Watching May in action is like being transported back in time to the Thatcher era. We’ve got a female prime minister who’s channelling a matron with a lubeless enema, and we’ve got a Tory government that blatantly doesn’t give a toss about what Scotland wants without even bother to hide it with a veneer of consultation. May told us, “We voted as one United Kingdom to leave the EU, and we’ll leave it as one United Kingdom. There is no opt out from Brexit. And I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious Union between the four nations of our United Kingdom.”
Yes, she actually said that. And she’s not a parody Twitter account of a Prime Minister. You might just think that if she was so concerned not to let divisive nationalists undermine the Union that she’d have campaigned a bit for a remain vote and condemned the not so much dog whistle more a fog horn racism of the Brexit campaign. But no, it’s not divisive racist xenophobic British nationalism she’s got in mind, it’s the nationalism of the internationalist civic and Scottish variety. May said that it’s for the UK government to negotiate Brexit, to define Brexit and to impose Brexit. So you can forget about getting any special deal Scotland. You can forget about all that guff about how Scotland shouldn’t leave the UK but lead it. You can forget about your voice being heard or your wishes being respected. Theresa May has told us what a UK agreed approach means. It means that she’ll tell us what the approach is and we will agree.
There is no precious Union. A Union means a voluntary coming together of partners. A Union means that the differences between those partners are respected and a means found of accommodating them. A Union means consent. A Union in which the largest partner in that Union always gets its own way and the others have to do as it commands is not a Union. It’s a takeover. It’s a demand for obedience. There’s precious little to distinguish it from a colonial enterprise. What precious to Theresa is her right to command, her ability to rule, her capacity for power.
Well guess what Theresa, if Scotland can’t have an opt out from Brexit it will have an opt out from you. Because it’s you who is the divisive nationalist. The Union is over and it’s the Tories who ended it because the Tories can’t allow the existence of a political space within the Union that they don’t control. The Union has ended because all the achievements of the British state, the National Health Service, access to higher education for all, decent public services, a social security net to catch the poorest and the weak before they fall into the dark pit of despair, a decent pension for the elderly, they’re all threatened by the Tories. Paradoxically, the only way that the decent and humane parts of the British state can be preserved is for Scotland to seek independence.
Theresa May’s speech to the Tory party conference told us that there is no place for Scotland in the UK. She made the case for independence while setting her face against any consideration for Scotland. It was a speech in which Scotland’s nose was ground down in the powerlessness of the region where we are at the small end of the weather map.
They’re going to tell us that we need them, that we’d be nothing without them. They’re going to insist that Scotland needs access to the markets of the rest of the UK and we won’t dare risk losing that, while they also insist that a post-Brexit Britain will negotiate a favourable trade deal with the EU and have all the access to the markets of the EU that it could possibly need. But if Scotland is independent and a part of the EU then it’s also going to have all the access to the markets of the rest of the UK that it could possibly need.
They’re going to tell us that there will be a hard border between Gretna and Berwick while telling the Irish that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
They’re going to tell us that we have a massive deficit and we’d have to make huge cuts to public spending, while the deficit of the UK soars and spending cuts come thick and fast. They’ll gloat about Scotland’s supposed poverty while hoping we never ask why we should remain with a criminally negligent Westminster that caused it. A Westminster that pissed away the oil, that farted out the gas, that’s allowing Scotland’s renewable potential to blow away in the wind.
Better Together Mk II will have to pull off the unlikely trick of scaring Scotland one way while reassuring the rest of the UK with the opposite. But they’re the same people who’ve insisted that Scotland can’t have its own broadcast media. The message they send to the rest of the UK will be received loud and clear in Scotland too.
Theresa May told us this weekend that she’ll start the Brexshit clock, so we’ll know when it’s about to hit the fan, but she’s still not told us what’s going to happen. All we’ve got are the vainglorious aspirations of a pub bore on a barstool. Britain can have everything it wants and Europe is going to come running. Britain can have everything it wants and Scotland will acquiesce. Britain can have everything it wants and the world will be at its feet. And then the drunk drains his glass and falls off his stool and lies there in a pool of his own urine while the world steps over him.
Scotland has a choice. Scotland can choose to submit to decades of right wing xenophobic Tory rule, where bunting and royal occasion substitute for community, where military parades glorify a state that abandons its veterans to benefits sanctions and charity handouts. Or we can grasp the thistle and take our own destiny into our own hands. Theresa May has made the choice for us, we can watch the thistle wither and die, or realise that it’s time to grasp it. It’s time for indyref2.
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