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.