It is a rare occasion indeed when I agree with bungling Boris Johnson, but I cannot demur from his latest example of the foot in mouth disease he has suffered from most of his adult life.
While holding virtual court in splendid Covid19 isolation at Number 10 Downing Street he issued an angry and exasperated declaration to some sixty Northern Tory MPs which underlines how fragile his flailing British Union is under his stewardship when he said devolution had been “a disaster north of the border”.
Devolution has indeed been a “disaster”. But not for the people of Scotland. It has been a “disaster” for his rotten and decaying United Kingdom.
Winning power within the Scottish Parliament in 2007 was an achievement for the SNP but holding power for the last thirteen years and being on track in six months to extend their dominance and control is something the various shades of unionism view with despair.
Scotland has voted differently from England over most of the last fifty years and has rejected the Tories enthusiastically for the last sixty-five years. We are a left of centre political nation in relation to all the big issues of the day.
We reject privatisation of the NHS. We oppose nuclear weapons. We promote trade union rights and representation. We are against illegal wars and bombing sorties. We welcome asylum seekers. Our nationalism is of the civic and communitarian variety, not the chauvinistic and arrogant strain which permeates the Tories and British nationalists in general.
Free Tuition Fees and No Prescription Charges Are Popular Policies
The reality of devolved powers under the Scottish Parliament since 1999 has been real and popular reforms. No tuition fees to encourage our citizens of all ages to pursue higher education. Free care for the elderly to indicate the ethos of caring which runs through the political veins of Scotland’s Parliament.
No prescription charges in recognition of the health principle that individuals should not be penalised for being ill and in need of medication. Even when measures like the ban on smoking in public places generated kick-back from smokers and the licensed trade, the Parliament proceeded with a health first agenda and prevailed with a measure which many have since followed.
One of the earliest new laws was to ban hunting with hounds in Scotland designed to stop the ancient and barbaric practice of fox hunting. The wealthy and special interest groups organised a well-financed revolt, but the majority opinion of Scotland prevailed, and the new measure was passed.
That particular piece of legislation needs to be re-visited and strengthened given the clever way the ‘unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable’ brigade have exploited loopholes to continue their noxious and bloody hunts of terrified foxes.
Many other areas of Scottish life demand urgent attention to tackle the grinding poverty and grotesque inequalities that still haunt us and shame us as a nation but the Scottish Parliament and devolution within its limited powers has improved lives and governed Scotland differently and better in sectors like health, education and social issues.
Devolution has not therefore been a “disaster” for Scotland – it has been beneficial. But its serious limitations are now more acute than ever and that’s why demands for independence are stronger and more sustained than ever.
The real motivation for Johnson’s angry belly rumble is the realisation that his beloved British Union is now on its death bed and beyond resuscitation as the march towards Scottish independence, and a united Ireland, is both unmistakeable and unstoppable.
Tory Incompetence and Panic on Independence is Tangible
The panic button has been well and truly compressed at Westminster and the Tories have engaged expensive political consultancy firms to try and devise strategies to save Britain from extinction but it will prove futile and counter-productive as the more the Tories attack Scotland and her ability to become once again an independent nation and flourish, the more support for independence and the Scottish independence party, the SNP, grows.
Witness the unprecedented and incredible number of polls in succession, fourteen at the latest count, which have indicated not just significant majorities for independence but also 50% plus support for the SNP.
The truth is Boris Johnson has been the “disaster”, not devolution. On every issue and challenge, he has failed miserably to display leadership, integrity, or compassion. The remarkable number of U-turns already implemented by his flip-flop cabinet in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic is testimony to just how out of touch and behind the mood of ordinary people he is.
He publicly applauds nurses but privately supports wage freezes which further erode their standard of living. He insists on blocking compassionate moves to ensure hungry children receive at least one hot meal a day during holiday periods only to crumble when a campaign fronted by a young black footballer proves popular and he reverses opposition out of concern for public ratings, not the welfare of the kids.
On at least fourteen separate occasions now Johnson’s cabinet has been forced into policy U-turns indicating not just an inability to lead but rank incompetence. The Internal Market Bill endorsing the breach of international law and the usurping of Scottish Parliament powers is just the latest in a long line of failures which justifies the canny Scots rejection of his party last December.
We never voted for him and we refuse to hang around and suffer the real and material consequences of his government’s inability to govern properly. The chasm between rich and poor, North, and South, employed and unemployed will continue to grow and hardship will spread deep. Scotland rejected the narrow neo-liberal politics of the Tories and their Brexit adventure. We want to pursue a different future and we will not be denied.
Scotland Will Vote for Freedom in 2021
The Westminster leader of the SNP Ian Blackford declared the other day that IndyRef2 will take place next year. The SNP will romp to victory in next May’s Scottish Parliament election with the support of the independence movement but they are on notice that this is their last chance to deliver the promise which has underlined their victories at each of the last three general and Scottish elections.
Next year Scotland gets the chance to democratically disengage from Westminster and leave the British Union with or without Tory permission. In that sense, devolution will indeed prove to have been a “disaster”, a disaster for Johnson and the British Union.