Saturday, February 10, 2018

The weasel-worded power grab

I suspect I'm not alone in finding Michael Settle's gossip-fuelled reporting for the Herald over the last 24 hours deeply unsatisfactory from a reader's point of view.  The first of the two articles claims that Westminster is about to reverse its plans for a power-grab that would undermine the existing devolution settlement, seemingly on the basis of a single anonymous source who is "close to the process".  Given that this source praises the UK government for supposedly doing everything that could possibly be wished of it, and criticises the Scottish government for daring to have a different interpretation of what is on offer, it can be reasonably inferred that the source is on the UK side of the fence.  So why does Settle not tell us that?  Why does he not explain his reasons for apparently believing this source can be regarded as authoritative despite not being an objective witness?  When this biased source paints the Scottish government's stated frustration with the process as being somehow disingenuous, why are we being implicitly asked to accept that an anonymous and self-interested briefing from one side is more credible than an on-the-record briefing from the other side?  And why are the Scottish government not given an opportunity to respond to the source's assertions?

When the source said that powers that should be returning automatically to Holyrood will now be "put...more directly into the hands of the devolved administrations", was he or she challenged on the obvious point that 'more directly' are weasel words implying that the powers will not 'entirely directly' be controlled by Holyrood?  When the source chucked in the enormous caveat that the UK Government will be empowered "to put in appropriate safeguards to protect the internal market as and when they are required", was he or she challenged on the sinister implication that this will be an enforced principle, not one agreed on an equal and voluntary basis by Holyrood and Westminster? Was it put to him or her that all of the above may be a pretty straightforward explanation for why the Scottish goverment genuinely feel that any concessions so far are inadequate?  And if the source was challenged, as he or she surely should have been, why were we not provided with the response?

Even more mysteriously, Settle's second article does a complete about-face on the "Scottish government rejecting the concessions unreasonably" stuff, and instead claims that Nicola Sturgeon is now totally cool with what's on offer and will shortly be declaring victory.  For all I know that could be true, but where's the evidence?  As far as I can see no source is cited at all this time, whether anonymous or on-the-record.  Did the information come to Settle in a dream?  Did he consult a psychic?  Does he just feel it in his bones?

None of this strikes me as being remotely good enough.  It's hard not to feel that there's a puppet-master behind the scenes who wants to frame this story in a particular way, and that Settle is happy enough being the puppet.

34 comments:

  1. Kangaroo says
    You can bet your last brass razoo that this is NOT the real story. WM never plays nice, there will be some other "sheep dressed up as lamb" to be sold by the MSM to a gullible public and a rejection by the SG as being "more treachery".
    The SG should go with the Continuity Bill regardless instead of waiting to be "normally" shafted again.

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  2. Another point that wants to be factored in is that Michael Settle is a piss-poor journalist.

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  3. I think that when they say Edinburgh, they're talking of Mundell and the Scottish Office hence the increase in staff and spend

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    1. Latest is that the Tory ministers are going to drip drip the Brexit plans over the next three weeks with Teresa May giving the final outcome of their proposals. Three weeks time is the Tory Party's North British conference in Aberdeen. Will she announcing the raft of new powers coming from Brussels to Scotland? Hollywood or The new UK Scottish Office in Leith? Will she claiming all these new Powers are in the hands of Scots rather than the EU foreigners to try and discourage Scots from wanting to REMAIN EU Citizens.

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  4. Fine piece of analysis. One of the best I've read on the subject. Keeping your scalpel sharp, good, you'll need it again soon.

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    1. ... with the turn of events in progress, it's a machete James will be in need of !!

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  5. Points well made and yes, there is nothing in those pieces that 'settle' anything. A plot handed to him on a plate with poisonous intent!

    O/t...Bit concerned too about the 'revelations' about Oxfam. Strange how shortly after the charity warned about Tory policies and was lambasted as being 'too political' by many on Tory right. I may be wrong but uk has form...

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    1. It’s good to be suspicious Morag when WM is involved.

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  6. The irony is is that the SG do not want powers transferred. They want the EU to retain them. You nat sis want to be a puppet state.

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    1. Whereas you want Scotland to be free and independent, presumably?

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    2. Christ you must live an awfy sad life GWC hunched over yer wee keyboard just hoping for another SGP blog so you can make another pathetic reply sad sad sad

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    3. Young James we are free and independent in a political economic Union with RuK. The Scots voted to remain in the Union and the UK voted to leave the EU.
      You lot of traitors want to leave the UK Union and sell Scotland out to the EU.


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    4. That's a contradiction in terms. You can't whinge about the "Nat Sis" supposedly not wanting Scotland to govern itself...and then say you don't want Scotland to govern itself.

      Nuts.

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    5. deek, the more desperate he and the rest of his BritNat ilk become, the more time they spend whinging here and on other forums. It's an interesting indicator of their fear level.

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    6. Young James who is whinging? Not me. Scotland governs itself as decided by the Scottish people. The Scottish people decided to remain in the Union. Only fascists deny the democratic will of the people. In the case of you nat sis it is just old fashioned hatred of the English.

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    7. J.R. Tomlin, you need to get over 1688 and 1745. Scotland is free from the bum bhoys.

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    8. Your sectarianism and homophobia come creeping out of the woodwork. It's always nice when you BritNats show yourselves for what you are.

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    9. If, in your peculiar little world, Scotland can somehow "govern itself" by voting to be ruled by London, it can most certainly govern itself by voting to share limited powers with the EU.

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    10. Tomlin you need to switch on and stop talking crap. You are the sectarian English hater. James in your imagination Scotland is run from London so why not scrap Holyrood and put the money into the public services.

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    11. On what planet would a London Tory government invest savings in public services? Is that a euphemism for Trident?

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    12. How to change the subject when no other answer or suggestion is available. The Trident excuse is old and out dated young James.

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    13. Furthermore young James how much money does the Tartan Tories give to the private sector for public services in Scotland... Stagecoach, First Bus and the rail franchises, outsourcing cleaning services to low paid workers etc etc! You really need to get rid of your Tory hang ups young James you are one just accept it.

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    14. State of this.

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  7. Beware Greeks bearing gifts.....!

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  8. This has all the signs of a kite flown by Mundell or one of his minions, a story that can be denied if necessary. But that does not necessarily make it untrue.

    The UK government has promised to bring forward an amendment in the Lords (now long overdue). They know that, if they don’t, they are likely to be heavily defeated in the Lords on this issue (and several others) and that they may subsequently struggle to reverse Lords amendments in the Commons. (This is the point, if it ever comes, at which the Scottish Tory MPs will finally have to stand up and fight if they are not to lose all credibility.)

    The argument here is not between unionists and nationalists as currently understood: it’s about a fundamental principle of the 1998 devolution settlement. On paper, all Labour and Lib Dem Lords, as well as many cross-benchers and some pro-devolution Tories, should be opposed to Clause 11 as is stands. The UK government will no doubt try to insert some weasel wording to try to shuffle some powers to Westminster through the backdoor but there are probably enough lawyers in the Lords to sort that out.

    Undoubtedly in an ideal world the UK government would like to repatriate the powers to Westminster, not Holyrood. But given the scale of the Brexit problems piling up, from London’s perspective this is a minor issue, not worth wasting Parliamentary time and ammunition on. Even from a Scottish government perspective there are more urgent issues to take a stand on, such as the customs union and control over immigration.

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    1. Interesting points but I disagree that Scottish Tory MPs will have to stand up and fight if they are not to lose all credibility. Scottish Tory MPs have long since lost all credibility and worse, I believe they have never cared at all about that, nor needed to.

      I especially disagree that the power grab by Westminster is a 'minor issue'!

      This power grab is of huge importance to Westminster and it's economic power and Westminster, Lords and most MPs alike would very much like Scotland to shut up about it.

      From the Scottish Government perspective there are numerous urgent issues to take a stand on, including the issue of having any powers stolen by Westminster, all of which will most certainly have an extremely adverse affect on Scotland, and that is exactly what our Scottish Government is doing =)


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    2. Imagine how weird the world has gone when someone as charisma- and influence-free as Mundell has "minions". It should be laughable, but it amazingly how things are.

      I think we're coming to and end with this mental union. It reminds me of the crazy end-of-days atmosphere in clampdown eastern Europe and moving statues Ireland. A last gasp before the inevitable change.

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  9. Only a fool, or a rabid Britnat, would believe such stories by Settle.

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    1. Absolutely.
      No. 6 on this list of techniques.

      https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting-in-relationships

      They are at it all the time. I suspect everything as an element of it - even our shiny new weather map.

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    2. I meant to add that the soundest piece of advice in that link above is simply to ignore everything the perpetrator says - just base your views on what they DO.

      We spend too much time responding to UK words. We need to educate ourselves about their actions, and inactions. (This is not a criticism of the blog!)

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  11. James, I completely agree with you, but how surprised should we be? Either at the Herald's position on this, but even more that it was thought necessary to refer to safeguards to protect the UK single market. Just over a year ago the Supreme Court confirmed - as if it had to - the sovereignty of Westminster. Building in safeguards is not necessary - the HoC can simply legislate. Or a Minister can use their Henry VIII powers. Nor is there any need for LCM for the Supreme Court went to the trouble of telling us that this was no more than a political convention with no standing in law.

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  12. And, who is the head of the Scotland Office Press Officer? It is a certain Mr Magnus Gardham, former Political Editor of The Herald. I imagine he maintains contact with former colleagues like Mr Michael Settle.

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  13. Mundell has found his useful idiot in Settle , threw him a few soundbites and knew he would play his part in spinning them . Unfortunately for Mundell we all know a plant when we see it ,Mundell is the guy who loads the gun then runs away to let other wannabes' fire it . Stick to the Continuity Bill SNP , push it for all it's worth , that is what really has the frighteners on them , forget all the incoherent , unsubstantiated , manufactured , irrelevant , guff ,

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