Responding to Black Lives Matter protesters who pulled down a statue of a slave trader – a slave trader for fuck’s sake, the Prime Minister used the term ‘thuggery,’ a term that has been used to describe and dehumanise young black men in the United States; exposing them to the violence of the police officers of a racist state and the reason these protests are taking place in the first place. But we don’t expect any better from Johnson, do we? – the man who thought it just swell to recite the putrid racism of Kipling in a Myanmar temple and denigrate British Muslim women.
We should be interested to note too that the statue of him which was torn down was not erected until 1846 – some 174 years after his death, during the reign of Victoria – ‘the famine queen.’ Statues are rarely set up to celebrate people. Even though it is a person on the pedestal, if it were the case that great people were memorialised in this way simply because of their greatness or their contribution to their community, city, or nation, we would not be able to move for statues. There just is not enough bronze in the world. Such statues are erected to glorify ideas and ideals...
We left school with this now ingrained assumption: That we were at the bottom of the hierarchy, that by our nature we were inferior, and that we could never escape our predestined and natural place in a world that was owned and managed by our superiors. Looking back, it troubles me the most that this was done to us by our fellow Scots; by men and women who daily made it their business to correct our Scots language – or, as they called it, our ‘bad English’ – and whose greatest ambition was to be thought of as British.
Right-wing populist governments with designs on capturing the state and fascism, such as Donald Trump’s and Boris Johnson’s are, are bringing home the shock doctrine consecutive US and British governments have employed on their foreign interventionist adventures since the US-backed coup and military takeover of Chile in 1973. This is the neoliberal dream; to see powerful and cohesive democracies softened up by truncheons, rent asunder by socio-economic division, and fractured into thousands of squabbling factions of the oppressed.
Our government said it would not tolerate a power grab, that it would not stand for Scotland being taken out of the European Union against the democratic will of the Scottish people. It has had mandate after mandate to move forward with independence. It had the support to resist the British state over Brexit. We watched as the United Kingdom staggered from one constitutional crisis to another – and in the end we got sweet feck all. Don’t shoot the messenger! Don’t discount what I’m saying just because it hurts your feelings. It hurts my feelings too.
But let us be absolutely clear on one thing, no matter what he has said in his latest panicked announcement, neither Boris Johnson nor the British government have been on this track from the beginning. In fact, they are extremely late to the party. Our hope – and it is a sincere hope – is that these measures will be enough, but the greatest likelihood is that the gate has been closed long after the horse has bolted. People were always going to die of this virus. There is no way to stop a virus. But Boris Johnson has by his wilful inaction and arrogance set Britain up to fail – and fail bad.
It is completely unnerving that the British government considered this approach in the first place, and we should have all been questioning the expertise of these gormless ‘experts’ the moment Whitty said the British public’s response to crisis was ‘extraordinary outbreaks of altruism,’ and when Vallance suggested, based on an expert sub-group, ‘that people don’t panic, they take what seems like logical decisions based on what they believe.’
Queensferry Crossing, or Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘vanity project’ as the unionists like to style this essential infrastructural development, was closed briefly during dangerous and potentially life-threatening weather. Bearing in mind that bridges all over England were shut for the same reason at the time, to use its closure as a political weapon is right up there were resisting the expense of fire-retardant cladding on high-rise flats. This was not a good look for the Conservatives. That failing to close a bridge in dangerous weather is just inviting a tragedy, is a statement of the obvious.