It’s difficult to get your head into the mindset of Scottish Unionists. There is overwhelming evidence that the Conservatives are cruel and duplicitous money grabbers who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. This is the party which insists that everyone – with the exception of corporations, bankers, and the rich – must pay their own way in life, to the point where they will kick away the crutches of the disabled in order to teach them to stand on their own two feet. In pursuit of that aim they’ve spent the all their time in office since the 1970s slashing social support, axing benefits, and ending subsidies. They are blind to the social damage caused, immune to any appeals to their better natures, because they have no better natures. If it doesn’t pay, it must be axed, and if it does pay it must be sold off to their pals in the City of London.
Yet despite a pattern of bloodsucking which is as obvious as a vampire in a bloodbank, Scottish Unionists affect to believe that the Tories gladly subsidise Scotland to the tune of billions annually, out of a sense of patriotic altruism and nothing more. Scotland is, uniquely, the sole recipient of Conservative largesse. It makes as much sense as Jackie Baillie with a pocket calculator. The truth is if Scotland really was such a massive drain on the coffers of the UK, we’d have been independent long ago. But then the people who propagate the story of a Scottish poverty and fecklessness also tend to believe that the British Empire was a saintly example of self-effacing charity, and not the colonialist exercise in rapacious asset stripping, theft, imperialism, and genocide, that it really was.
Still, the financial lifeline which the benevolent UK supposedly bestows on Scotland allows Unionists to cry “But what about the deficit!?” every time an independence supporter points out the really crippling deficit in Scotland, which is the democratic deficit. And then they tell you how proud they are to be Scottish and British. To be honest, some Unionists will cry “But what about the deficit!?” no matter what an independence supporter says to them. Even the most innocuous statement, from “It’s a bit nippy outside,” to “Would you like a wee cuppa tea?” is met by an anguished cry of “But what about the deficit!?” It’s their trump card, and just like the Trump in America it’s dishonest and misleading.
It’s difficult to understand why Unionists believe that the supposed weakness of the Scottish economy after centuries of Westminster rule is a point in their favour. Given the embarrassing abundance of resources that Scotland has, far in excess of most European countries, our supposed poverty is no advertisement for Westminster rule. It’s an argument that we need to escape a system which has criminally mismanaged our economy.
I’m not going to get into the GERS figures here. It’s enough to point an interested reader in the direction of the analyses carried out by the CommonWeal and Dr Craig Dalzell, which you can read here https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/9140/gers-201516-debunked and here https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/9879/report-beyond-gers-scotlands-fiscal-position-post-independence Suffice to say that the GERS figures tell us nothing about the financial situation of an independent Scotland.
The real deficit which cripples Scotland, the real deficit which damages our society, the real deficit that weakens and diminishes us, is the democratic deficit. The democratic deficit means that Scotland is being torn out of the EU into the hardest of hard Brexits, despite the fact that Scotland voted to remain a part of the EU by a larger margin than we voted to remain a part of the UK. And let’s not forget that we voted to remain a part of the UK in no small measure because we were repeatedly told that doing so was the only way to retain our EU membership. The democratic deficit means that the wishes of Scotland’s voters have precisely zero influence on the actions and policies of the UK government. The democratic deficit means that the single Conservative MP, the man who rejoices in the title of Secretary of State for Scotland, tells us that it’s not his job to represent Scotland in the British cabinet. He thinks that his job is to represent the British cabinet in Scotland.
Theresa May’s government, and the government of David Cameron before her, have rejected every suggestion, amendment or proposal from Scotland’s MPs. Every single amendment to the Scotland Bill from Scottish MPs was voted down by MPs from the rest of the UK, who rammed through a Bill that fell far short of what the Better Together campaign promised during the 2014 referendum. They promised us the Moon and the stars, but then they delivered a small rock which they used to batter us over the head saying, “You’re seeing stars now.” And the exact same pattern of arrogant dismissal is characterising the UK’s approach to Brexit.
The UK government has refused even to consider any of the proposals put forward by the Scottish government in an attempt to find a compromise on Brexit. They have ruled out any possibility of a special deal for Scotland, while falling over themselves to promise special deals for their pals in the City of London and Japanese car manufacturers with factories in leave voting areas of the North of England. Scotland isn’t just sidelined, we’re on the track to oblivion. We’re being shunted into the scrap yard by people who don’t care about us.
They tell us how lucky we are to be a part of this great Britain with its red white and blue Brexit. They say that we would have no influence as a small country in the EU, as if we had any influence in the UK. But the truth is that small EU member states like Malta, Latvia, or Slovenia, countries with fewer people and smaller economies than Scotland, have vastly more influence in shaping the form that Brexit will take, and in determining the future for Scotland, than the people of Scotland do themselves. That’s a democratic outrage. It’s the democratic deficit that is really screwing Scotland over. But you won’t hear a Unionist mention it. They only know the prices that the Tory government tells them, but not the value of real democracy.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-21st-jan-2017
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