The stubborn, unjustifiable and unconcerned response of the Prime Minister shows how untouchable he believes he and his cronies are. Ultimately, it is up to the public whether they are untouchable, or whether they will be held to account.Mhairi Black: PM’s mask has slipped … he doesn’t care about the public
Why would he not believe he’s untouchable. He is! That is the reality. The next UK general election is by default scheduled to be held on Thursday 2 May 2024 – slightly less than four years from now. Or roughly 200 of Mhairi’s columns in The National. She can devote every single one of them to redundantly informing us how terrible Boris Johnson and his cronies are and how terrible it is that they get to dictate so much public policy in Scotland despite having no democratic legitimacy, and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.
After that election, Mhairi can go back to pointlessly stating the obvious about how terrible Boris blah! blah! blah! Because, as things stand, Boris will still be British Prime Minister and he will still be surrounded by the same cronies. Or maybe there will be another British Prime Minister and another set of cronies. In which case Mhairi can simply recycle those 200 articles with a few name-changes. Because whether it’s Boris The First or Boris The Next and however much the crony-pack is shuffled they will still dictate public policy in Scotland despite lacking any democratic legitimacy.
Nothing changes until somebody changes it. The British political system will continue its descent into chaotic ineptitude coupled with increasing authoritarianism and the British political elite will continue to exert their baleful, illegitimate influence over Scotland unless and until the Scottish Government takes the necessary action through the Scottish Parliament to put an end to it. No amount of complaining will alter the situation by the merest fraction of an iota. Not all the anti-Tory rhetoric Mhairi might muster will make the merest particle of a scintilla of difference.
We’ve had enough fine words to fill an Olympic swimming pool the size of Belgium and still those parsnips remain distinctly unbuttered.
And we can easily see why. The clue is in the words of Mhairi Black MP,
Ultimately, it is up to the public whether they are untouchable, or whether they will be held to account.
Which is fine – if you are a politician trying to wriggle off a hook. If you’re a politician looking to excuse failure or rationalise inaction then it is very convenient to be able to say that it’s not up to you because “ultimately, it is up to the public”. It even has the advantage of being true – in a sense and as far as it goes. It is true in the sense that ultimate political authority is vested in and derives from the sovereign people. It is true to the extent that the people are able to translate that authority into action.
And that is where Mhairi’s statement encounters a problem. That translation from authority requires an intermediary. Which is where Mhairi comes in. Or should. It is where politicians come in. Or should. It is where political parties come in. Or should.
Further explanation demands that I get over two issues. My aversion to repeating myself. And my reluctance to sound condescending. But if I’d explained the point adequately on all those previous occasions I wouldn’t be obliged to repeat the explanation now. And if I come across as condescending in the process it’s only because it is such a fundamental point that it really shouldn’t require any explanation at all. I too can contrive excuses and rationalisations.
I have previously pointed out that political parties are analogous to trade unions. Just as the latter facilitate combination in order to exert influence in the sphere of employment, so the former allow us to act collectively to exert influence in the sphere of public policy. If either are doing what they are intended to do, that can only be our fault. Trade unions and political parties are ours to use. If we allow others to use them in our stead then we have little right to complain that they are not being used for our preferred purpose.
What I perhaps failed to do was properly explain the difference between strength and power. It may even be that I have failed to make this crucial distinction. My bad! For it is, indeed, a crucial distinction. We are many. The many have strength. The many have no power. That is to say, the masses lack the means to translate their strength into power directed to a particular purpose. What I call effective political power. Strength is necessary to get stuff done. But it is not power until it is harnessed and purposefully applied. Political parties are the intermediary by which the strength of the people is directed to specific ends. They are the necessary tool to translate diffuse strength into power focused on achieving a particular outcome.
As an SNP politician Mhairi cannot get off the hook by shrugging her shoulders and saying it’s a matter for the people to sort out. As an SNP politician she is part of the tool chosen by the people as the means of translating their strength into the effective political power which they intend should relieve Scotland of the baleful and illegitimate influence exerted by Boris Johnson, his cronies and their successors. And it’s not happening!
It’s not happening because the intermediary is not working. The strength of the people is undeniable. The need to end the Union which gives spurious legitimacy to the British state’s influence in Scotland is as great as it ever was and more urgent than it has ever been. It’s the bit in between that’s letting us down.
Bemoaning the awfulness of Boris and the Brits is a pointless and futile distraction. Boris and the Brits are not the problem. Because they are not the intermediary. They are not the tool that we need. They will not translate the strength of Scotland’s people into effective political power directed to ending their ability to claim Scotland’s strength as their own.
Scotland’s constitutional status has absolutely nothing to do with Boris and the Brits. So why the hell are SNP politicians squandering OUR strength on telling us what we already know about their awfulness? Why are they not translating that strength into the effective political power which will extricate Scotland from this accursed Union? Why are they not using our authority to act?
And why are we not loudly demanding that they do so?
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