The real question for Scotland in Brexit Britain

Nigel Farage has come out of retirement. This comes as news to those of us, approximately 60 million people, who never realised he’d gone away in the first place. Certainly the BBC never got over its love affair with him, and on Friday with his launch of his new Brexit party, the Corporation’s requited love got even more mushy. The BBC must be thrilled that now they have an excuse to have him on the telly more frequently than the SNP. Not that they ever needed an excuse before.

Unfortunately, or perhaps more accurately entirely predictably, the founding of a party whose core message is making life uncomfortable for migrants was mired in the racism which Nige claimed was becoming the hallmark of Ukip. The new party’s interim leader Catherine Blaiklock had to resign after making islamophobic comments and for approvingly retweeting a nazi. Not to be outdone, the treasurer, Michael McGough, had to resign after it was discovered that he had made antisemitic, homophobic, and racist posts on Facebook. Nigel brushed this off as the inevitable teething problems of an infant organisation. Parents all over the land nodded in sympathy. They are familiar with that stage in the developmental process when their toddlers take to spouting lines from Mein Kampf, but thankfully this can be solved with some bonjella and a spoonful of calpol. There is, unfortunately, no apparent cure for Nigel Farage.

However it is noticeable that, just as the Conservatives have a serious issue with Islamophobia and Labour are being accused of having a systematic problem with an anti-semitism, Nigel’s new party went one better and established that it was a home for both anti-semites and islamophobes simultaneously. In doing so the Brexit party has ensured that it has established its intolerance credentials long before bothering itself with trivialities like policies other than “We hate the EU and want to leave without a deal.”

In the imaginations of those who support Nigel’s vanity project, the UK outside the EU is destined to regain the majesty of a lost past. It will once again become a superpower which will bestride the globe like a colossus, making trade deals to the UK’s advantage, all because deep down, they are convinced that not only does the rest of the world owe Britain a favour, but the rest of the world knows that it owes Britain a favour.

Brexit is founded in a deep rooted belief in British exceptionalism. That belief was on full and ugly display at the launch of Nigel Farage’s new party. But really the most exceptional thing about British nationalism is that its core myth is that it is superior to other nationalisms by virtue of not being nationalist at all. That’s because Britishness is a belief in a mythical precious union, one which Brexit has exposed is really England writ large. The union in name serves to provide a figleaf of non-nationalism to cover up England’s unshakeable belief that it is a specially blessed land which has unfailingly been a source of goodness and a guiding light throughout the world. Brexit has foundered on the disconnect between that self-belief and reality, and so has the UK itself.

Today is the anniversary of the Amritsar Massacre. It’s one of the more shameful episodes in the shameful history of the not-so-glorious British Empire which Brexiters seek to rebuild in a modern form. Everyone in India knows about it, about how British troops fired into a peaceful crowd in the Indian city of Amritsar and murdered hundreds, possibly thousands, of unarmed civilians who were peacefully protesting British rule. It’s just one in the long and shameful line of British atrocities committed in the name of Empire. The genocide of the Tasmanians, the dispossession of the Kikukyu, the Bengal famine, the partitions of India and Ireland, the Native Land Act in South Africa which was the forerunner of apartheid, the Irish famine, the Highland Clearances, the Atlantic slave trade, the Opium Wars in China, the carve up of Africa. The list goes on and on.

When the British first established a foothold in India, India was the second largest economy in the world. Its growth rate became zero under British rule as the British imposed a deliberate policy of withholding industrialisation and prioritising the exploitation of Indian resources for the benefit of Britain. When Britain finally left India, it did so leaving millions dead and a divided subcontinent whose economy was underdeveloped and backward.

All this misery inflicted by Britain on the rest of the world had as its goal the enrichment of the British ruling class. That ruling class was quite happy to coopt the ruling classes of other countries into its organised crime syndicate, the Scottish aristocracy were enthusiastic converts to the cause of Britishness.

Despite the long list of crimes committed in the name of Britannia, a Yougov poll in 2016 found that 43% of people in the UK thought that the British Empire was a good thing. Another 25% thought it was both good and bad. Astoundingly, 44% were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism. Almost half the people in the UK believe that stealing other countries, robbing them of their resources, imposing racist hierarchies upon them and making their inhabitant second class non-citizens, was a good thing.

If a country cannot confront its past, it makes itself unfit for the future. The UK cannot be honest about its past. It cannot be honest about its present. It certainly cannot be honest about its future.

The UK denies that its past is one of exploitation, of dispossession, of theft, of slavery, of genocide. Instead it prefers to look back to a glorious empire and to tell itself comforting tales about how an enterprise whose aim was to exploit the wealth, resources, and humanity of millions of people was really an exercise in the spread of civilisation.

The UK is dishonest about it present, about the kind of state it really is. It claims to be a union, yet it acts like a unitary state. It comforts itself with tall tales of how its kept down and oppressed by Brussels, because the British crime syndicate mind set cannot conceive of collaboration and cooperation, only winners who exploit losers.

This is not a state which is capable of being honest about its future. All it has to offer is the fantasies of a red faced Nigel Farage and a Conservative party which apes him. It’s a party which is in denial about Britain’s past, which lies about Britain’s present, and which is deluded about Britain’s future. The future for a Scotland which remains a part of this dysfunctional and dishonest British enterprise is as a subordinate province, exploited and belittled, marginalised and ignored. We can be a normal country, or we can be a tartan bow to tie up a lie, a kilted figleaf to hide the shameful truth about British nationalism. There is no union, and there never was.

Brexit teaches Scotland an important lesson. The question facing Scotland in the independence referendum to come is no longer merely “Should Scotland become an independent country?”, the real question is whether Scotland wants to be a country at all.

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47 comments on “The real question for Scotland in Brexit Britain

  1. deelsdugs says:

    Excellent again Paul. Helps to keep us alive…I know I started my Culture, Heritage and Archaeology studies with the idea of learning about the things we were never taught in school, and my, there’s a great deal of unsavouriness, just like there is now.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug The real question for Scotland in Brexit Britain Nigel Farage has come out of retirement. This comes as news to those of us, […]

  3. Mike Jeffress says:

    Was there ever any such thing as “The British Empire”? It is my understanding that, buried deep in the arcane language of the 1706 Treaty of Union, there is wording that states that all foreign or overseas territories, now and in the future, remain the property of the English Crown.

  4. I have come across Nigel Farage many times, all over Europe.
    In Concarneau as he boomed in a loud Thames Estuary conqueror’s tone of Brit authority enquiring if the poor wee lassie behind the counter had a Breton shirt in a larger size?
    Don’t these Froggies understand plain English he smirked in aside to his fellow travellers.
    He was in Rimini in Butcher’s Apron shorts demanding a Full English Breakfast in a small trattoria which served pasta to die for, and harrumphed when the host explained in Italian that he hadn’t a clue what the rampaging Visigoth was on about.
    He was on the opposite shore in the Vallee Des Trois Lacs in Gers on a hot sultry summer’s day from mostly French families enjoyed the peace, and dined en famille in the shade of tall Plane Trees,while Les Anglais blasted out pop music and hallooed drunkenly.
    He was in fog bound Gothenburg airport complaining bitterly.
    He was in a bar in Tubingen guzzling beer, he was in Dublin on a stag do reminding everyone that he was from Engurlund, Engerlund, Engerlund.
    He is tens of millions strong now.
    He is England’s future.
    You ask, what now Scotland, Paul?
    We leave them to it.
    Like 1933 Germany, ‘good people’ slipped away into the shadows, and chaos reigned.
    So with the ‘good people’ of England.
    The 48% have been stifled. The might of the imperialist has won.
    BBC will have a field day now.
    I’m going out for a pint.

  5. graememcallan says:

    PK, I love love love how easily you prick Englandshire’s pompous bubble 😉

  6. Brian Powell says:

    How will he get elected back into European Parliament?

  7. Robert Moore says:

    Same Old, Same Old, I’m afraid. But leaving that aside, & I know I’ll get kicked in the teeth for this. Again. But, you know what? I don’t care. I’ve been asking myself for a while now. Are the Scots’ ready for independence? Are they politically, culturally and responsibly mature enough to take that step? Or, are they too fond of the drink, the drugs & the fitba to care? Might help if they could start by not making such a bloody mess of the country they profess to love. Take a look at the roadsides as you travel around. Does a population who litters as much as the Scots’ clearly do, even deserve to be offered the chance to look after their own affairs? Just sayin’

    • Keith Roberts says:

      As it happens the good folks of Yes Strathaven will be out litter picking this very day

      • grumpydubai says:

        Indeed, well done. We not only need National pride but within that, Civic pride

        • You have to ask why people seem to feel so little pride in their surroundings that they throw litter around, sometimes just a couple of feet from a bin. Why someone will drive to a beauty spot to dump rubbish.
          I have spoken to the head teacher of my local secondary school on three ocassions about the litter and food waste dumped by the pupils. I see his response every day in the janitors going round the playground picking up litter dropped by pupils at break and lunchtime, ie. we should pick up after them. What about a bit of education about the money and health costs of litter?
          What about trying to boost the young people’s pride in their city and country? Not only would it educate pupils, it might also get through to the parents.
          Our pride in our surroundings has been eroded and needs to be built up again. Maybe this is part of the ‘too wee, too poor and too stupid’ mentally. We need to start shouting about Scotland’s achievements, beauty and talented people.

          • Robert Moore says:

            I agree with all you say & I’d add that young people here should be educated to confront their own behaviour, I was recently in Alicante & observed a group of school pupils (both boys & girls around 14-16) eating their lunch in a small square in the old city. Without exception they disposed of their litter properly. You would not see that anywhere in this country.

      • Robert Moore says:

        That’s as it should be, and, as I’m sure you know, it’s replicated in a lot of places. The problem is the culture (or lack thereof) that causes the frame of mind in some (not all, but enough) people, where it’s clear they have a selfish, uncaring attitude to their environment.

  8. Clive Scott says:

    The sentiments expressed in this article are the sentiments that should be front and centre of SNP campaigning in elections of every sort. Every time an SNP spokesperson utters the word “union” it should be prefaced by “fetid”, every time the word “Westminster” is uttered it should be followed by “cesspool”.

  9. Jan Cowan says:

    One of your best, Paul.

  10. Marconatrix says:

    “[The British establishment] comforts itself with tall tales of how its kept down and oppressed by Brussels, because the British crime syndicate mind set cannot conceive of collaboration and cooperation, only winners who exploit losers.”

    Definitely a saver that one. Thanks for the insight 🙂

  11. Melvin penman says:

    As long as the BBC remains in control of the media and the “national news papers” continue to espouse British values. S cotland will remain part of England shire.

    The ridiculous support of bigoted organisations such as the orange order and their green equivalent ,will seperate Scotland and feed into this narrative,from the British establishment.

    The horrors of the empire need to be exposed for what they are, I applaud your information in here, but most people don’t know about the bristish concentration camps in Africa or the great British drug trail, that went in the opposite direction to the Silk Road.commonly known as the opium war. Even the name opium war doesn’t explain the truth, it was a British drug lord government sending drugs to China to enslave them in drug dens. While they took cut price valuable commodities and the nations silver out of the country. That silver was the money that the British used to enslave Africa and conquer a third of the globe. When will that story ever be told. British exceptionalism is pure and simple racism.

    Johnny Foreigner the same propaganda espoused by the Tories ,the media and all British parties.

  12. Illy says:

    So, they’ve gone from the BNP, to UKIP, to the Brexit Party.

    I wonder if they’ll ever stop playing the “no, we’re a completely new party, we just have a bunch of the same leaders as the last one” game?

    Interesting quote from Wikipedia’s page on British Fascist Parties:

    “The British National Party (1960-1967), which until a split in 1962 produced pro-Nazi propaganda.[32] (This is a different party from the current BNP, although John Tyndall was a leading member of both)”

  13. Col says:

    Is there enough voters in Scotland who’s head contents haven’t yet been turned to mush by the media to get us out of our colonial status. Westminster will punish us greatly if we don’t manage to free our selves this time. We may well look back fondly on Maggie Thatcher with what will be done to punish us uppity jocks inhabiting Northern England.

  14. ScotsCanuck says:

    …. all too true, Paul …. but when the Hell are we (the guid folk o’ Scotland) going to get out of this “shit show” ? … when is our FM going to tell the Maybot “enough is enough” ? … we DEMAND a Referendum on our future.
    The time for action is NOW … I understand Nicola is keeping her powder dry and awaiting whatever the Gong show in Westmidden “Ya Boo’s” next …. but those of an Independent mind need some words of encouragement that there is plan of action which will advance us to our goal of Independence within the European family (either Full or Associate Membership).
    I still believe in NS but am disturbed by her lack of “Vim” for Scotland … to me it appears she has accepted the challenge of championing the cause of saving England from its self rather than saving Scotland from the worst of English nationalism.

    I’d be interested to know if this analysis chimes with others..

  15. Robert Harrison says:

    That 2016 yougov poll you wrote about is exactly why England and the majority of its people make me want to vomit proud of what being earths biggest terrorists rapists thieves and murderers all in the name of Britannia aka the English and there supremacy over all other cultures and races oh yeah btw as a kid i grew up around that bullshite everyday and because i openly rejected it i was hated by the Englanders all because they as brexit has exposed (to you all who never seen it till now)anything thats not there version of englishness has to be destroyed they always been that way as things like the football seasons are just the excuse they need to be right nasty little bastards to each other no wonder so many Englanders now live elsewhere instead and good on them i only feel sorry for those who want out of England but are stuck there due to whatever circumstances keep them there as England has never been a nice nation its just pretended to be and brexit has broken the mask that was hiding the evil within.

  16. Just brilliant! This should be taught in every school in the UK!

  17. John McLeod says:

    The points you make about colonialism draw attention to a key hidden thread in current debates around membership of the EU. None of the politicians who are in favour of remaining in the EU, seem to be willing to talk from a historical perspective. Is that because they do not understand or know about British colonial history, or because they think it does not matter? It is essential for Scottish politicians to be active in bringing these factors into the open. This week, Chris Law did this in respect of the Amritsar massacre. I would like to see more being done in this area by the Scottish government, and/or by organisations that get government funding. We need to make people aware of how much of Scotland’s prosperity is built on colonialism and the slave trade. We need to explain what we can learn from that period of our history in terms of building a country that treats other countries as equals and partners. We need to understand that co-operation with other countries and cultures is necessary in a future that will be dominated by the consequences of irreversible climate change.

  18. gerry parker says:

    The clarity of what Brexit means is like the phoney war on terror. It is designed to go on and on with clarity never being achieved. We have had 3 years of it. This “deal or no deal” narrative is completely sterile and the question of the British border in Ireland is still no nearer a solution. Meanwhile the Westminster state survives and Scotland’s lack of self confidence and self belief still holds us back from taking action. Yes work is going on to establish a National investment bank, a Scottish Stock exchange and hopefully a Scottish exchequer, however, the political narrative needs to progress and move on from saving England from itself, to propose and promote a vision for Scotland. It could start by having Holyrood accept for debate a Scottish constitution which could protect in Law the people of Scotland from this Brexit madness and English exceptionalism.

    • alanm says:

      Good post; it’s refreshing to find someone saying exactly what I think only saying it better.

      There could still be a majority for independence but support for the cause has been undermined by a devolution settlement which has given the SNP just enough rope to hang themselves and a leadership in Scotland who’ve walked straight into the trap set for them by Westminster.

      As a result, only those who favour extreme political correctness and membership of the EU are welcome in this new Scotland. All the early achievements under Alex Salmond have long since been forgotten and most people would now struggle to name one notable policy success which could be credited to the Scottish Government led by Nicola Sturgeon.

  19. diabloandco says:

    you write most eloquently of my greatest fear for my country , that we are ‘disappeared’ and only the memory remains.

  20. Anne Martin says:

    Rees-Mogg is now saying that Scotland is not ‘entitled’ to another referendum for at least 20 years.

    He is ‘entitled’ to make this assertion because ……….. ?

  21. HYUFD says:

    The British Empire had bad points (albeit remember even the Amritsar massacre started after a British bank official was burnt alive) but also good points, the spread of Westminster style democracy, common law, infrastructure like the railways, medicines and improved sanitation etc. Places like Hong Kong developed as the the thriving financial centres they are today during the Empire too. There were also far bloodier Empires than the British Empire from the Aztec Empire to the Mongol Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Belgians in the Congo and the Nazi and Japanese Empires

  22. Wullie says:

    At the height of the British Empire with all the stealing of human and natural resources, the people of the U.K.for the most part were living in abject poverty. Always confuses me as to why the Brits get so nostalgic about empire that inflicted so much horror on its own people

    • Welsh Sion says:

      Ah … but they never counted (and never do), Wullie. They ‘disappeared’, too.

      • W.S. most of the men who fought in WW1 did not have the vote.

        • Welsh Sion says:

          The Tree of Liberty,

          I agree, my great uncle among them. Who died for the Australians in 1918 on the Somme having previously been exiled to Patagonia (and subsequently NSW) by ‘the Establishment’ for poaching pheasants on the squire’s land.

          I was not intending that that generation was/is forgotten by us or any of our generation. I was trying to make the point that (particularly) the poor of previous generations have tended to be ‘disappeared’ (i.e. neglected/not mentioned/ignored) by ‘the Establishment’. Much of this wilful ignoring is then compounded via education systems which only value the heroics of such people as Kings and Queens (invariably of England – nowhere else) and Nelson and Wellington.

          It is against the attitudes of such ‘Establishment’ and its self-serving babus that we are fighting, and raising awareness of truer, completer pictures of ‘our glorious Empire’ than those that tends to whitewash and ignore others’ contributions and their suffering.

          • W.S, forgive me, I did not mean that you had forgot that generation. I was just trying to point out how shabbily the Establishment treats us, ie good enough to fight but under no circumstance have any say in the running of the country that they were dying for.
            Again, my apologies.

            • Welsh Sion says:


              It’s not easy to know what anyone else is thinking or how they are typing in this 2-D format that is the blog commentary, my friend. I find that irony often tends to wash over a lot of people, too – myself, included sometimes, no doubt.

              Be reassured that I am as committed to independence of both our countries (SNP Member and PC Member – although I can’t vote for either anymore) as are the vast majority of fellow contributors on here.

              I also acknowledge your apology – something very rare (and to be cherished) on discussion boards. I do not feel it necessary however to extend any ‘forgiveness’ on my part to you, though if you truly wish it, I will give them (and perhaps some day, in person, when we share some malt together somewhere). It was a small misunderstanding between us – and I’m sure that we have many common and shared sentiments between us.

              I therefore bid you a continued (but ultimately, successful) campaign for Scottish independence. I will continue to support that noble aim, here on WGD, on Wings and on other indy forums. I will also try to keep you up to speed on developments in my homeland, too.

              Sincerest best wishes,

    • Wullie, I suggest Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier.
      We plebs were hardly reaping the rewards of imperial plunder.
      It is a cruel myth; only the Elite, and the Upper tier of society hoovered up the riches stolen from the Empire.

  23. Wullie says:

    Save Scotland from England never mind trying to save England from its self
    Ok Nicola got the message yet hen
    Bit of a rant there am jist gettin fed up

  24. Andy Anderson says:

    I was on a Yes Perth City street stall yesterday. Several points of view were evident as usual but the most common was a tiredness with politics.

    The Brexiteers were a bit down as they feel that they may loose it.

    However none seem to have an understanding of why we are where we are politically with one exception. He was a retired gentleman who worked abroad all his life. He is English and lives in Burntisland, Fife. He knew England was useless in governance and economically rubbish. Also that Scotland would be better of on its own.

    He knew history also. He was a breath of fresh air. He was pleased to learn that he had a vote for Independence.

    Your view of history Paul is correct although the Empire was not all bad. Easy to criticise with modern thinking that was not applicable at the time. Other empires were just as bad all through mans history.

    History is good though as it gives you a feeling of place and understanding. To me it will be the economy that will assist us to increase support not history.

  25. steelewires says:

    I find myself reluctantly asking whether or not the SNP want independence. They are doing a great job governing Scotland to the extent that the English government of the UK allows them. They protect Scotland from some, but not all, of the worst policies of the English Tory government. Is that the extent of their ambitions?

    They say they want independence, but what they actually want is demonstrated by what they do, not by what they say. They are trying to protect England from itself, and thus trying to impose on England something Scotland wants in order to rescue it. If they do rescue it, Scottish independence will not be brought any nearer.

    The England the SNP is trying to rescue is an anachronistic one of the Empire, as you, Paul, indicate. It’s vision of Scotland is as a region of England. It will continue to treat Scotland as it has in the past, perhaps even more so. Viceroy Mundell has his UK Government Scotland offices ready to explode. Holyrood has already been voted to be disempowered.

    The Scottish MPs need to follow Craig Murray’s advice, withdraw from the English parliament of the UK, unite with the Scottish Parliament, revoke the Treaty of Union and the Act of Union.

  26. Wullie says:

    I read some time ago of a modern estimate of the monetary value that the British Empire took from India £ 45 trillion in today’s values.
    I believe Pakistan has sent a bill to London for £6 trillion in compensation for past misdemeanours
    Oh Dear
    Wonder if Nicola has anything up her sleeve, I believe some £3 trillion has been taken from the North Sea
    Nah she is to busy fighting England’s corner

  27. Welsh Sion says:

    I think the Scots expression regarding remaining cool and trusting in Nicola is ‘keeping the heid’. With that in mind, and I’m confident that your FM knows a lot more about the political scene than those of us chomping at the bit wanting her to signal the start of the IndyRef2 campaign.

    We can continue to prepare the ground for when that starting pistol is fired. She has also indicated that she will give an update around Easter. In the meantime, I offer you a bit of personal creativity in order to keep the faith.

    The Scot Nat’s Prayer

    Our leader,
    Who art in Holyrood,
    Sturgeon be thy name.
    Our independence come,
    In Scotland, as in all other normal countries.
    Give us this day our daily sustenance.
    Forgive us our trespasses on ignorant unionists,
    As we struggle to forgive their trespasses against us.
    Lead us into the temptation of independence,
    And deliver us from Westminster.
    For thine is the leadership,
    The power and the glory of a free Scotland,
    For ever and ever.


    [With acknowledgements]

  28. Luigi says:

    Farage’s new Vanity Party will surely split the Brexit vote. Not that he seems to be bothered. As usual, it seems to be more about Nigel Farage than anything else. The UKIPpers won’t forgive him. Hilarious. 🙂

  29. astytaylor says:

    Nigel Farage is the reason that i will not renew my British passport in a hurry.
    (One of the reasons, anyway.)
    From now on i’m Scottish-Canadian.

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