I’m home now, back from visiting my significant other in the USA. One of the best things about going abroad is realising that other countries’ politics are just as childish and dysfunctional as the Scottish variety. We’re often accused of parochialism in Scotland, but our news and current affairs concerns are cosmopolitan and outward looking compared to the domestic obsessions of American TV news programmes. If your sole source of information was the American TV news, you’d be forgiven for believing that the rest of the world only exists whenever it’s visited by Donald Trump, or when there is a terrorist outrage that involves white people.
Still, it was nice to spend a couple of weeks in a country where hardly anyone has heard of Ruth Davidson and none of those who have done give a damn. But here we are, back in Scotland and trying to catch up with what’s been happening while I was away. It’s back to the childish dysfunction that passes for grown up political discourse in Scotland.
Before election campaigning was suspended due to the horrific and appalling events in Manchester, the Scottish part of the election campaign was dominated by Kezia Dugdale’s attempts to deflect attention from the Labour councillors in Aberdeen who had gone into coalition with the Conservatives by pointing an accusing finger at something Stu Campbell of Wings over Scotland had said a couple of months ago. Because naturally, Scottish politics in general and the independence campaign in particular is entirely defined by a non-party blogger in Bath and joking insults he’d lobbed a few months ago are far more important than the fact that if you vote Labour, you’ll get the Conservatives, certainly in Aberdeen. It was perhaps the most blatant attempt at issue-dodging since the Mongol hordes blamed their destruction of Central Asia in the Middle Ages on the difficulty in finding fermented mare’s milk in the Samarkand branch of Lidl.
Then there was nursegate, in which a nurse with a Facebook record of blaming the SNP for everything blamed the fact that she had occasionally needed to use a foodbank on Nicola Sturgeon. The story then became how the said nurse was being hounded by cybernats and a new phenomenon – the ultranat. Ultranats are just like cybernats apparently, except that they speak at a pitch higher than can be heard by human ears. This was all detailed in articles in the Express newspaper, an organ with a propensity to CAPITALISE everything, which as everyone knows makes it more true. At least if it’s a BLOW for the SNP.
The same newspaper also carried a piece saying at a TOP ACADEMIC had delivered a SHOCK BLOW to Nicola Sturgeon by predicting that in the event of Scottish independence Scotland would be divided literally, in a geographic sense, and well as metaphorically in the sense beloved by Unionists. That’s divided in the sense that they can no longer spout off in the bowling club about how Nicola Sturgeon is responsible for every bad thing that’s ever happened, up to and including the Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the Middle Ages, without someone voicing disagreement. Jill Stephenson, for it was she, is best known for calling Mhairi Black a slut and for retweeting a Unionist meme which is simultaneously racist, homophobic and derogatory to people with autism. Kezia Dugdale has not so far taken time out of her busy schedule of condemning pro-indy bloggers for a remark that many gay people don’t find homophobic to pass any comment on Jill’s retweeting a meme that is universally regarded as homophobic amongst other offensiveness.
According to the Express, Jill had said that if Scotland votes to become independent then all those areas where there happens to be a Unionist majority will remain with the UK and the country will be partitioned. Because partition has worked out so well on every previous occasion that the British have tried it. Strangely enough, the same people who claim that the parts of Scotland that vote Unionist following a Yes majority in an independence referendum will have the right to remain with the UK are the exact same people who would have scoffed at the notion that those parts of Scotland which voted Yes last time ought to have been allowed to become independent anyway. Otherwise I could be typing this from the Republic of Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Dundee, Stranraer, Skye, and Arran and would be able to look on the farce of a UK general election with the detached air of a US news correspondent.
Then there’s Theresa May’s U-turning and the introduction of the dementia tax, which saw her polling figures slip before campaiging was suspended. Then she had to hurriedly announce that there would be a “cap” on the amount to be clawed back by the state in order to recoup the costs of social care only she refused to say how much that cap would be. Having been viewing the US news for the past couple of weeks, it’s quite an achievement to make Donald Trump seem consistent and reasonable, but Theresa May has managed it.
What it boils down to is that the state is prepared to foot the bill for caring for people with certain medical conditions, but not for others, only the state won’t – at least not before the public has a chance to vote on the proposal – say how much or what conditions. At the moment it appears that if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer then your care will be paid for by the NHS, but if you are unfortunately diagnosed with Alzheimers then you’re paying for it yourself. But once the principle of pay for care is established, it’s only going to be a matter of time before creeping charges are introduced elsewhere too.
But not to worry. The Tories are promising to allow workers to take a year off in unpaid leave in order to care for elderly relatives. They’re touting this like it’s a good thing to fill the gap in social care provision caused by their own policies with unpaid labour. And then having been left without an income, due to the dementia tax these unpaid carers could be left homeless after the person they’re caring for dies. As a former unpaid carer who looked after a dementia sufferer, I know how heartless and uncaring the Tory policy is. It’s bad enough to watch a loved one slowly succumb to the destruction of their personality and self caused by dementia without also worrying that you’ll be left without a roof over your head after their illness has taken its course. But all Theresa May cares about it getting reelected with an absolute majority that will allow her to do as she pleases. It’s almost enough to make me wish I wasn’t back home at all. But I am, so I’d better keep ranting. Ensuring that the Tories receive as few votes as possible is a moral imperative.
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