I’ve not blogged for a few days. I consumed something that turned out to be extremely disagreeable and then was stuck on the toilet pan with no energy or enthusiasm and feeling like my guts were making more contorsions than Theresa May in an attempt to cling on to crap. At first I thought it was food poisoning, but then I realised it was a metaphor for the United Kingdom. I’m feeling a bit better now, which is a lot more than can be said for the United Kingdom.
Possibly even more nauseating than food poisoning, over the past week we’ve had the less than delightful sight of Ruth Davidson strutting around like a Russian tank commander after the Kursk Offensive. Offensive being the operative word there. She’s been banging away with the narrative that she won the election in Scotland by virtue of coming a very poor second, and she’s got the unmitigated gall to demand that all and any prospect of a second independence referendum is dropped in the name of stability.
We’ve been hearing a lot about stability of late, mostly from the greatest agents of instability, the Conservative party. We are where we are now, in the most uncertain and insecure times possibly since the end of WW2 because the Conservative party put its party interests above the interests of the country. And they did that not once, but twice. Firstly they brought about an unnecessary EU referendum purely in order to placate their own right wing and shore the barking faction of the party up against Ukip, and then after having spent decades stoking up racism and fear of immigration they ran a pathetic campaign of economic scaremongering and allowed the leave campaign to play the migrant card.
The result was a narrow vote to leave the EU and a vindicated and strengthened extreme right. The ultimate responsibility for the rise in hate crimes, in assaults on migrants, ethnic minorities, Muslims, and on members of the LGBTI community lies squarely with the Conservative party. It’s the actions of the Tories, for their own party political interest, which have emboldened the far right. In Scotland, Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives, as they are now apparently called, hypocritically claimed that the independence movement was divisive while the Tories stoked the fires of sectarianism and chose a slew of candidates for the council elections who had links to sectarian and far right organisations.
And then having created this perfect storm of hate, of fear, and of division, Theresa May compounded it by insisting that the narrow vote to leave the EU was for her to interpret and her alone. She decided to interpret it in its most extreme, most uncompromising form. We wouldn’t just be leaving the EU, we’d be leaving the single market, the customs union, and leaving behind European standards of human rights, all in the name of demonising immigration.
You’d think all that would have been enough. But no. The vindictive arrogance of the Conservative party is one of the few commodities which the United Kingdom has in abundance. Despite having a majority, despite having stated on no less than seven occasions that she wasn’t going to call an early general election, Theresa May did just that. The reason she did it was to bolster her own position within the Conservative party, to crush the remainer Tory MPs, and to destroy the Labour opposition. Theresa May is a politician who thinks that opposition is treason, that disagreement is unpatriotic, that dissent is a threat. She is arrogance personified, brittle and cold. She struggles with the basics of democracy, and thankfully the voters of Britain saw through her, and punished her with the loss of her majority.
Now the Tories want to press on as though nothing has changed, by doing a deal with the swivel eyed misogynist climate change denying homophobic sectarian bigots of the DUP. Ruth Davidson said that she’d made representations to Theresa May and had received assurances that any deal with the the DUP wouldn’t affect LGBTI rights in Britain. LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland can go hang presumably. Then Theresa showed just how much influence Ruth Davidson really has by appointing David Lidlington as justice secretary. Lidlington has an appalling record on LGBTI rights. He voted against civil partnerships. He has consistently voted against equal marriage. He voted to maintain the nasty discriminatory Clause 28. He consistently voted against equalising the age of consent for gay men with that of heterosexuals. He blocked proposals to appoint a specialised LGBT rights envoy.
So for all that Ruth Davidson buckles her swash and makes like she’s got the ear of the UK government, the truth is that she’s only got their ear insofar as she serves their interests. That’s the reality of a Scotland under the Tories, that’s the reality of voting for a Tory in Scotland. You’re voting to serve someone else’s interests, not your own. Over the next few years that will become clear.
It’s now more important than ever that the independence movement does not allow these chancers, bigots, self-servers and careerists to set the agenda. It’s more important than ever that we don’t lose momentum. Let’s remember what we’re doing here. We’re campaigning for national self-determination. That’s not going to be a story of unopposed progress, of ever upwards gains. It’s a hard slog. There will be reverses, just as there are always reverses in any campaign for civil liberties, for equality, for self-determination. Winning independence for a country isn’t something that happens without opposition, there are strong and vested interests who are going to do all they can to put obstacles in our way. It’s important to remember that obstacles are not insurmountable, and that reverses merely mean we need to think of a better strategy.
A reverse for the SNP is not the same as the end of the dream of independence. For the wider independence movement this means we need to demonstrate that we’ve not gone away, that we won’t go away. That means we need to get organised. Get active. Get engaged. Get your local Yes groups up and running. What we learned during the independence referendum campaign in 2014 is that democracy is a participatory process. That’s precisely what the Tories don’t want. They don’t want ordinary people to be involved, to be active, to be engaged. Let’s do what the Tories don’t want.
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