As American satirists might put it, witnessing the utter chaos that is Westminster politics, this is a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
If you stand well back, see the disarray that is the Northern Ireland assembly, stare in jaw dropping amazement at the pathetic inadequacies of Westminster politicians under stress, and accept that the Welsh Assembly still doesn’t know if it’s administrating a province or nation, you come to the inescapable conclusion the only truly “strong and stable” parliament in the entire UK is in Edinburgh. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
During Thatcher’s era the cross channel ferry Herald of Free Enterprise rolled over on its side when somebody forgot to close the bow gates on leaving port. 193 passengers perished. It stood as a symbol of Thatcher’s era. Today, the fiery inferno of Grenfell Tower that will be deathly May’s symbol of extreme capitalism.
By a dire response to losing an election, a pitiful response to the Tower conflagration, we see the disintegration of Westminster as an interventionist force for good.
Delay upon delay
Before the conflagration, while the Tory party reeled from the outcome of an election no one needed, Brexit negotiations got delayed, the Queens Speech also delayed, normal Westminster work delayed, all while the Tory Party discuss tearing up the Good Friday Agreement to save their skins and retain power.
Just as Ruth Davidson saw bigots and extremists recruited to her Scottish ranks, so May is faced with marches by the Orange Lodge as the price she must pay for retaining power. What will HRH have to say in her speech to open England’s Parliament? “My government will ban homosexuality, introduce Creationism and the teaching of flute playing in all schools”.
Meanwhile apologetic new recruits to the Tory party and old promoted ones continue to spout inane Mayisms – they explain how May felt she needed a gigantic mandate to renegotiate the best deal from the European Union in place of the big mandate she already had but didn’t want. This time, journalists react with derisory laughter.
This is a government in chaos by any standards.
Independence marches on
The loss of some Westminster SNPs was easy to predict. When you have almost filled your quota of 59, (the dice loaded against Scotland ever governing England) the only result next time around has to be fewer elected. The SNP still won in Scotland by a large margin. The few Tories elected claim they won.
However, with Labour and Tory and Lib-Dems exalting the electorate to dump their scruples and vote tactically to oust sitting MP’s, there had to be collusion between the parties to achieve the result they managed. It was well organised, not a random result in odd places. This has nothing to do with honest political choice, everything to do with undermining the Scottish state. In a word, sedition.
The idiocy of tactical voting in this case is, 12 fewer Tory MPs and Corbyn would be in No 10 Downing Street. Well done the Labour Party of Scotland – they got less than nothing out of it.
Nothing in that act of self-harm spells the death knell of the grass roots movement for self-governance. The last poll logged over 50% in favour. Events we witness since the election ring alarm bells loud and clear – governing our own affairs is critically overdue.
A second plebiscite for electorate of Scotland to judge any deal that issues from Brexit negotiations is the people’s right. And the SNP are correct in asserting they were given that mandate in the last Scottish election, and in the General election. It was the Tory’s plan to impose the result of Brexit talks on Scotland. It was ever thus.
Reservations were few
If I had a concern about setting a precise date for a second independence referendum it was the certainty anything could happen to alter the time lapse: another terrorist assault, a law passed by Westminster blocking more than one referendum within a given time frame, an act of God. And so its transpires.
The casualty of May’s grab for extraordinary powers is the loss of the right of a Tory party to govern England or Scotland. The case for Scotland’s autonomy within a better constitutional framework is thus bolstered.
The Tory party has collapsed in ignominy and recrimination. We watch them bump into walls, repeat hackneyed phrases, and avoid answering questions. In fact, the doomed UK Prime Minister has been described by her old friend George Osborne as a ‘dead woman walking.” He’s right. He makes a better newspaper editor than he ever did a chancellor.
Of fishermen and farmers
Those who sent Tory MP’s to London in the illusion they’d be represented are the same who will scream blue murder at any loss of business grants and tax reductions. They want to keep free prescriptions, education, and pensions, an SNP priority. The men and women of Aberdeenshire are no different from the Anglophiles in the Borders, similarly far-right fans. (Maybe we should move the border up a few miles.) Those in the Borders are happy to see the new rail line bringing in investment and new residents – an SNP innovation, and nip down to the chemist for their free prescription.
A selfish vote in an election isn’t the same as one in a referendum that determines who governs Scotland, and how they will do it. The wish for real civil rights is too ingrained, too educated to let it all slide now.
Many of the new Tory MPs came from the fishers and farmers of Aberdeenshire. Some surprise. I have sympathy for fishermen’s wish to monopolise the North Sea, but what do they expect a devolved, hamstrung administration to do – send a gunboat to frighten off Russian boats fishing in Scotland’s appropriated waters?
In any event, the whole ambition of the MPs they elected is driven in one direction only – south. The newly elected wide boys fly off to London to celebrate only to find its a wake.
Of firemen and furnaces
The horrendous furnace that was Glenfell Tower brought an image of Auschwitz. Victims screamed for their lives in vain, others accepted imminent death. They were trapped in a capitalist scenario – cheap housing, cheaply built, for a society no one cares about. I believe even London’s fire engines have been gifted to a private company to rent out to save maintenance costs.
You watched people in a human filing system wail and weep and cling to each other, and you harbour morbid images of hanging racist Farage and his Blackshirts from the nearest lamppost. I can hear Farage saying in so many words it’s nothing to do with him.
May arrived late to the catastrophe. Her cabinet had deemed the fire and its consequences a civil matter, but then heard the cries of vengeance from the crowds. She dodged those shouting “Coward!” at her disappearing derriere. Interviewed in a safe studio somewhere, her answer was to throw £5 million as aid at the tragedy.
The poor are not worth it
I was reminded of a Hammer Horror film about the French Revolution. It begins with an aristocrat’s carriage running over and killing a little child. His distraught parents cradle the lifeless boy. A curtain is drawn back at a carriage window and the aristo tosses a gold coin at the parents before instructing the driver to move on. The boy’s father climbs under the chassis and holds on tight planning to murder the aristocrat when he reaches his mansion. The scene is a precursor to the start of the French rebellion against the obscenely rich in the same way the crowds in London are demanding heads roll.
Back in Blighty the old Queen did a better job of talking to casualties than Theresa May, or the totally out of his depth Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. She talked to those involved in the nightmare while one screamed in despair somewhere nearby. That clip should be replayed over and over again.
But I didn’t hear her say she will cancel the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace predicted to cost many tens of millions, and donate the cost to rehousing the survivors.
What a farce
The artificial General Election is estimated to have cost £130 million, enough to have installed high quality sprinklers in every room in Grenfell Tower, and given each person living in it £100,000. “Lesson’s will be learned” said key executives and we know they will not. But the tide is turning, for this time direct action is the result. Angry residents let their representatives know where power should lie.
Television pundits and columnists whisper they’d never seen the likes of such demonstrations in London before, as if the Toxteth riots never happened, or recent mass demonstrations in London were never ‘kettled’ and ignored by the media.
Grenfell Tower sees the aftermath of neo-liberal ideology – shock economics. No sooner had survivors found a floor to sleep upon than the council announced it could not house them all in the same burgh.
When the people are still in shock that’s the neo-con moment to alter regulations and laws, to grab land before the traumatised casualties have time to recover. Developers have wanted that land for years, its a sought-after plot.
Enter the DUP
To stay in power, May cuts a distasteful deal with the DUP. The Orange Lodge boast they are back with a bang, and will get all they can out of propping up one of the worst administrations that ever sat in a Downing Street. Or put another way, neo-fascism is here to stay. Sinn Fein perceive the danger. The party’s Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O’Neill, said: “I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP cannot be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements.” You can be sure Sinn Fein will do more than send a strongly worded letter to Downing Street.
Nicola Sturgeon demands that we know the detail of any pact with the Devil. In that too, May and her cohorts dodge questions and the press.
The deconstruction of Westminster
The world and Scotland look on, puzzled at how a nation keen to recreate itself as a great empire again can act like a banana state and drive itself into oblivion.
When May was re-elected she gave her speech while standing on a stage alongside Elmo, who got three votes, as well as Howling Laud Hope of the Monster Raving Loony Party, who got 119 votes. That’s the level of the UK’s premier politician, and she thinks she can remain in the job for the next five years.
Westminster is imploding. And as many seasoned political watchers predicted it would, it’s the English electorate who will see it change, not the Scots.
The sound of English packing their bags to live anywhere but England can be heard all over that once green and pleasant but soon to be orange and ugly land.