The myth of the Union

As the UK lurches towards a Common vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and it becomes ever more obvious that no route out of the Brexmess enjoys the support of a majority of MPs, the entire future of the UK and everyone in it is being held hostage. British politics are in disarray.

Brexit is driven by xenophobia, by fear of the foreign, by nostalgia for a lost empire, by the burning resentment that England, and it’s always England, has limits placed on its absolute power by Europeans. Brexit dresses itself up in a Union fleg, it preens and poses as the restoration of the full sovereignty of Westminster, while really being used by the right wing of the Tory party to aggrandise the power of the executive over Parliament. Brexit calls itself a British project, but it’s being used to put the hems on the powers of the devolved administrations and to further entrench the dominance of England within the UK. We won the war you know. Brexit is, and always was, an exercise in English nationalism.

There remains the possiblity of a so-called people’s vote which might just halt Brexit. But that possibility is being aired because of the disquiet that Brexit is causing in England. If the vote produces a result which halts Brexit, that again will be because England will have voted to prevent it. Yet even if it does, Brexit will continue to dominate English politics for decades, risking the rise of the far right as embittered Ukippers and Tory Brexiteers seeks to express their anger. The targets of their ire will be all those who opposed their dream of Britannia waiving the rules, remainers, EU citizens, and the Scots. A UK which votes in a referendum to halt Brexit will be a UK where there will be increased political pressure to punish the Scots and restrict the powers of Holyrood. And this, let us not forget, is the best case scenario, because it’s the only one in which Brexit doesn’t happen.

Scotland and the other devolved nations are and remain a sideshow. All of this is a function of the simple numerical reality that some 85% of the population of the UK live in England. The UK calls itself a Union, but it contains no checks and balances on the power of its largest constituent member.

We are supposed to be in a Union. We are supposed to be a much loved partner in a family of nations. We were told to lead the Union not leave it. But Brexit has exposed the myth. There is no Union. There is only a unitary state which obeys the dictates of English nationalism, the nationalism of one member of that supposed Union, and which refuses to concede to any constitutional mechanisms which might put a limit on unbridled and unchecked English exceptionalism.

The devolution settlement came about because of the experience of Thatcher, a woman who stood before the Conservative party conference and proudly declared that she was an English nationalist. To which everyone in Scotland replied, tell us something we don’t know. For two decades Scotland was subjected to a government which Scotland didn’t vote for, and bore the brunt of Conservative economic policies which damaged Scotland and destroyed communities. Scotland campaigned long and hard for a Scottish government and parliament in order to provide us with a modicum of protection from the ravages of English nationalism.

Right from the start, the British state with its instinctive prioritising of English nationalism did its utmost to restrict the scope of devolution. The limited tax powers promised to Holyrood were effectively neutered. Scotland was not to be permitted a national public service broadcaster of its own. Tony Blair proudly declared that the new Scottish Parliament would be little more than a glorified parish council. The outcome was as the British state intended, the new Scottish Parliament would not be able to protect Scotland from English nationalism, and would most certainly not be permitted to put any limits on the expression of English nationalism at a UK level. We saw that the morning after the independence referendum, when David Cameron told us that it had really been all about England all along, and announced that Scottish MPs would become second class.

Even with devolution, Scotland has not been able to escape the effects of Conservative austerity. The best that can be managed is for the Scottish budget to be slashed in other areas in order to find funds to mitigate damage done by Westminster. Scotland can’t stop the damage at source. Scotland can’t ensure that the damage doesn’t reach north of the border.

Even more obviously, devolution has done absolutely nothing to protect Scotland from an English nationalist driven Brexit. Scotland’s parliament and government have not been consulted, never mind had a role in shaping the form that Brexit takes. Scotland will get what it’s given.

And now we are told that Theresa May is not disposed to consent to a Section 30 order for another Scottish independence referendum. English nationalism has driven Brexit because it cannot tolerate any limits, however minor, however consensual and negotiated, however much the UK has a seat at the EU table, on English sovereignty. Yet Scotland is being told by those same proponents of unfettered English sovereignty that a Prime Minister who enjoys her role due to the support her party received in England, a Prime Minster whose party is a minority in Scotland, has an absolute veto on whether the Scottish people can decide the form of government best suited to their needs.

The question remains for those in Scotland who still believe that we are in a Union, who still believe that Scotland is a partner in the UK project. What constitutional protections does the UK offer to Scotland from the excesses of English nationalism? Brexit has given the answer, and the answer is none.

There is only one nation outside England in the British Isles which is able to resist the ill effects of rampant English nationalism upon it, and that is Ireland. Ireland has been able to ensure that its needs and interests are taken into account as the UK embarks upon its English nationalist driven Brexit because Ireland is an independent state. Scotland lies powerless and impotent, at the mercy of events, a toy of English nationalists, a pretty British bauble to allow them to pretend that they’re not nationalist at all. Even if Brexit can be stopped, Scotland will remain at the mercy of English nationalism.

Only independence can provide us with a bulwark and a defence. Only independence can ensure that Scotland’s voice will be heard and its needs taken into account. Brexit has exposed the myth of the Union, the real dirty secret of the British state. There is no Union and there never was. The UK is and always was a vehicle for English nationalism.


 

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46 comments on “The myth of the Union

  1. Andy Anderson says:

    FREEDOM when it comes will be sweet. I look forward to a day, maybe ten years away when we have been in charge of ourselves a good few years. A time when our Independence is settling down, the start up processes and procedures are complete and our people start to feel content.

    Sadly I feel that our neighbours to the South will still be suffering even in ten years time. Debt, no Scottish wealth. I wonder if any of them will ever consider “If we had kept our 2014 promises and been progressive with the Smith commission then Scotland would still be helping us out”.

    I doubt it. I do not wish them ill but I do feel that they shat in their own nest. I hope they will in time get a real working democracy not the farce they have now.

    As for us I see a written constitution, PR representation and most of all no one should be able to hold public office until they are 40 years old and have real life experience. If you have ever been involved with councillors, MSP’s or MP’s you will understand my thoughts on experience.

    Paul the story you write is true but sad. It should never have happened. A good constitution could have curtailed it all. A self induced clustetfuck of me, me, me.

    • Indyman says:

      I pretty much agree with most of what you say apart from the thing about no under 40s holding office. That would exclude Mhairi Black who IMO is one of the best MPs of this time. In fact as far as I’m concerned we need to get rid of the multitudinous brain dead old farts who are clogging up the system and who have never had an original idea in their lives.

      The times we are living in and the challenges facing us demand radical rethinks of virtually every aspect of our collective lives and these are more likely to come from younger people than older politicians who have been conditioned to be afraid of stepping outside the boxes created by their paymasters.

      • benmadigan says:

        hopefully any independent scottish parliament will have representation from all ages and all walks of life, so that all voices will be heard as decisions are made.

      • Andy Anderson says:

        I agree with you. My statement on age in public office is daft. It is simply frustration at dealing with people who know nothing about preparing for meetings, no ability to analysis facts methodically etc. etc.

  2. I am interested in the view that only those over 40 have life experience and so are the only ones suited to being in authority and public life. Indyman raises a good point about Mhairi Black, a woman many believe is a future FM.

    Let me tell you this – age and life experience are not necessarily directionally proportional. There are young people whose life experiences wouldn’t just make your hair curl, they would make it stand on it’s end, self-combust and shower you with hot ashes before you fall to the ground, writhing in pain. They have suffered neglect, sexual abuse, emotional torment and physical torture. They have stolen to feed their families and been labelled OFFENDER for evermore by a society that just can’t forgive. They bear the scars of the addictions of their parents whether they use substances themselves or not. They have been passed from family to care home to foster family to…..where ? A scummy tenancy in an area no-one else wants to go, when they are sixteen and don’t know how to work the central heating, let alone keep themselves safe and the abusers out of the door.

    And these are the under-forties with no life experience who shouldn’t have a say in how our future country should be run ?

    Well, what about all the talented young people in our colleges and universities right now, folk we want to keep here to build a new independent Scotland ? Are we to tell them, “Sorry, when we were kept down by the tories you had to leave to find work, but now we rule ourselves…..oh yes, you have to leave to find work. Come back when you’re forty”

    And finally…..those fabulous over-forties ? You mean like Murdo Fraser, Annie Wells, Richard Leonard…….. ?

    It’s not the age of the person that makes them…..it’s what they have packed into those years. And how they are willing to use their experience for the good of everyone.

    Everyone will be needed to build the New Independent Scotland, aye, you….and you….and you.

    And me. Bring it on.

  3. James Mills says:

    Using Age as a determinant of whether an elected official is able to carry out their duties to a reasonable standard is a distraction .

    I give you Ross Thomson and George Foulkes – I rest my case !

    • Andy Anderson says:

      I said real life experience because in public office you need to assess and analyse information in order to arrive at sensible conclusions. Many like Thomson seem not to have this ability. I agree am age limit is wrong but there should be some experience criteria.

      For example had there been such acontrol then a senior clerk would not have been put in as the public chair to build our parliament building. Why do councils create stand of organisations to build the Edinburgh PFI schools. Because they wish to hide respondibility and their lack of ability to manage large projects.

      • Stuart Mcnicoll says:

        I get the gist of where your coming from, way to many unfit for purpose in politics, not just a Scottish problem either. How to sort the wheat from the chaff though, that’s the problem.

  4. Brian Powell says:

    All that plus the cringing curs in Labour in Scotland.

  5. Macart says:

    Brexit (blind deal or no deal) is going to be an economic and societal disaster. No ifs. No buts. A host of serious political and economic observers have written and broadcast screeds of commentary over the past two years and rarely with anything other than disbelief bordering on incredulous shock.

    For huge swathes of the populations of these islands the effects will be appalling and long lasting. Bear in mind that by long lasting, I’m talking about generations. I truly feel for the remain vote in both England and Wales, they don’t deserve this clusterf**k. How and ever, this is the politics of the UK, the government and system of government populations bought into. At the end of the day both England and the principality sadly voted for leave. They voted blindly based on one of the most shameful campaigns ever launched upon the public, but the sheer numbers involved in the populations of England and Wales jointly will carry the nation of Scotland and the provinces of N.I. out of the EU against their will.

    That CANNOT be right or allowed to stand unchallenged. It is democratically reprehensible and utterly unethical. And no, I’m not listening to any bullshit about ‘it was a UK vote’. A vote forced upon Scotland (the ONLY other signatory to the Treaty of Union) that was unasked for and which the SG warned Mr Cameron against. In his arrogance and ignorance Mr Cameron called the vote regardless of the warning about constitutional crisis and endangerment of the devolution settlement. In his eyes the Jocks were back in their box, he was up for putting his own Eurosceptic house in order and who gave a flying fuck what the devolved legislatures and their electorates thought anyway? Right?

    It was reckless. It was stupid. It was needless. Take a good look at what he’s done people. Take a LONG, hard look. Real polarised societal division. An economy on the precipice. Political institutions in chaos. Brexit hasn’t even hit yet. But, y’know, still strong and stable. FFS!

    Brexit WILL run its course. At this point, I’d say the only thing that could possibly alter how England’s population votes in future, is for Brexit to overtake the population and for the people to feel its effects in every livingroom. This kind of hit won’t care what way you voted. It won’t care that you voted leave for a never lost sovereignty, or that you believed furriners were the root of all evil, or even that you believed a lie on the side of a bus. You get to feel the same effects as those you’ve othered as remoaners.

    As for folk in Scotland? We may have other options very shortly and God help us if we fall for the same media led horseshit as last time of asking. If we choose rightly this time round? Like minded folk from all over these islands are more than welcome so far as I’m concerned. We’re going to need some help rebuilding after the shitshow Westminster has put us all through.

    • Jeff White says:

      Awesome rant (I say that with respect!) Macart!!!
      It would be wonderful if that could be broadcast far and wide in this country. If that speech couldn’t get through the thickest of skulls I don’t know what would.
      I’m sure our independent media would love to air this…oh wait.
      Sorry, I was being silly there. One can only hope.

    • May scuttled in and out of a tannery within pissing distance of the once ‘giant’ Linnwood car manufacturing plant, spending a total of 3 shielded hours surrounded by her pet MSM Scots Branch and a willing local Tory employer well away from the Great Unwashed Sweaties.
      From landing at Glasgow airport to leaving again she travelled 12 miles to a wee village where food banks never took off.
      Yet this is billed as ‘touring the UK selling her Brexit Agreement’.

      During the Indyref 2 Campaign we must not allow the Brit Nat Big Beasts to get away away with any of this stage managed wall to wall MSM coverage of their ‘rallies’ like last time.
      Remember Darling and Brown sneaking into town, meeting the Faithful in a hall, BBC and STV covering the events, and the Tom Gordons of this world ”bigging up’ the farces and plastering their wise Better Together, the Oil’s Running Out LIES all over their front pages and teatime bulletins.
      THIS TIME we need Rapid Reaction Teams to converge on any of these events.
      WE become the news, not some Brit Nat Puppet.

      If it were up to me, I’d refuse to take part on any Glenn Campbell ‘debate’, if I were a Key player in the Yes camp, but I’m not.

      We must take to the streets in protest if Spreadsheet Phil, John McDonnell, and whoever the fuck it is in the Yellow Tories who is their finance spokesperson, come up to the Mound and tell us that we can’t use ‘their’ pound.

      Every pensioner in Scotland should get personally delivered hand written assurance that not only will their pension be safe in Independent Scotland, that their income in retirement will rise in line with the much more generous EU average.
      WASPI women will have their rights restored.
      EU citizens will receive reassurance that they are welcome in Independnet Scotland.

      We make sure that every household has the facts on oil, gas, hydro, and wind energy resources.

      We make sure that every Scot struggling to get housing knows that 1/5th of Scotland has been cleared so that the Rich and Nobility can shoot animals for fun.

      Every aspect of Project fear One should be mercilessly repeatedly noisily debunked at every opportunity, and very publicly.

      We should seek written confirmation from the EU before the3 vote that an Independent Scotland will experience a seamless transition to full membership on I-Day.

      I realise that many who would vote Yes may also have voted Leave.
      One thing at a time.
      Independence first,then our own Scots citizens’ debate over LT membership of the EU, EEA, EFTA.

      When the Blair McDougalls of the Lie Campaign slurp back up out of the primordial swamp that is Brit Nattism, we mercilessly challenge every too wee too poor fabrication they and the Douglas Frasers of the media throw at us.

      This time, no more Mr and Mrs Nice Guy.

      And see that SexPest Big Eck.. I bet that the copy is written already to slap on the front pages of the Dead Tree Scrolls and BBC’s Teatime bulletin the day that the Indyref 2 starting gun is fired.

      No more prissy Yes but..The best form of defence is attack.
      We go for their throats, and rip their lungs out, metaphorically speaking of course.
      This time we shall be ready; we shall overcome.

      • I need to edit submissions. My brain is at the finish line as my fingers are still rounding the final bend.

      • Archie says:

        Well said!!

        • Archie, if we don’t learn from history, we will keep repeating its mistakes.
          When Peugot Talbot took over they closed Linnwood in the early eighties I think, and the production moved to Ryton in Coventry which stayed open.
          Tens of thousands were chucked onto the scrapheap, since thatcher declared that unemployment was an acceptable capitalist tool to control inflation.
          When Brexit bites, if we were ever mug enough to be forced out of the EU by Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson, then English based companies, feeling the pinch, would close their Scottish operations, just like they did in Thatcher’s era.

          To paraphrase the Wall Street caution, when England sneezes, Scotland will catch a cold.

          I caught Deborah Orr, and Kirsty Wark reviewing the Dead Tree Scrolls on Newsnight earlier.

          Twa Scots lasses, agreeing that Brexit had polarised politics into a two party system once more, with the Lib Dems disappearing off the political map.

          35 SNP MP’s didn’t get a mention, although earlier the 7 Sinn Fein MPs who do not sit at WM did, when they were amusing themselves in the WM Bubble doing the maths in anticipation of the Contempt Motion vote against the Government’s refusal to publish Legal advice on May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

          Wark and Orr, bought and paid for ProudscotsBut.
          Scotland and its MPs did not even warrant a mention?

          I repeat, no more Mr and Mrs Nice Guy.

          Scots will be doing it for themselves from now on in..

          I no longer consider WM to have any influence or say in my life or the running of Scotland, my country, your country, our country..

          • John Boyd says:

            What Jack said. I also watched the Wark/Orr Dead Tree Scrolls review on Newsnight and was struck by the lack of a mention for the SeneEmPee.

          • wm says:

            Hello Jack, I missed that show (to late for me), but regarding the Linnwood situation, they gutted the steel industries in central Scotland in the 1930’s, built steel town (Corby) filled it with Scottish workers who had no option but to upsticks and move to the town. They have been shafting Scotland for 300 years.

  6. Interpolar says:

    The only way for the UK to become British is for England to stop being England.

    Only if England were to be split into 5 – 6 areas with their own distinct identities, and each on their own own not strong enough to overwhelm the rest, only then would a federal country be possible.

    But that is not in the DNA of England, so ultimately, the British identity is always going to be conflated with the English. British will never mean more than English with Celtic seasoning. The whole world uses the two interchangeably. If you think the UK is a vehicle for Scottish business and identity to impact the world, then think again. Scotland has negligible impact in most international bodies, and no voice in multilateral mechanisms. Nordic countries, Switzerland, Ireland and Austria, even Luxembourg, each have more of a hearing than Scotland has. They can set their own policy priorities and build international alliances around them. The way May has publicly ignored Scotland throughout the Brexit negotiation process has been for all to see. But don’t think she did this out of spite; it is just the usual workings of the centralised state in London. It is simply the standard state of affairs and order of business in the technical international work that the Foreign Office does.

    So no hard feeling, but iIf Scotland does not grow up and start looking after itself, nobody will, quite simply because nobody is even sure is Scotland is even there. Quite frankly, I don’t think Scotland can afford to stay in the UK.

  7. steelewires says:

    I think we should stop interfering in the English Nationalist Brexit. Why try to deprive a neighbour of the path they have chosen. Our First Minister and 6 politicians who appealed to the ECJ should abandon this project and get on with leading us to independence.

    • jeans-jacques says:

      The legal case was necessary to prevent against legal action against an SG Indyref2 as this would be predicated on the manifesto commitment which stipulated Indyref2 if Scotland was
      removed from EU against its will.

    • Luigi says:

      Yer’ an old Stingray fan, M. 🙂

      • Macart says:

        Heck yes. 🙂

        On the other link? If the final decision upholds the advice there’s going to be a bit of a rammy between the public, the government and parliament.

        Folks might just begin to see why the outcomes from the two court cases (SC and ECJ) were always going to make an impact on the constitutional outcomes by this point. Winky thing 😉

        Laughing my wossinames off at the reaction of the meeja this morning tbh.

        • Luigi says:

          Aye, with each development, it’s like a Thunderbirds countdown. 🙂

          With no written constitution, the UK has successfully bluffed and blustered it’s way for centuries but now it is running out of constitutional options. It seems like Nicola and her team have, ever so quietly and gently, been boiling the WM frog. All bluff options and constitutional get-out routes are systematically being blocked, and sooner or later:

          Show time – checkmate. 🙂

  8. O/T Did anyone see the outrageous report on the BBC News at One today, 4th December? It referred to Nicola Sturgeon ‘once again agitating for Independence.’ It also referred to the FM visiting Stirling during the GE to ‘drum up support’ for the SNP candidate. The BBC was in Stirling as part of its round the country survey of views on Brexit. It was pointed out that despite the FM’s efforts a pro-brexit conservative was elected in an area which voted two thirds to Remain. Despite this out of four or five interviews in the street only one remain voter was interviewed.

    I only saw this report because I could not avoid it. I hope is a long time before I see any such biased and snide reporting again.

    • It is clear now that the Anglo Establishment consider the SNP, its supporters, and indeed al Pro Self Determination for Scotland political parties and activists as ‘The Enemy of The People’, the English who consider that England and Britain are interchangeable.
      This has gathered momentum over the past 4 or 5 years.
      We are branded as insurgents by none other than Tony Blair, and rabid ‘Nationalists’ of the flag waving right wing racist variety by every hack clacking away in the pay of US and English billionaires.
      It is outrageous that the so called impartial BBC can say this and get away with it.
      But we now know that the Beeb is openly operating as it always has, as the Broadcast Support of the Iron Heel English Oligarchy and Royalty.
      I am the enemy of any who would seek to continue Scotland’s subjugation as an occupied colony of England.
      It’s comin’ yet for a’ that, I W.

  9. Looks like a UK GE in January.
    May’s Government held in Contempt over Legal Advice.

  10. Macart says:

    Joanna Cherry telling it like it is.

    HERE

    • If looks could kill. Check our Raab and Rees Mogg when May is on her feet.
      They really do hate May’s Cop Out.
      If May loses by say, a hundred, what can she do but resign, or go to the country again.

      • Macart says:

        It’s carnage in chambers right enough Jack. Not so much a coat on a shoogly peg, as an entire cloakroom.

        • markrussell20085017 says:

          Won’t be too long before it’s on the streets, Sam. The mood is anything but festive down here. You’ve got to admire May’s adaptability though- a callous home secretary indeed, but she made good use of her thick skin this afternoon.

          Bet she needs her Horlicks tonight…

          • Macart says:

            One side or the other is going to be bitterly disappointed with the outcomes, in England especially. The population have been appallingly mistreated and lied to by both parliament and their media. So yes, yes I think it’s going to have even worse outcomes at street level too inevitably.

            Something I may have mentioned before. Those inevitable outcomes.

            If people think the appalling rise in hate crime and hate crime related violence is the worst thing to happen since the 2016 vote, they may be in for a rude shock. Also? If AG’s advice is followed by ECJ ruling, it’ll leave both of the Tory parties nowhere to hide. An option always there, but never explored or taken for purely populist political reasons. They’ll attempt to blame Scottish representation of course, but for most it simply won’t wash. They’ll ask the very simple (and reasonable) question – Why didn’t YOU tell us?

            Not entirely sure either the Conservatives or Labour have their answers ready.

            • markrussell20085017 says:

              Agreed. It’s all so predictable. Having given this some thought, I think the only political route out of the morass is a second referendum – but on the following basis. It should be acknowledged that the real problem was the way the 2016 vote was structured. For matters of significant importance, where a change to the status quo may have profound implications for society, the threshold should be much higher than a simple 51/49 majority – to demonstrate a fundamental shift in public opinion. Ian Jack wrote a recent column in the Guardian on this very issue.

              Now that the terms for leaving the EU have been published, the government should provide the electorate with a prospectus, detailing the implications of exiting or remaining within the Union. A second referendum should be preceded with full disclosure of all relevant material to enable an informed public conversation – but the vote itself should have a higher threshold – 70/30 at the minimum.

              The first vote must be respected, despite all the deficiencies – so the present position is in favour of the ‘leave’ camp. Article 50 has been triggered after all. To rejoin the EU – a vote greater than 70% must be achieved. That would demonstrate a significant shift in public opinion, which is essential if we want to make progress. I’m not sure there is an alternative.

              Have to say, despite being an ardent independence supporter, the same threshold should apply in a future indeyref2 vote, whenever it happens. Anything less would simply be divisive.

              • Macart says:

                Having massive margins of win is always a great thing to be sure. Having a massive margin in a population so polarised, manipulated, abused and divided isn’t always possible.

                Mind you, that’s been the whole point of the tactic of division. To break down demographics, destroy trust, undermine institutions. It’s to make big wins on anything almost impossible. It’s how holding just a few marginal seats in England can create a PM. It’s how you destroy unity or clarity in national referendums. It may very well be that fine margins one way or t’other is all folk will see on anything for the foreseeable future. Imposed ceiling/thresholds have an argument and a logical one. However, they cannot be the sole arbiter in my view. After all, even the utter barsteward and the utterly bereft of reason can win by a landslide.There is something else which has to be added into the mix along with any win, be it by 1% or 20% margins.

                It’s how you win the campaign and how you win the aftermath.

                If 50+1 is still the benchmark? And we manage to pull it off? (which I think we could) Then we must not EVER treat people the way we have been treated in the past four years.

  11. Daniel Watson says:

    Just as Ireland needed the EU to protect its citizens against the conservative agenda of the Catholic Church an Independent Scotland will need the EU/NATO to give it some protection against a right wing militaristic England.
    Our overcrowded Southern neighbour devoid of natural resources, could cast envious eyes North to Scotland’s low population, uncrowded spaces and massive energy reserves.
    I remember another large European country wanting to expand at the expense of its peaceful neighbours, it did not end well.

  12. Frome Swing Band says:

    Some of the above makes a lot of sense, however I cannot see how being free of England but tied into the European Union will make Scotland any more independent than it is now.

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