Molly Pollock takes a look at the latest evidence Boris Johnson is running scared of Nicola Sturgeon and thinks he can shut her out of COP26 when the international media will want to hear about climate change progress in Scotland compared with fossil fuel reliance in England
In the same week that Tory MSP Tess White heckled in Holyrood insisting that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government and its policies were anti-English, meeting notes and WhatsApp messages seen by The Independent indicate that it’s the UK Prime Minister and his cohorts that have problems with Scotland and its First Minister.
Top Advisers at No 10 and the Cabinet Office, no doubt aware of the PM’s inability to hold his own against the competent and internationally admired First Minister of Scotland, are conspiring to sideline Nicola Sturgeon’s role at COP26. Apparently they are wargaming in an attempt to prevent the summit from becoming an advertisement for Scottish independence.
Surely they can only think the event could become such an advertsement if they believe Scotland is achieving more in its efforts against climate change than the UK under Johnson’s Tory government, and that Nicola Sturgeon will impress by her knowledgeable and well-informed input into the event whilst a rumpled Johnson windmills his arms, mutters incomprehensible phrases in Latin and generally bumbles like a drunk bee.
Flags…there have to be union flags
The leaked messages indicate Johnson’s advisers want to ‘neutralise’ Scotland’s First Minister by ensuring Johnson doesn’t share a platform with Nicola Sturgeon in the run-up to and during the event, and by including other devolved leaders where possible.
One advisor is quoted as saying: “We can’t let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign.”
The leaked notes also document efforts to ensure the union flag is displayed as much as possible at the summit.
At a time when the world faces climate catastrophe and millions around the world have already faced extreme weather conditions, in storms, floods, droughts, heatwaves causing extensive wildfires, glaciers melting and rising sea levels, all Boris Johnson and his cohort can think of is how they can spike the guns of Scotland’s democratically elected First Minister at the international crisis summit called to take crucial decisions on the way forward.
Oh, and he wants to ensure a sea of union flags too. Nothing like getting his priorities right!
This reaction from Number 10 isn’t new. In 2019 Boris Johnson said much the same although changing his mind a few times in the intervening years – see recent article A Global Priority
See also this video Tweeted by Phantom Power.
Such puerlie and petty schemes to sideline Scotland’s democratically elected First Minister at such an important event, not just for Scotland and the UK but also for the world, are attempts to sideleline Scotland and those who call it home. Such schemes also suggest a PM who is afraid of Nicola Sturgeon, who quakes in his clown shoes at the thought of having to work alongside her, and who will do whatever is necessary not to be upstaged and outshone by her.
Anti Scottish shenanigans you could say. Certainly anti Scottish democracy shenanigans.
The First Minister’s reaction to these puerile and petty shenanigans was in true statesmanlike form.
Abdicating responsibility? But isn’t that what PM Boris Johnson usually does, whether it’s a global pandemic, troubles in Afghanistan and a hasty evacuation that leaves many hundreds to the tender mercies of the Taliban, or tackling climate change when the changes needed might affect the income of his Party’s supporters and donors? Abdicating responsibility appears to be a way of life for the current Prime Minister.
But while Boris Johnson intends to put our First Minister in what he regards as her place,the Scottish Government is to be applauded for using the opportunity of an international event on climate change in Glasgow to engage with young peope and get an appropriate message out to them during COP26.
Youth Climate Summit: Let’s Talk COP26 took place online yesterday, open to all young people aged 18-35 from across Scotland and beyond, to offer the opportunity to spend a day hearing from inspiring speakers and participating in workshops covering a range of climate change and sustainability topics.
To ensure young people, those who will have to live with the effects of climate change, have a platform and that their voices are heard during the summit, the Scottish Government is hosting a special programme of events during COP26, and will continue its support of the 2050 Climate Group in its work to educate and empower young people. To close yesterday’s online event, participants heard from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
So with young people enthused to press for the urgent action the world needs to see from COP26 it looks as if the Prime Minister and his puerile and petty advisors might have their work cut out silencing Scottish voices.