Not content with lecturing Scotland from afar, David Cameron stood atop a podium in the Olympic velodrome in the East End of London on Friday and begged people in England Wales and Northern Ireland to lecture Scotland from afar as well. He wants folk in other parts of the UK to phone their Scottish friends and relatives to beg them not to vote for independence because he’s unwilling to have a conversation with Scotland himself. He’s quite happy to lecture and hector, but he runs back to nanny if there’s any possibility that Scottish people might answer him back or ask him questions.
So instead we had the surreal experience of Cameron describing the UK as the most brilliant buccaneering country in history. I thought the world’s most buccaneering country was Somalia, but never mind. It’s unclear why Davie boy thinks buccaneering is a good thing, what with piracy being illegal under international law and everything, but he doesn’t want Scotland to become independent because we’ll take the Buchan out of his buccaneering. That just leaves him eerily erring.
Was Cameron saying we should take to fishing boats and hold North Sea ferries to ransom? It’s more likely that our tin eared PM just doesn’t know the difference between buccaneering – piracy, robbery, and hostage taking (which in themselves are the epitome of British Imperial values, although not ones Michael Gove wants to admit to) – and swashbuckling, which is pure dead glamorous if you’re a 1930s movie star with a moustache to twiddle, as opposed to a Westminster politician talking twaddle. However when Scotland looks at Davie Cameron, we don’t see Errol Flynn abseiling down a galleon’s rigging, we see thon guy in the top hat tying a Scottish maiden onto a railway track and running away before anyone clocks him.
Cameron spoke in front of a backdrop draped in bicycles which looked like it was designed by Norman Tebbit, Thatcher’s axeman who told unemployed Scots to get on their bikes and seek work dahn sarf. The subliminal message we were meant to receive was that this was the venue where Chris Hoy won his gold medal for Britain, because we’re supposed to decide our country’s future on the basis of whether some guy can pedal a bike really really fast. Instead the real lesson is that if we remain in the Union, future generations of Scots will have to get on their bikes and emigrate to find work. That’s if they can afford a bike.
Davie had no answer for that, so he spoke of patriotism and attempted to make an emotional appeal to the heart. Wasn’t it the Yes campaign that was supposed to be based on irrational emotions and an appeal to a rosy eyed version of the past? But that’s all we get from Better Together because they have no positive case to make. They love us so much they threaten us with oblivion and poverty, they denigrate and diminish, insult and impugn. There’s a difference between loving and stalking which Cameron doesn’t seem to have picked up on.
He had nothing to say about the future, his speech was entirely about the past, appealing to the nostalgia of those who still believe that the UK is important and has the power to effect change in the world, as opposed to the dismal reality of a lapdog of the Pentagon which promises only more austerity and more savage cuts. Cameron doesn’t care about Scotland, he only cares about his own role on the world stage. His patriotism is the patriotism of a personal ego massage. Scotland doesn’t want to live in the past. We’re looking to the future, and Westminster’s brand of patriotism has nothing to offer.
Westminster’s patriotism is the patriotism of selling off everything that’s not nailed down to the highest bidder, the patriotism of tax avoiding big business, the patriotism of demonising the poor, and the patriotism of milking Scotland Wales and Northern England dry to finance the bloated ego projects like the Olympic Velodrome where Cameron delivered his sermon. Cheering for Britain doesn’t come cheap.
The real issue, which Cameron conveniently overlooked, is that the Westminster Parliament doesn’t cheer for the whole of the United Kingdom. It only cheers for the City of London, the banks, and feather bedding London and the South East and those on high salaries at the expense of the rest of the UK. The Tories have sold off all the institutions that once glued the United Kingdom together, it’s scarcely surprising that few of us know what “Britishness” is supposed to mean nowadays. So they only have themselves to blame that Scotland has logged onto the website comparethepatriotismservicesprovider.com because we’re not happy with the customer service or value for money we’re getting from our current supplier. We’ve discovered that other options are available.
So he should applaud Scotland’s decision to hold an independence referendum and see it as another instance of privatisation. He’s very keen on flogging off national assets and making the state smaller. We can make Cameron’s state smaller simply by putting an X next to the box marked YES, and take Westminster’s bloated ego down a peg or three in the process.
That won’t just be good for Scotland, it will be good for Wales, Northern Ireland, and the English regions too. No wonder the most highly rated comments on the BBC News site were those from folk in other parts of the UK urging us to vote Yes, and begging for us to take them with them. Those phone calls are going to be interesting.