Over the last two days, as I write this, there was a debate in Westminster on the EU Withdrawal Bill. Following the debate, eleven divisions (votes) were called on amendments proposed by the opposition parties to the Bill.
Virtually every amendment which went to a vote was voted down, the Tories with their new DUP mates taking practically every opportunity to make sure that anything good currently provided by the EU would not get translated into UK law without being watered down by the Tory government. Of course, any EU law being watered down by the Tories is the equivalent of death by drowning, it just won’t survive.
So what were the Tories in favour of? They were in favour of ministers being able to create barriers to membership of the EU single market. They were in favour of ministers being able to take decisions which removed EU human rights or environmental regulations. They were in favour of ministers being able to cancel reciprocal healthcare arrangements with EU countries. Can you imagine what a post-Brexit UK is going to be like after the Tories get finished with their modifications to EU laws and regulations?
Post Brexit national dress
But there was one further amendment of particular relevance to Scotland.
Included in these amendments was one to prevent UK Government ministers from using Brexit as an excuse to modify the Scotland Act and the Government of Wales Act, thus preventing UK Government ministers from reducing the ability of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly to take actions which have particular relevance to their own populations. The use of the infamous Henry VIII powers which would allow UK ministers to change the way the Scottish Parliament works without the need to discuss it with anyone, and certainly not with the Scots. In fact, if a UK minister happened to wake up one morning in a particularly bad mood, he or she could decide on a whim to abolish the Scottish Parliament altogether. All he would have to do is tell a few of his colleagues to confirm it. Job done.
When it came to a vote on the amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill (division 65), surely, all Scottish MPs would be keen to make sure that their constituents had a voice in the Brexit negotiations and that UK ministers couldn’t take decisions about the role of the Scottish Parliament without consulting Scottish ministers. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it turned out.
Not surprisingly, Scottish Tory MPs all thought that it was essential that Scottish voices should be ignored, apart from their own, of course. All thirteen voted against the amendment. The Tory attitude to the Scottish Parliament is really weird. It’s surprising that they even bother to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament as they appear to have absolutely no interest in it, except to find ways to get it abolished. Of course, they do get paid a substantial salary for doing nothing, so perhaps it’s just the Tory way.
Only marginally less surprising was the behaviour of the Scottish Labour MPs. Despite voting in all the other divisions on the Bill, six of the seven chose to abstain on division 65. So they had no view about the importance of Scotland having a voice, or at least no view they wanted to share with the rest of us. The only exception to the mass contempt shown by these so-called representatives of their constituencies was Ian Murray, who at least had the decency to vote in the division.
Remember the Tories talking about voting as a block to support Scotland? Remember how they would be standing up for Scotland? I wonder if they remember. So for those of you who may be upset by their MP’s apparent interest in abolishing the Scottish Parliament, or at least reducing it to an impotent shell, and making sure Westminster makes all the decisions about Scotland, here’s a list of your local Tory MPs who would, I’m sure, be very happy to learn your views.
Andrew Bowie (Andrew.Bowie.email@example.com) West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine
Colin Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) Gordon
David Duguid (email@example.com) Banff & Buchan
Luke Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ochil & South Perthshire
Bill Grant (email@example.com) Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock
Kirstene Hair (firstname.lastname@example.org) Angus
Alister Jack (email@example.com) Dumfries & Galloway
Stephen Kerr (Stephen.Kerr.firstname.lastname@example.org) Stirling
John Lamont (email@example.com) Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk
Paul Masterton (firstname.lastname@example.org) East Renfrewshire
David Mundell (email@example.com) Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale
Douglas Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org) Moray
Ross Thomson (email@example.com) Aberdeen South
For those of you who are lucky enough to have a Scottish Labour MP who can’t get off their arse to vote for an amendment directly impacting their own constituents, here’s a list of the Labstainers. What caused them to miss such an important vote? Were they just too busy tucking into a subsidised champagne snack or are votes impacting Scotland just too boring for them to bother with? Who knows?
Hugh Gaffney (firstname.lastname@example.org) Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill
Ged Killen (email@example.com) Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Lesley Laird (firstname.lastname@example.org) Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
Danielle Rowley (email@example.com) Midlothian
Paul Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org) Glasgow North East
Martin Whitfield (email@example.com) East Lothian
So the moral of this story is: if you live in Scotland and you want an MP who will represent you in preference to those living in the South of England, don’t vote for Tory or Labour candidates, who, once elected, will prioritise the interests of those living in the South because that is what their party bosses will tell them to do. And despite what they said to get elected, that’s what they’ll do because they want to keep taking the money.