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Showing posts with label Northern Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northern Ireland. Show all posts

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A militaristic British Establishment threatened by Scotland’s independence

There is now a feeling of inevitability about Scotland’s independence, accompanied by an impotent rage from unionists who can feel the wind of change and don’t like its direction. Their impotence derives from their confusion and lack of coordinated effort, which in turn are a product of a long complacency fed by an inept and compliant media.

A self-serving, undemocratic elite, confronted by the will of the people, initially ignore reality, then deny it. They then grow desperate, and desperate elites do desperate things, as we have seen across the globe in recent times. But before they abandon democratic processes - or the semblance of them - they begin to say the hitherto unsayable. The mask begins to drop, and what lies beneath is not pleasant to behold.

As the full implications of what Scottish independence will mean for the military/industrial complex in the UK - a complex web of special interests radiating from the fostering of paranoia about external threats and perpetual war as the operating principle of the state - the mask of ‘Britishness’, an appeal to nostalgia for imagined qualities and a golden age of empire that have no foundation in reality has dropped, and the real nature of the UK’s opposition to Scotland leaving the Union is laid bare.

The debate - long suppressed - now rages. And rage is the word, as the outbursts of Lord Forsyth, Lord West and now Lord George Robertson reveal.

But it gets worse - consider this piece - The Northern Ireland question: Alex Salmond's ticking bomb - by Crispin Black in THE WEEK.

Crispin Black MBE is a former British Army officer, a Falkland veteran, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House and is now an intelligence consultant and commentator of terrorism and intelligence. He is retained by the BBC as an expert on terrorism. One can therefore say with confidence that Crispin Black has served his nation, that the nation he has served is reflected in the last two letters (MBE) of the honour it conferred upon him, and that he is an expert. He had - perhaps still has - political ambitions, having stood unsuccessfully as an independent in the general election of 2010.

In the light of this, the BBC listens to him, and he wants a wider audience to listen to him. And I think it is safe to say that there are many in high places who regard him as a respected voice of the Union - the BBC clearly does. Given all of this, it is my view that he should take greater care in how he expresses his expert views, because in my view, he has run unacceptable risks in using the mode he has chosen.

Let’s start with the title of his piece and its sub-title - The Northern Ireland question: Alex Salmond's ticking bomb - If Scotland goes independent, Northern Ireland could become a truly explosive issue once again.

In a province that has struggled with violence, death, political assassination and civil unrest for decades, and has come to a welcome, but fragile peace and democratic politics through the principled efforts of courageous men and women on both sides of the political spectrum, but where extremism still exists, and extremists still carry out acts of lethal violence, such a headline can easily be seen as a provocation, whatever its intent.

Nothing in the language that follows allays my fears in this regard. Consider these two paragraphs (the red highlighting is mine) -

“Last night's two bombs in Londonderry, credited to IRA dissidents, are a timely reminder that the impact on English security will be grave. As Republicans in Northern Ireland look east across the North Channel to Scotland (just 22 miles away at the narrowest point), they will see unfolding before them a "demi-paradise" – a country revelling in the sort of menacing and rancid anti-English sentiment more suited to the H Blocks than a modern European democracy.

Everywhere, the hated Union Flag will be lowered, military bases closed and even the ‘Black Bomber' submarines, mighty symbols of the ‘independent' nuclear deterrent, kicked out to new bases in the West Country.”

This language, ostensibly focusing on the Republican perspective, in fact seems intended to resonate negatively with the Unionists, and not only those in the province itself, as can be seen from  subsequent paragraphs, which focus on sectarian divisions in Scotland, making links to football loyalties, religious affiliations and specifically what Crispin Black calls “the Orange Men

If violence kicks off seriously in Northern Ireland as a result of Scottish Independence it will disfigure the streets of the newly independent Scotland – for sure.”

Bluntly, Crispin Black MBE, whatever your intent, this kind of stuff is certainly dangerous, could be inflammatory, and while it might have been acceptable speculation in a confidential report, should not - in my view  - have seen the light of day in an open publication online or elsewhere.

Saying “Let’s hope none of this comes to pass” sounds rather hollow in the light of having presented a hypothetical scenario that some extremists could seize upon as a blueprint, especially when it came from a source that seems the epitome of Britishness.

Your views of Scots, of Scotland and of Scottish independence seem clear enough from your closing sentences -

“But win or lose, Scotland looks set to become a less pleasant place. If an independence referendum is defeated, its supporters are likely to become sour, pathologically.”

There is a sourness in this article that could be described as pathological, and it does not emanate from Scotland or Scottish nationalists.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The UK Establishment - why they don’t want Scotland to leave the Union

In their more macho moments before the watershed Scottish National Party victory on May 5th 2011, prominent members of the British Establishment, who appear in many guises -  political, academic, military, media pundits, celebrities, etc. - said they would be happy if Scotland decided to leave the Union. This took many forms, from “It’s your decision - we won’t stand in your way …” to “We’ll be glad when you go - drain on our resources, subsidised ..” etc.

But as the polls began to move decisively in favour of the SNP during the campaign, the tone began to shift, and a note of panic increasingly began to sound. Dire warnings to the Scottish electorate were delivered of the horrors that awaited them if Alex Salmond got an overall majority and consequentially the ability to pass a referendum bill.

The prospects of Independence and Separation were rattled in the voters’ faces, like bogeymen on a stick, but instead of provoking terror, this resulted in a collective yawn, then a derisive laugh from the sophisticated Scottish electorate, followed by a swift two fingers as they entered the polling booth.

The election result threw the Establishment into a blue funk. Having thrown their heavyweight champions, political and media, into the arena in Scotland during the campaign, they had the humiliating experience of seeing them thrown back contemptuously through the ropes on to their arses at the ringside.

The note changed rapidly yet again, this time to demands for an instant referendum, followed by a second referendum on the negotiated terms, just in case the first one didn’t deliver the expected rejection, and some even suggested a referendum of the entire UK electorate.

Of course, this farrago of nonsenses didn’t emanate from the English people, who showed a disturbing tendency to either express admiration for the Scots and their concern for their people, or to say bluntly “If you’re going, get on with it. F*** off and good riddance - get off our backs so we can get our own independence for the nation of England, the sooner the better!”, sentiments that most Scots could understand and even applaud as being at least honest and direct.

And the English people were beginning to take a long, hard look at what the corrupted politics of Westminster, the insatiable greed of the financial establishment, the global posturing in foreign wars and the benighted Coalition government were actually doing for them. Ominous noise were being made by the trades unions …

That most contemptible of groups, the Scottish Unionist Establishment - a client group wholly dependent on the UK for their status, the descendants, literally or figuratively of those powerful chiefs and landowners who had betrayed their own people in 1707 and thereafter in their greed for English gold - were running round in circles, as the implications of their long, expedient, quisling subservience became increasingly evident. Their very identity was threatened by Scotland’s independence.

So the real question that must be addressed is - 

Why don’t the English Establishment (and their client Scottish counterparts) want Scotland to leave the Union?

Yesterday’s Telegraph (the Union and the Establishment in print) epitomised both the fear and the insidious nature of the remedies that might be sought against that fear. Vernon Bogdanor - The Telegraph

Salmond ‘could split the UK against the wishes of majority’

Who is being quoted in this scare story? “One of the world’s most respected constitutional experts” according to Simon Johnson, Scottish political editor of the Telegraph - one Vernon Bogdanor, emeritus professor of politics and government at Oxford University, the beating heart - together with Eton College - of the British Establishment and its grip on power delivered through birth, money and privilege.

Vernon Bogdanor? The name - and the sentiments - rang a bell with me. April 2010 and Dinner with Portillo, a programme on the subject of Scottish independence. I dug it out, and I’ve done an edit (edits signalled by fades)on the half hour programme, partly to get it to fit into the YouTube 15 minute slot, and partly to cut out a lot of the drivel emanating from Ron Liddle and Hardeep Singh, two of the dinner guests.

And although it’s over a year old, and preceded the May 2010 general election, and the May 2011 Scottish election, it’s still relevant, and the answers are all there …

What becomes progressively evident from this discussion is that the fear in the minds of the English Establishment that the UK will not exist in any meaningful sense after Scotland leaves. UK Minus - a union of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have no relevance, no point, and will rapidly break up. This can either be viewed as realpolitik, or as contempt for the two nations of Wales and Northern Ireland, seen post-Scottish independence as two vestigial appendages of England - relics perceived as about as relevant as earlobes or the veriform appendix.

This view is now echoed daily in the media, who talk of the break-up of the UK, or the end of the UK when Scotland goes, with a pointed disregard for the ancient and proud nation of Wales, and the more recent, but equally proud nation of Northern Ireland, a nation that has transformed itself in very recent times as it emerges from a long, dark night of violence and internal strife.

This is emphatically not how Scotland sees Wales and Northern Ireland, as the meeting of the First Ministers of the devolved nations meeting this very day in Bute House, Edinburgh clearly demonstrates.

The answer to the question of why the UK doesn’t want to lose Scotland - in spite of  UK Establishment claims that Scotland could not survive outside of the UK, that Scotland is a dependent subsidy junkie, that it is a burden to England and so forth, or its pious nonsense about fracturing ancient ties of blood and and tradition  - is fourfold.

The first reason is that Scotland autonomy in foreign policy and defence would threaten UK defence policy, and crucially its nuclear deterrence policy, and therefore it pretensions to be a world power, albeit one totally subservient to American foreign policy. A closely linked sub-agenda is the private profit to be reaped from war and defence expenditure as the operating principle of the UK State.

The second reason is the awful prospect that Scotland would be economically successful, demonstrating that a state can serve all of its people, especially the the most vulnerable, while being economically viable, becoming, in the words of a great English poet “the cynosure of neighbouring eyes”.

The third reason is that Scotland, far from being a drain on UK resources, is in fact a net contributor to them, and subsidises the UK.

And the last, and perhaps  most poignant reason is that somehow England would lose its soul as Scotland regained its own identity, something elegantly expressed by one of Portillo’s dinner guests.

It’s not true of course - the British Establishment would lose its tarnished soul, but the people of England would regain their soul, and their pride as a nation again - a nation unafraid to speak its name.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding - a Union symbolising a divided nation?

Celebrations across Britain? Technically true, but in fact concentrated on London and the Home Counties.

Anglesey and St. Andrews effectively had to stand for Wales and Scotland, for obvious reasons - the royal couple live in Anglesey, and went to St. Andrew's - a Scottish University that is predominantly the province of rich English students.

This was a wedding attended by the rich and privileged (plus a few brutal tyrants), the British Establishment and a few token peasants. It was almost exclusively white - apart from the dictators - and entirely unrepresentative of the United Kingdom. It was a huge expensive PR exercise for the British Establishment, militarism and organised religion, mainly Christian.

It was reported in either hushed reverential tones or a nauseatingly jolly jingoistic and patronising manner by the BBC and ITV both nationally and regionally, and grossly distorted the reality of the widespread indifference of Scotland, Wales and the Midlands and North of England.

Only Channel 4 offered any kind of realistic debate and critique. We expected little else, and it's over - till the next time.