Wednesday, January 19

That creak? It is the United Kingdom that begins to break down | George Monbiot


TOAny residual argument for Scotland to remain within the UK meets its counterargument in Boris Johnson. Westminster politics have always been the preserve of a remote enclave, on average massively wealthier and more privileged than those they claim to represent, especially in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But now that they are dominated by a prehensile ogre who grabs everything his donors will give him while the queues at food banks lengthen, why should anyone north of the border consent to be ruled by his carefree decree?

We have never been closer and never further. Remote technologies open our living rooms to each other, but what we see behind the doors are different worlds: peeling plaster in one, £ 800 per roll wallpaper in another. In Westminster, a hereditary elite treated the pandemic less as a crisis than as an opportunity to enrich their friends. By awarding unannounced, no-bid contracts to favored firms for essential goods and services, many of which were deficient or never came, he actively encouraged the kind of profit during a national emergency portrayed in The Third Man. As a result, several Harry Limes have become extremely wealthy.

In Westminster, where the emblem of parliament is a rake surmounted by a crown and surrounded by chains (translation: stay out, rabble), prime ministers routinely abuse the powers conferred symbolically on the crown. But none, in the modern era, have exploited the absence of a codified constitution as effectively as Johnson. You can now choose whether or not your own failures and excesses should be investigated. He has filled the House of Lords with an odd array of cronies and scoundrels who owe everything to his patronage and nothing to the electorate.

Although he anointed himself “Minister of the union” and stated that “wild horses” it wouldn’t stop him from visiting Scotland before tomorrow’s election, last month he abandoned his plans to do so. He has called the return a “disaster” and “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake.” Its Internal Market Law is reversed delegated powers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has launched a challenge before the supreme court to two Holyrood bills (on children’s rights and local government) designed to improve the welfare of the Scottish people. It intervenes only to repress.

Keir Starmer seems uninterested in Scotland as more than an electoral calculation, and it is not always clear which election he is considering. Last month did the weirdest campaign video That I have seen in the UK. It started with a British Airways plane that landed at Edinburgh Airport. Starmer descended the steps like a visiting dignitary, muttering “Remind me what country this is again?”, He strode through the empty airport with a phalanx of sinister-looking men, lashed out at the lack of flights, and announced that he wanted to put recovery “on top. of everything, “presumably including life on Earth. Then, apparently, having alienated his remaining Scottish voters and anyone under the age of 40, he flew away again.

It was incomprehensible, until you remember that British Airways is a touchstone and a crucial battleground for the Unite, Labor’s union. biggest donor, and that future broadcasts depend on the outcome of your leadership elections, for which nominations begin tomorrow, as well as Scottish voters vote. In other words, it seems to have been using Scotland as a backdrop for a completely different competition. That’s what Scotland is to Westminster: a backdrop.

I have long struggled to understand the liberal enthusiasm for the UK. To me, it seems like a mechanism to thwart progressive change and crush political aspirations. The number of people in the three decentralized nations who are coming to the same conclusion is increasing at an astonishing speed.

In Scotland, the three parties that favor independence (the SNP, the Greens and Alba) are on their way between them to win a clear majority this week. If Westminster allows a second referendum and allows it to be conducted fairly, the likely outcome is the end of the union.

Until a few years ago, the independence of Wales seemed like an eccentric pastime; those in favor tended to peak at around 10%. But a poll in March showed that, of those who expressed an opinion, 39% of Welsh said they would vote to leave the union. Plaid Cymru and perhaps the Greens, both in favor of independence, should make some progress tomorrow.

The centenary of Northern Ireland this week is almost certain to be the last. Reunification is likely to proceed slowly: it could be disastrous if you rush. But, fueled by the chaos of Brexit and a customs border in the Irish Sea, it has started to look inexorable. A poll last week showed that small majority of those who have an opinion in Northern Ireland believe that reunification will occur during their lifetime. That creak? It is the ship of the state that begins to break down.

The slow collapse of the UK creates an opportunity for all three nations to do things differently. An independent Scotland and Wales could set aside the culture of corruption enabled, perhaps necessary, by the UK’s outrageous campaign finance rules. They could regain their politics from the gross subversions of democracy in Westminster, their royal powers, and the pompous rituals designed both to glorify them and to conceal them. They could, and there are many people in both nations with this ambition, create 21st century governments based on proportional general elections, participatory democracy and continuous policy adjustment, distributive economies, and a spirit of public service.

The reunification of Ireland would require the political renewal of both parts of the island. I would create a new nation, built on new constitutional principles. It would require a massive exercise in participation, recognition and reconciliation. We could all use some of that.

So what about England? At first glance, the collapse of the UK leaves progressives here with a problem: a large conservative majority along with all the old dysfunctions, not tempered by the demands of other nations. But this is our problem, and we must face it without resorting to the princes of the border.

I do not believe that England will deal with its many corruptions as long as our leaders can act as colonial viceroys, ruling the four nations with diminishing consent. As the old nations of the UK embrace meaningful democracy, our antiquated and absurd system will become increasingly difficult to justify. It seems to me that political regeneration is impossible without breaking the union. We will start to be good only when we stop trying to be great.




www.theguardian.com

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