In the 16th century a corpulent, fair-haired tyrant upended a nation in pursuit of a messy divorce. 500 years later it’s happening again, writes Alex Cole-Hamilton
What an incredible weekend. With weather that good, it’s hard to believe that there are only two Prime Ministers left until Christmas. Perfect marching weather, and with Westminster suspended the Capital played host to not one but two massive displays of public opinion in the form of traffic-stopping, head-turning, ear-splitting demonstrations and it was my privilege to be on both.
The first was the Global Climate Strike, where young people from across Edinburgh, ditched lessons on Friday morning to display their anger at the failure of older generations to tackle the menace of climate change. I took my eldest son, Finn, who was more than happy to be skipping P7 Maths. He soon found his voice and joined the roar of 20,000 of his peers.
The second was the biggest march against Brexit I’ve ever attended in Edinburgh. I was speaking at that one and I was struck by the diversity of the crowd I marched among. I walked down the Royal Mile with Madeleina Kay, the blue-haired, self-styled EU Super-Girl who tours Europe singing songs against Brexit. I then spent much of the rally sitting next to Lord Kerr, former EU negotiator and the original author of Article 50.
There is an irony to all this. No.10 has closed Parliament so that the Prime Minister, who famously brags about writing his Telegraph column in 60 minutes, can have five weeks to write a two-page speech for the Queen. This is a speech, by the way, which covers a programme for government he has absolutely no hope of delivering, given his majority has shrunk to minus 40-something. Yet, while the houses of parliament are shut for business, democracy flexes her muscles, rolls up her sleeves and takes to the streets of our towns and cities.
That Queen’s Speech will likely contain policies to offend both groups of marchers. Given signals from the Johnson administration over the weekend, it will likely move us closer toward joining Trump-led military action against Iran, to protect our oil interests in Saudi Arabia (that sound you hear is Greta Thunberg tearing out her pigtails in abject despair). It will also set out yet more imaginative ways to destroy our way of life through the hideous calamity of Brexit.
The Supreme Court rightly decided that the prorogation of Parliament never had anything to do with Boris writing prose for her Maj to read out on the Woolsack. The fact that no member of, or official in, Her Majesty’s Government was willing to sign a legal affidavit to say that it was, gives the lie to all of that weeks ago. As such, the unanimous verdict of the 11 Supreme Court Justices was the only judgement that they could have reached. They concluded that Johnson and his puppet-master Dominic Cummings hoped to shut down scrutiny and parliamentary obstruction to his delivery of Brexit in this endgame phase. I can happily report that the people of this country are having none of it either.
In the 16th century a corpulent, fair-haired tyrant upended a nation and destroyed several institutions in pursuit of a messy divorce. He had form in lying to Queens as well. 500 years later and it’s happening all over again. Unlike King Henry VIII however, no one thinks that Boris was anointed by God and they certainly don’t live in fear of him (angry dad in children’s ward is a case in point). He will see his efforts to subvert democracy thwarted in the streets, in the courtrooms and ultimately at the ballot box. The people of these islands will be heard and democracy will win through.
Alex Cole-Hamilton is the Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western