Scotland will not be silenced on Tory power grab

The Tories really do think they can do whatever they like to Scotland and get away with it.

This week they pressed ahead with their attack on Scottish devolution – railroading through a bill that grab powers from the Scottish Parliament and keeps them at Westminster.

Important powers over the environment, food standards, agriculture, fishing, and other areas could be used at the whim of this right-wing Tory government thanks to a clause in the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Worse still they did this despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament has explicitly rejected consent, in an overwhelming vote of 93 to 30 – with the SNP, Labour, Greens and Lib Dems all voting to make clear that the power grab was utterly unacceptable and must not go ahead.

Only the Scottish Tories shamefully voted to obey their Westminster masters, and allow the UK government to rip up the devolution settlement that has been in place for twenty years.

The arrogant actions of Theresa May’s government have now brought us to the point of constitutional crisis.

It is absolutely outrageous for the Tories to just plough ahead without the consent of the Scottish Parliament – undermining devolution and ignoring the will of the Scottish people.

The Sewel Convention is clear that the UK government cannot legislate without the consent of the Scottish Parliament on devolved matters. Consent was denied, and as a result this power grab clause should never have even been considered at Westminster.

To add insult to injury, the Tories and Labour ensured that when the power grab was debated at Westminster it only got a measly 15 minutes – with the Tory minister taking up the entire time, and not a single Scottish MP given the chance to speak.

It was appalling but not surprising given how little respect there is for Scotland at Westminster – and how little regard the Tories have for devolution.

Time and again the Tories have fought against the right of the Scottish people to govern ourselves – they campaigned against a Scottish Assembly in 1979, they campaigned against the Scottish Parliament in 1997, they campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014, and now they are doing their best to undermine the devolution settlement we have.

Scotland has been silenced and shafted by Westminster – but the SNP will fight tooth and nail to protect devolution and stand up for our national interests.

That’s why SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford used Prime Ministers Questions to call for emergency legislation to end the power grab – and when Theresa May refused, its why we demanded a vote to show we will not allow Westminster to disrespect the democratic will of the Scottish people.

When the Speaker refused to allow a vote, and disgracefully expelled Ian Blackford from the chamber for daring to ask that Scotland’s voice be heard, SNP MPs walked out in solidarity.

If Scotland can’t be heard in Westminster we made damn sure we were heard outside – forcing the London media to pay attention to what was happening, and putting the UK government under pressure.

Today the SNP have secured an emergency debate in the House of Commons – where we will continue to push for emergency legislation to end the power grab. While the Tories attack devolution, and Labour abstain, the SNP will use every single avenue possible to fight Scotland’s corner and make our voice heard.

This column previously appeared in the Daily Record.