Johnson’s game

During the 2014 referendum campaign when Better Together / Project Fear was peddling scare stories about Scotland being expelled and excluded from the European Union, one of the reasons I gave for discounting this possibility was the fact that the EU bureaucracy takes a pragmatic rather than a dogmatic approach to such issues. That pragmatism means they tend to be somewhat flexible in seeking to find ways of resolving issues which entail as few complications as possible. Which is why they would all but certainly have opted for the two successor states solution had Scotland voted Yes.

Boris Johnson has evidently learned the lesson of the EU’s pragmatism and flexibility. He took advantage of it to secure the semblance of a ‘new deal’ despite the EU insisting that negotiations were closed. He obviously assumes he will be able to pull off the same trick as regards securing something that can be portrayed as a ‘trade deal’ before the end of the transition period.

There is no way a fully worked-out trade deal can be completed in the time available. Not even if the UK administration was remotely competent. The evidence of Brexit tells us they are anything but that. Johnson is depending on the EU going along with his little ploy just for the sake of not stirring up a crisis.

Expect a rerun of the antics leading up to Johnson declaring that he had squeezed a brilliant new deal out of the EU. The trade negotiations will involve incessant carping about the EU not cooperating and trying to bully ‘poor little Britain’. Meanwhile, the tiniest movement on the part of the EU will be declared a major concession and a triumph for ‘powerhouse Britain’. The British will take exorbitant credit for anything that can be spun as a success by the British media. All criticism will be deflected onto the EU bureaucrats and, if possible, political opponents.

The EU could put a stop to these silly games. But they won’t. That would involve taking a firm stance of the kind that is not compatible with pragmatism.

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Realism and honesty

When I saw the headline Nicola Sturgeon lists demands to Jeremy Corbyn the first word to pop into my head was ‘why’. Why is Nicola Sturgeon making demands of the leader of the British Labour Party? He has no power to deliver on any of those demands. More to the point, he is very unlikely ever to have such power. Recent polling indicates the most likely outcome of the UK general election is a Conservative majority government at Westminster. The British Labour vote looks a lot more like “crumbling” than the British political elite’s determination to prevent a new independence referendum.

The polls can be wrong, of course. But even supposing British Labour did pull of an electoral miracle, the reality is any minority British Labour government that wanted to deliver any of its policies and sustain itself in government would do anything rather than rely on the support of the SNP. The imperative to preserve the Union transcends ideological differences and partisan rivalries that are, in any case, mostly theatrical. We know as a matter of absolute fact that the British parties will collude to thwart Scotland’s independence movement. We know this because they have done so in the recent past.

In theory, the SNP would have “significant influence and significant power” over a minority British Labour government. In practice, even the Tories would contrive to come to their aid if this was what was required to protect their “precious” Union. And the same is true of the Liberal Democrats – who may also have “significant influence and significant power” in the event of a minority government under Jeremy Corbyn.

Nicola Sturgeon observes that,

Jeremy Corbyn is somebody who supports self-determination for literally every other country in the world, it would be quite strange if he didn’t support it for Scotland.

No it wouldn’t! It wouldn’t be strange at all. In the context of British politics, duplicity, hypocrisy and mendacity are perfectly normal. It’s what we expect.

The British Labour Party has been as slippery on the matter of a new independence referendum as on many other issues. Nicola Sturgeon chooses to see this vacillation as opposition to a new referendum “crumbling before our eyes”. But it is at least as likely to be nothing more than reluctance to be as explicit about such opposition as the other British parties. A feeble effort to find a distinct position on the issue. A forlorn attempt to appeal to independence supporting traditional British Labour voters in Scotland whilst avoiding heaping further humiliation on the local chap up there – what’s his name? – Richard something?

But why are we even talking about deals with British Labour when, if the polls are anything like accurate, Nicola Sturgeon will be facing a triumphant Boris Johnson on 13 December? What is her thinking about that scenario?

… this election is a great opportunity for us to show Boris Johnson exactly what we think of such a contemptuous and disrespectful attitude towards Scottish democracy.

Undoubtedly, it is. And undoubtedly we should. We most assuredly must use this election to demonstrate our rejection of imposed British governments and our determination to defend Scotland’s democracy. But let us not be under any illusions! If Boris Johnson – and British politicians in general – are as contemptuous of Scottish democracy as Nicola Sturgeon says, why would they be at all concerned about any message the people of Scotland send via the ballot box?

Nicola Sturgeon says,

… the position Boris Johnson articulated yesterday is not a sensible, serious or sustainable position – that he will block Scottish democracy forever and a day.

As with the comment about Jeremy Corbyn’s support for self-determination above, this fails to recognise the nature of British politics. A position doesn’t have to be “sensible” or “serious” to be totally “sustainable” in the context of British politics. Look at the Mad Brexiteers! If ever there was a position that defied logic and rationality it is the determination to take the UK out of the EU in the absence of any compelling reason; any viable plan; and any credible alternative. For all the self-evident insanity of Brexit, it is happening. An insane position has proven to be perfectly sustainable.

Boris Johnson is not going to back down in the face of Scottish public opinion. There is no reason why he would. The polls suggest a majority approaching 100. With such a majority, he can pretty much do as he pleases. He may well contrive a no-deal Brexit. He will certainly dismiss Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a Section 30 order.

Nicola Sturgeon notes that,

Nothing Boris Johnson has said in his short time as Prime Minister has turned out to be the case, so perhaps that should give us all hope for the future.

I note that, despite what must be the most disastrous premiership ever, Boris Johnson is still there. The malicious child-clown hasn’t been harmed at all by all those defeats in the House of Commons and the courts. He has come unscathed through numerous scandals. He lies with total impunity. So perhaps that should bid us despair for the future.

This is not intended as an attack on Nicola Sturgeon. Although it will inevitably be portrayed as such by those who have nothing more meaningful to say. All I’m doing is attempting to inject a bit of political reality into the discourse. And, maybe, a bit of honesty into the election campaign.

Asked if she would compromise on the timing of the new independence referendum in order to strike a deal with the British Labour minority government that almost certainly isn’t going to be more than hypothetical, Nicola Sturgeon responded saying that the timescale is “not for Westminster politicians to determine”. The reality is that the Section 30 process to which she has committed means that Westminster politicians can determine the timescale. Committing to the Section 30 process puts that power in the hands of those Westminster politicians. They can drag out negotiations on Edinburgh Agreement 2 for as long as they wish. And even as those negotiations are laboriously conducted, they can implement all manner of measures to hinder or prevent the referendum.

That is the reality. And I see no reason why we should not be honest about it. All it does is prove, as if further proof were needed, that the Union is disastrously detrimental to Scotland. It makes voting for the SNP in this election even more clearly an absolute imperative. Because, bad as the reality may be with a massive vote for the SNP, it will be many times worse without it.

By voting SNP in this UK general election and sending 50+ SNP MPs to Westminster, we at least keep our options open. When reality hits and the fantasy of British goodwill, good grace and good faith evaporates, only such an expression of our determination to defend Scotland’s democracy will sustain Scotland’s cause. It may seem horribly ironic, but is only by voting SNP that we can be prepared for whatever happens when the Section 30 process fails.

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Wishful thinking

I read Nicola Sturgeon’s Tweet yesterday in which she wonders, with evident scepticism, whether the British media might subject Boris Johnson’s position on a new independence referendum to “serious scrutiny”, and into my head popped that Lerner and Loewe song from the musical My Fair Lady in which the heroine of the piece reflects wistfully on the simple things that would make her life perfect. In my head, and totally without the aid of Spotify or any other music streaming service, I could hear Julie Andrews singing “Wouldn’t it be loverly!” in an accent betokening origins well outside artillery range of Bow Bells.

If memory serves, Eliza Doolittle eventually realised her heart’s desire for a comfy chair, a coal fire and a secure supply of confectionery. I fear Nicola Sturgeon may be asking for far too much if she hopes the British media might ask awkward questions of British politicians. Particularly in the matter of the Union and Scotland’s status within the UK, the British media defer totally to the British establishment. There is more chance of a porcine fly-past to mark Donald Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize than of the British media subjecting Boris Johnson’s stand against a new independence referendum to any serious examination. It’s just not what they do.

Why don’t they do it? Why don’t they interrogate Boris Johnson about the democratic legitimacy of denying Scotland’s right of self determination? After all, it would make great theatre, wouldn’t it? Putting the British Prime Minister on the spot would surely get the kind of unrehearsed reaction that tends to go viral on social media. So, why does this so rarely happen?

The simple explanation – and, therefore, the explanation likely to be the least satisfying – is ‘bias’. That the British media is, generally, pro-Union is doubtless the case. But this is both unsurprising and inadequate to explain why media professionals don’t do what they might be expected to do. It doesn’t explain why journalists so consistently fail to follow journalistic instincts. It doesn’t explain why they so rarely ask the obvious questions. It doesn’t explain why they almost never succumb to the urge to create a spectacle. Is that not the business they’re in?

I’m sure many (most?) journalists would insist that they are not in the business of creating spectacle. I am confident they’d insist that their profession is the noble one of informing the public; discovering and disseminating the facts; speaking truth unto power, or whatever. But that only leaves us wondering why so little of this noble professionalism (or professional nobility?) manifests itself when these champions of the public’s right to know confront British politicians who take highly dubious positions with regard to Scotland’s right of self-determination.

We know what the role of political journalism is supposed to be. Ideally, it contributes to the electorate’s capacity to make informed choices. By providing accurate information and insightful analysis, political journalists help to ensure that political power is, as far as possible, exercised only with the informed consent of the people.

Aye, right! I hear you scoff. And with considerable justification. With exceptions notable for their rarity as much as for their integrity, political journalists are now regarded, less as a resource which interprets political messages for the purpose of improving public understanding, and more as a conduit by which the powerful insinuate their messages into the public consciousness.

There is no one simple explanation as to why interviewers don’t challenge the likes of Boris Johnson when they talk about ‘not allowing’ the people of Scotland to have a referendum. Or when they spout patent nonsense such as the stuff about a ‘once in a generation’ event. High on that list of explanations is the likelihood that it just doesn’t occur to the interviewer, or their bosses, to question any of this. It’s not so much that they are purposefully letting Johnson off the hook, as the fact that they are not even aware that there is a hook.

There is a famous incident in which TV political pundit Andrew Marr says to Noam Chomsky, “Do you think I’m censoring myself now?” and Chomsky retorts, “No, you don’t need to. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting in that chair.”

The journalists who get to a position where they have access to senior politicians only get to that position after a career spent immersed in exactly the same culture as those senior politicians. These journalists may not be ideologically aligned with the politicians they interview, but they think alike in ways that run far deeper than political philosophies which are, in any case, only superficially different. Whether they are on the left or on the right they are on a spectrum entirely confined within a shared space of Britishness. A space defined by common perspectives and attitudes which transcend mere political roles. And mere roles within the same British establishment.

The cosy consensus of Westminster-centric British political journalism sits comfortably with the cosy consensus of Westminster-centric British politics. Comfortably enough that it simply doesn’t occur to British political journalists to question an established order in which Westminster is superior in all regards and at all times.

In major news gathering and disseminating organisations such as the BBC, there are people whose role it is to ensure that the awkward questions do get asked. Managers whose task it is to prevent the people at the sharp end falling into bad habits. In any large organisation, the most important thing senior managers have to do is prevent the organisation coming to serve itself rather than the purpose for which it was created. But news and current affairs media in the UK are dominated by organisations where the management has failed in this regard. These organisations’ relationship with news has altered dramatically.

It used to be that news was ‘out there’ waiting to be found. Or, at the very least, waiting to fetched. The role of the news organisation was to go out and get the news. Collect it, if it was just there to be collected. Uncover it, if it was being concealed. Hunt it down, if it was elusive. The job involved bringing news into the organisation so that it could be processed – mediated – for presentation to the public in a comprehensible form.

Now, to a disturbing extent, these organisation have changed from being the mediators of news to being assembly plants for propaganda. News is no longer harvested from the world by highly skilled people. Parcels of pre-processed news are delivered to the news organisation for assembly, packaging and onward transmission to the masses in as unmediated a form as possible. Print and broadcast news and current affairs is no longer created from ingredients like a fine meal, it is bolted together from pre-formed components. The highly skilled people no longer work for the news organisations. They work for the organisations which supply the pre-formed components.

Attributing the grotesquely distorted news and current affairs coverage we get in Scotland to ‘bias’ doesn’t describe the situation at all. In relation to individual journalists, the term ‘bias’ implies a tendency to favour one perspective over another. It can hardly be described as bias if the people involved aren’t even meaningfully aware that there is more than one perspective. Even if they are aware of other perspectives – or the possibility of other perspectives – the journalist can only work with the material they are given. And they are at the public-facing end of a production line which only outputs the news which can be put together using the components supplied.

Asking a journalist to scrutinise Boris Johnson’s position on a new independence referendum may go beyond mere wishful thinking. It may be an impossible dream. Which reminds of of another song.

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Forget Scotland!

The British Nationalist threat to Scotland’s health service is not new. It predates Boris Johnson’s undeserved elevation by several years. All that has changed is that we now have a British Prime Minister who is so contemptuous of Scotland and its people as to speak openly of the British state’s malign intent.

You’d have to be terminally naive to suppose the British political elite weren’t itching to get their greedy paws on NHS Scotland. Absorbing Scotland’s public health service into one of those “UK-wide common frameworks” that David Mundell wasn’t considered capable of managing serves the purposes of the ‘One Nation’ project very well. For a start, it would be an important step in neutralising the Scottish Parliament. Stripping Holyrood of its most significant powers has to be a priority for British Nationalists as they seek to eradicate Scotland’s distinctive political culture.

Few things better symbolise Scotland’s distinctive political culture than NHS Scotland. For that reason alone, it must be considered a prime target for seizure by the British state.

All the preparations are in place. There is a new unelected and unaccountable shadow administration called ‘The UK Government in Scotland’ waiting to take over all the powers added to the reserved list appended to the Scotland Act (1998). Curiously, the legislation which allows the British Prime Minister to do this is Nicola Sturgeon’s favourite, Section 30. Here’s what it says.

Her Majesty may by Order in Council make any modifications of Schedule 4 or 5 which She considers necessary or expedient.

For “Her Majesty” read the British Prime Minister. Schedules 4 and 5 are basically the choke-chain and muzzle put on Holyrood to stop the Sweaties getting ideas above their subordinate station. Section 30, as should now be clear, is an additional safety mechanism in case the choke-chain and muzzle don’t hold. It means the British executive can rewrite the Scotland Act to add anything to the list of reserved powers or protected provisions.

These powers are reserved and provisions protected for a reason. The British ruling elite would only accept devolution on condition there was no possibility that the Union could be compromised. The Union has to be protected at all costs because it is crucial to the British state’s conceit of itself as a global power. Without the Union – without Scotland – the rump of what had been the UK would not be able to strut the world stage with the big boys. The Jocks could have their pretendy Parliament. But it must always be under Westminster’s heel.

Needless to say, money comes into it as well. Particularly with the whole Brexit shambles. It is hardly a secret that the avaricious hyenas of corporate America are sniffing and slobbering around England’s NHS. The health service down south has been weakened to the point where it is easy prey for those who regard health-care solely as a source of profit.

But those US corporations want the lot. They won’t do a deal while part of the ‘English’ NHS is under the control of those ‘pinko liberals’ in Edinburrow. The British government needs those deals with the US. So they have to seize NHS Scotland. Simple as that.

If we don’t restore Scotland’s independence very soon, you can forget healthcare free at the point of need. You can forget a lot of other things as well. You can forget a fracking-free Scotland. You can forget universal benefits. In fact, you can forget the Scotland we know and the Scotland to which we aspire.

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Out of the mouths of dolts and dullards

If The Independent’s preview of Boris Johnson’s speech to the British Conservative Party conference is accurate, then it is interesting that he seems to acknowledge the possibility of a constitutional referendum in Scotland in 2020.

The bulk of Johnson’s address will, as expected, be an agglomeration of bluster and braggadocio, peppered with half-truths and less, all for the purpose of shifting blame for the Brexit shambles onto the EU. The tale that will be told is an epic saga of Boris the Bold standing alone against the massed forces of Johnny Foreigner intent on sullying British purity with their alien ways. Or, at least, that is how it will sound to Johnson and the Mad Brexiteers who worship and admire him almost as much as he worships and admires himself.

But it is the following passage which catches the eye of Scottish readers, and those frantically looking for something to divert from the awfulness of the Boris/Brexit nexus.

Jeremy Corbyn’s plan would turn 2020 into a year of “chaos and cacophony” with potentially two referendums, on EU membership and Scottish independence, the prime minister will claim.

Getting past the rather quaint notion of Jeremy Corbyn having a plan and not stopping to wonder what it is that has prevailed for the past three years if 2020 is to see the advent of “chaos and cacophony” , we come to the bit about a Scottish independence referendum. What can it mean.

This being Boris Johnson, it may mean nothing at all. Words and phrases tumble out of the malignant child clown’s head the way rubbish tips out of a bin lorry at the landfill site. (There’s a great analogy for the Tory conference in there somewhere. Imagine the media as voracious gulls swooping and squabbling over the mouldering morsels strewn by British politicians.)

But it is also possible that Johnson is purposefully letting something slip. We must never lose sight of the fact that much of the famous Boris buffoonery is a facade. Behind the motley lurks an undoubtedly defective but nonetheless darkly calculating mind. And behind that is gathered a coterie of tablet-wielding minders tasked with ensuring their master’s head is kept topped-up with banalities and inanities.

The reference to a Scottish independence referendum could imply that Johnson is preparing to grant a Section 30 order in what will doubtless be portrayed as a gracious and generous response to Nicola Sturgeon’s grovelling. (And before you get on my case, remember that this is us looking inside Johnson’s mind.)

It may be that Johnson has been sold the idea that he can wrong-foot the First Minister by denying her at least one line of grievance. (Boris’s mind!) He hints at conceding a Section 30 order to take the wind out of that particular sail and distract from the foundering hulk of his Brexit ‘plan’.

And why not? He has nothing to lose by granting a Section 30 order. And plenty to gain both from keeping the bait dangling for a while and ensuring that subsequent negotiations between the two governments are protracted and ultimately sunk by the British state’s unacceptable demands. Having the Section 30 process bubbling away like some noxious broth in the background might serve to spike the guns of those uppity Jocks silly demands for independence. (Again! Boris’s mind!) If they start going on about it, we just get our accomplices in the media to put out some stuff accusing them of pointless whining and of trying to sabotage the negotiations. There’s that blame-shifting again!

Meanwhile, as the Scottish Government is being tied in knots by British ‘negotiators’ making outlandish demands and the Scottish public are distracted by the Section 30 theatrics, the British state continues to roll out its ‘One Nation’ project to eradicate Scotland’s distinctive political culture and dismantle our democratic institutions..

Johnson’s words should not be dismissed and the drivelling of a dullard. At the very least, they hint at how relaxed he is about the granting of a Section 30 order. We would do well to reflect on why this might be.

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Why? The ‘King of Questions’! We surely all can agree on the necessity of a good reason for any course of action.When assessing any proposal the first question asked has to be ‘Why?’. There is little point in proceeding to the ‘How?’, ‘When?’, ‘Where?’, ‘What if?’, ‘What then?’ etc. until and unless it has been determined that there is sufficient cause to be doing a particular thing. Although some preliminary consideration of the last of these – ‘What then?’ – may be involved in answering the question, ‘Why?’.

Why remove Boris Johnson? I mean, apart from the fact that he is a thoroughly odious individual. I find all British Prime Ministers objectionable. It is only a matter of degree. Johnson may be a particularly unpleasant example of the breed, but he is the product of the British political system. There seems no reason to suppose that the same system will produce something markedly better. Remove Johnson and all we get is a different kind of objectionable.

So, why remove Boris Johnson from his present position? For the satisfaction of humiliating him, perhaps? That does seem a bit petty. And does anybody who has observed Johnson over the last few years get the impression that he has any capacity for embarrassment? Might we reasonably expect that being thwarted in his ambitions would leave him feeling humiliated? Angry? Yes! Indignant? Certainly! A deep sense of injustice at being denied that to which he is entitled and feelings of contempt for those who have failed to discern his greatness? Absolutely! But humiliation? I don’t think there would be any room for that.

No departing tears on the doorstep of No. 10 for the bold Boris! Barely controlled rage and barely coherent ranting would be the order of the day. Demented railing against the fools and knaves who brought about his downfall would be his parting shot. All rounded off with a Schwarzenegger-channelling “I’ll be back!” that would seem like a cheering promise or a chilling threat depending on the politics of the listener.

Why remove Boris Johnson? I guess that depends on what you hope to achieve. What you priorities are. I, for example, want Scotland’s Remain vote honoured and Scotland’s rightful constitutional status restored. So, I have to ask myself how these ends would be served by removing Boris Johnson. After some reflection, I have to conclude that they would not be served in any way at all.

Brexit is going to happen regardless of who is British Prime Minister. Nobody who might revoke Article 50 is in line for the job. Anybody who proposed to revoke Article 50 either won’t get the job and wouldn’t be able/allowed to stop Brexit if they did. So, removing Johnson cannot result in Scotland’s democratic will being treated with anything other than the total contempt shown by the British political elite to date. Removing Johnson changes nothing in that regard.

Would removing Johnson do anything to help me see Scotland’s independence restored? I don’t see how. It is not Boris Johnson alone that is determined to lock Scotland into the Union. It is the entire British establishment. Remove Boris Johnson and he will be replaced with another British Nationalist. Because all the candidates for British Prime Minister that there are now or ever could be are British Nationalists.

Removing Boris Johnson doesn’t serve my purposes at all. I get nothing out of it. Scotland gets nothing out of it. The imposition of Brexit goes ahead. The denial of our right of self-determination continues. The anti-democratic abomination of the Union remains.

So, why does Nicola Sturgeon want Johnson removed? Obviously, her priorities cannot be the same as mine. She cannot be seeking to achieve the same things as me. We’ve seen that this is a forlorn and foolish hope. Whatever else she may be, Ms Sturgeon is most assuredly not foolish.

From the First Minister’s own comments and those of an SNP spokesman, it seems that the ‘Why?’ of removing Johnson is to put in place a caretaker PM who will “secure an extension” to the already ludicrously protracted Brexit process and then call a UK general election. Which is where the ‘What then?’ query kicks in.

This is all very well if your priority is, not to have Scotland’s democratic choice respected, but to put off for a while longer the major deleterious impact of our Remain vote being ignored. And only if the 27 real EU nations agree. There being not the slightest reason why they should, as the only ‘deal’ on the table will be no more acceptable to the British parliament with a new Prime Minister than it was with the previous two.

Our First Minister’s concern appears to be to avoid Scotland being dragged out of the EU without some kind of ‘deal’ and maybe to get some kind of a ‘deal’ that isn’t a ‘bad deal’. Although she will be allowed no role in negotiating this ‘not a bad deal’ even supposing the EU deigns to reopen negotiations. There being not the slightest reason why they should, as there is no discernible possibility of a deal which will be acceptable to both the EU members states and British MPs – who want nothing less than that the EU should abandon its very core principles to accommodate Little England’s xenophobic prejudices.

The problem I have is that there is no ‘deal’ – good, bad or indifferent – which negates Scotland’s Remain vote. The First Minister and her colleagues have put considerable effort into telling me how a No Deal Brexit is unacceptable and how a Bad Deal Brexit is unacceptable, but I have heard no attempt to explain to me how any kind of Brexit can possibly be acceptable when Scotland voted so decisively to Remain part of the EU.

Taking it for granted that I will meekly accept British contempt for Scotland’s democracy, the First Minister’s other objective in removing Boris Johnson is to bring about a UK general election. That may happen. But it would happen even without removing Boris Johnson. He wants an election. He is, with good reason, confident that the Tories will win that election. Or, at least, be in a position to form a government with the help of others determined to “get Brexit done”. The electoral arithmetic is, to say the least, problematic. But it seems certain that the only way an election might resolve anything is by returning enough Mad Brexiteers for them to be in a position to thumb their noses at the sane people.

If there is some credible permutation of the electoral numbers which leads,directly or indirectly, to Scotland getting what we voted for in 2016, I have yet to see it. Or imagine it!

Why remove Johnson? Maybe, and it’s a very big maybe, to get an extension. Maybe to stop a No Deal Brexit. although that is always the default and so, ultimately, unavoidable unless something unimaginable intercedes. The SNP gets more MPs in the election. But to do what? It’s undoubtedly better to have as many as possible actual Scottish MPs from an actual Scottish party. But what can 56 oreven 59 do at Westminster that 35 can’t?

Perhaps they might be in a position to force the new Prime Minister to concede a Section 30 order. But that is a remote chance, at best, given the generalised dominance of anti-democratic British Nationalism in British politics. And, as anyone who has thought about the matter will be aware, getting a Section 30 order may be only the start of the problems. But this is what Nicola Sturgeon wants.

Why remove Boris Johnson? From my personal perspective as a Scottish nationalist, it serves no purpose at all. From the perspective of the First Minister it may allow her to sweeten the toxic pill of an imposed Brexit with some kind of ‘deal’. And it may allow her to pursue her stubborn commitment to the Section 30 process regardless of the potential consequences and the gross insult to the sovereignty of Scotland’s people.

Can somebody explain to me how this constitutes progress? Can somebody explain why I am supposed to get excited about the prospect of removing Boris Johnson? Can somebody explain what I, or Scotland, gets out of this exercise? Or is it all worth it so that the opposition parties can squabble over who gets to wear Boris’s considerable scalp on their belt?

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I do not consent!

I doubt if many reading this would change a word of the excoriating assessment of Boris Johnson’s character and competence offered by Nicola Sturgeon; unless it was to use less politic and more expressive language. Johnson is, indeed, disgusting, craven, reckless and, above all, untrustworthy.

But we already knew that. The First Minister was perfectly well aware of how untrustworthy and duplicitous and dishonest Johnson is long before he became British Prime Minister. And yet she did not modify her ‘strategy’ accordingly when he was maneuvered into Downing Street by whatever shadowy forces conrive such things. While she denounces Johnson on Twitter, in her day-to-day dealings with his regime she continues to behave as if he were just a run-of-the-mill British politician – arrogant, vacuous, venal, corrupt, incompetent, but not downright malicious and wanton and irrational.

Our First Minister acknowledges the uncontested fact that Boris Johnson cannot be trusted, but she insists on entrusting to him ultimate authority over Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination. Sturgeon scathingly denigrates Johnson in statements to the press and on social media, but maintains her commitment to the Section 30 process, thus putting Scotland’s future in the hands of a man she judges to be totally unfit to have any influence over the future of the UK.

Surely this requires some explanation. What is it that the First Minister is hoping for? Is she hoping for a final reel epiphany in which Johnson sees the sense that he has been blind to almost since birth? Does she anticipate a last-minute Damascene conversion to the ways of a sane world? Is she banking on Boris undergoing some sort of eleventh-hour metamorphosis such as transformed Scrooge overnight from grasping miser to beneficent philanthropist?

I have news for Nicola Sturgeon. Boris Johnson won’t be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past because he is the ghost of all our past mistakes and misjudgements and misdeeds come to offer us, not redemption, but a future lived in a mire of corrosive regret. He is not a ‘bad apple’. He is the rot that afflicts all apples. He’s not Jekyll and Hyde. He’s just Hyde. He is not a freakish phenomenon thrown up by a political system in total disarray, but the inevitable product of a British political system which is inherently corrupt. Boris Johnson is exactly what he seems, and worse. He is all you take him to be, and less. He is everything you would want scrubbed, scoured and grit-blasted from the political life of any nation, and more. He is unprincipled, unscrupulous, amoral, self-serving and treacherous.

Knowing all this, the First Minister asks the people of Scotland to accept that our sovereignty be subordinated to an authority that is not derived from any democratic legitimacy, but bestowed on Boris Johnson by the corrupt British political system and imposed on Scotland by the Union.

Knowing what Boris Johnson is, Nicola Sturgeon continues to insist that he should be allowed to prohibit the exercise of our sovereignty. She persists in asserting that a referendum cannot be legitimated by the sovereignty of the people of Scotland, or by the international laws and conventions guaranteeing our right of self-determination, but only by the imprimatur of whoever has been elevated to the office of British Prime Minister by the apparatus of power, privilege and patronage which is the British state.

I find that insulting! Offensive! Belittling! Wholly inexplicable! And totally unacceptable!

I do not consent to this.

I do not consent to Boris Johnson, or any of his successors, being granted any effective veto over, control of or influence in the process by which the people of Scotland determine the constitutional status of our nation and choose the form of government which best suits our needs.

I do not consent to the sovereignty of Scotland’s people being compromised.

I do not consent to the Section 30 process.


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