by Henry Hill
Friday, 22
July 2022
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10:15

How the SNP evades Westminster scrutiny

The party governs behind a vast wall of bureaucracy
by Henry Hill
Nowhere to hide. (Credit: Pool/ Getty Images)

Another week, and yet another story about how the Scottish National Party is misgoverning Scotland. This time, the Times reports on how the Scottish Government has built up a swirling alphabet soup of inquiries and arms-length bodies in order to evade scrutiny and postpone indefinitely the need to take unpopular decisions.

And this is a huge pot of soup: according to the paper, Holyrood currently presides over more than 400 “commissions, inquiries and working groups”. By contrast Westminster — with a broader range of devolved responsibilities and a much larger population to oversee — maintains only around 600 equivalent groups.

Of the examples listed by the paper, the one that stands out (especially given the total hash the SNP have made of Scotland’s once world-leading school system) is on education. Twice the Nationalists asked the OECD for advice on how to improve the curriculum. Twice, it gave an answer they didn’t want to hear: simplify, and relax the tight central control which is a hallmark of the SNP’s Scotland.

None of this happened, of course. Instead, they simply sat on the second report until after May’s devolved elections, when a new education secretary was installed “who commissioned another round of groups”. More years of failing Scotland’s children await. At this point, it feels almost superfluous to point out the SNP’s abysmal domestic record. Some weeks, one can fill an entire column just with signposts to the most recent clutch of disgraces.

But we should not forget that this ever-changing mass of quangos and titles doubtless also helps to extend the Nationalists’ reach into “civic Scotland”. A key driver of devolution has been that the institutions are an excellent vehicle for distributing salaries, sinecures, and status to the devo-crat class, whether or not they produce good or even passable governance. What we’re seeing under the SNP is that process taken to a tragic, cartoonish degree.

Yet simply complaining about the Nationalists gets nothing done. The real question is — and a Tory leadership contest is a great time to ask it — what is the Government going to do about it? Remember that, whatever the most committed devolutionaries might like to believe, the UK is not some sort of confederation or arrangement between the various governments of the “four nations”. It is a nation, and the national government is ultimately responsible for, and to, every citizen.

In other countries with devolved or federal systems, it is perfectly normal for the central government to police the performance of delegated functions and attach stipulations to grants of central funding. Britain is very much an outlier in allowing the Barnett Formula to allot vast sums of cash to the devolved governments without conditions, let alone granting them the leeway to not just evade central oversight but destroy the evidence which might make such oversight possible.

It is not beyond the power of our next prime minister to hack through the SNP’s thicket of acronyms and subject the Scottish Government to real scrutiny. All that’s needed is the will to act.

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Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago

A good starting point would be to stop talking about the “four nations”. This is a pretty recent development, or at least I don’t remember reading this phrase so often just a few years ago.
Secondly, the Government needs to ask why the SNP keeps winning election after election after election, no matter if Sturgeon is seen eating live kittens.

We need REAL answers, NOT platitudes.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
2 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

You mean, why, in the face of English people saying nasty things about Sturgeon, do those misguided Scots refuse to listen to their Southern betters and keep on voting for the SNP lol. 
As for no more 4 nations stuff, well the logical outcome of that, if you’re to be serious about it, is the dissolution of all English, Scottish, Welsh and NI football and other sporting teams. Essentially, the loss of all regional identities. Can’t see that one flying, can you? Not least because the trend inside England itself is a specifically-English nationalism.  
The trick will be to manage independence while still retaining the close ties of friendship that exist between us all. 

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

The SNP agenda is to destroy any “close ties of friendship between us”. This is a specific, though unstated goal. Any residual goodwill from the English (who let’s remember are economically carrying the Scots) is being destroyed. Their goal is to create tribal hatred and division.
We need to remember that the majority of Scots do not support the SNP agenda.
The SNP truly are the “nasty party” these days.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I live in the central belt and I can assure you I do NOT understand why SOME people keep voting SNP.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Ditto!

Michael Kellett
Michael Kellett
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Close ties of friendship? You’re having a laugh. You really think Sturgeon and all her ilk feel friendship towards the rest of us? God help us! Their entire policy is to create division and resentment. Unfortunately, they’re succeeding.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Most conservatively minded Scots, and there are many who would never consider voting Tory, also say very nasty things about Sturgeon, all which have been proved to be perfectly valid.
Time she and her sycophants were gone from our sight and perhaps Scotland can regain some of her lost National Pride.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
2 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

A lot of the pro-independence arguments I hear now employ this basic question-begging rationale. It presumes that Scotland ought be a separate country when obviously that is the very argument at hand. “Scotland doesn’t get the government it votes for” is a prime example. Of course it doesn’t. Nor should it. Unless you’ve already accepted the premise that the country should be separate in the first place.

Michael Stanford
Michael Stanford
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

Quite right. It’s like saying that London (with a far greater population than Scotland) does not get the government it voted for.

Iris C
Iris C
2 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

There could be shenanigans at election times in Scotland.
Many SNP members are fanatical and if they have authority within a local council, then ways can be found to increase or decrease the vote of a prospective candidate. For example, postal and proxy votes are opened by council officials on arrival. This should not happen. They should be slid into a locked box when received with the box being opened in the hall at the time of the count and votes ticked off separate lists. These lists could be counter-checked with the other lists after the election.
I happened to watch the debate in Westminster Hall on tightening up voting procedure and was not surprised to find this being vehemently opposed by an SNP member on the basis that any fraud was not of any magnitude. There should be no fraud!.
..

Last edited 2 months ago by Iris C
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago

As an Anglo Scot, I hope one day that the scales will lift from the eyes of the Scottish electorate and they’ll finally see they’ve allowed themselves to be led by incompetent nationalist bigots who hate the English.
But I’m not optimistic about that happening. The anti-English chip on their collective shoulder appears to be embedded in their DNA and they seem to enjoy wallowing in their victimhood. How sad when one thinks of the Scots who pushed back boundaries in the past.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 months ago

Council tax reform, I remember it well. Big plans to reform this ‘iniquitous’, unfair, tax. Big, long running commission to look into new proposals, finally reports, reports ignored. They (SNP) learn’t early, how to rule, to be SEEN to to be doing something, without actually doing anything !

Julian Townsend
Julian Townsend
2 months ago

English people may well find it incredible, that Scots keep on voting for this bunch of incompetent deadbeats, in the face of their persistent dishonesty and failure and the unpopularity of so many of their policies. Scots, on the other hand, may well wonder why the English keep voting for a bunch of incompetent deadbeats, in the face of, etc etc.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 months ago

Agreed, but that doesn’t much advance the discussion.

Westminster may well be, in many respects, as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, but Holyrood makes them appear paragons of propriety. That’s the issue.

I’m a Sassenach by birth but a lifelong “Ecossophile” by conviction, so I find this very depressing. Too many good people up there who deserve better than they get, but plus ça change.

Last edited 2 months ago by Richard Parker
Graham Willis
Graham Willis
2 months ago

Come to an arrangement on Faslane and let them exit. The can use the £ as a foreign currency.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Willis

…I agree. I’d offer complete independence on everything but Defence (incuding the foreign policy aspects) and our memberships of the Security Council, NATO and the Five Eyes…and invite them to explain to the other Western Democracies what exactly it is they want to do that is not possible within that context…eg if it is either the Czar or the Celestial Emperor Xi that they want to hand Faslane and the defence of the GIUK Gap over to?
…let’s bear in mind NATO is a Nuclear Alliance, and Scotland could no more defend the GIUK Gap than Ireland can secure their own air and sea-space

wjs@topofthehill.co.uk wjs@topofthehill.co.uk

Devolution was a tactic to undermine Westminster in favour of Brussels to pave the way for Tony Blair’s ascendency to the EU throne. Now that we have left the EU, we don’t need this regional layer of government.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
2 months ago

Fear not Brits, there will be no referendum while Mss sturgeon rules Holyrood and her cabal rules political Scotland. A referendum would be Sturgeons scariest nightmare, as it would not only end her tenure win or lose, leave the administration open to charges related to mismanagement of funds and the tawdry charade which exposed the truth behind the undemocratic and illegal “Alex Salmond Affair”

Last edited 2 months ago by Alex Tickell
Jack Paton
Jack Paton
2 months ago

I believe that the 4 parliaments should be disbanded as the Covid crisis showed them to be useless, and in Scotland, responsible for killing hundreds of elderly people.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

I just want a UK wide vote on abolishing the union so my taxes are spent in England, not subsidising the dissolute Scots.