By Alec Ross
It’s been largely missed because of the clusterbourochomnishambles (thanks Scott Baird) down in London, but today the Scottish Government announced:
- £15m for extra learning staff.
- Commitment to make all new houses use renewable fuels by 2024.
- £1bn investment in schools.
- A new job creation scheme.
- £500m in bus transport infrastructure.
- Decarbonised railways.
- Net zero aviation in the highlands.
- A national investment bank.
- Green city deals.
- A £30m renewable heat project.
- Weans get £10 / week.
While Westminster spends today deciding whether to open or close, Holyrood announced all of this and more. It gets on with the day job. The other chamber has actually ceased to function.
The point is not to say that all of these policies are flawless and the answer to Scotland’s challenges, but by launching them – today of all days – it shows the contrast between the utter chaos of Westminster and the grown-up, modern democracy that is Scotland.
Someone asked me what could be done to save the union. The real question we should ask while London burns is: why would anyone want to?
I’ve felt for some time that Scotland has two parliaments: one which broadly represents its best interests, and one whose raison d’etre is to work against them.
Today sees Westminster at its worst and Holyrood at its best. It looks like the proroguing will happen. I’d suggest that today – indeed, the last three years – proves the utter pointlessness of any Scottish MP of any political colour going anywhere near it again when they finally bother to re-open. The proroguing of Parliament actually gives us a chance to slip back up the road never go back. To be honest, I’m not sure they’d be that bothered. In fact, that’s statistically correct – a poll recently stated that 63% of Conservative members would happily lose us for the sunlit uplands of Brexit. They’ll take some paying for without the Scottish revenues mind you – but the economic chaos will allow BJ and his disaster capitalist pals the opportunity to make the UK into the deregulated tax haven that they’ve always wanted – and from which they’ll personally benefit enormously from. The rest of us can eat cake.
We should probably let them have their Brexit, by the way. We’ve ample mandates for independence but none for stopping Brexit. I mean, imagine we’d won 52/48 in 2014 and my neighbours tried to frustrate it through the courts. We’d be livid. We should remember that we’re first and foremost a pro-independence movement – not an anti-Brexit one.
Back in the day, Margaret Thatcher believed that, should Scotland wish to be independent, all it had to do was to return a majority (in those days 37/72) of pro-independence MPs in a General Election. That itself, she believed, wasn’t just a mandate for negotiation but a mandate for independence itself.
It’s very likely that there will be a General Election on Oct 14th. Ahead of this, this Maxim of Thatcher should form the basis of the shortest manifesto in history. We get 30/59 MPs (and we’re polling at 56/59), then we’re off. And, please, no more talk about “securing a fresh mandate”. We’ve three of those already. At some point we have to use them.
Today was a glimpse of what a normal sized independent country can be, even with 85% of the powers retained by people we didn’t vote for and whose political ethos is alien to our own.
It might not be called it exactly, but the second and final independence referendum might well be held on October 14th 2019.