Davidson savages Corbyn’s IRA sympathies…
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has launched a stinging attack on the Labour leader over his past connexions with Irish Republican terrorists.
Only this week Guido discovered that Richard Barbrook, a self-styled ‘cyber communist’ whom Corbyn unveiled this week as a ‘digital democracy guru’, has been photographed sporting pro-paramilitary badges.
Support for the IRA by senior leadership figures may undermine Labour’s remaining support amongst working-class Scottish unionists, whose vote Davidson is trying to consolidate behind her now second-placed Conservatives.
This strategy is also evident in the Tories’ pressing Labour to clarify their position on independence after the party won a council by-election with a separatist candidate, as reported in the Courier.
…as Brown calls for yet another constitutional overhaul
A former Prime Minister has called for a whole new tranche of ‘federalism’ following the EU vote, arguing that Brexit renders the existing, transformative plans “out of date”.
The Scotsman reports Gordon Brown arguing, as devolutionaries always do and in a very New Labour ‘Third Way’ fashion, that his plans will finally break a “deadlock” between unionism and nationalism.
This would include not only granting Scotland the power to carve out a separate foreign policy (something utterly unknown in actual federations, as Texas or Bavaria will attest) but a politically toxic additional subvention to Holyrood £750 million per year.
Equivocating in the style that Scottish Labour have made their own, he paints this as a compromise between two “extreme” positions: “a Scotland in Britain but not in Europe and a Scotland in Europe but not in Britain”.
Of course that is the actual choice, and unionists should not shrink from it: as this site has consistently argued, and the present evidence now suggests, Brexit makes the job of the Scottish Nationalists much harder. Brown, with his Europhile demi-dismemberment of the UK, would smooth their road again.
Davies warns that Welsh Assembly might be ‘swept away’
On the flip side, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives has written that the anti-establishment mood which drove Brexit might sweep away the Welsh Assembly too.
In an article published on Medium, Andrew RT Davies explains that the pro-Remain Welsh establishment, principally Labour and Plaid Cymru, are totally failing to respect or reflect the country’s Leave voters (who are a majority of those that voted).
At May’s elections a separate party, ‘Abolish the Welsh Assembly’, too 4.4 per cent of the regional vote, despite UKIP (a traditional home of devo-sceptics) returning seven AMs and the Tories largely holding their ground. Nevertheless it seems a remote, if happy, prospect.
On a political level, however, both Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood ought to beware of treating Leave voters, and their parties, as anathema. A popular revolt might not unmake Cardiff Bay, but it could do great damage to the major parties of the status quo.
Sinn Fein wracked by ‘witness coaching’ fallout and pressure on McGuinness
Last week, this column covered the resignation of a Sinn Fein MLA from the Northern Ireland Assembly following allegations that he coached a witness before a committee he chaired.
The fallout continued this week: a councillor and 17 activists from the party’s North Antrim branch – the seat formerly held by now-resigned Daithi McKay – have resigned in protest over his treatment, according to the News Letter.
One of those who quit told the BBC that his decision was protesting the fact that Sinn Fein appeared to him to protect some of its members and hang others out to dry.
This could refer to Martin O Muilleoir, then on the finance committee and now Finance Minister, who is - with the full support of his leader Martin McGuinness – resisting pressure to step down.
Whilst the DUP, in coalition with Sinn Fein, only suggest that he do so, the smaller Ulster Unionists are also on the attack over something else.
The News Letter reports Mike Nesbitt, their leader, laying into McGuinness over the latter’s demand that the British Government publish all its Troubles-related security files, even whilst the Republican leader keeps his own IRA history a secret.
SNP under pressure over education and finances
In 2014 this column regularly referenced – and linked to – an excellent column in the Economist which set out why Welsh Labour’s anti-reformist approach to education policy had been such a disaster. They are now writing, in less apocalyptic terms, about Scotland.
Education reform was, in the brief window between May’s Scottish elections and June’s referendum, to have been the top priority of Nicola Sturgeon’s new ministry. It still needs to happen, but the Nationalists look set to devote the best of their energies, talents, and time to the constitution again for the time being.
Meanwhile, Aberdeen University tell the Press and Journal that the student cap the SNP put in place to keep tuition free has forced it to turn away potential doctors who might otherwise have eased what the paper calls Scotland’s “GP crisis”.
The economy has also hurt the Nationalists this week: ongoing uncertainty caused by referendum speculation has doubtless contributed to Scotland’s falling share of UK inward investment; the First Minister has refused requests to publish the costs of her publicly-financed trips to the continent; and the Conservatives pressed the attack on the Scottish Government’s unsustainable deficit.