Clear the Bar

Iain Macwhirter is up to his old tricks today – applying logic to politics. This will never do. What where might that lead – to honest politicians, public funding of parties, fair taxation and even people admitting mistakes? It doesn’t bear thinking about. There would hardly be any need for mad bloggers like me or media commentators like himself. No, he’s gone too far this time.

He suggests the SNP should jettison their boycott of the House of Lords and get stuck in to the Brit establishment at its very heart. He wants Baron Salmond of Linlithgow and Baroness Black of Renfrew sitting on the red benches pointing out the eccentricities of the Ruritanian chamber and challenging legislation. Stop playing only half the game, he urges. You’re either in Westminster or you’re not. If you want to block EVEL or amend it, you can do that in the Lords. And it’s entirely logical. But then so is abandoning a second referendum for 30 years…

No, the trouble with this idea is that it IS logical. Yet so much of politics simply ain’t. You can argue ‘til your blue in the face that using the whole platform of British democracy makes sense but you’ll never convince the mass of support which has it tattooed on their backside that some things are untouchable – contaminated beyond redemption. It would make the Nats a laughing stock at the heart of the establishment if they buckled on an ermine robe and bowed to the Woolsack, adopting daft names for themselves. They’d open themselves up to an endless pantomime of ridicule even from the very same people and parties who populate the country’s biggest subsidised Care Home. Remember how much of the media failed to take the SNP or the Scots seriously during the indyref and resorted instead to cartoon clichés of Rab C neds and deep fried Mars Bars because ignorance finds an easy escape in ridicule and denigration rather than enlightenment. The laughter that would greet some Monarch of the Glen Nationalist bending the knee in the embodiment of privilege and unearned entitlement would echo round the world. It would never die down. The SNP would stand for something – until it didn’t. It would oppose something – until it could join it. What a sell-out.

The difference is that the public understands the concept of the elected Commons and it works and why the SNP needs to be there. There is already widespread unease at the casual adoption of the British monarchy for an independent Scotland with many determined it will be an early domestic referendum issue after indy. And they simply don’t grasp the concept of the Lords other than as a rest home for donors and failures.

Anyway how much influence would they really have if they humiliated themselves with 20 SNP Lairds in a house of nearly 900? How long would it take for a powerbase to emerge? Do we really suppose jaded Labour stooges – ex-MPs who hate the Nats to a man – would create a Progressive Front in the Other Place? (If that isn’t a contradiction in terms…)

And, if it’s right to apply logic, let’s do so. Who benefits from making second-class citizens of Scottish MPs? Who benefits when human rights are reduced or devolution fails to meet Scotland’s expectation? Indeed, who wins if the Tories win every single vote and both the Lords and Labour are seen to be useless box-tickers of anti-Scottish aspirations? Clearly the SNP benefits every time. Realisation hardens that this state isn’t in our interests and uses undemocratic means to reject our aspirations. On the other hand, if the system operates neatly and delivers for the majority of Scots, the demand for change declines.

The antiquated Lords is the epitome of the British state Nationalists want to leave. Joining it, even on a platform of ultimate abolition, helps defeat the case for independence. The SNP really would be assimilating into a governing system they oppose. There is only so much footsy we’re prepared to play with those whose contempt for us is their defining characteristic. The Noes have it…

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26 thoughts on “Clear the Bar

  1. Only by having principles , did the SNP triumph at Westminster.

    Take away those principles and they are just like Scottish Labour. People like following principled people as it gives them hope of something better.

    Ian is wrong I am afraid! It would be electoral suicide!

  2. Agree entirely – no way should SNP have anything to do with the Lords. Principle should not be sacrificed for political expediency – that only leads to losing your most important asset -trust!

  3. Endless pragmatism is the road to electoral oblivion as Labour is so ably demonstrating.

    Some principles have to be maintained even though it will close off some tactical options.

    Capitulating on the Lords boycott would be the SNP’s Clause 4 or Iraq – it would be utterly contrary to everything it is supposed to stand for and would be the point at which the electoral rot would set in.

    If I may be so bold, I would say that allowing fracking to proceed would be almost as catastrophic to its long term cause. Our land and water belongs to the people and must not be destroyed for the financial gain of a select few.

  4. The SNP can’t possibly consider it. They’d lose their membership toute suite, along with losing their principles.

  5. I agree with this. (For the same reason, what influence would we have in a chamber of 751 which is what the EU parliament is).

    However, MacWhirter does raise a valid point about having some influence in the Upper House, since it certainly has influence on us, but might there not be other ways of going about this than donning an ermine robe and calling yourself a funny name?

    Is there a possibility of being able to speak to a Lords committee, monitor and participate in discussions, and contribute to points the Lords raise?

    I agree with the broader point MacWhirter is making (though not his solution) that it id totally unacceptable for an unelected body to have influence over an elected body (the Scottish Parliament) and it not to have a right of reply.

    Maybe Holyrood could demand the Lords come to Edinburgh and answer to its committees?

  6. Just as well Ian isn’t and SNP taticion. We would never be where we are with his advice.

    He is often correct, but a lot of time he is miles away from understanding the Scottish electorate. Salmond understands Scotland more than anyone in history. He knows what makes us tick and what it will take to get Scotland free.

    Sturgeon has taken over his mantle, but seems to be taking more people with her. Time will tell, but I think she will do just enough to win independence.

  7. jacquescoleman

    No way Jose.

  8. I couldn’t agree more.

    Iain MacWhirter is an insightful and entertaining writer, but over the decades I’ve noticed he’s often wrong. Wrong in his predictions and wrong in his recommendations. So much so that I’ve come to the point of regarding any prediction of his that’s good for the independence cause as a bit of a two-edged sword. This is one of the wrong times.

    Taking a few seats in the Lords would only add another platform where a minority of SNP representatives were subjected to ridicule and mockery, and then voted down. Why do it? And who have we got, anyway? Our elder statesmen seem mostly to have died off or to be in poor health, and the next generation are still active and needed in the Commons. Attending the Commons is bad enough for a constituency MP. Attending the Lords in London for three days a week would be absolute purgatory for anyone.

    Plus the fact that it would be a deeply unpopular move which would be mocked to Kingdom Come.

  9. Gotta say, that’s the daftest idea I’ve heard in a loooooong time. 😀

    Their name would be mud and their public trust would vanish faster than Jim Murphy’s tenure as north British Labours saviour.

    Though I reckon Alex would have a damn good laugh at the suggestion right enough.

  10. I think MacWhirter’s broader point that it leaves an assymetric deficit in governance and accountability is sound.

    Like the rest of posters here, I just don’t agree with his solution.

  11. Also the idea was muted on “ScotGoesPop” several months ago by James Kelly. it’s second hand thinking from Ian.(Plagearism)

    It got the same reaction on his site!

  12. Said it before and I’ll say it again – SNP should bestow those Lordships on the poor; the needy; charity workers; foodbank workers etc. Let those new ‘lords’ demonstrate humility to the other 900 snouts in the gravy train. And let them act as the mouthpiece to the public without political allegiance.
    SNP can then show its contempt for the lords with real people who will naturally find it abhorrent, and they don’t need to compromise their principles one iota. No need for Lord Salmond of Strichenshire, but all the benefits and more.

  13. Thanks Morag! …it was mooted by James and Muted by the readers! LOL

  14. Iain Macwhirter’s argument is, indeed, logical and persuasive, but still totally wrong.

    The SNP’s principles would be destroyed for a few worthless bawbees that would buy absolutely nothing in the toff’s department store.

  15. I sometimes just don’t get where Macwhirter is coming from. Does he really believe that the SNP should commit political suicide by becoming part of the british establishment? If so then he really is out of touch.

    ‘Scottish’ labour were forced to reveal their real unionist colours during the referendum and look where that got them.

    Seems Macwhirter would like to see the SNP make the same mistake.

  16. As a question of curiosity, we can look up what our MPs said and how they voted. Is the same information available for the Lords?

  17. Everything in context. Mr McWhirter is not a supporter of the SNP and his decision to come out for Yes was perhaps somewhat “qualified”.

    As far as I was aware he was a federalist first and foremost but happy to retract if I am wrong.

    Anyway that’s probably an unnecessary aside.

    He is quite entitled to ask the SNP to commit electoral suicide but I would take his call with a big pinch of salt.

    The existence of the unelected House of Lords in a 21st century alleged democracy is simply wrong – it’s as black and white as that. Anyone who is opposed to it should at the very least shun it and have nothing to do with it.

    A better strategy for the SNP, particularly if Corbyn get’s the (Not) Labour gig, would be to put forward a Bill in the Commons calling for the abolition of the Lords and let’s see which way the supposedly socialist (Not) Labour party jump.

  18. This can never happen, it is bad enough we have to support the Queen without the SNP losing their virtue. Having watched Ian MacWhirter over the years flipping and flopping all over the place regarding Independence I gave up on him. I doubt that anyone will listen to a word he says.

  19. It’s as though McWhirter has no faith in us achieving Independence any time soon, which would be in opposition to other writings of his. I will be disappointed if we have to elect more MPs in 2020, unless it is just for a couple of months after a Yes vote. Peers is looking to the long term, enmeshing ourselves in a British State we want out of.

    And finally, I would seriously doubt the bona fides of anyone who offers to be an SNP peer.

    Even if we moved to a fully elected second chamber in a Federal system I would argue against SNP etc involvement on the same basis. Do a Sinn Fein. Lightest contact possible so we can get away with minimal entanglements.

  20. Houses

    We need to talk about houses and Houses
    We have not enough houses, cheap ones
    And a problem with Houses, bloated ones
    Bloated and containing the bloated ones

    Our House is not bloated enough, puny
    Too puny to deal with need
    Too puny for thriving in Commonweal
    Surely some Fat can be spared, No?

    Their Houses reek of corruption and vice
    No child is safe, Seats for Sale!
    Peons are idle, more Pain needed
    EVEL is spoken, EVSL cannot be said

    Meanwhile posh hutches dot the former fields
    While decent pads for mean folk, sans means
    Are ‘Not Affordable’, do not apply here
    But our roof needs fixing

    And I’m scared of heights.

    Muscleguy, dashed off 1/8/15

  21. It’s ironic Ian should propose this in the week one of the glorious Lords, was caught with a hooker and cocaine. Why the ferk would Scots want anything to do with these scumbags.

  22. smiling vulture

    sometimes Ian overthinks,I think

    he means well but seeing a pic of salmond in ermine would be posted every nook & cranny of fiefdom

  23. Ian McWhirter does like to imagine he’s a wee smarty pants but I’m afraid DUH nobody’s fooled

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