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Showing posts with label British Empire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Empire. Show all posts

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Simon Schama’s Radio Times doublethink - how to be a romantic British nationalist while opposing nationalism

The BBC does its anti-independence propaganda obliquely in Radio Times – it sneaks it in blandly.

On pages 28-29 of the current edition, it carries an article by a Charles Laurence entitled “I’m a Jewish sea dog!” The eponymous Jewish sea dog is Simon Schama, historian, and relates ostensibly to his History of Britain series on BBC Four.

The article is a sort of profile-cum-interview with Schama, who, despite living half his life in America, holding his professorship at Princeton and bringing his family up there,  refuses to become an American citizen.

I’ve told my son I want to be thrown in the Thames when I die. No, not my ashes. All of me!”

An extreme manifestation of English – or British – nationalism? Perhaps, but he then comes out quite gratuitously with this sort of thing, through the words of Charles Laurence -

“His vision of the Britain forged by this history makes him adamantly opposed to Scottish independence and the break-up of the Union. If Scotland goes, he wrote in the FT, “something precious, to this historian at any rate, will have been irreparably destroyed: a nation state whose glory over the centuries has been that it does not correspond with some imagined romance of tribal singularity but has been made up of many peoples, languages, customs, all jumbled together within the expansive, inclusive British home

This is romantic, woolly and historically inaccurate and offensive nonsense.

The British “nation state” that exists today is the rump of brutal, exploitative colonial empire, corrupt and venal in all of its institutions, incompetent, brutally uncaring to the poor and vulnerable, desperately trying to hang on Scotland as the last symbol of its former power, hoping to preserve what his fellow historian Andrew Davies calls in The Isles

a dysfunctional dynastic conglomerate” – the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Or take this view attributed to him by Charles Laurence -

‘He adds that the same forces threatening to tear Britain apart are “happening in dreadful places, causing ethnic and tribal wars, immense massacres.”’

Given his earlier remarks about Scottish independence, one may conclude that the peaceful, broad-based, multi-nationality, multi-ethnic and legally agreed Scottish independence campaign is one of the “forces threatening to tear Britain apart”.

This is inflammatory nonsense from an apparently extreme, romantic British nationalist.

He is strangely obscure - almost silent - on the State of Israel, its extreme brand of religious and secular nationalism, and its behaviour towards the Palestinian people. A word about that situation, which does threaten the peace and stability of the world, and has done for 66 years, would be most welcome,  Simon Schama.

Monday, 28 April 2014

A “bereft” commentator says Westminster must not recognise a YES vote!

This Michael Ignatieff interview of 2012 continues to attract comments. One today prompted me to a vigorous response …


from Nathaniel Brisbane

As a child of Scottish and English parents I would be totally bereft if my historic homeland was to split and two states were to go their own ways. Whatever the SNP say it needs to be realised that there is bound to be friction between England and Scotland which will disadvantage the Scots. I am dismayed that staried-eyed 16 and 17 year olds can vote in the referendum. Westminister must not recognise a yes vote. Give greater devolution to Scotland as in Quebec but hold the union together. 

from Peter Curran

I am a child of Scottish and Irish parents, like many Scots. That "historic homeland" of Great Britain and Ireland was split in the 1920s after a bitter conflict with England, followed by a civil war in the South and partition of the country. Despite this, family relationships continued, trade continued, a shared currency was maintained for decades, and very recently the Queen visited the Republic of Ireland: even more recently, the head of the Northern Irish government visited the Queen in Buckingham Palace. The Royal Albert Hall recently celebrated the Irish and English relationship with a great musical event.

I think that Scotland, a country that will achieve its independence without violence through a democratic referendum agreed by the UK Government, and which will continue to have the Queen as constitutional monarch might just manage to maintain amicable relationships after independence.

In a word, you are talking sentimental nonsense, Nathaniel - you don't live here, and whether you feel "bereft" or not is not really a subject of much concern to Scottish voters. I am not a starry-eyed teenager - I am in my seventies and have lived in Scotland for most of my life, with about a decade in England, a country I love, and will continue to love, with ties of family, friendship and business.

What you are nostalgic for is a long-lost dream of British Empire - a brutal, exploitative imperialist construction that its component countries have long-since shaken free of, with Scotland soon to follow.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The ludicrous farce that is the British Empire and the UK - by an American

(I first posted this on February 11th 2011, but it has a vital new relevance since the renewed historic mandate of the only party committed to freeing Scotland, and because of the impending referendum. Watch and laugh, but most of all – LEARN! We’ll need all the history and all the arguments to convince the people of Scotland to free their nation. This should make Lord Forsyth’s wee kilt birl roon his ears and his sporran go richt up his nose …)

Superb - wonderful, accurate, funny! A spot-on hilarious but hugely informative account of the long-running farce called the British Empire.

Scotland wants out - I want out - anyone with any sense wants out.

Congratulations, USA - you got out a long time ago.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Falklands Islanders can leave the UK whenever they want to–but what about the Scots?

The Daily Politics, Wednesday  the 15th of December.


"Our legal rights to the sovereignty of the Falklands is clear, and we've always said we will never give the Falklands back, unless the people in the Falkland Islands wish to make a change to the current arrangement ... The Falkland Islands stay British unless the Falkland islanders want to change that."


"These are British people, who have a right to self-determination ---"

So say the two largest parties in the UK.

But what of Scotland, a country that voluntarily entered into a union with England as the UK - a country with its own ancient, proud, independent history, traditions and culture, its own church, its own legal system, its own Parliament.

What if a substantial proportion of the population of Scotland - a majority in the last opinion poll - want a referendum to determine their wishes?

The answer is a flat, unequivocal NO from all three of the largest UK parties. They are afraid even to ask the question. So billions can be squandered on maintaining a remote, tiny relic of the faded British Empire, but Scotland cannot even seek the opinion of its citizens.

The question must be asked again and again - why does the UK want to hold Scotland? The answers are clear - defence, i.e. nuclear, policy, revenue from oil and Scotch whisky, and finally the fact that if Scotland goes, the pretence of Empire can no longer be sustained.

And of course there is the secret terror that Scotland might well prove to be more economically successful than England, and might continue to display a concern for its poor, its vulnerable, its aged, and for the education of its young people that is increasingly absent in England.

Let Scotland go! You must be nuts - the Union Jack would rot on the flagpole! There would be riots in the streets of London! Members of the Royal Family would be assaulted in public! (aside from Sir Humphrey – Ahem, that has already happened, Minister ...”)

And what would happen to the post of colonial governor, the current Vidkun – the Scottish Secretary?

Why that would pass, unmourned, into the sordid pages of the history of that benighted position.