Many home truths have come home to roost during this crisis. There’s the myth that the British government and the British state is unique and exceptional. There’s the myth that we’re all in this together. However the most important myth, and the one that will most likely have the greatest impact on British politics, is that the Better Together myth has been well and truly busted. You know the one – Scotland we love you. Scotland you’re a vital and much needed part of this family of nations. Scotland don’t leave us, lead us. The phallic myth of British togetherness that was sold to Scotland in 2014 as a way of persuading this country to vote against independence has been stripped of its red white and blue underpants and has been left naked, impotent, and so very very very small.
Those of us of a pro-independence persuasion have always known that this particular fairy story was less grounded in fact than any of the fantasies that have ever issued from the pen of JK Rowling, one of its greatest advocates. But now the Better Together fairy story has been blown apart in a way that not even the most fervent advocate for Scottish submission to the UK is going to be able to explain away. And indeed, the staunch mob are either very quiet or are outright denying it on social media. Now there’s a surprise. But then Boris Johnson himself, when he was mayor of London, told us that he thought a pound spent in Croydon was worth more than a pound spent in Strathclyde. Now it seems that the British state also thinks that a life in Croydon is worth more than a life in Strathclyde.
It has come to light that the UK government’s public health body for England, Public Health England, has instructed firms producing vital personal protection equipment to sell only to England’s care homes. Scotland and Wales? You can use bin bags, marigolds, and that scarf your auntie knitted for you six Christmasses ago. On the website of Gompels Healthcare, which produces facemasks, gowns, and gloves, there’s a notice saying that following instructions from Public Health England, certain PPE products will only be sold to care homes registered in England. The notice then adds “apologies to Wales and Scotland, we’re told that you have different processes for getting emergency supplies”.
On Monday, Dr Donald Macaskill, who’s the chief executive of Scottish Care told the Kaye Adams show on BBC Radio Scotland that the four largest companies in England which produce personal protection equipment had said that they would not be supplying Scotland as their priority was to ensure supplies get through to NHS England and English social care providers. He added that the situation was causing a “massive dry up of procurement into Scotland” which has had “an impact, a really serious impact, on our care homes and home care”.
Can you imagine the outrage from the staunch brigade if a healthcare company in Scotland had posted a notice on its website stating that following instructions from the Scottish public health authorities, it was no longer going to supply care homes in England. There would be a national scandal. The SNP would be accused of the very worst form of anti-English racism – the willingness to see vulnerable English people die. There would be accusations of Scottish exceptionalism and Nazi eugenics. Yet from those very same people when it’s an English public health authority which is denying vital supplies to Scotland’s vulnerable workers, there’s nothing. We’re still waiting for Jackson Carlaw to condemn this. There’s been not a word from Alister Jack, the man who is supposedly the voice of Scotland in the UK government. Alister provides Scotland with as much protection as a burst used condom.
This is an instruction which has come from the very top of the British government, a British government which has always prioritised England’s needs first and foremost, but which now no longer feels any need to disguise that fact with a vomit inducing bucket of sugary togetherness crap. The lives of Scottish and Welsh care workers are of far less importance to the British state, because they are less likely to support Boris Johnson and they care for people who are less likely to support Boris Johnson. That’s those care workers who perform vital and necessary jobs for a pitiful wage, and who are now deemed expendable by the likes of those who have comfortable and well padded lives.
A crisis is when promises and commitments are tested. For years we’ve been told that Scotland needs the British state, that we depend upon it, that it has our best interests at heart. We have been told that without its tender mercies we’d be feckless bankrupts struggling to wipe our own arses. Yet when the coronavirus chips are down, we’re the first to be abandoned by that very same British state which begged to us and swore blind that it put our needs first and foremost. Who knew that what better together really meant was that it was better for the Conservatives for Wales and Scotland together to get the virus first.
The UK has twice the death rate from the coronavirus than comparable states like Ireland where mass gatherings were prohibited before those in the UK. They acted more quickly and more decisively, without being sidetracked by the delusions of exceptionalism which characterise British nationalism. The severity of this crisis in the UK is due to poor decisions made by the British government, and has been compounded by the decade of austerity imposed on British public services by ideologically driven Conservatives. And now we discover that in order to try and save their own sorry arses, those same Conservatives are quite prepared to see Scottish and Welsh essential workers being exposed to a lethal and highly infectious virus. If you’re not angry about that, you are not human.
This is a British state which has created widespread shortages of PPE because it didn’t stockpile in preparation for this crisis despite warnings that a epidemic would happen one day. It has blown every chance to get more ventilators and decided not to cooperate with other European countries for ideological reasons. There are no health checks on passengers on flights which continue to arrive from abroad. It doesn’t count the deaths properly. The testing regime is laughable, prioritising the likes of Charles Windsor and daughters of cabinet ministers. And it’s all wrapped up in Brexit bullshit British pride. And Scotland and Wales are denied the vital equipment that our care workers so desperately need.
When the chips are down, Scotland and Wales are expendable. Those of us who were brought up and who live in the shadow of the largest nuclear weapons dump in Europe have always known that. Now we see the lives of our care home workers being put at risk for the sake of England. For the British state, our lives are worth less, our voices are unheard, and our votes don’t count. They call this better together. Are you yes yet?
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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