Tele column – 15th September 2017

When the government of any country attempts to undermine the democratic process that it purports to hold so dear then it is playing with fire. Democracy doesn’t just happen, it has been fought for and defended over a long period of time. At the heart of this ideal is that government can be held to account. That is why we have opposition parties. That is why government ministers must come to the house and be questioned. That is why we have debates and votes. The alternative would be a government that governed absolutely. In the last week during the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill the Conservative government have perpetrated two outrageous injustices. One on the United Kingdom and the other on Scotland.

First it abused the exit process by planting Henry VIII clauses throughout. This allows the government to amend primary legislation with secondary legislation. This is not new (the hints in the name) and it is used regularly to amend tedious legislation but within section 7 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill it can be used to alter the substance and effect of the law.

Second, according to the Law Society of Scotland the bill will “remove powers from the Scottish Parliament and erode human rights”. They went on to say “the effect of the bill would be to remove the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament in relation to any matter in retained European Union law.” Needless to say the Conservative MPs representing Scottish seats backed their Westminster bosses, once again the Labour Party were split and went through both voting lobbies. It would appear that the job off opposition has once again fallen to the SNP in both scrutinising the EU exit process and standing up for Scotland.