HE is variously described by people who have had direct experience and contact with him as being deceitful, unscrupulous, scheming and dangerous, but the most frequent comment is about his dishonesty. He is said to be “deserving an Oscar for straight-faced lying”. Unfortunately, we can safely predict that the UK government post that Michael Gove has been reshuffled into this week will give him every opportunity to further deploy these characteristics.

Gove’s move to become Westminster Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will put him in charge of spending around £4.6 billion a year on the UK Shared Prosperity Funds through the UK Community Renewal Fund, the Community Ownership Fund and the Levelling Up Fund. The Scottish component of this funding comes from Scotland’s former contribution to EU structural funds, which formerly came back through the Scottish Government. This was a devolved power and process grabbed back by the UK.

As Westminster Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Michael Gove “will make the decisions on what will be funded and will work along with the Secretary of State for Scotland and local partners”.

This is where the UK Government will work to replace and undermine the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government through establishing direct relationships with “Councils, voluntary and community sector organisations and local education providers such as universities”.

As the UK Government guidance says of the areas Michael Gove will control – “The UK Ministry will then formalise agreements with each of the Scottish local authorities, including the arrangements for information sharing, monitoring and an evaluation network”.

The Technical Note for Lead Authorities in Great Britain also refers to “spot checks” on them by the UK Government and a requirement for “reports to be sent by them to the UK Secretary of State” now Michael Gove. This regulatory role will no doubt become a function for the increasing army of civil servants based in Queen Elizabeth House (the UK “hub” in Edinburgh) and the Glasgow hub.

This is one aspect of the new reality deliberately designed and intended by the UK Internal Market Act 2020, which the UK Government now says “paves the way for a new relationship between the UK government and local partners” and provides “a new way of working between UK Government and places”.

Part of the funding deal with local partners and places is of course that, “All project deliverers must ensure that the appropriate UK Government logo is used prominently in all communications materials and public facing documents relating to project activity – including print and publications, through to digital and electronic materials”.

The National: Douglas Ross at FMQs at Holyrood thursday STY..Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times..9/9/21.

The Guidance Note also says that “Advice on bid assessment will be sought from officials from other government departments and devolved administrations if relevant, e.g. to advise on bids in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”. But, there can be absolutely no doubt that the Brexit and Covid pandemic experience of non-consultation will continue. We will only hear the squeak of Douglas Ross and his Tory colleagues saying “how high?” when Michael Gove says “Jump!”.

The Tory hypocrisy will continue about the Scottish Government needing to focus on the day job and an independence referendum being unthinkable during the pandemic and recovery.

Meanwhile Scotland’s Tory second government, unelected and unaccountable in Scotland, will continue to work under the radar to bribe people in Scotland through organisations across the country.

Our only safe route out is through a referendum and independence – let them come soon.

Andrew Reid

Comrie, Perthshire