should be very worried. It was inevitable a group of far Right ideologues would get together to compose some sort of ‘friendly’ scheme on the basis they won the Referendum with a precarious margin. And so it comes to pass.
But of course, being an English concoction, it is wrapped up in the most caring, genteel good manners, offered with concern for those it affects. It comes laden with ‘balance’, camouflaged in the crocodile tears of ‘let’s be fair to all the nations and provinces’.
The wary will sense immediately anything marked ‘Federal Express’ is an attempt to block Scotland’s independence permanently. When the package gets delivered the contents will be broken into pieces, tossed around Westminster and the Lords.
Who are these self-appointed butchers of democracy?
Scotland’s history with England is a series of repressions. Each age has its coterie of quislings and traitors. Greed lies in us all, and some are willing to take the gold.
The runts who tried to derail Scotland’s hegemony are in heat again. They hope to design a federal mishmash to stop Scotland’s progress and block civil liberties.
The man leading the charge for a an artificial federal system appears to have chosen himself as frontman – arise Professor Philip Booth.
No one will own up to who is paying for his valuable time, no one admits who is paying for his flaky think tank – and why. Well, they are funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the same that gave discredited Lib-Dem MP Alistair Carmichael £50,000 towards his court fees when he lost his case.
Who is Philip Booth?
He an economics professor working for a third-rate university. He’s Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, a Catholic institution. (To me, ethics and Catholicism are mutually exclusive. But that’s another argument.) His area of ‘expertise’ is ‘financial regulation’, the perfect excuse to pontificate to Scotland.
He has not always luxuriated in the scholarly image of an academic. For most of his early career he was working in Axa Equity and Law, and then the Bank of England. What connection has he to Scottish life and culture that qualifies him to reorganise its democratic constitution is unknown. Does an Englishman need a connection to Scotland when he thinks the noblest prospect is the high road to London?
The dark side of Booth
His other handle is Editorial and Programme Director at the think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs – IEA. The think tank is as you suspect, a right-wing talk shop on developing free market principles, neo-liberal dogma, and a lobbyist for Tory policies.
It contravenes all the charity laws, so sooner or later it will get caught doing something nefarious, such as bartering access for money. Scores of successful networking and deals they get cocky and cross a line that has officialdom flinch because it’s gone public.
The IEA’s latest publication calls on the privatisation of the BBC. Murdoch will be pleased. In a sentence, Booth thinks free markets will solve the world’s problems, and individual poverty. He’s arch neo-con Milton Friedman’s biggest fan.
Booth’s sympathy for the loss of over 11,000 BHS jobs, their livelihood stolen by venal, crooked owners is, “BHS collapse is sad, but market forces should be celebrated.” He also said tax havens are good. “Let’s make Britain one.” (That’s ‘Britain’ as in ‘England’.) And there’s more: “The problem isn’t that companies pay too little tax, they pay too much.” So, not working to make life better for you and me, just the bosses of rich companies.
What is the latest right-wing Messiah saying?
In a sentence, Booth argues that a fully federal system is needed in the United Kingdom to avoid the “constitutional instability” caused by the new Scotland Act and English votes for English laws. You get a sense he added ‘English laws’ as a false comfort to Scots, a diversion from his real agenda.
No one has argued that the Scotland Act, passed and endorsed by Westminster, is a cause of political instability, it’s hardly had time to be enacted let alone cause fiscal anarchy.
Booth is a proselytizer and propagandist. It’s clear he detests a second run at an independence referendum. He looks for a way to block it. In a speech in Edinburgh, Booth said: “The Scotland Act and English Votes for English Laws will lead to an unstable constitutional position for both Scotland and the rest of the UK. Ultimately it will satisfy nobody.” (That’s the caring sharing bit over.)
“Furthermore, the devolution of tax-raising powers is opaque and accountability of the Scottish government to the Scottish people will be weak.”
Keeping Scots down keeps English up
Booth has decided a parliament accountable to the people of Scotland – his racist sensibility gets that one the wrong way around from the get go – isn’t really accountable to voters. This is flimflam to cover taking powers back to London.
Booth adds “We need a fully federal system with power being exercised by the UK government only in areas such as defence and border control. Other issues would then clearly be the responsibility of the individual nations within the UK. Accountability would be very clear and the settlement stable.”
The enemy within is the Constitutional Reform Group – CRG. Booth’s remarks come as the campaign group gears up for a summer launch to create a new Act of Union to change the UK into a federal structure, where each of the four parts control all power, but then decide to give power back to the centre at Whitehall and Westminster.
Under this artificial, top down imposed arrangement, Booth proposes the House of Commons would become the parliament for England, while the House of Lords would become the federal parliament with members drawn from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. What plans take shape a Bill needs Royal Assent.
And the weakness is? Each of the four parts of the UK must back the proposal or it falls. At least, that’s what we are told at this stage.
David Burnside, the former Northern Irish MP, a top blowhard in the CRG, believes creating a new Act of Union is “the only way to stop the drive towards Scottish independence” by creating a federal system. [My emphasis.] Well, he’s speaks honestly.
The plotters see a ‘window of opportunity before the SNP hold another referendum. There are, of course, a mass of complicated, highly technical, and time consuming laws and rights to junk enshrined in Scotland’s sovereignty before anybody can throw aside its place in the world for something small, inert, and constrained they can control.
Nobody should be complacent. Public inertia in the face of forces rallying against the people’s will is fatal. Booth is an influential man. People in power believe what he says.