The SNP could still gain “independence by the back door” through an “ultra extreme” form of devolution in a post-election deal, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will say tonight.
Peter A Bell's insight:
Willie Rennie is known as someone who is a considerable way short of being the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But, continuing the light-bulb metaphor, he now seems to be indulging in an “ultra extreme” form of energy saving. What I’m trying to avoid saying is that this latest outburst from Willie Rennie is quite stunningly stupid.* I’m also trying hard not to mention yet again the fact that British nationalists appear to have a compulsion to make utter fools of themselves in the name of defending the old order and the old ways.
But what else is there to say about Rennie other than that, if he actually believes the drivel that he spouts, he is stupid beyond measure. And if he doesn’t believe it and is only mouthing inanities to order, then he is every bit the fool that he has chosen to appear.
Where to begin? How about some simple arithmetic? Just one of the areas where Rennie completely fails to shine. He claims that the anti-independence cabal of vested political and economic interests won the referendum by “almost half a million votes”. The actual figure was 383,937. This represents “rounding up” by some 30%. To put that in perspective, if we applied the same “ultra extreme” rounding to the Yes vote then the campaign to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status would have won by 293,427. Or, according to Willie Rennie’s “special” arithmetic, 381,456.
If you’re thinking that all of that sounds a bit silly, I would only ask that you remember who started the silliness.
For a further example of Rennie’s vaunting silliness, how about his artlessly feigned righteous indignation on realising that the SNP aims to contest every seat in Scotland as if they intended to win. Or his spluttering outrage at the SNP’s determined adherence to the party’s core aim of independence.
Here’s yet another example of Rennie’s idiocy. He has been involved in Scottish politics since the 1990s and has been an elected politician since 2006. And yet he can’t figure out that the election of 59 MPs who explicitly support independence would be a clear and indisputable mandate to sue for independence and not, as he calls it, an attempt to win “independence by the back door”.
Think about that for a moment. Rennie is explicitly denying the legitimacy of the very political/electoral system which he and his fellow British nationalists insist that we accept. The system which decides who will govern the UK. He is saying that the British political system is only legitimate so long as it produces results favourable to the British parties and, by extension, the British establishment.
For the sake of brevity we’ll skim over Rennie’s dumbly dishonest misrepresentation of what Alex Salmond said about a second referendum. Suffice it to say that, however much British nationalists lie about this, the SNP at no time ruled out another vote on independence. And even if they had attempted to do so, it would have been meaningless as it’s not their decision. We will have another referendum when the people of Scotland say so. Nobody voted to relinquish our right of self-determination. That was not on the ballot.
Which brings us to Rennie’s fine blend of hypocrisy and idiocy on the subject of “redefining” what a vote is about. Hypocrisy in that the British parties unabashedly redefined the meaning of a No vote in the referendum. And not just once. They started off insisting that the referendum was a straight choice between independence and nothing. Then, when they belatedly realised they were backing the least popular option, they started to claim that a No vote was actually a vote for the “more powers” option that they had refused to countenance having on the ballot - and still refused to define in any way. Finally, as soon as the result was in, they went back to saying that a No vote was an unequivocal endorsement of the union and petulantly demand that independence campaigners abandon what in many cases is a lifelong aspiration.
The idiocy of Rennie’s drivel about the SNP “redefining” what the coming UK election is about lies in the fact that every party gets to define what the election is about. That is arguably as good a definition as you’ll get of a party’s election manifesto. Just how cretinous do you have to be to miss this glaringly obvious fact?
But perhaps Willie Rennie’s greatest stupidity is his own personal take on the inherently daft Bain Principle - simply stated as the dogma which dictates that the British parties in Scotland are compelled by mindless hatred to oppose any policy which is espoused by the SNP, even if it is an obviously good policy, and even if it is a policy which one or more of the British parties has itself promoted. The Bain Principle - named after another woeful Willie - may even apply to policies which continue to be supported by the party or parties which, nonetheless, rail against it as the work of Satan when it is enunciated by the SNP. Think double-think.
The Liberal Democrats have been “Home Rulers” since Noah threw Ming Campbell off the ark for boring the shit out of the sloths. But it only needs Alex Salmond to hint that Home Rule might be acceptable to the SNP at this juncture and, instantly, this long-cherished objective of the LibDems is transformed from the reasonable and viable constitutional settlement that they have pretty much always insisted it was into an unthinkable form of “ultra extreme” devolution - whatever that means.
Can we take anything from this, other than the fact that Willie Rennie is really, really stupid - or stupid enough to be happy to appear really, really stupid? We can surely assume that the LibDems were never actually serious about Home Rule. It was just a bauble to dangle before voters in Scotland secure in the knowledge that they were never going to be in a position to deliver, and had no intention of doping so even if, by some miracle, they had found themselves in power.
We can be even more certain than previously that, for the British parties, devolution is all about withholding powers from the Scottish Parliament. Even those powers which some of them had pretended to be willing to hand over.
Perhaps most importantly, it confirms what the coming election is really about for voters in Scotland. It confirms that the battle lines are clearly drawn, not along the increasingly blurred divide between Tory/Labour/LibDem, but between British parties representing the interests of the ruling elites of the British state, and Scottish parties representing the interests of the people of Scotland - principally the SNP.
Willie Rennie is a headline-hungry buffoon. But we yet have cause to be grateful to him for his role in helping us see the true face of British nationalism.
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