It says a lot that Carwyn Jones, the Labour Party’s First Minister of Wales, and Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, have brought their governments together to highlight the power grab on both the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments. They are no political friends, indeed often the opposite is true but the threat they face is very real. This is certainly not party politics at play, but two First Ministers who seek to avoid further moves by a Tory Government that seeks to reduce the democratic position of our citizens.
In case anyone thought that this might be a “anti tory” or “anti-Brexit” scheme, consider the fact that the power grab has also been highlighted by the Law Society of Scotland, that has clarified that the move would “remove legislative competence from the Scottish Parliament” including areas such as farming and fishing – a view backed up by the House of Commons own library research.
This ‘power grab’ comes hot on the heels of recent run of democratic power tricks by this Tory Government. The first was the deal with the right wing DUP to keep the Tories in power – courtesy of a £1.5 billion pound bribe of funding for Northern Ireland. A deal that was made out with the “Barnet Formula” meaning Scotland and Wales lost out on the equivalent calculation – in our case, a hefty £2.9 billion pounds should have benefited your services.
Next came the vote to allow Henry VIII powers to be used by UK Government Ministers, allowing them to bypass Parliament altogether through the EU Withdrawal Bill, previously known as the Great Repeal Bill. These executive powers allow the UK Government to act on virtually all aspects of legislation without having to seek Parliament’s approval.
Then came the move to gerrymander Parliament’s committee structure meaning the Tories have a majority all committees, despite being a minority government. They have forced this change to avoid opposition – propped up by their DUP deal which cost you £1.5 billion pounds to broker.
As the American politician, Aidli Stevenson once said “Power corrupts, but lack of power corrupts absolutely.
Since the election, Mrs May’s government have set out on a course of taking power at every turn, without the mandate of the people. Like ‘Kaa’ the hypnotic snake in ‘Jungle Book’ this tory government is looking at you straight in the eyes and saying “trust in me” – “we will take all the powers and then give them back to you” yet their record is one of riding roughshod over the promises they make.
In total there are one hundred and eleven different powers, devolved to the Scottish Parliament that would be removed as part of the EU Withdrawal Bill, and despite persistent questioning by MPs and the media, UK Government Ministers cannot name a single power that they would return to Scotland from the EU withdrawal. Not one.
The Welsh Government and the Scottish government have identified a raft of amendments that would protect the powers that are devolved, and by doing so, your rights. These amendments would not derail the UK government’s negotiations nor do they present a change to the way that business has always been done between the Parliaments. There is no reason, other than to confirm the smash and grab of powers from our Scottish Parliament not to agree to them.