During the crucifixion in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, came the ironic, jolly, over-positive rendition of Always Look On The Bright Side of Life. Perhaps that could also apply to the crucifying experience of Brexit so far, writes Helen Martin
We’ve learned a lot more about politics and what goes on behind the scenes. We know now that party members don’t work together, however much they try to give that impression. And as for parliament as a whole working together? Well that’s impossible.
The Tory Party has been thoroughly exposed and cracked by way of its splits, lies, plots and battles, and collapsed by the mid-Brexit EU elections, hanging on by its fingernails to British governance.
The Labour Party has finally realised what millions of people knew from the start; Jeremy Corbyn is an ethical idealist, an enthusiastic campaigner and an activist, but totally lacking in leadership talent or qualities.
In most of our lifetimes, both have been the major parties taking turns in UK government. It’s now unlikely that will happen again in the next general election. Farage seems favoured.
For Scottish independence supporters, all this has boosted the goal. But the English determination to leave the EU, even if it ends up in a no-deal Brexit, has posed a tricky question.
Who is more “nationalist” – Scotland (which wants to stay in the EU) or England?
If England really wanted to keep the Union, surely some attempt to involve Scotland and Wales would have been expected? Instead both were ignored and swept aside, creating even more SNP popularity.
However, a year ago this month, the Centre on Constitutional Change carried out a survey of English adult Conservative voters. Almost 50 per cent of them said Scottish MPs should not be part of the Cabinet, and a massive 77 per cent said they’d be happy with Scottish independence as long as England left the EU and “took back control”. That, of course, is a clear definition of “nationalism”, though it’s not something Tory politicians declared or represented.
In the past, Labour didn’t want Scottish independence, because Scotland supplied so many Labour MPs, PMs and Cabinet members. Again, the EU elections bombed out Labour in Scotland.
As Tony Blair has declared recently, a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic. A soft Brexit is pointless (we’d have to obey EU regs but have no say on them and no MEPs). The only other option is Remain which may get ticked by another people’s vote, but Brexiteers would revolt.
No wonder independence (otherwise known as “escape”) becomes more appealing. And if Westminster ignores Scotland when it comes to Brexit, why shouldn’t Scotland ignore Westminster when it comes to another indy referendum?
That also offers a brighter future for all political parties. An independent state would be achieved by the SNP, but once it’s established, Labour or Greens, Lib-Dems or perhaps (though unlikely) Tories, could end up ruling Holyrood.
For Scottish politicians (unless a reforming miracle suddenly happens dragging Westminster out of hell), it’s about the best chance for them all to “always look on the bright side of life”.