This blog is severely hampered by flu. I hate flu. In a globe-trotting life I have had a number of illnesses that became life threatening – peritonitis, typhoid, cholera, cerebral malaria, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension (thankfully misdiagnosed) severe arrhythmia. I was once declared dead and awoken by a cockroach eating my nostril as I lay naked on a corpse trolley in Kaduna. I refuse to die because of the thought of the people – Jack Straw, Islam Karimov, Alisher Usmanov, Tony Blair, John Reid etc – whose day I know would be momentarily brightened by news of my demise. But for sustained misery and feeling really, really awful and uncomfortable, a week with the flu, while not nearly as dangerous, is pretty well as unpleasant, at least to me.
As I lie in a sweaty bed, my thought are perhaps unsurprisingly not happy and light. I am paying keen attention to all the proposals for how to move forward the Independence movement after that check, and am struck by all the calls to reach out to No voters and bring them in.
I have no idea how to reach out to No voters because I find the majority of them stupid beyond my understanding. This is not because they desired an end result different to that I desired. That is a perfectly legitimate choice. It is because, by voting No, they are going to get an end result which is not what they wanted at all, and that was very obvious. Asking me to reach out to these unbelievably thick people is like asking me to go for a drive with someone who, against my advice, drove the wrong way down a motorway, causing a lot of people to get hurt as a result.
Through their No vote they are going to get five more years of Tory rule – which most of them absolutely did not want. And it is going to be Tory rule that lurches further and further to the right. It seems no proposition was too right wing to be applauded to the rafters by the Tory Conference.
Tax cuts for the rich. Benefit cuts for the poor. Openly declared government in the interests of multinational corporations. Censorship of the internet and severe restrictions on freedom of speech. The government intercepting all communications. Even more detention without trial. Permanent war in the Middle East. Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights and in consequence the Council of Europe – the first country to leave the body set up in 1946 to prevent the rise again in Europe of just the sort of proto-fascist measures the Tories wish to impose. To be followed by leaving the European Union.
All of these are direct consequences for Scotland of the No vote. This is much more profound than the entirely predictable and immediate dishonouring of the pledges on Devo-Max by Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Brown. Brown’s call for a petition to request him to work for what he assured the electorate was already “a done deal” is beyond contempt. It should do for his reputation what the tuition fee betrayal did for Nick Clegg.
Frankly I have no interest in any devolution measures that do not give Scotland control of its oil and whisky revenues, and those are not on offer. But there were people who voted No – 23% of No voters them according to Ashcroft – because they wanted the promised pretend “powers”. Well, you are not going to get those either.
Mostly, of course, those stupid No voters acted under the crass assumption, against all modern precedent, that the opposition could win a general election from a position of just 2 per cent ahead, eight months out. And the even more incredible belief that the Labour Party was still in some significant way different from the Conservative Party.
The consequences of what is coming will fall disproportionately on the poor, with even greater escalation of the UK’s astonishing wealth gap. There will be still more damage to the social fabric that Scots hold dear.
Now there are hard-hearted right wingers in Scotland, in the Tory Party and the leadership of the Labour Party, who wanted everything that is coming in terms of neo-con policy prescription. Those No voters who are wealthy and successful and want to get ahead further on the backs of the poor, made the correct intellectual choice to achieve their ends. They are deeply unpleasant sociopaths, but they are not stupid.
But those No voters who voted No because they believed a fair and caring society was achievable within the present structures of the UK, are so stupid I am astonished that their cerebral cortex can transmit a signal that sparks respiration. They are probably not capable of ever noticing their error.
I am not going to reach out to you, No voter. You are either evil, or quite extraordinarily thick. You will forever be a long way beneath my notice. This will be the last thought I ever give you. To quote a great line from Casablanca:
Peter Lorre: You despise me, don’t you Rick?
Humphrey Bogart: If I gave you any thought, I probably would.