Well that’s it. The United Kingdom has died. The Conservatives killed it. It’s all over bar the screaming. It’s all over for any hope of stopping Brexit. It’s all over for the Labour party. It’s all over for the Lib Dem’s hopes of being a relevant political force. It’s all over for the Conservatives’ claim to represent the entire UK. It’s all over for the UK. Yesterday’s election was the death knell of this so called precious union that is no union at all. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was given the mandate that he craved from the electorate in England and Wales, but Scotland said no. We told the Tories again, and they’re still not listening.
An independence referendum and Scottish independence is now the only way to prevent Scotland being lost to a Tory Brexit and to years and years of Boris Johnson’s unfettered rule. It’s the only way to defend our NHS from a trade deal with Trump. It’s the only way to protect the weak, the vulnerable, the poor, and the sick. It’s the only way to protect the post-war settlement that underpins those supposedly British values that so many No voters in 2014 thought they were voting for.
Politically Scotland and England are not merely different countries, we’re different worlds. Scotland showed that it aspires to be a normal social democratic northern European nation, England voted for the kind of right wing authoritarian populism that wouldn’t be out of place in Eastern Europe. The UK is no longer sustainable. Those Scots who consoled themselves with the myths of Britishness have had their comfort blanket ripped from them, exposing the naked truth of a Scotland that’s a possession of Tory nightmares. The Conservatives are calling themselves One Nation Conservatives, they don’t mean Scotland where the SNP pretty much swept the board. They don’t mean Northern Ireland where for the first time nationalist MPs outnumber unionists. They mean Greater England.
The highlight of the night for those of us who stayed up was the victory for Amy Callaghan in East Dunbartonshire, defeating Jo Swinson. Since the Lib Dem vote managed to hold up elsewhere in Scotland, this was a personal verdict on Jo Swinson from her own constituents. And in her speech she displayed all the reasons why she was unfit for leadership as she embarked on a cack handed excuse in ill grace, equating the desire for self-determination in Scotland, the desire to be a part of Europe, with the xenophobia of Brexit. I’m glad she’s gone. Still, it’s not all bad for her. At least she no longer has to pretend that she lives in Milngavie.
Labour’s result was a disaster. Seat after seat that had once been solid Labour in the north of England fell to the Tories. Their vote collapsed across the whole UK. They are no longer politically significant in Scotland. Ian Murray is lonely again. The left in Scotland can no longer tell itself that there is a British path to socialism. There has only been one Labour victor in a general election in the past 40 years, and that was Tony Blair. It ought to be obvious by now that the only way that Labour can be elected in England is by aping the Conservatives. If you seek genuine left of centre politics, the only realistic option is an independent Scotland. Calls to solidarity sound hollow when Scotland’s solidarity with the working class in England is responded to with a kick in the groin. Labour’s solidarity is a suicide pact.
48 MPs for the SNP (including the election of Neale Hanvey in Kirkcaldy) was an overwhelming vindication of the strategy of Nicola Sturgeon. It ought to silence those who criticised her strategy – although it probably won’t. The only pro-independence party with any realistic chance of winning seats made gains across the board, seeing its vote tally rise even in those seats that they failed to take. Tory majorities that had been in the many thousands were slashed to the bone. This election showed conclusively that the electorate in Scotland will respond positively and enthusiastically to a pro-independence message. This election will embolden the SNP to be more assertive and ballsy about pursuing the right to self-determination in the months ahead. There is now a fourth mandate for another independence referendum.
The Tories in Scotland have had their fig leaf of excuses torn away. It wasn’t just the SNP which made this election about independence, it was all that the Conservatives in Scotland mentioned – to the exclusion of Brexit. Their leaflets and information made it very clear that a vote for Nicola Sturgeon was a vote for another independence referendum. The Tories in Scotland campaigned on one single issue, the rejection of an independence referendum. And they lost. They lost badly. Scotland voted for the party that does want an independence referendum. The Tories need to be reminded of that at every opportunity, because it’s not just Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon’s opinions which need to be set in stone. Scotland just voted for Nicola Sturgeon and stripped the Conservatives of over half their seats in Scotland. Scotland just voted for another independence referendum. Jackson Carlaw said so. He’s the one who stomped about the TV studios telling voters in Scotland to “tell her again”. Well we did tell her again Jackson, just not the way you wanted us to.
Brexit is now going to happen. It can no longer be avoided. There will be no EU referendum and the UK will leave the EU at the end of January, taking an unwilling and angry Scotland with it. There is now no longer any possibility of dreaming of a Corbynista future in the UK. We can expect to see an increase in support for independence in opinion polls. We can expect to see consistent majorities for independence from now on. We can also expect to see a Scottish Government and a wider Yes movement which is energised and assertive in pursuit of the claim of Scottish rights. The SNP’s vote share in Scotland is greater than the Conservative vote share in the UK. If Boris Johnson claims he has a mandate to deliver Brexit, he cannot deny, he cannot be allowed to deny, that the SNP has a mandate for another independence referendum.
Boris Johnson is highly unlikely to be conciliatory. It’s not in his nature. His monumental ego will not allow him to become the last Prime Minister of the UK. He’s going to play hard ball. A sign of things to come came in his victory speech. Scotland wasn’t even mentioned. We’re the embarrassingly normal relative in a family of freaks. The metrocommentariat is already in full flow, trying to explain away the SNP mandate and tell us that it’s not really a mandate for another referendum at all. Because they understand Scotland better than we do. Right now as I am typing this, the Brexit Party’s Claire Fox is on Sky News insisting that the SNP victory doesn’t represent a demand for another independence referendum at all. She knows better than we do what we voted for. Aye. Right. And then she rails about the elites depriving the people of what they chose at the ballot box.
The SNP will demand a Section 30 order. The Scottish Government will assert the right of the people of Scotland to decide our own future. Nicola Sturgeon has been given the moral and political capital by the people of Scotland to make that assertion. But Johnson will refuse. He’ll refuse because he knows, just as Jackson Carlaw knows, that the only way that he can only resist Scottish independence for as long as he can resist another referendum.
There will now be a direct collision between Boris Johnson and Scotland. It’s up to us in the Yes movement, and to the Scottish Government, to capitalise politically on that refusal. We need to keep insisting, to refuse to take no for an answer. We cannot and will not accept that Boris Johnson has a political or moral right to refuse the legimitate demand of the people of Scotland to determine their own future. His refusal will only prove that this UK is not a union, that the UK is not a partnership of nations, that we cannot have true democracy in Scotland if a Prime Minister we didn’t vote for has a veto on our future. We must ensure that there will be widespread public support in Scotland for the pursuit of alternative strategies.
2020 is going to be a busy year for the Yes movement. There is a path out of the darkness of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Independence beckons.
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