Nigel Farage was in Edinburgh yesterday, and had to have the polis ask McDonalds not to sell milkshakes. Milkshakes have become the new weapon of choice against the pretensions of the extreme right. Throwing a milkshake on a right wing extremist has the same effect as garlic on Christopher Lee in a Dracula movie. He kept coming back for a sequel too.
Onieweys, having narrowly avoided milkshakemaggedon, Nige was able to make his speech in front of a few hundred folk on the waiting list for BBC Question Time audience appearances. Nigel was there to play the victim and to speak about the policies of his new vanity vehicle. This latter part of his speech was quite easy to accomplish as the Brexit Party has only two policies. The first policy is to leave the EU immediately without bothering about a deal, negotiations, or giving a milkshake about the economic havoc it might wreak. The second policy is to do whatever it is that Nigel thinks is going to get him attention at any given moment. Since the British media already treats him as a combination of Madonna, the Messiah, and Mandela, cunningly disguised as a 1950s stockbroker, he already manages to get plenty of attention.
The thrust of Nigel’s speech to his acolytes was to persuade Scotland to follow him off the Brexit cliff into a glorious future of harrumphing about the smoking ban and pontificating at the golf club bar about how middle class right wing white heterosexual men who went to private schools are the most oppressed people on the planet. Scotland, assured Nigel, couldn’t possibly be independent as a part of the EU. Instead Scotland can only properly be independent as a province of a North Britain ruled by Nigel in the interests of whoever it is who is providing him with financial backing. Doing what you’re told and having zero input into the course that your country takes, that’s real independence that is.
Nigel wants people in Scotland who support independence but who want an independent Scotland to be outside the EU to vote for him in the EU elections. The logic of this pitch – well, I say logic – is that after we’ve given Nigel what he wants then he’ll kindly and munificently engage in a discussion about Scotland’s future. The problem here is that he’s already said what he thinks, having made it clear that as far as he is concerned both the Scottish and EU referendums settled their respective questions for a generation. He’s already told us that he believes that the movement for Scottish independence is motivated by hatred of England and all that he stands for. Because in Nigel’s English nationalist world, it’s all about him. When Nigel Farage tells Scotland that’s he’s prepared to talk about Scottish independence after he’s achieved power, what he means is that he’s going to tell us that he’s not going to let us have it. We’re going to be talked at, not talked with.
Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party are trying to repeat the same trick that was played on Scotland in 1979 when Alec Douglas Home pleaded with the country to reject the Home Rule proposal in that year’s referendum with the promise of “something better”. Then “something better” turned out to be Margaret Thatcher and two decades of Scotland being deindustrialised, politically marginalised, and ignored.
Nigel Farage is trying to repeat the same trick that was played on Scotland in 2014 when Gordon Brown promised that if Scotland rejected independence we’d have the closest thing possible to federalism and a strengthening of devolution. We were told we’d be an equal partner in a family of nations. Then we saw the devolution jenga played by the anti-independence parties in the Smith Commission and the British government using the Brexit vote as an excuse to unilaterally undo the devolution settlement. We’ve seen only one country in the British Isles which is really an equal partner in a family of nations, that nation is Ireland and the family of nations is the EU.
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me three times hit me over the head with a slab of concrete and tell me I deserve it for my stupidity. Nigel Farage and the Brexit party are promising Scotland’s Yes supporters who want out of the EU the square root of hee-haw. A vote for them is a vote to confirm Scotland’s inferiority, submission, and giving licence to treat us all as fools who can be taken for granted.
If you want Scotland to be independent and to be outside the EU, that’s a perfectly respectable position to take. Presumably you believe in it because you believe in the importance of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. Logic then dictates – real logic and not Nigel logic – that first of all we have to establish the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. That’s not going to happen by giving your vote to Nigel Farage on the basis of a vague promise to look at something he’s already made clear he has no interest in and which he believes to be motivated by hatred of the English. You’re not going to establish the principle of Scottish popular sovereignty by lending your vote to a man who doesn’t believe in Scottish sovereignty. Scotland ought to have learned by now not to trust the vague promises of British nationalism. A Scottish independence supporter voting for Nigel Farage is like someone with anaemia voting for a vampire.
It’s up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they want Scotland to be a part of the EU or not. That means that if we are to be outside the EU it needs to be a decision supported by a majority of the people of Scotland, and then negotiated by a government responsible to the people of Scotland, elected by the people of Scotland, and which is striving to get the best possible outcome for the people of Scotland with no other considerations. Piggy-backing on a right wing Conservative Brexit that has the support of one third of the Scottish electorate is not establishing the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. It’s undermining and destroying it.
So if you are an independence supporter who dislikes the EU, hold your nose and vote for a pro-independence party in the EU elections even if that party wants Scotland to remain a part of the EU. Because first and foremost those of us who believe in an independent Scotland need to express our support for the principle of Scottish sovereignty. It’s only after we have achieved a political assertion of Scottish sovereignty in an independence vote that we can have a truly meaningful conversation about Scotland’s place within Europe. We certainly can’t have that kind of conversation with English nationalists like Nigel Farage. All Nigel promises us is silence, contempt, and marginalisation.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
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