Leaning heavily on the words of two literary giants the Scottish National Party leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, savaged England’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Parliament.
The memory of Scotland’s Bard Robert Burns was deployed when Blackford borrowed from Burn’s superb ‘Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation’ poem to accuse Johnson and his Cabinet of being ‘a parcel of rogues’ who were intent in turning the UK into a ‘rogue’ nation with their plans to break international and domestic law in their Internal Market Bill:
“This legislation breaks international law, but it also breaks domestic law. The Prime Minister and his friends – a parcel o’ rogues – are creating a rogue state, one where the rule of law does not apply. Why does the PM think he and his friends are above the law?”
Johnson’s bumbling, rambling and incoherent response compelled Blackford to call him a “lying charlatan”. He was directed by the Speaker of the House to withdraw that insult but refused to do so as can be clearly witnessed in the exchange that took place.
The reason the Speaker invented a withdrawal and moved on was his desire to avoid scrutiny of what Johnson said lest the Blackford accusation be found entirely credible. Make no mistake, Johnson did lie in his reply to Ian Blackford, for the Internal Market Bill is indeed a measure which does not just break international law and reverse key agreements and principles agreed with the EU only seven months ago; it also reverses the devolution of power agreements covering Scotland and Wales which have been in place since 1999.
UK Internal Market Bill Reverses Devolution
It is there in black and white under Section 46, and only the wilfully blind can fail to see it. This new measure does not just ride roughshod over the Northern Irish Agreement; it rips up from the roots the devolution acts that established the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments. It is the clearest statement of intent possible. Brexit is not just about leaving the European Union, it is about taking all governmental powers back from Scotland and Wales as well. It is about centralising power and authority in London and announcing to the world that Rule Britannia Little Englanders have now taken over the asylum.
Forget myths about granting Scotland more powers. Forget lies about the NHS not being on the table in free trade deal negotiations. This is the ‘lifting of scales from the eyes’ moment. The opening of the curtains to reveal the free marketeers with the economic axe in their hands determined to chop down any and all regulations that hamper the pursuit of profits at any cost. Health standards no more, food safety checks reduced to rock bottom, environmental concerns ignored, social and labour market regulations dismantled with glee. The get rich quick Tory Spivs are in charge, and laws and social norms mean nothing to them.
Former Tory PMs Are Embarrassed by Tory Lawbreaking Plans
The irony and hypocrisy of former Tory leaders like Theresa May, Michael Howard and John Major pontificating about the sanctity of international law and Britain’s reputation in international politics is putrid given their support for bombing Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, invading Iraq and sinking the HMS Belgrano, amongst many other British actions which were contrary to international law, but it does indicate just how shoddy Johnson’s government has become that even former Tory leaders are uncomfortable. When politicians like ‘really hostile environment’ May and ‘poll tax’ Howard are attacking you, then your actions must be really extreme.
As if compelling one of his Ministers on Tuesday to admit in Parliament that their new proposed Internal Market Bill did indeed break international law was not enough today we learn that the price tag attached to Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ Covid19 testing plan could almost match the annual budget for NHS England in 2018/19, according to leaked documents, to add to the facts that the capacity and technology to deliver the plan are non-existent.
Talking about testing ten million people a day for Covid19 when they can’t even test a hundred thousand without forcing individuals to travel hundreds of miles and wait for hours on end should be called ‘Operation Howl at the Moon’ not ‘Operation Moonshot’.
Operation Howl at The Moon More Appropriate Label
Medical and laboratory experts point out it just isn’t feasible practically and would cost as much as £100 billion to implement even if it was. The whole NHS England budget was £114 billion in 2018/19. No wonder Health Minister Matt Hancock was mocked and laughed at when he addressed Parliament about the new testing plan.
“I’ve heard the naysayers before… they would do far better to support their constituents and get with the programme”
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 10, 2020
The experience of Barak from South London is the reality which Hapless Hancock and Hopeless Johnson simply refuse to acknowledge:
“Barak, 43, from south London, is trying to get a test for his three-year-old daughter after she developed a temperature.
He and his partner are unable to go into work and their other daughter has been forced to stay off school.
They have been offered tests in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dumfries and Cardiff – as far as 500 miles away.
The pastry chef told Sky News: “Our three-year-old woke up with a temperature of 38.3C at 7am.
“We’ve been trying to get a test since then. We keep refreshing the website, but now it’s just saying tests are unavailable. Who knows how long it will take to get one“.
The new testing plan is complete and utter mince and underlines just how wildly out of touch and out of control the Johnson Tory government now is. Intoxicated with power and drunk on their own sense of self-importance they literally think they can now do and say what they want with impunity. From breaking international law and reneging on agreements hardly seven months old to fairy tales about testing millions of people a day. Britain is decaying before our eyes. It is an institution in a terminal condition.
Scotland the Nation – Our Time Has Come
Borrowing from Victor Hugo’s treasure trove of powerful prose Blackford echoed the Frenchman’s sentiments from the 1852 work ‘A History of a Crime’ often paraphrased as “one cannot resist an idea whose time has come” when he said:
“The time for Scotland’s place as an independent international law-abiding nation is almost here. Our time has come”.
Scotland’s time has indeed come. Britain the institution is finished. Created from a voluntary agreement between privileged and rich nobles and landowners away back in 1707 it is no longer relevant in a 21st century of democracy and progressive politics.
Britain was formed centuries ago to serve the needs and greed of the rich and powerful and its bloodstained shadow and flag once straddled two thirds of the world. It was the mightiest imperial nation on the planet. Today it is represented by a serial liar, sacked newspaper columnist, and bumbling idiot with delusions of grandeur. Scotland’s future lies outside the Westminster prison where corruption, vested privilege and out-dated Monarchs reside. But Mr Blackford and the other SNP leaders must also realise that actions speak louder than words.
Action Expresses Priorities
Faced with a Tory government with an eighty seat majority that is prepared to rip up international agreements struck with twenty-seven other nations in a clear and conscious breach of international law, seeking a Section 30 Order, in other words agreement from Westminster, to hold IndyRef2 must be consigned to the rubbish bin of history.
We need no agreement from Westminster to hold a new referendum. We politely inform London that the election of an independence supporting parliament in May 2021 triggers IndyRef2 next year come hell or high water. No more prevaricating. No more hesitation. No more requesting permission. The May 2021 Scottish election must be named the ‘Independence Election’. The last election to be held while still part of the British Union.
Ian Blackford demolished Johnson in Parliament and called out his lies and willingness to flagrantly flout international law but he and his political party must step up to the plate now and announce without fear that IndyRef2 will proceed in 2021. Alongside the fine words of Rabbie Burns and Victor Hugo Mr Blackford and the SNP leadership must heed the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
“It’s not just words. Action expresses priorities”.