The Unionist parties have been having a rough week. Admittedly that’s a bit like saying that Nicholas Witchell has a brown stain on his nose, or that Donald Trump has contradicted himself again, so it’s not exactly news. This week it’s become clearer than ever that there’s no positive case for the Union, all there is is the threat that after Scotland has had its legs chopped off by a serially incompetent and malicious Westminster, it’s too poor to stand on its own two feet. This is not, despite the fond imaginings of certain bellignorant proponents of waving the red white and blue fleg who aren’t nationalists at all, oh no, a good argument for remaining a part of the UK.
A few days ago Common Weal published an analysis of the infamous GERS figures and showed that while the UK has left Scotland in a challenging financial situation, Scotland’s not quite the economic basket case that certain people who are pleased to describe themselves as patriots would have us believe. You could hear the howls of wounded outrage from the top of a Trump tower. The supposed economic basketcasery of Scotland is the only argument remaining to the Unionists, and they’re not at all happy when someone demonstrates that the basket is pretty shoddy and poorly made. The point of weaving baskets in occupational therapy is to prove to the patient that they have skills and to increase their self-esteem, the point of weaving baskets for the advocates of Westminster occupation therapy is to tell Scotland that it has no skills and to destroy its self-esteem. Sadly their arguments hold as little water as the baskets they try to weave.
We don’t hear much these days of the other props of the Unionist case. It’s a bit difficult trying to argue that Scotland is a loved and respected equal partner in a family of nations when we’re being ripped out of the EU against our will and Theresa May is threatening to ride roughshod over the Scottish Parliament. It’s even harder trying to maintain that there’s a positive and progressive Britain which an independent Scotland would be turning its back on when Britain’s politics are dominated by right wing politicians who boast about compiling lists of foreigners and who vie with one another to hoover up Ukip votes. And trying to argue that Scotland needs the stability and security of the pound sterling is now as much as a joke as Boris Johnson’s diplomacy. We’d be a whole lot better off using Yapese stone money as a currency. Money which consists of huge big circular chunks of stone with a hole through the middle is at least solid, which is a whole lot more than can be said for the pound sterling.
Since they’re not able to defend any of the above, the Tories in Scotland have instead decided to concentrate their ire on trying to get Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf sacked for the failings of Scotland’s rail network. Those are failings that are in large part due to problems caused by Network Rail, which under the hauf-airsed system of privatisation introduced by the Tories and kept by Labour remains entirely under the responsibility and control of the UK Department of Transport. The Tories and Labour could if they had wanted devolved control of Network Rail in Scotland to Holyrood, and allowed Scotland to develop its own rail strategy, but they chose not to do so. So instead we’ve got Tories demanding the resignation of a Scottish minister for problems caused by an organisation in the charge of a Conservative minister at Westminster. That would be Chris Grayling, the man who was responsible for introducing English Votes for English Laws to the Commons.
I’ve yet to see Tory MSP Adam Tomkins tweeting an amusing picture of a natural disaster that took the lives of dozens of people and blaming it on the Tory administration that created the problem in the first place. Instead they prefer to blame Holyrood for a cock up caused by Westminster. It’s yet another example of the Unionist modus operandi in Scotland. After all, their entire economic basket case schtick relies on blaming Scotland for the financial incompetence of Westminster, so it’s only reasonable to expect them to go down the same track with trains.
Meanwhile Kezia has a very bold strategy on the constitution. That’s a very bold strategy in the same sense that it’s a very bold strategy to run naked down Sauchiehall Street with a tin foil hat on your head screaming that reptilian aliens have subjected you to an anal probe. Others in Labour want the party leadership in Scotland to distance itself from Kezia’s blind Unionism and support home rule instead. You know, the thing that they said that they were in favour of during the independence referendum only when push came to shove in the aftermath of the independence referendum we discovered that it consisted of powers over road signs, but only as long as they’re not in Gaelic.
While it’s all very welcome that sections of the Labour party want to distance themselves from knee-jerk Unionism, they’ve so far not been able to define exactly what it is that they’re in favour of and how it would work in practice. Even more importantly, they’re unable to tell us how exactly we’re going to get to the mystical magic kingdom of federalism. So we’re being asked to put our faith in an ill-defined slogan with no clear idea of how any of it can come about when there’s a resurgent and triumphalist Tory party that looks set to demolish what’s left of Labour in the rest of the UK should there be a snap General Election. The calls for Labour to distance itself from Kezia’s Unionism all sound suspiciously like Gordie Broon’s vow.
Blame Scotland for problems created by Westminster, and make us vague promises of a better future without committing to a realistic path in order to get there. That’s how you undermine a country’s confidence, that’s how you keep us in thrall to a British establishment that’s only interested in our resources, creaming off our skilled labour, and using us as somewhere convenient to park their nukes. That’s Westminster occupation therapy. But it’s not working any more. Scotland’s rediscovering its self-esteem.
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