by Rab Bruce’s Spider

the paper on Scotland’s place in Europe published by the Scottish Government yesterday is a fairly comprehensive look at the various options facing Scotland. It pretty much sets out the various ways Scotland could remain in the UK and still manage to offset the worst damages of Brexit. This, as you may recall, is in keeping with the wishes expressed by every Party in the Scottish Parliament in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

Of course, the unionist Parties have now changed their minds. NO doubt in accordance with instructions from their Westminster bosses, the Tories are now very pro-Brexit, a complete reversal of their previous stance. Scottish Labour have decided that anything the SNP want must be bad, and the Lib Dems are so set against the SNP that they have actually gone against the views of their Westminster bosses and are now anti-EU.

What this all means is that a well researched, cogently argued and very reasonable document has been dismissed out of hand by all three Parties, all of whom have chosen to concentrate on the fact that the SNP would prefer Scotland to be independent. But, while that is mentioned in the document, it is not the main thrust of the paper, which sets out various ways in which the damage of Brexit could be mitigated in Scotland.

If the Unionist Parties were capable of behaving like real politicians, they might have argued that the latter chapters of the document are where their real problem lies. This is because the Scottish Government has set out what additional powers the Scottish Parliament would need in order to carry out the revised duties which flow from the suggestions it made in the opening chapters. This is where the real threat to the UK lies, for the powers are quite extensive and would give Scotland something approaching Home Rule or, at least, something a lot closer to Home Rule than the current Devolution arrangements. But that’s not how Unionist politicians operate, so we have been left with them simply shouting that the SNP are being divisive when the entire situation has come about because Westminster pandered to UKIP and created the Brexit shambles in the first place.

it is also worth noting that not a single MSP from any of the Unionist Parties has come up with any positive proposals for how Scotland could remain in the European Single Market while also remaining part of the UK. They have all simply fallen into line with the Westminster dictat that Scotland must do as it is told.

We were told that Scotland should lead the UK, not leave it, so it is rather galling that, when the Scottish Government becomes the first devolved Government to issue any sort of outline plan for dealing with Brexit, it is immediately derided by Unionist Parties and then, to make matters worse, dismissed by Theresa May who clearly has no intention of keeping her promise to involve Scotland in the Brexit negotiations.

As for the Scottish Government’s proposals, one notable thing missing from the document was mention of Human Rights. While Workers’ Rights and other social rights were discussed, one of the major compromises the Scottish Government has apparently made is to accept that Scottish citizens will no longer be safeguarded by the European Convention on Human Rights. That’s more than a bit worrying, although it could be argued that their comments on social protection might mean they intend to use the additional powers they have demanded to copy the ECHR rather than sign up to the proposed British Bill of Rights. If that is their plan, they haven’t said so in as many words.

But, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what this document proposes. While it has been largely applauded in Europe and America, it has been scoffed at in the UK, which is symptomatic of the way Scotland is regarded by Westminster, by Scottish Unionist politicians and by the bulk of the Scottish media. This was inevitable, and actually plays into the SNP’s hands.

That’s because the documents contents are not nearly as important as the fact that it has been produced at all. What the Scottish Government are doing is showing that they are willing to compromise, that they are prepared to offer suggestions and solutions, and that they are following the democratic desire of the Scottish electorate by attempting to find a solution which would retain many of the benefits of EU membership while also remaining part of the UK. By dismissing these attempts, the Unionists are simply showing that they do not value Scotland at all, and that can only help provide ammunition for the SNP if and when the next IndieRef comes along. They’ll be able to say that they tried, that they made positive suggestions and that all their efforts were mocked, derided and ignored. This will leave the Scottish electorate with making the choice between going our own way or sticking with the sinking UK. The result of that decision is still very much in the balance, but many people who voted No last time will surely be persuaded that the calls for Scotland to be an active and equal partner in the UK were just so much empty rhetoric.