God, are we not lucky that the No campaign won the referendum eh? Remember all the wonderous things that would befall Scotland if we had the sense to just say no thanks to People’s Republic of Alicsammin? There would be jobs that were secure and pensions that endure. There would be careers for steel makers and offices for tax takers. There would be sincerity and prosperity. There would be the nearest thing to federalism possible and devodoubleplusgood. It was going to be even more Great British than Bake Off with sponge cakes for all. There would be a Westminster bedecked with respect in which there would be pooling and sharing and ruling without overbearing. Stay with us Scotland, we love you.
If it wasn’t for the No vote we’d have missed out on living in this paradise of foodbanks, job losses, asylum seeker demonisation, and Tory governments that we didn’t vote for. We’d have missed the pooling and sharing of seeing our MPs reduced to international observer status and non-Scottish MPs rejecting every single amendment put forward by Scottish MPs on Scottish legislation. We’d be bereft of the deaths caused by benefits sanctions. We’d be pining for the whining of privileged MPs with portfolios of property who voted down a measure to ensure that their tenants had homes fit for human habitation. How lucky for us that we voted to stay, to rub our noses in the stale stench of decay. What joy to see the Tory boys destroy all the advances our grandparents made to give equal chances to the poor and unfancied.
Mental health problems or terminal cancer, the Job Centre will still claim you’re a chancer fit for work until you finally drop, you’re a number, a cypher, a tick in a box. Trade unions are neutered but bosses are tutored in pay rises for the board but cuts for the horde. The rich hoard their wealth as the tax avoiding poison wrecks the nation’s health. It’s the British way, be glad, rejoice, as you go job hunting for the minumum wage, there’s red white and blue bunting and the poor stealing crumbs in the new Victorian age. Steal a loaf of bread and there’s tabloid outrage, steal a billion pounds and you’ll get a peerage.
There’s a media hatescape pointing the way to a future of war and terminal decay. Hurrah, hooray, we’re Caledonian doubts in George Osborne’s ashtray. And it’s all thanks to Labour for saving the day, for lying and crying until we obeyed, for cheating and bleating to drive away the fearsome idea of an independence day. We can only be safe when we’re at war, we can only be clean when we’re trapped in the glaur, because there’s nothing more frightening than the heretical notion of an informed and active Scottish nation in motion.
Don’t worry that your children have nothing to look forward to except a zero hour contract or signing on the buroo, we’ve got Trident missiles down on the Clyde to give a radioactive glow that stretches citywide. We’ve got aircraft carriers coming out our ears, nae planes to put on them but that’s the least of our fears. Imagine the horror, the shame, the disgrace and the hate if the Daily Mail didn’t think we punched above our weight. The Great British state in its nuclear fur coat and nae knickers, the Pentagon’s pal while its people grow sicker. Your pension’s not safe but that’s of small import, you’re still playing your part in the Great British sport.
You’ve got your devo, so what’s your beef? It’s a carefully constructed kick in the teeth. We voted to let Westminster be boss, and now it’s clear that they don’t give a toss. They promised the earth, they promised to change, they promised a pedigree but we got a mutt with the mange. They told us we’d be a part of the Great British family, but forgot to add we’d be the part sent to bed without any tea. They promised the most devolved nation on the face of the earth, but the Smith Commission was strangled at birth. The Scotland Bill was stripped, denuded and wrecked, and the Unionists laughed as Scotland’s hopes were checked. You’ve got your home rule, don’t rock the boat, and we’re keeping our paws on the TV remote.
But who wants to complain, who wants to cavil, there’s lotto and Strictly to pass the while between Job Centre appointments and trudging the miles to foodbanks, assailed by the bile of tabloids demanding you smile at the latest cute photies of Willnkate’s weans. Isn’t it wondrous, it’s so first rate, being a part of the Great British state.
This is the paradise that we were sold, the wonderous future that was fortold. We’ll be leaving the EU though we voted not to, we’ve lost the jobs we were told were safe, we’ve got the government we voted against. But it’s not all funny, it’s not all gone to pot, we know what currency we’re using for all that money that we haven’t got.
The brave Better Togetherites have all scurried away, not showing their faces in the land they’ve led astray. They got what they wanted, they got Scotland prostrate, and they’re happy and content that they made us third rate.
Independence would have come with challenges, but at least Scotland would have been able to decide for itself what the best solutions to those challenges were, instead we’re powerless pinned to a board like a dead butterfly while George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith pull off our wings. We haven’t seen much sign of our share of the Great British sponge cake, not even a few crumbs left over from the business lunch at a conference in posh Swiss resorts, just plenty of Great British spongers appointed to the House of Lords.
We know the truth, we have the proof, the Union’s days are numbered and there is no Prince Charming who’ll sweep down and save them from the mess they created, the truths they desecrated. We’re still here, still campaigning and marching. We’re still on the road, just taking the long way round.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993
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