Thoughts from the Belfast Ferry

Alec RossBy Alec Ross

I see they’ve wheeled out Gordon Brown again. It feels very 2014 today. This means we’ll be independent very soon.

I just wonder. Any chance of anyone asking him what happened with the virtual home rule / near federalism that he promised when the polls got tight in 2014? Or of pointing out a major reason why we’ll be independent soon is that he failed to deliver on a vow that was never in his gift to promise, far less deliver? And who is he speaking to? And what is he for?

No danger. The wheeling out of a discredited has-been to warn of the mortal dangers of independence is in turn laughable, pathetic and slightly tragic. If that’s all they have then we’re home and hosed. Ross Thomson selling the Boris Johnson brand to Scotland just helps seal the deal.

A related thought. When BJ and Jeremy rhyming slang try to out compete each other in the “we must preserve our precious union” stakes, a decent journalist should ask the simple question that you never hear:


Deeply boring reactionaries like the British Unionists in Holyrood (and Broonie) whine on about Nicola Sturgeon’s obsession with independence and tell her to concentrate on the day job, as if

a) they’re astonished that a party formed to deliver independence wants independence and

b) that independence is an end in itself, rather than a means to delivering a better society through having the powers to do so rather than outsourcing our democracy to another country whose political beliefs are diametrically opposed to our own.

Brown talks about the threat to Scotland’s continuing membership of an archaic union without giving a single reason why this would be a bad thing, far less a reason for its continuation.

To be fair, one unionist has let the mask slip. Chancellor Phillip Hammond let the cat out of the bag when he suggested that Scotland leaving would be a bad thing because without our revenues he wouldn’t be able to end austerity early. Looks like we aren’t as poor, wee and stupid as we’re told.

Independence is simply the enabling tool. If anyone is obsessed, it’s those who would keep up in an archaic treaty having never stopped to consider why. Unionism isn’t normal. Slavish devotion to it is nothing more than an Establishment shibboleth, entirely devoid of logic. Therefore my pitch is:

“what kind of Scotland do we want ?”, followed by

“can this be delivered within an existing framework that, far from preserving Scotland’s existing powers, is aggressively undermining them?”

Or, put simply, “name something that Scotland currently does that it couldn’t continue to do when it inevitably becomes self-governing?”

(By the way – “invading oil rich countries and destabilising the planet” doesn’t count as an answer).

I’m hugely encouraged by the intervention of Gordon Brown because it means we’re nearly there. The coronation of Boris Johnson, although not yet a done deal, is still likely.

This could get us over the line. A poll last week suggested that sixty-three percent of Conservative members would happily lose Scotland if they got their post-imperial, Empire 2.0, up-yours-Jonny-foreigner Brexit. This is the sixty-three percent that will deliver the No 10 keys to the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

This would explain his curious policy of using National Insurance (not devolved) to pay for income tax (devolved) cuts for England’s wealthy. It was nothing to do with fiscal policy and everything to do with solidifying support amongst the little England reactionaries who will put him in charge of the nuclear football. Isn’t British democracy brilliant?

His thinking will be: what is best for Boris? If it’s keeping Scotland colonised or keeping Boris in Downing Street, it’s no contest. He’d let us go and wouldn’t even look back.

Gordon Brown is history. So too, soon, will be the precious, precious union.

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