On Monday it was the liar in chief, on Tuesday it was the turn of the personification of smugness to let the UK realise just how big a lie the promises of Brexit had turned out to be. Brexit has proven to be an even bigger lie than the promises made to Scotland by the Better Together parties during the 2014 referendum, which is quite a remarkable achievement considering that there were horses which were donated to Joe Exotic’s tiger zoo on the understanding they’d live out the rest of their lives grazing peacefully only to end up as catfood which have been treated with more compassion and understanding.
So there we all were, wondering whether it would be Scotland or Northern Ireland which left the UK first. Who could have foreseen that it was going to be Kent? As Michael Gove slimed his way through a speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday, with occasional pauses to ooze and gloop, he confirmed that the UK Government plans to close Kent off to heavy goods vehicles unless the haulage company has first obtained a permit.
So if there are long queues of lorries in Kent it won’t be the government’s fault. Oh no. It will be the fault of haulage companies for not applying for a permit which they haven’t been told how to qualify for using an online system that will crash on its first day of usage as some well heeled Tory appointee admits that they didn’t foresee much demand for it. This was all announced to the Commons with his usual oleaginous politesse by a lying mucosal polyp who told the UK before the EU referendum that the UK would remain in a free trade zone with the EU. But then Michael Gove apparently believes that it’s just fine to lie through your teeth as long as you’re terribly polite as you do so.
Effectively Kent will have a customs border with the rest of the UK. Bet you Kent resident Nigel Farage never saw that one coming. And now we can expect George Galloway to pop up on social media daring Michael Gove to prevent him from crossing the Dartford bridge.
The insult to our collective intelligence continued when Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak decided to cancel the autumn budget statement and Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and her Welsh and Northern Irish equivalents only found out about it on twitter, where it was buried at the bottom of a screen full of cat gifs. When he was challenged about this by Glasgow MP Alison Thewliss in an exchange in the House of Commons, the Chancellor replied that his lackey talks to “his counterparts” all the time. Although on this occasion he’d not been arsed enough, as he was taking his lead from his boss.
It was a clear illustration that just as the shambling abandoned carpet in Number 10 doesn’t want to have direct dealings with the First Minister because he wants to reinforce the message that, in his head at least, he’s her superior, his neighbour in Number 11 has the exact same attitude. As far as they are concerned Scotland’s government is little more than a glorified county council. You’ll have had your respect agenda Scotland. There is now a clear and repeated pattern of behaviour from UK Government ministers who don’t keep their Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish counterparts informed of UK Government decisions. This is no accident. It can only be as a result of a deliberate decision. The Conservatives are setting out to goad and taunt Scotland. And then they insist that there’s no demand for another referendum.
Today we learned that the Scottish First Minister has written to Johnson to ask for greater economic powers for the Scottish Government in order to tackle the pandemic. The news came out as sources in the Scottish Government admitted that they would have liked to have introduced far more wide ranging restrictions in order to suppress the spread of the virus if Scotland had the economic powers to mitigate the damage to jobs and the economy. However Scotland doesn’t have those powers. We are utterly dependent on decisions made in Westminster. As Nicola Sturgeon pointed out, what is holding Scotland back is not the public health analysis, but the financial constraints placed on Scotland by Westminster which deny the Scottish Government the ability to respond fully to the public health analysis.
Many scientists and experts believe that the measures introduced this week do not go anywhere near far enough to ensure success in preventing the further spread of coronavirus. This is the view of Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist and member of the UK Government’s SAGE committee. The Scottish Government wanted to introduce far stricter measures, but it can’t because it doesn’t have the powers necessary to protect jobs and incomes. And it won’t get them as a result of Nicola Sturgeon’s letter to Boris Johnson.
Of course we already know what the answer from Westminster will be. But that doesn’t mean that the formal request should not be made. It means that when questions are asked later the Scottish Government can say that it wanted the powers to take more effective action, but it was denied by an ignorant and vindictive Westminster. It helps to establish the narrative that Scotland is being held back by Westminster, a narrative which has already proven to have traction in Scotland during this pandemic.
You can bet however that the likes of Douglas Ross won’t acknowledge any of that when he criticises the Scottish Government’s handling of the crisis. It won’t be acknowledged by those British nationalist apologists who scoff at comparisons between Scotland and England when supporters of independence point out that Scotland is doing better than England under the Tories. But as long as the Scottish Government is hamstrung in its response to the pandemic by decisions which are made for it by a Conservative administration which refuses to allow Scotland to diverge too much from the decision that it is making for England, that is the only valid comparison to be made. When they try to cast aspersions on the Scottish Government by pointing to the fact that Scotland has performed far worse than other countries of a similar size, they want to compare independent nations with a government which they are refusing to allow the full powers of an independent state.
Westminster’s refusal to allow Scotland the full powers to tackle this crisis will only result in a few more people moving from no to yes, a few more people coming to realise that Scotland can do much better once it is freed from the liars and dissemblers who inhabit Westminster. The consequences of the oozing mass of Conservative lies have only just started to make themselves felt. Support for independence is only going to grow.
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