Last summer, after her unnecessary and disastrous general election campaign, designed to give her a strong and stable majority as she went into Brexit negotiations, the Maybot was obliged to purchase the allegiance of Northern Ireland’s weird party of creationists, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for a sum of somewhere between £1 billion and £1.5 billion to make up for the majority that she had just lost.
(Just a little aside here. I’m always a bit dubious about anything, party or country, with the word “democratic” in the title. If you need to tell people you are democratic, you probably aren’t… Democratic Republic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria… are you noticing a pattern?)
I’ve nothing against a coalition government or the compromises that are, perforce, a part of that kind of arrangement. But this wasn’t and isn’t a coalition arrangement, nor could it be, given the geographical limits of the DUP. It was and is, quite simply, a bribe to get for the Tories and May, the votes of DUP members in the House of Commons.
There are those who say that it was pretty much unnecessary. The DUP are the right wing, Protestant, unionist, queen and country (in short Tory) party of the province. Hardline Brexiteers, they would have voted, almost undoubtedly, with May even without a bribe.
But May couldn’t be sure of that, and what the hell, it wasn’t her money she was giving away.
(Another aside here: When the bribe was announced it caused consternation. Money above and beyond the budget to devolved government is supposed to be based on the Barnet formula. In other words, if NI gets money, so must, proportionately, the other countries of the UK. So our brave wee Viceroy Fluffy made a point of telling the BBC that he would not allow Northern Ireland to benefit from this sort of money without Scotland getting its fair share too. And that was the last we heard of it as Mrs May directed him to fetch the biscuits to go with her tea and he became permanently distracted with the more pressing matters of ensuring that the boss’s refreshments were supplied timeously or returning to the backbenches to be replaced by a wooden dummy….see below.)
Now, however, Gina Miller, the woman who took the UK government to court (and won) on whether or not parliament should have a say on the issuing of Article 50, has sent a legal warning to May that the £50 million pounds already paid to NI as part of this “arrangement” may be illegal, because it was given without being voted through parliament.
So, we shall see what we shall see…
Does anyone have an example of something Mayhem the Maybot has done that hasn’t gone horribly wrong?
This is the rough version of what’s happening today… (according to Laura Kuenssberg)
UK Govt – it will all be fine;
Dublin – we can’t budge;
DUP – we won’t budge;
EU – the show is now in London;
Brexiteers – if EU doesn’t bury this bit, for now, May has to walk.
Meanwhile, the real prime minister has refused to meet with May today.
It’s always brought a smile to my face when British Prime Minister after British Prime Minister has trotted around the world in a self-important manner spouting off about democracy.
Surely, Britain is one of the least truly democratic countries in the West, I thought.
After all, we have an unelected head of state whom we were always told was ceremonial and had no powers at all. It turns out that in truth not only does she and her immediate family have immense influence, she and her eldest son, have real powers which they use to have laws changed.
They also have the use of the Privy Council, which can make declarations in the name of Her Majesty. These are the law with no scrutiny allowed.
Next, the government can use Statutory Instruments, also known as SIs, a form of legislation which allows the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.
Then there is the House of Lords, the second largest legislative chamber in the world (after the National People’s Congress of China… a country of 1.4 billion people). It comprises firstly of 90 hereditary peers, self-selected by the Earls, Viscounts, Marquesses, and Dukes (which we still have in this bastion of democracy). The rest of us are excluded from voting on who these people should be (and once elected by their peers they can remain there until death). Only other hereditary aristocrats have a vote.
A further two hereditaries sit as of right, because of positions they historically hold in the royal household. (It’s already beginning to sound like something dreamt up for an 18th-century comic opera, isn’t it?)
Next in this massive house, are archbishops and bishops of the established church of the state religion. Listen to that: state religion! Finally, there is a rag bag of who knows how many ex-ministers and failed politicians, rich people who have given money to one of the three main parties… and a few oddballs the reason for whose presence can only be wondered at.
Then there is the supposedly democratic part of governance. The Commons, elected by a ridiculous first past the post system which can give an absolute majority on a vote of around 35%, and in which two-thirds of the seats never change hands. And this all underpinned by a party whipping system designed to keep most MPs very firmly on message.
Under this prime minister, we have seen some rather odd and disturbing developments which further undermine the feeble democracy that we have.
Ironically they have come about in the wake of Brexit, which was supposed to return power to parliament from supposedly undemocratic EU institutions, like the council of ministers (comprising of elected ministers from the member states) or the European parliament, elected on a proportional representation system.
The first happened when our ridiculously inept prime minister called a general election to prove that she was strong and stable, expecting to win a thumping majority, and in fact lost the small majority she had inherited from David Cameron. Looking more than a little ridiculous she reached out to someone even more ridiculous: the ex-First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the DUP, currently under investigation for the mishandling of a large sum of public money, Arlene Foster.
The DUP agreed to use its 10 members to back the prime minister in certain matters (because of EVEL, Irish MPs cannot vote on any legislation that is England only) in return for £1.5 billion. Pretty much a bribe, using public money…our money!
Next, May decided to “fix” the committee system so that, despite not having a majority in parliament, the Tories would have a majority of members on every important committee in parliament. (Somewhat ridiculously they have more members than any other party on the Scottish Affairs Committee)
Finally, May has brought in and had passed in the Commons, a Bill that will give ministers the right to alter the law without any reference to parliament. The powers have been nick-named Henry VIII powers, after England’s most authoritarian monarch, but many commentators feel that they resemble much more closely The Enabling Act (1933), which allowed Hitler to bypass the Reichstag and rule by ministerial (his) power.
It is a dangerous road to take, and as I said, all the more ironic because, apart from xenophobia, it seems to me that the biggest cries from the popular press were that British laws should be made exclusively by British representatives in a British fashion in Britain, mindful of Great British values (whatever they are). And of course that we keep being told that we MUST respect the British people who voted for Brexit.
Ho hum, funny old world.
May even ignores Scottish Tories.
It seems to me that Colonel Davidson’s glory days were short lived. When the Tories became the opposition in Scotland and then won seats in the UK elections, Ruth was the all conquering hero; the golden girl. She could do no wrong.
Then came the deal with Foster.
Who knows if buoyed by all her successes (and I know that not only didn’t she win anything, in fact, she trailed a dismal second to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in both Edinburgh and London, but it was, without doubt, considerable progress), perhaps she became a bit cheeky with May. It’s hard not to get above yourself when you’ve been relatively successful and your smart ass boss has just made a monumental idiot of hersel;f.
When May had to bribe Foster to the tune of between £1 billion and £1.5 billion to keep herself in power, after her disastrous attempt to show Europe just how strong, stable and red, white and blue she was, there is no doubt that Colonel Davidson was not best pleased.
Davidson made the clear to May, quite rightly, that she wouldn’t tolerate any of the DUP’s loonie right wing, orange, religious claptrap bigotry, and she did it very publicly. Although to be fair there has yet to be any stoning of gays, or beheading those who have had abortions since the DUP have been keeping the Tories in power (so Ruth may have been heeded) it seems that her star has been somewhat diminished.
And now May’s stuttering, stumbling toady second in command has made it clear that he (read May) doesn’t give a fig what the rt honourable and gallant lady thinks about desperately needed immigration to Scotland, the UK government is going to press ahead with what England wants.
In the meantime, Mundell made it clear that he wouldn’t allow Northern Ireland to get a shedload of dosh while Scotland got nothing, shortly after which he appeared to suffer from some sort of amnesia on the subject. Arlene got loads of money and an RAF flight home to Belfast, while Nicola Sturgeon was told to use the tradesman’s entrance when she called, and speak to the parlour maid.
I suppose it would be fair to say that a number of the Tory MPs elected in Scotland were thus chosen because of the Tory hard line on the EU. North East Fishing communities have long considered that the EU quota system to have been responsible for a decline in their living standards. Leaving the EU and getting them their fishing rights back was Tory policy.
Note the tense of the verb.
Because, a couple of weeks ago, Wee Govey took himself off to Denmark to reassure the Danes that, of course, they would be able to fish in Scottish waters after the UK left Europe. (Having your cod and eating it?) There was some notion that we actually couldn’t cope with all these fish on our own. Too wee, too poor and too stupid again, I guess
So, yes, the Tories are certainly fighting hard… it’s just that it’s with each other, and not for Scotland.