INSULTING SCOTLAND WON’T SAVE THE UK
Once again, the UK waits for a few thousand Tory members, barely one in 500 of the population, to decide who our fourth Prime Minister in six years will be.
Both candidates were members of Boris Johnson’s Government, voting for his Brexit deal which has already cost the UK £42,500 million, while failing repeatedly to address the cost-of-living crisis.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is clear favourite ahead of former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who only recently realised Johnson was incapable of leadership and led a host of Government resignations to force him out.
While both candidates initially called for a ‘fresh start’ after the disastrous Johnson years, each now echos his brand of ‘muscular unionism’ when dealing with Scotland.
In Exeter Ms Truss branded Scotland’s First Minister an ‘attention seeker who ought to be ignored’ and described Wales’ First Minister as a ‘low energy Jeremy Corbyn.’ Predictably, her contempt won cheers and applause from party activists but was condemned by almost everyone else.
With one daft remark, Ms Truss fundamentally undermined the argument that Scotland will be fairly treated by a Westminster Tory Government.
Unionists insist Scotland is at the heart of the UK. How is that possible when our democratically elected First Minister is, in the probable next Prime Minister’s view, somebody who should be ignored?
Ms Truss clearly played to the gallery with her comments. We already know from research in 2019 that, far from prioritising the union, Scotland means so little to Tories in England that two thirds were happy for Scotland to become independent if it secured Brexit.
The UK Government’s must prove that Scotland matters if it truly wants to make devolution work. Back in 2014 we were wooed by talk of the ‘respect agenda’ and asked to ‘lead the UK, not leave it,’ but ever since, devolution has been consistently undermined.
From David Cameron’s announcement of 'English Votes for English Laws’ the day after the Independence Referendum, to Boris Johnson riding roughshod over the principle of legislative consent, the clawing back of devolved powers through the Internal Market Act and bypassing of devolved governments by so-called Levelling Up, it’s clear our democratic institutions are being undermined.
The parliaments of Wales and Scotland were partly designed to address the democratic deficit that existed between those nations and Westminster. Yet the Tories, unable to win a majority in either Parliament, now resort to insulting those who can while attempting to circumvent and undermine them.
In Scotland, 10 Tory MSPs publicly support Ms Truss’ bid to be PM. Others have the sense to see her comments on Nicola Sturgeon have tarnished their cause. One described them as ‘inappropriate’ and another as ‘ill-informed for someone who could be Prime Minister.’
Whenever Tories mention respecting Scotland and a ‘union of equals,’ we see from this sorry episode the falsehood that is. Scotland deserves so much better. The only way to protect our interests is to escape this toxic political system by taking Scotland’s future into our own hands.