Brown promised a federal UK, we got a feral UK

On Thursday evening Gordie Broon delivered another of his tedious Broonterventions in front of an invited audience of Labour party hacks, about the only people left who can muster a show of enthusiasm for the Gordosaur’s meaningless pronouncements. We get these Broonterventions every couple of months, each of which is billed as an important new potential development in Scotland’s position within the UK but which invariably turn out to consist of anodyne proposals for tweaking tax powers or the timing of traffic lights, to be put before some grandiose commission at some unspecified point in the future, and none of which have any chance of ever seeing the light of day.

The “Making Britain work for Scotland event” featured Brown, Anas Sarwar, the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, and assorted other Labour worthies. Only two of the eight speakers billed to appear actually live in Scotland, the sole qualification of one of them to pontificate on Scotland’s constitutional future, the actor Arabella Weir, is that she appears in a popular Scottish sit com. And indeed Scotland’s place in the UK does indeed seem like a bit of a farce. It’s very telling that the Labour party comes to Scotland to talk at Scottish people, or at least an invited audience of Labour party hacks, instead of talking with Scotland, Scotland’s place in the UK is to do as it is told, and if any Scots outwith Labour’s cosy little circle jerk were permitted to speak at this ‘rally’, they might have pointed out that Britain can only be made to work for Scotland in the same way that a bicycle can be made to work for a fish.

Gordie wasn’t very interested in any of these fantasy reforms that he tells us are vital when he was actually in a position to do something about what passes for the British constitution. Neither was he very interested in the months after the 2014 independence referendum when having helped to secure the No vote he so craved with his infamous Vow, he buggered off into a sullen silence instead of doing what he had promised, which was to personally ensure that the leaders of the British political parties fulfilled the commitments to Scotland which he’d got them sign up to on faux parchment paper on the front page of the Daily Record.

That was when Gordie promised Scotland that within two years of a No vote the United Kingdom would undergo sweeping constitutional reform which would transform it into the closest thing possible to a fully federal state. To be fair to him he was almost right, nine years on from the Vow, the United Kingdom has been transformed into the closest thing possible to a fully feral state. None of Broon’s Vows have been kept. Instead of federalism we got Brexit, which Scotland voted heavily against, although that hasn’t stopped the Conservatives from using it as an excuse to embark upon a new round of centralisation and introduce a slew of measures designed to by pass, undermine and weaken the devolution settlement. Moreover they have done so without even pretending to seek a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland to do so.

But having seen all of his promises so comprehensively trashed, and having done absolutely nothing to defend the Scottish Parliament, Brown still has the audacity to pace up and down a stage, acting as though he has the key to Scotland’s constitutional future in the apparent belief that he still retains some credibility with anyone outwith the Labour party. Even BBC Scotland is just going through the motions these days when Gordie delivers one of his banal Broonterventions.

Ahead of the British nationalist event that doesn’t think it’s nationalist at all because it’s British and it’s Labour, Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government Independence minister, called on Brown to apologise for all the broken promises that he has previously made about Scotland’s place within the British state. Like that’s going to happen, telling Gordie Broon to apologise for his broken promises to Scotland is like telling a starving dog to explain quantum mechanics, even if it could grasp the concept, it’s not going to be interested.

Apparently Broon thinks Britain can work for Scotland by a future Labour government implementing the underwhelming proposals contained in Broon’s much hyped Constitutional Review, which was not so much a damp squib as a burst crisp packet at the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench. But we already know what is in store for us if Keir Starmer does succeed in forming a majority government after the next General Election. We will get the same hard and uncompromising Brexit that the Tories inflicted upon us, no reform of the painfully unfair first past the post voting system that Labour is as much wedded to as the Tories are, and some commission which will look at proposals to reform the House of Lords which will report back in a few years with some minor plans to tweak the existing system ever so slightly which will then be gutted by MPs in Commons committees before ultimately passing into law a provision to do nothing that changes anything important.

What will be signally absent from anything that the Labour party proposes is any binding mechanism to entrench the powers of the Scottish Parliament and to ensure that it is protected from the future government of a Conservative party which is already alarmingly English nationalist, extreme right wing, and which grows ever more authoritarian with every passing electoral cycle while Labour chases after it waving a British flag.

Britain cannot be made to work for Scotland because Britain’s system of government is fundamentally broken. Westminster doesn’t work for Britain never mind Scotland. Starmer and the Labour party are far to in thrall to the possibility that this system offers of absolute power to the party that wins a Westminster majority to want to change it. You’d be as well asking a junkie to give up drugs as they eye a packet of heroin that’s being dangled in front of them. This Broontervention will be exactly like all the others, a pointless and self indulgent waste of time from a power junkie eying his next fix.


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