IT’S probably far too big an ask to hope that in 2023 British politicians will respect democracy in Scotland and acknowledge that in May 2021 the electorate of Scotland voted for a Scottish Parliament with a substantial pro-independence majority.

These ballots were cast in full knowledge that the MSPs elected would be committed to delivering a second independence referendum.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have a vested interest in conspiring to deny the people of Scotland what they voted for, even as they continue to insult the intelligence of the voters by insisting in the face of all evidence to the contrary that the United Kingdom is still a voluntary union of nations.

This stance is all the more insulting because that evidence to the contrary is provided by the behaviour of the Labour and Conservative parties themselves. It's like being told you are free to leave a room whenever you want by someone who has locked the only door and hidden the key, but who is standing there blocking the doorway while telling you that the door is wide open.

Labour and the Conservatives are not merely trashing democracy in Scotland, they are actively taunting the people of Scotland as they do so. They know that they can continue to get away with it because they are enabled by an overwhelmingly anti-independence media which has its own vested interest in not holding them to account and in treating last October's Supreme Court ruling as a “blow for Nicola Sturgeon” and not describing it as what it really is – proof that generations of British politicians have lied about the nature of the United Kingdom and treated the people of Scotland as fools.

However, denialism is deeply entrenched in British politics and the British media, to the extent that it can no longer be described as a bug but as a feature. We see this denialism in the catastrophe that dare not speak its name, Brexit. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives are willing to admit that Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster, glossing over its contribution to the current economic and social malaise that afflicts the UK, and preferring to blame all Britain's woes on the pandemic or the war in Ukraine, while studiously ignoring the massive role that Brexit has played in compounding the cost of living crisis.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have abandoned that large and growing part of British public opinion which rightly sees Brexit as a mistake. The Conservatives now occupy the same political space that Ukip did and have defined themselves as the party of Brexit. Starmer's Labour Party have sold out in pursuit of English nationalist votes in the so-called red wall of Brexit-supporting constituencies in the north and Midlands of England.

Both parties compete with one another to pander to the prejudices and xenophobia of right-wing English nationalism, colluding with one another to pretend that the UK has a serious problem with illegal immigration and asylum seekers and adopting ever more cruel and callous policies to make the lives of poor and desperate people even poorer and more desperate.

The United Kingdom does not have an asylum seeker problem, it has a right-wing politician and media problem. There is also British political party denialism about the fitness of Britain's constitutional structures. Labour's much-touted constitutional review proposed some minor tinkering with the devolution settlement, and yet another “consultation” on the House of Lords, but had absolutely nothing to say about the House of Commons, the cancerous heart of the British constitutional disease.

The undemocratic and unfair first-past-the-post electoral system to which Labour are wedded as much as the Conservatives means that a party can win a majority by appealing only to a minority of the electorate. It creates a danse macabre that drives British politics ever further to the right. The Conservatives are eyeing up even more extreme right-wing policies. For their part, Labour have morphed into the Conservatives, supporting Brexit, opposing legitimate industrial action by desperate workers and demonising migrants.

But the biggest British denialism of all is the denial that Labour and the Tories are parties of Anglo-British nationalism or indeed that their Anglo-British nationalism is even a form of nationalism at all. They persist with the fiction that the constitutional debate in Scotland is a debate between Scottish nationalism and British non-nationalism.

2023 must be the year when supporters of Scottish independence call out the denialism of British nationalism and bring into focus a vision of a better, kinder and more inclusive Scotland.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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