The iceberg and the lifeboat
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If you ever needed evidence about Boris Johnson’s poor judgement, you only had to learn that he’s selected Ross Thomson as his Scottish campaign manager and advisor on Scottish matters to have your worst suspicions amply confirmed. Actually, if you needed evidence about Boris Johnson’s poor judgement, you must live in some alternate universe where Boris Johnson is an artificial life form created from the very best genes of Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Bez from the Happy Mondays. In this universe he’s an artificial life form created from an abandoned mattress, a bin fire, and an Eton education.
Boris Johnson is a politician who has as many enemies within his own party as he has outwith it. There are already rumours and threats that his premiership could end up as the shortest on record, and Conservative remainers are lining up to tell the media that they might consider voting down a Boris Johnson government. There are legions of Conservatives MPs who long for nothing more than getting close to Boris Johnson, just so that they can knife him in the back, or even the front. Michael Gove is the least of his worries. When, Carrie Symonds permitting, Boris Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister, he’s going to want to ensure that he’s surrounded by people he can trust.
One Scottish Tory MP has supported Boris like a demented fanboy since the very beginning. He’s been seen hanging about outside rooms where the man he stans is speaking in the hope that he’ll be noticed. There’s been no one more faithful to the Borisocracy than Ross Thomson, unless you count a small and not very bright dog slabbering on your lap. Which is also a good description of Ross, come to think of it. David Mundell, who hasn’t resigned yet, might find that he doesn’t need to resign after all, because he’ll be sacked. We’re facing the very real possiblity of living in a UK where Boris Johnson is in Number 10, Nigel Farage heads the party that leads in the opinion polls, and Ross Thomson is the Secretary of State for Scotland, the triumvirate of trash.
Things are so bad that there’s been a Broontervention for the very first time. Again. The Gordosaur has weighed in, speaking before an invited audience of people who’d signed a sworn statement to treat him with the reverence due to the Second Coming of Jesus. Gordie doesn’t actually walk on water, but he does pace up and down the carpet and that’s the next best thing. Afterwards he answered some questions that had been submitted in advance and pre-approved. Gordie doesn’t do critical audiences or submit to random questioning. He’s very like Boris Johnson in that respect. Then without a smidgeon of self awareness he told us all the things that have gone wrong with British politics as though he wasn’t responsible for any of it.
It’s all the fault of the Tories for their narrrow nationalism. It’s all the fault of Boris Johnson for undermining Scotland’s place in the UK and threatening the Barnett formula. It’s all the fault of the SNP for their “hard independence”, which is a new thing that only exists in the Brooniverse. Hard independence doesn’t actually exist, it’s just Gordie’s rhetorical attempt to draw an artificial equivalence between the hard Brexit being purveyed by Boris Johnson and Scottish independence. It’s like drawing an equivalence between an iceberg and a lifeboat.
Gordie railed against Boris Johnson as a purveyor of “narrow, dogmatic nationalism.” Because when Gordie ripped off a slogan from the far right and traipsed about the land promising “British jobs for British workers” that wasn’t narrow and dogmatic nationalism at all. Demanding that other people are held to standards that he himself doesn’t have to live up to is the very essence of Borishness. It might not be a lesson that the Conservative leadership candidate learned from Gordie Broon, but it’s certainly a practice that Gordie is as much a master of as any Eton schoolboy with a sense of entitlement.
The Union is under threat! Railed the man who’d vowed solemnly to the people of Scotland that he personally was going to ensure that the parties in the Better Together campaign were going to fulfil the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in order to secure the No vote in 2014, and then he buggered off in a sulk and did nothing while Labour, the Tories, and the Lib Dems played devolution jenga in the Smith Commission. He said nothing when the British government sought a court ruling to establish that one of Gordie’s key vows – that no Westminster government would change the powers of Holyrood without Holyrood’s consent – had no force in law. He said nothing when the British government used Brexit as an excuse to unilaterally undermine the devolution settlement. He said nothing when it was revealed that the Tories are seeking to wrest control from Holyrood and have UK government departments spend directly in areas of devolved competence.
The union is under threat. You don’t say Gordie, you don’t say. It’s all the fault of the Tories. It’s all the fault of the SNP. It’s all the fault of everyone except the man responsible for the Vow who then walked away from the commitments and promises that it contained. It’s the fault of everyone except the man who swore to the people of Scotland that he’d stand up for their interests and would personally hold the political establishment to account, and who then swanned off and washed his hands. Even Pontius Pilate took more responsibility.
Maybe, just maybe, if the former Prime Minister faced up to his own role in putting the Union at threat he might be a more credible advocate for saving it, but as things stand even BBC Scotland is finding it difficult to work up much enthusiasm for his self-serving pronouncements. The lead item on the lunchtime news from Pacific Quay was that there had been a lot of rain in Stirling. When the Scottish news leads with a story that it has rained in Scotland instead of telling us that Gordie has been Broontervening again, you can take that as a sign that even BBC Scotland knows that any influence Gordie Broon once had has been washed down the drains.
The reason that the union is under threat is because successive British politicians don’t take responsibility for their failures, and within the UK the people of Scotland have no means of holding them to account. If Gordon Brown really wants to understand why the UK is on the verge of dissolving, why the charlatan Boris Johnson is arranging the removal vans to move into Number 10, he could start by taking a long hard look at himself in the mirror.
The UK ship of state is sinking because its short sighted and self-serving political class deliberately sailed it into the iceberg of Brexit. Scottish independence is the lifeboat.