ANYONE who was daft enough to have thought that a Conservative defeat at the next Westminster election and Sunak's replacement with a Labour government led by Keir Starmer would mean an end to British nationalist attacks on the devolution settlement is in for a very big disappointment.

The right-wing Labour Party of Keir Starmer, whose Scottish branch office is firmly in the grip of the über-unionists headed by Ian ‘union flag jaiket’ Murray, Jackie Baillie, and Anas Sarwar, is every bit as much a threat to the devolution settlement as the Conservatives.

The Tories hate devolution because they are Anglo-British nationalist centralists. Labour hates devolution when it doesn't do what the Labour Party intended it to do, which was to provide them with a permanent power base in Edinburgh even while the Conservatives are in power in Westminster.

The Labour Party's support for devolution was always transactional. It was about what Scotland could do for the Labour Party, and never about what the Labour Party could do for Scotland. That remains as true today as it did in 1997, when Tony Blair enacted a heavily watered-down version of the original devolution proposals.

READ MORE: Inverclyde set to hike council tax by 8.2 per cent despite freeze

However, since the Scottish people have for the past decade and a half refused to cooperate with what the Labour Party deems to be the 'true' purpose of devolution, which is to give power to the Labour Party, Labour is more than willing to undermine devolution in order to get what it wants.

A case in point is the recent action of Stephen McCabe, the Labour leader of Inverclyde council, who has written to Michael Gove, that well known ally of the People's Party (sic), pleading with him to overrule the decision of the Scottish Government to freeze council tax.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has offered Scottish local authorities £147 million in funding to keep the tax at current levels, with an additional £45 million to come from the UK Government's Budget which is due to be announced next week.

McCabe has urged Gove to bypass the Scottish Government and in so doing undermine the devolution settlement.

The National: Anas Sarwar

He wrote in a letter addressed to Gove and copied to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt: "You will be aware from press reports that the Scottish Government’s Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance Shona Robison MSP has advised Scottish Councils that they will only receive a share of the estimated £45m of Barnett consequentials from the UK Government if they agree to freeze council tax."

He added: "I am seeking your urgent intervention to ensure that all councils in Scotland receive a share of this additional funding, should it be allocated by the Chancellor in next week’s UK Budget."

Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of this particular case, by urging Conservative ministers to overrule the Scottish Government on this issue, McCabe is setting a precedent and giving them tacit permission to intervene in future on other matters.

He's opening the door to the undermining of the devolution settlement. It's especially foolish as the Conservatives will seize on any excuse to attack devolution.

READ MORE: Mark Drakeford pans Foreign Office for threats to devolved offices abroad

McCabe has extended them a hand to do so, but in the words of the Spanish expression: ‘dales la mano y te tomarán el codo’ - give them a hand and they'll take your elbow.

Following McCabe's letter, West Dunbartonshire Labour council leader Martin Rooney is also understood to have written to Gove urging Tory ministers to step in over the Scottish council tax freeze.

Anas Sarwar has so far remained silent as senior figures within his party are rubbishing the devolution settlement calling for an effective return to direct Westminster rule.

Don't look to the Tory enabling Labour Party in Scotland to defend the devolution settlement.

The National: Chris McEleny ..Christopher McEleny.

Alba’s general secretary Chris McEleny (above) said: “Anas Sarwar remained silent yesterday hoping nobody would notice one Labour Council effectively calling for the devolution settlement to be ripped up but today we have more Labour councils joining this call.

"This is now a full blown crisis for Scottish Labour. Anas Sarwar must urgently distance himself from these proposals and confirm that he believes it is for the Scottish Parliament to determine how Barnett consequentials are allocated – not Michael Gove, not the UK Chancellor or anyone at Westminster."

Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, commented: "Anas Sarwar must urgently confirm whether he supports his councillors undermining Scottish local government and the Scottish Parliament and, if not, what action he will take against them."

Michael Gove faces investigation from Westminster authorities

Meanwhile Gove has become the latest Tory to be placed under investigation by the Westminster Standards watchdog, although the terms Westminster and standards typically only appear in the same sentence when connected by the words low or abysmal.

The investigation, which was announced today, reportedly relates to the Housing Secretary's register of financial interests, according information published on the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner's website.

Details of the allegations which Gove is being investigated for have not been published, but the announcement links to paragraph 14 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct.

The National: Michael Gove

This states: "Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

"They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders."

Details of investigations carried out by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner are typically kept secret until a conclusion is reached and those under investigation are barred from discussing the allegations.

However, last week The Guardian reported that Gove had failed to register VIP hospitality he enjoyed at a football match with a Conservative donor whose firm he had recommended for multimillion-pound personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This development makes Gove the seventh Conservative MP who is currently under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

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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