A colloquial cliché
There’s an idiom become fashionable in daily conversation. Considering the mammal is destined to be wiped out it by ivory poachers, there were literally and figuratively herds of them everywhere. The phrase is … ‘the elephant in the room’. If you wanted to sound smart you dropped the phrase into a debate, the big issue nobody dare discuss.
Scotland voted by a large majority to stay in Europe. England voted out. How do UK parliamentarians deal with the will of the Scottish people? As they have always done – patronise it, reject it, ignore it. Theresa May crowed “The days are over when the UK and the US intervene in the sovereignty of other countries”. Scots everywhere can allow themselves a wry smile. They know the elephant in the room is independence.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled the UK parliament must debate and vote on the efficacy of leaving the European Union. The Supreme Court ruling did two things: it reminded Scotland that any English judge with a wig on his head, straight seams in his tights, and a bottle of Scotch under his desk, can usurp Scottish Law in direct contravention of the Act of Union and Treaty.
Secondly, it completely wiped out the dubious unionist claim Scotland’s few political powers constitute authority incarnate, ever-lasting, irrevocable. They have as much value as Scottish £5 note tendered at a BNP rally.
How did Scotland arrive at where it is now?
The Scottish branch of the Labour Party moved Scotland to where it is today. As their every utterance grew indistinct from Tory ideology the SNP grew in popularity, a clear alternative to old school career politics.
It was Union Jack McConnell’s administration that abandoned the first-past-the-post in local elections to introduce proportional representation. The door was opened. Districts once diehard Labour strongholds saw new talent appearing on the electoral register, people who wanted Scotland’s voice to be heard.
McConnell’s political error freed a new democratic spirit at grass roots level. Catholics loyal to the Labour party, who wanted a good degree of self-governance suddenly found themselves among like-minds their hopes open to discussion, Labour shibboleths challenged. They saw the SNP as classless, all-encompassing that fitted their ideals.
Moreover, the SNP had a group of politicians every inch the match of Labour and Tory grandees: Alex Salmond, John Swinney, Michael Russell, Nicola Sturgeon, Angus Robertson, John Nicolson, and others, the Donald Dewers of their day but without the compromising attitude to sovereignty. The new generation of SNP politicians knew their Scottish history thoroughly, and they identified the democratic omissions that Labour had been happy to ignore for generations. What is more, they could articulate solutions. The public took note.
Within a few years the Labour group had gone through a pack of leaders in a frenzy to better the SNP’s habit of presenting the electorate with candidates of ability. Labour’s band were not fit for the job, and all strangely unable to communicate intelligence.
Labour began denouncing its own constituency. Hacks talked of the “something for nothing” society, treating the notion of state assistance fit only for condemnation. Back in the day state help was a right not a privilege. Scots did not take kindly described as welfare scroungers.
SNP very bad because its so good
In retaliation, an unimaginative Labour group threw all their energies into portraying the SNP as a semi-evil cabal of plotters in the vein of Guy Fawkes, willing to blow up the United Kingdom for a single ideal. Labour fell back on empty slogans and jeering.
Labour’s dearth of progressive ideas reached its zenith when McConnell’s administration returned £1.3 billion of funds to the UK Treasury, every penny earned by Scotland, on the basis he could find nothing to spend it on. It was an astonishingly stupid thing to do and smacked of a minor official ingratiating himself with his employers. Labour it had been in power over thirty years and had done nothing, absolutely nothing to mitigate Scotland’s social ills, nor the Tories before them.
The SNP took over administration as a minority party, and did so with tremendous gusto and efficiency much to voter’s approval, critics tried to avoid talking of SNP delivering the end of bridge tolls, a freeze on council tax, and phasing out of prescription charges.
In any event, the Holyrood Parliament had never been constructed to tackle those profound ills. That was Westminster’s job. The populace looked at the SNP and saw a breath of fresh air and good governance, compared to old guard conformity and mediocrity.
Carpet bombing no Dyson could hoover up
Throughout the Referendum on Independence Scotland sustained a bombardment of derision, a firestorm of black propaganda. Carpet bombing the natives didn’t work in Vietnam, but hell, it might work in Scotland.
It came from all sections of the British establishment, the entire English and Scottish press and media. Puerile stand-up comics took a stab at belittling Scottish mores with nothing more than a few nutritional jokes and a very bad stage-Scots accent.
The BBC, the state broadcaster, offered itself as the natural platform of truthiness to a raggle-taggle, scurrilous ‘Better Together’ campaign that relied heavily on scaring the populace, young and old, with fabricated ‘facts’ and dire warnings of doom.
On first sight it was an odd assembly of bedfellows, but in reality they had a great deal in common. Labour the traditional enemy of Tory rule now glad-handed their political opponents giving the electorate the evidence they needed to validate their suspicion the old parties were a mirror images of each other. You could not tell them apart.
Votes for Tory and labour Party collapsed.
Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes
The independence referendum lost, the SNP didn’t turn in on itself squabbling and bickering. It maintained its stance, looking like a great champion dignified in defeat who might return for a rematch once his wounds healed.
Membership shot up from around 28,000 to over 130,000 in the space of a few months. The people of Scotland were determined their just demands would not be swept into the gutter like discarded fag ends in George Square the day after the plebiscite vote.
The leading figure of Scotland’s renaissance, Alex Salmond, resigned as First Minster but did not fade into obscurity. He rose like Lazarus and got elected again as a Westminster MP reinvigorated, ready to harass the wannabee Churchills, such was his enduring popularity. His enemies retired, lost their political posts, or worse, were elected to the House of Lords confirming their hypocrisy to alert voters. Salmond’s redoubtable colleague, Nicola Surgeon, took his place as First Minister, and proved to be more popular than Amazon’s Game of Thrones.
Enemies of democracy thought eradicating the SNP would cleanse Scotland of rebellion.
The damn Scots think Scotland belongs to them
With only 32% of England’s electorate backing them, Tories took power at Westminster. They began rolling back decades of progressive policies to impose more neo-liberal dogma. The worst scenario predicted by the SNP came to pass.
Prime Minister David Cameron, fresh from winning the Scottish Referendum by a small margin of anglophiles, the Queen still ‘purring’ in his ear, immediately proclaimed English laws for English votes, letting the Scots know they may have been induced to stay in the UK but they’re not entitled to the full English breakfast.
Balls high, Cameron laid down a Bill for a Referendum on membership of the European Union. He thought to silence his own backbench whiners who believed only Etonians are humans fit for governance. Scotland wanted to join the international world on its own terms, England wanted to exclude the international world on its own terms.
To the nation’s shock Cameron lost the EU Referendum, resigned, and the unelected Theresa May, an ordinary politician of no discernible ability, slipped into number 10 Downing Street as UK prime minister.
She wore an off-the-peg tartan trouser suit for the occasion, an urban icon created by clothes designer Vivienne Westwood. Unlucky for May and posterity’s indelible images, Westwood is a passionate advocate of Scottish independence.
History repeats itself
When it comes to Scotland’s democratic rights England’s parliament has only two modes, indifference or riding roughshod over Scotland’s interests. It was so in the late 1600s and the same today. As in 1707, Scotland makes plain it prefers good relations with European nations, England does not. With some minor reservations Scotland voted overwhelmingly in the Brexit referendum to remain partners with Europe, as did 98% of loyal Brit Gibraltarians also ignored by the harbingers of British national chauvinism.
Theresa May promised that Scotland would be consulted on the new world order, which is the same as the old world order but without the protection of human rights. She lied. To English supremacists, cooperation is for frogs, wops, tulip chasers, Pollacks, and onion Johnnies. It was a promise that was never going to be honoured.
The distant rumble isn’t thunder, it’s an elephant stampede
To Scotland’s eyes the Tory Party in London is intolerant of other cultures. The British Labour Party is unable to stand up straight and support its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Liberal Democrats pretend they are a political party while sounding like a boy scout troupe lost without a compass. Ukip has fallen apart, its former leader Nigel Farage become everything he detests, an economic migrant. But the racism that lies in the heart of English xenophobia won’t be curbed. It will grow and grow.
Unique in its history, Scotland holds in its hands the fate of its sister nations. The pachyderm in the Unionist room is no domesticated Indian elephant. It’s a very large angry tartan mammoth getting tetchier by the minute continually fed dry peanuts.