EVERY year The president of the United States is obliged by Article 11 of the US constitution to appear before congress and deliver a State of the Union address. Although the current incumbent of The White House has used the occasion to showboat, the speech has traditionally been an opportunity for the president to be less political and more reflective about the threats and opportunities facing the nation.

Recent tradition also dictates that towards the conclusion of the address the president will proclaim that “The state of the union is good”. The last president to say otherwise was Gerald Ford who, in 1975, was scathing about America’s high unemployment and dependence on Middle Eastern oil to the extent that he closed his address by declaring “The state of the union is not good”.

In our precious Union, of course, we have no written constitution, a situation which forced the arraignment of Boris Johnson’s Government before the courts to prevent him closing Parliament to suit his political convenience. Unfortunately, we have no similar legal recourse to enable an annual State of the Union address, but it would be interesting to consider what achievements our Unionist prime ministers might have chosen to highlight in the years since the independence referendum.

In his address for 2014 David Cameron would undoubtedly have referenced how he “put the boot into” these troublesome Scots when, less than three hours after the indyref result was declared, he proclaimed English Votes for English Laws and the Union secured – forever. His speech a year later would acclaim the zenith of his time in office when, with a crushing 37% of the vote, he won the 2015 General Election (no reference to the result in Scotland of course).

By 2016 he was high on a gambler’s roll and his State of the Union speech would have framed the Brexit vote when he would surely crush the irritant ERG.

Unfortunately, Cameron was in his Oxfordshire shed the following year and Theresa May would deliver the address. Mrs May gave her State of the Union speech in her charismatic, robotic manner, repeating “precious Union”, “now is not the time” and “red lines” over and over. She declared another General Election and led the Union back to the ballot box to silence Rees-Mogg and Francois.

In 2018 and 2019 the State of the Union address would be delivered by Arlene Foster who had assumed a major role in May’s government. Ms Foster’s speeches were as repetitive as Theresa May’s, if a little more forceful. Her mantras would be “no gay marriage”, “no abortion” and finally “no surrender”. The Union was truly safe in her hands she declared, as she led an Orange Walk in Fife.

By 2020 all had changed. May was history as was her “precious Union”. Johnson would deliver his address having just returned to civilisation from Orkney where he had wrangled crustaceans. He unveiled the “mighty Union” ready to return the cash borrowed for us on Scotland’s tab in a display of economic shock and awe. He declared the State of the Union to be “utterly world-beating and beyond fantastic” as he prepared to “get Brexit done”, whatever the cost.

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Over six years Scotland listened to these speeches and watched incredulously as a succession of Tory PM’s, who had comprehensively lost all three general elections in Scotland, totally ignored the democratic choices of the Scottish people.

Next May it will be the turn of Scotland to deliver our opinion on the Union. We will loudly declare “The state of the union is not good”, and we choose to leave.

Johnson may say no to indyref2, but we all know that is unsustainable. He will take the same road as Cameron and May.
Iain Gunn