By Rab Bruce’s Spider

It is increasingly clear that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings believe they can get away with anything. It doesn’t matter which set of statistics you look at, the UK has one of the worst, if not the worst, death rates from Covid19 in the world. Add to that the refusal to request a Brexit Transition Period extension, the Dominic Cummings flagrant breach of Lock Down rules, the probable corruption in the Robert Jenrick property affair, the removal of civil servants in order to replace them with political appointees, and the rush to get England out of Lock Down far too soon, and you see just how little they care for public opinion.

What can be done to stop this? Quite frankly, not very much. Few media outlets are critical of the Tories, and even if they were it would make no difference as Donald Trump has so patently demonstrated in the USA. Negative headlines are simply dismissed, and he just carries on. It’s fairly evident that Boris Johnson and his cronies have learned that lesson well.

As for the Labour opposition, Sir Keir Starmer seems content with making solemn pronouncements, then going along with whatever the Tories suggest. The clue to his behaviour may well be in his title.

Some people have expressed a wish for some Tory back benchers to rebel against the obvious malfeasance of the Government, but the chances of that are slim at best. When you consider they are happy to support a Government which has been negligent and/or downright malicious in things like the Windrush scandal, the grenfell affair, the suppression of the Russia Report, the whitewashing of the Jennifer Arcuri affair, the PPE scandal, the deliberate transfer of Covid sufferers to Care Homes, the non-existent ferry contract, the farce of the Covid Tracking system, and buying the wrong satellites for a new GPS system, the chances of them going against the Whips for anything else is minimal.

Some commentators have pointed out that the actions of this Government are comparable to those of 1930s Germany. Whether that is true or not, we should all be extremely concerned by the direction they are moving. It is fairly clear that they are aiming to impose a fascist-like rule on the UK, all the while proclaiming freedom and sovereignty.

There are suggestions in some polls that public opinion is now against Brexit but, as mentioned before, it is too late now. The majority which the British public gave the Tories in December ensures they can get away with pretty much anything they like. As a result, we can expect things to get a whole lot worse in the coming years.

Scotland, of course, has a potential way out, but surely the Scottish Government has realised by now that they are not dealing with reasonable people. There is no way the Tories will ever agree to a section 30 Order, and by holding out for this, Nicola Sturgeon will be condemning Scots to live under extreme Right Wing rule forever. Don’t forget the Constituency Boundary changes which are intended to ensure perpetual Tory rule.

The Covid pandemic may have made more Scots realise that we could not possibly do much worse than we will fare if we remain part of the UK, but unless we see a clear route to holding a meaningful referendum, it is difficult to envisage how we can escape the madness.

Pete Wishart, an SNP MP who advocates a gradualist approach, has at least acknowledged that some other course of action will be required if the SNP gain a majority of seats at the Holyrood Parliament next year and if the Tories still refuse to grant a section 30 Order. This is a welcome development, and he does make some good points. However, I feel there are a few weak areas in his argument.

He rightly says that the Unionists equate support for the SNP with support for independence, and that any reduction in SNP seats will be viewed as a loss of support for indy. To be fair, this is a point I have made myself in the past. However, what Mr Wishart does not seem to acknowledge is that the D’Honte voting system is specifically designed to prevent any one Party gaining a majority. The SNP did manage it once, but that was a bit of a fluke, and there can be no guarantees it would happen again. Having a second pro-Indy Party as a choice on the List vote could well boost the number of MSPs who support Scotland becoming a normal country. It is perhaps telling that the SNP regard this as a threat, but while the argument that it would dilute the Yes vote must be acknowledged, it must also be pointed out that the D’Honte system dilutes the Yes vote considerably more. It is also worth pointing out that the Unionist Parties always tally their own votes when making claims about support for the Union. If that’s good enough for them, surely it must be good enough for Yes to tally the votes of every pro-Indy Party.

But let’s put that aside for one moment, and assume that the SNP do achieve the majority Pete Wishart seeks. His solution is then to approach the EU for backing to hold another IndyRef. This sounds appealing on the face of it, but the big question must be whether the EU would dare interfere in the internal politics of a non-member State. My own guess would be that they will offer general comments on democracy and self-determination, perhaps going as far as saying they would welcome any nation which wishes to be a member, but that’s probably as far as it will go. It is tempting to suggest that the UN might be a better ally, but I can foresee the Tories raising a stink about foreigners meddling in British democracy, and point blank refusing to let anyone interfere.

Still, at least some sort of discussion has developed, which is better than the Westminster approach of holding competitions to see who can do the most press-ups. Perhaps some in the SNP are now growing worried at the pressure being applied by the creation of the Independence for Scotland Party. Some commentators, notably Robin McAlpine of Common Weal, have insisted the SNP has no plan for holding IndyRef2 beyond repeatedly asking for a Section 30 Order. Recent events have suggested that claim may well be true, and perhaps it will take the advent of a second Party to bring matters to a head and begin a mature conversation about developing an alternative strategy.

And be in no doubt that we need some sort of alternative. Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly shown that she is far more capable than any other politician in the UK, and there is no doubt that her performance over the Covid19 disaster has won many new admirers, especially when she is judged against the clowns running Westminster. But next year will be a crunch point. We cannot go on like this because Brexit is only going to exacerbate the problems we already face, and there is no way the Tories are going to rein back their drive for absolute control of the whole UK.

So let’s hear more from the ISP, and let’s hear more from the SNP about a Plan B, because we need to act soon if we are to preserve democracy in Scotland.