AFTER Wullie Rennie faced calls to step down from politics and get back to bus driving because he protected David Steel, who in turn protected the child abusing Cyril Smith in order to protect the reputation of the Liberal Democrats, there are now suggestions that Wullie should be replaced with Jo Swinson – who protected Wullie Rennie, who protected David Steele, who protected the child abusing Cyril Smith in order to protect the reputation of the party.

According to a report in The National last week, Jo Swinson is “seriously considering” returning to frontline politics in the Holyrood elections next year. The report didn’t say whether she was also seriously considering returning to live in Scotland with her family instead of telling us that she stays at her maw’s hoose.

The LibDems have been all but invisible since their electoral catastrophe in December, so don’t say it’s all bad news in British politics. Jo Swinson started that election campaign confidently, predicting that she was going to be the next prime minister, but couldn’t even keep her seat.

The National:

Jo’s inauthenticity oozes out of her every time she opens her mouth. No doubt her fans in the Scottish media, desperate as they are for a new Saviour of the Union, will tout her as the next First Minister. They’ve already run through the Labour Party and the Conservatives only to be left with less than nothing, so it’s only fair that the LibDems get a shot at the crown of thorns.

The suggestion that Jo Swinson should return to Scottish politics and the notion that she’s going to help prevent this country’s move towards independence is a symptom of the political, intellectual, and moral bankruptcy of British nationalism in Scotland.

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It’s an ideology which is desperately flailing around seeking something that might provide a solid surface upon which to build its appeal, only to discover that everywhere it’s landed so far has been a swamp that’s only caused it to sink even lower. If you’re reduced to pinning all your hopes on a politician who has already been rejected by the voters, it’s an admission that you’ve already lost.

We see the bankruptcy of British nationalism all around us. It’s in the way Brexit has turned from a demand to restore the sovereignty of the British Parliament into a power grab for the Prime Minister. We see it in the undermining of the devolution settlement. We see it in the failure of Boris Johnson to provide reassuring leadership during the various crises that have already assailed his Government during its short time in office, whether that’s the floods or the coronavirus outbreak.

Far from the promised sunny uplands of Brexit, the UK has rapidly descended into fights in supermarkets over toilet paper. I’m a bit of a fan of dystopian movies and fiction. I’ve seen depictions of the apocalypse which feature alien invasions, zombies, gladiatorial contests, rioting, looting, and mass death. I’ve yet to see an apocalypse where everyone sits at home wiping their backside. It’s safe to assume that all those millions of Keep Calm and Carry On items sold over the past few years haven’t had any effect. Perhaps if those fighting over toilet paper stocked up on Keep Calm posters instead then there wouldn’t be a problem. Normal service will be restored once the panic buyers have starved to death in their homes, trapped by piles of toilet paper but with nothing to eat.

The National:

Yet a responsible and reassuring government would have ensured that such nonsense never happened in the first place. Where Vietnam produced a catchy song and dance routine encouraging people to wash their hands to help prevent the spread of the virus, we got Jacob Rees-Mogg telling us to sing God Save the Queen.

We have a Prime Minister who gets up in the morning and lies for breakfast. Then he lies all morning, he has some untruths for lunch, and he lies all afternoon. Then he has a plate of untruths for dinner and gets another spot of mendacity in with a few drinks. This is not a man who is capable of reassuring anyone with a functioning set of neurones.

The problems for Boris Johnson are only going to get worse as the coronavirus outbreak starts to bite and collides with public services which are suffering the malign effects of a decade of Tory austerity.

The Brexit negotiations are only going to prove ever more difficult. The rumblings of discontent at a government inhabited by bullies and clowns will only grow louder. None of this is going to prove any easier to sell to an increasingly disenchanted Scottish public, not by a Scottish Labour Party which is neither Scottish nor labour, and not even if a failed LibDem politician with a reputation for inauthenticity is roped in to help.

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None of them have shown the slightest inclination that in order to appeal once more to the electorate in Scotland, they need to make fundamental changes. Most of them are scarcely aware that they need to change at all. All of them are still in denial that opposing independence is in itself a nationalist, a British nationalist, proposition.

This week and the weeks to come will, of course, be dominated by news of a certain trial. Social media is full of apologists for the British state who are gleefully rubbing their hands in the belief that this trial will spell the end for the SNP and for hopes for Scottish independence. They’re going to be proven wrong.

While there may well be a short-term effect on Scottish politics, the demand for Scottish independence isn’t driven by the SNP, it’s driven by the way in which the British state and its nationalist ideology which masquerades as non-nationalism is incapable of meeting the political, economic, and social needs of modern Scotland.

The failure of British nationalism as an ideology is compounded by the incompetent arrogance of British politicians. Even a former Tory spin doctor, Eddie Barnes, was forced to admit in an article in The Sunday Times at the weekend that Westminster is pushing Scotland to independence.

That dynamic isn’t going to change, no matter what happens in a court room in Edinburgh. Once the trial is over and the dust has settled, the underlying dynamic driving demand for Scottish independence will reassert itself.