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How to nix the nats

Governments should stop indulging the SNP

Artillery Row

Scottish independence is Britain’s biggest boiler room scam. The sales pitch goes something like this: “Independence is inevitable, it is what Scotland wants, and we are drifting apart.”

Like any boiler room it depends on waterboarding the target audience with unsolicited calls to buy a product they don’t actually want. It is based on pressure selling, gross overvaluation, and the lack of competing information or narrative to inform the audience. Of course, there is the pressure of urgency.

I have lived in Scotland for 12 years. I have campaigned in two referendums since 2014 and been on the winning side twice. I have watched the rogue Scottish division of the Conservative party hold us hostage since 2014, and try to undermine their own party and government since Brexit.

The next PM must stop this

Independence is dead. The SNP lost. Only the Scottish Tories keep the threat alive to maintain their flagging vote and to keep a few drab uninspiring MSPs in regional list seats. They enable the SNP by telling them what you should never tell an addict — that the next drink is just around the corner. This happens every election, every week. The SNP wails out, “poor us, poor us, pour us another” and the Scottish Tories oblige.

The next PM must stop this. Stop talking about it. Stop linking a Scottish referendum to any Holyrood election. That means giving the rogue Scottish division the red card. They promote the SNP for their own benefit. We all suffer from the neverendum that follows. That’s wrong. 

So, here are some lessons for the next Prime Minister and party leader. In short, be small-c conservative and big-U unionist. Here’s how.

Firstly, ignore SNP calls for a referendum. That means saying it is not a devolved matter. When they write letters  about it, ignore them. The PM has no duty to engage with this nonsense and a mandate not to. Stop giving them oxygen. Direct the First Minister to her local MP if she wants to raise a matter reserved to Westminster, and independence certainly is.

Now, to break the wings. Transfer Barnett formula money, over £15bln a year, to the Scotland Office, to directly fund areas in need. It is not devolved money, it’s a voluntary transfer. Take back control of it. Create fundholding where Scottish councils are given Barnett cash directly, for projects, according to their level of need. That’s how it used to be.

Draft legislation following the Logan Act and Hatch Act in the USA. That means a ban on any elected official engaging in parallel diplomacy with foreign powers. We saw from Brexit how insidious and outrageous such behaviour has become. Only the British government should meet with foreign officials unless agreed otherwise.

Fire the civil servants who engage in planning legislation outwith the Scotland Act. Fire them for gross misconduct and transfer all civil service appointments and their HR to the Scotland Office. Kill off the “going native” trend we’ve seen for 25 years. HMRC isn’t devolved, why should any of the Civil Service be?

Next, the paperwork. Abolish Section 30 of the Scotland Act and abolish the right of devolved assemblies to petition Westminster to amend the Act. The SNP have MPs. They’re useless and lazy, so keep them occupied. As a public service, keep Scottish MPs busy.

Commit now to a National Audit of everything the Scottish government does. That means unconditional open access to all Scotgov documentation. Criminalise the redaction of reports by devolved government. There cannot be devolution without oversight. That is what devolution means. 

Let’s take back control

Ban the funding of third sector groups and charities by devolved government. Delegates must not delegate further. That’s not even Unionist, it’s Roman. Fund them directly using Scotland Office like the Cabinet Office if at all required. The only country with a politically fuelled third sector where funding is subject to political approval is the Bonyad system of Iran. It inflates the nationalist payroll, building an army of activists ready for any future political action. Starve this fever now.

We must terminate the regionalisation of the BBC and rotate its staff throughout the UK. The BBC must be overtly unionist because it is overtly British. Balkanisation of licensed media is lunacy if we wish to avoid Balkanising the country. This will save money and be much more inclusive. 

Furthermore, let’s take back control where nationalists have failed. Remove public transport infrastructure entirely from devolution, for example. There is no argument to support the Scottish Government continuing to screw up so badly we all suffer, because we all suffer if Edinburgh’s roads are a mess.

In place of fear, we need truth. Here is that truth.

The only times the people of Scotland have voted as one were during the 1997 and 2014 referendums.

We have now voted for a Scottish Parliament within a United Kingdom twice. On that mandate the PM can amend the Scotland Act however they like and ignore the theatrics. We voted for a Parliament, we did not vote for what it can and cannot do. Remove powers where it has failed. If Nicola Sturgeon persists, promise you will write an open letter stating the matter is resolved.

Don’t treat Scotland as exotic location or as a liability. Visiting our cities is not akin to going on safari. Treating us differently rewards the SNP’s and Scottish Tories’s bad behaviour. Take the SNP head on. Take on the rogue Scottish Tories or divest them from the party. Give us our country back. We are the only nation to vote to remain in the UK when offered a choice. Respect us.

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