It was reported today that the “Boris Bridge” has been definitively cancelled. Most of Scotland was about as shocked and surprised at this development as it was at the revelation that bright orange is not in fact the natural skin colour of the cast members of The Only Way Is Essex or that there’s been considerable and expensive cosmetic dentistry in the creation of Rylan’s impressively white and gleaming teeth, which ensure that he’ll never be stuck for a job because all he needs to do is to stand on a cliff and open his mouth so he can double up as a lighthouse.
Of course Johnson’s ludicrous plan was never going to be realised. Building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland would have to deal with the strong currents, frequent winter storms, and great depths of the North Channel, not to mention the thousands of tons of conventional munitions and chemical weapons that the Ministry of Defence has dumped in Beaufort’s Dyke, because as far as the British state is concerned Scotland is nothing more than a conveniently remote location for dumping the dangerously toxic and explosive implements of British imperialism that Westminster wants kept as far away as possible from places that it actually cares about.
Even if a bridge were built, poor weather would ensure it was frequently closed for days at a stretch during the winter months. A tunnel would be more feasible, even if ruinously expensive to construct, but it would still have to overcome some formidable engineering challenges and given the British state’s atrocious record in major civil engineering projects, which invariably come in very late and considerably over budget, there is no doubt that it would end up costing a great deal more than the £20 billion budget which Johnson and his supporters were bandying about.
Johnson has form for backing pie in the sky projects. He has a childish need to attach his name to massive infrastructure developments, in what is clearly a reflection of his narcissistic insecurity. Of course rather than getting therapy, Johnson expects the public to pay billions of pounds in order to assuage his fragile ego and ensure that he will be remembered for something other than his constant lies, his deceit, his corruption, and the way he has wrecked democracy.
There is of course the infamous Garden Bridge proposal for a pedestrian bridge over the Thames in central London which Johnson enthusiastically supported when he was the London Mayor. The failed project ate up £43 million in public money before being cancelled. Then there was the plan for “Boris Island”, a scheme to build a new six runway airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary. The architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrel likened the plan to the grandiose and unrealistic projects devised by Adolf Hitler and described it as “mad”.
The fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland was never going to be built. The political purpose of the equally mad, grandiose, and unrealistic proposal to build a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland was to throw a bone to the staunch mob in Scotland in the run up to the crucial Holyrood elections and to persuade the equally staunch mob in Northern Ireland that the British Government actually cared about them after throwing the DUP under the Brexit bus the moment that the Conservatives no longer relied on them for their majority in the House of Commons. In the exact same way, once the formerly Labour seats in the so-called Red Wall in the north of England were in the bag for Johnson and the Tories, the plan to build an eastern arm of High Speed Rail to Leeds was scrapped as was the proposal for a high speed rail connection between Leeds and Manchester, northern England’s largest cities.
While other countries get on with extending and developing the high speed rail networks that will be essential as a replacement for short haul flights in a carbon zero age, we can forget about the British Government ever prioritising a high speed rail connection between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Under Westminster, Scotland is forever condemned to the slow track, while the rest of Europe speeds by and wonders why a resource rich and highly educated nation like Scotland continues to tolerate the second rate status to which it is consigned by the British state.
The reality is that if Scotland wants meaningful connections, physical or otherwise, with other countries, it can only do so as an independent nation in charge of determining its own priorities. There is no doubt that other countries would be eager to have Scotland as a partner in a way that they are not with a UK which has become a by-word for perfidy, deceit and untrustworthiness.
In an article published over the weekend by Finland’s English language newspaper the Helsinki Times, professor of politics Anthony Heron argues that Scotland would be an ideal candidate for membership of the Nordic Council. This is a view shared by Finnish politician Mikko Kärnä, who represents Lapland in the Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament. Kärnä congratulated Nicola Sturgeon on the SNP’s victory in May’s election and said that he was confident that Scotland will vote for independence once the pandemic is over.
In the meantime he announced an initiative to grant Scotland observer status of the Nordic Council. The Nordic Council is an interparliamentary organization comprising the five Nordic countries, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden, and the Nordic Region’s three autonomous territories, the Åland islands, The Faroe Islands and Greenland. Full membership of the Nordic Council is open to the independent nations of Scandinavia. The Åland islands, the Faroe Islands and Greenland have membership with limited rights. The Saami Council, the Sámiráđđi, a voluntary, non-governmental organization of the indigenous Saami people made up of nine Saami member organizations in Finland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden has formal observer status.
The choice for Scotland is clear, make our own connections and determine our own priorities, or forever keep on being fobbed off with Westminster’s pie in the sky lies.
Just to let you know, I am currently going through a phase of what my physiotherapist calls neurological hypersensitivity. Nerves and sensation are starting to reawaken on the left side of my body, however because my brain has had no input from the left for many months and because the relevant parts of the brain suffered damage in the stroke, the brain is interpreting these signals as pain. It’s uncomfortable and exhausting but it is a sign of progress and therefore is good news. Hopefully my brain will relearn what these signals really mean and the pain will diminish and I will have meaningful sensation. However in the meantime it’s causing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion as well as pain, so I may not blog every day until symptoms settle down.
My Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to firstname.lastname@example.org (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).
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