In the days of the French revolution a tricoteuse was a woman who sat and knitted while attending public executions. The advance of gender equality means we now have a male version of the tricoteuse in the shape of the Scottish Secretary, David Mundell MP.
The unfortunate thing is that he’s sitting knitting while Scotland is being cudgelled. “Of course,” says he as he gets his wool out, “of course I’ll make sure that the Brexit Bill is amended to protect Scotland’s interests and I’ll do it in the House of Commons so all can see.”
He promised us all some changes to make sure that the powers of the Scottish Parliament don’t get cut when we leave the EU. He promised he’d make them in time to get them into the Bill before it goes off to the House of Lords.
He failed. He dropped a stitch. He missed the deadline. Section 11 of the Brexit Bill has not been changed and the big power-grab is on, moving responsibility and power away from the Scottish Parliament down to the UK Government in London.
We’ve been told that the Scottish Secretary missed his chance to stand up for Scotland because Damian Green resigned in disgrace before making the amendments. We’ve also been told that it’s OK because the House of Lords will make the changes that Scotland needs. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.
Scotland is failed once again. David Mundell’s attention isn’t on what’s best for us or for Scotland; he’s focused on doing what will please his Tory government colleagues. The tragedy is that he won’t even be getting told what to do; he’s in his place because Theresa May knows he’ll never step out of line. The idea of making a fuss, rocking the boat or shouting the odds a little for Scotland’s benefit won’t even occur to him even if he had the courage to do any of it.
Our real hopes now lie at Holyrood. The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government will be the last line. I understand that every party in Holyrood is united in the campaign to make sure that the Scottish powers will remain in Scotland. I read that even the Tories want the Brexit Bill changed so the power stays in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Government will have to bring in new laws to cover the areas where David Mundell failed and it’s good to see that the whole of Scotland’s Parliament will support that. It’s clear that Scotland’s best interests are far better served by a parliament in Edinburgh than a parliament in London.
Governing Scotland is a tale of two cities but our Madame Defarge isn’t really all that involved. Scotland’s future will be fashioned in the democratic debates in the Scottish Parliament rather than on the needles of David Mundell.
Deidre Brock is SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith