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Showing posts with label English independence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English independence. Show all posts

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Making political capital out of …

The following tweet yesterday provoked a little exchange between Angus Macleod and me, and an ironic reference by  Rolf Rae-Hansen to Angus’s proclivity for referring to ‘cybernats’ …

Angus Macleod

AMacleodTimes Angus Macleod

What I cannot fathom is why some people think it is so vital to refer to English,rather than UK, riots .

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@AMacleodTimes Because riots don't take place in a state, Angus - they happen in a city, or cities or a country. Info: four countries in UK

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@AMacleodTimes Of the 4 countries in the UK, only one has had riots so far - England. Useful to tourists headed for one of the other three?

Rolf Rae-Hansen

rolfraehansen Rolf Rae-Hansen

@moridura Don't worry, I think @AMacleodTimes understands full well, he is just one of those CyberUnionist wind up merchants. :)

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@rolfraehansen @AMacleodTimes I thought there was a little faux naivety in his question - he fathoms, all right - and so do I ...

Since then, of course, Alex Salmond made his statement, the BBC mended its ways, and started referring correctly to English riots, and a wave of unionist - and it is unionist - protest came, accusing the First Minister of ‘playing politics’ with the riots, with the Scotsman feeling that it warranted the front page and most of page two.

The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, has stated, as civil order crumbles in English cities, that the riots are “criminality, pure and simple.” The riots of course, are neither pure nor simple - they are a deeply debased manifestation of what has gone wrong with the society created by Thatcher, Blair, Brown, Mandelson, whose gross political errors are now being fatally compounded by Cameron and Clegg and their benighted coalition.

The situation is political, because every manifestation of our society stems from either political action or inaction. Life is politics, and no amount of moralising, demanding that parents behave responsibly, advocating a return to traditional values, etc. will make a blind bit of difference - they are a smokescreen thrown up in a vain attempt to conceal the poverty of idea and vision of our leaders, and to try to cover their tracks and evade responsibility for what they have done for the last thirty years.

And what they have done for the last thirty years has been done by Westminster, in the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,  the failing, crumbling, stitched together political state called the UK, the rump of a failed empire.

Every word that has been uttered by politicians, and by their creatures in the media since the Tottenham riots has been political - by the Government in an attempt to defend themselves, by the Labour Party in an attempt both to evade blame for their 13-year role in creating the social mess, and to make expedient political capital over the Coalition’s misfortune. Every word from politicians in Scotland has been political, and the comment has divided sharply and entirely predictably along the Scottish San Andreas fault line of unionist/nationalist sympathies and political philosophies.

Of course it’s political - politics created this bloody (literally) mess, and only politics and political action will get us out of it. Scotland must help the English people in any way they can, with understanding, with deep respect, and with resources and practical help, of which the police resource is only one immediate example.

Scotland must listen to the voice of the English people, in all its ethnic, cultural and class diversity, to its young people, to its academics - such as Dr. Clifford Stott (see clip below) - when they have something pertinent and helpful to say.

But we must distinguish sharply between the country of England and its people - our neighbours, friends, colleagues and relatives, to whom we are linked by a shared language, a shared history and a shared archipelago - and the failed State of the UK, which is the root cause of the troubles of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Only the independence of Scotland will solve the problems of Scotland, and in the process, lead towards the necessary independence of England and the people of England. Scotland is different - we know it, and our English neighbours know it. Neither country should shrink from recognising these difference, nor from examining them.

The fundamental difference is that Scotland is committed to a social democracy that cares for all of its people, especially its vulnerable people, and every political argument nationalist Scots have with unionist Scots and with Westminster politicians centres around that fact.

So when you hear a unionist politician or media sympathiser, especially a Scottish unionist politician or media sympathiser say “stop playing politics” with this or that burning issue, remember that what they are doing is playing politics - unionist politics - and what they are saying, with increasing desperation is Don’t call attention to anything that reveals the progressive failure of the UK, the Westminster Government, and the greedy, amoral conspiracy against the people of these Isles called the British Establishment, a conspiracy of inherited or ruthlessly acquired wealth, power and privilege, totally undemocratic, self-serving, amoral, and utterly opposed to the independence of Scotland, the independence of England and the independence of Wales.

Perhaps the new Jimmy Reid Foundation can ask themselves some searching questions as they try to give a voice to the Left in Scottish politics. First among them should be -

1. What made Jimmy Reid, a lifelong Socialist and internationalist, become a nationalist in the last years of his life?

2. Where does the ‘new’ Scottish Left stand on the nuclear deterrent and nuclear power?

3. Where does the new Scottish Left stand in the independence of Scotland?

If they duck these questions, or put them on the back burner because they are too controversial, then they will, of course, become yet another irrelevant talking shop of old lefties, mildly amusing and good chat show sofa material.

They might also ask themselves why the Scottish Left ignored and betrayed the people of Dalmarnock, as the Games juggernaut rolled over their lives …

Saor Alba!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

An antidote to the ‘Britishness’ nonsense talked in the Newsnight special

Rory Stewart OBE, Tory MP (born in Hong Kong, raised in Malaysia, education Dragon school, Eton and Balliol college, Oxford - Deputy Governor in two Iraq provinces for the armed US/UK Coalition that illegally invaded  Iraq. He served briefly in the Black Watch. His family originates from Crieff in Perthshire).

Asked if the break-up of the Union, compared by Paxman to a marriage, matters -

I think it matters very deeply, I think we’ll miss it terribly. It is something it is very easy to imagine you can tear apart, by I think like any relationship - any intertwined thing - once it’s gone, we’ll miss it and we will never forgive the government that tore it apart.”

This is emotional nonsense, with highly coloured, pejorative terms, delivered by a privileged product of the British Establishment, colonialism and Empire. He believes what he says - why wouldn’t he, with that background? He talks of the voluntary ending of a 300 year-old political treaty by democratic means and negotiation as a tearing apart, and the we he refers to, although he the thinks of it as the people of the UK , is in fact his own tiny, powerful, privileged class.

That class will miss the Union - you’d better believe they will!  They owe all they have to it - it has delivered for them, while marginalising, impoverishing and killing the rest of us in large numbers, especially the Scots.

And never forget, that historically, that class has always included Scots who were willing, indeed enthusiastic agents of British imperialism and the betrayal of the economic and social interests of their own people. And they’re still around …

Asked pointedly by Paxman what ‘we’ would lose, he replies

I think it’s a mistake to think we would lose economics (sic) - you can make economic arguments, you can make political arguments - you lose an idea: an idea of union, an idea of what was great about Britain - of England, of Scotland. And those are things that all of us feel.”

In the turgid emotional and now stagnant pool that is the unionist mind Britain, instead of being a geographical term for an archipelago - a group of islands - is conflated with a political entity, one that didn’t exist when the union with Scotland - a political and economic union - took place. He’s right - Great Britain is an idea, and its time is ending. If it’s any comfort to the Rory’s of this world, the Union of the Crowns - a much older pragmatic idea - looks set to continue.

Joan McAlpine, talking hard sense, leavened with humanity as usual, attempts to reassure those about to cry in their warm ale over the impending ‘loss’. Peter Davies, an English Democrat would like to return to the status quo ante, i.e. reverse the devolution process, rightly pointing out the self-serving political motives of Labour in using it to consolidate their Scottish hegemony (it didnae work, Tony!) but he is a realist, albeit a disgruntled one, about where we now are, and wants out.

Prompted by Joan McAlpine’s analysis of the real reason for devolution, Rory Stewart reluctantly concedes that “probably, in the end, it reflected the desires of the Scottish people. I think it would have been dangerous to fight it forever. But I think at the same time, Scotland and England can be independent … and Scotland is more independent in the Union than out of it.”

He goes on, however, that it is “reckless and unnecessary …” He is interrupted at this point by Paxman saying that it can be done. Rory acknowledges that it would not be a cataclysm, but “a crying shame …”

Faced with the English Democrat asking why the English are being discriminated against in the devolution settlements - as they are, in my view - he patronisingly tells his countryman (in Rory’s English persona) that he is “falling into the trap that the Scottish nationalists are setting - they are trying to make you feel that you are being discriminated against” to which he receives the robust rejoinder from Peter Davies “We are!”.

“Everything that they are doing is designed to try to make you feel resentful - you don’t need to …” This is half-Scot Rory talking about a large number of his countrymen and the elected Government of Scotland. Peter Davies rejoins that he is not resentful, but old Etonian Rory is in full patrician mode now.

You can be confident and proud of being British.”

Peter Davies, an Englishman, is more practical, and rejects the patronising tone. “I want what they’ve got - that’s not resentful.”

Gaun yersel, Peter, I say, endorsing his feeling that he is being discriminated against, because he is. Tam Dalziel said so, and since I am now from West Lothian, I support that other product of empire and privilege, the Laird of the Binns. At this point, Joan McAlpine made more relevant, hard economic and legal points, but Paxman prefers to stay with the emotion and the discrimination issue.

He questions the audience - do they feel discriminated against? He raises the nonsensical proposition that the English should be allowed a voice in the referendum, which some of the audience do. Could the English force the Scots to stay, even if they wanted to leave? This leaves the unfortunate audience member being prompted by Paxman looking confused, as well he might be, and asking that the question be repeated.

But Paxman gets little comfort - good old, English common-sense is prevailing. One of them recognises that some Scots actually may have more reservations about independence than the English.

Paxman seeks for Scots to answer his question, but yet again gets a robust answer from an Englishman, that it is a matter for Scots, not for them. Paxman then finds a straight-talking Scot, who says that all that will happen is that the English will lose a few more Labour MPs, and is sanguine about Scots continuing to get on well with the English, since they do so under “the pseudo independence we’ve got now.”

But Rory will have none of it - we are “in danger of turning friends into competitors, and opening up rivalries and crises of identity that none of us need or want.” He remains oblivious to the fact that this exists only in his mind and the minds of his narrow privileged class, not among the ordinary people, who recognise that the UK and the Union are not operating in their interests, but in the interests of Rory’s class - the British Establishment.

The Scottish audience member who spoke earlier points out gently to Rory, and cites former British empire members Canada, Australia and Ireland, where contacts, family ties and social relationships and economic ties are just fine.

Rory ignores this courteously stated point, and falls back on his Dad in Crieff, who is proud to be Scottish and British, and claims, with no evidence, that this represents more people in Scotland than the audience member represents, a discourteous, impertinent and unsupported statement.

I have little to say about the last few minutes of the discussion - it’s all there in the clip for those who want to analyse it.

I leave the last word on the UK and the Union to the distinguished historian, Norman Davies, on pages 870 and 871 of his magisterial work The Isles. I have selected quotes that seem highly relevant to me.


(1) The United Kingdom is not, and never has been, a nation-state.


By the terms of its inception in 1707, The United Kingdom has been prevented from developing either the federal or the unitary structures which have elsewhere fostered homogeneity.


It is essentially a dynastic conglomerate, which could never equalise the functions of its four constituent parts, and which, as a result, could never fully harmonise the identities of the national communities within its borders. The UK, for example, has no one established Church. (It has two of them.) It has no unified legal system, no centralised education system, no common cultural policy, no common history - none of the institutional foundations, in other words, on which nations states are built.


Like all ruling elites who wanted their citizens to form a coherent national community and to identify themselves with the interests of the state, the British establishment deliberately confused the concepts of citizenship and nationality. Indeed, in British usage, citizenship actually came to be called ‘nationality’, whilst citizens - or rather subjects - were called ‘nationals’. This linguistic manoeuvre did much to create the false impression that everyone who carried a British passport was automatically identified with the same national group.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Scottish Office in action as the debate intensifies–Moore and Mundel defend their country–the UK

The Colonial Governor, Michael Moore talks down his country, or rather, the country whose interests he is supposed to represent. His country is, of course, the United Kingdom - a failed state.

He 'wholeheartedly' supports the union, as does his questioner - but it is not a Scottish heart, nor is it a brave heart.

  A Tory MP, Ann McIntosh and another Establishment figure, Sir Menzies Campbell (LibDem) make planned mischief over the UK Supreme Court and the Scottish Expert Group headed by Lord McCluskey.

The hoary spectre of Jim Sillars, yesterday's man (1992!) is invoked by David Mundel as a "former Deputy Leader of the SNP". It is left to Pete Wishart SNP to defend his country, Scotland and his Parliament to these two Scottish unionists acting in concert with a unionist Tory.


The West Lothian Question, the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament and the two Assemblies, the the UK Supreme Court debacle - the contradictions mount, the English get restive and the Unionists begin to panic.

Ah, the decline of an empire! What a pathetic spectacle it presents ...


I should have some affinity with Jim Sillars. He is of my generation, two years younger than I am: he is a Scot, his politics have always been of the left, he is a former Labour man, he moved from Labour to the SNP and he comes from the Scottish working class. There the similarities end.

He also has a record of significant political action (which I do not), and was a pivotal figure at key points in the history of the SNP, and is a former Deputy Leader of the Party. For that legacy, he retains a certain respect among SNP members and activists.

But he has, in my view, been recklessly squandering that legacy since he lost his Govan seat in 1992, at which point he effectively ceased to have any real relevance to Scottish politics. His pejorative comment about Scots being “90 minute patriots” became a kind a epitaph for his political career.

His recent interventions into the Scottish political debate have, in my view, been at best unhelpful, and at worst, damaging to the cause of Scotland’s independence, especially at this crucial time. He has become a kind of icon for the unionists, who quote him at every opportunity (see David Mundel in the above clip) and is a favourite choice for inclusion in television news discussions for the same reasons. He chose recently to mount one of his more intemperate attacks on the Scottish Government through the medium of a letter to The Telegraph, the Pravda of the Tory Party and the Union.

I do wish he would shut up, but I fear he won’t – he probably sees himself as the prophet in the wilderness, and the Union is more than happy to accommodate him in this role.

Oh, Jim …

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy St. George’s Day to the people of England – best wishes from Scotland

May I wish all my English friends and colleagues a very happy Easter and and Happy St. George’s Day. A special wish to the great counties of Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire and the city of Newcastle.

From Saint George and the Dragon