The propaganda office

When the Scottish Office was established in 1885 its main job was to oversee the various government departments operating within Scotland, Scottish education, farming, and other government roles. However the most important single task for the Scottish Office and the Secretary of State who headed it was to represent Scotland at cabinet level within the British Government. The founding of the Scottish Office gave Scotland a guaranteed seat in the cabinet, and ensured that there was a cabinet minister whose main role was to stand up for Scottish interests at the highest level of British government. That remained the main task of Scottish Secretaries for over 100 years. Within the unwritten constitution of the UK, the Scottish Office was the only official representation that Scotland possessed in the corridors of power of Whitehall, and the only recognition that the British Government did indeed represent a union of nations and was not merely the political expression of Greater England.

Devolution changed the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Many of the prior responsibilities of the Office now fell to the new Scottish Parliament. But even so, the main role of the Scotland Office, as it’s now known, remained representing Scotland at cabinet level. The Scotland Secretary was still supposed to act as Scotland’s voice in the British government. That remained the case all the way through the first decade of devolution.

But following the accession to power of the Conservatives in 2010, all that has changed. The main task of the Scotland Office is no longer to represent Scotland within the UK government. The role of the Scotland Secretary is no longer to stand up for Scottish interests in cabinet. According to the website of the Scotland Office, the most important duties of the department are to “strengthen and maintain the union”, to “champion the UK Government in Scotland”, and to “represent and advocate for the UK Government’s policies in Scotland”.

The focus of the organisation has been turned on its head, it now acts to represent the British Government in Scotland. The main role of the Scotland Secretary is to promote the British Government. The Scotland Secretary is no longer Scotland’s representative in cabinet, he or she is the cabinet’s representative in Scotland. The Scotland Office no longer exists in order to give shape to Scottish distinctiveness at a Westminster level, it exists in order to crush it. It’s the Department For Putting Union Flags On Things And Telling Us To Be Grateful.

The Scotland Office is funded out of the money that Westminster allocates to Scotland. Its ballooning budget is not intended to strengthen and defend Scotland’s distinctive interests within Westminster, it’s a nakedly political operation which has the goal of promoting the policies and politics of the British government of the day within Scotland. The Scotland Office’s spending on spin doctors and communications officials has ballooned under the Conservatives. Spending has increased seven fold from £108,439 annually in 2010/11 to £686,166.29 in 2016/17. That’s taxpayers’ money being spent directly on people whose job is the promotion within Scotland of Conservative policies that Scotland didn’t vote for.

That’s all bad enough, but the real scandal here is that the change in focus and goal for the Scotland Office means that Scotland and Scottish interests no longer have formal representation at the very highest level of British Government. Instead we have a Department for British Propaganda which is hoovering up more and more of the funding which ought to be spent on public services in Scotland. Yet this change was carried out unilaterally, without any consultation with the people of Scotland, without our permission being asked or our consent sought. If Scotland really was a partner in a precious union, then those changes would not have been made without the express consent of the people of Scotland. Instead they were introduced unilaterally by a political party which hasn’t won a General Election in Scotland since the 1950s, with the express aim of benefiting that party and promoting its policies. Yet it’s the people of Scotland who are paying for this propaganda.

Scotland is told that it’s a part of a Union, but it’s a part of a Union which lacks any constitutional safeguards for its constituent parts, a union in which there is absolutely nothing to prevent the interests and concerns of the largest partner in that union riding roughshod over those of all the other partners. Scotland is supposedly a part of a union, but that union has no constitutional measures to ensure that Scotland is represented in the highest levels of government of that union. That’s a damned peculiar union. It’s one which is indistinguishable from a unitary state. It’s one in which Scotland’s concerns are ignored, sidelined, and marginalised.

I’m sure that once I could have made a witty bon-mot about all of this, but that was back when we were living in a world you could satirise. Now we have a Home Secretary who says that she aims to make criminals feel terrified. She’s succeeded beyond her wildest expectations. This government has half the UK terrified. We have a Scotland Secretary who only got the gig because he’s a millionaire with a landed estate who has wined and dined the other rich boys and girls at the Brexity end of the Tory party. Moreover he’s heading a department whose aim is to propagandise for the UK and who says that Scotland won’t be allowed another independence referendum under any circumstances whatsoever. If that’s the case then democracy in Scotland is effectively dead.

When Boris Johnson came to power, his difficulties in Scotland were flagged up well in advance. It cannot have come as a surprise to him and his cabinet that he is personally unpopular in Scotland and his headlong drive for Brexit come what may is liable to make many in Scotland reconsider their attachment to the UK. Yet he’s pressing on regardless. He has shown not the slightest inclination to take any of Scotland’s concerns into account, not even the concerns of Scottish Conservatives. That can only mean that he believes that he can take Scotland for granted, that he thinks we’re a problem that he can contain. He’s in for a big disappointment.

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38 comments on “The propaganda office

  1. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they actually do get even worse!
    Thank goodness we have your wit and eloquence to inject some much needed humour into a depressing scenario.

  2. I feel there is a moral duty to deface any poster this department puts up and to tear down any Butcher’s Apron they fly over Scotland.

    • gus1940 says:

      In particular the UJ that flies above Edinburgh Castle giving 2 fingers to Scots.

    • I liked the proposal over on WoS twitter feed that we should name every food bank, and every Job Centre, ‘The Queen Elizabeth II…’ and plaster The Butcher’s Apron all over these symbols of ‘The English Parliament’s’ destruction of Scotland’s civic society, so that no Scots resident is in any doubt which government is responsible for 9 years of grinding poverty, premature deaths and the erosion of living standards in Scotland.
      ‘The Queen Elizabeth II Knightswood Food Bank’ has a certain ring to it, as in the death knell of their precious Union.
      The Queen Elizabeth II Partick Job Centre.
      God bless it and all who fail in her.

      Let’s have lots of Flegs…and red white and blue licence plates, and free to air Test Match cricket, according to Arlene, Ruth’s Not So Gay Friend.
      Jeez, it’s gonna get bumpy,and the dam is about to burst, but hopefully not in Derbyshire.


      • I appreciate what you have said and why you have said it. However, please spare a thought for those of us who volunteer in foodbanks. I have no wish to operate under the name of Queen Elizabeth or have anything to do with the butcher’s apron.

        • My pretty lame attempt at tongue in cheek, IW.
          You are angels sent to walk among us, IMHO.

          • No probs at all. Just get me when I’m bealing over the results of Tory and Lib Dem policies. Certainly no angelic language.

            • Even Jesus drove the money changers, the Bureau De Change Rip Off Artists of their day, from the temple flailing them with his famous knotted rope.
              I read out of the corner of my eye that your holiday £ will buy you 0.88 of a euro at Heathrow, or Gatwick, or some other SE Gateway to Europe.
              The madness shows no sign of abating.
              It is time for the SNP to give up trying to stop England from destroying itself and go for The ‘Awesome Onesome’, independent Scotland.
              Now is the time, before the Glorious 12th when Englishmen and Women head North to kill animals to satisfy their bloodlust.
              Just think what we’ll be able to achieve when we take back control of 1/5th of Scotland’s landmass from the Hunters and Shooters.
              Your bealingness, I suggest, is righteous anger, IW, especially when Swinson get free air time on the Good ol’ Beeb to lie through her teeth.
              Making Sunday dinner at the moment. Those tatties are no’ gonnae peel themselves.
              Peace and Love.

              • Saor Alba. says:

                Is it me Jack? Have I missed something? I cannot understand why the SNP are so hell bent on saving England from exiting the EU. This is a mess of their own making. It is time that the SNP stood up for what it says it stands for. INDEPENDENCE FOR SCOTLAND.

                • Saor, I get the feeling that the Tom Gordons and the Kevin McKennas of Hackdom would take great delight in accusing ‘The SNP’, ‘Nicola Sturgeon’, AUOB, of kicking our near neighbours and trading partners when they are down if we set the Indy ball in motion now, as Johnson is about to do their work for them, in three short months.
                  I seem to recall that the Irish Movement rose up while England was busy fighting Victoria’s nephew in 1916, the logic being that the Empire was at its weakest, militarily.
                  Despite The Bit Nats accusing us of ‘hating’ the English, nothing could be further from the truth.
                  I have friends and family Down There, and we should do everything we can to right this awful wrong.
                  But there is a limit, and that End of Days is fast approaching.

                  Incredibly the Leave vote has held up in England, if the OPs are to be believed.
                  There comes a time when we must look after our own. That time is fast approaching.

      • Bob Lamont says:

        With full recognition to both perspectives and Jack’s apology, is this not indicative of the dangerous terrain we are about to enter. It will most certainly be exploited irrespective of innocent and unintended annoyance so perhaps we need t be on our guard ?
        What unites us which is NOT open to exploitation, it is the nuances open to exploitation. I suspect the next fight will be no holds barred, and for which an entire dept has been set up under Jack Shit, perhaps such “misunderstandings” it can be used against them 😉

  3. Willie John says:

    Can we please please please stop referring to the British Government! It’s not, it’s the English Government in an English Parliament – the Prime Minister said so himself on the 29th June in Carlisle.

  4. Bob Lamont says:

    Excellent synopsis but would dispute the notion of Scottish representation.
    Whereas the role of SSS may have been observed as representation, it’s primary preoccupation was and remains the protection of “the Crown”, Robert Munro and the”Battle of George Square” a memorable case in point. None with the exception of an Independent has represented other than their party in Government since.
    Granted it has take on more expensive and insidious form in recent years, presumably they took their lead from the British Bullshit Corporation, the propaganda targets pay for their services…

  5. Welsh Sion says:

    Is it just me, or did anyone else do a double take on the ‘NOPE image’ and think that was Arlene Foster?

    Right wing, unionist, rent-a-gob, self-important and self-deluded. I console myself that it was an easy mistake to make.

  6. jfngw says:

    It’s not clear why the Scottish Office costs are included in GERS, it’s not for the benefit of Scotland but the promotion of England’s elected party in Scotland.

  7. Catherine Julie Kerr says:

    Please can we all refer to the PM as Johnson, not Bojo or Boris, both these names suggest he is a friend- which he will never be in a million years

    • Welsh Sion says:

      Seconded – And I have a vested family interest to live down.

      • Welsh Sion says:

        The only time I’ve allowed myself to call him as such was as part of artistic licence in my re-working of ‘Scots Wha Hae’.

        Scots Wha Hae – Reprise (bis)


        Wha will be as cruel as Tojo?
        Wha will bow tae Lunnon’s BoJo?
        Wha sae base as lose his mojo?
        Let him turn an’ flee.


        (With acknowledgements.)

    • Eric the Cheeseman says:

      Wholeheartedly agree. He’s the politician’s politician, the only one who is referred to by their Christian name. In doing so it plays to the comedic character of a jovial Eton fellow…

      He’s not jovial. He’s not comedy. And he has NO character whatsoever.

      ‘Johnson’, or ‘That Ba***** Johnson’ seems good enough for a horribly supercilious human. One who is openly keen to use his xenophobic and racist toxicity to cause untold suffering to the people on these islands.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Thirded, and I have tried my best already to stick to that… His cultivation and encouragement of the informal and “Bojo” has been deliberately disarming and does have a more nuanced twist to all predecessors referred to by surname. The current manipulators (Dominic Cummings etc) will be banking on it for an edge, which should be denied…
      “My friends call me Boris but you can call me Dick” would seem a suitable response, and Nigel Mirage is simply too good to pass up…

    • Aucheorn says:

      I always refer to him as Bozo, according to the OED, that is what he is.

  8. Brian Powell says:

    And the LibDems, in the form of Carmichael, went along with it.

  9. Cubby says:

    The Tories are beefing up the propaganda office laughingly called the Scotland office. You would have thought that having control of all the broadcast media and all the newspapers (ex the National ) would be enough for the Britnats. What this tells you is that they are failing. The propaganda don’t work any more. The end days of the UK are upon us. The dirty fag end of the dirty British Empire.

  10. Robert Harrison says:

    Never say things can get any worse as past experience has shown over and over again England governments always make things worse the conservatives are the worst yet cameron then may and now johnson and remember 2010 people thought then things couldnt get any worse before the con/dem alliance as that was the financial crash bk then.

  11. Bill McDermott says:

    If Alastair Jack’s intention is to plaster Union flags everywhere, then it is a moral imperative for all of us to carry an aerosol spray and deface them. We must send a message to the Tories that Scotland has had enough of their imperialism.

  12. astytaylor says:

    Well said, Paul. Thank you.
    I look forward to Scotland becoming an independent country again.
    The UK is finished.

  13. bringiton says:

    Have the Tories opened a new colonial office in Wales or NI?
    Perhaps those colonies no longer have resources they want to exploit?

    • Welsh Sion says:

      Give ’em time, bringiton.

      Our very own Minion for Western Colonies, Alun Cairns, supported Johnson throughout his candidacy as thereby kept his own job. The archetypal ‘sooker up’ as you would say in Scotland.

      Mind you, we’ve already been granted a new Severn Bridge, named ‘the Prince of Wales Bridge’ despite no consultation with Joe and Josephine public, and those who were asked in a survey their view gave the name a definite thumbs down.

      No change in this British shamocracy there, then.

      • See my post above, WS.
        Rename EVERYTHING ‘The Queen Elizabeth II’.
        Up Here we still refer to our brand new hospital as ‘The Southern General’. pigeon droppings ‘n’ all.
        The Unseen Hand of the Iron Heel Oligarchy is everywhere.
        Only Revolution will bring about change.

  14. alanm says:

    Each state – no matter how big or small – has equal representation in the US Senate. Perhaps BBC Scotland should consider despatching Glenn Campbell off to Washington once again to investigate what it really means to be part of a union of equals?

    • ‘Old England’ will become the 51st State in October.
      I wonder if Wall Mart will introduce a gun counter to their ‘Old England’ stores?
      That’s the ‘Free Market’ /’Singapore on the Thames’ which awaits England and Wales in three short months’ time.

  15. Seanair says:

    I am watching the cricket match between Engalan and Australia. Does anyone know if Australia and other places have considered removing the British flag from their bigger flag, which when you think about it is rather daft.
    By the way anyone fancy taking down the British flag which is flying above Edinburgh Castle?

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