IN the closing weeks of the 2014 independence referendum campaign, as they desperately tried to put the brakes on the rise in support for independence, Labour, the LibDems and the Conservatives all signed up to a promise to the people of Scotland and swore to defend and strengthen the devolution settlement.

All three agreed that if Scotland voted against independence, the powers of the Scottish Parliament would be entrenched and placed beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter or change without the express consent of Holyrood.

As we all know, that's not what happened. Following the Brexit vote, the Conservative government of Theresa May sought and was granted a ruling from the UK Supreme Court that the provision in the post-2014 Scotland Act that the Westminster Government would not "normally" legislate on devolved matters without the consent of Holyrood was essentially meaningless window-dressing which Westminster was free to ignore.

The Conservative governments of Theresa May and then Boris Johnson have not hesitated to use their majorities at Westminster to make unilateral changes to the devolution settlement, bypassing and undermining Holyrood – they have not concerned themselves with even making a pretence of obtaining a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland to do so.

Post-Brexit, the Conservatives have been emboldened in their assaults on a devolution settlement which they never liked in the first place. Devolution is incompatible with their vision of a reactionary, British nationalist, centralised UK. The Johnson government's UK Internal Market Act specifically gave the Conservative government the power to make spending decisions on devolved matters in Scotland and Wales, despite both Edinburgh and Cardiff voicing strong objections to a blatant Westminster power grab.

Yesterday, Holyrood debated an SNP motion which called for the Scottish Parliament to agree that the UK Government's spending review plans for its Levelling Up agenda and its UK Shared Prosperity Fund "infringes the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament by circumventing the devolution settlement to deliver policy in areas that are clearly and firmly within the ambit of the Scottish Government".

Naturally, and entirely predictably, the Conservatives opposed the motion. Equally predictably and even more shamefully, MSPs from Labour and the Alex Cole-Hamilton glee club voted along with the Scottish Tories. It's a sign that both these parties have now completed their transition to full-blown Westminster supremacist British nationalists. 

For Labour it's an especially shameful state of affairs. This is the party that likes to style itself as the party of devolution and claims to base its opposition to independence on the possibility of further devolution within the UK. Yet when faced with a motion condemning the Conservatives for traducing a promise which the Labour and LibDem parties both made to the people of Scotland, they obediently vote in support of the Tories.

Labour and the LibDems are more worried about validating the argument that the devolution settlement is facing mortal danger from Johnson's Anglo-British nationalist Brexit government and hence strengthening the case for independence and the justification for another independence referendum than they are about standing up for and defending the devolution settlement which they themselves claim obviates the need for independence. If Labour and the LibDems won't defend devolution, they really are parties with no point and no purpose.

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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