On Thursday, the fearless leader of the (still)UK showed his face in Scotland. It might have had something to do with the fact that the SNP published its roadmap to an Independence Referendum this Monday. Or that the Scottish Tories lost a vote in Holyrood on Wednesday that called for planning the referendum to be postponed because it’d be “reckless.” Or that now 20 consecutive polls show support for Scottish independence above 50% among Scots and those who live here. But of course none of this played a role, officially.
At least someone on the staff had some forethought – Johnson did not show on Burns Night, which would have been more than just bad taste. Nor did he make his way to Peterhead, Europe’s largest fish market, to have a wee blether with the fishermen who so gloriously benefited from the Brexit deal. Well, Peterhead used to be Europe’s largest fish market, until Brexit. I hear milkshakes were in short supply in town on that day. He didn’t see First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, either. She might actually not have let him into Bute House, and I would have paid to see that. Part of that forethought might also account for this being on the down-low – this trip wasn’t advertised until the last minute, and even then it wasn’t said where he’d be that day. I guess they wanted to avoid the awkward situation of the PM having to hide in a fridge again to escape the public and/or the local press.
Instead he saw a Lighthouse lab and a vaccination centre in Glasgow, and a vaccination factory in Livingston. The locals weren’t having it and called the police on him for breaking Covid rules. And who can blame them. Never mind that this visit meant that all the facilities he “visited” to “show his support” and “learn” had to be deep-cleaned afterwards to be fit for purpose again, interrupting workflow and processes that are actually important to follow. Never mind that he and his 25-strong entourage broke both the English and Scottish rules on mixing with more than one “household.” Never mind that the message hammered into the populace of this island since November is “Stay at home.” They even cancelled Christmas for that. Never mind that there is a travel ban in Scotland for those coming from England. Never mind that politicians should lead by example when they demand so much from all of us in this pandemic. OK, the last one is too high a bar for the Conservatives, especially this PM, I admit. But it would have been nice to see them try. It simply was not an essential visit. Full stop. He didn’t do anything important, except stand in the way. He didn’t make any important announcement, policy- or otherwise. This was nothing but a fucking photo-op putting lives at risk. With the country in the grip of a pandemic and over 100,000 dead. He did say something, though, when asked about the SNP roadmap:
I think endless talk about a referendum […] is completely irrelevant now to the concerns of most people.
Read. The. Room.
But that’s not even the worst from that day. Continuing his favourite topic of “the union,” this is what he had to say. Verbatim:
If [the vaccine is] approved by the MHRA then we will have 60m doses of it by the end of this year for the whole of the British people. And so it’s a success for Scotland. Uh, it’s a success for, uh, Britain and, uh, it’s a success for Britain because it is a success for Scotland. It’s a success for Scotland because it’s a success for Britain. So, uh, I’m, uh, you know, it was very, very encouraging to see it. That’s, that’s … I may have done some other things as well while I have been here although I can’t immediately recollect what they are. It’s been an action-packed day and always a joy to see you.Thank you to John Crace from the Guardian. None of us would survive this shitshow of a government without your insights. Even when reality overtakes satire on a now daily basis.
The thing simply is: Like everything else Boris Johnson does, his efforts to cement this “union” bombastically backfire. Especially in Scotland. Remember his hastily arranged trip to Scotland before the General Election in 2019? Afterwards, the SNP wiped their arse with the remaining Tories north of the border and are now third largest party in Westminster. Even his own staffers call him a “liability” when it comes to Scotland. And Johnson is a liability for his “union” simply because every time he opens his mouth about Scotland, or worse, shows up here, the support for independence grows further. There is a direct correlation in what he says or does and people here wanting to get away from him and the UK he represents. He is the best recruitment agent the independence movement could wish for. It could have to do with a few choice remarks he uttered over the years concerning Alba, the most insulting being:
A pound spent in Croydon is of far more value to the country than a pound spent in Strathclyde. You will generate jobs in Strathclyde far more effectively if you invest in parts of London.
This was said in 2012, but the sentiment hasn’t changed, not one bit. The PM who styled himself “Minister for the Union” will be the one responsible for its breakup.
Just give it time.