The divergent policy with England is only one of the reasons for independence
ENGLAND is at a crossroads today as two very different men represent completely different visions of the future of much of the UK’s constituency.
On the one hand, a popular football player whose charitable activism makes him the closest thing to England’s moral compass.
In Marcus Rashford’s England, the fight against poverty and for social justice trumps other political considerations and he is ready to stand up to powerful politicians to force them to support this agenda.
On the other hand, we have a scheming political manipulator willing to say just about anything to control the direction the country is going.
In this week’s astonishing interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Dominic Cummings more or less admitted he was considering a political coup to topple a Prime Minister who had just won a strong parliamentary majority. I think Boris Johnson is a terrible Prime Minister but at least people voted for him. No one voted for Dominic Cummings.
Rashford and Cummings represent two very different versions of England and it is far from clear which one is dominant. Does this even matter for Scotland, which is going a lot in its own direction and increasingly considering leaving the UK rather than influencing its future direction? We tried influencing and it didn’t work.
But of course what happens in England continues to matter in Scotland, because until we are independent English voters continue to dictate who rules us and what policies they adopt.
Obviously, I think Scotland largely feels closer to Rashford’s vision of England. Who has not applauded his challenge to Boris Johnson to provide free school meals during the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays?
But there is a more troubling side to the country where a million people have signed the Manchester United player’s petition for extended free school meals.
Because it’s also a country where explosions of racism followed Rashford and the failure of other players to score in a penalty shootout. Where a mural in honor of Rashford in Manchester was disfigured hours after England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy, although offensive graffiti was very quickly covered by the messages from support and love from fans.
READ MORE: Marcus Rashford challenges The Spectator over income allegations
Rashford was attacked again this week, this time by Spectator magazine, which he said was about to run an article saying he had “benefited commercially” from his campaign.
Yesterday, it looked like Rashford was going to emerge victorious from a public relations battle with the Spectator.
There was a flood of tweets supporting the footballer. Gary Lineker was just one of those who described Rashford as “an inspiration and a hero”.
Many supporters pointed out that it was not uncommon for sports stars to sign trade deals, but that it was certainly unusual for them to use those deals to reduce child poverty.
It is difficult to view the Spectator’s motives other than in a negative light. Why try to discredit a public figure who is very obviously trying to do something that is definitely helping poor children? Rashford himself said on Twitter that his campaigns to provide food and books for children inevitably gave him “greater commercial appeal”. How could he do otherwise? But it seems silly to suggest that no one should ever campaign for a positive outcome, as it would raise their own profile.
If England’s response to Rashford has included a backlash from the media and racism as well as support and love, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to us. England has its fair share of regressive lunatics, but Rashford is proof that there is no need to define the country.
For some reason, however, England’s politics do not seem to have caught up with many of its social attitudes. This week’s Cummings interview should have been a devastating blow not only to Boris Johnson’s post as Prime Minister, but to Westminster’s political culture as well.
Which revelation in Cumming’s interview was the most mind-boggling? Johnson’s cavalier attitude to Covid deaths because most of the deaths were people in the ’80s? Cummings declaring that anyone who still thinks Brexit is a good thing has to ‘lose a screw’… before insisting that Brexit is a good thing? Cummings’ talks with his allies over Johnson’s ousting from No.10 just days after the 2019 general election?
READ MORE: ‘The sooner he gets better’: Dominic Cummings slams PM in BBC interview
And then there was news that Johnson’s government was threatening to amend the Official Secrets Act to allow jail of journalists who publish stories that embarrass the British government. If this threat comes true, The National will no longer have the staff to work on paper.
It wasn’t just Shetland star Douglas Henshall who suggested the threat was “real fascism”.
And yet, nothing seems to be denting Johnson’s popularity south of the border.
Opinion polls continue to back the Prime Minister despite all the evidence that he is a charlatan. The fact that so many English voters persist in wanting him in power is deeply worrying for Scotland as long as it is chained to the UK.
The fact that politics in Westminster has definitely fallen into stabbing power games rather than ambitions to improve people’s lives should underline the need to build a better system.
let’s be frank; England doesn’t have to grapple with racists, right-wing fanatics and enemies of free speech for me to believe that Scotland’s best future depends on its independence.
Rashford could be Prime Minister and free school meals during the holidays could be enshrined in law and I would still like Scotland to be free to make their own decisions based on their own priorities and values.
The best arguments for independence are those based on the positive benefits it would bring and the natural resources available to us that would allow us to prosper, prosper and redistribute our wealth more equitably.
But we also need to recognize the threat the Westminster system poses to our ability to realize that potential. Boris Johnston is a terrible prime minister. He deserves to be shown the door for his catastrophic handling of the pandemic on his own. Dominic Cummings has had a terrible influence on the way the British government conducts its business. It has undermined confidence in the motivations of those in power.
Another prime minister, along with another chief adviser, would certainly make things better but do nothing to change the UK’s fundamental flaw.
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Despite years of decentralization, the blatant failings of British politicians in England can still drag Scotland down and can further dilute the powers of our own parliament whenever it sees fit.
This is why England still matters to Scotland. What matters even more is that we have no ability to influence his actions, and especially those that have a direct impact on our lives. Only independence can give us this ability … it doesn’t matter who is in number 10.