Theresa May is scared. She gave an interview to Reporting Scotlandshire and instructed us to forget about another independence referendum and told Nicola Sturgeon to concentrate on the day job. Which is pretty rich coming from Theresa May. Nicola Sturgeon manages her day job rather well, presiding over a government which manages – on the whole – to achieve what it has been tasked with achieving. A government which is united and focused on the job at hand. Theresa May on the other thinks that her own day job largely consists of going to war with other parts of her own party and making just enough in the way of concessions to one or other of the warring factions in order to keep her in her post.
In the Gospel According to the Unsaintly Theresa, delivered unchallenged to the BBC’s Department For Keeping the Jocks In Order, the issue of Scottish independence was definitively decided in 2014. Scotland voted to remain a part of the UK, and that’s that. Only that’s not that. Some of us were paying attention in 2014, and some of us who were paying attention object to the selective rewriting of history by the likes of Theresa May. Yes indeed, Scotland voted to remain a part of the UK in 2014, but those who were campaigning for a No vote were unequivocal in their assertions that Scotland was not voting for the status quo. There was no status quo, they told us.
So for example on 9 September 2014 the Guardian newspaper informed us that, “Even with a no vote, the status quo isn’t an option.” On the 14th of that month, just a few short days before the referendum vote, Alistair Darling the leader of the Better Together campaign wrote in the Scotsman newspaper that choosing to stay in the UK didn’t mean voting for the status quo. “Saying No Thanks does not mean no change,” he wrote. “It means faster, better and safer change.” https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/alistair-darling-more-powers-without-risks-1-3541113
That faster, better, and safer change has turned out to be the discovery that the powers of the Scottish parliament can be removed by Westminster at its whim, the undermining of the foundations of the devolution settlement, the ripping up of the Claim of Right by Richard Leonard, and being wrenched out of the EU into a chaotic Brexit without any say, without consultation. Scotland is facing the most uncertain and insecure future it has ever faced in peacetime, thanks to the collective failure of the British nationalist parties.
Back in 2014 in that Scotsman article Alistair Darling wrote that it was “beneath contempt” that supporters of independence were arguing that only independence could protect the NHS from privatisation. Earlier this month we discovered that the hard line Brexiteers in the Conservative party plan to open up the NHS to US health companies after Brexit. The European Research Group, which is linked to Liam Fox and Michael Gove, seeks to open up the NHS to foreign companies, and to trash consumer and environmental regulations. The only contempt here is the contempt with which the British nationalist parties have treated every promise made by the Better Together campaign.
Since Scots were not voting for the status quo in 2014, having been told by the opponents of independence themselves that there was no status quo to vote for, then it’s only fair and reasonable that those same opponents of independence be held to account for the difference between what they promised and what they have given us. We have the right to say “No thanks” to what the British parties have actually delivered. If an electorate has no means to hold politicians to account, then there is no democracy.
Theresa May doesn’t want us to hold her to account because she is afraid of what we’ll tell her. To her, Scotland is a trivial northern province whose expectations can be managed and ultimately ignored. We figure as a minor distraction in her day job, which is pursuing the internal warfare within the Conservative party. She tells us that the SNP should focus on the issues that matter to the people of Scotland.
Well speaking as one of the people of Scotland, Theresa, what matters to me is that you and your party are held to account for the promises that you made to Scotland, promises that you have trashed. What matters to me and to other people in Scotland is that Scotland has a voice and a say in saving itself from the madness of the Brexit that you are imposing upon us without our consent. What matters to me and to other people in Scotland is that it’s us, the people of Scotland, who decide the path that this country takes. Not you. Not your Conservative party that knows little about Scotland and which cares even less. Don’t you dare to presume to tell me what matters to me. Because I will be the judge of that, not you.
And together with five million other people in Scotland, we will be the judge of you Theresa. We will be the judge of the ruin and the mess and the upset and the uncertainty that you have created in pursuit of your narrow party interests. We will be the judge of the alienation that you have created with our neighbours in Europe. One way or another, Theresa, the people of Scotland will have our say, and we do not take kindly to being told what does or does not matter to us by someone whose actions and politics have made it abundantly clear that Scotland doesn’t matter to her. Do not tell us what matters, Theresa. We’ll tell you. What matters to us is that we’re no longer subjected to you and your arrogant ignorance.
We were promised stronger devolution with less risk by the proponents of the UK. Instead we have weaker devolution and greater risk. There’s only one way Scotland can get more powers with less risk. That’s with independence. Then Scotland can choose its own path and its own destiny, and we will not be at risk of governments which we didn’t vote for, at risk of the delusions of British nationalists who have never got over the loss of empire, or at risk of having all our public services privatised by free-market ideologues. And most of all, we will no longer be at risk of being told what matters to us by politicians to whom we do not matter at all.
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