As a slight change from the normal series of turgid and rambling posts revelling in the self-inflicted catastrophe that has befallen the Labour Party, here’s a shorter post on the other topic which remains de rigueur on this blog – the hypocrisy of the SNP.
The latest in an endless series of examples of that subject arrived this week with the decision of the SNP to use their votes at Westminster to oppose Conservative plans for extended Sunday shop opening. Although this offers an excellent example of the tactical opportunism of the SNP to posture at Labour’s expense as progressives, protecting the rights or retail workers, this is contingent upon a corollary which (as usual) remains unexplored by a media which remains largely incapable of challenging the SNP’s narrative. So let’s explore it here.
Here’s Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, interviewed by The Huffington Post in July –
‘We are extremely sympathetic to matters which are strictly English being determined by English Parliamentarians, that’s always been the SNP position.’
But evidently not so sympathetic that he will abstain from voting on issues which are, de jure, not matters affecting the law in Scotland, and which involve legislating for the Rest of the UK (RUK) outside Scotland.
While that contradiction seems straightforward enough, there’s substantial additional value in this episode which makes this especially worthwhile for aficionados of nationalist hypocrisy. Here’s Robertson, justifying his position on BBC4’s ‘Today’ programme when quizzed on this point (circa 2 hrs 33 mins into the programme, Tuesday 10 November 2015);
‘We’re going to vote it down because it does impact on Scotland and the reason is as follows – the legislation will impact on pay, not just in the rest of the UK but in Scotland too and because the UK government is not prepared to bring in any pay safeguards or guarantees. We’ve been persuaded by the many shop workers, and not just in Scotland incidentally, but throughout the UK, who have been impressing on us the risk to their livelihood we will exercise our vote because of the impact it will have in Scotland but also the detrimental impact it will have in England. Now I should say we are not opposed to Sunday trading. We support Sunday trading, it exists in Scotland, it is a good thing, but if the government is serious about doing this it shouldn’t being doing it on the backs of shop workers who we fear, and they fear, will lose out on their pay terms.’
If the SNP want to mandate time and half overtime for Sunday working in Scotland, they should legislate for it in Scotland at Holyrood where the SNP have had plenty of time to do so, having been in government since 2007. If Robertson is genuinely concerned with extending what Robertson refers to as the Scottish Sunday pay ‘premium’ to the RUK, he could of course introduce a bill to that effect at Westminster himself.
That’s still just the small change of this particular episode in nationalist hypocrisy, however. The real crux of the issue is Robertson’s celebration of the power his party has to oppose and influence policy at Westminster on an RUK issue, where he considers the SNP to now be ‘the effective opposition’ to Conservative government – thereby providing Scotland with a salient example of precisely why Scottish representation and participation at Westminster is in the Scottish national interest.
So much for independence and secession, then.