It’s delightful that, even when dealing with an obviously very serious matter, The Sunday Herald can find space for a little bit of humour. That line about how “the Scotland Office is meant to act as the country’s voice in Whitehall” is a belter. Not quite a coffee squirting out the nose moment. But a nice bit of satire.
Joking aside, the revelation that Keith Cochrane has been given a significant role in the Scotland Office is disturbing for a number of reasons. It’s not just the fact that Cochrane is closely associated with the evident incompetence – and possibly worse – that led to the collapse of Carillion. (One could be forgiven for thinking that the Tory regime which the Scotland Office serves was already well enough endowed with ineptitude and corruption without having to call on assistance from the private sector.)
Nor is it the lack of clarity about what Cochrane is actually doing. That he is in cahoots with David Mundell, the British state’s man in Scotland, tells us all we need to know. Whatever Cochrane is doing to earn his £300 appearance money (plus expenses?) it is vanishingly unlikely that it will have anything whatever to do with acting as Scotland’s “voice in Whitehall” and everything to do with furthering the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project in which the the Secretary of State for Scotland is a key player.
David Mundell cannot possible represent Scotland in Whitehall or Westminster or anywhere else. He has no mandate to do so. His office has no democratic legitimacy. He is, at least, an elected MP. But his anti-democratic efforts to prevent the people of Scotland exercising their right of self-determination, and his contempt for the Scottish Parliament mark him as unqualified and unfit to be “the country’s voice”. He speaks, not for Scotland, but for a British ruling elite bent on locking Scotland into a Union that is increasingly detrimental to our national interest.
Cochrane is not elected. He is Mundell’s paid accomplice. A man who cannot, even by the perverted standards of British politics, be said to qualify for a role in government on the basis of his record in business. A man who comes to the Scotland Office having presided over a business failure of truly staggering proportions, the full horrifying implications of which are only gradually being revealed. It would be extraordinary if we were not left wondering how the hell such an individual gets to have any kind of say in Scotland’s governance.
But what causes deep unease is, not just what we know of the Scotland Office and Mundell and Cochrane, but a pervasive sense of something insidious about a nexus of hard-line Unionist politics, British Nationalist ideology and vested commercial interests with access to the resources of the British state. One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to discern a web of patronage with the Shelobian hulk of Better Together/Project Fear at its centre. And one needn’t be an arachnophobe to feel that’s no laughing matter.
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