To the very limited extent that the British political elite can be said to have a ‘strategy’ in relation to Brexit this can be summed up as follows:
- Muddle along with one eye on Nigel Farage and the other on the right-wing British media.
- Whatever the British media respond to positively, pretend it’s what you planned all along.
- Whatever the British media respond to negatively, blame it on the EU and/or the SNP.
Either bold and powerful Britannia is using her might to mould the future according to her iron will; or plucky little Britannia is being beaten down by foreign bullies and undermined by the treachery of her servants. The one certainty in the whole sorry farce of Brexit is that none of those perpetrating this act of political and economic vandalism will be in any way responsible for the damage caused. What cannot be claimed as their glorious triumph will always be someone else’s ignominious failure.
Some will insist that this is just the nature of politics. They will point out that it was ever thus. They will label naive any who suggest it might be otherwise. So inured are we to the deceit, duplicity and dishonesty that characterises the conduct of British politics that we tend to regard hope for better as something only for credulous children. If there is a line that the British establishment might cross in its abuse of trust and contempt for people, that line never seems to be quite within reach.
Here in Scotland, Unionists demand ever greater sacrifice in the name of preserving the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define their British state. They insist that we meekly accept every insult to our dignity and every assault on our rights for the sake of maintaining a system that serves the few at the expense of the many, because ‘there is no other way’. There is no fate which might befall us as part of their British state that wouldn’t be massively outdone in sheer horror by the consequences of seeking to escape that fate. The line can always be moved to keep the Union this side of intolerable.
It is the very definition of an abusive relationship.
At what point do those demanding sacrifice in the name of the Union start to ask if the sacrifice is worth it? For those who voted No in the 2014 independence referendum, is there such a thing as enough? Is there anything the British political elite might do which would provoke them to question the choice they made?
The claim trumpeted by the Sunday Telegraph that “Nicola Sturgeon’s government” is attempting to “seize control of key trade powers” goes well beyond mere media spin. It is more than just a political lie. It is a grotesque perversion of truth. In the first place, the “powers” referred to are in devolved areas. Even if we set aside for the moment the fact that all powers over public policy rightfully belong with the Parliament with the democratic legitimacy which comes from being elected by Scotland’s people, these are powers which should reside with the Scottish Parliament according the British state’s own self-serving rules.
And how might the Scottish Government hope to “seize control” of those powers? The British state refuses to recognise the democratic mandate given to the SNP administration by Scottish voters. Just as the British politicians who squat in the Scottish Parliament refuse to accept its authority. Scotland’s democratic apparatus is being systematically weakened and delegitimised as the British executive awards itself ever greater authority to unilaterally rewrite the devolution settlement. What capacity has the Scottish Government to “seize” anything?
Will Unionists in Scotland shrug off the gross falsehood? Will they expect the rest of us to do likewise? Will those who condemn the British state’s dishonesty be spuriously denounced as indulging in the ‘politics of grievance’?
Will the British parties in Scotland continue to collude with the British state as it dismantles devolution? Will their remaining members and supporters continue to put partisan allegiance before the needs, priorities, aspirations and democratic rights of Scotland’s people?
When will Unionists in Scotland think to ask what David Liddington means when he talks of the “national interest”? What might make them reflect whether this “national interest” coincides of conflicts with Scotland’s interests? What might prompt them to wonder why Scotland’s democratically elected representatives are being excluded from all discussions pertaining to this supposed “national interest”?
Anyone who values Scotland’s distinctive political culture would have experienced a chill of dark foreboding on hearing David Mundell talk of “UK-wide common frameworks”. What then are we to make of Liddington warning that “discrepancies between [sic] the UK’s four nations” are not to be tolerated? Surely all but the most fervent British Nationalist ideologue must now recognise this as a blatant and explicit threat to Scotland’s democracy.
Not before time, the constitutional implications of Brexit are emerging from the noxious fog of lies and distortion generated by the British establishment. It is now clear that, if the Scottish people, their Government and their Parliament do not act to prevent it, Scotland will be subsumed in a ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist state, with little hope of relief. The threat is real. The threat is imminent. The threat is evident. The British political elite isn’t even trying to conceal its malign intent.
Those who voted No in 2014 must now ask themselves if this is what they signed up for. And they better ask this as a matter of the utmost urgency. If Scotland does not give notice of its intention to dissolve the Union by September 2018, it may well be too late.
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