A POLL published over the weekend found, for the first time, more people in the UK think the British Government is doing a poor job of handling the epidemic than think it’s doing a good job. The poll also found Scotland was one of the areas where there was the greatest distrust of the British Government’s competence.
Despite the British nationalists who dominate the media in Scotland confidently asserting that the current crisis would spell the end of hopes for independence, what’s really happened is that it has widened even further the cracks in the edifice of British rule.
The only real surprise here is why it has taken so many people so long to catch on. This crisis has finally revealed the truth that the British Government has no real idea what it’s doing. Cabinet members are flailing around helplessly, powered solely by their own arrogance and the delusion of British exceptionalism.
We can hope that one day not too distant future there will be a vaccine for the virus, but British exceptionalism is an incurable condition. The tragedy of the coronavirus epidemic is that we’ve discovered it’s also quite often terminal. You only have to look at the performance of members of the British Government as they bloviate their way through the crisis to see for yourself that the much-touted safety and security of the UK sold to us by Better Together back in 2014 is founded on nothing more substantial than wishful thinking, and taking the Bumper Book of British Empire Boosterism a bit too literally.
Boris Johnson is the most obvious incompetent donkey leading the key working lions, but he’s not the only one. Jacob Rees-Mogg seems to be practising social distancing by remaining in the 18th century. He’s one of the few prominent members of the Government who hasn’t presented the daily briefing.
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We’ve had Matt Hancock doing his impression of a budget airline cabin crew steward who had been nursing a hangover on the day they did the training for emergencies on a plane that’s about to crash
We’ve had Priti Patel smirking about her own self-importance as she told the press how many thousands had died. We’ve had Dominic Raab who looks like he’s about to get into a fit of rage at the GPS that got him lost on the way to a sales conference for bathroom fittings. And there’s Michael Gove, who believes lies become perfectly acceptable as long as they’re delivered extremely politely and with more greasy oil than a tanker fractured on the rocks.
The former home secretary Amber Rudd stood down as an MP at the last General Election because even she realised just what a disaster Boris Johnson was going to be. This means that, for our sins, she is supposedly one of the Conservatives’ more credible performers.
Amber took to the airwaves on Sunday to tell us that schools needed to get back as soon as possible, as she was interviewed online working from home. Of course, she didn’t bother pointing out that the Government in London only has responsibility for schools in England. Only state schools need to get back as soon as possible, however. Private schools such as Eton have said they will remain closed until after the summer holidays.
But it’s fine for children who go to those schools to remain out of an education. Kids who go to Eton don’t need to worry about learning how to be capable and competent in order to get a job. Just look at Boris Johnson and David Cameron.
Amber Rudd brushed off the complaint that teachers don’t have supplies of PPE by pointing out that the police don’t either, as though that was somehow a good thing that her Government shouldn’t be ashamed of.
Meanwhile the Sunday Times announced “UK Government sources” had told it that if Scotland decides to remain in lockdown longer, the British Government will not grant any additional funding to allow workers in Scotland to remain furloughed. Even if the medical and scientific advice is that it’s not safe for workers in Scotland to return to work, the British Government will force a choice on them of remaining at home without pay, or going into work and risking their lives. The Times helpfully told us that: “SNP hopes that Scottish workers could continue to receive UK-funded furlough support if Scotland stays in lockdown for longer than England have been dashed.”
SNP hopes. No reference to the Scottish Government at all. Remember that the next time a British nationalist media outlet criticises the Scottish Government for “politicising” this crisis.
This decision is despite the fact that the Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary Kate Forbes and Minister Fiona Hyslop had written to the British Government to request assurances that workers in Scotland could continue to receive financial support even if the scientific advice is for companies in Scotland to remain closed.
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The UK Government has decided yet again that what England does, the other nations of the UK will be forced to do, irrespective of whether that’s in their interests. There’s those broad shoulders of the UK for you, pooling and sharing death and disease.
Those same Tories and British nationalists who are attacking the Scottish Government for not going into lockdown sooner will now, of course, be the first to turn their ire on the British Government in order to fight for what’s best for Scotland within the UK.
Oh wait. No.
The Times report didn’t say so, but it’s a safe bet that those “UK Government sources” who briefed the Times newspaper haven’t consulted with the Scottish Government before running to the right-wing British nationalist press to gloat about turning the screw on those uppity Scots. That lack of respect has been a consistent pattern of behaviour from the Conservatives throughout their time in office.
The problem for the Tories is that when they display such naked contempt, eventually even the meekest in Scotland will run out of cheeks to turn. The next elections in Scotland will be about whether Scotland wants to remain in a British state which treats it with such disdain, and with such tragic results. Expect an SNP landslide.