THE poor-performance artiste with the stage name Boris Johnson wants us to know that it’s not his fault support for Scottish independence is on the rise. Just like everything else that has gone wrong under his maladministration, the fault lies with other people. Johnson is only ever responsible for the successes, and there are precious few of those.
The part-time Prime Minister was being interviewed on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 on Sunday when he was asked about Douglas Ross’s wee outburst.
Douglas had given a speech in which he more or less admitted Scotland is on the verge of independence because there are far too many people in the Conservative Party who have no interest at all in doing what’s needed to keep Scotland happy. Or indeed even doing what’s needed to stop Scotland being desperately unhappy.
We now have a Scottish Conservative leader who has publicly admitted that his own party is driven by narrow English nationalism. And there we were thinking Jackson Carcrash was a gift to the independence cause.
Johnson naturally refused to accept this remark was in any way directed at him. More than likely, wee Douglas would also have denied it was, too.
And he wouldn’t even have needed a crib sheet from Baroness Ruth Don’t Call Me Baroness Davidson, because the one thing a Conservative MP loves more than their Precious Union is their precious career. Douglas might talk about standing up for Scotland, but when it comes to a vote in the Commons, he dutifully trots through the lobby the Conservative whips tell him to.
To be fair, the recent rise in support for Scottish independence is not entirely the fault of Johnson. He’s had help. It’s also the fault of Michael Gove, who is reportedly the UK Government minister responsible for sneaking into the Internal Market Bill the provision that allows UK Government ministers to spend directly on devolved areas of competence in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
In so doing, Gove has embarked upon an outright attack on the fundamental principles of the devolution settlement which has led many in Scotland to conclude that if the Westminster Parliament cannot be trusted to respect its promises and commitments regarding the devolution settlement, then devolution itself is not safe.
Gove’s idea of strengthening the Union consists of chaining down Scotland and putting greater restrictions on the right of the people of Scotland to choose a different path from the one decided by Westminster.
Johnson has also been helped by David Cameron. In the immediate aftermath of the 2014 referendum, an intelligent and sensitive politician would have attempted to reach out to the 45% of Scotland which had voted for independence.
He would have bent over backwards to ensure the promises and commitments made by the Better Together campaign were not only implemented in full, but that they were surpassed. Instead, Cameron stood on the steps of Downing Street and told us it had all really been about England all along, and proceeded to outline measures to restrict the voting rights of Scotland’s MPs in Westminster.
Instead of the promises of the notorious Vow being fulfilled sincerely, we got a Scottish Secretary who openly boasted that the new tax powers for Holyrood were designed as a trap for the SNP.
READ MORE: Boris Johnson: I’m not to blame for surge in support for Scottish independence
Johnson was helped by Theresa May who, after the Brexit vote, made no attempt at all to find a compromise with the 48% of the UK that had voted Remain. Far less did she reach out to the large majority of Scotland which had voted Remain – despite the fact Scotland was told in 2014 that the only way it could remain in the EU was by voting against independence.
WHAT we got was a single-minded pursuit of the hardest possible Brexit. We got a Scottish Government which was routinely sidelined and marginalised during Brexit negotiations and which was denied any input into the form that Brexit took.
And, worst of all, we got a UK Government which established in the Supreme Court that the provision in the Scotland Act saying that Westminster would not alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament without Holyrood’s consent had no force in law.
Yet that provision was one of the key commitments of the Better Together campaign which it used to win the referendum of 2014.
Johnson has merely continued the pattern of contempt which was established by his predecessors. His Government has deliberately cut the devolved governments out of the loop, leaving Scottish Government ministers to discover UK policy only after the Tories have leaked it to their friends in the right-wing media. Johnson is the personification of the Conservative disrespect and disdain for Scotland because he embodies an upper-class patrician contempt for ordinary people, and blusters and fnaugh fnaughs his way through a crisis, confusing his own arrogant self-confidence for competence.
His laziness, his self-serving lies, his inability to grasp details, his arrogant belief that rules apply to others but not to him … all these are reasons why Johnson is so despised in Scotland. But what drives support for independence is not the man himself – he is merely a symbol for all that is wrong with the British state.
What really drives support for independence is that the British state has allowed a person as obviously and abundantly inadequate as Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to gain power, and has few effective checks and balances on that power. That is what tells us the British state is unfit for purpose, and that it’s a state in which Scotland can never be a partner in a union. In such a polity Scotland can only ever be a plaything of a clown like Johnson.
In that respect, Johnson is one of the greatest assets of the independence movement, but he’s far from alone. He’s abundantly assisted by Douglas Ross who can’t open his mouth without sticking his foot in it.
He’s helped by the sliming lies of Michael Gove who seems to believe that an untruth or a moral outrage becomes acceptable as long as it’s delivered politely.
He’s helped by the rest of the Conservative Party and its single minded pursuit of a English nationalist Brexit that Scotland doesn’t want.
So no, Boris Johnson isn’t solely responsible for the rise in support for independence. He’s just the head clown in the Conservative circus of contempt.