The SNP should not resist the prime minister’s visits to Scotland.
Surely Nicola Sturgeon should have welcomed Boris Johnson’s visit to her patch? It’s difficult to think of anything more likely to further bolster support for independence and alienate more Scots.
Maybe this is his first shot, and he’ll be back for a booster in April for the hypocrisy of undertaking a non-essential journey – such visits are clearly OK as long as they are purely political. Johnson didn’t appear to mention Brexit during his visit, or taking back control, or building back better, or regaining sovereignty. Just the usual patronising bluster about how fortunate Scotland is to be part of the union rather than, by implication, part of the EU. I wonder why he didn’t drop into Peterhead for a quick chat with his mates from the trawlers this time? I suspect that privately Ms Sturgeon is grinning from ear to ear. It’s a bit like the guy who went into a library and said “I don’t suppose you’ve got a book on reverse psychology?”
I’m of a similar age to the PM and fondly remember a children’s TV programme of the time called Mr Benn where, each week, the eponymous hero would visit a fancy-dress costume shop, don an outfit and go on a magical adventure. Each time I see the PM undertaking yet another photo op wearing lab coat or high-vis jacket I wonder if he sees himself as a latter day Mr Benn.
So what of the latest episode, when our hero goes to Scotland? I think a number of people have already noted that he appeared not to be following the rules to avoid travel for all but ‘essential reasons’, but he and his entourage visited a lab processing Covid tests, a vaccination centre and a vaccine factory – how risky, and how much harm could be done should this unnecessary visit accidentally expose one of these sites to an asymptomatic carrier of Covid? It all gets more bizarre when he talks about a possible second Scottish independence referendum and speaks of “getting lost in pointless constitutional wrangling” and “what happens to the army, crown, pound,…? Nobody will tell us what is all meant to be about”. The irony and hypocrisy of his position as he denies the people of Scotland the chance to regain their ‘sovereignty’ by leaving a Union seems to know no bounds – no wonder he smirks all of the time.
Selly Oak, Birmingham
In his no-holds-barred attack on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, Maurice Smith fails to suggest an answer to his final point; that Labour needs “to hone a coherent stance”. This is the central problem of social democrat parties across Europe. They have failed to
build a vision with a foundation in saleable economic policies. The SNP’s advantage is that not only is it a palpably moderate left of centre social democratic party, it also “stands for Scotland”. It has a positioning of great strength, made greater by the quality of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership and given added impetus by Brexit, Boris Johnson’s English nationalism and Keir Starmer’s rejection of the EU and support for the Unionist cause.
Whoever wins the leadership of the Labour party in Scotland will need an abundance of qualities. Most of all they will need to articulate a distinctive vision that offers a better future for Scotland than that held out by the SNP. From my current home in the far South East of England I see no sign. Whether it will be apparent when I return later this year to live in my native land remains to be seen.
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