To say that new Prime Minister Boris Johnson doesn’t represent the interests of Scotland has been repeated ad infinitum. His open English right-wing nationalism is centre-stage while his buffoonery and egotistical personality act as backlighting. His interest lies in having power rather than serving the interests of the whole country.
However, this is not just about the current Conservative leader; it is about what he represents. His mentality represents the toxicity currently emanating from the Tories towards Scotland and devolution. This is not surprising from the party that campaigned against Scottish devolution in 1997. This is not surprising from the party 63% of whose membership said they’d accept Brexit if it meant the end of the Union. This is not surprising from the party 40% of whose membership are sceptical of the devolution project. The Scottish Parliament is not popular among the Tories. This means that any Tory-dominated Westminster government is a threat to Holyrood; a Johnson premiership hellbent on appeasing the Tory membership is one that will throw Scotland on to the wayside.
Brexit being the farce that it is, you might have excused the previous government’s attempt to cobble together legislation allowing it to create emergency laws which undercut Holyrood’s powers as an oversight. But there was a lack of time set aside to debate the legislation in Parliament – which led to an SNP walkout. Now the issue has become bogged down as Westminster and Holyrood go to the Supreme Court. But the Act still allows Westminster to freeze devolved powers and to legislate in these areas, previously reserved to Holyrood. This is a worrying precedent because they justified it by arguing it would make trade regulation easier, but it could be a slippery slope, perhaps leading to the NHS (beloved by Scots) being put on the line for the sake of a trade deal with the USA.
Further disrespect was shown by Jeremy Hunt, who wished to remove official Foreign Office support for Nicola Sturgeon on trips abroad if she was speaking about independence. This was a childish outcry by Hunt to appeal to his base and it does not bode well for a respectful relationship between Scotland and Westminster.
Boris Johnson is not unique; he represents the normalisation of a divided Holyrood and Westminster. Scotland voted overwhelmingly for devolution and it is the responsibility of politicians to accept it. The anti-Scottish mentality shown by many Tories is reprehensible. Politicians may campaign for a system of governance different from the current one if they so wish but it is out of line to blatantly disrespect the system the public voted for to gain cheap political points. If they want to finally admit that they have a disdain for the devolved administrations and campaign to roll back devolution, then I would at least respect them for being honest.
Meanwhile, the wishes of Scotland and the other minority nations of the UK should be respected, and their desires addressed. It seems the Tories have no intention of this which means that Scotland has every reason to consider a future outside the Union.