Tomorrow, Wednesday, the new Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, will be in Stranraer for the Cattle Show. Columnist Alec Ross reflects on what Brexit means for his home town – and for Scotland.
By Alec Ross
A week after our local MP Alister Jack’s appointment to the position of Secretary of State for Scotland, it may be worth reflecting on the likely implications for Dumfries and Galloway – and beyond.
Mr Jack is a hardline Brexiteer in the most right-wing cabinet in British political history representing a constituency that, along with every area of Scotland, voted to remain within the European Union in 2016. And yet he is also a fully paid up member of Hard Brexit Brigade, despite the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, Liz Cameron, stating: “the economy of Scotland is on a knife’s edge”.
This goes for Dumfries and Galloway too. Despite doubling down on his assertion that things needn’t be too bad if we prepare properly, the truth is that there is no such thing as a successful Brexit, just as there is no way we can ever be fully prepared.
We can do no more than conclude that the reason Alister Jack is now a crucial member of Boris Johnson’s Government is because is is loyal to the disaster capitalist Brexit project in the way that David Mundell, to be fair to him, wasn’t. We now have an MP who appears to be actively pursuing an economic agenda detrimental to the people who actually elected him.
To give him his due, Alister Jack has some interesting ideas. He has also gone on record as being “dismissive” of the Scottish Parliament both in theory and in practice – so, under the extraordinary political system which we amazingly still put up with, the most powerful politician currently in Scotland isn’t the First Minister but a man who doesn’t want the parliament in which she sits to exist.
In his statement last week he promised to stand up against “unwanted and divisive democratic change”. And this was from a man now serving a Prime Minister elected by 0.14% of the population to lead a party polling at 20% which is leading the UK to a Brexit outcome that 74% don’t want. It’s hard to think of anything less democratic, or more divisive, than that.
It is also wholly unacceptable for him the brand the democratically elected Scottish Parliament as anti-business and committed to a higher tax ideology. Both of these statements are demonstrably untrue and he should desist from making them.
I remember being accused by more than one unionist in 2014 of “constitutional naval gazing”. But actually they missed the point. Independence – frees us from the sheer endlessness or arguing for normality and allows us to get on the nuts and bolts of the day job that we are constantly accused of not doing by a political class we didn’t vote for fixating over and existential crisis that we didn’t cause but whose death spiral we are forced to endure because we voted against ourselves five years ago.
In the modern world, the reality of a median sized country like Scotland would be so normal as to be barely worth mentioning. But what it would allow – and this goes back to Alister Jack MP – is a modern Scottish democracy where citizens of every opinion live in a place where the constitution is barely mentioned and where our political discussion can concentrate on what is good for Scotland.
I’m quite sure that, when the euphoria of his new appointment has calmed, these sentiments will be shared by Scotland’s last ever Secretary of State