For months the new government of Thrasher Mayhem has been telling us that Brexit means Brexit. It was a tautological nothing that served to keep the Tory party united while behind the scenes they ran around in a blind panic screaming at Boris Johnson and Liam Fox because none of them had thought to come up with a Plan A, never mind plans B through to D. Although to be fair they did have plans, it’s just that their plans were entirely about how best to progress their own careers and if that meant flushing the country’s future down the drain that was simply a fantastic opportunity for an outward looking Britain to make trade deals with the rats in the sewer.
But in October there was the Tory party conference, and we finally got some idea of what Brexit means Brexit actually means. And just like the Tory party, it’s not pretty. Hoving into view like a Royal Navy aircraft carrier with no planes on it, there’s a Brexit coming that’s even harder than the expression on our Prime Minister’s face when she sees a news report of a refugee child in Calais. Brexit means hating foreigners. Brexit means a revival of the worst form of xenophobic British nationalism, turning our backs on Europe so that Liam Fox and Boris Johnson can strut the world’s stage like a 1970s comedy act. Brexit means no single market, no freedom of movement, and no European human rights. Brexit means a form of Conservatism that even Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have dared to get away with. And Scotland will just have to put up with it.
Just after she became Prime Minister, May came to Scotland and announced that there would be no start to the Article 50 process to take the UK out of the EU until there was a UK-wide approach. The Scotland parliament and the other devolved administrations were to be fully consulted and involved in the process. Remember during the independence referendum campaign when Theresa May was one of those Unionists who lined up to assure Scotland that we were an equal partner in a family of nations? Now we discover that May meant consultation with an equal partner in the same way that a headteacher consults with a recalcitrant child when telling them that they’ve got detention. Scotland is to be detained in a hard Brexit, but we’ll be allowed to choose whether we have to write out ten thousand times, “Theresa May is our Tory overlord and we’ll do what we’re told” or “Scotland is grateful to be told what to do by Theresa May our Tory overlord.” Happy now Scotland? You’ve been consulted.
When you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere, opined Theresa, in a statement that’s right up there with Thatcher’s “no such thing as society” comment in its crassness. In the Tory mental universe you can only be a citizen of a state and you can’t aspire to belong to any larger grouping. You know, like humanity. And of course to be British is to be a citizen of the greatest state of all, because Britain has Strictly, and Bake Off, and the Queen. And foodbanks, and the greatest equality gap in Europe, a country which glorifies its military but then condemns former servicepeople to live on charity handouts.
The great English polymath Francis Bacon once wrote, “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.” But there’s no chance of Theresa May’s government being gracious and courteous to strangers, or indeed to British citizens who don’t share her government’s narrow view of the world. Foreigners are bad now, and so are socialists, Scottish independence supporters, the poor, the disabled, the low waged and the marginalised.
Meanwhile the new home secretary Amber Rudd said that she wanted companies to draw up lists of their foreign staff. Usually it’s considered hyperbole to make comparisons with your actual Nazis, but when a modern British Home Secretary makes a speech which apes chapter two of Mein Kampf, in which Hitler said he wanted companies to distinguish between those of their employees who are citizens and those who are foreign, Godwin’s Law has been suspended along with EU legislation.
A few days after announcing the new policy, Amber Rudd made a statement saying that the lists wouldn’t be available to the public, only the government would see them.
Because a secret list of foreigners sounds so much better!!
All over the country people rolled their eyes so far back in their heads that they could see their brains. Except for certain members and supporters of Labour party in Scotland, who can scarcely muster a brain cell between them. Instead of condemning the Tories for their descent into the foothills of fascism, they took to social media to blame it all on the SNP. They’d rather condemn those who seek to escape the madness that the UK has become than condemn the madness.
Fascism doesn’t march into your country like a stormtrooper. Fascism starts with a political party demonising others and saying it’s reasonable. It starts with a political party that promises it’s patriotic to distinguish between citizens and foreigners. It starts with a political party that says it will restore pride by building up the military and exempting them from the standards of behaviour required of the rest of us. What’s happening in the UK now isn’t fascism, but it’s fascism’s precursor, it’s the ground that fascism grows in like a poisonous plant.
For Scotland the stakes have never been higher. Escaping this descent into madness is the only way in which Scotland can preserve all those things which the majority of us hold dear, our tolerance, our acceptance, our desire to engage with the world, our valuing a society which doesn’t discriminate or hate. It’s clear now that there is no place for Scotland in the UK that the Tories are seeking to build. There is only a place for a subservient North Britain, shorn of self-respect, shorn of human decency. Independence is now a moral imperative.