by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

X / Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

There is a Bill making its way through the Westminster Parliament which is receiving very little attention from the media. I’ve tried several online searches and cannot find any recent articles about it. The Bill is titled "Economic Activities of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill" and it really ought to have been in the news because both the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have withheld consent for it to pass. Naturally, the Tory Westminster Government has ignored this and, in direct contravention of the now discredited Sewell Convention, is charging ahead anyway.

The stated purpose of this Bill, another brainchild of the ultra-authoritarian Michael Gove, is to ensure that all public entities within the UK adhere to UK foreign policy. This tramples over the historic right of public bodies such as local Councils, Universities etc to make their own decisions when entering into procurement contracts, and it will also affect the ability of the Scottish Government to make procurement decisions which do not align with the stance of the UK Government. For example, deciding to boycott Israeli suppliers would be illegal if this Bill comes into force.

Now, you might believe that public bodies should be barred from undermining official Government policy, which is a fairly authoritarian view in itself, but the Bill goes a lot further. Not only would the Scottish Government be banned from making any decision to boycott a supplier on moral or ethical grounds, they would not be allowed to express any opinion at all as to why they might want to. Even saying that they would like to boycott a supplier but are prevented from doing so by the Bill would be illegal. Any Government Minister or local Councillor or University official could face criminal charges if they dared to even mention that they disagree with the UK stance.

This is Orwellian to say the least, but it is the next logical step after the Internal Markets Act, and it is designed to stamp out any form of protest by anyone working in the public sector. To say this is authoritarian is an understatement.

Yet you will struggle to find anyone in the mainstream media who is talking about this. There were a few articles in mid-2023, but I’ve been unable to find anything since then. Yet the Bill is progressing, and the Tories are refusing to accept any amendments to it because, in true Tory fashion, they want to stifle any argument and enforce their own extreme views on everyone.

Why is the media not talking about this? I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

It is worth remembering that we were assured that Brexit would not result in a Westminster power grab, yet that is precisely what the Tories are pushing through at every opportunity. Whatever you think about the competence or otherwise of the Scottish Government, the fact is that Westminster is taking steps to prevent it operating as it should. That is an affront to democracy.

The House of Lords may delay this Bill, but the only thing that might stop it is a General Election. Even then, Keir Starmer supports so many Tory policies that he may well pick up this Bill and push it through anyway.

There is only one way Scotland can escape the ever-increasing authoritarianism of the UK. Sadly, it is hard to see how we can achieve our aim of becoming a normal, self-governing country because nobody seems to care about what Westminster is doing to us.