In a sign that the by election defeats in England last Thursday have spooked the Conservatives, there are reports that senior figures in the party are calling on Rishi Sunak to consider holding the election in late spring next year, as they believe that this would be the best way to minimise the inevitable losses that the Tories are expected to suffer. Those in the party who favour the idea fear that leaving the General Election to the last possible moment in November or December next year risks missing an “economic sweet spot” when inflation has come down but before the full effect of interest rate rises on mortgages has started to bite. Those who have been shielded from the effects of interest rates due to being on relatively low fixed-rate mortgages are gradually seeing their deals expire. One Tory MP told the Guardian newspaper: “Every person who ends up paying an extra £500 a month because they’ve come off their mortgage deal between the spring and the autumn will end up blaming us.”
Some Conservatives feel that an earlier election would be the best strategy to avoid the complete and utter trouncing that anyone with a functioning moral compass believes that the Tories really deserve. On the basis of lies the Conservatives delivered a hard Brexit that has wrought massive economic damage, during the pandemic they privately made a mockery of the lockdown restrictions that in public they were urging everyone else to abide by, meanwhile they used the pandemic as an excuse to enrich themselves and their cronies with a procurement process for government contracts that was blatantly based upon favouritism and was an open invitation to corruption.
Meanwhile, like a vampire’s familiar, the Tories spent their days demonising the poor, the marginalised and the powerless. They threw up a distracting smokescreen of culture war issues as they got on with undermining the devolution settlement, introducing voter suppression measures and trashing democracy, in the UK as a whole, but especially in Scotland.
Then after enabling and defending Boris Johnson, who lied and cheated throughout his term in Downing Street, the Conservatives compounded the damage by inflicting the chaos and disaster of Liz Truss upon us all, a wretched inadequate of a politician who was only prevented from wreaking even more damage because the catastrophe of her government became apparent after just a couple of weeks. Truss then blamed her downfall on the “leftist establishment” in the money markets and the Bank of England. Yes, you read that right. That’s the kind of fantasist bollocks that is espoused by large and influential parts of the Conservative party these days.
As we all know, once Liz Truss imploded in office, the Tories turned in desperation to Rishi Sunak, the man rejected by the party membership just a few short weeks before. Sunak acceded to Number 10 promising that he’d restore professionalism, integrity, and accountability to government, none of which he’s done. First Sunak appointed the odiously inept quasi-fascist Suella Braverman to the Home Office in order to pander to the frothing far right in his party even though she had been forced to resign from the same job just days before for breaches of the ministerial code. Then in May he continued to defend her after it came to light that she had sought the assistance of civil servants in order to secure preferential treatment in dealing with a speeding offence.
Sunak has since studiously avoided making any public comment about the parliamentary censure of his former boss Boris Johnson and the Conservative MPs and peers who colluded with Johnson in a campaign of abuse and intimidation aimed against the committee of MPs who were investigating Johnson’s lies.
The low quality and poor character of the leading figures in the Conservative party is genuinely frightening and for the first time in my life I genuinely fear for the future of democracy in the UK.
This fear is compounded by a timid and supine Labour party which is so fixated on grabbing the authoritarian levers of power that the British system allows to the party which wins a majority in the Commons that it has turned itself into a mirror image of the party which it claims to oppose. Labour is as gung-ho for Brexit as the Tories are, wrapping itself in the British flag while it is as determined as the Conservatives to demonise and punish the poor and refuses to reverse or undo the vile policies introduced by the Conservatives in a display of performative cruelty.
This is a Labour party which will do absolutely nothing to reform the dysfunction which lies at the heart of British malaise, the House of Commons. That’s because every bit as much as the Conservatives the Labour party is in thrall to the seductive promise of absolute power that the Westminster system offers. Labour is never going to change a political system that it seeks to profit from. All that Labour offers is a respite from the Conservatives, a respite bought at the cost of turning itself into a party very similar to the Conservatives. And then having done nothing to change the underlying system, England’s electoral pendulum will inevitably swing back to the Tories and we will find ourselves at the mercy of a Conservative party which wholeheartedly espouses corrupt reactionary nationalist authoritarianism in the mould of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Without the threat posed by a strong SNP, those Tories will most assuredly seek to abolish the Scottish Parliament.
This is why, despite its shortcomings and inadequacies, anyone in Scotland who values democracy needs to vote SNP at the next General Election. It is the only party which has a realistic chance of winning Westminster seats. Voting for other pro-independence parties will merely split the pro independence vote and allow an anti independence candidate to win. Paradoxically, Alba and the other pro independence parties are only significant as long as the SNP continues to dominate Scottish politics. If the SNP loses that position then Alba and to a lesser extent the Scottish Greens become political irrelevances, minor parties with no realistic chance of power or meaningful influence for decades to come.
If the SNP loses its dominant position in Scotland, the narrative will not then be – Scotland rejected the SNP because the SNP was not vigorous enough in its pursuit of independence. It will be – Scotland has rejected independence and is content with the Westminster system, and this country will be even more vulnerable and exposed to the harm and indignity that Westminster chooses to inflict upon us all because people who support independence fell into the trap of allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. In the words of the Chinese proverb: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a stone without”, because Labour and the Tories will only use that stone to batter any hopes of Scottish self determination into submission. The Tories will abolish the Scottish Parliament the next time they gain power. The only people who will be satisfied will be the anti-democratic opponents of independence.
I will be off for the next week as we have a visitor coming to stay. He’s bringing his dog so I will have a dog in the house for the first time since the stroke. I’m really looking forward to that and having a dog about for a week will help me see if I can cope with a dog again. If so, I’d love to get another wee ginger dug. Fingers crossed.
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