If, for a moment, I imagine I were English, I can just about begin to understand why they came to vote for Brexit. The English, or British, for they are, it has become increasingly clear, largely synonymous, believe that they are exceptional. That was once perhaps true in a way. Loss of empire has done little, or nothing, to disabuse the English/British Establishment of that particular delusion.
Just this week, I heard or read an English political commentator, I forget which, insist that the “British” must negotiate with the EU as an equal. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just not realistic. England, or Britain, as I’ve said before, is just another ordinary middle size country, barely on a par with Germany, never mind an economic and political union compromised of (soon to be) 27 other countries.
David “the dafty” Davis, Boris “the buffoon” Johnson, Michael “Gollum” Gove, and their ilk insist that we’ve the upper hand, because we buy their stuff by the bucketload. I could be wrong, but I can’t see Brexit changing that. The German’s will still build the best engineered, most prestigious (accessible) motor cars, in the world. And, I’ve tasted English wine.
Basically, the Brexiteers seem to be saying, that the British trade deficit with the EU is a great thing. I seem to remember, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, a trade deficit was made out to be quite the opposite. In fact, in the present day, one of President Trump’s (numerous) bugbears, has been the US trade deficit with China.
Nevertheless, the English/British negotiating team -it is most definitely NOT a UK negotiating team, as the Scottish and Welsh devolved Governments have been excluded- expect the EU to capitulate to their demands for tariff free access to the single market, for fear that their Audi’s, BMW’s, and Mercedes, will disappear from British driveways, replaced by who knows what. The British middle-class, let’s be honest, are dreadful snobs, and a Kia Sportage, or a Hyundai Tucson, doesn’t have quite the same badge kudos as a BMW X3.
I’ve written before, about the English/British craving for status, which has to do with their sense of exceptionalism. We keep hearing leading Brexiteers bleating in about Britain “leading the world” in free trade, and taking its rightful place, as an independent world power once more. It’s all very tedious. You’d think they really, really ought to have gotten over it, and accepted and adapted to their dimished state. But no, we have to have nuclear Viagara, by way of Trident, and obscene vanity projects like HMS Codpiece and HMS Wonderbra, the aircraft carriers without aircraft. All to be seen to be important.
The harsh reality is, that tacking poverty and inequality, will always take a back seat in Britain, as long as they persevere with their post-imperial delusion. In fact, the Tories are willing to risk even greater poverty and inequality, in their doomed quest to make Britain the biggest and best (as they see it), once more.
Here in Scotland, we are, in effect, expected to put up and shut up. Sure, the Tory Government at Westminster tell us they’re keen to come to an agreed position on Brexit with the devolved administrations, but that position absolutely has to be their position, no ifs, not buts. It’s all fine and well, prattling in about pulling together and getting the best Brexit for the whole of the UK, but if there’s if there’s a fundamental, irreconcilable difference of opinion(s) as to what that is, where does that leave us? Predictably, the right-wing mainstream media, are now trying to make out that if Brexit is a disaster, it will be because the likes of the SNP scuppered it. It won’t. It’ll be entirely, exclusively down to Tory incompetence, ineptitude, and introspection.
And if Scottish Unionist Remainers think that Jeremy Corbyn will save the day, they’re sadly mistaken. Okay, so he’s just this week put some clearish blue water between Labour and the Tories over Brexit, but even if the Government were defeated over a customs union, Tory Brexiteers wouldn’t entertain Theresa May accepting it. Just supposing the Government were to fall, and Corbyn were to win the next General Election -which I doubt, on the contrary, I expect Labour to fall back in the polls as a result of Corbyn’s policy shift, though obviously, I could be wrong- what Labour are suggesting, as far as I, even as a Remainer, am concerned, means they’d be as well not bothering to go through with Brexit at all.
Not only is the Tory Government hell-bent on imposing Brexit on Scotland, to its detriment, there’s the blatant attempt at a power grab -back in the spotlight yesterday- which is an another affront to the devolution settlement. All of this begs the question, is there nothing the English/British Establishment can’t do, for a majority of Scots to say enough-is-enough, to hell with being at the mercy of an arrogant authoritarian master, let’s have some self bloody respect?
Occasionally, I’ll surprise myself, in that I don’t react, or respond to something, quite in the way that I would have expected. This has been the case, with the news that Kezia Dugdale, is to appear on Zzzelebrity Jungle, or some such tv trash.
The obvious temptation, of course, is to be outraged. Ms Dugdale remains, after all, an elected representative, a paid public servant, an MSP. Had Holyrood been in recess, this might have been less of an issue. And, as others quickly pointed out, this is a politician, who all too recently, insisted that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP “get on with the day job” at every opportunity, and there were many. Countless actually.
But here’s the thing. I can honestly say, that in 16 series (I had to google it, in case you’re wondering), I’ve watched all of about 16 minutes of Zzzelebrity Jungle. Kezia Dugdale’s decision to take part, has me intrigued. I’m almost inclined to watch. Why? You may ask.
Well, put simply, I’d be interested to see, what more there is to Ms Dugdale, beyond the rather gauche, whining unfortunate, that led the Labour Party in Scotland for a short time. And there will be more to her. She has, in my view, already shown a more self-assured side to herself, in the media appearances she has made, in the few months since she threw off the shackles, and unexpectedly stepped down.
Once in a while, (and probably not often enough) I have to remind myself, that politicians are flesh and blood human beings too. They are not, - however much we would like them to be, as amongst other things, it makes it easier to love, or hate, them - the caricature they are often portrayed as.
Interestingly, former (does 10 day’s count?) White House Director of Communications, Anthony Scaramucci’s made that very point, in Q&A sessions with the Oxford Union, and the Cambridge Union. He insisted, entirely believably, that President Trump is, in private, quite different to his public persona, more “contemplative” and “thoughtful”, than the trigger-happy tweeter might suggest. Mr Scaramucci’s also pointed out, that in his experience, Hilary Clinton is a warmer, altogether more likeable person, than she is often perceived to be.
I suppose, as others have said, that if Kezia Dugdale’s gamble, and it is a gamble, pays off, she could do herself, her party (assuming she’s not about to defect), and politics in general, a favour, by showing that some politicians at least, are people, like you and I, with much the same hopes and fears. I rather hope that’s the case. It’s be great, that if as well as not being a straight white male, Kezia Dugdale demonstrates that she’s no’ a total roaster either.
Whilst I disagree with Ms Dugdale’s politics, in particular, her unionism, I do not doubt her work ethic, or her record of public service. Assuming she’s doing it for the right reasons, and until it is shown otherwise, I’ll take it that she is, I for one, am content to cut her some slack, and accept that she’s probably earned three weeks in Oz with a group of has-beens and never-were’s.
It has been nearly two months since the general election, and if I am honest, I still haven't quite gotten over it. So much so, that in the weeks since, I had all but switched off from politics altogether. But life goes on, and so should I. So should we all. I’m wondering, what have I missed? Where are we now? The answer, or rather answers, appear to be chaos, and chaos. If you relied solely on the mainstream media, you will be all too aware that the Trump administration is in chaos. You might however, be slightly less aware that the May administration (can we call it that?) is similarly in chaos. Traditional news outlets in the UK appear to be keen report on the revolving door in the West Wing, whilst less eager to make anything of a spate of departures from Team Theresa. Are we not supposed to notice? Or is it just that in the “national interest”, what with Brexit and everything, we are expected to do our “patriotic duty” (as BritNats!) and pretend we don't notice?
Those of us on social media sometimes like to think we are better informed. If we are, you would think that we would use this to our advantage, particularly those of us who support the independence movement, given that the aforementioned mainstream media is all but exclusively in favour of the Union. What we ought to be doing, is highlighting their bias, and the utter ineptitude of Theresa May, David Davis, Liam Fox, and other ministers responsible for Brexit, haranguing them for the unmitigated mess they’ve made of it so far. Who will say it was unreasonable to have expected the Prime Minister and her Cabinet to have ironed out any disagreements amongst themselves, before attempting to negotiate any agreement with the EU.
But no. Instead, the independence is in danger of also slipping into chaos, determined to outdo the sort of infighting that hamstrung the Labour Party for so long. The most obvious example of this in the last week or so, you will no doubt be aware, surrounds Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland fame, and whether or not he is a homophobe, or more specifically, whether a tweet he tweeted was homophobic. I saw the tweet, shortly after he tweeted it, and I laughed out loud. It never entered my head for a second that it might be interpreted as homophobia. Indeed, when Kezia Dugdale stood up in Parliament and called upon the First Minister to condemn Stuart Campbell and Wings Over Scotland, again, I saw this as it happened, and my first thought was that this is a piece of puerile political opportunism.
I could, of course, be completely wrong. It might be that Kezia Dugdale, like an ex of mine, sees life almost entirely through a pink prism, interpreting just about everything, down to a nod from a neighbour in place of a ‘hello’, as a homophobic snub. I would argue, that if anything, Stuart Campbell’s tweet was Mundellophobic, and some might well ask, is it any bloody wonder?
Let’s be quite clear here. Kezia Dugdale used her position as an MSP to “call-out” (another irritant of a phrase, up there with ‘going forward”) and condemn an pro-independence blogger for homophobia. That’s fine, she’s perfectly entitled to do that. The problem with this is that Stuart Campbell, and plenty of others, gay, straight, or otherwise, (https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/throwing-some-light-on-throwing-shade/) who do not believe that the tweet in question was in any way homophobic, nor that the man is inherently a homophobe. In fact, in stating otherwise, he believes Kezia Dugdale has defamed him. As such, he is perfectly entitled to seek legal recourse. It is irrelevant that Dugdale is gay. Or a woman. Or a politician. Absolutely irrelevant.
To make matters worse, the whole sorry affair has ignited an(other) intra-indy movement spat, the main protagonists of which are Stuart Campbell’s Wings, and Angela Haggerty's CommonSpace. It would be beyond ridiculous for anyone to suggest that Haggerty, Jordan Daly (https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/11424/jordan-daly-why-we-should-back-kezia-dugdale-and-send-wings-over-scotland-packing), or anyone else, shouldn't ‘side’ with Kezia on this one. If they believe what they believe, and they feel what they feel, that's just how it is. It is also altogether perfectly reasonable, is it not, for people like Jonathan Rimmer (https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/3947/jonathan-rimmer-we-need-to-talk-about-wings-over-scotland) to take exception with Campbell’s more controversial outpourings?
That being said, if the independence movement is to have any hope of overcoming the might of the British State, the British Establishment, and it’s relentless, well-resourced propaganda machine, it has to pile all of its finite resources into attacking those, instead of squabbling amongst ourselves. The SNP does not speak for every independence supporter all of the time. Neither does Wings. Or CommonSpace. Or anyone else. Surely we all realise that?
Writers and speakers, journalists and politicians, you and I, none of us has a right to tell another what to read, and what to think. If you believe Stuart Campbell is a homophobe, fair enough. I don’t. I’ll keep reading Wings, and I’ll keep reading CommonSpace for that matter. And when I do, without a doubt, I’ll snort and tut and shake my head when I read something that I disagree with, or dislike, and I will, often. But I am absolutely sure I’ll see and hear far less that I like and agree with, in the Mail and the Record, the Express and on the BBC, or SKY, among others. The British State, the Establishment, are past masters at divide and rule. We know this, yet we still fall for it. Put simply, stop it.
I confess, cautious as I am, I had wondered about the wisdom of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP's decision to announce their preferred timetable for a second independence referendum, so soon in the Brexit process. This was, by and large, for two reasons. Firstly, I never expected, nor did there transpire, any Brexit bounce in support for Scottish independence. Secondly, Sturgeon and the SNP left themselves exposed, at risk from events outside their control, which, as we have seen, came quickly, in the guise of an early general election.
Perhaps predictably, the election in Scotland became something of a referendum on a second independence referendum, where the SNP seemed unable to stop Ruth Davidson controlling the narrative. It was, in the end, a straightforward fight between unionists and nationalists. And, such is first past the post, though the SNP comfortably won a majority of seats in Scotland, the parties of the Union won a clear majority of votes.
Inevitably, as is the way with by far and away the majority of the mainstream media, this has been portrayed as a catastrophe, a disaster, a humiliation, and of course, as a slap-down, for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. I disagree. It is, I believe, at the very most, a minor setback. That being said, things could, and quite probably will, get worse before they get better.
I fear, should there be another general election any time soon, voters in Scotland will, in significant numbers, vote for the Labour Party, if they believe there is a probability of Jeremy Corbyn forming the next UK government. I say fear, because I suspect that the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street, will see the English will revert to type and vote Tory, particularly if, as expected, Theresa May has been consigned to the dustbin of history.
And then, Scotland will be left with 35-40 self-serving slaves to the Union, not to mention yet another Tory Government. Had Scots sensibly put independence and a second referendum to one side, and simply stuck with the SNP, it is highly likely Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister today. Should there be another general election, it seems to me that it is again clear: Scots should hedge their bets and vote SNP. A minority Labour Government, sustained by the SNP, and perhaps the Liberal Democrats, in a progressive alliance, would leave Scotland's options open, and that has to be for the best.
As for independence, and a second referendum, all that is required is a little patience and a lot of perseverance. I fully expect that sooner or later, as the realities of Brexit become clear, or begin to bite, a majority of Scots will see that the United Kingdom is fast becoming Little England, and come to the conclusion, to borrow a phrase from Brexiteers, it is not what they signed up for in 2014, and that the only way forward is for Scotland to shake off the shackles of the sclerotic union.
On hearing that Theresa May had decided, after all, that she would hold a snap election, a close friend of mine remarked, that at least I would have plenty to write about for the next month or so. Yet, here we are, with just a few days to go until polling day, and I have written very little, so detached, to the point of disinterest, have I felt from the campaign. This is, in no small way, due to the fact that I cannot help but view this election, as little more than an exercise in England choosing the extent to which it will self-harm, hurting the rest of us in the process.
It is no longer absolutely certain who will be Prime Minister after June 8th. What I can say with absolute certainty however, is that regardless of who that is, he, or she, will not have been my choice. In the weeks, months, and years since the Scottish independence referendum, just about everything the British Establishment has done, has pretty much destroyed any sense of Britishness I had left.
In fact, I have come to see Britishness as nothing more than an artificial construct, cunningly and cleverly designed to convince those of us who are not English, that we are all Brits together, a family of nations, a partnership of equals. This is, as we have seen, absolute nonsense. In reality, when push comes to shove, in the United Kingdom, as far as the British Establishment is concerned, it is only Englishness that matters. Why else are Team Theresa determined to pursue a one size fits all Brexit?
Despite what we are told, it is not that there cannot be a differentiated Brexit deal for Scotland, it is simply that the Tories do not want there to be. Never mind that they will not risk Scotland getting a better deal than England and Wales, Theresa May has made it quite clear, as far as she is concerned, Scotland and England have drifted apart quite enough. The British Establishment, ever obsessed with status, are no doubt aware, though they deny it, that Brexit means Britain is unavoidably diminished. Should the United Kingdom break up, with Scotland, of invaluable economic and strategic importance, seceding, Britain/England, would be humbled further still. And that would be more than they could bear.
Having said all of that, there is no doubt in my mind, that it would be better for Scotland if England were to put Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street, preferably in a minority government, perhaps in a confidence and supply pact with the SNP. Supposing such a scenario were to come about, it is debatable just how differently a Corbyn administration would be allowed to do things, given that the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party are card-carrying members of the British Establishment, first and foremost, snouts firmly in the trough, fully signed up to the morally bankrupt socio-economic consensus that continues to hold sway. Even so, curtailed or not, Corbyn would be nothing, if not a much needed breath of fresh air.
Somewhat ironically, as the campaign has worn on, Jeremy Corbyn looks and sounds ever more statesmanlike, whereas Theresa May is increasingly anything but strong and stable. Given how severely she struggled in the televised Q&A sessions, it is easy to see why see opted not to take part in televised debates with the other party leaders. If it were not so excruciatingly embarrassing, one might be inclined to grudgingly admire her for failing to answer a single question with anything of any substance whatsoever.
From everything I have seen and heard, there is little doubt in my mind, that of all the party leaders, Nicola Sturgeon, our First Minister, has consistently come across best. It is worthwhile mentioning that wherever and whenever Angus Robertson, SNP Depute Leader, has spoken for the SNP, he too is altogether more commanding than any rival. Like them, or loathe them, the SNP are doing what they believe is best for Scotland.
Until recently, however mistaken I believe them to be, I would have accepted that the same could be said for Kezia Dugdale and the Labour Party in Scotland. No longer. It is clear, that for them, it is the Union above all else, even, if it comes to it, where that is demonstrably not what is best for Scotland. So much so, they would rather see Scotland return Tory, over SNP MP’s to Westminster, apparently unconcerned that this is only likely to condemn us all to another term of Dickensian dystopia. Absolutely astonishing, no? Is it really worth risking that, simply to preserve a Union that, by the end of the Brexit negotiations, may, or may not, make less sense than ever? I would have thought, that now more than ever, here in Scotland, we keep our options open. The only way to do that, is by voting SNP on Thursday.
Shortly after Theresa May took over from David Cameron, a friend and I had a disagreement, which I am sure was replicated up and down the land. He felt strongly, that as an ‘unelected Prime Minister’, May was, or should have been, compelled to call a general election. Though no Tory, I took the opposite view. I pointed out, the for better or worse, the United Kingdom is a parliamentary, rather than a presidential, or even semi-presidential (like France) democracy. It is quite straightforward, we, the electorate, vote for a candidate to become our MP, not PM.
My friend stated that he believed most people, these days, voted for the candidate belonging to the party whose leader they wanted to be the next Prime Minister. I countered that I believed this to be overstated, that there were many voters who held a particular candidate, more often than not, a sitting MP, in high regard, and/or affection.
Similarly, there are, I argued, a great many people who have always voted for, and will continue to vote for a particular party. That being said, party loyalties perhaps are not what they once were. One only has to look at the demise of the once dominant Labour Party in Scotland. Then there are those in the middle, for whom the like of Blair, Cameron, Clegg and the like, are pretty interchangeable. Today, not yet a year later, I find myself reconsidering.
It seems to me, that the media, and many politicians, are keen for this general election to be fought largely as if it were a presidential election, with the personalities (or, lack thereof) of the two main rivals given more prominence than ever before. Somewhat ironically, whilst we have become used to, and now even expect, the leaders’ debates, which we first saw here in 2010, and again in 2015, Theresa May is not taking part, and because not, neither is Jeremy Corbyn.
Despite attempts from politicians, including Boris Johnson (just this morning on Peston on Sunday), ably assisted by much of the media, to make #GE2017 all about May versus Corbyn, thus making this general election the most presidential in style yet, the only two people with a realistic chance of being Prime Minister after June 8th, are not taking part in head to head debates, with each other, and with the leaders of the other ‘major’ political parties.
Theresa May’s decision not to take part, could be construed as arrogance, or cowardice, or both. With a consistently commanding lead for the Tories in the polls, one can see how she might have come to the conclusion that it is an unnecessary risk for her to take part. Although Corbyn has repeatedly challenged May to take part in a debate, I cannot help but find his refusal to do so, unless the Prime Minister does, downright disrespectful to those of us who vote for alternatives to the Labour and the Tories.
How depressing, that in this general election, arguably the most important in a generation, all that the mainstream media seems to want to do is sow doubt about Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to Britain’s nuclear Viagra, and repeatedly cast up his refusal to unequivocally condemn the IRA, whilst mostly glossing over Theresa May’s many deficiencies.
Indeed, they appear to be doing everything they can to talk up the Tories chances, nowhere more so that here in Scotland. Ah, well, at least we have our leaders’ debates to look forward to, though something tells me that talk of a second independence referendum will take up more time than it probably ought to.
It is official. This afternoon, the Prime Minister, standing outside 10 Downing Street, let there be no doubt, Brexit has driven the British Establishment batshit crazy. It was bad enough, when late last year, the Daily Mail labelled three high court judges “Enemies of the People”, for ruling that the Government could not use royal prerogative to invoke article 50, and those still opposed to Brexit as “Bremoaners”, accusing them of a plot to “subvert the will of the British people”.
Things got even more sinister, when failed, former Tory leader, Michael Howard claimed that Theresa May would go to war to protect Gibraltar. But at least that could be more or less written off as an unhelpful intervention from a daft old duffer, craving attention. Not so today. Today’s madness came from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, herself. She said,
“In the last few days we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be. Britain's negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press. The European Commission's negotiating stance has hardened. Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election that will take place on June 8.”
It seems as though Theresa has gone all Trump on us, imagining interference, where there is none. It may well be that Team Theresa, do in fact believe, as the Daily Mail (again) would have it, that the EU are “ganging up” on them. What did they expect? The EU and the UK were never going to be negotiating on equal terms. One is a supranational union, a members only club, among the world’s largest trading blocs, made up of 27 nations, the other is not. The other, having decided to leave the EU, is just an ordinary medium sized country, made up of four nations, the largest of which still harbours a strong (if utterly deluded) sense of exceptionalism.
The British Establishment have no cause for complaint. If they were in a position to bully and berate, to domineer and dominate the EU, then they would not hesitate for one minute to do so. It is what they do, and what they have always done, whenever they have been in a position to do so. You do not have to look any further than here in Scotland to see that. We are told not only what we need, what we want, and what we will get, but that we must also be grateful for it.
Unless the EU, by some miracle or other, can bring enough influence to bear upon the British public, as to deliver a Liberal Democrat government on June 8th, there is little or nothing to be gained by making “threats” and “misrepresentation”, as the Theresa May, rather hysterically suggested. I strongly suspect that her words were deliberately designed to infuriate Brexiteer Little England, resulting in voters rallying behind the Tories at the ballot box. If so, it is contemptible, cynical, and not at all clever, though it will most probably work (with readers of the Daily Mail and the like, at any rate).
Though the British Establishment, deluded and lacking self-awareness, have yet to accept that they are just not going to get a better deal out of the EU, than in, Team Theresa perhaps have. As ever, the Tories are utterly incapable of seeing beyond the immediate to short-term. This, as far as I can recall, has been the case my entire lifetime. It partly explains why the UK is in the state that it is in. Do we, in Scotland, really need to be saddled with such short-sighted stupidity?
I am not entirely sure why, for she is after all, just another Tory, but I had expected something better from Theresa May. Perhaps it was simply that she is not another effete Old Etonian, or another cardboard cutout London millionaire, or another shiny, shallow, showman in the mould of Tony Blair. It does not really matter, what does, is that she has been, and continues to be, deeply disappointing. There is, you might say, more of Gordon Brown, than Tony Blair, about her.
Ten years ago, if you recall, there had been speculation in the autumn, that Brown, having taken over as Prime Minister from Blair that summer, with the polls in his favour, would call a snap general election and secure himself a personal mandate. Brown famously got cold feet, bottled it, and would go on to loose the 2010 general election. I imagine that Mrs May, mindful of Brown’s fate, was keen to avoid making the same mistake. One can only speculate as to how far parallels with the past, might have influenced her apparent volte-face.
Unfortunately for Theresa May, far from ending unhelpful comparisons with Gordon Brown, this election has thus far highlighted more similarities. Like Brown before her, May is an uninspiring public speaker, and an uninspired public performer. And like Brown before her, she prefers the safety of stage management and a sympathetic audience, to the uncertainty of the unscripted.
Similarly, in Scotland at least, May seems unwilling to engage with ordinary voters, despite what we are to believe about the Tories mounting a magnificent comeback, exactly twenty years after being completely wiped out. Instead, the Prime Minister spoke to a select few, not all of whom seemed happy to be there, in a glorified garden shed, somewhere in rural Aberdeenshire.
We were told that this was Team Theresa campaigning in Scotland. Preaching to the converted, and the possibly paid, does not, in my view, amount to campaigning. Nor does engaging in an excruciatingly awkward and artificial, mutual back-slapping exercise with Ruth Davidson.
We also discovered that Team Theresa does not like it when other parties, especially the SNP, 'disrupt' the election, by actually campaigning. Campaigning for their cause, for what they believe in, against hard Brexit, against a cruel and callous Conservative Government at Westminster.
It seems to me that this election is nothing short of a right-wing coup, a brazen power grab by the Brexiteers. If you are inclined to label such talk as hysteria, I implore you to look at the evidence. Despite what the Prime Minister has said, there is little or no indication that Westminster is determined to frustrate Brexit, or that an increased majority will strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU. Quite the opposite in fact. What this election appears to be about, is an opportunistic attempt to crush the opposition, which will diminish democracy, by stifling scrutiny of the Brexit process.
It is not only the Brexit process that Team Theresa are keen to keep to themselves. They are determined to fight this general election on their own terms too. It cannot be right that the Prime Minister renders the Leaders Debates, which have become in integral, and indispensable part of election campaigns, obsolete.
Never forget, the Tories successfully ended mass organised opposition by neutering the Trades Unions, through the destruction of heavy industry. If the Tories become as powerful as they were in the early to mid 1980's, they will accelerate the privatisation of the NHS and the dismantling of the Welfare State, and there will be nothing anyone can do to stop it.
In other words, the Tories want to do away with everything that is supposedly great about this Union. They do not care about people, they care about profit. They do not want to speak for Scotland, they want to silence us. Let's make sure Team Theresa do not break out of their barn in Banchory, and reject the Tories at the ballot box, yet again.
In the week since the Prime Minister announced a general election for June 8th, plenty has been said about the whys and wherefores. From what I've seen and heard, almost everyone is agreed, this general election will be quite unlike any other.
Except in exceptional circumstances, general elections are fought on the economy, education, health, and law and order. Not so this time, for try as some no doubt will, there are two inescapable, overarching issues that will undoubtedly colour everything else.
You know it, I know it, hell, everybody knows it. A second Scottish independence referendum and Brexit, are what it is all about.
As ever, the result in England will more or less determine who it is that forms the next government at Westminster. If the polls are to be believed, that is already a foregone conclusion. Perhaps so, but I wouldn't be so sure that Team Theresa will end up with the sort of majority that would have made even Tony Blair blush. The polls could be anything from flattering the Tories, to all out misleading. Six weeks is a long time in politics, and anything, as we have seen before, can happen.
As things stand, the Tories have very nearly all of the mainstream media behind them. Even the precious few who are inclined to the left-of-centre, who would prefer Brexit-lite, are hostile toward Jeremy Corbyn. I can only assume that the British Establishment are so totally and utterly terrified at the prospect of Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell getting their grubby little hands on the levers of power, lest they really, properly change things. By change things, I mean crazy, catastrophic (for the Establishment) stuff, like forcing the obscenely rich, and international corporations, to contribute, to pay meaningful taxes just like the rest of us.
I fully expect that next month and half will be little more than a sustained assault on Jeremy Corbyn, claiming he is a danger to Brexit, a danger to the economy, a danger to our security, and an existential threat to the Labour Party. In reality, he is a danger to the Establishment. Not only might he hit them in the pocket, and dismantle their pantomime system of patronage, worse still, he could uncover all their (alleged) seedy, sinister cover-ups.
Up until 2015, Labour could be relied upon to win the lion's share of seats in Scotland. No longer. As things stand, there is no such thing as a safe seat north of the border. It seems unlikely that the SNP will repeat their astonishing feat of winning all but three seats, though not impossible. If their vote holds firm at around 45%, there is little reason to imagine they won't retain a healthy majority of the seats they won just two short years ago.
Labour, of all the parties in Scotland, arguably has the hardest task. They have two wars to wage, one on the SNP, and another on the Tories. It is a formidable challenge, made all the harder by the fact that for most of the last fifty years or so, the Labour Party hasn't had to "fight" a general election in Scotland. They simply had to field candidates, and most of them would be elected.
The Tories will be quite content with any outcome in Scotland that they can spin as a retrograde step for the SNP, a sign that "peak-Nat" has passed, that there is no stomach for a second independence referendum. God forbid they actually take a few seats from they SNP, and it will be hailed as a stunning success, a victory for the ages.
There is a great deal of talk about tactical voting. Here in Scotland, and I could be wrong, I would have thought that would be a very risky path for the Unionist/Brit-Nat parties to go down. We all know what happened to the Labour vote last time they were seen to have openly colluded with the Tories. It is hard to see died in the wool Tories voting Labour, and vice-versa. Are people really as passionate as all that about “our precious union”, or is it for fear of change that they opt for the status quo, shite though that may be? Could they, all of them, get behind a (less offensive?) Lib-Dem candidate? Who knows. If they did, they'd all be as well disbanding and forming the Scottish Unionist Party. Let’s be honest, would we really notice; almost all of them are fully signed up members of the economic and social consensus (I am never entirely sure if it is neoliberal, or neoconservative) that has held sway for the last 40 years (despite the fact that it failed, and imploded in 2007-08).
If nothing else, we live in interesting times. We have to hope that the pro-Scottish, i.e SNP vote holds up, anything else will be an act of astounding self-harm. For goodness sake, even if you don’t want independence, don’t sell your soul and vote Tory, as there will be a heavy, heavy price to pay. If it comes to it, you can always vote no in another referendum (though I’d really rather you didn’t). Surely it is better to have 56 belligerent SNP MP's at Westminster, holding the government to account, than 40 something Labour sheep, and few Tory toffs, contributing very little, whilst trousering quite a lot.
Team Theresa have let go of reality. They have convinced themselves that by turning back the clock, to blue passports, HMY Britannia, Downton Abbey class structure, and doing away with the Welfare State, (don’t be surprised if the poorhouse/workhouse makes a comeback), Brexit Britain will regain the (not so) glory days of old. In order to sustain their ludicrous fantasy, they have called this election, to destroy, as best they can, any dissent. And if they can put we Scots back in our box, all the better.
For some time now, I've been trying to approach everything with a positive mental attitude, correcting myself wherever and whenever I catch negativity creeping in. This includes anger and annoyance. Suffice it to say, that sometimes, some things get the better of me, often stupid things, though by no means always.
As an example, now, whenever David 'Euphegenia Doubtfire' Mundell, Secretary of State for Larry the Cat, appears on the radio, or television, claiming to know that he, the only Tory MP elected in Scotland, knows what is that Scots want, I simply shake my head and roll my eyes, whereas before, I'd have shouted a lot whilst foaming at the mouth. It is the same with Ruth 'Warrior Unionist' Davidson.
I confess, I find it a little harder to keep my cool when politicians from England, be they the Mayor of London, the Leader of the Opposition, or the Prime Minister, come to Scotland and tell us not only what we want, or need, but also what we will get and that we will damned well like it. If I understood correctly, Theresa May told the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party conference, in as many words, that we've had quite enough devolution thank you very much, there'll be no more of that. As for Brexit, I'd have thought 'bespoke' and 'one size fits all' were mutually exclusive, but Team Theresa appear to think otherwise.
Just who do these people think they are kidding? What on earth possesses Khan, Corbyn, and May, to believe that they have their finger on the pulse in Scotland, whilst claiming that Scottish Government are out of touch? They clearly don't have the slightest clue about Scots, or Scotland. If Davidson and Mundell are May's eyes and ears in Scotland, then she really is none the wiser. As for Corbyn, I'm not convinced he even speaks to Kezia Dugdale or Ian Murray, and if he did, it wouldn't help him any.
It seems to me, and I've said this before, and I'm not alone, that the Tories have taken the result of the 2014 independence referendum to mean that Scotland submitted to being slapped around by Tory England for all eternity. It didn't, or at any rate, I sincerely hope not.
Assuming there is to be a second independence referendum, and it's looking ever more likely, just imagine what the Tories will do in the event of another 'NO' vote. We would be as well to stop calling ourselves Scots from Scotland. The Barnett Formula would most likely end up in the bin, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they did away with Holyrood and made Ruth Davidson Viceroy. We already know many within the Tory party have barely concealed contempt for Scotland, they'd have no respect for us whatsoever should the worst happen, and you'd be forgiven for thinking, why should they, if we've no respect for ourselves.
To those who will claim that it is not Scots or Scotland, that the Tories at Westminster hold in contempt, but Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, and the SNP, I would say that's exactly what they would like you to believe. If the Tories seemed less hostile when Scotland was largely represented by Labour MP's, it is because they knew, when push came to shove, loyalties lay with the Union first, Scotland second. No, contempt on the Tory benches for the SNP MP's at Westminster is as much contempt for you, or me. It boils their blood that Scots dare stand up for Scotland, threatening the last vestiges of 'British' dominance.
When the time comes, you can be sure, should we fail to grasp the gift of a second opportunity to do things by ourselves, for ourselves, in the Tories eyes we will be reduced from being a boil on England's backside to being the shit under England's shoe. It will very quickly come to feel like that too.