A Week in Parliament

Priorities?

After two days of debating estimates – the allocation of money as per the budget, Parliament can vote on the proposed expenditure. These two days of debates are new, and came about from SNP pressure - under the old system, you were not actually allowed to talk about the estimate process or the sums of money. So the previous process was a debate in which the actual subject could not be debated!

Given the fact that the estimates match the budget, which means continued austerity and a real term budget cut of £2.6bn to Scotland’s budget it would seem daft for us not to do anything but vote against the proposals. Yet when it came to pushing matters to a vote, it was viewed as petty politics by some because England were playing a world cup match at the same time. No-one with any self-reflection was able to see that expecting politicians just to down tools because England were playing was possibly the wrong priorities.

Given all business and timings of debate are completely controlled by the UK Tory Government. Therefore, if the football was deemed such a priority then they could have scheduled business differently. Not that I am saying I think that business should be scheduled around England football matches, but it is a choice they can make.  Or, if they are really that concerned about the inefficient voting system then perhaps this just highlights the need for an electronic voting system.

It was interesting to see Tories shouting and swearing at various members of the SNP, myself included just for pushing the different votes. One aspect I pointed out to some Tories was that if the football was sooo important, and that we could only muster 33 votes and that it was clear Labour were abstaining then perhaps they needed to review having 300ish MPs voting against us!

Claim Of Right

The SNP brought forward a motion recognising the historical claim of right that the people of Scotland are sovereign. This dates back to the Declaration of Arbroath and the idea that the monarch had to represent the people and be answerable to them, else a new monarch would be chosen. In modern times it is about recognising wider democracy and that the will of the people must be recognised and acted on. In 2012, in Holyrood, the Tories voted against this even although it was agreed by all other parties. This time they have accepted it. This is welcome and could have ramifications when it comes to matters like another referendum when it means Westminster should not be a blocker on such matters.

Brexit Shambles Part 99

So the PM agreed a deal with her cabinet, but before it can advance, she was hit by more resignations. This is her 5th Cabinet Minister to have quit or been forced out which is remarkable in such a short space of time. With the different factions in the Tory party it is difficult to see how she can replace the Secretary Davis and the Ministers without there being more fallout. It seems quite clear that Teresa May is now running out of time as all her fudging starts to fall apart.

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard