By Alec Ross
I was on the ferry from Belfast last night.
For those of you who enjoyed Monday’s Facebook whimsy about the woman on the boat who didn’t know where she was going, I checked with a senior staffer. I am pleased to report that last night I was definitely to be arriving in Scotland.
But what is Scotland’s destination?
In my absence there’s been a major stooshie about plans to turn Stranraer into a lorry park in the seemingly inevitable event of a no-deal Brexit and the likelihood of increased freight through Cairnryan (where the ferries have sailed from since 2011) due to the difficulties of entering the EU in Dublin from post-Brexit Holyhead.
There’s obviously concern – the roads aren’t coping at the moment, never mind with three hundred extra trucks, and the waterfront is zero percent ready.
But there’s also deflation. We’d had a summer of oyster festivals and skiffle world championships. We were already getting used to the brave, new, post-port toon. But instead we’ll be getting hundreds of lorries in a ferryless port. How very Chris Grayling.
The debate rather encapsulates the underlying problem with Scotland’s unequal and dysfunctional relationship with its nearest neighbour. The usual dullards will portray today’s Holyrood plans as yet another example of “thatessenpee” and “Sturgeon” not caring about the remote parts of Scotland, but what the hell was her Government supposed to do?
It will do what Scottish Governments always do – mitigate stuff that we didn’t want caused by wallapers that we can’t get rid of. We are the undisputed mitigation champions of the world.
Not that we’ll get any thanks for it. The people who caused this and their apologists in the press (plus useful idiots / house jocks like Alister Jack will happily put the boot in and claim that the Scottish Government is failing and the institution itself not fit for purpose). They’ll then try to further erode powers in the guise of the national interest. This is how it works. This is how fragile Scotland’s democracy is. Power devolved is power retained.
I travelled last night from a country whose peace is threatened to one whose very democracy is uncertain. Neither of these countries asked for this. And yet both these things are influenced at the whim of people who didn’t like the Belfast Agreement and who would sell their grannies if it meant the rolling back of a devolution settlement they always despised. This hardly invites confidence in a good ending.
This is what they do. They take the wings off a bird and then invite people to mock it for failing to fly.
Scotland’s talents and energies are being shamefully wasted in clearing up a mess not of its making, at a time when removing Scotland from the bouroch and becoming self-governing has long become not just an economic necessity but a moral imperative.
Our neighbours have left us. High time we set sail ourselves.