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Showing posts with label sectarianism in Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sectarianism in Scotland. 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.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Moridura rides to the rescue of unionists

At heart, I am a compassionate man. This is not immediately evident to some, because I am also a passionate man when in pursuit of an argument, and I can allow vigorous expression of a viewpoint to pass all too easily into hectoring, a mode I have nothing but contempt for in others. I am also guilty of sarcasm on occasion, defending it as heavy irony, which sounds more intellectually respectable. I even have recourse to ad hominem debating styles. (Since the political demise of Maggie Thatcher and Wendy Alexander, I have not used ad wominem styles, although Jackie Baillie has brought me close once or twice.)

My midsummer resolution is therefore to abandon these contemptible approaches, and allow all my natural qualities of sympathy, empathy - and any other pathy I can think of - to come into play.

Never let it be said, therefore, that I passed by a unionist politician, former spin doctor or commentator in distress, averting my eyes as they writhed in the helpless grip of failed ideas and arguments, struggling to rise to their feet and pursue their quest for long-lost ideals and values. A great wave of pity almost overwhelms me as I listen to their confused mutterings, as they rage against their fate, and I am moved to offer succour to the suckers. (Sorry - a momentary lapse there …)

So here is my guide to unionist politicians and commentators in their hour of greatest need as they try to answer the great question their wavering supporters ask - why should Scotland remain in the Union?


Stop pretending that you have any principles, ideals or values, since the evidence is stacked against you. Focus on fear, greed and naked self-interest. (This comes as second nature to Tories, but poses some difficulties for Labour and the LibDems.) Try to cultivate paranoia about things happening in far-off countries.

Stay away from the Monarchy. The SNP have nailed that one by committing to a constitutional monarchy after independence. And don’t go on about republicans within the SNP - there are at least as many unionist republicans as there are nationalists - maybe more in the Labour Party.

Play up the war and military thing, especially the idea of foreign wars as a job creation scheme.

Try and find a reasons for building ships, ideally aircraft carriers. No need for aircraft to put on them, or even for them to put to sea - it’s the Clydeside jobs, stupid!

The nuclear things can still play well if you’re careful - avoid words like Fukishima, pollution, radiation, waste, annihilation etc. Make sure the BBC doesn’t run The China Syndrome or any documentaries featuring Hiroshima or Nagasaki. If nuclear submarines bump into to each other, or get lost, or run aground, or crew members shoot their officers, try to pass it off as either a joke or an aberration.

Persuade parents that it’s a good thing for their adult children to give their lives in unwinnable and illegal wars. Make the most of the patriotic ones and quickly move to silence the ones who raise difficult questions. Don’t look for unionist politicians who have children on the frontline - they are as rare as hen’s teeth.

Keep attacking Alex Salmond personally, even though it doesn’t seem to work. Regularly remind Scots that he is confident, decisive, in control of his party, is an election winner, and cares about the poor, sick and vulnerable - sooner or later, they’ll come to despise these qualities, since they clearly don’t fit well with unionism.

Make sure that any legislation passed by the SNP is doomed to fail, especially if it is aimed at dealing with endemic problems in Scottish society like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sectarianism and inequality. The best way to do this is to claim that any specific measures backed by law will be certain to fail, while emphasising that well-meaning ‘educational’ initiatives, leaflets, public information commercials, etc. produced by  industry-funded and controlled bodies will sooner or later get results, although they is little evidence that they ever have or ever will.

Emphasise the need to move very slowly in enacting new legislation, because it is better to be 100% right at some nebulous point in the future than do something that is 90% right now when it is needed.

A few more deaths, stabbings, riots, violent assaults and chronic medical problems are a small price to pay for getting every clause, sub-clause, dot and comma completely accurate. This also serves the secondary objectives of making even more money for rich lawyers and giving the vested interests more time to find other ways to combat any law that might dent their profits.

Remember the following six key principles -

Politicians who make a real effort to help to tackle the problems of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sectarianism and inequality by legislation are the enemies of freedom, big business and their right to make money.

The people are free to destroy themselves in any way they see fit, especially the young and the poor.

Their inalienable right to to destroy themselves and the society of which they are a part must be protected at all costs.

Those desperate for alcohol and drugs will be undeterred by any laws or restrictions that attempt to control their behaviour.

Ultimately, it’s the fault of those with the problem, not those causing it, and above all, it is the fault of the poor.

None of their problems matter so long as they remain British, but everything would get worse if Scotland was independent.

But do offer them well-meaning advice. Set up little stalls near riots, or in high street drinking dens, or in the notorious trouble spot at old firm games, staffed by persons with impeccable middle class credentials, to offer helpful advice about personal morality, self-control and the family.

A little bit of God and old-time religion won’t go amiss here. Offer free CDs of Abide With Me and The Old Rugged Cross as an alternative to the The Sash and the Soldier’s Song. Suggest the old 1950s Johnny Ray hit, Cry as non-inflammatory substitute for No Surrender. Correct misunderstandings that result in the singing of The Cry was no surrender - etc.

Show the dangers of singing Danny Boy, since either side of the sectarian divide can claim it as their own, and show that the SNP have overlooked this manifest danger.

Ensure that all attempts to prosecute under the new legislation are regarded as a breach of human rights, and refer them to the UK Supreme Court, which will instantly condemn the prosecutions and release the worst sectarian offenders back on to the terraces to resume their behaviour.

Make it clear that legislation will inadvertently criminalise the carrying of bottles of waters to football matches in case it is holy water, and that gurgling while drinking such  suspect water may be seized on by the police as evidence of surreptitious sectarian chanting.

Demonstrate that anyone with anything green around their person or their property, e.g. grass, may be arrested. Show that wearing a blue tie (e.g. certain SNP ties) may be regarded as incitement to violence. Show that the SNP legislation risks criminalising the 12-bar blues, and therefore all jazz and popular music using this musical form.

Similar risks exist in relation to bluegrass music.

Get the cooperation of sympathetic newspapers,  media news channels and lazy journalists, i.e. most of them, to publicise these and similar acute dangers of the new legislation. Ignore completely anything the police might say - what do they know about public order and criminal behaviour?


I hope the above advice, offered in a spirit of reconciliation, will prove useful to unionist politicians and commentators, - especially former spin doctors associated with failed or otherwise discredited politicians - who are anxious to re-invent themselves as media personalities, and achieve a new reputation as detached, disinterested observers of the new political scene, one that they have so recently monumentally misunderstood and misjudged.

Redemption must be open to all comers.