Nationalist Pantomime Politics

What might be best for, or wished for, or simply looked for by the people of Scotland has mattered not a jot in the endless ramping up of a needless, self-serving and endlessly petulant, constitutional wrestling match between the SNP and the Tories.

By Christine Jardine, Jun 18, 2018 11:06

Christine Jardine speaking at a rally in front of supporters.

People. Somehow in the midst of all the chaos and stunts at Westminster it’s the one thing that seems to have been overlooked.

What might be best for, or wished for, or simply looked for by the people of Scotland has mattered not a jot in the endless ramping up of a needless, self-serving and endlessly petulant, constitutional wrestling match between the SNP and the Tories.

And not just this week.

Those of us on the green benches put up with it almost every day as important debates are reduced to pantomime politics:


“Well we do it better in Scotland!”

“Oh no you don’t!”


“Oh yes we do!”


And I fear we are in for more of the same today (Monday) in an emergency debate at Westminster which now promises to have about as much impact on our everyday lives as an actual Christmas production.


I admit I am surprised.


Some of my colleagues on the SNP benches have impressed me over the past year with their commitment to their constituents.


I’ve found common cause with them in several debates and motions on social issues. My Tory colleagues too I have often found willing to listen to sensible appeal.


But somehow none of that seems to matter to either side when the red, white and blue mists of nationalist – Scottish and British – confrontation descend.


Last week when the SNP stomped out of the chamber they also turned their back on four, much sought after, opportunities to question the PM and her government on behalf of their constituents.


To challenge them on their cruel welfare reforms, their hostile immigration politics or the madness of Brexit and the damage it will do to our livelihoods.


The Tories too, many of whom argued as strongly as my own party did that leaving the EU would be economic suicide, now abandon that principle in favour of fighting their own party’s ever shrinking Brexit corner.


Both of course claim to be the only custodians of the will of the people of Scotland.


I have news for them.


I think the majority of those people would quite like us just to behave like grown ups and fix the problem.


And that is still possible.


We are not in the midst of a constitutional crisis – yet. And this is not a power grab.


These are new powers, being redistributed from Brussels in frameworks to be agreed by the UK and devolved administrations. And they almost managed it.


The Welsh agreed and the Scots were within touching distance when those mists descended. On both sides.


The Devolution Settlement does lay out a way forward. But, so far, it’s not working.


So what we need, surely, is neither to start ripping up the United Kingdom, nor dismantling devolution.


It is simply to come up with a better way of resolving the issue.


A proper, enduring dispute resolution mechanism, as they have in other countries, would surely put an end to this.


On Thursday the Secretary of State as much as agreed with the suggestion when I put it to him.


So let’s try it, please.


Let’s stop the argument, get round the table and fix this issue and then make sure we have a mechanism to ensure it doesn’t happen again.


If we cannot bring an end to this battle of the nationalisms I fear we will all be the losers.

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