Saturday, 17 May 2014

With 4 months to go Westminster has blinked...

The subtle change in the narrative was almost imperceptible. The new weasel words sounded just the same as the old weasel words emanating from the unelected chamber of the privileged.

But it was there. Undeniably it was there. And all of a sudden the genie has been released from his bottle.

The House of Lords was finger-wagging about how Scottish MPs would not be permitted to take part in matters relating to the post-referendum independence settlement.

Just step back for a moment and consider that again. The Lords considering scenarios following a Yes vote on September 18th.

This is completely and utterly epoch-making. The narrative has changed irreversibly.

The Lords go on to point out other matters of legality between the point of a Yes vote and the preferred date of independence, 24th March 2016. Further to that they stress that the rUK government would have no obligation to meet that timetable if it was not in the rUK's interests to complete negotiations by that date.

Wow! This is sensational stuff.

OK, you may say that it is dry, procedural, yawn-inducing nonsense which as Angus MacNeil MP rightly points out is offered up by an, "undemocratic anachronism stuffed to the gunnels with over 800 peers of the realm who answer to no electors and are often there because of privilege or patronage."

But the key point here is that the undemocratic anachronism has seen something of the writing on the wall and realises that it is the organ of state that has to start considering the implications. Westminster blinked first.

This is the UK's upper house openly discussing the terms of what will or will not be acceptable should the "unthinkable" happen.

Westminster inflicts more T-O-R-T-U-R-E

As I say, the genie's been well and truly released from his bottle.

Let's go back barely 6 months. Last Christmas could you have imagined Parliament discussing procedural matters following a Yes vote before a single ballot has even been printed? Not on your life.

But why? Is it because the House of Lords is a reasonable and democratic institution which always attempts to seek out the considered wills of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom? Is it hell!

Or have they got the wind up? Was that secet poll result so damning that there was no alternative other than to consider the distasteful concept of a split?

We may never know the true answer to that but it is, at the same time, interesting to note that this unelected chamber is keen to extinguish the mandate of elected Scottish members of the House of Commons.

Angus MacNeil again, "To be lectured by them about timetables and for democratic processes is something that could only happen in Westminster.

"It will be elected representatives who will lead Scotland's transition to independence – not some elite club whose members can still turn up for just half an hour's work and get a £300 daily allowance."

But whether or not the Lords actually have the right to rule, advise, pontificate, finger-wag or otherwise it is not what they actually do that matters, it is that they have done anything at all that marks the sea-change. In one fell swoop they have recognised, without really realising what they have done, that the game's up and the clock is now ticking towards 10pm on September 18th. I'll be on Rose Street. Where will you be?

As for political dynamite this week, David Cameron's visit to Scotland to tell us all how lucky we are and Dougie Alexander's intervention to tell us all how lucky we are – completely consigned to the back-burner when we have the lawmakers of the Lords stumbling into this minefield all by themsleves.

An almost imperceptible shift but it's done now and they can't go back from here. The genie's out and he will cause mischief.

P.S. I had to chuckle at the BBC News website's reporting on the House of Lords matter when they stated that, "This would prevent MPs who represent Scottish seats negotiating for the rest of the UK on the terms of independence, scrutinising the UK's negotiating team or ratifying a resulting agreement, the committee argued. Those affected would include politicians such as Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury."

Aye, not past next May though!

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