Or What can We do to Stop the Holyrood Takeover?
The current SNP leadership and many of the current (much reduced) membership seem to be happy to adopt a gradualist policy when it comes to progressing independence. Gradualist may be a fairly optimistic description. Neverist might be closer.
Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly stated that the Scottish Government cannot make any effort to advance the cause of independence until Covid has been beaten and until the impact of Covid is over. Earlier, it seemed from a statement made just before the election that she had no faith in Westminster acting in Scotland’s best interests in directing the recovery from the effects of Covid, but now we must wait until the recovery is over before even thinking about independence. Am I the only one that sees the inconsistency between these two viewpoints?
As the Scottish Government sits on its collective backside, too feart to act or too disinterested in independence to be bothered, what about the organisation that they repeatedly tell us is our biggest opponent, the UK/English government. Have Westminster decided to set everything else aside until the Covid crisis is over? The answer, of course, is no. Unlike the Scottish Government, the UK/English Government seem to be able the think about more than one think at a time. I always thought that, as women claim to be able to multitask, and with more women in the Scottish Cabinet, working on several projects at the same time would have been easy. Apparently not.
So what have the UK/English Government been doing at the same time as threatening us with herd immunity and untold Brexit disasters? Have they been ignoring Scottish independence, just like the Scottish Government? Have they f**k. Here is some information about four acts/bills currently being considered by Westminster. and what they might mean for Scotland.
The Covert Human Intelligence Act
makes it legal for huge numbers of state “actors” like the police, army, intelligence services and many others to commit crimes in the execution of their duties, if authorised to do so. As it’s an act, it’s already been passed into law. You can read full details of the Act here.
Who can authorise the “legal” commission of crimes, I hear you ask. Well, here’s the list taken directly from the Act.
Any police force.
The National Crime Agency.
The Serious Fraud Office.
Any of the intelligence services.
Any of Her Majesty’s forces.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
The Department of Health and Social Care.
The Home Office.
The Ministry of Justice.
The Competition and Markets Authority.
The Environment Agency.
The Financial Conduct Authority.
The Food Standards Agency.
The Gambling Commission.
On examination, I thought, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought, who have they missed out? Which organisation is NOT able to authorise people working for them to commit criminal acts to further the interests of the state?
They tell us that criminal conduct authorisation will be required if it is necessary to commit a crime which is:
(a) in the interests of national security;
(b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder; or
(c) in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.
Note particularly the third area. There are innumerable actions you could take that would impact the economic well-being of the United Kingdom. You could, for instance, call a strike or suggest an increase in tax for the well off. You could support a wages increase for NHS workers or suggest a pay freeze for MPs. Or worst of all, you could support the separation of one part of the United Kingdom from the rest, or independence as it is otherwise known. Allegedly, Scottish independence would have a huge impact on the UK’s economy. Does that mean that anyone who does or says anything to further the cause of Scottish independence is likely to be targeted? Is this just legalising what they would have done anyway?
So the Act tells you who can authorise the commission of criminal acts. The Act outlines the justification required to justify such authorisation. Note I said outlines, as the Act is not really specific about why a criminal act should be committed. But there is one thing missing in the Act. It doesn’t tell you what types of crimes can be authorised. By expressing no limits in the documentation, it means there are no limits. Breaking and entering, theft, fraud, blackmail, or even acts of violence, up to and including murder. Before you reject this as fanciful, consider why acts of violence are not excluded in the Act. What is not prohibited will be justified, especially if other means have failed.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
which, among many other provisions, extends the rights of authorised persons (there’s this authorisation again) to extract (is that the same as steal?) data from private electronic devices. It also gives the police the power to restrict public protest on the basis that it might inconvenience or upset anyone in the vicinity of the protest. It could (I think they mean will) be used by the state to prevent effective demonstrations and other expressions of dissent. You can read more details about the bill here.
- The bill will enable the police to impose conditions such as start and finish times and maximum noise levels on static protests similar to those already available for marches.
- The bill will broaden the range of circumstances in which the police can impose conditions on protests, including a single person protest, to include where noise may cause a significant impact on those in the vicinity or serious disruption to the running of an organisation.
- The bill will make it easier to prosecute organisers and participants for breaking conditions imposed on a protest.
Of course, these conditions are (deliberately?) left vague, so what exactly constitutes “significant impact” or “serious disruption” will be left for later definition. But who will be responsible for clarifying the conditions? Will it be the courts or the police? Will it be some independent body? No. It will be the responsibility of the Home Secretary, who is currently Priti Patel, if you needed reminding. What are the chances of Priti Patel, or any of her successors, favouring the protesters?
So demonstrations will only be permitted if they don’t inconvenience anyone or if they don’t make too much noise. Remind me what the point of a demonstration is?
WHAT DO WE WANT? SILENCE!
WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!
I wonder how easy it will be to find someone who will be happy to say they are inconvenienced or upset by a demonstration. Any Tory party member, perhaps?
The Draft Online Safety Bill
which is supposedly intended to thwart Terrorism and Child Sex Abuse (for which plenty of legislation has already been passed), but is more likely to be used to shut down any website or platform whose opinions the government doesn’t like, like those operated by independence bloggers, such as the one you are currently reading, for example. You can read more about the bill (if very keen) here.
You would think no one would disagree with the introduction of further measures against Terrorism or Child Sex Abuse, though earlier attempts to identify and prosecute a ring of important people connected to Westminster and Whitehall who were allegedly involved in child sex abuse were hindered by a lack of cooperation from the government, prosecutors and police. I wonder why.
However, buried in the bill addressing areas which the public would find acceptable, the government are sneaking in measures to silence opposition by making it effectively a criminal offence to disagree with government policy or object to government actions.
The government has been trying for years to limit the effectiveness of on-line sites, such as independent bloggers, to identify flaws in government legislation and point out the dangers inherent in government actions and make the public aware of them. And now they’re having another go. This time the plan is to place a set of rules on all organisations who provide services to allow users to post information that other users can read and all organisations who provide search facilities. Twitter and Facebook and Google come to mind as organisations who fit one of these categories.
There seems to be two possibilities. both equally awful. First, the government may implement a set of rules so onerous that the companies may decide it’s easier just to remove users who post about particular topics. Or second, the government may implement a set of rules specifically barring the companies from accepting posts on particular topics. Or, of course, it may do both. No prizes for guessing Scottish independence might be on the banned list. Remember the rule about the economic well-being of the United Kingdom in the Covert Human Intelligence Act? Would Westminster need another excuse?
The Counter State Threats Bill
seeks to “improve” earlier versions of the Official Secrets Act originally passed in 1911 and amended several times, the latest in 1989. The bill focusses on the alleged improvements to national security, but sneaked into the bill, in the small print, if you will, are some changes that seem more designed to prevent government embarrassment rather than dangers to national security.
The government are unhappy that there have been instances that civil servants, or others with access to embarrassing government restricted information, have sought to release the information to the general public, believing that the public had a right to be aware of certain government actions or proposed actions. Let’s suppose the release of this information will never compromise national security, but will certainly shed light on actions by senior members of the government that these senior members would rather remained secret. This bill seeks to treat anyone who releases such government information, (commonly called a whistle-blower) as well as anyone who distributes the information (commonly called a journalist), as a spy, resulting in the criminalisation of both whistle-blower and journalist, so bringing into the UK laws that are more often associated with Fascist regimes.
Is this bill is designed to make the UK more secure or is designed to reduce government accountability and embarrassment? I don’t think there can be any doubt that it’s the latter.
Scottish Government (In)action
Of course, these pieces of legislation are not the only ones recently passed by Westminster designed to reduce the power of the Scottish Government. The most obvious of these is the Internal Market Act which provides the opportunity for Westminster to override or ignore Holyrood in every aspect of their business. In other words, Westminster can effectively prevent Holyrood from doing anything while allowing it to remain open. Open, but completely impotent. Why have the Scottish Government done nothing about it, except having a few bleating interviews and, of course, sending Ian Blackford to Westminster to say he’s not at all happy. Don’t the SNP leadership care?
So the Scottish Government say they have no time to think about independence because of Covid, though they seem to have loads of time to introduce laws that redefine men as women and laws that seek to destroy freedom of speech in Scotland. Priorities, dear reader, priorities? Their only action to protect Scotland from the effects of these, and other, UK/English government legislation seems to be sending Ian Blackford to Westminster to say he is not happy. Of course, he’s had such stunning success with his previous efforts. Who will ever forget his pièce de résistance “Scotland will not be taken out of the EU against it’s will”. Now, how did that work out?
All of these limitations to our freedom are of course being carried out under the cover of the Covid crisis, with the UK/English government, the Scottish government and the media all conspiring (not another conspiracy?) to keep quiet about the impact of the changes in Scotland, while our First Minister says she can do nothing about any part of it until Covid and its consequences are sorted out completely. To be clear, that’s sorted out completely by Boris Johnson according to the priorities assigned by the UK/English government. Will Scottish requirements be a priority? I don’t think so. Do you?
I’d like to finish with two quotes which I think are relevant.
“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.” Laura Vanderkam
“Action expresses priorities.” Mahatma Gandhi
Do you think Nicola Sturgeon would agree with them?
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