Tony Blair, he of the tombstone teeth and the illegal war, appeared on the Sophie Ridge show on Sky News this morning. This is an example of Tony Blair making a rare intervention in politics. Just like he did a few days ago, and a few days prior to that. Tony makes as many rare interventions in politics as Gordon Brown broontervenes for the very first time. The UK needs another rare intervention from Tony Blair about as much as it needs a sex tape featuring Michael Gove.
The don’t mention Baghdad guy wasn’t on the programme to answer questions about why his name appeared in Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book. This topic has joined the Iraq War, the dodgy dossier, and his suspiciously well funded lifestyle on the list of “things you can’t ask Tony about”. Rather he was there to warn us that the coronavirus is going to be around for a very long time. He backed up his claim that the virus is a lasting threat with some blurry photographs showing the virus building a very big missile that could threaten British military bases in Cyprus. In other news, the coronavirus has warned that Tony Blair is going to be around for a very long time. The guy you can’t ask about Iraq was also on the programme to talk about the rise in support for independence in Scotland and – surprise surprise – why he thinks that Scottish independence is a terribly bad idea.
But let no one say that Sky News doesn’t do balance. The programme also featured Labour’s Jonathon Ashworth from the Labour party, who thinks Scottish independence is a terribly bad idea, and Layla Moran from the Lib Dems, who thinks that Scottish independence is a terribly bad idea. So it was a well rounded and balanced discussion of Scottish independence from the Londoncentric media. It featured different people who made different British nationalist points about why they believe that Scottish independence is a terribly bad idea. How more well rounded do you want?
Blair now admits that Scottish independence is a possibility. What he didn’t say was that it’s now a probability, which would have been closer to the truth. One of the reasons that it’s closer to a probability than a possibility is the lack of accountability and the distrust in politics and the political classes which he himself was responsible for creating during his time in office. Anyway, apparently the real problem here is that there’s no real opposition to the SNP in Scotland, that’s what’s been driving the rise in support for independence. So we must have imagined the constant stream of SNPbad stories which the British parties have been feeding to the overwhelmingly anti-independence media then. He admitted that Johnson is not going to be the person who saves the Union – because it takes one to know one. Neither is it Blair or a Labour party in his image.
Meanwhile Ruth Davidson has been opining about the fate of the UK, employing the violent metaphors which she frequently resorts to but which her pals in the Scottish media overlook because it spoils the image of her that they so carefully nuture. According to Ruth, the Conservatives are in their current quandary in Scotland because they’ve been far too nice and reasonable. Yeah, that’s how deluded they’ve got now. The only people in Scotland who believe that support for independence is rising because the Conservatives have bent over backwards to accommodate Scotland’s interests and it’s only encouraging the yes movement are a few swivel eyed frothers on social media. Not coincidentally there’s a considerable overlap between these people and membership of the Conservative party in Scotland.
Ruth believes that the Conservatives should have “stuck the boot in” after the yes campaign lost the referendum in 2014. And that is in fact precisely what some British nationalist fascists did in George Square the day after the vote when they went on a rampage seeking yes supporters to beat up. Although of course we can’t actually say that, because that would tell us something important about the true nature of British nationalism. It was, in the words of the BBC “clashes between yes supporters and no supporters”.
So when David Mundell gleefully told the media that the new tax powers promised for Holyrood as a result of the commitments made by the Better Together campaign for strengthened devolution were “a trap for the SNP”, he was really just being nice. When the British Government cynically and hypocritically promised that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would be entrenched in law and could only be altered with the express consent of Holyrood, only to ensure that the commitment had no force in law and then to embark upon a power grab, they were just being kind. When the Tories ripped Scotland out of the EU against its will and without allowing the Scottish Government any input into the form that Brexit takes, they were just being thoughtful and reasonable.
The essential problem for British nationalism is that it has convinced itself that support for independence is rising because of what the SNP is doing. But it’s not. It’s rising because of what the British state is doing. It’s rising because increasingly Scotland is seeing that it cannot be respected, listened to, and accommodated within the creaking structures of a British state which hankers for Empire and which can only understand the language of the victor and the vanquished. It’s rising because Scotland has looked upon the utter shambles of the British Government’s response to the pandemic and the quiet confidence of the Scottish Government and realises that Scotland is being dragged down by the incompetent ideologues who surround the clown prince in Downing Street. It’s rising because we know that Brexit is going to compound the economic damage that the epidemic has created, and within the UK Scotland is deprived of the means to protect itself adequately.
The Scottish Conservatives or Tory Blair can only hope to sell Scotland a vision of a UK that doesn’t actually exist. Their problem is that we can all see what is really happening. We can all see the true nature of this so-called union. They’re not going to save their preciouss union by attacking the SNP, they can only hope to save it by transforming it into something that really is a union in more than just name. Their problem is that Downing Street and Westminster have not got the slightest intention of giving up their power and are hell bent on using Brexit as an excuse to centralise even more. What’s putting the boot into the so called union is the British nationalism and exceptionalism of the Conservatives. It’s showing Scotland that this is no union at all.
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