Hanging by a thread

We all ought to see by now the future that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson envisages for the UK. We are to become a cut-price USA, with lower wages and worse weather, but with the same lack of environmental protection, workers’ rights, and social security and health provision that Donald Trump wants to impose upon America. The NHS will be up for sale as the UK seeks a trade deal, food and evironmental standards will be trashed, employment insecurity will spread and worsen.

The post-war settlement, the social protections, free healthcare, education, state pensions, and the widening of opportunities which the older generations associate with British values are now no longer simply under threat. It’s far worse than that. The order of execution has already been decided upon by a government which is hell bent upon avoiding democratic scrutiny. Brexit was never about restoring the sovereignty of the British parliament, it was always about ensuring that power and wealth in the UK remain concentrated in the hands of a small and unrepresentative group of people. Brexit is a movement which rails against elites, while being led by an Old Etonian who embodies privilege and who claimed that the £275,000 annual renumeration he receives from the Telegraph for writing his lies is mere chickenfeed.

Removing the UK from the EU means that the powerful will no longer be subject to the regulations and standards imposed by the EU, regulations and standards which benefit ordinary people and ensure that we enjoy employment and social protections. It means that they will be able to prioritise profiteering while not having to concern themselves with the welfare of those who create their wealth. Leaving the EU means that the UK will no longer be subject to European regulations and rules designed to prevent money laundering and tax avoidance, directives designed to tackle the culture of corporate tax avoidance so beloved by the City of London. Leaving the EU allows the UK to become a tax-haven economy perched on the edge of Europe, the Singapore-Upon-Thames which is the wet-dream of Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Brextremists who have taken over the British government have a clear plan in mind for the future of the UK. It’s a commitment to sweeping tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, combined with deregulation to destroy workers’ rights and employment and environmental standards. There will be weak or non-existent compliance with international money laundering standards, as the UK seeks to attract Russian oligarchs and the proceeds of corruption in other countries. There will be an initial bribe in the form of extra money for the NHS, or the police, or education, and then later down the line the burgeoning deficit will be used as an excuse to slash spending on public services even more than they’ve been slashed already – a playbook already used by the US Republican party. That’s the future of the UK. It’s a future where a small number of people have the opportunity to become extremely rich, while the rest of us live in penury, working in precarious employment or subsisting on food banks until we finally drop.

It will be a future where the executive branch of government wields power unchecked by Parliament, the final transformation of the UK into an elected dictatorship. This week’s announcement from the UK government that Parliament will be prorogued confirms that British governments no longer see themselves as being subject to Parliamentary scrutiny or control. Even worse, there have been reports in the press that insiders in Number 10 are claiming that should the House of Commons succeed in passing a motion of no confidence when it returns to sit this coming week that the Prime Minister will simply ignore it and will stay in office until after Brexit happens.

The law says that following a successful motion of no confidence in the government, the Opposition has 14 days in which to cobble together an alternative administration, but if they fail then the Prime Minister must call a General Election. But it doesn’t say when that election needs to be held. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson could simply shut the door of Number 10 and remain in place until a no deal Brexit happens. The British constitition does not act as a bulwark against extremism, it enables those with dictatorial tendencies. All that has protected the UK so far is the willingness of those in power to abide by previous conventions, traditions, and customs. Yet when they are as ruthless and devious as Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, there is nothing to stop them.

The Britain of the post war settlement is dead. The Britain which Scotland’s older generations grew up in and which a majority of them though they were voting for in 2014 is no more and has no future. I’ve said this before, but it’s a point well worth repeating, and re-asserting – especially to older voters – if you want to defend and protect those good things that were delivered by the British state as part of the post war settlement, the NHS, free education, a comprehensive social security system, a state pension that permits a dignified retirement, you can only do so by supporting Scottish independence. A vote to remain a part of the UK is a vote to condone their destruction.

Not even the leader of the Scottish Conservatives was able to continue supporting the direction that is being taken by this Conservative Prime Minister. So why should Scotland? Now even the Scottish Conservatives are discussing the possibility of declaring independence from the UK Conservatives and becoming a distinctly Scottish Conservative and Unionist party. They want indepenedence for themselves but not for Scotland.

Democracy is at risk in the UK. Scotland’s hard fought for devolution settlement within the UK is also under threat. Just as the parliamentary and constitutional norms upon which British democracy depends are being trashed by a Prime Minister who understands that there is nothing to compel him to respect those norms, the devolution settlement also depends upon norms and conventions which a Prime Minister is not legally bound to respect. We’ve already seen that in the way in which the Sewell Convention was ruled to be unenforceable. The Sewell Convention said that no UK Government would alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament without the consent of Holyrood. It was even written into the Scotland Act. But the British Government was able to ignore it and the UK Supreme Court agreed with them.

The government of this Brextremist Prime Minister, who shows no respect for conventions or parliamentary customs, will not hesitate to reduce the powers of a Scottish Parliament that dares to stand in his way. The devolution settlement, and the very fabric of democracy itself, hangs by a very frayed thread. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is poised with the scissors.

There’s only one way in which the people of Scotland can guarantee the strength and security of their democracy, only one way in which they can ensure that their governments prioritise the protection of the social contract which underpins decent standards for ordinary people and which keeps the rapacious wealthy in check. That’s not by giving another vote of confidence in those who are trashing the post-war settlement. The need for independence has never been more pressing. It has become a moral imperative.

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40 comments on “Hanging by a thread

  1. carolclark1 says:

    How depressing a picture you paint Paul, but, you know what, I fear that you are correct.

    These very dangerous people now in charge of government, will do as they wish. Gove this morning on Andrew Marr, would not even give an answer to his question of if the courts find against them, will they obey the law. All that was needed was, yes we will obey the law. What we got was an evasive and slippery answer of, well, we will have to look at it. It doesn’t bode well.

    As for removing some of the devolved powers, I think that the plan is to remove all of them by closing Holyrood. I think that that is a very real prospect.

    We need to get the hell out of Dodge, and PDQ. Come on Nicola, what the hell are you waiting for.

    Be afraid folks, be very afraid.

    • I watched that smirking little twat laughing in Marr’s face and declaring they everybody would get the food they need after Brexit.
      This incredibly arrogant little man who clearly knows nothing about the impact of No Deal slapped down Marr and his eyes betrayed the complete contempt in which he holds the citizens of these isles.
      I gather Momentum and others are to take to the streets blocking the routes to WM.
      It will not end well.

      If only we had warned them that there might be riots…

      Personally, Carol, I’m not angry.
      As Zsa Zsa Gabor quipped about divorce: ‘Don’t get mad, get the house’.

      Indyref 2 is inevitable and imminent now.
      We are ‘getting the house’.

    • crabbitgits says:

      \i’ll second this carolclark1; every word. I have always believed that a no-deal Brexit was always the plan. Great post Paul.

  2. Anyone who knows me should know I agree with every word of this. That I have been an Indy campaigner since I was 16. That I used to be a Labour supporter until John Smith died and then I jettisoned them as quickly as Tony Blair smarmed his Third Way into leadership. That I am an SNP member and Nicola Sturgeon supporter to the core.

    But help me out here. I have often come on this page and case my doubts about what the hell is going on. What is the plan ? Is there a plan ? Are we being too quiet, too trusting, too……….compliant ?

    And every time, people far more experienced and politically knowledgeable than me have told me to keep the faith, be patient and it will all come together. Trust the system. Trust the people in charge. All will come to those who wait on indy.

    Well I’m not one of those folk who enjoy the excitement of grasping victory from the jaws of defeat, I like a nice three-goal cushion with some decent defending and a good strong substitutes bench just in case.

    So, if we’re hanging by a thread, would someone like to try and make me feel better this time ? Maybe start using it to knit us a nice safety blanket ?

    • Molly, we all share your frustration. The trick is not to let that sense of hyper readiness lead to impatience.
      They’d love us to turn on each other.
      What we learned from the first campaign that if we reveal our hand too early, the Press and the broadcast media will flood the airwaves and column inches of Brit Nats shooting down our proposals for a new currency, membership of the EU, etc., and trot out the too wee too poor you’ll lose your pensions nonsense.
      We have grown into this very credible Movement and are far more politically savvy than we were in 2013, in no small measure due to Paul’s peerless prose, and quite literally hundreds of outlets and campaign groups, ready for the fight.
      I’d argue that the next few weeks will be significant.

      We know now that rUK will leave with a lousy deal, or No Deal at all, so Indyref 2 criteria have been met; we are being taken out of the EU against the express will of the people of Scotland.
      The timing is crucial; when to fire the starting gun.
      By the end of October seems likely now.

    • Bob Lamont says:


    • Although there’s a complete meltdown, caused by Brexit, of everything the UK has ever stood for, there’s a silver lining. Perhaps Scottish Independence might never be achieved without it.
      I think it’s obvious to most folk that we’re leaving without a deal. Johnson has boxed himself into a corner with the leaving date and the EU are not going to change the backstop.
      However, the day after Brexit the UK needs trade deals or very quickly they’ll be a collapse in social cohesion. It is difficult for any individual to imagine the havoc that a No Deal will cause. If we had a proper media then every day we would be seeing, in 3 inch high headlines, the terrors of a No Deal. Not the case. Some people are even looking forward to a No Deal as they read the Mail, the Express or the Sun. The BBC, Sky News and ITV are equally useless.
      Anyway, the most important deal they need to strike is with the EU, and the first thing the EU is going to do is ask them to sign the Withdrawal Agreement. Now though, no longer a member of the EU, the UK is in an incredibly weak position and the EU can demand all kinds of compromises from them. They’ll also have broken an International agreement in the shape of the Good Friday Agreement, and going by statements from the US Congress they’ll be no trade deal with the US in the foreseeable future.
      Ireland certainly, and prospective member Scotland will I believe feature in the terms of any trade deal between the UK and EU. The UK will be in an unimaginable desperate position by then and it is difficult to see how they will be able to resist these demands.

      • My hope is that the EU have got something tucked away for us in terms of…well, okay, I’m not that smart and I’m not psychic either. But given their support up to now, and their recognition that none of this omnishambles was Scotland’s by design, that we might feature as a condition in any deal, trade or political. Don’t press me for further detail, I haven’t been on the Absinthe yet

        Anyway, I’m busy weaving this final thread we’re hanging by into a lovely plaid and I shall wear it on independence day 🙂

      • Bob Lamont says:

        “Johnson has boxed himself into a corner with the leaving date” – You missed out “deliberately and as planned”, this is no bumbling accident…
        The rest of the observations are spot on, “No Deal” serves the business interests of a minority on a wave of popular “revolution”, advances the EU chaos the extremists desire, but is no destination.
        For all the jingo of the Mail etc conning the majority, jingo doesn’t earn wages or put food on the table unless you’re a politician, the danger for England is the con is unravels and the mob turns, so they need a new scapegoat. Having leveraged GFA with no regard to consequence for the Irish people and attempting to pass them the blame, sacrificing the Scots seem the inevitable next step, “subsidy scroungers” probably the excuse.
        Gove’s puff over the “settled status system working well” and Brexit being a smooth transition, are the lies of a government promoted beyond it’s ability, and whilst I agree with your final point, the EU Council may struggle to contain reaction by all 27 EU states during this expansion of Patel’s hostile policy, even as the UK becomes an international pariah.

    • Macart says:

      It’s going to happen M.M.. 😉

      The past five years have been a maddening frustration for those of us who voted YES and who knew exactly what Westminster politics really meant. We don’t need much convincing to get about it around now. 🙂

      It’s hands out time.

    • Craig P says:

      The UK is potentially going to a much darker place than it is in now. The upside of this is that those Scots who aren’t dedicated British nationalists, and haven’t worked that out yet that there’s a better way of doing things, will finally get the clue.

      So don’t worry Molly. The worse it gets in the short term, the better the prospects of independence.

  3. Weechid says:

    Feely extremely depressed today. I just can’t see us getting out of this. I’m not seeing enough people changing from No to Yes and starting to feel that nothing will ever change their minds. I’ve no idea why they still want to remain in the UK. their mindset is beyond my comprehension.

  4. benmadigan says:

    I have long shared your forebodings about what will happen to Scotland, particularly with the passage of time towards what looks likely to be a No Brexit deal.

    While you were writing that excellent post Paul ,I was thinking about the value of a real constitution


  5. Simon Taylor says:

    I feel your angst ….. however the consensus from most if not all observers is that the Boris/Brexit combination is increasing support for Independence . This is supported in polling. Paul is of the opinion that , and forgive me if I’m misinterpreting your comments Paul, Independence is increasingly inevitable. When you get something like 70% in opinion polls saying that, at some point in the future, Scotland will be Independent that should be taken as read. The flip side is to try and imagine under what possible scenario the division in the UK can heal. There is none. The UK is finished in the long term as a political construct. As Paul quoted the other week ” we are winning “. We will get there. It’s just a question of how and when . Keep the faith

    • Weechid says:

      Not amongs any of the No voters I know, and where I live their numbers aooear to be growing.

      • Simon Taylor says:

        Well the opinion polls ( and yes i know they are not reliable) suggest otherwise

        • Weechid says:

          I’ve never been asked for my opinion. Nor has anyone I know.

          • Mr SIMON TAYLOR says:

            But others have. And those others are clearly starting to favour Independence

            • Toni Young says:

              I’ve been on the YouGove panel for about 5 years. No political questions the first 3.5 years, but nearly all polls I’ve been invited to take part in for 1.5 years have been political. The SNP and Scotland’s independence come up every time now. I only take part about twice a month, so there may be others I’m not seeing. They are paying attention.

          • weegingerdug says:

            That doesn’t mean that an opinion poll is unreliable. When you are dealing with a group numbered in the hundreds of thousands or millions (like the Scottish electorate), you only need a representative sample of around 1000 in order to get a pretty accurate picture of the opinions within the group as a whole.

            As long as your sample is correctly balanced according to the different demographic segments within the wider population, a sample of 1000 or so will produce a result which has a margin of error of 3% and will do so 19 times out of 20. That’s the level of precision that reputable polling companies aim for. It’s because they only require a sample of around 1000 people that the vast majority of us have never been polled.

            There’s a lot of misunderstanding about how polls work. A poll of 10,000 people which is not correctly balanced or sampled will be less accurate than a poll of 1,000 people which is.

  6. Jan Cowan says:

    Waiting for the starting-gun isn’t easy.

  7. bringiton says:

    El Presidente BoJo of the United Tax Havens.
    The thrust of the Westminster fascist regime appears to be to leave the EU without a deal and sort out everything else afterwards.
    Also,since their main objective is to free themselves from the jurisfiction of the European courts,they were never going to agree to any deal which allowed that to continue.
    The EU will never do a trade deal with a third country which doesn’t involve the European courts to some degree.
    Those Scots who don’t see the need for democratic accountability in their own country are,along with those who do see the need,about to suffer the consequences.

  8. Tol says:

    BE THE BRIGHT BEACON…not a reflection of the darkness.

    I know this is for internal YES discussions – but if you are saying there is a way out lets get a message about why it was always Scotland’s right to do so…timing was always up to Scotland when it wanted to dissolve the Union…never England’s to give.

    This post just feels like endless deja vu….all of this has been known for well over 2 years and we are still on these posts right up to the final moments before impact when everything goes into slow motion.

    If this goes as badly as we are being warned, this is partially on all those who advocated for: waiting…hold your nerve….lets wait for a Section 30….and the SNP who wanted to play “small target” politics…lets save England.

    YES and the SNP gave up controlling the narrative – instead waiting to fight while balancing on a razors edge hoping YES would fall into their lap. It reeked of: Lets not fight for our case because it’s right and we can win…it was lets hope people come to us out of fear.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Well no, this post isn’t intended for you Tol. It’s aimed at those soft no voters and undecideds who haven’t appreciated the dangers that we face within the UK. There is still a need for such warnings.

      We can only embark upon the other route that you suggest if we ensure that we can take a clear majority along with us. You might already be convinced, not everyone is.

      • Luigi says:

        Indeed, we are all feeling frustrated but t would be utter folly to go before the Brexit dust has settled. Canny soft NOs wont be pushed until they know exactly what the score is. Everything is too uncertain at the moment. A premature indyref would just encourage undecideds to crawl into their shells. Remember the BT slogan: “If you are not sure, just vote NO”. I have to admit, they played a blinder there.

        • It’s already to late to hold Indyref2 – with or without a section 30 order. There is no doubt that one of the main motivations for Brexit is to contain the Scots desire for Independence. I’ve been saying this for years, the Westminster government WILL suspend the Hollyrood parliament as and when necessary.

          They’ll use the inevitable social unrest after Brexit, as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and suspend both the Edinburgh and Cardiff assemblies.

          Assuming the Tories win the next GE (or a Tory/Brexit party coalition) which is looking most likely. Once In power they will manipulate circumstances to dissolve all 3 assemblies and there is nothing we will legally be able to do about it. We can be outraged as much as we like but they will plough ahead with it regardless, because they can’t afford to lose their cash cow (especially after a no deal Brexit).

          It is imperative that the SNP fight the upcoming GE on a majority of Scottish Westminster MPs mandate for independence. Then declare UDI and try and go through the legal international and domestic route to statehood.

          However the current SNP administration seems reluctant to pursue this path (I understand why) but I see it as our only option. Any referendum other than a confirmatory one after UDI is dead in the water. I have no doubt there will be enough countries happy to recognise us as an independent nation to get the ball rolling to full international acceptance.

          Independence is not given it is taken.

  9. Alex says:

    Tol : Forget about a Section 39. If you read Craig Murray all of you the answer is there. READ IT and pass the answer along to others.

  10. Grafter says:

    Anyone interested to see how this scenario plays out should read Naomi Klein’s….THE SHOCK DOCTRINE. What is happening now is a tried and trusted formula used by the wealthy elites worldwide to subvert democracy and control economies to their own advantage.

  11. Jon Southerington says:

    It keeps being stated that we the Scottish people are sovereign and that the monarch is answerable to us. If this is the case, why are our elected representatives not meeting the Queen to make it clear that Scotland will not stand for the current situation?

    • Luigi says:

      Cos we still dont’ know if a majority of the sovereign people really can’t stand the situation and are now ready to man the lifeboats. A single opinion poll aside, it has yet to be properly tested. The people are sovereign but the people have yet to spell out what they want.

      • Bob Lamont says:

        Which is why the inevitable GE will for Scotland become crucial. While England are fighting over which version of traditional politics or English Nationalism to follow, SNP must landslide it on a pro-indy ticket to ram the point firmly home that enough is enough….
        Scotland has already shunned the trad politics of London centricity, Labour got a thick ear, the Tories got a reprieve on the back of Brexit in 2017, but cannot survive with Johnson et al at the helm.
        Where now Brown Vow may yet prove to be their nemesis…

  12. robert says:

    Totally on the money with this excellent summation of the current situation Paul.

  13. orri says:

    Johnson is trying to provoke a vote of No confidence so he can abuse his position as PM to set the date of a GE. Which is a patently ridiculous state of affairs.

    However his single miscalculation is in proposing a Queens Speech. By precedence that means the PM introducing it stands down if they can’t get it passed. No Vote of No Confidence. They step aside and let another PM/Government take over.

    He, or rather his proxies, have yet to say the obvious that he may have some method to delay or prevent Laws being passed. They talk about legislation instead without being specific about going against it. Perhaps because regardless of how impossible the legislation might be to implement it encapsulates the clear will of the House. To deliberately go against that might be considered Contempt of Parliament.

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