Rebel Heart

“What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how do we get rid of you? And if you can’t get rid of the people who govern you, then you don’t live in a democratic system” (Tony Benn).

Let’s at least be honest here – and our representatives in Westminster haven’t been.

There isn’t going to be a general election. At least, not soon. They might be mad, and they’re definitely bad, but they’re not stupid. Well, less so at least now Liz Truss has gone. Nobody calls an election when they’re polling at 14% and facing political oblivion. The reality is that it could be as deep as early 2025 before there’s a vote. And much as I hate to say it, the various Tory grandees making the point that the system as it stands means that we vote for a party – not a prime minister- are completely correct. The great irony is that a party that has destroyed itself from within through its corruption and mendacity is on this very specific point telling the truth.

I just wish we’d shelve the endless and utterly self-defeating political grandstanding and deal with the reality of many more months of energy crises, austerity and mayhem. Delivered by a party we’ve rejected since 1955. So if we’re serious about delivering a genuine alternative to utter chaos then we have to play the ball as it lies, not as we’d like to find it.

And, in the extremely unlikely event of a snap general election taking place – how does that help Scotland, exactly? Starmer is broadly committed to neoliberalism and totally opposed to revisiting any membership of the EU and completely against a second plebiscite on Scotland’s self-determination – not that he asked his branch office manager Anas Sarwar, who might have suggested a more nuanced approach given that around forty percent of his supporters in Scotland support independence – or at least the right to ask the question. It wasn’t that Starmer was being deliberately dismissive of Scotland. It’s just that we aren’t even on his radar. That’s just how it is. The idea that these guys – of whatever political hue – give a shit about us is for the birds. Putting our faith in guys like this is worse than hopeless. Its like asking arsonists to call the fire brigade to save your house. It’s demeaning. We beg for a piece of what’s already ours.

So I’m baffled by the fixation of our biggest party in Scotland to pursue a policy – an early general election – that condemns us to even more years of a miserable constitutional system that has utterly failed Scotland for decades.

But an early election is unlikely, and in the meantime the Supreme Court will determine whether or not it falls within the gift of Holyrood to call a second plebiscite.

With every passing hour, and in the midst of a clusterbouroch not of our making, the First Minister’s decision to refer a little known Scotland Act clause to the Supreme Court looks increasingly politically savvy by the day, as it at a stroke shortens the process, removing any debate about legality (regardless of ruling) and guaranteeing three separate and different routes to a fresh vote: Section 30, lawful referendum or plebiscite election.

Nicola Sturgeon recently described the calling of a general election as a democratic imperative.

And she may be right. But the problem is she’s appealing to people who don’t truly believe in democracy. And while a general election may be a democratic imperative, independence is a moral one. To borrow Harold Wilson’s line about Labour, it’s either a crusade or it’s nothing.

And let’s ask the Tony Benn question: “how do we get rid of you?”

Eyes on the prize, people. Don’t engage in bourochs not of our design. As Burns sang, “Lay your schemes alone / adore the rising sun / and leave a man alone to his fate”.

I’m staying tonight in Cork, which calls itself “The Rebel City”. It occurs that we could use a bit of a rebel heart ourselves. If not now, when?

Let Scotland choose her fate. And let Scotland be Scotland. I’ll meet you further on up the road.

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