The ‘Parcel of Rogues’ who backed the 1707 Act of Union and the WWII Tory ‘surrender monkeys’ have been reborn as the politicians who are driving the UK towards Brexit, writes Kenny MacAskill.
When Rabbie Burns penned “Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation” he was, of course, referring to the Act of Union. The vote in the Scottish Parliament went against the mood of the majority of public opinion and was achieved through what to all intents and purposes amounted to bribery and corruption.
A vote there may have been but there was still rioting in the streets and discontent across the land. A few with influence were, as he so acidly put it, “bought and sold”, their pockets amply lined and their profiles and prestige elevated and enhanced.
I’m not going to stray further into the Scottish constitutional debate, that’ll be for another day. But the tenor and tone now apply to the Brexit debate. The arguments have moved from the delusional to the downright dishonest. Not only that, but it’s being bought with trinkets and baubles as MPs acquire knighthoods and other political favours are dispensed or punishments threatened.
Long gone are many of the absurdities trumpeted about simply walking out of the world’s largest trading partnership into a welcoming Brave New World. The open arms of global trade deals awaited and all that was needed was to wrestle free of the straight-jacket of the EU – a pot of gold was also lying at the end of a mythical rainbow for the restored Empire.
Now there’s the realisation that economic and perhaps even social storms await, with civilian and military authorities preparing for what seems more like Armageddon than the Promised Land.
Far from the repatriation of funds and their investment in the NHS, we’re going to get collectively poorer and by quite some amount if the Scottish Government figures are to be believed – £1,600 is a noose around most folk’s neck and even if the amount is questioned by the UK Government, the fact that we’re going to be worse off is accepted by the Chancellor.
Yet still we have elected idiots like David Davis, unable to deliver anything when in office, continuing to snipe from the side-lines. He’s long on rhetoric but it’s hard, if not impossible, to think of one tangible delivery by him in what’s been a long but far from glorious political career, showing that it’s not just the prerogative of some on the Left to prefer the purity of opposition to the responsibilities of Government. His credibility, as with his integrity, has long since vanished like snow off a dyke.
Of course, some still argue for the long game and that there’ll be benefits from leaving, just not now or, according to Jacob Rees-Mogg, even in our lifetimes. It’ll apparently be future generations, he claims, that will live to see the dawning of the golden age. Fine for his scions, secure in the trust funds he’ll have established for them, thanks to his inherited wealth and offshore investment earnings. Not so for everyone else as the UK is increasingly marginalised and buffeted in a globalised and much more dangerous world.
Even the supposed friends and allies of a sovereign UK have proven illusionary. President Trump remains keen on the odious Nigel Farage but snubs other Brexiters whilst he consorts with racists and despots around the globe. Not for the first time, he’s dropped Theresa May into deep political doo-doo on her negotiations with the EU, yet continues being obsequious to the House of Saud killers and pandering to Putin’s brutality.
It’s clearer than ever that there’s no special relationship with the USA and certainly not with Trump. The stumbling block isn’t the EU’s rights and obligations but the demands by Trump and his ilk for deregulation and unbridled capitalism – a trade deal only available with privatisation of the NHS and chlorinated chicken, along with other equally unpalatable aspects of an entirely unregulated free market. Sovereignty my backside, that’s vassal status to capitalism and multinational companies. Scotland’s own Adam Smith never supported that but instead argued the need for market regulation.
So, the day of the wearing of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” has arrived. We’re leaving the EU but paying to stay in and accept their rules and abide by their court. Previous furious objections by some to such a craven sell-out, softened by offers of a knighthood or other trinkets still on offer from the remnants of the Glorious Empire.
We’re leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to become an ‘independent coastal state’ but we’ll negotiate access to our waters for CFP members. The CFP is dead, long live the CFP, chant the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation – not! Instead, as with the Prime Minister, their nakedness is there for all to see, as equally exposed to the light of day as the ownership of most of the fishing rights by a handful of families or firms.
Theresa May sallied north to Scotland yesterday, sporting her new outfit and seeking to sell its merits. Yet, even the real hard-line Brexiteers who still believe in it can see it’s a charade. The zealots have been fond of Imperial language and references to bygone glory days, and so May is now accused of capitulation and her deal compared to Neville Chamberlain’s in Munich.
But, whilst I’ve sympathy for Chamberlain, I’ve none for May. His waving of the note from Hitler was ill-advised and understandably drew contempt. But he knew it wouldn’t last and it was signed to allow for rearmament, which was accelerated on his return.
Moreover, after Dunkirk, knowing the type of man Hitler was and what the future would hold, he sided with Churchill against surrendering. Many more Tories were with Halifax and not for a continuation of appeasement but total surrender to fascism. It’s ironic that so many of today’s modern Europhobes, apparently willing to battle the EU on the beaches and indeed everywhere else, are the scions of those “surrender monkeys”.
And so, May seeks to “buy and sell” whoever she can for her tawdry deal. We need another vote or independence, or preferably even both.