What did you do on your holidays? Both the Westminster and Scottish parliaments are in recess for the Easter break so it’s a slow news week. You can tell it’s a slow news week because Scottish Unionists are having to be outraged by things that are more ridiculous than the inanities that they typically get outraged by. Admittedly they’re usually to be found scraping the bottom of the outrage barrel, but this week they’ve broken through bottom of the barrel and are running along the street holding it up in order to cover their naked opportunism.
While Holyrood is shut, depriving Kezia Dugdale of her chance to stand up at FMQs and complain about the divisiveness of complaining about going to war with Spain, Nicola Sturgeon is off in the USA for Scotland Week, making friends and influencing people and letting them know that Scotland wants to join the world.
This is of course an outrage, at least if you’re a Unionist politician. Nicola shouldn’t be gallivanting around the globe, she should be at home and doing the day job. In the case of the Scottish Tories, while Holyrood is in recess the day job consists of role playing Orcs in Dungeons and Dragons, which is how they practise for the rest of the year when they’re not pulling the wings off flies and being appalled by Gaelic road signs. Whereas for Labour the day job is binge viewing the last season of The Walking Dead and looking for tips on political campaiging from zombies because the living dead are a force in movement, which is a lot more than can be said for the Labour party in Scotland. Sadly for Labour, the key tactic of zombies is to form a horde, but Labour is losing members at such a rate that it would struggle to fill a handbag. The Lib Dems do at least have a proper day job, which is driving the number 17 bus from Cowdenbeath to Kelty.
The Unionists are very clear on what Nicola Sturgeon shouldn’t be doing. She shouldn’t be representing Scotland abroad, although you might have thought that this was within the brief of a First Minister. Like when Labour First Minister Jack McConnell went off to the USA and wore a silly kilt. What they’re a whole lot less clear on is exactly what she should be doing instead of being abroad when parliament is shut. But what you can be sure of is that whatever she’d be doing instead of being abroad, the Unionists would be working themselves up into a lather about that as well. Tories and Labour like getting worked up into a lather, as it’s the closest that they get to clean politics.
The Unionists are also getting into a lather about the latest economic growth figures for Scotland, which show Scotland as lagging behind the rest of the UK. Or more exactly, lagging behind London. The Unionists compare Scotland, which doesn’t have control over all economic levers, with the UK-minus-Scotland, which does. And then they act all outraged that Scotland is found wanting. A proper comparison is to compare like with like, which means comparing Scotland with other parts of the UK and not the UK as a whole. When you do that you discover that the only parts of the UK which have economic growth are the South East of England, and then – miles ahead of the rest – London. All the other nations and regions of the UK lag far behind. It’s not Scotland where the problems with the UK lie, it’s a problem across an entire UK which concentrates economic growth in London at the expense of everyone else.
There’s that Nicola Sturgeon eh, waltzing off to furren pairts when she should be getting on with the day job and doing something about a Scottish economy where the levers of macroeconomic control remain very firmly in the hands of Westminster, because that’s exactly how the Unionist parties wanted it. They’re unable to say what exactly Nicola Sturgeon should be doing about the Scottish economy that Holyrood doesn’t have much power over, except for dropping the idea of another referendum. Not having another referendum is the only policy that Labour and the Tories have. The Lib Dems don’t want a referendum either, at least not a Scottish one. They want another referendum on the EU instead, because it’s only the result of some referendums that need to be respected.
It’s not like there’s nothing to be resisted. At least if you’re not actually a Tory. This week new benefit regulations come into effect which anti-poverty charities estimate will throw around a quarter of a million children in the UK into poverty. The benefits cap means that families will only receive social security payments for the first two children. Women who have a third child as a result of rape will now have to prove that they were raped to a DWP clerk in order to avoid losing income and identify the child who was produced as a result of rape. That’s a proper outrage. That’s how disgusting the UK has become, how far removed from any semblance of human decency. What effect would it have on a rape survivor to have to go through the details of her ordeal in order to ensure that she can feed her child? What sort of effect would it have on a child to discover that they were a product of rape? What kind of empathyless zombie drone thought this crap up in the first place? A Tory, that’s who. A selfish I’m Alright Jackass who thinks it’s acceptable to coerce a woman to disclose the details of rape and sexual assault. It’s barbaric. It’s inhumane. It’s cruel. It’s modern Britain. But the Tories are far too busy complaining about another independence referendum and getting upset about eggs that aren’t Eastery enough.
What makes it even worse is that this measure was introduced through a statutory instrument, by ministerial fiat, so it was enacted without the need for parliamentary approval. Whatever happened to that sovereignty of the British parliament that the Brexiteers were going on about?
But let’s not bother about any of that. Let’s not worry about the structural imbalances in the British economy. Let’s not worry about the cruelty and inhumanity of Tory regulations that make a noose out of the social security net. Let’s pretend that everything would be just fine if only Scotland wasn’t going to have another referendum. Let’s pretend that Scotland’s problems can be solved by surrendering to the people who cause the problems, instead of resisting them. Scottish Unionists have no answers, no ideas, and no clue, all they’ve got is their faux outrage and their desperation to stop Scotland leaving the mess that they’ve created. That’s what they do on their holidays, that’s what they do all year round.
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