Well that didn’t take long did it. The Spanish veto threats have been turned 180 degrees from what the Unionist politicians and their media supporters have been telling us for years, while those of us who were saying what was really going to happen were ignored and sidelined. This blog has been saying for years that Spain would not veto the membership of the EU of an independent Scotland, something that the Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis, confirmed this weekend. Asked if Spain would veto the EU application of an independent Scotland, Dastis categorically replied, “No, we wouldn’t.” To which this blog can only say, “Told you so. Told you so. Told you. Told you. Told you so.”
The real Spanish veto is the veto that Spain now wields over any UK Brexit deal that includes Gibraltar. It’s not Scotland that has anything to fear from Spain, it’s the Tory government in Westminster, and they don’t like it at all when the bota is on the other foot. Just a few days after Theresa May has pressed the big red Brexit button, there are already senior Conservative politicians who are so upset at the Great British Slap Down that they’re threatening to make things go ‘boom!’ Quite literally. It’s a British nationalist thing. When in doubt, when there’s a hint that things might not be going your own way, threaten a war and ramp up the threats of violence. Why else to you think that they love to glorify the military so much? It’s not because they love bunting.
Michael Howard, former leader of the Tory party and semi-retired vampire, is outraged about the Spanish veto over any Brexit deal involving Gibraltar, which no one saw coming except people who were paying attention and who weren’t seduced by the Brexiteer conceit that the rest of the world is in thrall to the UK. Michael was so furious at the realistion that Brexit isn’t going to mean the EU is going to roll over meekly and give Britain everything that it wants that he went on telly in daylight. Michael risked self-combustion to remind Spain that Margaret Thatcher went to war with another Spanish speaking country in order to ensure that a small colony could remain British. Because comparing an EU democracy and another member of NATO to a Latin American dictatorship is really how to make friends and influence people in negotiations with the European Union. Britain goes to war to ensure that small British populations can consent to remain British, thundered Michael, who was coming perilously close to bursting into flame even without the assistance of the spring sunshine on his leathery vampire exterior.
Britishness is all about consent except where Scotland is concerned of course. We only got to consent the one time. Apparently the 2014 vote meant that Scotland consented to give Westminster carte blanche to do what it likes with Scotland in perpetuity and we surrendered all and any right to hold them to account even though every single promise and commitment that they made in order to secure a No vote has turned to ashes just like a Michael Howard who’s been left out in the sun too long. Funny how they never made that clear when they were telling us how we were an equal partner in a family of nations which could only remain in the EU if we voted No.
But it’s not entirely bad. First this week we had Westminster giving itself Henry VIII powers, and now it’s talking about going to war with Spain. There’s something consistently 16th century about it. And of course in the 16th century Scotland was an independent state, so we’ve got that to look forward to as well. Funnily enough this blog reported a year ago that a previous Spanish foreign minister was predicting that as a result of Brexit the UK would return to England’s frontiers of the 16th century. It’s all panning out then.
The bellicose threats against a country that was until last week a partner of the UK are part of a pattern. It was also revealed this weekend that the UK is considering using its military and intelligence strengths in order to bully the EU into giving it a better deal on trade. In effect, they’re threatening to leave the rest of the EU to the mercy of terrorist threats and the crushing embrace of the Russian bear unless the EU agrees to give the UK a better financial deal. That’s the UK in the 21st century. Its negotiating tactics are so sophisticated that it’s reduced to making an implied threat that the EU will be subject to violence and abuse unless they allow Britain to make money. A protection racket, in other words. Brexit Britain plans to carve out a new role for itself as the Al Capone of Europe.
Unfortunately, protection rackets only work when you yourself are the gangster. And even then they invariably end badly for the mob. Britain’s problem is that it’s not the gangster in this equation. The UK is every bit as much at risk of terrorism and Russian expansionism as the EU is. Given the UK’s propensity for militarism, some might argue that the UK was at even more of a threat. And the EU knows that too. The British attempt to link security and its military to a trade deal isn’t a sign of British strength. It’s a sign of British desperation. It will not end well for Westminster.
There’s a choice facing Scotland now. What sort of country do we see ourselves as? What sort of country do we want to be? The independence referendum campaign in 2014 was dominated by the economy, and while no one is denying that the economy is an important question, the second independence referendum needs to be about much bigger and more profound questions. I firmly believe that Scotland’s economy would be stronger as a result of independence. There would certainly be a difficult period of adjustment, but in the medium to long term we’d be far better off financially.
But a country whose independence rests upon proving that the average family would be better off by the price of an Indian takeway once a month is a country that doesn’t deserve independence. The economy is important, but the Unionists want us to believe that the people must serve the economy, when it’s really the other way about. The economy must serve the people. Only with independence can we make sure that the economy of Scotland is the servant of the people of Scotland. As part of the UK the people of Scotland are the servants of the British economy, and that means that we work to make the City of London and large financial interests even richer while our public services and our cohesion as a society is wrecked. We work to provide an impotent ex-Empire with the viagra of militarism.
Independence will save Scotland money, but independence isn’t about saving money. It’s about saving our decency as a society. It’s about morality. It’s about ensuring that Scotland is a small island of good and humanity in a cruel world. It’s about being the opposite of the kind of bellicose, xenophobic nation that’s quick to resort to the armed force that Michael Howard fetishises. Britain is a country which slashes public services to the bone, which casts families out into the street, which destroys its health service, all so it can buy bigger and better bombs. Those servicepeople who form the backbone of the British military might that people like Michael glorify are thrown out after they’ve been used up, all too often they are thrown away on the scrapheap and ignored, reliant on charity.
That’s the kind of cruel and heartless country that the Tories have in store for us. It’s not Scottish exceptionalism to say that we can be better than what the Conservatives plan to turn Britain into. It’s common human decency. It’s humane, moral, and decent to say that we can be better than what Liam Fox, Michael Gove or Theresa May long for, that we can and must strive for a society which cares for the weak, which looks after the vulnerable, and which ensures that the rich and big businesses pay their fair share. The real heart of the coming Scottish referendum is that independence is the moral choice.
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