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’ …
AMacleodTimes Angus Macleod
What I cannot fathom is why some people think it is so vital to refer to English,rather than UK, riots .
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
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?
rolfraehansen Rolf Rae-Hansen
moridura Peter Curran
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 …