Armagegeddeddon !?

Earthquakes in Mexico, a fusillade of hurricanes in the Caribbean, the unstoppable warming of the Earth, a Dr Strangelove President threatening total nuclear wipe-out, jackboot authority restored to Catalonia and an economy-crashing Brexit imminent as a shambolic government devours itself.

Oh, and Kezia resigns…

If this isn’t Armageddon, I don’t know what is. Why Trump missed out Kezia’s resignation from his address to the UN will be debate by historians. I can only assume his advisers thought it best avoided in case he was asked to endorse her replacement.

‘You mean it’s a contest between a Communist and a Muslim?’ You can see his dilemma…

Of all these global crises – Kezia apart – climate change is the most terrifying to me because it fits into a long-term worldview that mankind’s destiny is to ‘progress to destruction.’ In other words, we will develop science to the point where it wipes us out. We constantly create without weighing up the downside. So we discover nuclear fission and create a super efficient power source from it, nuclear energy. But we still haven’t worked out what to do with the dangerous waste it generates, therefore we pretend it isn’t really a problem.

We produce a mass means of water distribution – plastic bottles instead of cans, glass bottles or animal skins – but don’t know how to destroy the empties. The result is that millions of tons of tiny plastic particles are now in drinking water and in the sea. We don’t know what impact it will have on human health. But it’s definitely killing life in the oceans.

We invented what our ancestors would regard as time travel – airplanes that whiz us around to view the dazzling panorama of life of Earth yet those same planes are killing wildlife. Sixty seven per cent of all wild animals will have been wiped out in three years time.

Eighty per cent of rain forest in Ivory Coast has been destroyed to make way for cocoa because of our love for chocolate.

Sperm count in western males has halved probably due to lifestyle – mobile phones, smoking and diet – while science allows women to have children later when the risks are higher. Combined, the two trends point long term to human extinction.

As Ruth Davidson might say: ‘What is the First Minister going to do about it?’

Measured against the scale of issues confronting us, Scottish politics can seem miniscule and irrelevant. It isn’t of course, because the only hope we have is that every one and every group do whatever they can to support life. And no one will do anything without leadership.

The way to change the world, as it were, is to change the culture of thought. You may remember the days before seatbelts in cars when there was an agonised outcry at such breach of civil liberties in demanding that ‘perfectly safe’ drivers would be forced by law to buckle up. That quickly changed with rational debate about the dangers – and, of course, cheeky Jimmy Savile.

Smoking indoors was another No Go area that the public would simply defy. Who was going to tell a pubful of boozed up blokes to stub it out? And yet…

The only way I can see of making effective progress is through political partnership. That means agreeing on areas where it is possible and being prepared to compromise in these areas for a common good. Where there is a principle at stake, the agreement is to disagree.

For example I never understood, apart from hubris, what prompted the disastrous decision by Ming Campbell, Tavish Scott and Nicol Stephen to refuse coalition with the SNP in 2007. Sure, they gambled the Nats would fail but what blinkered them to the possibilities of a combined programme for government with a red line clause on an independent referendum? They could have withdrawn from government if the SNP tried to legislate for it. They put self-interest and personal bias before national interest and have never recovered.

Mostly, of course, when it comes to the vote, there is compromise and mostly the government gets its policy enacted because, in truth, there is little between the parties on the bulk of domestic policy. Labour and Liberals dance to the same Nationalist piper and have to look for ways to differentiate themselves from the SNP. (There shouldn’t be a national police force and tampons should be free to ALL women).

Most uneasy of all is Davidson who is canny enough to know the Scots have a soft spot for centre left ideas while her own hardcore voters are as right wing as UKIP and would happily wave in Trump to nuke Holyrood if the fallout didn’t reach Morningside.

There is a centrifugal force which drives the parties together and often the only brake is tribal resentment and personal animosities (although these are, in my experience, rarely as toxic as the pantomime behaviour in the chamber would lead you to believe).

Which is why I’m bemused by the rejectionist approach of the Labour contenders who are both bitten by the same bug and infected by the delirium that Labour folk hate the SNP and don’t want to work with them. Quite how they square a refusal to work with the party of government on matters of shared interest with a passion for progressive policies, I can’t for the life of me see. I also don’t believe it’s true because the pressures to do the right thing can’t be ignored for long – as the idiotic Tories are discovering over Brexit. Learn the lesson of Canute. So I assume all the No Deals, No Alliances talk of Sarwar and Leonard is for the Labour loyalists who are the electorate in this case and have found they need to reject the SNP in order to conform to Corbyn’s One Britain agenda.

That’s fine as in-house posturing but it will look limp when the brothers and sisters vote with the SNP anyway. It also stores up a serious problem for the new branch office manager because a united front for Scotland is going to be needed to resist the Tories’ power grab of devolved responsibilities. It’s one thing for Labour in Westminster to moan about it but it’s in Holyrood where should-to-shoulder work will be required to resist the onslaught. That implies joint agreement, private talks, public shows of solidarity and a sense of 1999 cross-party unity that sits at odds with the current leadership narrative. Scots admire those who appear to put their country above party and it was failure to do so that led to McConnell’s demise in 2007. Labour voters should hope the No Pact emissions are just that – hot air.

I think the leadership contest this time points to a real split in Labour affiliations in a way that Kezia and Ken McIntosh simply didn’t two years ago. The old Labour pragmatists are facing a Militant-style insurgency (albeit more polite in tone). The Corbynistas are as shameless in approach as any Blairite machine – witness the windy rhetoric over equal pay AFTER it is addressed by the incoming SNP in Glasgow having been resisted for decades by Labour and subsidised by taxpayers. It is a familiar trick true to type – forget reality, just deliver the message. It says there is only one way and it’s our way. We start at Year Zero – the politics of Pol Pot.

Yet the overarching message chimes with the times in seeking to overturn the privileges of the few in favour of the many. As a message that works but it looks like it’s all Jeremy has got, that slogan, as his silence over Catalonia and the Spanish state authoritarianism resonates and confusion reigns on his true position on Brexit.

Leonard will struggle though against the party machinery which favours Sarwar. His family tentacles and patronage run right through Labour in Glasgow and he is clearly a driven man, of a sort Kezia simply isn’t. (I honestly thought we were told she was in this for the long term, that she was the new generation). Sarwar may be motivated by social justice but he has the look of a son put on a gilded path and expected to match the father’s achievement. The only thing he does have is staying power – no amount of rejection will deter him. He failed in 2007 when no Labour candidate made it through on the list and lost the Westminster seat in 2015. So he keeps on coming back which means he isn’t a quitter.

A lifelong Labour member told me she voted for Murphy in 2014 despite disliking him and what he stood for because the party needed a known quantity in charge, someone with experience, not a rookie.

The same looks likely to happen this time when known entity Anas Sarwar can lay claim to the experience and background of an old hand not in the pay of the unions, someone who, along with Jackie Baillie, will wind up the Nats remorselessly and give the entrenched Labourites something to cheer and chuckle about.

Shared platforms for progressive policies? You can them two a penny at the cash and carry.

Labour has still not resolved its dilemma over Corbyn – witness Sarwar sucking up having denounced him previously. The vein of antipathy will still run after the leadership vote and we will thrill to the sight of Anas bending history to claim he is a Corbynista too.

But none of this will get us near a new kind of politics in which we confront together the gathering clouds of the inevitable crises buffeting Scotland. No Pacts. No Referendum. No Alternative. That isn’t going to do it.

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China Doll

Well it shook me, I have to say. When I heard there was to be a re-launch, I groaned. What that usually means is we would be the ‘best ever’, we would have the ‘boldest’ ideas and be ‘really radical – honest’. Every re-launch I can remember was 90 per cent marketing, nine per cent desperation and one per cent content. It’s what you do when your tea’s oot and nobody can think what else to do. (Labour’s annual leadership contest is always a re-launch in which everything bad is going to stop – until it doesn’t.)

But, contrary Nat that she is, La Sturgeon surprised me and just about everyone else by flourishing a dazzling Chinese fan of proposals and fluttering her eyes at us all. How we gasped as each exotic delight was unveiled. OK, I’m exaggerating, but when the UN head honcho on the environment, Erik Solheim, tweets his approval, you know you’ve hit the mark. At least, you’ve got the nod from the kind of people who matter rather than the kind of support Ruth Davidson attracts from, say, the leader of the Orange Order.

To be fair to the *Unionist opposition for a change (these are turbulent times), it does raise the question of where has all this come from and why have we waited til now to see it? Have eyes been off the ball too long? Was too much time spent in the war room not the work room?

I suppose the truth is that it’s always possible to invent new ideas when necessity is playing mother. And it’s not a moment too soon. They have grasped the initiative at the start of the political year, going a significant way to meeting Green demands and at the same time leaving in their vapour trail the policy-free Tories and the internally-riven Labour Party.

I like the mix of big vision and small-scale – moving to electric cars and pollution-free zones while giving discounts on returned bottles. Lifting the 1 per cent pay cap will give hope to those struggling with two jobs and on benefits while free care for the vulnerable is another of the many humane steps the SNP have taken to improve living conditions.

There was even the lollipop for the Daily Mail of implied tax rises – horror – which lets them avoid writing up the positive measures and just insert last year’s budget article with a new headline. Over at the Times, they missed the tax rise gift and instead wondered allowed how it will all be paid for. As you can see, there is no way the SNP can win.

I don’t think they will be dismayed by the Herald front page majoring on the tax hike because that really punches home the message that this is truly bold and is taking no prisoners. One suspects this is the real spikey wee Sturgeon getting serious about what she believes Scotland should be, like giving up on K.T.Tunstall and going back to Guns ‘n Roses. If there’s a consistent riff driving this programme along, it is progressive rock – her own Glastonbury debut but with left-leaning ideas she can actually implement, not Corbyn’s wishful thinking. It is, when you think about it, the one thing Sturgeon has over Corbyn, the ultimate ability to implement policy from a position of power. She is in government. He is not.

I don’t know about outflanking Labour, but the breadth of measures here allied to intent –as underlined by tax rises – poses a problem for the party and those sometime Nationalist voters tempted by Corbyn’s rhetoric. What more do you want, we may ask. This is a devolved administration checked by an overbearing state apparatus and yet it produces eye-catching policies both macro and micro. Indeed the flip side is that Sturgeon may have weighed in the balance the aspirations of middle class Scots and come down against their interests, potentially risking cementing the desertion of one-time voters in the North east and the Borders.

I’ve always supported the concept of the left-right balancing act because it’s important to create the idea of governing for all. The well-off and the wealthy have a stake in society too and their votes have been necessary to achieving the ultimate objective. I thought the decision not to raise their taxes but instead not to pass on the personal allowance increase was just such a balanced option. But it looks like the last election has added some crucial ounces to the scales and tipped them in favour of higher taxes. Bear in mind that this is exactly what the Tories planned when they drew up the last Scotland Act – virtually the only power Edinburgh has is in personal taxation. Mundell wants Scottish taxpayers to feel the pinch and punish the Nationalists at the ballot box. It isn’t about good governance, it’s about rigging the system.

Yet the mood surely is turning away from the budget-slashing Thatcherite horror show we have endured for 30 years – it gives us third world infrastructure outside London, underpaid and deserting nurses, family breakdowns, benefit sanctions, loss of personal dignity, wealth accumulated with the already wealthy and it gives us Grenfell. That is the heart of Corbyn’s appeal – the simple message that this has to stop and society gets rebalanced. Perhaps the realisation is dawning that for all the sacrifices, the national debt climbs, the deficit grows, the currency bombs and economic disaster beckons via Brexit. But Jeremy can’t rescue Scotland from this Armageddon and indeed has shown no interest in doing so. The effect of Brexit will be to make uniform the internal organisation of the UK to make a single harmonised trading bloc, ironing out differences not acknowledging them.

The coming weeks will, if a real debate is allowed, bring much of this to the fore as the Labour leadership contest unfolds. But I suspect neither candidate will seek to emphasise Brexit as it will merely underline how powerless and exposed Scotland now is.

The questions now are:For Labour voters – Is this good enough? How much more do you want and do you really think Scottish Labour would do better? For Tory voters – do you still believe the mess Britain is in and the disaster it’s heading for can be sorted by Ruth Davidson’s bluster and without tax rises? For Nationalists – Is this the flame that lights the fire and rekindles the belief?

*(And if you’re still backing Brexit, the leaked Home Office immigration paper demonstrates how, with your support, apartheid is planned for Britain with different categories of citizen based on country of origin and professional qualification. A whole new bureaucracy is needed to police the foreign population. Gastarbeiter will be categorised as acceptable and not acceptable with preference given to native workers. It will mean the state saying British Workers Preferred. For the low skilled – an absolutely essential part of the workforce – it means banishment. No Low Skilled Foreigners Wanted Here. Highly skilled staff will need to show their passport to get access to work – perhaps a sign could be painted on their coat. And don’t think about making your life here because the family who can join you will be severely restricted. Maybe reconsider coming to the UK at all. This of course will have no knock-on effect at all on British staff going to other European countries where they will be welcomed with open arms…

If Britain thinks it can make second class citizens out of European allies, it will come up against the full weight of the EU’s defences. This document will already have damaged the UK’s chances of a good hearing and an early trade deal. It is the clearest sign that Britain is turning into a racist state – Britain First – which every other nation will shun. The UK under the Tories is an international embarrassment and Theresa May revealed as a sinister right wing schemer with a hatred of foreigners which transcends the national interest. She means to stop fellow Europeans at any cost to the country.

Is this the Brexit that some independence supporting Scots voted for? Is this why they turned against the SNP in the election? Because I’d like to hear what they thought they were getting instead. If this apartheid state is the kind of Scotland you want, you can count me out. We are either internationalist and pro-European or we are nothing.)

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A Trip Up North


At the door to the allotment shed, old Uncle Jeremy dozed in the broken armchair with the springs sticking out. ‘Wake up’, said a voice. It was young Kezia, his niece, shaking the shoulder of his Mao jacket.

‘Eh? What’s up? What day is it? Has the revolution started?’ He ran fingers through his straggly beard. ‘Stalin didn’t shoot his own wife, you know. It’s a lie put out by the Kremlin plotters.’

Kez laughed. ‘Don’t be silly, uncle. The revolution’s over – Mr Blair has gone. I want you to come north with me on a trip.’

‘Up north! You mean north of Islington? Like Enfield?

‘Even further north, uncle.’

‘You mean Watford’

Kez remembered why she loved old Jeremy so much, despite thinking he was doolally and should have retired years ago.

‘I’m taking you to see my new place which I run all by myself and have lots and lots of new friends. It’s called Scotland.’

‘Oh alright. But only if we can travel in an overcrowded carriage with the peasants carrying chickens in wicker baskets and share home-made bread while the guard plays a balalaika.’

And so Jeremy arrived in Scotland on an island Kezia said was called Stornoway where people spoke a strange a language and made garments out of steel wool. Kez said it was named after a Mr Harris. They had a meeting with a nice Mr Brian Wilson who said he had a plan to make it another socialist paradise like Cuba.

To make him look more Scottish and make sure he didn’t patronise anybody, Kez asked him to play the bagpipes for the camera.

Then a rude person asked a whole lot of ridiculous questions. ‘How can you protect workers’ rights outside the EU? Why do want to keep nuclear weapons? The Institute for fiscal Studies says you would keep £7 billion of Tory spending cuts hitting the poorest. That true?’

Jeremy smiled. ‘Did somebody remember to water the strawberries before I left the allotment?’

Then it was on to a traditional bastion of Jeremy support – a working steel plant where men wore overalls and had dirty fingernails. This was what he stood for – honest toil in a furnace factory. The union official told him the only reason it was still open was because something called the SNP had stopped it from closing down.

‘Quite right too! They are heroes of the people.’

Then Kez whispered something in his ear. ‘I mean they are the enemy of working people and must be crushed. They are the same as the wicked Tories with their boot on the throat of the workers.’

The SNP had privatised Cal Mac ferries, he said next until a rude person coughed and said that was a lie from nice Mr Wilson. And they sold off Scotrail, he added, until a voice said they had no power to do that.

‘Well, never mind. I’m open to lots of different devolution ideas like Scotland having its own legal system.’

Someone coughed again.

‘Will you SHUT UP’, shouted Jeremy.

Kez gave him a cup of tea and said they would visit Lanarkshire where many people liked him and would have turned up to see him if only Cash in the Attic wasn’t on BBC1. Jeremy asked if he could meet the council leader but Kez said he was under house arrest accused of corruption.

‘That’s a shame’, said Jeremy. ‘I wanted to tell him how the SNP must use all their budget to reverse the injustices foisted on Scotland by the Unionist government they didn’t vote for.’

He said they should abolish student tuition fees, retain the maintenance grant, reverse the housing benefit cut for 18 to 21 year olds and create thousands of apprenticeships. They should pay another £600 a year to carers, prevent profits being made from assessing disability and cover for cuts to council tax support. They should mitigate the bedroom tax and oppose the third child benefit cut and not waste money on Trident and not privatise the NHS…He went on and on with his list of progressive demands and waited for applause. But there was only silence. People looked away. Kezia took his arm and whispered that the SNP had already done all this while Labour had abstained on the Tories’ austerity plans in Westminster.

She said he should stop now before he embarrassed her in front of her new friends.

Kez realised she had been right all along. He really was doolally and should have retired years ago.

The only thing he’d got right was that Scotland should never ever, under any circumstances, run its own affairs, because even an ignorant, condescending allotment dweller from Islington could do a better job than any Scot.

Jeremy waved goodbye to Scotland. ‘Got to go. I’m chairing a meeting of the allotment summer produce collective in the morning. We’ll need to grow all our own once we leave the EU, you know. Och aye the noo.’

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So GERs proves Scotland is a basket case – independence is over. No, wait. It proves the opposite – we need to escape the Union. Quick. Either is right and both are wrong – it all depends on your standpoint and the truth is that no facts are going to change any minds at this stage.

Independence – and the Union – are essentially emotional constructs from the voters’ perspective and whatever line of argument you take, they will fit into their own version of events. So relax. Stand down and chill. Just watch the beanfeast as each side makes claim against the other, thereby entrenching their prejudices by re-interpreting information in different ways. Then ask yourself a question: Do you fight for independence to be richer?

Ask: Would you give up part of your income – a one-off payment or an ongoing tax rise – in order to be a sovereign nation again? Because, by God, I would. It isn’t just that independence is a prize in itself – at any cost – but it would be worthwhile to rid ourselves of the wheedling, cavilling, sneering Scottish lobby whose sole delight is denigrating their own country, their own people. The total lack of self-awareness is astonishing – adult men and women boasting about how indebted they are, how useless they seem and how feeble they are in the face of the grown-up world. You can dress it up as analysis, as ‘Professor’ Jim Gallacher does for the extremist Scotland in Union outfit, but the overriding point is made: He thinks his own country is horseshit.

And that’s it. That is his point – beneath the mock academic bluster and forelock-tugging gratitude to the British state for its largesse, Prof Jim’s message is simple: We cannae dae it. We live on handouts. See us, we’re shite.

This relentless bleating and knee-crawling obeisance to a romantic outdated vision of Britain – a country committing national suicide through political cowardice and incompetence – gives every self-respecting Scot the boak. Imagine how shameful you would feel towards the end of your life if all you’d done was shore up a class-ridden, xenophobic and backward country run by a public school elite while denying your own children the same advantages as other European nations. And why? Because the annual accounts looked a bit messy.

No, the truth about Unionists is that under no circumstance will they ever desert the UK because it means more to them than Scotland. They are emotionally attached and spiritually affiliated to Britain and nothing, short of an ISIS takeover of Whitehall, will move them.

When Scotland was awash with oil revenues (theoretically that is, as the British attributed them to a made-up economic unit instead of Scotland) Unionism argued there was no need for independence. Now there are no oil revenues – bingo – you’re too poor to go it alone.

Once you grasp the essential point – that it will stay this way until enough of them are gone – you realise too they are to be ignored and pitied. After all, what aspect of Britain would rouse you to action? What is there about it you would defend?

The quality of its democracy perhaps – no PR and an unelected House. The state of its economy maybe – massive public debt, low productivity, minimal manufacturing, breadline wages, no pensions, limited workers’s rights, brutal inequality and spending hoarded in one corner.

Perhaps it’s our contribution to human rights – you know, the ones the Tories want to bin with the ECHR. Maybe it’s British friendliness – overt racism stoked by the political classes, making second class citizens out of European workers, rejecting the EU concept of partnership between nations.

Is it the sale to foreign purchasers of strategic industries? Love of nuclear power? Love of nuclear weapons?

To be fair, we still make good television programmes – if you like lemon sponges.

But none of this matters to the believers. And, yes, it is a cult because no matter how egregiously Britain behaves, its adherents will obey and forgive. It is a belief system which is why so many like Ruth Davidson and Douglas Alexander react so angrily to challenge – they genuinely feel the fear of losing what is most dear to them.

And my belief system? Well, it is also powerful and heavily based on faith but not on restricting what people can be permitted to do. It is founded on the belief that we can trust ourselves, hopefully to do the right thing but knowing that if we get it wrong, we made our own errors. Countries do – Iceland and Ireland both walked blind into a bank-led borrowing crisis and both used the collective imperative of national interest to pull through and prosper – unlike the UK. (Although the architects of the system that permitted the crash, Brown and Darling, have prospered in international finance – how very British). Am I stuck in a single mode and unable to adjust? I don’t think so.

Short of independence, I see no reason why a more federal UK cannot be made to work in the interests of all and am willing to work for it. Democracy before dogma.

Between our two sides are found the changeable ones, the uncommitted who decide the outcome of elections and who can be swayed by argument. Do they stick with desperation and dinnae? Or do they have the generational inspiration to transform their country?

And what about GERs and those fiscal transfers and higher per head spending and budget deficits? If you’re Unionist, it is proof that Scotland is incapable and bust. If you’re Nationalist, it proves the Union has failed and we need to get out.

Won’t it be expensive if we do? What GERs doesn’t address is the attribution of state assets and other areas to be divided during disaggregation talks. Nobody can say what each side would offer as the tangle of shared lines of responsibility is unwound. One estimate based on population share would award Scotland £109bn worth of assets.

It is clear from the mess Britain is in over Brexit that complicated talks of this nature can reveal unknown surprises. Any Scottish ‘deficit’ could disappear in the deluge (or else Faslane could be closed).

The irony of GERs is that it tells us where we are today under the Union – and for UK supporters, it ain’t pretty. And that’s out of their own mouths. While they trumpet delight at their own country’s poverty and dependence, we clearly wonder how that can be so after 300 years of Union and the discovery of oil.

GERs won’t change anybody’s mind. But it will underline how different are our visions for Scotland.

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A Shaft of Light

The lovely aspect of Andrew O’Hagan’s conversion to Yes was the way it cut across the grain of despair being heavily promoted by the champions of Scotland the Province.

The self-styled Unionist lobby has feasted on the contrivance that they somehow ‘won’ an election they comprehensively lost. They have delighted in cramming Scotland back inside a box marked Useless. In their hubris they have claimed an ascendancy that in reality looks more like an electoral spasm.

This year’s general election in Scotland was a vote of revenge for many when the chance came to round on the nationalists who had so discombobulated them. There has after all to be a reason why a Liberal in the North East would vote for a Brexit Tory knowing it would damage their own local economy more than anywhere else in the UK. (We await the government’s report confirming this. So far they are afraid to publish). To abandon every progressive principle of your party and betray its history in order to replace committed, professional representatives with amateurs and careerists from the Rotary Club speakers’ committee, is, like Brexit, a stunning act of self-harm.

That’s what happens when you vote out of revenge – you vote against one thing and forget what you’re getting in exchange. As Ruth Davidson has just admitted, you got a Tory Party devoid of policy. She is now seeking ideas that can be turned into proposals for government when surely that’s what elections are supposed to be about.

Anyone voting for her candidates in June got a pig in a poke – a know-nothing MP (one of whom is holding surgeries by appointment only) and a party without policy. Still, they chased the SNP. And, of course, they delayed a referendum, which may be the last hope of escaping a disastrous Brexit. I fear North East Liberal voters who turned to the Tories may fit Blackadder’s barb at Baldrick: ‘I’d bump into cleverer people at a lodge meeting of the Guild of Village Idiots’

Still, however politically bewildered, they have delivered for the increasingly frothing commentariat a prize that has eluded them for a decade – a blood lust of vengeance which is sweeping away all reason, all nuance and balance. Witness David Torrance in the Guardian.

Add in the desertion of part-time Nationalist voters back to their natural home of British Labour and it could be presented as the wilting of the Yes flower. I’ve spent some time worrying away at the concept of voting Labour in Scotland while supporting independence and concluded that, as always, people should be true to themselves and act accordingly. All are welcome when it comes to the cause. I’m just confused by the message since, if everyone did the same, and voted Labour, there would assuredly be no independence for Scotland. Indeed if only a few thousand more did so, independence would be further away than ever. Nothing will delight the Westminster oligarchy more than SNP voters deserting to Labour. Go figure.

So the O’Hagan intervention was a welcome shaft of light reminding us that if we want real change, it will only come through self-government. By definition, we ourselves will make the decisions on the Scotland that we want. That’s the whole point. It doesn’t guarantee any of us will get exactly what we’d prefer, but that’s because it’s a democracy with diverse views. But we will get Scotland’s wish, not England’s.

And that’s become the defining point since Brexit – the realisation that the Union itself has become a myth. There can only be a union between willing partners who deal with each other equitably, or at least with mutual respect. I agree with O’Hagan that the Supreme Court ruling proved that even the latest devolution settlement was a stitch-up allowing Scots to be overruled at will. The lack of a Unionist foundation can be found in the dismissal of Scotland’s separate EU vote. ‘It was a UK decision’, we are told as if to confirm the English majority in Parliament that ensures we will always get what they want. I’m increasingly with Alf Baird on this; Scotland is today a province of greater England more than it is a partner in Union.

As it happens, I see advantages in Union and believe that after independence there will be a close relationship mirroring some of the joint arrangements we have now. As a Borderer, I know the strength of feeling in favour of it and respect articulate views in support. But where is the justifying case for Union? The endless sneering at Scotland and its aspiration and threats of currency withdrawal and retaliation hardly speak of partnership or respect. Yet that appears to be what vocal support for the UK is reduced to.

O’Hagan reminds us that not all political thought is frenzied and partisan. Outside of the Daisleys and the Deerins, the alt right Oor Wullies, the Scots doubtful about independence are not zealots. The somewhat scary partisans of Scotland in Union with their extremism do not represent Scottish Unionist opinion any more than Scottish Resistance represent Nationalism. And anyone can be converted to the other side. Andrew O’Hagan himself was an unflinching critic as was Tom Morton, now both openly campaigning for our side.

There is no reason to think the wider public is any different. How long will it take voters who turned Tory to see how ineffectual their MPs are and how the party is pursuing the decimation of their own economic base?

When will lefties see through Corbyn as a man who talks left but who is as unquestioningly Unionist as Ruth Davidson and would exult in the extermination of the SNP?

It remains the case that those of us who are proudly Scottish Nationalists have in our hearts a cause, one that transcends political parties and can unite Scots. Even those who have moved back to Labour have not abandoned the aim of independence.

To support the Union today demands acceptance of the most shambolic bunch of liars and jokers who’ve ever held high office in Britain. It means watching as they turn somersaults with red tape and taxpayer’s money trying to buy back what we currently have to no advantage. Britain has been turning into a dystopian pantomime under the Tories (and Liberals). Now the show has hit Broadway and the whole world is watching.

The logic of O’Hagan’s case is compelling. His words inspire. And they speak to a truth the Unionist hardliners cannot bear – however slowly, the transformation of Scotland can no longer be stopped.

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