Not forgetting that the bulk of his station’s viewers live south of the Border, Krishnan Guru-Murthy chose to kick off the Channel 4 News Scottish party leaders debate by asking the five of them for their comments on the furore over Boris’s Number 10 flat refurbishment. The SNP leader’s response was totally predictable:
There is a stench of sleaze around this UK Tory government. They’re acting as if rules only apply to other people and they and their wealthy friends can act with impunity and spend money however they want and somehow they’re untouchable. Well, I think the message for people across Scotland (and indeed in the rest of the U.K.) in the elections next week is show them they’re not untouchable.
It’s been Nicola Sturgeon pitch to voters on the eve of every election since she became party leader in 2014 – stick wi’ us and we’ll soon sort out those evil Old Etonians. Her gallus patter will most probably get her all she really wants on May 7 – another five years as First Minister – but it will deliver no semblance of escape for the Scottish people from the consequences of the most corrupt and incompetent regime in Downing Street in modern history.
We’re going to have to endure this horror show A Nightmare on Downing Street until we can figure out a means of restoring proper democratic accountability to our part of this island – the absence of which dates back not just to a nasty piece of work becoming the tenant of Number 10 in December 2019 but to the signing of the Treaty of Union in 1707.
What the Scots nobility traded away more than three centuries ago in their desperation to recover financially from the Darien disaster was colourfully articulated by Mrs Howden, a character in Sir Walter Scott’s great novel The Heart of Midlothian:
When we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o’ our ain, we could aye peeble them wi’ stanes when they werena gude bairns. But naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Lunnon.
We should never tire of trotting out that famous literary quotation because it sums up what should be the central argument for Scottish self-government – we could hold our own elected representatives to full account again if we seize back the power to do so. Tragically, we have repeatedly failed to do this. No matter how hefty a majority she might muster at Holyrood, even Nicola’s nails can never reach the length of London from Edinburgh. Consequently, Boris can continue to be as bad a bairn as he likes. He will be totally untouchable by any of Scotland’s elected representatives.
Of course, the SNP chieftains are also contending yet again that a few more parliamentary seats will magically empower them to force indyref2. From that springboard Scotia will proceed swiftly to gaining an emphatic Yes win and thence propel itself effortlessly back into the warm embrace of the Eurocrats. Even if that were a credible scenario (which it obviously isn’t since Boris can continue to brusquely dismiss the SNP’s meek requests for the granting of a Section 30 order), it ignores an even more inconvenient truth – naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Brussels either.
Anyone who imagines that the unelected occupants of the Berlaymont Buiding would be any more accountable to Scottish voters than Boris and his cronies really needs to read Bernard Connolly’s brilliant whistleblower account of how the common currency was cooked up in The Rotten Heart of Europe. Then sit down and ponder the underlying reasons for the EU’s Covid vaccine shambles. Not something anyone in the upper echelons of the SNP will dare do, alas. Only the chief architect of ‘Independence in Europe’, Jim Sillars, has fully recognised how oxymoronic that flagship policy has become.
By far the most fresh and exciting aspect of Alba is its attitude to Europe. It appears to be breaking away not just from the Sturgeonistas but from their Europhilia, although it seems a little feart to be accused of Europhobia or even Euroscepticism. Kenny Macaskill has only hinted that the party’s plan is to seek European Free Trade Association (EFTA) membership rather than full re-entry into the EU proper. He and his pal Alex Salmond had better really mean this if they are serious about launching a new Scottish currency. Any application to become a new EU member state needs a commitment to joining the eurozone stapled to it.
Anti-EU separatism – that is, belief in full national sovereignty – has been the dug that didn’t bark north of the Border for far too long. Yet research has shown that a full third of SNP supporters voted Leave in the 2016 referendum. Hopefully, Alba will finally give us a voice by carving out a distinct ideological identity for itself that can be fleshed out and persuasively articulated in the coming years. Otherwise, those who have flocked to this fledgling party won’t be hoisting a flag in the wind, they’ll be whistling in it.