“Out of touch, out of date, out of time”. It’s a phrase that always seems to be used when the speaker, or author, disagrees with the chosen path of another party.
For example, Hilary Clinton called her Republican opponents and would be Presidential candidates “out of touch and out of date in what they’re saying”. After his conference speech in September, Jeremy Corbyn was called “out of date” in the Daily Mirror of all places. To keep things even, here is the Prime Minister being called “out of touch”.
The common thread for all these comments was that they came from people who oppose the protagonist in the story.
So when the Chief Executive of the independence supporting Business for Scotland calls Westminster “out of touch, out of date and out of time” it’s easy to think to yourself: well you would say that wouldn’t you?
Mr MacIntyre-Kemp is utterly correct about one thing – for the vast majority of us who pay close attention to Scottish politics, Holyrood has replaced Westminster as the focal point of our debate. But to suggest that this means Westminster’s time is done is an extension of reality and utterly dismissive to the millions of people who look to Westminster as their only parliament.
Using the recent vote in Westminster on Syrian airstrikes as his “case in point”, Mr MacIntyre-Kemp says that this decision is based on an outdated vision of what Britain was rather than what it is now. The debate over the rights and wrongs of the decision to take action has been covered extensively elsewhere so let’s not go into it. However it is worth reading the comments of Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, who simply puts that “What I am certain of is that those who are so certain that they are right are certainly not as clever or good as they think they are.”
The point is that this debate shouldn’t be a sign of Westminster’s failings but its strengths. While Mr MacIntrye-Kemp, the SNP and many people around the country may be disappointed at the outcome of the debate and with the decision to bomb ISIS targets in Syria sometimes in a democracy your way, your arguments and your beliefs don’t always win through.
This brings us to another point. The authors of this site voted for independence in last years referendum but, like many others have, we’ve had to recognise that the majority of the country did not agree. For those that argue the election of 56 SNP MPs at the General Election was a shift towards independence it could easily be interpreted as an intelligent Scottish electorate knowing they can elect a party who only has Scotland’s interest at heart safe in the knowledge they can then again vote No in any future referendum. We are a canny lot, right enough.
So it was with dismay that I read Mr MacIntryre-Kemp’s thoughts that “We now have a two-tier class system consisting of those who believe in Scotland and want what’s best for the people of Scotland and those who don’t.” Perhaps it is because we are more optimistic about human nature but we wouldn’t subscribe to the fact that anyone who voted No, or believes in a strong Scotland within the UK does not have Scotland’s best interests at heart. A conscious uncoupling of Scotland from rUK is in all likelihood well underway but a vote will still be needed and you don’t win votes by alienating people who disagree with your view.
A decentralised UK, with more autonomous regions and strong parliaments for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland as described by Mr MacIntyre-Kemp may be the future.
And if that’s the case, and for as long as Scotland remains as part of the Union, then we all need to focus improving Westminster’s processes and not simply dismissing them. If for no other reason than it has powers that we all want to see reside at Holyrood.