Scottish National Party members walk out of Westminster

Photo from PA Wire: Ian Blackford
Contributed by Jim Hayes

Outrage erupted in the British House of Commons yesterday and Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) members of parliament walked out. The reason for it was that the party’s leader in the British parliament was thrown out by the Speaker, after he refused to be gagged in the argument over the EU Withdrawal Bill, which concerns the Brexit process.

Ian Blackford made the stand, as a move against what he categorised, an attempted British “power grab” and “democratic outrage.”

The member was ordered to resume his contribution at the end of the process. This would have silenced him, to a footnote after the deal had been effectively done. His stand and the subsequent walkout ensured that the matter would come to public attention could not be swept under the carpet.

Brexit and the Bill centre on two important issues for Scotland. Most Scots don’t want to leave Europe and the SNP has been pushing for specifically Scottish trading arrangements. And this is closely tied with the other and more important issue, the devolution of powers to Scotland.

There has been no progress on either front.

Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, praised Blackford and the other SNP, saying, “The events in the Commons yesterday were a travesty of democracy.

“Stitch-up after stitch-up that were more about protecting the Tory party than protecting the interests of the country. Scotland was treated with utter contempt.

“The SNP MPs today made sure that issue was highlighted, and they did it in the only way open to them.

“I’m very proud of Ian Blackford and the SNP MPs for making sure today that Scotland’s voice was heard.”

She added that the event proved the Westminster system simply does not serve Scotland’s interests.

A big problem for the supporters of Scottish independence, is that there is a long tradition of bipartisan opposition to it in England. It was shown again, in the Labour Party’s stand on the walkout., which was to take the government’s side and join in calling it a political stunt. The Scottish sense that they are being silenced and treated with disrespect was ignored.

Cutting debate time on the matter of devolution of powers in relation to the Bill, was a cutting expression of this lack of respect. lan Blackford and the SNP MP’s were protesting the fact.

It the absence of respect, which is shown by the gagging, Scotland’s concerns have not been taken seriously. This is a continuation of the lack of any real attempt to negotiate any form of workable solution that everyone can live with.

Economic interest, combined with British xenophobia, is still working to maintain control over Scotland. Unless this way changes of dealing with Scotland changes, tensions are bound to increase, and Scots will lose faith in having their aspirations realised through Westminster. It could mean that they will eventually seek other means.


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