Preserving our values

Long long ago, back in the distant days of 2014 when Labour dinosaurs still stalked the Earth, or at least stalked Central Scotland, we were told that Scotland needed to vote to stay under Westminster rule because we benighted Caledonians require the tender mercies of the British state to provide us with the best possible bulwark to protect us from political extremism.

The implication was that being lesser and irredeemably parochial beings, Scottish types couldn’t be trusted with democracy, in case we broke it. Those making that particular argument conveniently overlooked the fact that Scotland was and is able to hold an independence debate, a type of political debate which in most countries is conducted with bullets, bombs, and internment camps, and yet the only casualties to date have been Jim Murphy’s dry cleaning bill and some unpleasantries on social media. At least, those are the casualties produced by those supporting indepedence, those opposing it have been responsible for unpleasantries on social media, and also some actual violence. Just ask anyone with a saltire who was in or around George Square in the aftermath of the independence referendum.

It has always been the case that the real threats to Scottish democracy come from the extremist wing of the anti-independence camp, however that didn’t prevent apologists for the British state making the opposite claim. However in the light of what’s been going on over the past few weeks, that claim rings bitterly hollow now, as the Faragists continue their rise. We have an actual party of Peronistas which has now landed in modern Britain, only instead of an Evita charming the masses, we’ve got the 1950s horror show that is Anne Widdecombe, Strictly Come Dancing on the grave of hope and progress.

The Brexit party is entirely a vehicle for the ambitions and ego of Nigel Farage, a right wing populist English nationalist. He is the shape of the UK to come, the future of a Conservative party that will reshape itself in his image in order to retain what it can of its haemorrhaging support. Nigel has announced that his party will never produce a manifesto. Manifestos are all lies, says Nigel, with the confidence of a man who ought to know all about political porkies. Of course the real reason he has no intention of publishing any policies for his egomobile is because that way he can continue to promise all things to all people. Right wing Ukippers can flock under his red white and blue umbrella, and Labour leavers in northern England can tell themselves that Nige is going to stick it to the man.

This is just as well, because on previous occasions when Nigel has voiced some policies, they have not been pretty. Farage has advocated banning people with HIV from entering the UK. He voices suspicions that climate change may not be real and despises wind farms. He cosies up to Donald Trump. He has mused about the desirablity of replacing the NHS with a US style health insurance system. He thinks that the UK’s ban on handguns is ludicrous. He is convinced that the campaign for Scottish independence is driven solely by an atavistic hatred of the English. And while vehemently denying that he is himself a bigot, he is happy to indulge in political imagery that dog whistles to your actual racists.

In Scotland we look upon what’s happening in Catalonia and console ourselves with the thought that this is the UK, that at least here we are allowed to campaign openly for independence without fear of prosecution. We operate under the assumption that it’s for the people of Scotland and the people of Scotland alone to choose the form of government best suited to their needs. All that will change in a UK that’s bent at the knee before the Faragistas with their fetishisation of English nationalism. Scotland will get what it’s given, and will be grateful that it’s being allowed to participate in England’s elections. The political future of the UK is going to be an increasingly unwelcome space for Scottish distinctiveness. That’s going to be true irrespective of what happens with Brexit.

There is however a sliver of good news. That home-grown proponent of policy free politics is being beaten at its own game. Ruth Davidson’s Ruth Davidson’s Ruth Davidson Vote Ruth Davidson for More Ruth Davidson Party seems to have had the wind well and truly knocked out its sails. Ruth has been more puffed up in the media than the England fitba team, only according to the most recent opinion polls she’s not even going to do well enough to be put out by Germany on penalties. One poll has put her party on just 10%. Despite the fact that Ruth has sold the Scottish Conservatives as being entirely her own creature, despite the fact that we’re constantly told that a vote for some random Tory is a vote for Her Ruthness herself, you can bet your last euro cent that she won’t be taking personal responsibility for the drubbing her party is about to receive in the European elections later this month.

The Scottish Tories’ electoral pitch in Scotland is to try not to mention that Scotland voted against Brexit, and definitely not to mention that Ruth Davidson opposed Brexit. They’re trying to repeat the trick of 2017 and make it all about opposing referendums because they’re divisive. Which means hoping that no one notices that it was the Conservatives who inflicted the EU referendum on us all in first place. By turning themselves into hard line Brexit supporters, the Scottish Conservatives have already started tacking to the right. They’re doubling down on that minority segment of the electorate which sees itself as primarily British, which vehemently opposes independence, and which supports Brexit.

The party has decided to make a pitch for Brexiters who oppose independence, but those voters overwhelmingly despise Theresa May’s deal and have zero confidence in the ability of the Conservatives to deliver Brexit. People who support leaving the EU and who are in favour of independence are hardly likely to vote Tory, so Ruth is fishing in a very small pond where there are far more voracious sharks. Her chances of becoming the next First Minster are smaller than my dug’s.

British politics remains uncertain, unstable, and insecure. All we can be sure of is that rise of British populism means that the UK is becoming less and less able to tolerate and accommodate Scottish political distinctiveness. Those values that we were always told were British, values of tolerance, fair play, democratic stability, inclusivity, acceptance of difference, are now most at threat by those who claim to love Britain. Paradoxically, if Scotland wants to guarantee those supposedly “British values”, we can only do so with independence. Because Nigel and his right wing English nationalist populists are looking over our shoulder in the UK.

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25 comments on “Preserving our values

  1. Indeed, Paul.
    During his BBC biased 400th appearance on QT, you know,that Brit Nats’ weekly propaganda megaphone for John Lewis checked shirt gammon faced ‘we knew what we were voting for, they need us more than we need them, Dunkirk spirit, after all who won the war, take back control, taking all our jobs, council houses, NHS beds and Doctors’ appointments and can’t even speak the Queen’s English’ man and sadly more frequently these days, woman, Farage was confronted over his poster misrepresenting a column of refugees trekking to safety as EU immigrants queuing up to take our jobs.
    Echoes of clunking Fist Brown’s ‘British Jobs For British workers’ racist xenophobic nonsense.

    Chairperson Fiona Bruce muttered, that was ‘relatively ancient history’, plainly demonstrating that she has morphed into a Farage Babe.

    A couple of Saturday nights ago, I was enjoying a pint with the Rat Pack at our favourite, strike that, at one of our favourite, watering holes.
    The place was packed, and Neil Diamond, the Proclaimers, and Dean Martin were getting big licks on the Karaoke.
    The joint was, if not jumpin’, at least hoppin’.
    A good natured huddle of locals, most of whom knew each other, or who went to school with faithers or mithers of the ID carrying younger revellers.
    Two big lads with Yorkshire accents meandered towards the gantry and waved a tenner above the three deep at the bar throng, clearly gagging for a well earned sherbit. It’s thirsty work singing along to ‘That’s amore’, after all.

    We got talking to the lads, as you do when you meet a Stranger in a Strange Land. We Scots, are known for it.
    Hail fellow, well met. The Irish sometimes go over the score right enough.
    They were from Sheffield, Up Here on a contract fitting shops, or some such.
    One of the men was older, married, travelling the isles earning a coin.
    The other, younger, single, was already about to ditch us, and join a group more his own age.
    All was going well until the older lad commented that he was enjoying being away from , I’ll not name the Yorkshire town, and that we were lucky that our pub had not been ‘taken over’ by, again, I’ll not repeat the phrase, but I’m sure you all get the drift.
    In a blink they changed from hard working lads, away from home, enjoying their night in the pub, into racist bitter xenophobes. It was as stark as that.
    They mad the assumption that because they were in a pub full of us Whities, that we would share their UKIP view of the world.
    Drink and politics don’t mix at the best of times.

    Discretion being the better part of vaour, we variously made our excuses and left the company, the loo, a puff outside, whatever, and reformed as The Pack at the other end of the Rubadubdub.

    These lads will be voting Farage, and Eff the Furriners.

    Nothing would convince them to vote Labour or Tory ever again.

    Two otherwise decent hard working lads who appear to be well down the road to right wing fascism.
    England’s political system is in tatters, and the Blue REd and Beige Tories Up Here will get caught in the Brexit slipstream too.

    • wm says:

      I am still agreeing with almost every thing you say Jack, just thought I would let you know I am still here. Your posts just keep getting better Paul, I wonder what we would do without you.

    • Golfnut says:

      Sort of on the same vane, we spent this weekend camping, in the evening I took our wee frenchy for a walk along the beach, big guy, really big guy( I felt like hobbit next to him) came towards us with his dog. Said hello, as you do, he commented on the view etc. Anyway I asked if he was up here on holiday, he laughed saying he had been up here for 19 years, married a Scots girl, loved the place. His relatives in England couldn’t understand why he stayed here, knife crime, gangs etc. No matter how many times he told them this was a fabulous place, people very friendly, he had never once had anyone make a derogatory remark about being English. I said I was surprised since he was about 9 ft tall. He said he had been trying to get his mum to come up, she hadn’t been well now for a long time, but no, because apparently we hate the English. We parted at that, my wee frenchy had taken a dislike to German shepherd, even the drugs are at it. The media have lot to answer for, no doubt about that.

      • You’re right there, brother.

      • Robert Harrison says:

        Its just supremacists wankers like mr farage we hate yet englanders hating any non English is ok though thats appartently fair game to them south of the border England is a nation of people who need to wake up and see the old enermy of ww2 is in there own country and they are worshipping such fascist Englanders like mr farage and steven lennon like a blasted religious cult and have the shameless attitude to label independence supporters cultists.

    • Thankyou for that. Resonates with brief chat I had Tuesday at hospital with a man at a table by the entrance promoting an essential medical service that has no government funding. Nice chap. Very friendly and enthusiastic about the need for the service in question. Scots. Weegie or thereabouts. When during the course of our chat the issue arose of why there was no funding for his service, he opined that too much was given out in foreign aid. The thin edge of the proverbial crept out from under its rock. My wife and I carefully disabused him of any reason to think like this, but it was another of these moments of …. well, evil fuckwittery infecting the minds of decent people, genuinely engaged in good works. We suspected after the encounter that the man was seeking confirmation rather than expressing any well formed belief, but it remains a little chilling. Resonates too with your story of shopfitting Yorkshiremen.

  2. Bill Hume says:

    Wee Ginger for First Minister………I’d vote for that.

  3. Welsh Sion says:

    Make a note in your diaries, folks.

    Farage is @ the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh on Fri 17 May 2019 (my birthday – sigh!) from 7.00pm

    Tickets @ £2.50.

  4. JSM says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female.

  5. aaron blue says:

    British nationalist media must [but they won’t] accept much of the blame for the rise of social intolerance in this so-called united kingdom.

    At least we in Scotland have a chance to escape the britnat insanity. We have to take that chance..

  6. Mark Potter-Irwin says:

    I havn’t thanked you, WGD/Paul, for over a year.

    Please take this as a thank you for all the work you do for Scotland and our people.

    I always look forward to your posts/blogs/articles (whatever).
    As an English born Scot (for 47 years) you give me, inspiration, information, confirmation, and the hope to keep working for our wonderful people and eventually Nation!

  7. susan says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the much vaunted “British values” don’t exist and never did. Just more English exceptionalism.

  8. Charles McGregor says:

    If the Brexit Party got two seats in Scotland at the expense of the Tories, while on the one hand that would be appalling, on the other, it would work wonders for shifting the vast number of middle softs to Yes in a subsequent indyref.

  9. Excellent piece sir. Apparently the dug is no longer sentient. Westminster has decided not to adopt that bit of EU legislation relating to the care and welfare of non human beings. More creeping fascism, more fodder for toxic Faragists.

  10. astytaylor says:

    Farage/Johnson/Trump. What the heck is the world coming to?
    The sooner Scotland goes independent, the better.

  11. Macart says:

    He is quite the…. something, something character in spiv’s clothing to be sure and much like Ruth Davidson, would be entirely irrelevant to the rest of society without the aid of the media. Well done them (VERY slow hand clap).

    Doesn’t matter whether it was coin and headline, or political bias and direction (probably a mixture of both tbf). Regardless, that’s the true face of populist politics today in both cases.

    Y’know that dark path and place the UK was heading toward? Some folk might have mentioned a time or two. Well. This is how it’s done.

  12. I note that QT has gone into hiding this week, beaming out from that ‘toddlin’ town…Elgin.
    Looked it up, almost exclusively white, nearly half Church of Scotland goers, constituency MP the Linesman Douglas Ross, population 13% English born, with heavy RAF presence as well; your typical cross section of Scottish Society in other words. Aye, right.
    The Panel, the usual Better Together trio of Red Blue and Beige Tories.
    Who the feck is Bim Afolani?, elected in 2017, and presumably the only Blue Tory mug enough to travel so far North into the Dark Territories of North Britain. He’ll get a nose bleed venturing this far North.
    Douglas the Linesman not available? Big match on tonight?
    Dick Leonard is in the corner for the Corbyn Commies. This should be fun.
    And ex BBC journalist Christine Jardine for the second Referendum (but not a Scottish One!!!) Beige Party. I wonder if there will be a David Steele Cyril Smith question? Breath is not being held.
    And Eilidh Douglas, a young Edinburgh lawyer, whose relevance in the public sphere will no doubt be revealed by Fi-Fi The Brexit tonight.
    Perfectly balanced panel, with doubtless the Usual Brit Nat Plants in the audience primed to attack when Bruce arches her eyebrow and points randomly at a member of the audience in an orange fleece and Butcher’s apron bow tie.
    Imagine Elgin as the centre of the Universe. 60 minutes of fame.
    They are getting maniacally desperate now.

    • astytaylor says:

      Christ, Jack, you need to get out and about a bit more. There’s a whole swathe of Scotland outside of the Central Belt.
      Angus Robertson got turfed out of Moray at the last GE. Whisky, farming, fishing, tourism, the military, forestry. (Not necessarily in that order). And a Tory MP. Moray has it all, and Elgin is it’s largest town.
      I just came from there the other day. (Dad gave me an early morn lift to Inverness to catch the easyjet to Gatwick, and beyond.).
      In nearly 50 years I can’t remember the place being so litter strewn. Must be a contender for dirtiest place in Scotland? But maybe that’s modern, throw-away life in general. Perhaps the streets of Clydebank are litter strewn also?
      Had I known that QT was on, I might have stayed to heckle. On second thoughts, bollocks to it. Waste of energy? Would be better off picking up plastic bottles and trying to educate young people?
      Anyway, keep up the wonderful commentary, and see you down the road a bit. It’s my round.

      • asty, one of my dearest and oldest friends and colleagues was from Elgin.
        I too remember the Elgin of 30 plus years ago.
        My pal described a stroll in the garden as a ‘walk around the policies’.
        great man and wiser than I should I live 300 years.

        But there is no denying that QT has sneaked in to Scotland on its tippy toes, to do an EssEnnPee is shite Brit Nat Gang Bang edition.
        Now Clydebank, as everybody knows, is God’s little Acre.

        I’m almost tempted to catch the first five minutes or s..nah, don’t think that I’ll bother.

  13. Daisy Walker says:

    If Farage splits the Brexit leave vote, I think that would be good for Scotland. I suspect many of our Yes voters who do not approve or like the EU, find Farage too much of an extreme chancer and wanted the exit negotiated by the Cons or Lab… and they won’t vote for them under any circumstances.

    Got a personally addressed Letter! from wee Wullie yesterday obo the LieDems. Wonder how much that cost.

    Indy or bust now.

  14. Macart says:

    I see Boris has put his hat in the ring for leadership… again. And that the chair of the 1922 comm. and Treeza have had a bit of a chinwag on order of play/departure.

    Just so folk are crystal clear? I think we’re moving from can kicking to can carrying. In terms of Conservative leadership/future PMs, that means we’re moving from insult to injury.

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