Sorry for the intermittent blog posts over the past week, but pretty much on the spur of the moment I went to Connecticut to be with my husband for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t mention it on the blog because I wanted to surprise him.
On the day I left I had published a piece in The National about the issues around the BBC’s lack of proper representation of independence supporters in their debate programmes. Although I do most of the public speaking for The National’s Roadshow events, I’ve only ever been invited once onto a BBC current affairs programme, and that was in the aftermath of photiegate, when the Sunday Herald published the photo of the huge rally in Glasgow which managed to make a tiny wee group of right wing British nationalist extremists look the same size as an independence rally of 60,000 people. I felt that the only reason the BBC had asked me on was because they were looking for an independence campaigner to slag off a pro-independence newspaper. I was conveniently busy that day.
I don’t really expect to be invited onto the BBC, because I used to be involved with Newsnet Scotland, and am one of those people that Ken McQuarrie, the former director of BBC Scotland, once described as “those bastards from Newsnet”. However in the piece for The National last Tuesday I had mentioned that despite my extensive contacts within the independence movement, I didn’t know anyone who had been approached by the BBC to appear on any of the new politics or current affairs programmes planned for the new McGhetto channel scheduled to launch next week. This doesn’t bode well for the BBC’s repeated promises to listen to its Scottish viewers.
I landed in Hartford Connecticut on Tuesday afternoon last week, and the moment I logged into the airport’s WiFi, I received an email from Mentorn, the production company responsible for Question Time and BBC Scotland’s The Big Debate, asking me if I was available to appear on the panel for an edition of The Big Debate to be filmed that Sunday. Given the article I had published in The National that morning, I laughed out loud when I got the email. I wasn’t due to return to Scotland until Wednesday morning this week, so had to decline. In their email, Mentorn had offered to pay my travel expenses, but obviously they didn’t mean paying for a transatlantic flight. They only do that if you’re a far right Ukip candidate and a member of a sectarian flute band. I have told them that I’ll be available for future programmes, although I still have deep reservations about their audience selection procedures.
I’m back home now, and normal ranting service has been resumed. When I flew back into Dublin yesterday morning, I presented my British passport to the Irish immigration officer and said “It’s the passport of shame.” He laughed and replied, “Well not for a couple of weeks yet.” I remarked that I hoped that pretty soon I’d be coming into Dublin with a European Scottish passport, the immigration officer gave me a big smile and said “That would be the best thing. Hope you go for it.” When even immigration officers are telling you that Scottish independence is the best option, you know it makes sense.
It’s obvious now that Theresa May’s strategy is to run down the clock so that at the very last minute the House of Commons is presented with a choice between her hard Brexit mess of a deal or no deal at all. This is respecting the will of the people, apparently. But not the Scottish people, because we don’t register in Theresa’s calculations, and not the will of the slightly less than half of the UK which voted to remain. Which if nothing else means that Scotland has company as it’s being marginalised and ignored. This is now the only constitutional argument that opponents of independence have got left, “Parts of England are being ignored too, Scotland.” Because that makes it all OK then. Not.
It’s worth stressing that Theresa May’s deal is a hard Brexit. The Brexiters might not have succeeded in coming up with a realistic or plausible plan, but they have successfully moved the goalposts in the media over the course of the past two years. What was once called a hard Brexit, that is leaving the customs union and single market, is now called a soft Brexit. What was once called a soft Brexit, remaining in the customs union and single market, is now called Brexit in name only and is regarded as no Brexit at all. A hard Brexit is now defined as a calamitous falling out of the EU with no deal. The choice that Theresa May is trying to force on Parliament is a choice between a hard Brexit, or the chaos of no deal.
Meanwhile, the Fluffy One, Scotland’s very own stuffed toy cabinet minister, is making a speech in which he claims that Brexit strengthens devolution. Because Scotland being sidelined, marginalised, ignored, and told to shut up, is really an exercise in the respect agenda that David Cameron promised us way back when he wanted our votes. It’s just a pity that David Mundell doesn’t stand up and publicly lecture his cabinet colleagues in the same way that he lectures the people of Scotland. On most people his speechs make as much of an impression as a small piece of wet toilet paper being fired at a rhinocerous. His real target audience is the SiU trolls who infest the comments sections of Scottish newspapers. But then David’s job isn’t to represent Scotland in the British government, it’s to represent the British government in Scotland. His job title is Scotland Secretary, but 100 years ago there was another job title for those doing what David does. It was Governor General of the Colonies.
David Mundell’s claim is delusional, but then he represents a party which says that Theresa May’s Brexit deal “works for Britain”, so delusion and self-deception is pretty much the base state here. Brexit undermines the foundations of the devolution settlement, because the Conservatives have decided to use it to unilaterally take control of a slew of devolved powers. They further undermined the devolution settlement by passing legislation using MPs from outwith Scotland in order to retrospectively remove powers from Holyrood so that the Scottish Government’s EU Continuity Bill couldn’t be passed into law.
The big political news is of course the defection of eight Labour MPs and three Conservatives to form a new “centrist” grouping. It’s a symptom of just how screwed British politics has become that we’re being invited to pin our hopes on a Lib Dem tribute band. There are rumours that other MPs are set to follow. The goal of this new grouping is to attain 36 members, and then they can overtake the SNP as the third party and will take the SNP’s slot at PMQs. So Scotland will get even less of a say than it currently does, an already marginalised country being silenced by entitled people complaining that their voices aren’t heard. That tells you all you need to know about the priorities of Westminster. That’s their business as usual.
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