All is Wild on Danger Island

“I feel a profound sense of urgency” said Rishi Sunak in a ‘wide-ranging’ and wild speech today.
“Yeah don’t we all mate” four nations replied in unison.

Sunak came out fighting (sort of) after his disastrous recent election results, choosing to make his pitch at the Policy Exchange think-tank, as Suella Braverman had done before him. If the content of his speech was eye-opening this fact was too. It was a signal to the more rabid wing of his already rabid party that there was no need to ditch him for some enraged loon from the far-right, he would do just the job for them.

The official govt transcript of his speech (you can read here) includes the caveat:

[Please note political content redacted here.]

It’s from the section that reads like this:

“People are abusing our liberal democratic values – the freedom of speech and right of protest – to intimidate, threaten and assault others, to sing antisemitic chants on our streets and our university campuses, and to weaponise the evils of anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim hatred in a divisive, ideological attempt to set Briton against Briton.

And from gender activists hijacking children’s sex education to cancel culture, vocal and aggressive fringe groups are trying to impose their views on the rest of us.

They’re trying to make it morally unacceptable to believe something different and undermine people’s confidence and pride in our own history and identity.

[Please note political content redacted here.]

But for all the dangers ahead, few are felt more acutely than people’s sense of financial insecurity. We’ve been pounded by a series of once-in-a-generation shocks.

The worst international financial crisis since the great depression in the 1930s. The first global pandemic since the Spanish flu in 1918.

The biggest energy shock since the 1970s. Global forces, yet they are hitting our living standards here at home.

We must be prepared strategically, economically, with robust plans and greater national resilience, to meet this time of instability with strength.”

Now the bit he’s pulled out reads: “Scottish nationalists are even trying to tear our United kingdom apart.”

So having established that we were surrounded by wildly dangerous enemies: “an axis of authoritarian states like Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China is working together to undermine us and our values”; Hamas; “Iranian proxies”; China (again); Putin; and of course “illegal immigration.”

There was more, we need to be warned of “gender activists hijacking children’s sex education to cancel culture” and “vocal and aggressive fringe groups are trying to impose their views on the rest of us” (the last bits a bit blurry but you get the gist).

Thrown into this hideous and terrifying mix is of course “Scottish nationalists.”

It’s a wildly stupid, offensive and dangerous idea to put out there – but par for the course for the Tories. None of this is new. Readers might remember we covered this back in the halcyon days of Theresa May when she compared those who argue for self-determination for Scotland with ISIS.

She said (this is a verbatim quote real audio from a speech she gave in 2017):

“It’s about ensuring we are a more united nation. That means taking action against the extremists who try and divide us. But it also means standing up to the separatists who want to break up our country.”

Much of this bile has become completely normalised. But, as Mark E Thomas has noted there are other factors going on here other than, er, comparing Scottish nationalists with terrorist states, he was also making a play by the venue he chose. Thomas writes: “Rather than choose a neutral venue, he deliberately picked an extreme right-wing, opaquely funded think tank to set out his ideas for the country. What signal did he intend to send, and to whom? Not to the mass of British voters who largely neither know nor care what the think tanks say. But to the nameless backers of the think tanks themselves, who are busy planning a grim future for the UK.”

See ‘What the Extreme Right May Be Planning‘.

What Sunak is signalling here is that the madness of Liz Truss hasn’t gone away. As Labour tack to the right the Tories are tacking even farther to the right, and Sunak is making sure his backers – all mired in dark money –  know he is the man for the job.




Comments (11)

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  1. James Robertson says:

    As you say, Mike, none of this is new. Back in 2014, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen – the man who said that devolution would kill Scottish nationalism stone dead, warned against a Yes win in the referendum: ‘Whatever our occasional faults, we are still an anchor of the Western world… The loudest cheers for the break-up of Britain would be from our adversaries and from our enemies. For the second military power in the West to shatter this year would be cataclysmic in geopolitical terms…. If the United Kingdom was to face a split at this of all times and find itself embroiled for several years in a torrid, complex, difficult and debilitating divorce, it would rob the West of a serious partner just when solidity and cool nerves are going to be vital….Nobody should underestimate the effect all of that would have on existing global balances, and the forces of darkness would simply love it.’

    Sunak’s attempt to link the legitimate, democratically and entirely peacefully pursued goal of independence with those same (or different) ‘forces of darkness’ is offensive and desperate. It is designed to scare people into submission, much as he claims Labour are ‘depressing their way to victory’. Two sides of the same coin. Scotland is irrelevant to the Tories in electoral terms and almost equally so to Labour except that they could do with 20 or 30 extra seats on their way to win the General Election. Their choice of people who have just been elected as councillors in England to be candidates for Scottish constituencies says it all.

    The question is, will people in Scotland see through this before the election, during it, or not until afterwards? If the latter, we are going to be in an even bigger mess than we are now.

  2. Innes K says:

    Odd. Someone read that beforehand and approved it. Or maybe they didn’t and it was an outburst.

      1. Innes K says:

        Sunak’s speech I mean. The old stab-in-the-back rhetoric about the Scottish threat is very odd, as though it might have been a momentary rush of blood to the head.
        If not, they soberly pondered it and thought it was unremarkable, which is maybe even nastier.

  3. Chris Ballance says:

    At least we can all be reassured – thanks Rishi – that there’s no danger to the UK from climate chaos – the one and only potential threat that obviously hasn’t occurred to him. No, not a mention.

  4. maxwell macleod says:

    Evening Mike, well it’s political posturing, he would say he was a pink rhino if he thought it would get him out of this hole. He’s right though we are heading for a nightmare within the next few years , I find it extraordinary how so many people are just prepared to put their heads in the sand over global warming and walking away from the rapidly developing nightmare.
    How some people think that concentrating on splitting the country up and spending what, at least ten years on the re-adjustment and the Scottish Green spend so much time on gender issues when they should be spelling it out day and night is beyond me.
    We should be uniting across Britain, and Europe and indeed the world in these the last few decades not falling for the tribal calls of nationalism when history shows us time and again how destructive they are.
    Send us a book on Wells on Ion and I’ll send you money. MM

    1. John says:

      Sunak’s talk was nonsense and the only sensible approach to this speech is to do what more and more people are doing – ignore him.
      As to your assertion that an independent Scotland runs counter to tackling global warming and increased international cooperation this is the type of nonsense Sunak would come up with.
      Which government is determined to exploit fossil fuels further in North Sea?
      Which government has a history of blocking green energy developments (eg on shore wind farms)?
      Which government has severely hindered international cooperation by dragging Scotland out of EU against its will?
      Which government is actively sponsoring more car use?
      Which government is advocating a more extreme, exceptionalist, nationalist outlook?
      Hint – it is not Holyrood but Westminster.
      You are correct with your diagnosis of climate change (ignored by Sunak yesterday) being the greatest threat to humanity but then you descended into a factional anti independence rant which runs contrary to the evidence of governance in UK.
      I honestly cannot see how after the last 15 years of observing Westminster and devolved governments approach to climate change and international cooperation you still think that we would be better served by Westminster in addressing the challenges posed by global warming?

    2. Wul says:

      Yebbut, you were saying all this 10+ years ago Max. “Let’s not spend a decade trying to split up the country”

      If Scotland hadn’t listened to “sensible” voices like yours Maxwell we could be living in a country with a nationalised green energy supply, a sane and humane immigration policy that welcomes refugees and a realistic strategy for addressing climate change.

      Instead of which we are (still) ruled by an out-of-touch, emotionally disabled, proto-fascist, unhinged, deluded, corrupt, grifting, nature-killing, oligarch kleptocracy.

      Do you still believe we are “Better Together” ? Is now still “Not The Time”?

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Diplomats say the funniest things.
    Ukraine war briefing: US and most EU countries to boycott Putin swearing-in ceremony
    “US spokesperson says no envoy will attend because Russian president’s election was not ‘free and fair’.”
    I dunno about that, but the British have no election at all for their Empire’s head of state, something that the average USAmerican once may have mocked as tyranny (hypocrites or no). I didn’t see the US ambassador conspicuously boycotting the Coronation, one of the extremely anti-democratic British events that are the norm. You cannot be much more of an extremist than a theocratic hereditary royalist with military control over a highly-centralised nuclear-armed state currently backing genocide. Is this what we’re to celebrate?

  6. SFTB says:

    All of Sunak’s speech was offensive – a last rallying cry for the right wing base. GB “News” will love it. The stuff about SNP and Alba is both stupid and offensive. I almost feel sorry for the small man- he replaced an absolute clown in Boris but is being forced by Boris’s clown pals to do a clown dance of his own. Once he loses the next election, I hope he recovers what’s left of his decency and maybe even consider a belated apology, not just to Scots but to every Pro-Palestine demonstrator which is the bigger issue here

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