It’s as predictable as a Unionist on social media playing the victim card, or as Ruth Davidson having the gall to think that as leader of an opposition who came a poor second she’s got the right to dictate to the Scottish government about something they’ve got a mandate to do, while simultaneously complaining that Scotland’s an SNP one party state. Scotland must be the only one party state in the universe in which a party that got a mere 22% of the vote thinks it’s got the right to determine government policy. But we expect these things. This is Scotland after all. This is what happens in a country that’s treated like a region, a nation that’s relegated to the same status as a county council.
As predictable as all these things is that every time the topic of Scottish independence rears its head, the hulking sulk of Gordie Broon hoves into view offering the pretty baubles of federalism like a fairy godmother who’s got herself confused with an ugly sister. There’s been an intervention. Only this time he really, really, means it. Honest to God and pinkie promise. Despite the fact that this is what he was offering way back in 2014 and swore on the life of the Labour party that he personally would sit on the Prime Minister’s doorstep until the offer was fulfulled, and then he pissed off to a lucrative directorship with a financial company instead while his own party along with the Tories and the Lib Dems treated his vow like toilet paper, this time he’s really serious. Honest. No laughing at the back there.
Let’s be honest and give Gordie the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that there’s no chance at all of Broon’s federalism fairy ever appearing and waving her magic sparkly wand, it’s just that the chances of it happening are pretty remote. There’s an airless planet orbiting a gas giant in a distant galaxy thousands of light years away, that sort of remote. It’s not that it doesn’t exist. It’s just that by the time anyone gets there we’ll all be long dead. Although come to think of it an airless planet orbiting a gas giant in a distant galaxy is not an unfair description of a Labour party in Scotland that’s still caught in Gordie’s gravity. Microbes which eke a meagre living under that planet’s icecap have a greater chance of forming the next government and introducing full fat federalism than Labour does.
The reporter on Sky News who’s attending the SNP conference in Aberdeen wasn’t able to bring on any SNP representatives to discuss Gordie’s proposals, because they were still creased over with laughter and unable to appear on camera without dissolving into a fit of hysterics. However he did insist that the federalism fairy was useful for the Unionist campaign, because there are people who think of politics as a Disney cartoon and think that they only need to find a magic wand and a pumpkin in order to get a great Brexit deal for Britain. The tragedy for the United Kingdom is that those people with their Disney cartoon view of reality are in charge of the British government. Although to be fair, they’ve already got the talking rodents.
There is as much chance of Theresa May announcing that she believes there’s a reasonable and strong case for Scottish independence, and actually giving a speech that wasn’t a succession of tautological soundbites as there is of anything that issues from Broon’s gob coming to pass. He had his chance when he was Prime Minister. He had a chance when there was still a Labour party with decent prospects of election. He did nothing except to look after his own selfish interests, and that fact is not unconnected with the fact that Labour in Scotland is now bouncing about in the bottom of the polls looking set to be overtaken by the Greens. Labour is in no condition to deliver anything at all, and Broon bears much of the responsibility for destroying his party’s credibility and election prospects. Whatever Broon says is as much an irrelevance as the man himself. The man couldn’t deliver an envelope even if his hand was guided towards the letter box.
What’s far more relevant than Gordie treading the carpet in a windowless room before an invited audience of press, is the dance that Nicola Sturgeon is leading Theresa May. That’s the real show, and Theresa is tripping over her kitten heels. Her apparent summary rejection of an independence referendum didn’t come from a position of strength, but of weakness. Even the possibility of a referendum severely undermines Theresa’s already weak hand in Brexit negotiations with the EU. She can only attempt to block Scotland from having a vote, but there are other routes to a referendum apart from the Scottish government seeking Westminster’s consent to a Section 30 Order. The more Theresa tries to block, the more she is seen to obstruct a clear mandate given to the SNP by the Scottish electorate in 2015 to hold a referendum if there was a material change in circumstances, the more likely she makes it that when a vote is finally held that she will lose it. Anything that Gordie comes out with is a mere attempt at distraction from the real show. And that’s a show that’s only going to end one way, with a Scottish referendum.
May’s Brexit strategy is in chaos. There is no plan, there is no planning. All there is is the hope that the EU will cave in and give Britain everything that Theresa wants. There’s no sign that they’re going to do so. It’s very much in the interests of the EU to ensure that whatever deal Britain gets from Brexit, it will leave it worse off than remaining a part of the EU. If leaving the EU leads to a country getting a better deal, then there’s no point to the EU at all. The 27 member states are going to do all the can to make sure that Britain’s interests suffer. They’re not doing that out of vindictiveness, but out of political necessity. There’s a very real prospect that the UK might end up with the worst of all possible worlds, and crash out of the EU with no deal at all.
Scotland has an escape plan. Scotland has a way out of this looming catastrophe, and we’re going to take it. Gordie Broon’s federalism fairy wand won’t distract us from the task ahead.
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