The Tories are attacking devolution – yet again

What is the point of the Scottish Conservatives? Time and again, they have shown themselves to be utterly incapable of standing up for Scotland and our national interests.

We’ve seen it with their willingness to rubber-stamp the UK government’s damaging cuts to Scotland’s budget – meaning less money available for our public services.

We’ve seen it with their support for Theresa May’s Dickensian welfare reforms – which have pushed families into poverty, debt and crisis. We’ve seen it with their failure to oppose extreme Tory plans for a hard Brexit – threatening the incomes, livelihoods, and living standards of millions of people across the UK.

And we saw it yet again this week – when the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority of 93 to 30 to reject the UK government’s proposed Brexit power grab, with the support of every single party except for the Tories, who were left completely isolated.

The SNP, Labour, Green, and Lib Dem MSPs all put their differences aside, and voted together, to refuse consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which threatens to roll back devolution.

As it stands, the UK government’s Brexit bill would rip-up the devolution settlement that the people of Scotland voted for in 1997.

Far from “taking back control”, as the Leave campaign promised us during the EU referendum, this Tory legislation would take devolved powers away from the Scottish Parliament, and put them in the hands of Westminster.

Powers over fishing, farming, food standards, and the environment, are all under threat. These are devolved areas that really matter to the Scottish economy, and communities across our country, which is why the SNP government has been firm in protecting Scottish devolution.

In contrast, the Tories are proving once again that they can’t be trusted to stand up for Scotland. Twenty years ago the Tories did their best to campaign against a Scottish Parliament – and now twenty years on they are doing their best to undermine the devolution settlement we voted for.

And this is just the thin end of the wedge. We know that, privately, many Tory MPs would like to go even further and scrap the Scottish Parliament altogether.

The Tories might think they can do whatever they like to Scotland and get away with it – but the Scottish Parliament has made its view loud and clear, and the UK government must now respect that by amending the Bill to remove Clause 11, and ditch the power grab.

In 2014, we were told that if we voted against independence Scotland would be respected as an “equal partner” in a “family of nations” – but everything that has happened since then has shown that promise to be utterly hollow.

Scotland’s wishes have been repeatedly sidelined and ignored – on austerity, on welfare cuts, on Trident renewal, and our EU membership.

If the UK government now fails to respect the Scottish Parliament’s decision, it would be a democratic outrage – sparking a constitutional crisis, and proving beyond all doubt the contempt in which the Tories hold Scotland.