There are those amongst the British nationalist apologists in Scotland who accuse independence supporters of romanticism, of dealing in distortions of fact, but it’s a fact that there is no proponent of Scottish independence who would ever come out with something as ludicrously batshit as an article which was published this week in a site which is a new digital magazine for right wing British nationalism in Scotland, “Think Scotland”. Because what Scotland is really short on are outlets for British nationalist Conservatives.
The batshit crazy article in question would be a piece by a certain Jonathan Stanley, who describes himself as a free market libertarian, and who retweets Katie Hopkins. Jonathan calls on the Republic of Ireland to, ahem, come home to Britain. This is a call which Jonathan makes on the very day that an Irish opinion poll showed that support for EU membership in the Republic has risen to 92%. And all this magical thinking, dear readers, is on a site which aspires to be the intellectual home of Scottish Unionism. This may be the intellectualism of Scottish Unionism, but Unionist populism is demonstrated by Orange parades and Nazi saluting fascists, so we’re dealing with a pretty low bar here.
You might not always agree with the pieces published in pro-independence multi-author sites like Bella Caledonia or Common Space. But none of them would ever consider publishing something as gob smackingly crazy and deluded as Jonathan’s proposal for the Republic of Ireland to surrender its sovereignty in return for the right to send MPs to Westminster, just in order to make post-Brexit Britain’s life a bit easier. It’s not often that I read something which is purportedly serious which makes me guffaw out loud. Thanks for the laugh if nothing else Jonathan.
It’s Britain’s Brexiteer mania which has created the problem with the Irish border, but in Jonathan’s world it’s Ireland which needs to change to accommodate the problems that the UK has caused.
Someone who fancies himself as a serious thinker is seriously proposing that the Irish Republic should give up its independence in return for 50 MPs in Westminster who can be sidelined, ignored, and marginalised just like Scotland’s. Then it can participate in all the great trade deals that Liam Fox is going to negotiate for us. Whoop. And indeed, de doo.
There hasn’t been a less attractive offer since the Roman general Lucius Gellius Publicola generously told Spartacus that if he gave up all this liberty carry on and went back to being a slave he’d be guaranteed at least one bowl of gruel a day and only the occasional light flogging. Admittedly there’s a certain type of public schoolboy in the Conservative party who is rather drawn to the idea of the occasional light flogging, but you can’t really impute personal kinks to an entire country. Although that would be a reasonable explanation for the otherwise inexplicable popularity of Jacob Rees Mogg amongst certain sections of the British public.
The existence of the Irish Republic puts a lie to the myth that there is something essentially British shared by the peoples of this archipelago which unites us all and justifies the existence of a single parliament in Westminster ruling over us all. The links between Scotland and England are long and deep, this is true. But so are the links between Scotland and Ireland. Labour preaches that working people in Leith have more in common with working people in Liverpool. But the problem is that whatever it is that is shared between Leith and Liverpool is also shared with Limerick.
British nationalists in Scotland have always had a bit of a problem with Ireland. Historically that manifested itself in the form of naked and rampant sectarianism, in the denial of jobs and housing to Scots of Irish Catholic descent. These days, at least on the respectable wing of staunch opposition to Scottish independence, the problem that British nationalists in Scotland have with Ireland manifests itself in the form of harrumphy blog articles denying that Ireland should really exist at all. So for example there was the recent effort from the reliably amusing Effie Deans who argued that everything good about Ireland comes from Britain, except possibly hurling and Tayto crisps. She was prepared to concede that the Táin Bó Cúailnge is authentically Irish, but it’s not a good thing because apparently Iron Age epic poetry doesn’t reflect modern democratic values. Well who knew?
Ireland threatens to derail the Brexit process, and because Ireland can count on the support of the rest of the EU it has inverted the traditional power dynamic of Britain telling Ireland what to do, and Ireland putting up with it on the pain of colonialisation and famine. Now it’s Ireland dictating terms to the UK. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for British nationalism, all the more so because Brexit was predicated on the mistaken belief that it would allow the UK to take back control. The Union fleg wavers were told they’re going to take back control, only then they end up being told what to do by Dublin. As generations of Irish and Scottish mothers have said, Hell slap it into them.
However for British nationalists in Scotland, the real issue with the Irish border isn’t just that it threatens to derail Brexit. It’s that the Irish border issue threatens to destroy one of the key arguments against Scottish independence, the oft-repeated claim that we heard in 2014 that Scottish independence would result in barbed wire and control posts being imposed all the way along the border from Gretna to Berwick. After all, the UK cannot credibly threaten an independent Scotland that’s a member of the customs union, the single market, and the common travel area with an Iron Curtain style border after it has committed to ensuring that there’s no perceptible border between the UK and another state that’s a member of the customs union, the single market, and the common travel area.
The power and strength of Ireland in negotiations with the UK also demonstrates the power and influence that an independent Scotland could wield. It’s hard to tell Scotland that we’ll be powerless and ineffectual when the almighty British government is being told what to do by Dublin.
That’s what’s really exercising British nationalists in Scotland about Ireland these days. Ireland shows up the weakness of the British state, the strength that comes from independence, and destroys some of Better Together’s favourite arguments. And British nationalists have no answer, no come back, other than fanciful articles wishing for the impossible. There is more chance of Murdo Fraser coming out as an independence supporting Celtic fan who votes socialist than there is of the Irish Republic deciding to return to British rule.
And pretty soon, Ireland will be joined in its independence by Scotland.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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