Jackson Carlaw’s latest stunt is to make all Tory candidates in Scotland sign a pledge stating that they’re opposed to another independence referendum. Last week, the red faced one announced that he would oppose any other independence referendum until 2054. They say that a week is a long time in politics, Jackson Carlaw thinks he can dictate Scotland’s political priorities for decades to come. We had our chance at democracy, and we’re not going to be allowed to take any change in circumstances into account, unlike Jackson who’s allowed to change his mind about the EU. That’s different. Because hypocrisy.
Getting Tory candidates in Scotland to say that they oppose an independence referendum is a bit like getting Donald Trump to say that he opposes impeachment. It’s scarcely surprising and not exactly news. But it get a few newspaper headlines, and that’s what it’s all about really. So now the British nationalist press in Scotland can regale us with the latest vow from an anti-independence party to the people of Scotland. Not that it means anything, we’ve already seen that vows from anti-independence parties count for the square root of hee-haw. But no, seriously. It’s a vow. Rest easy in your beds unionists. It’s a vow.
What this really tells us is that opponents of independence now have just one strategy, and that is to try anything at all in the hopes of preventing another independence referendum from ever coming about. It is not a strategy that will be able to withstand the force of electoral defeats for the Tories in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon has already hinted that she has indeed considered what steps she will take in the event that a future Conservative government refuses to cooperate with a Section 30 order even though the Scottish electorate have delivered yet another mandate for another independence referendum. She has refused to rule out taking legal action. And at this juncture it is worth reminding readers of something that this blog has been stating for a good while – anyone who tells you that a referendum without a Section 30 order is illegal is not stating a legal fact. They are offering a political opinion. The only legal fact is that the lawfulness of a consultative referendum without a Section 30 order has never been tested in the courts.
For those of you who complain that the SNP has never explained what it’s going to do if a Section 30 order is refused, there’s a very good tactical reason why they’re not going to do so at this juncture. If the SNP leadership were to start explaining the various steps that they plan after a Section 30 order is refused, then they are as good as conceding in advance that a Westminster government has the moral and political authority to do so. Westminster might have the legal power, but that’s a very different matter. Political reality is decided in the court of public opinion not a court of law. So first of all the SNP wishes to build an impregnable case, to get a mandate that is beyond political challenge, so that when or if a Section 30 order is refused the court of Scottish public opinion will be behind alternative paths to a Scottish vote on Scotland’s future.
And make no mistake, such paths do exist. This blog has explained them in the past, as have other pro-indy activists. Routes such as a consultative referendum, routes such as a plebiscite election. We know that these routes exist. So do the SNP leadership, and so do the anti-independence parties. They know too that they forever block Scotland’s right to determine her own future while at the same time maintaining their fiction that Scotland is a partner in a union. Jackson Carlaw’s vow has no political validity or worth beyond a crude attempt to shore up the Conservative vote in Scotland, and to distract voters in Scotland from that Brexit that Tories here are strangely quiet about, but which their colleagues south of the border never shut up about. It’s almost as though they think that broadcasting in Scotland is devolved and we don’t see the UK news on the BBC.
In 2012 Better Together preened, they strutted, they confidently asserted that they’d crush the Yes campaign in the referendum, claiming that they’d secure 70% or more of the vote. The arrogant confidence that Scottish Unionism was full of in 2012 is now gone for good. Scottish Unionism itself has been shown to be based on one of the greatest myths of Scottish politics, the myth that Scotland is a partner in a union, the myth of the union itself. The arrogant entitled confidence has gone, leaving just the arrogance and entitlement behind. But now we can all see that it’s just a mask for their sheer abject terror. They know that they had the opportunity to prove themselves in the wake of the 2014 referendum, that the people of Scotland handed them one last chance, and they blew it. What you see from the Conservatives in Scotland is the desperate arse-covering of people who know that they only have themselves to blame. What you see is the panic from opponents of independence who know that Westminster will sell them out the second that it sees an advantage in doing so. What you see is the terror of Scottish Conservatives who know that they’re expendable, and that the decision about another independence referendum is not theirs to make.
Meanwhile, in the least convincing denial since Prince Andrew claimed that his only sin in the entire sordid Epstein affair was being “too honourable”, Donald Trump has been at pains to assert that US health corporations don’t want to descend on the NHS like a flock of vultures. “Never even thought about it honestly … We have absolutely nothing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a silver platter, we want nothing to do with it,” he insisted, illustrating what happens when one of his staff managed to explain to him that he’s not helping his pal Boris’s election prospects and has to deny that there’s any threat to the NHS after Brexit.
It’s a denial that’s so over the top that it’s obvious that it’s no denial at all. Are we really supposed to believe that rapacious US health corporations would want nothing to do with the NHS even if it was “handed to them on a plate”. Aye. Right. Uh-huh. It’s way up there in the believability stakes with his denial that he ever had anything to do with Stormy Daniels, his insistence that his phone call with the Ukrainian President was perfect, or his reasons for not releasing his tax returns.
It’s just more proof that you can’t trust a Tory with a vow, or with the NHS.
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