Greenock Telegraph 26th August 2022

If you are lucky, then life is full of good choices. Where do I choose to live, what do I choose to drive, where shall I go on holiday? These are all life affirming and add to a sense of wellbeing. But they are also all tied to financial status. The reality for many people is that financial choices are more likely to be, do I pay the energy bill or the rent? Do I eat today? Politicians are supposed to make choices and make decisions that mean people don’t have to choose between heating or eating, people don’t have to rely on food banks to stave of starvation. Obviously, we are failing in that. Whether you want to blame, the Scottish government, UK government or Inverclyde council, that’s your choice too. And understandably those most affected by the years of austerity and a looming recession probably don’t care who created the problems, they just want them fixed. Their issues are very real, extremely personal and are faced on a day-by-day basis. Listening to the current Conservative and Unionist party leadership debates one could be led to believe that none of the problems we have UK wide have been created by the twelve years of their governance. Solutions, no matter how simplistic or unrealistic, trip of their tongues as if they have not been part of the problem for all these years. The one hundred and sixty thousand or so Conservative and Unionist party members that are given the choice as to who will be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom must be saddened by the choice, they have but at least they get a choice. The rest of us are powerless as we watch the Punch and Judy show draw to a close. We must wait to see which puppet will be in given the nod. Unfortunately, the choices they make from their ivory tower will not reflect the issues that most people face daily and almost certainly their tenure will be as unfruitful as their predecessors. Unless we in Scotland can think of a better choice, one that suits us better and allows us to make decisions that better reflect us and our society. Life is full of choices; we just need the courage to make them.  

Greenock Telegraph 12th August 2022

During recent evidence sessions hosted by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee ( PACAC ) with the devolved powers in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland it has been clear that the devolved administrations do not feel respected by the UK government. ‘We feel like we are treated like children’ was a common refrain. And now, the soon to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liz Truss, has expressed her contempt for the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland. It begs the question does Westminster look down on every other democracy or does it reserve that level of disdain solely for the other nations of this very disjointed union?

I wonder if by taking a domineering role and talking down to and being disrespectful of the devolved administrations, that the uk government feels that is the best way to see off any move towards greater autonomy. By continually putting down the devolved governments, by treating them as less than equal they feel that undermines the confidence that people will have in them. Do they fear treating them as equals? Would doing so, show the devolved governments in a good light. Would acknowledging their abilities be tantamount to supporting greater separation or full independence? Does the UK government feel so insecure about its own abilities that it needs to constantly put others down?

From the perspective of someone that believes in Scotland’s independence, I think it’s a very poorly chosen tactic. By treating devolved parliaments and parliamentarians as equals they could create a more harmonious and productive inter governmental relationship. One that people may be more inclined to stay in. But instead, they choose to lord it over them. Maybe this is the default position for a United Kingdom government bereft of creative ideas, racked with inner turmoil, rudderless and drifting. Maybe they don’t realise Britannia is sinking and it would serve them well to be more respectful to those of us who have already taken to the lifeboats.