This morning’s newspaper front pages are full of Boris Johnson’s plans to slacken up the Covid-19 lockdown so that by the end of May, start of June the UK is going to be open for business. As of yesterday, the UK has the highest death toll in Europe by any way you’d like to measure it, and the infection rate remains high while the death toll has actually risen for the last three days rather than fall which is where we should be right now.
Yet with all this happening all around us the UK papers are all about Monday being a day where freedom will come even though the science hasn’t changed, but what has changed is that newspapers are dying and they need the lockdown lifted so their millionaire owners can continue to make money and keep their influence. Tory backers are also itchy that they too will lose money so the narrative this week has changed from staying at home, and staying safe to the chancellor more or less calling furloughed workers scroungers.
Of course, the media in the UK is failing to hold the UK government to account which means with the highest death rate in Europe it can sail through this with barely a blow landed on it. There was no ‘leak’ to the press but a badly managed release of information which has now been dialled back as the devolved countries have no intention of letting anything slacken up til the end of May at least. Fact is the Tories want us to die for the economy. We’re facing a virus we’re finding more and more about every day but for Johnson and company, this doesn’t matter. It is all about getting us back to work, hope not too many people die and move on while waving flags and invoking a wartime spirit pulled right out of 1960’s war comics.
Basically, we’re at this point.
And we all know how well that went after that…
The other day during the Covid19 daily briefing this question was asked of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. That’s right, Vivienne Aitken of the Daily Record basically asked about Christmas. In April. During a pandemic where we’re discovering new things about Covid19 every week. Where people literally lie dead mourned only from a distance because their very corpse is infectious our media is asking about Christmas being closed, or when the borders whould close or any sort of nonsense that comes pouring from their narrow brains.
This isn’t to say Sturgeon and the Scottish Government won’t have questions to answer. They were painfully slow in acting to put measures in place to combat the virus, choosing instead to follow the UK government and the insane herd immunity idea but they’ve managed things better than their UK counterparts which isn’t exactly setting a high benchmark but this is a time of crisis. Once the lockdown kicked in, the briefings have been clear, much clearer than the UK governments, but they’ve been clogged down with these inane questions which are designed to get a specific headline the next day, not to hold the Scottish government to account.
Now there are some good journalists out there, but on the whole the vast amount of the Scottish media is useless. Since returning to Scotland three years ago I’ve been amazed at how poor it is with such a low level of competence being seen as acceptable that one wonders how on earth some people can live with themselves. They’ve forgotten how to hold power to account instead punching down and sideways, but only occasionally up, then there’s the trend of giving failed politicians a voice when rejected by the public.
Right now all the papers are asking for us to buy them to save them, well frankly, I’d prefer to let some of Scotland’s papers die and rebuild new ones with actual proper journalism, real ethics and a promise to hold everyone in power to account not just their political enemies.
IT is 2020. Brexit is happening and the UK is out the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland pontificate about independence and unification respectfully. Things are simply, fucked at best and it is safe to say things are a tad delicate at the moment, so here’s Marvel Comics coming smashing into the room like Lewis Capaldi swigging from a bottle of Buckfast.
Here’s Marvel’s latest super-team, The Union.
I mean, really??
Then there are the new characters, like Kelpie. the Scottish, McScottish, shortbread, Nessie, och aye the noo member!
And Snakes, the Northern Irish character probably made of snakes, potatoes and Guinness because that’s all Marvel editors know about Northern Ireland.
What is a pity is that the hugely talented Paul Grist is writing this, and Union Jack the character that sort of inspired his Jack Staff creation.
Grist himself has said he’s pointed issues out with editorial to deaf ears, and I do hope Grist makes a success of this but I can’t help thinking this is tomorrow’s 50p comics today because the lack of understanding of UK politics is not going to help drives sales on this side of the Atlantic, while I can’t see folk caring on the other side.
Ah well, they might make a film of it I suppose…
Right now in Glasgow there’s thousands of people marching in support of independence in a very wet and very windy day.
Sadly the wind and rain means it wasn’t a good idea for the likes of me to join but it looks like tens of thousands did. So when the Tories or Unionists say ‘but there’s no demand for independence’ point them to today and the fact on a truly horrible day in Glasgow thousands took to the streets to demand it.
What is also noteable is the lack of support from leftish English based commentators for a huge grassroots rally. Solidarity only counts it seems if they want our votes. Thanks though to those who did come from England, and from the Welsh who came up and people in Scotland will have your back when Wales starts its struggle for independence.
Estimates put the crowd at 80,000. In January. On a day of weather warnings.
Of course there’s a fucking demand for independence which is why Unionists are terrified. Time now for the SNP to stop asking, start demanding and fight for us so we can win independence, make our own future and be free of Tories and Brexit.
After last month’s hellish failure and capitulation to the Tories in the election, you’d think Labour would have understood and learned from their mistakes but every single candidate has shown little understanding of why they lost with the exception of Kier Starmer who sorts of gets it, but as he was part of the shadow cabinet one may ask why he’s only speaking up now. Some like Rebecca Long-Bailey are doubling down in some futile extension of Corbynism.
Yet when it comes to Scotland all the leadership candidates betray either their ignorance or their own British nationalism, or in some cases both. People like Jess Philips talk eagerly of ‘listening to their heartlands’ but that doesn’t include Scotland as all the candidates are not just against independence, but against a second referendum saying ‘there is no mandate for one’ even though the SNP have won three general elections in a row in Scotland, and there’s been a pro-independence majority of MSP’s in Holyrood for nearly a decade. Holyrood have voted for a second referendum so one has to ask just how democratic Labour want to be because carrying on like this being a slightly less evil version of the Tories will bring electoral oblivion to them in Scotland.
But no, they plug on. Any shimmering hope they might open up their minds and understand why they’re on the trajectory they are is lost in a mix of hubris, ignorance and good old fashioned British nationalism.
Still, maybe when they lose the next Scottish election next year they might decide to change their minds…
Apart from the Tories, last week’s big winners in the election were the SNP who yet again, win another Scottish election, and yet again people from all sides of the political debate question whether they have a mandate to push independence when the argument that at the very least, the people of Scotland should have a decision on their own future is own they’ve surely won. The fight (And it is a brawl more than a fight) is to gain that Section 30 order (which enables the result to be official) from the Tories and that isn’t going to happen by playing nice as they have since now.
Frankly, the SNP has people within the party happy to sit where they are happily pricking people along with the promise of independence as long as they maintain power in Scotland. They also seem to be falling into a hole of identity politics endangering their broad socially democratic appeal however considering the fact Scotland won’t vote Tory and the Labour Party face extinction, the SNP face a decade at least remaining in power but the next year or so is crucial. 2021 is the Holyrood election and the Tories and Lib Dems will be putting up a more united Unionist front which could well work in some area, especially in the North East and the Borders.
There is a wild card now. That is the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party. A branch office of London which is trapped in repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again with diminishing returns. Since the weekend several leading figures are not fully coming out in support of independence, but are now supportive of a referendum being held so Scotland can decide to be independent, or part of a UK going rapidly to the right. Labour’s problem is that they’re trapped by a mix of the London leadership and the Scottish branch having no idea what it is. Do they remain trapped in the spiral of socialist nostalgia with an out of date view of working-class politics in Scotland, or do they start to construct a positive view of the future where independence is at the very least an option? Time will tell but the fact is we won’t win independence without convincing a number of Labour supporters it is in the best for Scotland to break free but the fact is that should Labour (on any level) stand with the Tories and Lib Dems in refusing a Section 30 then they may as well give up as a party in Scotland.
But the SNP need to go on the offensive if not granted a Section 30, even to the point of disrupting Westminster (there’s a lot they can do within the rules to do just that) to the point where it can’t run. Worked for Irish MP’s a century ago and it’ll hold the Tories back from imposing their cruelty upon people. Basically, they need to grow a spine and those within the party who aren’t especially bothered about independence need to be told where to go because 2020 isn’t going to be for the faint-hearted or the uncommitted because we all know the reason why the Tories refuse to grant a referendum as they know it can be lost by them. There’s no way Boris Johnson wants to be the last Prime Minister of the UK and it is within our grasp to make him just that if the SNP toughen up, fight and get what’s needed so we can make our own choice, not the UK’s.
The Tories won for a number of reasons.A weak official opposition, the demand for Brexit to be ‘done’, the strange popularity of Boris Johnson, and a load of reasons more which will I’m sure be the subject of books for the months to come. The fact is the Tories learned from Theresa May’s horrendous campaign in 2017, kept the message simple, and ensured the focus was purely on Johnson so other riskier Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg were sidelined to let Johnson carry out his man of the people act.
Of course the media played a large part but to lay the blame all at the feet of the media misses the point that the Tories ran a good campaign as painful as it is to admit this. Drumming home that single message about Brexit was clear as opposed to Labour’s horrible fudge, or the Lib Dems failure to elect a leader who could reach out to all people on the remain side. People in the north of England wanted Brexit (even though many have no idea what Brexit is outwith of leaving the EU) done and to move on from there. Johnson’s promises also helped, but only a few days after the election those promises are trickling away.
The fact is the Tories offered a road out of Brexit and for people who’ve spent a decade in austerity want to grab whatever they can, even if that means for this election lending the Tories their vote to ‘get Brexit done’. They spoke to working-class voters in a way Labour didn’t, and indeed, couldn’t as Labour for a variety of reasons failed to recognise or deal with keeping their vote firm. Parachuting candidates from London over local candidates seems to have played a part in losing Labour votes, while the Tories seem to have stuck with local candidates who knew the area.
Problem is the Tories needed to do little to push themselves over the line. They created a narrative, stuck to it, sold it and convinced enough people to give them their vote while at the same time Labour and the Lib Dems gifted, even helped enable the Tory victory.
In short there was a perfect storm and the Tories took full advantage of it. The future is no good; a decade in power for them looms as Labour tear themselves apart but the Tories eventual downfall lies in this election. Those same people who lent the Tories their vote won’t do it again if there’s something for them to vote for, while any further austerity or the forthcoming destruction of the NHS lies in the hands of the Tories. They own what’s coming but with no functional official opposition they know they can run riot for a while before the people start turning on them. As long as they milk this form of ethnic English nationalism and Brexit for as long as they can they’ll be unopposed in England and Wales.
Meanwhile in Scotland things are different and developing in a very interesting way. More on this next time.