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Response to CTyankee (Reply #29)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 02:01 AM

35. Johnson is an immediate spur, yes, but

he's just the latest and most blatant Westminster leader to be utterly tonedeaf and arrogantly dismissive of not just Scotland's, but the (especially northern) English regions', Wales's and Northern Ireland's concerns as well.

Because of population distribution, MPs from southern English constituencies will always heavily outnumber those from outside England and its other regions. This may not matter as much if a UK government is sensitive to the needs of the areas outside the southeast of England, nearer London, but few have done more than offer lipservice in recent times. Especially with the current government, Westminster acts as the English parliament and the Tories have enough MPs to override pretty much any opposition.

The drive for Scottish independence isn't new. It was behind the precursor to the Labour Party that sprang up in Scotland early last century.

It was a minority movement for many years, but eventually the tensions of the UK's uneven government led to two referendums on devolution and the establishment of a national assembly for Scotland. The first referendum was sabotaged by English MPs who changed the rules to effectively give the dead votes (and was one factor in the demise of Callaghan's very troubled Labour government that ushered in the Tory Thatcher years). Pressure from the EU led to the second referendum, which voted convincingly yes to devolution. Wales and Northern Ireland later gained their own devolved assemblies, but Scotland's has most powers.

Initially, the Scottish assembly was envisaged as little more than a sop and a talking shop, like a glorified local council. As it began to hit its stride and gain powers, the SNP's vote share rose until it eventually managed to win a majority of seats in the Scottish assembly (which had been believed impossible because the proportional representation system of voting had been set up to avoid one party, especially the SNP, taking power and to encourage coalitions). The SNP has been in power in Scotland since, sometimes relying on coalitions, as it does with the Green Party at the moment.

It was hard to gain agreement from the UK government for the 2014 referendum on independence, and it was then hard fought. Initially, support for Yes to independence polled much lower than No, but over the course of the lengthy campaign, it grew until it caused serious alarm in Westminster. One major focus for the No campaign was EU membership and the argument that if Scotland became independent, it would not be welcome in the EU, not least because what was left of the UK would do its best to make sure that was the case. SNP debaters did point out that there was the possibility of a referendum that might take the UK out of the EU, and also that the laughable at the time figure of Boris Johnson might become UK prime minister. Both these prospects were heavily pooh-poohed as ridiculous.

You'll know enough of the UK's recent history to understand how that all panned out after the independence referendum went 55%/45% No. Scotland then voted resoundingly 62% to remain in the EU in the subsequent referendum.

The argument now is that the UK leaving the EU is a fundamental change of circumstances that warrants a fresh Scottish independence referendum to take account of the new situation. On top of that, promises were made in the post-referendum settlement for more powers for the Scottish parliament that have not been honoured (Labour figures tend to want to talk about federalism in the UK as a solution, but there's no serious support for it and power tends to be centralized under any UK government), and there's a constant buzz from Johnson and other high-up Tories to strip powers from the Scottish parliament, or even abolish it altogether. Meanwhile, Scotland's SNP MPs, who form the third largest party in Westminster, are routinely abused, belittled and patronized by the Tories. They don't seem to grasp that when they do that, they abuse, belittle and patronize those of us who voted for them as our representatives.

Opinion polls over the last year have shown support for independence in Scotland rising to consistently around 60%. This has been driven partly by the ongoing Brexit debacle, partly by the mismanagement of the COVID crisis by Westminster, partly by the perception that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has done a far better job of communicating and marshalling resources and heeding scientific advice on the pandemic, but not least by the lack of respect from the Tories and their incompetence and blatant corruption in handing out contracts for PPE etc. The main counter-argument from those who oppose Scottish independence at the moment is that the first independence referendum was described by SNP politicians at the time as a "once in a generation opportunity". They want to focus on the words "once in a generation" and ignore the context of "opportunity", and want to define a generation in this case to extend up to 40 years.

Johnson's the obvious figurehead for all that dysfunction. I don't think he and his cabinet are capable of charming voters in Scotland after the experiences of the last few years, even if they had any inkling to try to do so.
This is the DU member formerly known as Denzil_DC.

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IsItJustMe Nov 2020 OP
exboyfil Nov 2020 #1
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LineLineLineLineReply Johnson is an immediate spur, yes, but
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