state of the union
Or Boris, where’s your troosers #2:
Cards on the table. I want Scotland to have another independence referendum and I want them to bloody this Government’s collective nose. I want the Scottish nation to actively show Boris Johnson the error of his Brexit ways and I want him shunned for the rest of his natural. In a biblical scene reminiscent of the prodigal son’s return, I want them to be welcomed back to the EU fold and I want them to enjoy the vaccine-free life of European wine and roses, that was rightfully mine. And, as I was taught as a child, want doesn’t get. And two wrongs do not a right make.
England and Scotland have been drifting apart for decades and the two great political parties of the union have largely lost their Scottish dimensions. Labour, once known as the Tartan Mafia, is now viewed as a North London clique and the Tories represent nothing more than the English Nationalist Party. Factor in the two recent landslide victories in the last general election and never before has the Anglo-Scottish Union ever faced such an existential threat. Like it or not, Brexit provides Nicola Sturgeon and her nationalist stalwarts with a tangible, bona-fide grievance. However, it neither improves the economic case for independence nor, as I was only half-joking in my earlier allusion to the Scots voting with their pockets, any easier to achieve.
Sadly, Johnson is not the Superman he regards himself to be and, north of the border, he is kryptonite. A veritable chancer of privileged English arrogance with, incredibly, approval ratings worse than those of even Nigel Farage, Scottish Tories were so horrified at the prospect of a BJ premiership they allegedly organised a stop-Boris plot and called it ‘Operation A*se’ so as to be absolutely clear who they were talking about! He never tires of pointing out the frankly, now irrelevant, ‘once-per-generation’ claim but he needs to make far more positive, intellectual and economic arguments for the continuation of the Union, of which there are many and they’re not difficult to find – future oil revenues, the use of Sterling, access to the Barnett Formula, share of the national debt wrt public service, export strategy wrt the 60% that travels south, et al.
If the case for preserving a United Kingdom is monopolised by a Conservative party still pumped-up on Brexit adrenalin, then the argument will fail. The future should avoid the distasteful scene of competing nationalisms and appeal to the rational, logical sense of a shared collective endeavour. The relationship must change, perhaps decentralising more whilst remaining financially savvy, socially smart and economically coherent. Remain supporters discovered the equivalent weakness of their position too late. ‘Union Believers’ must not make the same mistake.