Is it safe to come out yet? Can we now get on with our lives without being bombarded by incessant sycophantic drivel about members of a rich and privileged family. Personally I am sick to the back teeth of being told that the Queen was like the gushing interviewee’s grandmother. Although admittedly she was just like my own grandmother, in that she was unhuggable, emotionally distant, and I tried very hard to avoid her.
There is a rule of thumb that whenever a newspaper headline is framed as a question, the answer is invariably – No. And that is also the case of the question posed in the first paragraph of this blog piece. No, as long as Scotland remains a part of this supposedly united kingdom, we will never be able to get on with our lives without being bombarded by incessant sycophantic drivel about members of a rich and privileged family. Probably some time next year there will be the coronation of King Charles #NotMySpaniel (a hashtag which I’ll be determined to get trending.) and we will be in for yet more blanket British nationalist – sorry, ‘patriotic’ bollocks taking over the British media as it descends into another paroxysm of orgasmic monarchist gushery complete with Kremlin watching style speculation about the state of the relationship between the royal spaniel’s sons.
But for now, despite the interminable post match analysis of the funeral, the Queue, Meghan Markle, and tearful interviews with assorted coffin watchers, we can get back to real news, or at least what passes for real news in this shit-show of a Britain. The Prime Minister that none of us elected has started her first visit to the USA as British leader with an admission that a UK-US free trade deal isn’t going to happen any time soon — a very marked contrast to the repeated declarations of her predecessors, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, in the post-Brexit era, and the claims of the Brextremists prior to and after the EU referendum that a UK trade deal with America would be signed sealed and delivered within a few months of the UK leaving the EU. Our expectations have already fallen through the floor, yet Truss still feels she needs to manage them. There’s that confident global Britain for you.
If as seems possible, the Conservatives crash the Good Friday Agreement and spark off a trade war with the EU, there may very well be no US-UK trade deal at all. Biden has made it clear that the Good Friday Agreement must be protected and warned ahead of his 2020 election that if Brexit damaged the 1998 Good Friday Agreement he would not consent to a UK-US trade deal.
Also overlooked during the royalgasm of the past two weeks (although if feels like much much longer), Sunday was the eighth anniversary of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The contrast between what Better Together promised Scotland in return for a No vote and what has actually been delivered is stark. We were assured that Scotland would be a loved and respected equal partner in a voluntary union of nations, but now Liz Truss insists that the UK is not a voluntary partnership of nations, but rather ‘one great nation’. We were promised that only a No vote could guarantee Scotland’s place in the EU, yet here we are, out in the cold, stripped of EU membership, citizenship and our freedom of movement and right to live and work in Europe has been sacrificed on the altar of the xenophobic immigrant hatred of the right wing of the Conservative party and the Daily Mail.
We were told that the devolution settlement would be safe and put beyond any Westminster meddling, but the British Government of Theresa May went to the UK Supreme Court to obtain a ruling that the Sewel Convention, that said Westminster needed the consent of Holyrood to infringe on devolved powers, had no force in law, even though it was written into the Scotland Act. Now the Conservatives are openly discussing measures to by-pass and undermine the Scottish Parliament. It’s only the threat of another independence referendum that prevents them from neutering Holyrood entirely and turning it into a toothless talking shop.
These are only a few of the ways in which the Better Together parties have traduced the promises that they made to the people of Scotland when they were panicking about the possibility of a Yes vote in 2014. But even so, apparently it’s only the SNP which must respect the referendum result, the parties which won that vote are to be given a free pass when it comes to respecting the promises, commitments and Vows that they made in order to secure the victory that they so craved. I know I keep banging on about this, but it’s a vitally important point, one which the majority of the Scottish media colludes with Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems in keeping out of the public spotlight. The reason for that is because it’s the betrayal of the Vow and the campaign commitments of the Better Together parties which provides the moral and political justification for a second independence referendum.
If a party or parties cannot be held to account for the promises that they made in order to win a democratic vote, then democracy is neutered and rendered impotent. The Conservatives are now openly discussing gerrymandering and undermining Holyrood in order to ensure that they can never be held to account, because they cannot win power in Scotland.
But never mind that it’s not just Scottish devolution that faces an existential threat from the most right wing Conservative government in history, but Scottish democracy itself. Just look at the flags and the corgis and the parades and pageantry, bask in the British nationalist self-congratulation, and dive head first into the delusional denial that is now the UK’s understanding of itself. This is not the confident assured European democracy that Scotland was promised it could be a part of in 2014. This is an insane, cruel and callous place which makes the poor pay so that the energy companies can rake in billions, a sclerotic polity which is well on the way to full blown authoritarianism.
It’s not safe to come out yet, and it won’t be until Scotland escapes this madness.
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