By Fiona Grahame
“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
Incredibly it is now over 3 years since the electorate of England and Wales advised the UK Government that they wished to leave the European Union. Valued partners in the Family of Nations the electorate of Scotland and Northern Ireland advised the UK Government that they wished to remain.
The UK is now only months away from leaving the EU with the latest extension still in place – 31st of October.
And the perception is that nothing has been happening.
Man of action, Boris Johnson, has even been elevated to the highest public position in the UK by convincing a few thousand Tory members that he is the dude that will get things done.
Has nothing been happening since 23rd of June 2016?
13th of July 2016 David Cameron left the Office of Prime Minister
13th of July 2016 Theresa May became Prime Minister of the UK
8th of June 2017 UK General Election takes place – minority Tory Government
In Scotland the SNP lose 21 MPs (35), gains by Tories of 12 (13), Labour of 6 (7) and Lib Dems of 3 (4).
7th of March 2018 the Scottish Parliament has the first reading of the Scottish Continuity Bill. The Bill would insure that there would be a ‘bridge’ on leaving the EU. That there would be continuity, a safety net for the Scottish economy so that there would be no disruption of trade, that research and funding schemes would continue, that important environmental and food safety protections would remain in place, that medical supplies would not be hindered.
The Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament on 21st of March 2018 but no legislation can become valid in Scotland until it receives Royal Assent.
17 April 2018, the UK Government’s Law Officers, the Attorney General and the Advocate General, challenged Scotland’s Continuity Bill in the Supreme Court.
26th of June 2018, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act receives Royal Assent. Crucially it now contains an amendment from the House of Lords. It significantly limits the powers of the devolved administrations so that they cannot retain a piece of EU law that has been modified by the UK government.
13 December 2018, the Supreme Court, rules that because of the passing of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act that the Scottish Parliament no longer has the powers to pass a Continuity Bill.
23rd of May 2019, despite intending to leave but because we were still in, the UK takes part in the elections to the European Parliament. It is a nightmare result for the Tories and Labour who lose 15 and 10 seats respectively. The Brexit party gains 29 seats – all in England and Wales except for 1 in Scotland. The LibDems, seemingly forgiven for their support of welfare cuts when last in power, gain 15 seats saying they will guarantee holding a ‘People’s Vote’ on EU membership. The Greens in England and Wales do well gaining 4 more seats because there is the bigger issue of a climate emergency. And in Scotland the SNP gain 1 more seat. Millions of EU citizens living in the UK are denied a vote.
24th of July 2019 Theresa May leaves the office of the Prime Minister
24th of July 2019 Boris Johnson, becomes Prime Minister of the UK.
And while this constitutional nightmare has gone on for over 3 years 72 people perished in the Grenfell Tower in one of the richest parts of London in a building where the cheapest cladding had been put on. The Fire Service, poorly equipped since Boris Johnson’s term as Lord Mayor with the swingeing cut backs he enforced, was unable to deal with a fire in a building of such height. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is still ongoing.
Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations rapporteur produced his report on poverty in the UK, the world’s 5th richest nation in May 2019. He laid the blame for the appalling poverty statistics in the UK on the ‘welfare’ policies pursued by consecutive UK Governments from the LibDem/Tory Coalition in 2010 to the current minority Tory Government.
“Much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.” Prof Alston.
Over 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty – that is 1 in 5 of the population. There are over 2000 Foodbanks across the whole of the United Kingdom, including in places like Orkney & Shetland where it was never thought such poverty could exist in our island communities in the 21st Century.
To those of you who think Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a buffoon of a man, think again. The clowning around has parachuted him into the top job in the UK. Comments appear on social media and in TV interviews from perfectly ‘nice’ people glad to see his arrival, that at last something will happen. Even if the consequences are disastrous for millions – something will happen – the dude Boris will get things done.
The most dangerous thing about these tumultuous times that we are going through is the perception that nothing has been happening.
Change has taken place.
Millions in poverty. A Scottish Parliament significantly limited in what legislation it can pass. A United Kingdom which calls itself a union but completely disregards 2 of its 4 parts. A Prime Minister leading the most right wing Government since 1945 backed up by a compliant media.
“90% of error in thinking is due to error in perception. If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.” Edward de Bono
Challenge the normalisation of poverty and the creeping compliance with right wing views.
Let Truth prevail over Power.