JAMIE Hepburn, the Scottish Government's Minister for Independence, has accused the Conservative government of "blackmail tactics" in order to force Holyrood to give its consent to Westminster legislation which affects devolved competencies.

During a debate in the Holyrood chamber on the protection of the Scottish Parliament's powers, he said the threat of proceeding without consent from Holyrood has now become a "weapon" for the UK Government.

He said: "During the course of our negotiations on the Energy Bill, UK Government ministers indicated that the amendments they offered were conditional on Scottish ministers recommending that Scottish Parliament give consent to all relevant provisions in the bill.

“If the Scottish Government did not recommend consent, the amendments would not be lodged or would be withdrawn. This approach effectively reverses the Sewel Convention.”

READ MORE: Minister for independence slams Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer at local Yes meeting

The Sewel Convention states that the British Government will not "normally" legislate on devolved matters without the consent of Holyrood. During the 2014 independence campaign, the Better Together parties promised to enshrine the convention in law – and a clause to that effect was written into the Scotland Act in 2016.

However, following the Brexit vote, Theresa May's government sought and obtained a ruling from the UK Supreme Court that, despite the 2016 Scotland Act, the convention remains a political convention which has no legal force.

Since then, British Governments have repeatedly ignored the convention, rendering it effectively meaningless. In practice, the convention is now that British Governments will legislate on devolved matters if they wish, and will force the Scottish Government to, in the words of Alister Jack: "Suck it up."

The National: Jamie Hepburn

During the debate, Hepburn (above) noted that the Conservative government had breached the Sewel Convention eleven times recently, and that it would do so again.

A convention can only work in practice if those who have the ultimate power agree to deny themselves the use of that power. That in turn will only happen when Westminster respects the Scottish Parliament and the democratic choices of the people of Scotland. It is abundantly clear that the Tories have zero respect for the Scottish Parliament or the devolution settlement.

The Sewel Convention is dead, and so is the substance and purpose of the devolution settlement.

Rishi Sunak speaks to the faithful

Rishi Sunak addressed the Conservative conference today. Before he commenced his speech, we were regaled with a warm up act from his wife Akshata Murthy, who waffled on about "aspiration”. Remember kids, if you go to one of the most expensive private schools in the country, leverage your connections to land a job at Goldman Sachs, become a partner in a hedge fund whose holding company is based in the Cayman Islands, and then marry the daughter of a billionaire, you too can enjoy a luxurious lifestyle with a country mansion and a penthouse in Malibu.

Murthy went on to tell us that her husband wants all young people to have the same opportunities as their daughters. Perhaps if he abolished non-dom status and forced his wife to pay her fair share of taxes, other young people just might have a chance of being educated in a school whose roof was not at risk of collapsing on their heads.

Suella Braverman channels ‘rivers of blood’

The National: Suella Braverman

On Tuesday at the Conservative conference, the Home Secretary (above) gave a performance which rivals the infamous "rivers of blood" speech of Enoch Powell in its hyperbolic and bigoted scaremongering. She vilified trans people and asylum seekers and warned of a "hurricane of migrants" about to descend upon the UK. It was too much even for an elected Conservative member of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff, who was escorted out of the conference venue by police for interjecting during the speech that Braverman's comments were "childish".

Braverman's speech was a lot worse than childish. Fascism arrives by inventing an enemy, usually members of minority and marginalised groups, grossly overstating any threat that those groups might represent, then claiming in highly emotive language that only the fascists can protect children, women, and society as a whole from the supposed threat that these small and relatively powerless groups represent.

Powell's 1968 speech resulted in him being immediately sacked as shadow defence secretary by then Conservative leader Edward Heath. Braverman's speech was enthusiastically applauded by the vast majority of those in attendance at the Conservative conference.

It is the Conservative party which is now the biggest threat to women, children, and society as a whole. In pursuit of neutralising the supposed "threat" that asylum seekers and trans people represent, the Conservatives will trash the civil rights and liberties of all of us. They will do so while espousing increasingly extreme and authoritarian measures, which undermine even further the already fragile checks and balances upon which democracy depends.

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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