Up until now, I couldn't quite decide what to make of Sadiq Khan. If I'm honest, I wasn't particularly interested, although it had crossed my mind that I wouldn't be at all surprised if he were to become Labour leader at some point in the future. You might say I was indifferent towards him. Well, based on excerpts of the speech he will make to the so-called Scottish Labour conference, which he tweeted in advance, I now don't think very much of him at all.
We are living in worrying times. Right-wing populism appears to be on the rise. Brexit, blaming everything on immigrants, and the election of an especially fragile, particularly paranoid, narcissistic, tangerine china doll as US President are symptomatic of this.
For the Mayor of London to then compare those of us who long for an independent Scotland to the likes of Farage, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, and Donald Trump, is beneath contempt. That is what he did:
"There is no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we are English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion "
Scottish nationalism is not about dividing people, those of us in favour of independence are not talking about banning Muslims, building walls, pulling up the drawbridge, or anything of the sort. On the contrary, we want an independent Scotland to be inclusive, governed by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland, regardless of where you were born, ethnicity, or race. And Sadiq Khan, Kezia Dugdale and the rest of the Labour Party damn well know it.
If anything, Khan's comments cheapen the plight of those who are suffering at the hands of right-wing populism, and that is bloody disgraceful.
Again, a Labour politician asks us to stay put in solidarity with our English brethren saying:
"The antidote to Brexit and the rise of right-wing populist parties is not to run away, break away, or push our neighbours away."
Mr Khan gets this wrong too. An independent Scotland wouldn't be running away, it would be walking its own path. No one in favour of independence, as far as I know, is suggesting we push our neighbours away, indeed we are keen to work closely with them. England is our closest neighbour, independence can't change that. England, or rather, the rest of the UK, would also be an independent Scotland's biggest trading partner, independence needn't change that, certainly not in the short to medium term.
It is Tory England/Britain has chosen to break away from the EU, and, in apparently refusing to go any way towards accommodating Scotland's overwhelming vote to remain. It is they who are pushing neighbours away. The Scottish Government has given, indeed, is giving the Westminster Government ample opportunity to avoid a second independence referendum, but all the signs are that the Tories remain intransigent.
I do despair at those who believe Scotland should remain with the UK out of some sort of misplaced solidarity. I could only laugh when I read that Sadiq Khan thinks:
"Now is the time to build unity, create a more United Kingdom and ensure everyone has the opportunities to succeed"
Sorry Sadiq, but the time for all that was 1997 and the thirteen years that Labour was in power after that. It might make sense for Scotland to stay in the UK if we were in fact "Better Together", but I just don't see that we are. As I keep saying, it isn't getting any better, it's getting worse.
Believing in independence for Scotland does not make me and others who agree with me racists, and I deeply resent that the Mayor of London has suggested we are. As far as I am concerned we are one race, and that is the human race. I suspect that Sadiq Khan's ill-advised intervention is counterproductive. Is it any wonder Labour are in the state they are in when they think that to insult and patronise is the way to win back voters in Scotland who deserted them in their droves.
English politics, and therefore British politics, is in a sad, sorry state. The Conservative Government, uninspiring and unremarkable in the six years before Brexit, is now utterly out of its depth. Austerity has failed, for example, demonizing the disabled and the dispossessed, leaving many of them destitute, costs more than it saves.
Clearly, they haven't a clue about how best to deal with Brexit. The Prime Minister and her Cabinet, Team Theresa, are a shower of mediocrities caught in a maelstrom of their own making. And yet they are ahead in the polls. Not only that but in yesterday's Copeland by-election, the Conservatives won, taking the seat which had been held by the Labour Party since its creation in 1983.
It seems voters in England just don't consider the Labour Party an effective opposition, let alone a credible alternative to the Tory Government. Why is that? Some will say it is down to a combination of poor leadership and the perception that the party is deeply divided.
I had come to the conclusion, albeit reluctantly, that Jeremy Corbyn simply isn't a leader. But then, I wonder how much that has to do with the mainstream media, particularly those on the right, who fear Corbyn as it appears he can't be bought and sold, and might, therefore, shine a light on the seedy underbelly of the British Establishment.
Or, is it that the English/British Left is dead and buried, killed by Thatcher, and interred by Blair? Strange, how many will tell you they despise Blair, yet without him, Labour, are seen to have strayed from the centre-ground, ever more so successively through Brown, Miliband, and now Corbyn, rendering them unelectable.
It might just be that England, and again, therefore Britain, is a nation now permanently predisposed to the right, or at the very least, the centre-right. The reality of this is that the welfare state, including the NHS, are on the road to rack and ruin.
The Tories are chipping away at everything, little by little, and before we know it there will be nothing left. Try as I might, I can't understand how ordinary people allow themselves to be conned, yet again, into believing that the Tories, now in the guise of Team Theresa, are "working for everyone", these are Tories for crying out loud. The longer they are in power, the more unequal Britain will become. Leaving the EU will only accelerate this.
This crowd are in it for themselves. They didn't give a fig when they decimated and destroyed whole communities by dismantling Britain's heavy industries and coal mining, the repercussions of which are still felt today. And they won't give a fig when low earners take risks with their health when they are too poor to see a doctor.
Make no mistake, if this happens, and if things continue as they are, it will, people will die unnecessarily. This is what happened in pre-NHS Britain. Sadly there aren't enough people left who remember it. It is all fine and well to say that the private sector should play its part in the NHS, but it will only be a matter of time before the corporates have taken over the whole shop, lock, stock, and barrel. It is the same with means testing this benefit and capping that benefit. Bit by bit, they are chipping away at it, outsourcing this and that.
The way to avoid this is not to wait in vain for England to see sense and reject all this right-wing roastery. It isn't going to happen. The only way to save the NHS, and to secure social justice in Scotland, is to make a break for it. We are in grave danger of sleepwalking into a dystopian nightmare and there's no excuse for it, the warning signs are there, and alarm bells ought to be ringing.
Something has changed. Many family and friends, who were, and are still 'no' voters (though it must be said, more than a few are wavering), have now come to the conclusion that independence is inevitable. Whilst none of them have yet been able to satisfactorily explain why they think that is, all broadly agree that the direction of travel is moving inexorably towards an independent Scotland. It might be down to Brexit, and, or, the arrogant, off-hand way in which the British Government, and the Westminster Establishment, have treated Scotland in the last few years.
It began in the aftermath of the 2014 independence referendum, with the Smith Commission, set up to deliver 'The Vow'. The commission, and the resultant Scotland Act 2016, were the bare minimum that the Tory Government, ably abetted by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, thought they could get away with to keep us servile Scots quiet. Interesting, isn't it, how so-called Scottish Labour are calling for federalism, when the ink on the act that was supposed to deliver just that (or "as close to a federal state as you can be"-remember that line?) is barely dry.
Alas, none of them had banked on Brexit. The effete Old Etonian and alleged piggie fiddler, David Cameron, fairly dropped the (rugger, presumably?) ball there. Now, Team Theresa, who would like very much to be Team UK for the Brexit negotiations, want us daft Jocks to pipe down and accept that by voting to remain with the UK in 2014, Tory England can mete out whatever punishment they deem fit, for all time. Of course, the sizeable, and vocal SNP contingent at Westminster disagree, and many in the Commons, and Lords for that matter, despise them for it. The contempt in which our nation and our elected representatives (excluding the three Unionists) are held is clear to see, you only have to spend a little time watching the BBC's Parliament channel to understand that.
And, if it were up to Dizzia Dugdale and Ruth 'Warrior Unionist' Davidson, May would have her way. Woolly Willy and the Liberal Democrats are hardly worth a mention, other than to say that they are vehemently against second referenda, unless that is, of course, it suits their agenda, in which case they are all for them.
Since "the UK as a whole" (whatever happened to "family of nations"?) voted for Brexit, the increasingly unhinged Brexiteers, tell us that if it comes to it, the UK will manage just fine outside the single market, deal, or no deal. Yet we are told that should Scotland walk away from the UK, all internal trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK will simply stop, or at least become so frightfully complicated and expensive, that Scotland will wither and die overnight. Now, perhaps I'm seeing parallels that aren't there, but this scaremongering has more than a whiff of BetterTogether's deplorable threats made in 2014 to vulnerable, working class Scots pensioners, that their meagre state pensions would stop immediately after independence and they'd be left to freeze and starve and die (many failed to appreciate this is often already the case).
Of course, this is nonsense, I'm no economist, but it just doesn't make any sense that Scotland, almost uniquely among Western liberal democracies, is incapable of functioning as an independent nation. Just the other night, on the BBC's Question Time, Mark Littlewood, Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs said of Scotland: "you have the national income of a country like Portugal, the population of a country like Slovakia or Finland, I see no reason whatsoever why Scotland can't take its own place as a proud, independent nation".
He's right, if only more Scots could see it. Tory Britain isn't renowned for its benevolence, they're desperate to hold on to Scotland because we are of economic and strategic importance to them. In contrast, I'd wager they'd quite happily let Northern Ireland go.
In 2014, Scotland opted for the safe option, the status quo. In many ways, this is entirely understandable, people often fear change. Well, now, like it or lump it, everything has changed. The status quo has been shredded. We are leaving our future in the hands of people who appear to inhabit a parallel universe, whose grasp of reality is as precarious as the demented Day-Glo demagogue for whom they are rolling out the red carpet in the hope of who knows what.
We've heard it said that the British people (by that they mean the English, sorry, but they do!) were "bold" and "brave" in voting for Brexit, and in rejecting Brussels. Perhaps so. Now, it is more important than ever that Scots are bold and brave. Let Tory Britain have their Brexit, and good luck to them. But let's have nothing to do with it, let's make our own way, a different way, a way that we actually want. Let's try to make things a little better, before the Tories make them a whole lot worse.