This was first posted on Facebook on 16th March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I listened to the Second Reading debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Monday evening and tonight, and I noted that four points were consistently being made by the obedient Tory MPs:
- Gypsy, Roma, and Irish Travellers are bad and dirty and we need legislation to take action against their habit of just parking on common ground and acting as if they had a right to be there, sometimes even when they own the land their vehicle is parked on, it’s got to be stopped.
- Statues/memorials must be protected
- Long sentences mean we’re doing more against crime
- Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear
The first element of this is the most shocking, of course: basic racism barely even masked. Please remember that any fascist government needs an internal enemy convenient for blame. Brexit will hit farmers and farming economies hard. The Bill grants the police powers to arrest, imprison, and confiscate the mobile home of someone who is, as determined by the police, parked in “illegal encampment” or engaged in anti-social behaviour, also as determined by the police. To be able to distract economically-devastated countryside communities with news that an internal enemy has been arrested, tried, fined, imprisoned, lost their home, may be very useful this year. Certainly the government thinks so, from the consistency of this message from Tory MPs standing up to declare, if anyone doubted, that they were going to vote for the bill.
Repeatedly in discussions on Twitter, which admittedly is not the place for subtlety, pro-independence Scots have told me that the thing that matters is winning the Yes vote – “Everything else” can get worked out post-indy.
This is indescribably foolish.
One, because presumably they are attempting to convince me to vote Yes, and I’ll vote for status-quo devolution if they’ve got nothing more in the pot to offer but “We want you to vote yes!” Telling me that this is the “wrong attitude” to take to the independence referendum? Well, fine, but it’s my attitude: you can’t convince me to vote yes by refusing to engage with me.
Two, because realistically: I understand that the proposed timescale for independence is two years after a “yes” vote wins. Assuming that the Yes vote does win, that means four or so years from today, Scotland would be an independent nation.
That is none too much time to begin the Constitutional Convention to discuss what form and structure the new nation should have.
I wrote about the work of the Constitutional Convention in the 1990s Continue reading
This is “A consultation on facilitating a legal, fair and decisive referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom” available from the Scotland Office website. (PDF)
I agree with John Swinney:
“This is the biggest decision in 300 years so it must be founded in a fashion in which people have confidence. That means we’ve got to consult first on the approach to the question, the process, of the referendum. We then have to make sure that parliament has adequate opportunity to legislate. If we were to cut any corners in the legislative process, I’m sure I would be on this programme answering questions about jiggery-pokery.”
That consultation is being carried out at Holyrood, but you have until 11th May 2012 to consider your answers to that.
However, the deadline for responses for the UK government is earlier that the real consultation – Friday 9 March 2012. You can respond by letter or e-mail to:
1 Melville Crescent
I responded as follows – note my answer to questions 6-9. I think this especially worth saying to the UK government.:
1. What are your views on using the order making power provided in the Scotland Act 1998 to allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a legal referendum in an Act of the Scottish Parliament?
The Scottish National Party made clear several years ago that they would hold a referendum on independence for Scotland after winning two elections in a row. Prior to the May 2011 election, Alex Salmond amplified this – that if the SNP won, the referendum would be held in the second half of the coming term of the Scottish Parliament. No other political party committed to holding a referendum. The SNP won the 2011 election and secured a majority in the Scottish Parliament. They therefore have a clear democratic mandate to hold the referendum, which should naturally be legislated and run from Holyrood, by the Scottish Parliament.