If Sir Malcolm Rifkind wants to talk about a ‘federal solution’ he should give Gordon Brown a call. Nobody else is likely to listen to him, having long since realised that federalism is a non-starter. Why would we settle for another round of constitutional tinkering by the British when we can have a constitution of our own to tinker with? Why would England-as-Britain voluntarily accept demotion to equal partner from its current dominant position? How could a federal settlement be acceptable to the people of Scotland unless it was freely negotiated in an atmosphere of mutual respect by equal parties? And how could that happen unless Scotland was an independent nation?
All questions that neither Gordon Brown nor Sir Malcolm Rifkind have troubled to ask. All questions that neither will ever deign to attempt to answer. Because, of course, neither is actually interested in a working federal solution. Both are simply scrabbling around looking for something that might divert some of the flow from No to Yes into the Big Hole of Harmlessness. It’s not about finding a new and better constitutional arrangement for England-as-Britain’s annexed peripheral territories. Far less is it about abandoning the parliamentary sovereignty which so handsomely serves the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. For both Rifkind and Brown it’s entirely about preserving their ‘precious Union.
The more people are talking about federalism or devo-max or fiscal autonomy or whatever, the less they are thinking about independence and how normal it is. The more different options that are presented the greater the confusion. The more ‘alternatives’ to independence that are suggested the greater the doubt about whether independence is the right option. And as we know from the 2014 referendum, doubt is the British Nationalists’ most effective weapon. It was doubt that won it for them then. They are certain to deploy the same tactics again. ‘Project Fear’ should have been called ‘Project Doubt’; and might well have been if the people involved had been capable of originality.
That Sir Malcolm Rifkind is talking about federalism does not betoken panic in the BritNat breastie as Keith Brown suggests. It is simply another tactic being deployed. Not a new tactic. The federalism schtick has been the highlight of Gordon Brown’s tawdry ‘intervention’ routine for at least 150 years. Or that’s what it feels like, anyway. Rifkind has simply decided to do a kind of Gordon Brown tribute act so as to get himself a bit of media attention. The National has duly obliged. As I suppose it must. It is a newspaper, after all.
I just wish The National would give it a rest with the panicking Tories line. Which necessarily implies a wish that Keith Brown and his colleagues would quit providing The National with the lines. It is simply not true. The Tories – for which we should read the British establishment – is most assuredly not in a state of dread. There is no reason why they should be. The British hold all the cards. They have all the power. They are not even being challenged far less threatened.
Which is precisely why we’re being told they’re in ‘deep panic mode’. Talk of terrified Tories is intended to divert our attention from that fact that they are not being terrorised. The Brits are the only ones doing distraction and misdirection. The SNP has its own exponents. And its own reasons. The party leadership obviously want us to think their ‘strategy’ is working – otherwise why would the likes of Sir Malcolm Rifkind be in such a flap he’s resorted to plagiarising Gordon Brown? Is that not the very definition of desperation?
If or to the extent that we can be persuaded that Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘strategy’ is working, or even that she actually has a strategy, we will be less inclined to scrutinise that strategy. Or try to discover what it is. The SNP bosses don’t want us looking too closely at what they’ve been up to for the last six years lest we start to wonder how so little can be so expensive. They especially don’t want that scrutiny happening at the party conference this coming weekend. They don’t want the scrutiny happening under the gaze of the world’s media.
They certainly don’t want the scrutiny being conducted by conference delegates. Because conference delegates have power. Power that cannot be denied no matter how the conference is rigged. If delegates decide to virtually storm the virtual stage there is nothing that can stop them. Hence the frantic efforts over recent weeks to convince us that the Unionists are on the run. That Boris Johnson is going to come down with a severe case of respect for democracy. That the British can be trusted to willingly and honestly cooperate with the Section 30 process so as to ensure a free and fair referendum.
Don’t tell me the British are panicking! I’m not stupid and I will not be patronised! They are not panicking! They are calmly, coolly and arrogantly going about the business of protecting and advancing their own narrow interests at the expense of anyone they can push the cost onto. Scotland being at the head of that particular queue! They are perfectly relaxed; leaning against the Union knowing it will protect them so long as they preserve it.
And why would I care even if they were? I’m not looking to the British to restore Scotland’s independence. As I pointed out already, I’m not stupid. I look to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament to do what’s required to get Scotland’s independence restored. And since only an SNP administration with a working majority can possibly be the ones to do what’s required to get Scotland’s independence restored I’m looking to Nicola Sturgeon for some assurances on the matter.
Rather than tall tales about how the British are in ‘deep panic mode’ I’d like to know that Nicola Sturgeon is in ‘somewhat concerned mode’ regarding Scotland’s predicament. I’d admire it greatly if Keith Brown were to inform me that the SNP is in ‘actively interested mode’ on the constitutional issue. Maybe even ‘open to questions, criticism and suggestions mode’. Although we should perhaps keep our expectations low.
The picture at the top of this page shows the warehouse where are stored all the shits I give about how the Tories or any of the British parties are feeling about the constitutional issue. I care how Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP feel about it. I have to care what their thinking is on the matter of restoring Scotland’s independence because I’m depending on them to get it done. Right now, I can’t even be sure they are thinking about the constitutional issue at all. I know for a fact they aren’t doing anything about it. Or even proposing to do anything about it. I give a shit about that. Enough to fill that warehouse several times over.