That Mike Russell’s pretty pissed off, and quite right too. There he was, hanging on the phone on David Davis’s Brexit hotline and never getting an answer and being kept on hold, because now that the UK hate foreigners they had to give up their contract with the call centre in Mumbai, and then he has to discover from the telly that Article 50 will be triggered on March 29. Davie and Theresa couldn’t be arsed to inform the Scottish Government officially.
This may or may not be related to the fact that they’re in as much as a huff as the Huffy Fluffy because they’d wanted to trigger it last week, but then Nicola Sturgeon stole their thunder by announcing that there was going to be a second independence referendum. Although to be honest, the British government never had any intention of telling the Scottish government last week either. Besides, if the Scottish government want to know what that Brexit moment is going to feel like, they only need to stick a fork in a toaster. Even the one that won’t make David Coburn’s toast. It seems that the UK government has already been doing this, which goes a long way towards explaining the torn faces that Huffy Fluffy and Ruthie have been displaying all week.
Let’s be scrupulously fair however. The British government might have forgotten to inform the devolved administrations of the official triggering of Brexit, but they’ve forgotten plenty of other things too. So it’s understandable that something else might slip their mind. They forgot that this is 2017 and not 1817 and the UK is no longer a global power. They forgot that there’s no empire any more. They forgot that it’s the EU that holds all the negotiating cards in Brexit, and they made a call for everyone to get behind Theresa’s hard as nails Brexit while forgetting that 48% of people voted to remain. They forgot the difference between democracy and majoritarianism. They forgot a plan for Brexit. They forgot that the EU is going to do its utmost to ensure that whatever deal the UK gets when it leaves the EU it’s going to be worse than the deal it’s got just now as a part of it.
They forgot that just three years ago they were telling us that Scotland was an equal partner in a family of nations. They forgot that they promised we would remain a part of the EU if we voted against independence. They forgot to build those frigates on the Clyde. They forgot they promised those jobs in the tax centres in East Kilbride and Cumbernauld would be safe. They forgot the support that was promised for Scotland’s renewable energy industry. They forgot that we were supposed to get the most powerful devolved parliament in the history of the multiverse and the nearest thing possible to federalism.
It’s possible that, given that they’ve forgotten so many other things, the British government forgot that the BBC is supposed to be neutral and unbiased and not the propaganda arm of the British state and thought that by letting the Scottish government know via the television news that they were about to trigger Brexit that this counted as informing them through a British government channel. Maybe they thought that by treating the BBC as an official channel of UK government communication they could persuade recalcitrant independence supporters to pay their licence fee.
But back in the real world, as opposed to the world inhabited by Gordie Broon and Sky News in which full fat federalism is a real prospect, we all know that the British government didn’t forget to inform the Scottish or other devolved administrations at all. It just didn’t enter their arrogant heads in the first place that there was any reason why they ought to have informed them. It genuinely didn’t occur to them that Theresa May’s protestations that she was consulting the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments and keeping them fully informed would be interpreted in ways other than Theresa intended them to be interpreted – as meaningless sound bites for the benefit of an English media. It’s not that they forgot to inform the Scottish government. It’s that they didn’t care enough in the first place to bother. Scotland merits no greater consideration to the English nationalists of Torydom than any other possession of the crown.
Unionists accuse the SNP of grievance hunting, but that’s not true. The SNP doesn’t have to go hunting for grievances, the Tories hand them to them on a plate, tied up in a bow made from red white and blue bunting. Every time Theresa May opens her gob and says that the Union is precious, she’s providing another grievance, because everyone can see the difference between what Theresa says and what she does. She didn’t call the Scottish government because she wants to remind us of our place.
That’s a place where we do what we’re told, we’re grateful that Westminster manages our affairs for us, and we retreat to the kailyard telling bedtime stories for the benefit of tourists from Trowbridge and Taunton about how we used to be a real country once. We get to be the tartan ribbon that bedecks English nationalism that allows English nationalism to pretend that it’s not nationalism at all. Then we can turn on Sky News and listen to a panel of English voices explaining Scotland to us and be grateful for their wisdom and insight when they tell us that Scottish independence is based on hating the English and it has really been all about England all along.
The choice we have facing us in Scotland is a choice between determining our own future, or having that future determined for us by a government in Westminster that doesn’t think we’re important enough to keep us informed about its decisions. But there’s something even more important that the British government forgot. They forgot that Scotland has an alternative. They forgot that Scotland will have its say whatever Theresa thinks. And they forgot that the more they overlook the interests of Scotland, the more likely it becomes that Scotland will vote to forget them.
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