...it's a devolved administration of the British State.
Words can be appended to objects in order to make people think about the object differently or wrongly.
It moves understanding of the object in a different direction and therefore towards a new reality.
In this case, the word "Government" applied to something which does not have the powers of an independent Government encourages people to think that the thing actually has the powers of an independent Government.
Scottish Nationalists understand this very well.
They know they can shift the perception of reality, and then the actual physical reality itself, through the manipulation of words.
For example, when they were elected to Holyrood in 2007, Alex Salmond and the SNP started calling the Scottish Executive, the "Scottish Government".
Yet it was not a "Government" because it did not have the independent powers of a Government.
But the SNP wanted it to have the powers of an independent Government and so they started to call it that in order to move understanding, and then physical reality, in that direction.
There is only One British Government
In reality, there is only one Government in Britain, and that is the British Government of the whole of the United Kingdom.
The administration at Holyrood was, and remains, a devolved arm of the British Parliament and Government – what we call the British State.
It has limited law-making powers and so the term "Executive" is appropriate because it stops short of the independent powers suggested by the word "Government".
Holyrood is a devolved branch of the one British Parliament and Government, in a vertical not horizontal, hierarchical not level, relationship.
We illustrate the relationship in our graphic, above.
It was not, and is not, in any sense an equal "Government" with the one central collective British Government.
However, by giving it the name "Government" it suggests that it is directly equal with the British Government. This is to misrepresent and consequently destabilise the constitutional, and union, relationship.
How the SNP got Away with its Deception
The SNP did this because they could!
They reckoned correctly that the British Government at the time (Labour) was not going to stop them.
They reckoned correctly that the British Government had nobody who could see what was being done and try to stop them. They knew that even if someone blew the whistle, nobody was going to listen.
They knew they could get away with it.
So they changed the Logo, and they changed all the stationary.
They dropped the British branding – including the attractive Scottish Royal Coat of Arms Logo (above) from all Scottish Executive materials, and replaced it with...a Saltire and the phrase "The Scottish Government"!
When the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition came along in 2011, they did nothing to reverse this blatant misrepresentation, and indeed assisted the constitutional confusion.
They passed the "recommendations" of the federalist-leaning Calman Commission into law, via the Scotland Act 2012, in which the unofficial changes made by Alex Salmond were given official legal sanction.
The federalists on the Calman Commission were happy because this helped to move the (mis)understanding of Britain towards the notion of it being a "federal" state with different "Governments", and away from the actual constitutional reality of it as a Unitary State with one Government.
The Scotland Act 2012 states:
Part 2, Sec 12, Paras 1 and 2
The Scottish Government
(1) The Scottish Executive is renamed the Scottish Government.
(2) Accordingly, in the 1998 Act—
(a) for "Scottish Executive" in each place substitute "Scottish Government";
(b) in the heading to section 81 and the italic cross-heading preceding it, for "Executive" substitute "Government".
The die was cast for politicians to talk about "our two Governments" – the unviable creation of two heads on one body.
Destabilising the Constitution, and Union Relationship
This mistaken view positions the British Government and the Scottish "Government" as equals – which effectively turns political debate conducted within this frame into a fanciful "UK versus Scotland" matter – which does not properly reflect the constitutional reality.
The "two Governments" view of the relationship encourages people to think of "the UK" and "Scotland" as already separate – when in fact Scotland is part of the United Kingdom.
It encourages people to think of the United Kingdom from the Scottish Nationalist point of view where Scotland exists apart from it, and in some sort of direct competition. No good can come of this! It does nothing but aid the Scottish Nationalist attitude.
The Unionist frame, the inclusive British frame, is that the British Parliament and Government will work with its devolved administrations to secure the best deal for them all within the overall umbrella of the United Kingdom.
Note the use of the possessive "its" in the above sentence.
Using Terms Correctly, in order to Describe Reality Properly
The devolved administrations are part of the overall British Parliament and Government.
The devolved administrations are part of the overall British Ship of State – they are not different equal and opposite entities doing combat with each other.
Holyrood is a devolved arm of this British State in a vertical not horizontal, hierarchical not level, relationship; as is the Welsh Assembly, the London Assembly and Stormont (when it is working).
Those political and newspaper commentators (and there are plenty of them) who think that Holyrood is on an equal footing with the British Parliament, simply do not know what devolution is, or what they are even talking about!
As far as things like Brexit are concerned, Holyrood should have a mutual interest in seeking the best health of the overall British Body, of which it is part.
In order to maintain this healthy frame, the British Parliament and Government should, for its part, start by realising that Holyrood is a devolved arm of itself – an Executive. The Scottish administration is not equal in any way to the one central collective British Parliament and Government. The SNP Executive is not a separate "Government" and should not be referred to in that manner.
To describe it wrongly as a "Government" only creates confusion and unrealistic expectations among those people who think that Holyrood is more powerful than it actually is. That leads to trouble, which could have been avoided if the proper terms had been used from the start.
Furthermore, all the so-called "Scottish Government" buildings – upon which the SNP refuse to fly the Union Jack except on 11 November – are in fact British Parliament and Government buildings which are presently occupied by a devolved arm of the British State, known as the Scottish administration.
The British State should ensure that these buildings respect this proper constitutional relationship at all times – whether by flying the Union Jack as often as possible, ensuring portraits of the Head of State in prominent places, and so forth.
For our part, we can start by avoiding the term "Scottish Government" wherever possible. Instead, we use the term "the devolved Scottish administration", which is perfectly correct and which helps to describe the proper constitutional reality, and union relationship.
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