There’s a definite whiff of desperation about the anti-independence parties in Scotland these days. And by whiff I mean the overwhelming stench of a pile of rotting corpses on a sunny day. It’s clear now that they only have one tactic for winning a second Scottish independence referendum, and that is to try and prevent another referendum from ever taking place. They know that when that referendum does eventually come about, they’ve as good as lost.
How exactly can you campaign on a platform of assuring Scotland that it’s a valued and loved equal partner in a family of nations when your actions over the past five years have proven that Scotland is no such thing? You can’t, is the short answer. The promise that Scotland would be an equal partner in a family of nations wasn’t merely broken, it was crushed, filtered so that any grain of truth was removed and discarded, and the remainder shot into a black hole so that it’s no longer accessible from this universe. The Conservatives might be venal, they might be avaricious, they might be underhand, authoritarian, and anti-democratic, but they retain a tiny modicum of awareness that tells them that the people of Scotland won’t swallow the lie of a partnerhip of nations ever again.
Ever since David Cameron stood in front of Downing Street the morning after the independence referendum of 2014 and told us that it had really been about England all along, and that he would introduce measures to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs in the Commons, Scotland has been sidelined, marginalised, and treated with contempt. You can’t on the one hand offer Scotland the guarantee that the powers of Holyrood would be entrenched in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament, while the other hand grabs as many powers back as it can and dismisses Scottish attempts to resist.
The history of the past few years speaks for itself. Anyone who sets out to campaign on the basis of telling Scotland that this country depends upon the security and stability provided to it by the UK will be ridiculed, laughed at, and mocked in derision. The UK has been mired in confusion, instability, and chaos for the past few years, the extreme right has taken over the Conservative party, the Labour party is consumed itself in internal battles. Labour is being brought down by accusations of anti-semitism, the Conservatives are doing their level best to deflect accusations of islamophobia. It’s only because the media assists them in their deflections that Conservative racism, xenophobia, sectarianism, and islamophobia is not as big an issue in this election as the accusations of anti-semitism which Labour is facing.
It is now a mainstream position in British politics that the results of elections in Scotland can be ignored. Democracy itself is threatened. All the main British parties are ignoring the mandate which the Scottish Parliament already possesses for another independence referendum. They get away with this shocking contempt for democracy because the media does not hold them to account for it, even though they apparently have no solid reasons other than the claim that it wasn’t written in the 2016 SNP manifesto in sufficiently large letters.
All those British parties are equally determined to ignore the result of this coming General Election in Scotland. It wouldn’t matter to them if the SNP wins a substantial number of extra seats, increases its vote share significantly, they tell us that won’t count as a mandate for another independence referendum. Just because. Because they say so. Because it suits them. Because the media helps them by not holding them to account for it. That’s a fundamental undermining of the basic principles of democracy. Yet that’s where we are in the UK today. To campaign against Scottish independence in another referendum means defending that position. That’s not a good look for any political party. That’s why they don’t want another referendum any time soon, because they know that they have nothing positive to offer the people of Scotland, nothing positive to say. All they have are threats, scare stories, bullying, and intimidation.
Our public services are threatened, bruised and battered, like never before. There are only so many sticking plasters that a Scottish Government can put on the open wounds created by a UK Government which controls the economy and the budget – yet it’s the Scottish Government which gets the blame for the macroeconomic decisions of the British state. The trade deal that Boris Johnson seeks risks the future of the NHS, it will see standards in food, consumer and employment rights plummet. Continuing Tory rule will see even more homeless people on our streets, even more kids going to the foodbank with their parents instead of the supermarket, even more elderly people freezing in homes they can’t afford to heat. The post war British consensus that delivered free health care, free education, a social security system that offers a safety net for all, decent public services that guarantee dignity, it’s been shattered and destroyed by those who preach about the values of Britishness. The only way to save them is by rejecting the British state that has rejected those supposedly British values, values that are really values of basic decency and humanity.
There is no prospect of an end to this self-inflicted misery any time soon. Boris Johnson’s campaign slogan in this election “Get Brexit done” is the biggest of his many lies. Brexit isn’t the process of taking the UK out of the EU, it’s the end state. Brexit isn’t over and done with when the UK leaves the EU, it’s only just beginning. It’s like telling us we need to get an uncomfortable and unpleasant journey done, and ignoring the fact that the destination is even worse. The journey may be uncomfortable, but Johnson’s destination is a hellhole.
There’s only one way to escape, only one route that leads to common decency, to dignity, to democracy. That’s to vote for a party that campaigns for Scotland to have the right to determine her own future, and not to have its future determined for it by people like Boris Johnson who neither know us nor care about us. There’s a simple choice in this election – democracy or domination, dignity or disdain, development or devastation. That means voting for the party that wants Scotland to have a say. There’s only one party in this election with a realistic chance of winning seats that offers that choice – that’s the SNP.
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