The latest attack on democracy by Boris Johnson highlights that the UK is not a union of equals, it's time for Scottish independence, argues Chris Bambery
The news that the Privy Council is convening at Balmoral to ask the Queen to suspend the UK Parliament at the behest of Boris Johnson has been greeted with a growing sense in Scotland of not simply shock and anger, but a growing chorus that Scotland needs to open the escape door now and become independent.
As I look out at a dreich Edinburgh morning there are people asking me not just how can Johnson do this, nor even what does this say about democracy in the UK, nor even just how chaotic and broken is Westminster, but what else could Johnson do?
People are aware that this hard right government is likely to refuse a second Scottish independence referendum if the Scottish Government called one, despite the Scottish Parliament voting in favour of one. But many are also quick to grasp that he could suspend Holyrood, power devolved is not power given. The Act which created the devolved Scottish Parliament gives the Westminster government the power to suspend it – just as in Spain where the Madrid government did suspend the Catalan parliament to impose its direct rule in October 2017.
Someone also asked if Johnson is not aware that he is putting the unity of the UK state in danger. Not just is he driving more and more Scots towards the door but is also, by threatening a hard border in Ireland, making a united Ireland a likelihood.
My answer is that this government is based on a minority section of the ruling class, the hyena wing of hedge funders and spivs, and on a party whose ageing, mainly Southern English membership is so fervently pro-Brexit that both groups don’t really care if they lose Scotland as long as they can quit the EU.
From north of the border we are looking at an unelected Prime Minister whose elite background sums up everything that’s wrong with how the UK is run, a ruling party at Westminster which is unelectable here and whose membership hasn’t a clue or a care about Scotland.
Scotland voted strongly to remain in the EU and whatever attitude you take to Brexit, that should be respected. But it hasn’t been under Theresa May and now BoJo's Scotland position has been ignored throughout the chaos of Brexit. That underlines the fact that the UK is not a union of equals.
Opinion polls show support for independence has a majority now, admittedly narrow, but that also if a No Deal Brexit is pushed through that would increase. But the Scottish government should also be aware that a section of those who voted Yes to independence in the 2014 referendum were alienated by its very pro-EU initial response to Brexit.
Just to point to one issue that many pro-independence supporters know of is the EU’s silence over Spanish repression of pro-independence Catalans and its blocking of elected pro-independence representatives taking their seats in both the Madrid and European Parliaments.
Whatever position people take over the EU it should be common ground that we need a Europe where small nations should be treated with respect, not like Greece was in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and consequential recession.
What that means is that the response in Scotland should be to take to the streets to demand independence. The Scottish government and SNP leadership have so far stressed stopping Brexit. Now it needs to go hell for leather for independence.
Britain is broken, Westminster is broken. It’s time to quit.
Chris Bambery is an author, political activist and commentator, and a supporter of Rise, the radical left wing coalition in Scotland. His books include A People's History of Scotland and The Second World War: A Marxist Analysis.
More articles from this author
- Huge numbers join Catalonia's general strike for freedom
- Civil liberties in Spain? The clampdown against the Catalan independence movement
- What’s changing in Scotland?
- Flawed transition: why the Spanish state is repressing the Catalan independence movement
- Sails and Winds: A Cultural History of Valencia - book review
- Imperial calculations: why World War Two was declared 80 years ago today
- Defending the Indefensible: the British Army in Northern Ireland, 1969