Boris Johnson, fresh from stealing a mobile phone live on TV in order to avoid gazing at a photie of a wean left on the floor of a hospital because his party has screwed over the NHS for the past nine years, has been at the outrage again. The deliberately tousled one gets at the outrage like an alcoholic gets at a bottle of cheap wine. It’s his rocket fuel, it’s the wee pick-me-up that he needs to get himself through the day. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
This time it’s to claim that EU migrants have for far too long treated the UK like it’s their own country. Imagine the audacity of those EU migrants, coming over here, paying taxes into our system, treating our weans in NHS hospitals after they’ve been left on floors because of Tory cuts, caring for our elderly, serving in our hotels and restaurants, raising their families here and contributing to our society, having the utter nerve to think that they’re actually at home.
Imagine an SNP politician had made the same remark about the English in Scotland. You’d be deafened by the collective howls of anger, calling for the anti-English bigot’s head on a plate. Quite possibly one served up to you in a restaurant by a waiter from Poland. But it was just Boris, what is he like eh eh, ammarite? Just a lovable rogue and his cosy racism.
It also came to light this week that in 2004 Boris Johnson published a novel which contained anti-semitic tropes and used racist stereotypes. In the obscure novel, Seventy Two Virgins, which was published when he was a Conservative backbencher, there’s a reference to Jewish control of the media. But not merely content with indulging in anti-semitic references, the book also manages to be insulting to black people, Muslims, Kosovan Albanians, and members of the Travelling community. The words used are those of the writer of the novel, Johnson’s own words, and not those of a character within the story.
Obscure individuals, people that you and I have never heard of, are having their reputations destroyed and their chances of public office wiped out because of offensive comments that they’ve been alleged to make. These are people who are aiming to become backbenchers, most of whom get elected and then spend the next five years in total obscurity. Boris Johnson is seeking to become the Prime Minister, a position of immense power in the shoddy and creaking set of conventions which passes for a British constitution.
You might imagine that he would therefore be held to a far higher set of standards than someone who seeks to become a mere backbencher. Yet despite the fact that what Johnson has said is more blatantly racist, more offensive, and far more copious in its quantity than anything any of those aspiring to become a backbencher – from any party – have said, he sails on regardless. His racism, misogyny, and homophobia is laughed off by many as buffoonery, as a loveable rogue, as clownishness which only serves to endear him.
The other candidates can make their apologies, and can in most cases claim that the comments were errors on their part, that they genuinely hadn’t noticed or realised that the remarks they were sharing were anti-semitic. This is the excuse proferred by the Labour candidate for West Dumbarton who shared a message on a Whatsapp group which claimed that the BBC’s Nick Robinson gave Johnson an easy time in last week’s debate because Robinson is of Jewish heritage. Jean Anne Mitchell has apologised for sharing the message and claims it was a genuine mistake because she hadn’t read the post all the way to the end before sharing it. Boris Johnson can’t make that same excuse. He can’t make it because the instances of his offensive remarks are so numerous, and he can’t make it because he himself is the author of the remarks in question. He didn’t just share them, he wrote them.
Then there are the lies. They too are copious, numerous, and well documented. The entire Conservative election campaign is founded upon the lie that they will get Brexit done when what will happen in reality with a Conservative majority is yet more fraught negotiations with the EU stretching out into the future, and an end state of Brexit which will leave large parts of the UK’s population deeply unhappy. The subject of Brexit is not going to be done and dusted with a Conservative majority.
Yet despite the manifest shortcomings of a man who is clearly unfit to be granted a licence to own a dog, Boris Johnson is likely to become Prime Minister. Despite the widespread anger and disdain that he provokes in Scotland, this is the man who will most likely have the legal authority to make decisions that affect Scotland, who will refuse to allow Scotland to choose its own future even though it is also most likely that Scotland will return an increased number of SNP MPs in this election.
Brexit isn’t going to go away, and the clamour for independence in Scotland isn’t going to go away either. The Conservatives might insist that they will refuse to allow another independence referendum, but they cannot continue to resist forever. The more that they resist, the more that they refuse the democratic choice that the people of Scotland keep voting for, the more likely it becomes that when that independence vote does come about, as it most certainly will, they will lose it. Their refusal is a symptom of their desperation and panic.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Nothing that is good and right comes without struggle. Nothing that you dream of ever comes true without difficulties and reversals along the way. The path to Scottish independence is a rocky one. Yet the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister will make Scottish independence inevitable in the longer term. Just as the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 converted Scotland’s equivocal support for devolution into the settled will of the Scottish people, Boris Johnson will do the same for independence. His lies, his deceit, his racism, his contempt, and his entitlement will drive forward the demand for a better kind of politics, a kind of politics we can only ever achieve in an independent Scotland. Boris Johnson’s lies and deceit will deliver a better Scotland.
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