I’ve seen a lot of this. People saying that at first they were disappointed by Nicola Sturgeons ‘Next Steps or Should That Be Running On The Spot speech’, but then they “got over it”. In most cases, I strongly suspect, they didn’t so much get over their disappointment as find a way to rationalise the let-down and get back to a comfortable position behind the boss.
The thing about such rationalisations is that they tend not to stand up to much scrutiny. And the very first thing that such scrutiny uncovers is the fact that none of the rationalisations deals with the fatal flaws in the First Minister’s whole approach to the constitutional issue. If you felt disappointment after listening to the speech that was your intuition telling you there’s something not quite right about all of this. You should heed your intuition.
In order to drown out the screech of his bullshit detector, Paul Kavanagh has had to convince himself that Boris Johnson can be forced into providing Nicola Sturgeon with the British government cooperation on which her ‘plan’ critically depends. He has had to persuade himself that this coerced cooperation will be no less genuine and complete for being grudged. And he’s had to embrace the notion that what will oblige Boris Johnson to facilitate a process whose likely outcome is anathema to him is to make it seem more likely that this outcome will be realised.
That a lot of DIY brainwashing.
But Paul is right about one thing. Boris Johnson’s political freedom of movement is “very limited”. The constraints, however, are not on his capacity to refuse the cooperation the First Minister hopes for, relies on and inexplicably expects, but on his freedom to provide that cooperation. There are powers behind the British Prime Minister’s throne. And those powers are ruthlessly determined that the Union shall be preserved and, moreover, that threats to the Union shall be eliminated.
The hard truth of the matter is that granting a Section 30 order free of caveats and conditions that would allow the process to be scuppered at a later stage will ALWAYS be politically more costly than continuing to say no. Partly because that cost will be the Prime Minister’s job but mostly because saying no carries no cost at all.
I wonder if Paul Kavanagh suffered a moment of discomfort when/if he noticed the glaring contradiction which, together with dizzying inconsistency, is an identifying characteristic of the desperate rationalisation. In his final paragraph, he states that “the only way [Boris Johnson] can make Scotland surrender to his bullying is by offering Scotland concessions that his own party won’t allow”. In order to justify agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon’s counsel of inaction and procrastination, he has simultaneously to believe that Boris Johnson won’t be allowed to offer relatively minor concessions and that he will be allowed to offer the biggest and most objectionable concession of all.
Such doublethink betokens a brain not merely washed but thoroughly laundered after steeping overnight.
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