IS there any point in the SNP or other pro Scottish independence parties continuing to participate in the Westminster Parliament?

That's the question which has been raised by the SNP's depute leader Keith Brown in an article for The Sunday National.

The intervention was provoked by the recent disgraceful scenes in the Commons when speaker Lindsay Hoyle colluded with Labour leader Keir Starmer to stymie a planned Commons debate on an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Faced with an outcry from outraged SNP MPs and a motion of no confidence which was gaining support, Hoyle promised the SNP another debate on Gaza. However, by last Monday, when it was clear that the move to oust him was losing steam, Hoyle changed his mind and refused to allow another debate after all.

The shabby incident highlighted the contempt in which supporters of Scottish independence are held in Westminster and the impossibility of Scotland's representatives ever getting a fair hearing in the dysfunctional and self-regarding so-called Mother of Parliaments.

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It's bad enough that Scotland's representatives are regularly voted down on issues relating to Scotland, such as occurred recently with Alba MP Neale Hanvey's attempt to promote a motion calling for the Scottish Parliament to have the lawful power to call an independence referendum.

Despite a large majority of Scotland's MPs voting in favour, the move was killed off by the votes of MPs representing seats outwith Scotland.

However, what happened with the aborted Gaza ceasefire debate and vote was even worse. Had the debate gone ahead it could have proven deeply embarrassing to Starmer as a significant number of his MPs, reportedly including a number of front benchers, were set to rebel and vote with the SNP.

Starmer has been struggling to contain discontent within the Labour Party over his repeated refusal to make an unequivocal call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza or to plainly and clearly condemn the war crimes being committed by the Israeli armed forces against the civilian population of Gaza.

The National: Rishi Sunak speaking during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of CommonsRishi Sunak speaking during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons (Image: Maria Unger)

The debate would have provided a rare opportunity for the heavily outnumbered SNP to hold the Labour opposition and the Conservative government to account, and to expose the cracks not far under the surface of Keir Starmer's authoritarian right-wing stranglehold on the Labour leadership.

That could never be allowed, so Starmer showed that he has as much contempt for established Parliamentary procedure as the Tories, and leaned on a weak and compliant Speaker to get him to do his bidding.

Starmer and Hoyle then had the gall to announce that they had done so in order to ensure the safety of MPs, and not to get Starmer out of a political hole he had dug for himself.

Writing for The Sunday National, Keith Brown said that this shabby piece of manoeuvring showed that the Labour Party is "unrepentant about the illegitimate thwarting of the SNPs Opposition Day debate".

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It's not that the Labour Party has a principled objection to the perversion of Parliamentary procedure, such as Boris Johnson's unlawful prorogation of Parliament in 2019, it's that Labour objects to the perversion of Parliamentary procedure when it doesn't benefit the Labour Party.

So much for the promises in 2014 that Scotland's voice would be respected and defended within this supposed Union.

As Keith Brown noted in his article: "Many of us will recall the 'heartfelt' pleas of Labour luminaries like Gordon Brown at the 2014 referendum: ‘Lead us, don't leave us. Scotland's voice will be heard, welcomed and respected, protected even.’

"Contrast that with the joyous faces, the back-slapping of Labour MPs and the cheers – not because they had 'passed' an amendment calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, but simply because, as they saw it, they had scuppered the SNP by usurping – with the help of the Speaker – the SNP's Opposition Day date."

Discussing the double standards of the British nationalist parties when it comes to Scotland, he wrote: "Notions such as the doctrine of the mandate – the right of parties winning elections to exercise their right to implement their manifestos – are suspended in Scotland. This is not normal. At least not in a ‘democracy’.

“The impoverishment of democracy in Scotland originates in Westminster and the establishment of the Labour/Tory anti-democratic elites. This is a poor imitation of a democracy."

The National: Keith Brown

He's not wrong, and adds: "Some have believed for many years that Scotland should withdraw from Westminster, while others believe it is necessary to be there, to make arguments on Scotland’s behalf, to promote and protect Scotland’s interests. I have tended to agree with this.

"But when the institution can so easily be manipulated to thwart Scotland’s representatives, the issue needs, in my view, to be re-examined."

He concludes: "An incompetent Speaker and a contemptuous Knight of the Realm have ensured that many people in Scotland will no longer regard Westminster as democratic and certainly not as theirs. Why should we collude in that contempt?"

On Monday Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said that there is a "debate to be had" about the role of the SNP at Westminster.

Clearly being good little parliamentarians and playing by the rules is ineffective against unscrupulous Labour and Tory parties who rewrite the rules to suit themselves.

Desperate tax cuts won’t save the Conservative Party

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to announce the budget this week amidst widespread speculation that he's set to unveil a series of tax cuts in an effort to boost the Tories' woeful polling figures ahead of the Westminster General Election due later this year.

Hunt told the media on Sunday that he hopes to "show a path" towards tax cuts, but ruled out using borrowing to fill any funding gaps.

This can only mean even more cuts and squeezes on already struggling public services.

The SNP have warned that Scotland is facing another "decade of devastating austerity cuts," due to Hunt's damaging budget.

Drew Hendry MP, the SNP's Westminster economy spokesperson, said: "The UK is fast heading towards another damaging decade of Westminster austerity cuts unless the Tories and Labour Party scrap their economically illiterate fiscal rules - and prioritise investment in public services and economic growth over devastating cuts."

Contempt, rule breaking and austerity, that's Westminster's offer to Scotland.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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