As Scottish unionism collapses, SNP must act decisively to win independence – Kenny MacAskill

The wheels are coming off the unionist wagon. EU membership gone, the prestige of Great Britain crashing and now the strength of the Union, with its supposed pooling and sharing, disappearing over the horizon.

Boris Johnson's priorities have been exposed by his government's decisions over support for businesses during the Covid lockdowns (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's priorities have been exposed by his government's decisions over support for businesses during the Covid lockdowns (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)

There’s not much left but still Scottish unionism ploughs on, as if gamely singing “one wheel on my wagon and I’m still rolling along”. But it’s crashing and the benefits of the Union with it.

No amount of parliamentary sophistry by Boris Johnson can assure Scots, let alone anyone else outside the south of England, that this is a union of equals. When the Scottish government wanted to furlough, they could whistle for it. When Manchester and north England mayors sought support, they were firmly told to know their place.

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But, when the crisis that the Prime Minister had helped create through cronyism, incompetence, and delay hit down south, then the full weight of the Treasury was unleashed. No matter that the Chancellor had previously said it couldn’t be done, despite representing a north of England constituency himself, a full 180-degree turn was gone through.

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Of course, many of us would argue it’s ever been thus. Not just for Scotland but the north of England. The Peterloo Massacre in 1819 came about when parliamentary reform was being sought and Manchester, despite being the second city of Britain, with the industrial revolution commencing, still had no MP. Instead, it was landowners in Cheshire and Lancashire who ruled the roost, and seats were heavily skewed towards the south.

Similarly, while nothing has ever been too much for the City of London, manufacturing areas whether in Scotland or the North East of England have been expendable. That has been the case down through the years, from the Jarrow Crusade to the present day. Even breaching the supposed ‘Red Wall’ seats can’t change where Tory interests lie. It may well lead to a push for more powers for the regions of England and that’ll be a good thing and long overdue.

But it’s too late for Scotland and the cause of Scottish unionism. Constitutional reform and federalism take time to work out and in any event the powers would still be inadequate for Scotland’s needs. The pledges made in 2014 have been shown to be false, and cheerily pretending that there’s benefit, let alone respect, is equally deluded.

Douglas Ross can sing as gustily as he likes but the wheels are coming off the unionist wagon. There are no broad shoulders when Scotland needs them, even less pooling and sharing, with it being more like taking and telling. The only unionist argument left is the risks that come with independence. But given the UK’s direction and who’s driving, remaining’s now far more threatening. The wagon’s crashing and it’s time to jump off.

The UK’s falling apart, and the SNP must act. But complaining isn’t enough, nor being outraged. Scots want something done, they voted against this in 2016 and 2019. Do something, do anything! Don’t just meekly take it. The time is now.

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