Nigel Farage is still tired from all that walking he didn’t do earlier this year on his much touted march on London. Only as far as Nigel was concerned it turned out not to be a long hard slog all the way from the north of England, and more of a short stroll to the first pub en route. This however is probably not the reason why he has decided that he’s not after all going to put up candidates for his Vanity Party – sorry Brexit Party – in every constituency. Although even Nigel would struggle to visit 650 pubs across the entire UK over the next four weeks or so.
The reason has rather more to do with the same reason that the millionaire stockbroker enemy of the elite has decided not to stand for election himself. It’s because he knows that he’s going to get gubbed. Gone are the big words and even bigger demands of just a few days ago, when he called on Boris Johnson to abandon any deal with the EU and go for a no-deal disaster capitalist wet dream of a Brexit. Nigel fancied himself as the great king-maker of Brexit, but instead he discovered that his polling ratings were in a right royal mess.
So he’s climbed down and has attempted to rescue what influence he can, and secure himself publicity and future invites to Question Time in the process, by announcing that he’s only going to stand Brexit Party candidates in seats which don’t have a Tory MP. This is, he proudly announced, the great leaver alliance. He told a press conference that he’d reflected on the chances of allowing Lib Dem MPs in constituencies in the South West of England, and reflected on Boris Johnson’s commitment to keep his word on leaving the EU, and then decided to believe Boris Johnson – entirely coincidentally guaranteeing his place on the honours list in the not too distant future. Arise Lord Farage of Arse Covering. The real question here is will those mugs who gave Nigel £100 each in order to stand as Brexit party candidates get their money back.
What this development tells us is that the Conservative Party has now completed its transformation into Ukip. They’re the party of choice of Donald Trump, and it’s reasonable to wonder whether this move by Farage is because of any pressure that he’s come under from the American President. It’s now going to be harder for the opposition parties to dislodge sitting Conservative MPs, particularly for the Lib Dems in the south of England.
Meanwhile the Labour Party has completed its transformation into Unelectablity. Labour’s chances, slim as they are, are not being helped by Jo Swinson, who goes about saying that her party is the only party of remain (conveniently ignoring the SNP) but seems to spend more of her time and energy attacking the Labour party than attacking the Tories. It’s all very well claiming to be the party of remain, but the Lib Dems are giving a very good impression of preferring to be a bunch of self-righteous I-told-you-soers in a Tory Brexit Britain than allowing even the slightest chance of letting the Labour party or the SNP get within a sniffing distance of victory.
Naturally Boris Johnson is delighted. This move gives him everything he wanted and costs him nothing. The chances of a Conservative majority government in the UK have increased. A nakedly populist right English nationalist party is set to dominate UK politics. British politics have realigned, and in a way that makes the UK unsustainable. This is not a UK that has any place at all for Scotland’s distinctive political traditions. This is a UK which is going to crush the devolution settlement.
The UK that we now live in is not merely not the UK that Scotland was promised in 2014, it’s Scotland’s worst nightmare. It’s a UK ruled by Boris Johnson propped up by Nigel Farage. It’s a UK which is determined to destroy those tattered remnants of the post-war settlement that the Conservatives haven’t yet ripped up. It’s a UK which is not just headed out of the EU, but a UK which is headed for the hardest most right wing kind of Brexit imaginable. It’s a UK which apes the policies and politics of Donald Trump. It’s a UK whose governing party is funded by Russian money. It’s the UK which independence supporters warned about in 2014, but their warnings only caused them to be decried as crazed zoomers. And yet, here we are.
Everything that yes supporters warned would happen if Scotland voted no has happened, and worse. England will vote for an English nationalist Conservative party dragged ever further to the right by the Brexit Party. That’s your future in the UK Scotland, suck it up.
Yet there is hope. The ever rightward march of the Conservatives into full blown English nationalism in a Brexit Britain can only strengthen the demand within Scotland for independence. It is now more important than ever that Scotland seizes the chance on 12 December to return as many pro-independence MPs as possible. We must demonstrate that Scotland rejects the Tories and that Scotland demands the right to decide its own future.
Of course if there is a majority Conservative government led by Boris Johnson, he’s going to refuse another independence referendum. However that refusal combined with his government’s pursuit of hard right politics will only reinforce the demand within Scotland for independence. We’re not there yet, and many things can happen during the course of this nasty election campaign, but even a majority Johnson government cannot withstand the demand for Scottish self-determination forever. His government will be a government in his image, chaotic, shambolic, and characterised by overweening entitlement and contempt. This will not be a government which is going to go down well in Scotland. Support for independence will rise significantly, and with it the chances of success and public support for alternative strategies in the face of the refusal to agree to a Section 30 order.
The road ahead is not an easy one. But it’s a road that leads only in one direction, towards a Scotland that decides its own future, decides to embrace a future as an independent European nation. Your vote in this coming General Election will be crucial in ensuring that Scotland stays headed in the right direction, the only direction that can rescue Scotland from the dysfunctional mess that the British state has become, rescuing Scotland from Johnson and Farage’s Britain.
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