THERE’S lies, damn lies, and then there's the posho paternalist musings of Alister Jack, the Baron Munchausen of Scottish politics.

Jack inhabits a bizarre colonialist parallel universe in which he tells the grateful Caledonian natives what is good for them, as lacking Jack's well-heeled credentials, they are far too dim to decide for themselves. 

The Brexit-supporting Minister of State for Keeping the Scots in Their Place told MPs during Scottish Questions in the House of Commons that there is "no desire in Scotland to have membership of the EU".

Even being presented with the findings of an opinion poll published in August 2022 which found that 69% of respondents in Scotland do indeed wish to rejoin the European Union did little to change what we are obliged to call Jack's mind – and a previous poll carried out early in 2022 had found that 61% of voters in Scotland wished to rejoin the EU. 

"Opinion polls come and go," said Jack, dismissing the claim, despite his own party regularly citing far less clear-cut and consistent polls as “proof” that Scotland does not want another independence referendum. We all know by now that consistency is not something anyone can expect from a Conservative Government which feels free to retroactively rewrite the rules of elections in order to deny the obvious fact that the people of Scotland voted for a Scottish Parliament committed to delivering another independence referendum.

In Dumfries and Galloway, which Jack misrepresents in the Commons as an MP, 53% of those who voted in the EU referendum in 2016 voted to remain. In Scotland as a whole, 62% voted to remain in the EU.  Since 2016, Scotland has consistently voted for parties which oppose Brexit. In 2020, an opinion poll carried out by Panelbase found that 63% of Scottish voters would vote to rejoin the EU if offered that option in a referendum. The pattern from opinion polling has remained consistent over the years. More than 60% of voters in Scotland have expressed a desire to rejoin the European Union whenever they have been asked their views.

Jack's contention that there is "no desire" in Scotland to rejoin the EU and the implication that people in Scotland are content with Brexit is not even open to debate, it is simply flat-out wrong. What is clearly true, however, is that there is no desire in Scotland for a Conservative Government. Scotland has not voted Conservative since the 1950s, and there is even less desire for a Scotland Secretary who is so contemptuously dismissive of public opinion in Scotland. 

Of course. this is not the first time that Jack has made things up to suit himself. He recently denied that there is a mandate for another independence referendum in the Scottish Parliament, because the Scottish Green MSPs who were elected on a manifesto commitment to another independence referendum magically don't count, for vague and unspecified reasons known only to the Minister of State for Making Stuff Up as he Goes Along.

For his services to holding democracy in contempt, Jack has been given a peerage by his pal Boris Johnson, so even after he is voted out of office as an MP, he can continue to pervert democracy as well as common sense and factual reality from the cosy benches of the Lords, where he can never be held to account.

There are only three possibilities here.

The first is that Jack knows what the true state of public opinion is in Scotland regarding membership of the European Union and he knowingly lied to the Commons – a serious breach of the ministerial code which requires his removal from office.

The second is that he is genuinely ignorant of public opinion in Scotland about a topic which is central to the policies of the government of which he is a member. If that is the case, he is woefully inept and unfit for the position he holds.

The third possibility is that he knows full well what people in Scotland think about membership of the European Union but does not care. He believes – in his patrician, colonialist arrogance – that Scottish opinion is what he says it is. This third possibility is the one which is most likely to be closest to Jack's perversion of reality and demonstrates not only that he is unfit for the office he holds, but that this entire so-called Union is unfit for the purpose of the expression of democracy in 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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