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.’
As if on cue, no sooner was Brexit Day over than news began circulating of a notice posted for residents in a Norwich tower block telling people to speak English or go home. ‘We do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English in the flats,’ said the notice, before going on to encourage immigrants to return to their own countries and free up housing for white English-speaking British people. Monika Wiśniewska, a Polish author living in England, took to social media to describe how Polish people were now being described as ‘vermin.’
Less than fifteen minutes in I was too dejected to listen any more. The social media feed was telling me I wasn’t alone. Another over-hyped empty announcement from ‘the only person who can win our independence,’ another dead-end from ‘the only show in town,’ and another painful frustration from ‘the only party that can do it.’ Of course, I bought none of this. Reason and the experience of the past six years warned me to expect nothing, but hope – that twisted trick the psyche plays on us – had me thinking there was a chance; slim and unlikely, but a chance.
There are no legal routes to independence. We cannot challenge the British government over its refusal to grant a Section 30 because there is no mechanism in law with which to do this, and there is no constitutional requirement of the British government to do it either. This was always a fiction. Scotland does not have the same relationship of consent with the London government the people of the north of Ireland have in the Good Friday Agreement. Britain does not legally require the consent of the Scottish people to government Scotland.
Independence justified is an entire package of political, social, and economic assertions which we must make and have been making not only to the unconverted, but also to the converted. We must make the effort to instil in each member of the movement that England’s politics are foreign politics, that they are inimical to our interests. Austerity imposed on Scotland – and on England – by Westminster not only breaks down the individual. It attacks the fabric of the family and the community, all of the necessary supports the individual requires to thrive and to be a productive member of society.
Regularly on social media I and others are called fifth-columnists for openly criticising the SNP, for having the audacity to air our disagreement with ‘Nicola.’ The suggestion is that by doing this we are undermining independence, the implication being that we are traitors or British government ‘plants’ sowing seeds of discord. Certainly, this has made my own commitment to independence one of the most frustrating and painful political experiences of my life – but it has not shaken my resolve.
The ruling of the Supreme Court offers Scotland and Scotland’s elected representatives – the only representatives of the sovereignty of the Scottish people – a whole new set of opportunities. British government attempts to stifle the Scottish government can now be challenged in the Supreme Court and retarded by the precedent this sets. In principle, it removes from the British government the assumed right to grant or withhold permission for constitutional referenda in Scotland, voted for by the Scottish parliament and Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.