The British Government’s plans to rush into coming out of lockdown in order to distract from the Dominic Cummings episode are in disarray. Admittedly that’s very much a statement of the obvious these days. Saying that the British Government is inept, chaotic, and incompetent is up there in tautological statements along with saying that Johnson’s bumbling fnaugh fnaughing is giving us deja vu all over again.
There’s no shortage of examples. There’s the mess that passes for the track and trace system that the British Government has contracted out to the private sector. There’s Matt Hancock’s increasingly desperate appearances as he realises that he’s going to be the fall guy for the British Government’s mistakes while the BorDom show merrily lies onwards and downwards. There’s the fact that in England you’re allowed to have your cleaner come into your house, but not your mother. That says a whole lot more about the psychology of the British establishment than they probably realise.
Yesterday the former fireplace salesman of the year Gavin Williamson was forced to admit that you can’t actually squeeze 30 kids into a classroom while still maintaining social distancing of 2 metres between each individual. That’s the kind of thing that you deal with in your arithmetic GCSE and perhaps if Gavin had received better home schooling he’d have known that. Gavin always manages to give the impression that he’d be over-promoted as the chairman of a conference of people who like to pull the wings off flies. Meanwhile experts still warn that the UK is at risk of a second wave of infections. While Gavin was mired in his geometrical confusions, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan of the World Health Organization was warning that a second wave of infection is “a very real risk” as the virus is still present in the community. The British Government wants to come out of lockdown while transmission rates of the virus remain alarming high.
Today in PMQ’s, the part time Prime Minister came out of hiding in order to assert to a doubtful Keir Starmer that the UK’s response to the epidemic had been astonishing. The only astonishing thing there was that he meant astonishing in a good way, and not in the “Oh dear God what the hell have they done” sort of astonishment that the rest of us are feeling right now.
Trust in the British Government has fallen precipitously. There is little that this Government can do to restore it. Meanwhile people in Scotland are increasingly looking to the Scottish Government to give them a lead during this crisis. We are gradually moving into a Scotland where there is a substantial majority view that Scotland needs all the powers of an independent nation. We’re not quite there yet but the signs are good.
There are many independence supporters who are frustrated about the lack of progress from Nicola Sturgeon towards achieving a referendum. Even when there is good news in terms of an opinion poll which shows a lead for independence, or which shows that the SNP and the Greens are set to win a large and convincing majority in Holyrood, there are still many independence supporters whose reponse is woe, negativity, doubt, fear, and despair. I get it. I’m frustrated too. It is painful to watch the news as the death toll mounts, job losses soar, and we are confronted daily with the smug self-satisfied faces of the selfish Conservatives gits who are responsible for this mess as they plough on regardless to a no-deal Brexit. It’s distressing to think of all the people who will suffer, who will stuggle, and who will sink into despair as a direct result of Conservative policies. Escaping from the pain and misery of the British state is a moral imperative, and we need to get out as soon as we possibly can. It’s very easy for those who are comfortable and well off to counsel caution, they’re not the ones who have to suffer the consequences of Conservative rule. And all the while we have the looming deadline of a no deal Brexit weighing down upon us like an execution date.
All this is the fault of the Conservatives yet there are many, perhaps too many, in the independence movement right now who appear to be more interested in attacking the Scottish Government than they are interested in challenging and confronting the Conservatives, the British nationalists and the British state who are directly responsible for creating the misery. It’s a natural reaction. When you are angry, when you are upset, when you fear for the future, it’s only natural to lash out at those closer to you. But the Scottish Government is not our enemy here. That would be the British state, the British nationalists, and the Conservative Government.
If there was a solid substantial and convincing majority for independence in Scotland already, then the Scottish Government wouldn’t be frustratingly cautious. What we need to concentrate on is building that majority, in creating the consensus within Scotland that this country must – as a moral imperative – rejoin the world as an independent nation. The only way we can do that is by promoting positive arguments for independence, by debunking the negativity of British nationalists, and by highlighting the failures of the British state. We’re not going to do it by attacking one another for a supposed lack of pro-indy purity. That only does the British nationalists’ job for them.
When we attack the Scottish Government for not demanding a referendum immediately or for not revealing its plans to confront yet another refusal from Westminster to a Section 30 order, it’s like demanding to know about the plan to put a roof on the new house you’re building when you still have not finishing digging out the foundations. Without strong and solid foundations the house of independence will never be built. That’s the task that we need to ensure is completed correctly and thoroughly before we can move on to the next stage. The harsh reality is that there is no point at all in demanding a referendum unless we can be sure that we’re going to win it convincingly. Because if we lose the next one we are truly doomed. We have to win it, and we have to win it well. We owe it to all those people who are suffering the malignity of Conservative rule. We owe it to those people who have loved and lost relatives or friends. We owe it to Scotland.
You can bet your last bottle of hand wash that the British state will throw everything at us in the next referendum campaign – there are likely to be all sorts of promises, threats, underhand tricks, and dirty dealing – because the British state will know that it’s quite likely to lose Scotland forever. They will not enter the campaign with the same confident arrogance which characterised the Better Together campaign in 2014. That means that we have to be extra careful to ensure that when we do go into that campaign, that the British nationalists will not be able to make a serious dent in us.
What’s been happening over the course of the past few months is that we’ve been making considerable progress on building strong foundations. There is now little faith in the British Government, combined with a strong desire in Scotland for the Scottish Government to have all the necessary powers to tackle the current crisis. We are now seeing consistent majorities, albeit small ones, for independence in opinion polls. The pro-independence parties are on course to achieve a large and convincing majority in the next Scottish elections – a majority in both seats and in vote share. And above all we have normalised the idea of Scottish independence amongst the Scottish public. Whether you support it or oppose it or are as yet undecided, independence is a political concept that you have to take seriously.
We are most assuredly on the way to independence. I am confident about that in a way that I never was in 2014. This is a time to remain calm, to stay focussed, and to keep our eye on the prize that is coming ever closer into reach. Let’s focus our ire on those who are the root cause of the problem, and not attack one another for having different ideas about how to escape them.
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