Welcome to Tory Britain, you’ll have had your democracy. The Tories in Scotland came a distant second to the SNP, but they’re acting as though they’re the largest party. There was only one party which lost its majority this week, and it was Ruth Davidson’s. Theresa May has lost, but she’s acting as though she won the crushing majority she called the election for. Her speech on Friday morning was an exercise in denial. It was a remarkable speech, the speech she was going to deliver anyway. It’s a speech that called for unity without compromise, even though the electorate had stripped her of her majority. It was a speech that showed she has learned nothing, a speech that illustrated how unfit she is for the office that she clings to. Theresa May delivered her words but all she told us is how arrogant and out of touch she is. When Theresa May calls on the country to get behind her it’s because she means she wants us out of sight so she doesn’t need to engage with us or consider us.
May thinks she’s able to deliver certainty, but all she’s managed is to bring about the most uncertain future that the country has seen for generations. Theresa May is going to go on as before, hand in hand with the sectarian bigots, homophobes, and climate change deniers of the DUP, taking sides in the political crisis in Northern Ireland because there’s a political crisis in Westminster. A coalition of chaos with creationists and cranks. This was supposed to be a detoxified Tory party, but Theresa May is allying it to poison. The most inflexible and brittle politician who’s ever held the highest office of state is going to try to run a minority government as though it was a majority. It’s going to end in shattering tears.
This was the election that was supposed to be about Brexit, but we’re even less clear about what’s in store than we were before the election began, and even then we had all the light and clarity you get in a boarded up basement in an abandoned house. It’s hard to discern what’s in store for the country now. Even if Theresa May was capable of articulating a clear and sensible plan, you wouldn’t be able to hear it over all the laughter that’s coming from a Europe that thought that surrealism was a Belgian invention and dadaism was French. You wouldn’t be able to make it out over the plots and leadership manoeuvring on her own back benches. This was the election to bring strong and stable government, and all that’s happened is disaster, confusion, debacle and calamity. This is the election that everyone lost.
The Brexit clock is ticking and negotiations are due to begin in a few days time. There’s no policy, no strategy, no plan. May called this election because she thought that she needed a large majority in order to get through the negotiations, and now she doesn’t have a majority at all. Any small group of Tory MPs who are unhappy with her policies will be able to force concessions. What she does have is an angry and resentful party that saw her throw away their majority. The rumour mill is grinding, the manoeuvring is moving. The good news is that her hardnosed Brexit, out of the single market and out of the customs union, won’t enjoy the support of Parliament, the bad news is that the uncertainty and confusion now makes it more likely that Britain could crash out of the EU without any deal at all.
It’s now quite possible that we could be facing another election within a year. It all depends on whether the Conservatives decide that they’ll allow Theresa May to remain in place. It all depends on the progress of Brexit talks whose progress has now been made far more difficult than it already was. It all depends on whether this minority government will be able to govern. The only certainty we have left is that there is no certainty. Remember when the safety, security and certainty of Britain were major selling points for the Unionist campaign to keep Scotland a part of the UK? Those days are gone now. They will not be back any time soon. Britain is now the European country that offers its citizens the least certain, least secure and least safe future of all.
And that’s why I remain confident that despite the Unionist crowing today that the dream of independence is dead, that they’re very wrong. Independence has never been more necessary. It remains as close as it ever was and it is close indeed. Scotland needs an escape from the madness and self-inflicted destruction of the British state. In this general election, Scotland was the only part of the UK where voter turn out went down and that’s what allowed the Conservatives to perform well in Scotland when they did so poorly elsewhere. This was an election of despair, a vote in depression, a ballot of boredom. It was an election in which many on the left decided they liked the message of Jeremy Corbyn because he seemed to promise the social justice that they long for. That support was highest in areas where there was a high yes vote in 2014. Whatever the claims of the Labour leadership, those Labour votes are not necessarily anti-independence votes. They were votes despite Kezia Dugdale and Anas Sarwar, not because of them.
This was an election during which the people of Scotland gave one last chance to the UK to sort itself out, to deliver those things that they promise, to allow us all to get back to the day job. And now the Unionist parties have to deliver that stability and certainty, that safety and security. The signs don’t look good for them. They’re not going to be able to give us anything but insecurity and uncertainty, and the shadow of a chaotic and messy Brexit looms.
The independence movement is still here, still strong, still vital and alive. The SNP still won a majority. Scotland needs the independence movement now more than it ever did. I’ve always believed that independence will come about because of the failures and shortcomings of the British establishment and the Unionist parties, and it seems that is coming to pass. Today we’re experiencing the birth pains of a better country. Scotland will be an independent nation, Theresa May’s chaotic election and the uncertain Britain that lies ahead have only made it more likely.
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