Welcome to Scotland. As you’ve finally crossed the border (quite a feat, given that you’ve been denying its very existence recently), and as we only seem to hear from you when we’re looking like walking away, I’m looking forward to a blether. Nothing like an eight point deficit in the polls and an approval rating nearly a hundred points behind our own First Minister to concentrate the mind I suppose. A commentator today said you could be remembered as the man who “lost” Scotland. It was, I thought, an interesting choice of words, as it presumes that Scotland’s is yours to lose. It isn’t. Sovereignty here rests with the people, and I thought a keen student of history like yourself would have known that. We, not you, get to decide whether we stay or go. We might as well get that straight from the start. Cards on the table.
I’m told you’re beginning your charm offensive in Orkney. Lovely place, but, given that it’s been Liberal / Libdem since the days of Jo Grimond in the 1950s, hardly a hotbed of Conservatism. Are you floating the idea of a bridge between John o’ Groats and South Ronaldsay perhaps?
I’ve a specific question for you about Orkney (and other strongly rural areas) later, but before you leave Kirkwall airport and start giving us the usual tired, third rate after dinner speaker, unkempt posh boy schtick (spoiler – we’re no’ buying it), I’d like to ask you a few questions. Indeed, I’ll email them to you now so you can read them on the plane north. I hear Dom’s eyesight isn’t what is was, so although you really can’t be bothered you’ll have to read them yourself. I know, it’s a pain in the arse but it kind of goes with the job description. I cared little for your predecessor Mrs Thatcher and less for your hero Churchill (and I notice you’ve adopted his trademark stoop recently. Frankly, I’ve seen better tribute acts on a wet Friday night in Stranraer), but, God, the pair of them knew what hard work was. They put a shift in. And it reminded me of what really annoys me about you. It isn’t getting sacked – twice – for lying. It isn’t just your dog-whistle comments about Muslims and gay people and Africans. It isn’t just that you conspired to get a journalist beaten up, and it isn’t just that you published a poem calling for the Scottish people to be ethnically cleansed when you edited The Spectator. Or that you called poor folk “work shy” and “feckless”. Or that you told the Hillsborough families that they should get over it. No, what really gets me is that you really, really, can’t be arsed. You don’t care. In truth you never have. Your handling of the pandemic has been appalling and people are dead because of your incompetence and your sheer laziness. So I have no idea whatsoever why you have come here, and still less what you think you might achieve by being here.
However, I’m prepared to listen. So before you get off the plane tomorrow we need to know the following.
The Office for Budget Responsibility is suggesting that at least 3.5 million people are likely to be unemployed in the UK very soon. I know other reputable economists are forecasting unemployment for as many as 6 million people. It does not seem to matter which of these estimates is right: either is a disaster, and something in this range seems certain. I am then writing to ask what you intend to do about this.
I stress that question is personal: I am aware, for example, of what the government has proposed and so do not need it repeated to me. I am seeking your opinion in what is happening so that I can understand what you are going to do about this crisis.
Here’s what you need to tell me.
1. How many people do you think will be unemployed in Scotland if even the lower of these two estimates proves to be correct?
2. Do you have any suggestion to make as to the likely age range, gender or skill set of those who are likely to lose their jobs in Scotland so that the consequences can be planned?
3. Do you know which industries or sectors will be hit hardest by the downturn and so make most people redundant in Scotland?
5. How many new jobs will the government be supporting Scotland? Can you specify which scheme will be supporting those jobs, for how long they will last, who will be eligible to apply for them and which employers or organisations have agreed to create these job opportunities?
5. Can you suggest what job opportunities there might be for those who will not qualify for a government supported post?
6. How many vacancies do you think there might be per person seeking to find work in Scotland over the next year?
7. Might you advise what the average universal credit claim is per week within Scotland?
8. If a constituent cannot achieve that goal because, for example, their mortgage could not be paid, what would you advise that they do? What would you also advise if this unemployment is long term, as the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts suggests it might be for many people?
9. In your opinion, how many of those who might become unemployed in Scotland might lose their homes due to inability to pay their rent or meet their mortgage commitments?
10. Can you tell me where you think those people might be rehoused if this happens, which given current Universal Credit rules seems likely in a great many cases?
11. Can you tell me what you think the impact of even the lower of these estimated unemployment figures might be on child poverty in Scotland will be? Please specify this in terms of the number of children who will now suffer poverty and please advise how their needs will be met?
12. Likewise, do you think our local NHS services, including mental health services, have all the resources they now need to meet the needs of those who will now become unemployed in Scotland? Have you checked with them? Might you supply a copy of their confirmations that they can cope?
14. Lastly, do you think all our local schools have all the resources they now need to meet the needs of those children of those who will now become unemployed in our area? Their needs are very particular to deal with the disruption that this will create in their lives. Have you checked with them? Might you supply a copy of their confirmations that they can cope?
15. Finally, might I ask what policy proposals you (not your party, but you individually) are proposing to deal with all the issues noted in this letter?
I understand that some of these areas – like health and education – are devolved, but as your party is currently attempting to enshrine a law that legislation in any area brought forward by Holyrood would be subject to scrutiny from an unelected body that would decide whether it passes the “UK internal market” test before it is approved, I thought it best to ask for your views on devolved matters as well as you clearly wish them to be in your remit. They certainly seemed to be earlier this week, when you voted against the clause 17 amendment that would have protected the NHS from external control. And they certainly were in May, when you voted down an amendment designed to protect Scottish agriculture from a lowering of food and welfare standards in the now all but certain event of the no-deal Brexit that you have clearly wanted from the beginning. This clearly affects strongly rural areas like the place you are now flying to – Orkney – disproportionately. This may be – to a man born into privilege for whom the system determines will only ever fail upwards – but we will not be slow in letting you know. We see you.
You arrive tomorrow. Please provide answers.
Finally, Prime Minister, thank you for visiting my country. I’ve campaigned all my adult life for it to be free, and that you have selflessly traveled north to make my dream a reality means that I shall, sir, be eternally in your debt.
Yours aye, and on behalf of (at least) half of Scotland.
PS: It’s “Orkney” or “The Orkney Islands ”. Calling it “The Orkneys” just compounds the felony.
(With thanks to Richard Murphy’s Tax Research blog, which framed many of these questions)
Stay safe everybody. I’ll meet you further on up the road.
Alec, what a bumper and if I were closer and not abiding by the directions of OUR, FIRST MINISTER I would kiss you, well you know what I mean. But I’ll bet you a pound to a penny that neither you nor any one of us will hear any answers, just the same old yoon shite. I also wonder if he’ll arrive in his Brit/English Nat painted aeroplane???
Maybe he’ll promise you a bridge to make your journeys to and from Ireland easier, persoally I’d prefer to sail on the ill-fated Princess Victoria!!!
Excellent article/letter – but alas we both know that BJ won’t manage to read past the first couple of lines! What I can’t understand is why tgere appears to be no other way if getting rid of him other than by an election. Very inefficient and not guaranteed to give us the desired result. He and most of his cabinet – in fact the majority of his party – are not fit for purpose! Unqualified and inexperienced, not very bright – constantly making errors of judgement with no consequences .and we are paying rgeir salaries (and expenses and whatever else….)
I think we need to be more like the French, have some direct action…..
Excellent as always Alec. I wait with eager anticipation the First Minister’s words on meeting him.
One thing’s for certain, she will not receive one straight answer!
As far as I can tell – he declined a meeting with the First Minister – presumably, as he doesn’t see Scotland as a nation, he doesn’t see her as being a Head of State. He would, normally meet with the Head of State of a nation that he visits.
On the one hand, she’s probably relieved that she didn’t have to meet with the ******** , but, on the other hand – what an insult.
I had some grin on my face when I read this… and my congratulations to such still rather diplomatic wording. I don’t think I would have been capable of it myself… after how the man and his companions have messed up I might have been more direct and more blunt.
We won’t get any answers, of course not, he hasn’t got any.
My advice to him would be:
Don’t waste time (and money) to travel around nations where you are neither respected nor welcome. Rather check the stocks of PPE and have a chat with scientists and medical professionals who are dreading what might be in the pipeline once autumn comes. Have a chat with bereaved relatives of the ones who perished in care homes despite your so-called ring of protection. Retrospectively, you might have been thinking of Gollum’s ring, am I right? The same phantasy product like your protective ring. Any apologies yet for the bereaved? I haven’t heard anything other than the usual excuse of ‘unprecedented’ times. Sorry, unprecedented times do not justify being unprepared. How on earth could you expect that Britain would escape from this? World-beating… ? Definitely, but only in sad numbers.
And get your stats right… for months now we’ve been waiting to be informed about the number of people tested, of which you abandoned the publication, probably to avoid that we could draw conclusions from the positivity rates. Isn’t it embarassing for a government to be told by the head of the statistics authority that the stats produced are shite (excuse my Orcadian)? You waste time and resources on producing stats of the testing capacity. Is this meaningful? My refuse bin has a capacity of around 120l but is only used to about 50% of its capacity. Does this tell me anything significant? Nope… same applies to your stats.
A visit to Orkney (or any other place in Scotland) has no purpose, no meaning and is nothing more than a nuisance. And whether you like it or not, Prime Minister, when the history books will be written, there will be several chapters… how you lost Scotland, how Brexit played out and how many lives your incompetence in handling a pandemic cost.
He won’t (maybe can’t) read anything longer than a couple of very short bullet points.
We’d heard that a VIP was due to visit Orkney – it was all kept very secretive and ‘back door’ . I suggested it could be Putin, and that Stockan was planning to offer to give him Orkney, in return for making him a Russian Oligarch – he already is an Orcadian Oligarch.
Joking aside – I found that the VIP turns out to be Boris feckin’ Johnson!!!!!
I don’t know who was there to meet & greet, and bow down. Folk really should have refused to meet him. They really should have boycotted him. I hope he got a frosty reception from the airline staff.
Though – would he care? His arrogance knows no bounds.
I wouldn’t be surprised, if he doesn’t really know where he is – like the cruise liner passenger who got off the boat and asked the way to Edinburgh.
After all, in the House of Commons, The Johnson Menace referred to Alistair Carmichael as being SNP – I suppose he heard a Scottish accent, and, to him, that meant SNP!!! Heaven help us.
This morning, I’m wondering if anyone living near the airport has mown into their lawn or field, either the word ‘LIAR’ or ‘PISS OFF’ like people did when the the other Scourge of our Times visited.
Excellent article – we are reading it in Greece! As a retired and disenfranchised (British) civil servant for whom Brexit is already a monstrous reality, I just wanted to briefly share my thoughts in sympathy with yours. I admit I used to be a middle-of-the-road Tory, read the Mail and hated the likes of Alastair Campbell. I saw no advantage in breaking up the Union.
But everything has been stood on its head. Today I would vote anything but Conservative, and agree with the complete sense written in the Guardian and in what Mr C. says. Why? Because the Tory party is now the English Nationalist Party – and led by a dangerous buffoon. He and it are leading all four nations rapidly towards an Orwellian abyss from which there is no return. So jump Scotland, jump Wales, jump Northern Ireland – but please be considerate to any Englishman that wants to become one of your citizens in the (hopefully near) future.
Hi Ben, I shared your words anonymously on another platform and they really have resonated – they’ve got even more traction than the original letter. That’s the irony, isn’t it? The party that champions the union the most has ceased to govern for three parts of it and is pursuing a right wing, isolationists English British (to their minds the concepts are interchangeable) agenda. That more than anything from my side will hasten the new constitutional settlement that we need. I enjoyed your final sentiment – Scotland can be a shelter from the gathering storm. Yours aye, AR.
I hope this works………..
Bother – it was meant to just be the Twatt coming to Twatt bit – I’m rubbish at Internet stuff!
brilliant as ever. Please fix the list numbering 🙂 2 5’s, no 13….
Another brilliant piece of honest journalism. I will share this link far and wide as it sums up our present state of affairs and people have to read this.
Alex Ross you are a stotingly fine writer of inky pellets, Lang may yer nib be sharp and yer wit keen .
That’s a lot of questions to ask “the indolent buffoon” particularly since je cannot be arsed as you say
Well written but I fear it will go unread. Could you perhaps reproduce it via the medium of Fuzzy Felt, or possibly crayon?
Excellent stuff but when a commentator mentioned Johnson B would be remembered for losing Scotland he wasn’t referring to Boris alone. He was referring to him losing Scotland on England’s behalf as so many of England’s denizens believe they own the rest of the UK. Every one of them when they refer to England as an “island nation” they are not just incredibly thick at geography or confusing insular with island they genuinely believe England Britain same difference. The totally doolally ones are convinced that the empire is now on it’s way back!
Excellent! Packs punches!