I detest Alister Jack. More even than Boris Johnson, Jack epitomises – to my mind at least – all that is vile about British Nationalism in Scotland. Boris is the enemy at the gate. Jack is the worm-tongued agent of that enemy within the walls. There is a certain character type – someone who will not only offer up their granny on the sex slave market but attempt to persuade her as they have persuaded themselves that they are doing it for her own benefit by providing her with an opportunity to make new friends. I’m not saying Alister Jack is such an individual. I’m merely suggesting that if somebody was making a film in which such a character featured, then Alister could probably play that part without stretching his acting abilities at all. I’m certain there were captains of the ships that plied an earlier slave trade across the Atlantic who considered themselves honest, upright, god-fearing men and who had entirely convinced themselves that they were rescuing their heathen cargo from a worse hell than they currently endured in the stinking holds of his ship and taking them to a better life – gawd bless their dark-tainted souls! I’m not saying Alister Jack is such a person. I’m just saying that when I imagine that captain standing on the bridge of his ship proudly confident of his place in heaven – not to mention a tidy profit in the meantime – he has the face of a bearded Alister “Union” Jack. And he’s thinking more of a place in the House of Lords than in heaven.
Having thus (hopefully) avoided a defamation suit, I move on to observe that Boris Johnson would be relatively harmless but for functionaries such as Alister “Union” Jack. The ‘Evil Genius’ is a comic-book fiction. In real life, tyrants are rarely Mensa material. They succeed by forming symbiotic relationships with people cleverer by far than themselves. The geniuses behind the evil get power by proxy as well as a certain deniability, insofar as the ‘only following orders’ plea can ever be a defence. You may be wondering at this point who the geniuses are in Johnson’s entourage. Especially if you saw the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab on TV at the weekend. Strike him from the list of candidates for genius-behind-evil. Although there is a theory that Raab and others only pretend to be sub-mollusc stupid so as Boris won’t consider them a threat and inflict some horrid fate on them. Like making them British ambassador to France.
Personally, I don’t think Raab was putting it on. I’m pretty sure he’s every bit the dolt he appears to be. Just as Boris Johnson is every bit the bungler he appears to be. Intelligence is not a requirement of the job. It might even be a handicap. The British political system is such that genuinely clever people seldom rise to the top. We could enjoy a wee detour into the subject of why this is and how it operates. But I want to get back to the matter of the geniuses behind the evil. An interesting phenomenon in its own right. Such people have always existed, of course. Power always begets hingers-oan. What is, perhaps, extraordinary about the British political system is the extent to which this class of political actor has evolved to be a formal part of the system rather than something operating on the fringes. And how, in the process, they have come to enable ever more ‘unlikely’ holders of high office such as Boris Johnson.
It’s almost as if these brains-behind-power were showing off by demonstrating their ability to get the likes of Boris into the top positions. As Raab was making an excruciating arse of himself on the Andrew Marr Show I imagined some smirking Svengali off-screen smugly calculating their winnings on bets that they couldn’t insinuated somebody that bug-dumb into the role(s) of Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.
Boris Johnson is bad for Scotland. All British Prime Ministers are bad for Scotland. It is necessarily so because they are creatures of the Union and the Union is very, very bad for Scotland. But the ones to watch; the ones we should really worry about, are not the sheep who are kitted out with a variably convincing wolf-suit and pushed on stage, but the actual wolves working back-stage or as seeming bit-players in the production.
There is at the moment, much agitated excitement about the prospect of Boris Johnson being forced to take his act back to the circus. But removing Johnson won’t benefit Scotland in any way so long as there are political actors in Scotland ready, willing, able and emboldened to treat all of us as they would their
dear reasonably priced old grandmother.
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