WHAT’S left? What have the Tories not destroyed?

We’re now in the 13th year of Tory rule and hardly anything remains standing. The pillars of society have been torn down one by one. Now the vandals have their hands on the last two surviving symbols of Britain – of the Union even – and are dragging them through the streets towards the chopping block: the NHS and the BBC.

It’s a mark of how extreme matters are that the destruction of the BBC is the least of our worries. The world’s oldest, and once most respected, national broadcaster is being gutted in real time by the Tory Party.

Lately, we’ve heard a lot of arch questions raised about the BBC’s news reporting: why’s that Michelle Mone story not getting more coverage? Why’s the BBC not giving oomph to Nadhim Zahawi and his tax shenanigans?

Not all the criticism is fair, but it’s entirely understandable. There’s a sense among the public that the BBC is fully in the pockets of the Tory Government.

And then, as if to prove the sum of our fears, along comes the BBC chairman, Richard Sharp, and claims that shortly before being given the job he helped then Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure a loan agreement. It’s claimed he helped arrange a guarantor on a loan of up to £800,000 for Johnson in late 2020. Sharp was announced as the UK Government’s choice for BBC chairman in January 2021. The final decision was taken by Johnson.

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How does the BBC respond? On the day the story broke, the BBC’s flagship weekend current affairs show, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, treated viewers to chats with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel.

This, after a week in which the Tories pushed their braying sense of exceptionalism in our faces from Rishi Sunak and his seatbelt, to Zahawi and his tax affairs. Incidentally, Zahawi, now Tory chairman, tried stopping The Independent exposing he was being investigated over tax while Chancellor with threats to sue. Rules and accountability are clearly only for little people.

Here’s the problem for the BBC: it doesn’t really matter if the broadcaster has fully submitted to the Tory Government, what matters is that more and more people see it that way. Trust is broken. A recent poll found that the majority of Scots don’t think the BBC has done its job properly when it comes to reporting Brexit. And what was Brexit but an act of wilful destruction by a political and corporate elite? An act which benefited their pockets, while impoverishing the rest of us.

HeraldScotland: Viewers of Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg were treated to chats with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson’s sister RachelViewers of Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg were treated to chats with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel (Image: Newsquest)

For the BBC, the emotional connection between it and the public is gone. It’s a damn tragedy. Whatever the Tories touch is destroyed in furtherance of their interests, and at our expense. Auntie Beeb is broken. Sacrificed for short-term Tory benefit. "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport," as Gloucester says in King Lear.

Just as we’ve all long suspected that the Tories had broken the BBC, most of us with a brain knew they were also sharpening the blade for the NHS. Like the Beeb, the NHS is part of the glue of Britain – and indeed the Union. So up it goes on the scaffold.

The Tory former Health Secretary Sajid Javid now says patients should be charged for GP appointments and A&E visits. In other words, the NHS is no longer the NHS. What Tories don’t understand is that we all already pay for the NHS. It’s called taxes.

Sunak has set up a taskforce to deal with NHS problems. Guess who’s part of the mix? Seven bosses from the UK’s biggest private health companies.

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Since the moment they took office in 2010, the Tories have been a whirlwind ripping through British life. Their founding act of destruction came in the shape of austerity policies which broke the poor and disabled on the wheel. Brexit smashed business and the economy; it left our international reputation in tatters. The Tories even decided to sacrifice an entire constituent part of the United Kingdom to its great act of destruction: Northern Ireland.

The Johnson administration destroyed any notion of rules. Johnson and his pals had power and that was all that mattered. Rules weren’t important. So ethics and standards got their heads chopped off. Liz Truss ditched us into the sea, capsizing the entire nation economically.

Protest is being gutted, trade unions, already crippled, face ruination as they’re the only challenge really to Tory extremism. The daylights have been beaten out of democracy for years. One of the final acts of sabotage is the immolation of remaining EU regulations – swathes of employment and environmental rules which keep people and country safe. Destruction, though, keeps those who funnel millions to the Tory Party in donations happy.

Scotland is ground zero for the Tories’ last act of destruction before they go down in flames at the next election: the sacrifice of the Union, aka "the end of Britain". The SNP need not even exist to fuel the appetite for independence, the Tories do that single-handedly with every statement and policy. And so support for independence now rides unstoppably high at 54%.

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Maybe those who support independence actually love Britain more than the Tories do? Maybe they’re the true patriots, who care about what "Britain" really means? How can anyone who loves Britain support what the Tories have done?

Ask yourself why support for independence has risen inexorably over this last decade. Is it really down to a lacklustre SNP? Or because the symbols which Scotland loved about Britain have been destroyed bit by bit?

Why support the concept of "Britain", if the British Government is killing the very notion of what "Britain" means? Why not imagine a new country where the old ideas of what made Britain great can be protected, if they still exist, or reconstructed if they’ve already been dismantled by Tory rule?

Tell me, who’s the real patriot? The Yes voter who wants to preserve the NHS, or the Tory MP sharpening their knife for the very symbol of all that was once good about us as a nation?