There has certainly been no time in recent history when the need for Scottish independence has been so acute and pressing. We are now in a very different place from the independence campaign of the 2014 referendum. Back then it was still possible to believe that devolution was safe and that further powers could be granted to the devolved Scottish Parliament. Those opposed to independence could tout the line that support for independence was parochial and inward looking and that it was only thanks to the good graces of the UK that Scotland could enjoy membership of the EU and be respected and taken seriously by the rest of the world.
Now we know that devolution is gravely imperilled, the existence of a powerful Scottish Parliament is antithetical to the right wing Conservative vision of a centralised post-Brexit state in which the Scotland Secretary Alister Jack has no qualms about declaring that he dislikes acknowledging that Scotland is a nation in its own right, preferring to subsume it in a single “British nation” in which Scotland is reduced to nothing more than a quaint region with some dialect differences. The Conservatives have traduced their own promises made to the people of Scotland in 2014 when they vowed never to alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament without Holyrood’s consent and have set out to by-pass and undermine Holyrood, giving Westminster powers to intervene in Scotland on devolved issues without even pretending to seek a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland to do so.
However it’s not just the future of the devolution settlement which is at risk under the Westminster Conservatives, the very future of Scotland as a nation and a distinct polity is threatened by them. Alister Jack’s comments, which included the remark that he views the Scotland England border as nothing more than a sign by the side of the road, demonstrate that if the Tories had their way Scotland would be reduced to nothing more than a glorified county council, existing purely in order to allow Anglo-British nationalists like Jack to indulge themselves in the delusional fantasy that their nationalism isn’t really nationalist at all.
The only thing stopping them from a full throated assault on the devolution settlement is the possibility of another independence referendum.
It’s also now clear that it is British nationalism and the Brexit British state which is parochial, inward looking and xenophobic. Scottish independence represents by far the quickest and most secure route for Scotland to re-establish closer ties with Europe and the EU and to regain EU membership. Even if there was a significant change in the political climate in the UK, which is by no means certain, the member states of the EU would be highly reluctant to allow the UK back into the EU, and EFTA countries made it clear during the Brexit transitional period that they would not welcome a UK application for membership. Thanks to Brexit and the serial deceit of the Conservatives, the British state has destroyed any goodwill that it once had. The UK is now viewed as an untrustworthy partner, a troublesome state whose defining characteristic is a belief that it should magically be exempt from the norms and standards expected of other independent European states.
Scotland, on the other hand, would be welcomed with open arms, as was made clear by Jan Jambon, the Minister-President of Belgium’s Flemish community who said last week that Flemish ports should prepare for the possible independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom.
The way that Scotland has been treated by this duplicitous Conservative government would be bad enough if it were even semi-competent, but it cannot even aspire to the heady heights of adequacy. What we have is a shambolic and incompetent British government which lurches from one allegation of sleaze and corruption to another, whose senior figures have a relationship to the truth which is so distant that it’s not even on the same space-time continuum as any recognisable reality in this universe, and which has elevated a callous and cruel disregard for human life and decency into the closest thing it has got to a guiding principle. Following the appalling tragedy of dozens of people fleeing war and persecution losing their lives as they attempted to cross the English Channel, this fundamentally unserious government and Prime Minister used the disaster as an excuse to try and get into a Twitter spat with the French President.
As we brace for the spread of a new and concerning variant of the virus, we learned on Sunday that the Johnson Government has ignored a senior official’s plan to prepare the UK for the possible emergence of vaccine-resistant Covid variants.
Clive Dix, a leading figure in drug development who chaired the vaccine task force until April this year told the Observer newspaper :”I wrote a very specific proposal on what we should put in place right now for the emergence of any new virus that escaped the vaccine. That was written and handed into the vaccine task force at the end of April when I left. I haven’t seen a sign of any of those activities yet.” Johnson has already presided over a UK which has suffered a huge death toll and greater economic damage than any comparable state, but has learned absolutely nothing. Instead he devotes his time and energy into trying to neuter independent scrutiny of MPs’ activities while doing nothing about the scandal of his party’s hoovering up of dark money in donations, allegedly in return for peerages.
The SNP has announced that on Tuesday it will table a motion of no confidence in the Johnson government in the Commons. In the highly unlikely event that it passes, the Government will fall and there will have to be a General Election. However it will be defeated as the Conservatives possess a large majority in Parliament.
The question is whether Keir Starmer’s Labour party will support the motion or whether they will yet again put their tribal dislike of the SNP ahead of doing their job as the official opposition and actually opposing the Tories for a change, because if they do as they usually do, and find some spurious reason for abstaining, they will merely confirm that within the UK Scotland has no protection from the malignities of the Conservatives and the only possible option is independence. Then they will have shown Scotland that we need to pass a vote of no confidence in the entire Westminster system.
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 will be blogging less frequently 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 email@example.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).
I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon. So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National
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