I take no pleasure whatever in comparing Nicola Sturgeon to Richard Leonard, but I cannot help but note the inconsistencies and contradictions in her own position.
The First Minister recognises that the British parties will try to ‘rig’ the referendum in any way they can. Nothing at all surprising about this. We know them to be totally unprincipled and shameless. We had evidence enough of that during the 2014 referendum campaign, and since. That British Nationalists will do anything to preserve their precious Union and further the ‘One Nation’ cause is a truism of Scottish politics. They will rationalise absolutely any conduct – however deplorable this might be in any other context – if it is in furtherance of their anti-democratic aims and in defense of the British ruling elites.
The First Minister knows all this. She knows as a matter of incontrovertible fact that the British parties squatting in the Scottish Parliament – in collusion with their masters in London and the British media – will seek to ‘rig’ the referendum. She knows this for the same reason the rest of us know it. She knows because the British parties are already speaking openly about the ways in which they intend to manipulate the referendum process to their advantage. It’s not a secret! It’s not a suspicion! It’s a fact!
And it is something that we have been aware of for some considerable time. Certainly since before the First Minister committed so completely and exclusively to the Section 30 process. Which is where the contradictions and inconsistencies in her position start to show. If the First Minister is, as she should be, concerned about the referendum being rigged by British Nationalists, why has she committed to a process which provides them with the means and opportunity to do so?
By committing to the Section 30 process, Nicola Sturgeon has ‘invited in’ the very forces which she acknowledges as being a potentially serious threat to the fairness and democratic validity of the referendum. She has granted to the British political elite the power to impose rules and conditions on the referendum which amount to the rigging that she says she is concerned about. It does not compute, as I’m sure the kids stopped saying many moons ago supposing they ever did.
This is not the only contradiction and/or inconsistency in the First Minister’s position. She has also acknowledged the possibility – some would say probability or even certainty – that the British government intends to ‘suspend’ the Scottish Parliament. Again, this is something which has been, at the very least, on the cards for a very long time. Some of us saw the writing on the wall as far back as 2007, when the SNP formed its first administration. That writing on the wall was carved in stone when the voters broke the system in 2015 to give the SNP a majority.
The Scottish Parliament is an obvious target for those who seek to lock Scotland into the nightmare of a ‘One Nation’ British state where democracy is regarded as an impediment to ‘success’ measured solely in terms of the increasing wealth of a tiny clique; and human rights and civil liberties as a hindrance to ‘efficiency’ measured only in terms of the British executive’s ability to do whatever it pleases. Scotland’s claim to, and pursuit of, constitutional normality is critically dependent on four components working together – the SNP; the Scottish Government; the Scottish Parliament and the Yes movement. Of these, the British state only has direct and immediate authority over the Scottish Parliament. It stands to reason that they will seek to ‘neutralise’ Holyrood so as to disable the machinery of Scotland’s cause.
Knowing this, as she must, the First Minister seems determined to afford the British state as much time as it needs to put in place the measures and infrastructure that will enable it to shut down the Scottish Parliament and transfer all its powers to the so-called ‘UK Government in Scotland’ – an unelected and unaccountable shadow administration which has been constructed right under the noses of Scotland’s people. As telling a testament to British imperialist arrogance as might be imagined.
Brexit – which Scotland voted against and which the Scottish Government had a solemn duty to prevent being imposed on us – seems inevitable. That Scotland will be wrenched from the EU against our will and without even the minimal protection of a bad deal looks to be all but certain. It appears that this is what the British government is waiting for. Brexit will be the signal that sets off a major assault on Scotland’s democratic institutions. Anyone who doubted this before now has to contend with the reality that the pen which can eradicate the Scottish Parliament at a stroke is in the hand of a malignant child clown called Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
The Scottish Government has failed to act to save Scotland from Brexit and it has failed to act to prevent the Scottish Parliament being crippled or destroyed. A duo of failures which stand in stark contrast to all the indignant speechifying and Twitter ‘slamming’ which has been the ineffectual background noise to events over the past five years.
I am not, of course, suggesting that Nicola Sturgeon is in any way similar to Richard Leonard. She is acute, where he is dull. She is articulate, where he is incoherent. She is committed to serving Scotland, where he is committed to serving the ruling elites of the British state. Where the similarities begin and end is with these deeply unfortunate contradictions and inconsistencies.
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