British nationalism’s vested interest in misery

Following on from telling us why the SNP winning 81% of Scotland’s Westminster seats in the General Election doesn’t count as a mandate for another independence referendum, British nationalists have found a new straw to clutch at.  You just knew that there was going to be one, didn’t you.  For every number on the bingo card, the callers of the British media have a pithy wee statement about how it’s going to bring about devastation, penury, and disaster. Only they’re not so much pithy as jutht pith.

Immediately after telling us that getting involved in pointless wars in the Middle East is the way to guarantee peace, next up in the British nationalist bingo card of reasons why Scotland can’t possibly have an independence referendum is the warning that if Scotland was to have a vote on whether it wanted to remain a part of Brexit Britain, it would spark off “appreciable political violence” in Northern Ireland. This is according to a report in the Times, quoting a certain Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow for US defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Jonathan is the editor of the IISS journal Survival, which sounds like it could be the sort of magazine that Bear Grylls reads while he’s taking a dump in the woods. And indeed, it may well be.

Next week we’ll be told that Scottish independence will create a hole in the ozone layer, cause the extinction of the white rhinoceros, destabilise the neutron star PSR B1509-58 in the Circinus constellation devastating the nascent civilisation of crab people developing on a nearby planet, and will put an end to John Barrowman’s career as a guest presenter on This Morning. Although why that last one is a bad thing for anyone except John Barrowman will be left unexplained.

For British nationalists, especially for those in Scotland with a vested interest in keeping things the way that they are, the possibility of independence is always going to be met with warnings of dire happenings, catastrophes, and the end of civilisation as we know it. Any imagined link between independence and certain death, no matter if it’s even more tenuous than the link between what comes out of Boris Johnson’s mouth and reality, will be played up for all it’s worth. And to be fair, the possiblity of independence has already spelled the death of numerous Scottish Conservative political careers and almost the entire Labour party branch office.  Just ask Stephen Kerr, that guy from Ochil and South Perthshire whose name no one could ever remember, and all those nonentities with a red rosette.

British nationalism has a vested interest in misery. British nationalism in Scotland is an exercise in expectation reduction. Misery is its default setting.  It drinks half the glass and tells us that we should be grateful for the half glass that’s left because we’re not worthy or capable enough to produce a quarter full glass by ourselves even though we own the water. It wants us to believe that a half empty glass is the best that can be achieved and threatens us with the misery of a broken glass if we dare to expect more. It urges Scotland to put up with the UK’s misery of austerity, of poor public services, of privatisation, of foreign wars, of xenophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric and threatens us with far worse if we resist and aspire to better. So it’s only natural that a Scotland which seeks to distance itself from the British nationalism which created sectarianism as a product of its Irish adventures would be threatened with an outbreak of sectarian violence.

Jonathan was speaking at a foreign relations conference in New York, and told delegates that if Boris Johnson was to authorise a Scottish referendum but didn’t also allow a poll on Irish unification this could spark off violence from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland. This ignores the obvious, that ignoring calls for a unification poll in Northern Ireland could spark off violence in Northern Ireland irrespective of what happens in Scotland. You’d almost think that opponents of independence haven’t realised that Scotland and Northern Ireland have different politics, despite the best efforts of the Conservatives and Labour to channel Ian Paisley saying Noooooooo and the Conservatives in Scotland turning into the No Surrender party complete with dog whistles to sectarian bigotry.

The fact is that the issues in Northern Ireland are the historic creation of the British state and British colonisation of Ireland, it’s a product of British nationalism. It’s pretty rich to lay the responsibility for it on those of us in Scotland who seek to leave the British state. It’s as nonsensical as British nationalists blaming the SNP for the share of the UK’s deficit that gets allocated to Scotland. Oh wait, that’s exactly what they do.

Jonathan also claimed that the independence referendum in 2014 was marked by a rise in Republican violence in Northern Ireland and that some of these attacks were lethal. In other words he was trying to associate the entirely peaceful, constitutional, and legal campaign for Scottish independence with terrorist attacks. There was indeed violence associated with the Scottish independence referendum, but those responsible for that violence were the British nationalist thugs who went on the rampage in Glasgow city centre after the result was announced, beating up and attacking entirely peaceable and law-abiding independence supporters. It’s funny that when they’re warning of political violence opponents of independence always seem to forget that the violence only ever comes from their own side.

Other experts are of course available, except when you’re a British nationalist in search of a straw to clutch at, and those other experts – experts like Kieran McConaghy, a lecturer with the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews – said that this was, to use a technical term much cited in international politics and relations, but possibly not in the Survival journal, a load of auld keech. Although I am paraphrasing there somewhat. Mind you auld keech is what Bear Grylls produces when he’s reading the Survival journal in the woods, so there’s a sort of cosmic circularity to it all.

However it is a fact that there was no rise in Republican violence before or during the Scottish referendum. Attacks carried out by dissident Republican groups in Northern Ireland remained at a constant level before, during and after Scotland’s referendum. There was no rise in Republic violence in Northern Ireland because Scotland was holding a referendum in 2014, and there will be no rise in Republican violence in Northern Ireland when Scotland holds its next referendum either. But that doesn’t suit the red white and blue pearl clutching narrative.

The only prospect of violence as a result of a Scottish independence vote will come from British nationalist extremists. But if we’re expecting the anti-independence parties to take responsibility for the trolls of British nationalism that their rhetoric of fear has unleashed, we’ll be in for a long wait. Instead we’ll see our newspapers full of more scare stories without substance. Opponents of independence are afraid that they’ve already lost the argument and can no longer rely upon being given the benefit of the doubt and so are being driven into increasingly hysterical scare stories. The misery of British nationalism bingo is set to become ever more ridiculous as Brexit bites and the British state loses its hold on the people of Scotland. But we have some bingo of our own. Number 1 – Kelly’s eye, Boris’s lie … Number 2 – We can rejoin the EU … Number 3 – Scotland’s free. … Number 4 – We don’t believe Tories any more …

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30 comments on “British nationalism’s vested interest in misery

  1. chicmac says:

    Number five, indy alive.
    Number six, Boris tricks
    Number seven, indy heaven
    Number Eight, Never too late
    Number nine, now is the time
    Number ten, arsehole den

  2. Malky McBlain says:

    Burning the midnight oil Paul ? Nice insight on the upping of project fear to project divide and fear. They (the establishment) know well that Scotland’s Achilles heal is the still being slowly resolved but still a way to go issue of religious division. Personally I feel that the vast majority of Scots of either Catholic or Prodestant faiths are way to reconciled, the shouting matches and stupid songs from football fans of the old firm notwithstanding. They prefer to conflate the situation in NI where the two sides are not only religiously divided but geographical divided In NI towns and cities. In Scotland we all live in the same midden and up the same closes. The Morrison’s and the Kelly’s all getting along generally harmoniously at home work or in the boozer. My biggest fear about the run up to indyref 2 is that they will sow sectarian divisions knowing that there is a very vocal minority of bigots willing to unleash the sort of mindless hate as per September 18 2014 in George Square. That episode was them winning that vote imagine what they could do when they lose. Scotland at this time cannot be compared to the division in NI but the British establishment will do whatever they can to hold on to Scotland so trying to stir up sectarian division could well be the next thing they unleash, they have historical form. However I pray that the Scots are really reconciled and will unite as prodestants and catholics who all support independence and show them that that type of division won’t work in Scotland.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      “My biggest fear about the run up to indyref 2 is that they will sow sectarian divisions knowing that there is a very vocal minority of bigots willing to unleash the sort of mindless hate as per September 18 2014 in George Square”
      Yes indeed.. Given the angst stirred up over Brexit etc., and orange-jaiket-man losing his side-gig with QT, it could be exploited by those desperate enough…

    • terence callachan says:

      It’s not Scotland’s Achilles heel
      It’s really only in Glasgow
      Do you live in Glasgow Malky ?
      It just doesn’t exist elsewhere

  3. Bob Lamont says:

    Had not read that particular piece, but it does not surprise me that the Times in particular should run with it, as you highlight, straw clutching with the absurd. Under Murdoch the Times lost any remaining credibility except with the international and Home Counties set for whom it remains a badge of status. Any article with the words international, New York, and conference included, is automatically treated with reverence.
    When your audience or readership has not the faintest interest in nor grasp of Irish or Scottish affairs, it is easy to sell them nonsense such as the “subsidy-junkie” fairy as it reinforces their vague prejudices.
    SMSM will then compound the absurdity by similarly attaching credibility to any Times article. As a filler to the normal “failing” SG Education and NHS etc etc fare, it helps pad their output whilst dutifully ignoring any “good news” SG press releases.
    Your finale brought back happy memories of playing “bullshit-bingo” at office meetings …

  4. Petra says:

    Jonathan seems to forget that some of us already know that the people of NIreland don’t need LBJ’s authorisation to hold a poll on Irish unification. Liar, liar wae his pants on fire. Another one.

  5. Petra says:

    Here we go! Iran retaliates. If the soft No’s can’t see that it’s time to get out of this Union, the one with the special relationship with US / Trump … well I won’t say what I actually think of them!

    Let’s get out and send their subs, etc, back to sender, ASAP.

  6. Macart says:

    “…warnings of dire happenings, catastrophes, and the end of civilisation as we know it.”

    It’s a knack they have. Misplaced precognition, that is. It’s right up there with their failure to accept responsibility for their own actions, projection, self entitlement and a complete lack of self awareness.

    A Good New Year to you Paul. 🙂

  7. bringiton says:

    The British establishment has been responsible for the deaths of many many thousands of people around the globe over many years.
    If it is allowed to continue as America’s poodle then many more will follow.
    We will take no lectures from British state supporters about political decisions resulting in violent reactions.

    • Mark Robertson says:

      Let’s hope the SOFT Scottish poodles see sense in the latest war escalation in the Middle East and don’t keep following the DOGS of war !
      Price of crude oil has risen today as Iran and Iraq supplies will be offline for a while in the near future,could be good timing for an independent Scotland this time ! Not that I’m a type of person to gloat on others misery and death but that is what THE BRITNATS DO !
      Let’s leave them to it and get our independence and be a CIVILISED nation and join the other civilised countries of the world and lead by example .

  8. Malky McBlain says:

    And it’s all created as a distraction so that Trump can get re elected and win his impeachment trial. How many innocent people will be sacrificed for this evil mans ego

  9. David Agnew says:

    Never a truer word said. Their vision of Britishness is based in a bleak reductionism.

    Already seen them arguing that Brexit induced poverty would be better for us because a independent Scotland would be even poorer. Thats the mindset we are up against. The union really did a number on us.

    Boris will take the NHS from us and make us pay insurance for substandard care. Unionists will claim that this is better than being independent, because in an independent Scotland we’d have nothing at all.

    They’ll destroy our children’s future. The unionists will defend a career is shelf stacking.
    They’ll destroy our public services – The unionists will defend the right of private commerce to make indecent profits, selling back to us what we already pay for. All the while, Scotland will still have to pay a tax to have a police force. We’ll still have to pay to be on the national grid. We’ll keep paying a ransom to stop Scots being tormented by the bed room tax. The UK will still keep dumping its debt on us and those miserable little unionists will celebrate Scotland’s debt as proof of Scotland’s inability to be independent. But somehow be blissfully unaware that all this really proves is that Union is actually detrimental to Scotland.

    They didn’t win in 2014 nor did they save the union. They won a reprieve. It was up to them to prove to us the Union was worth a pennies purchase. They have failed. Thats why these “winners” are so angry. Deep down they know that the union is dying. But rather than do something to save it, they’ll sit back and watch England destroy it. Then demand that Scotland be a helpless victim.

    Look at the sheer stupidity of labour in Scotland. Actually boasting of having destroyed itself to “save the union”, but not an ounce of self awareness that this destruction might mean the Union might not have been worth it.

    The foaming mouth weasel words of the Tories are nothing new. They are and have always been an English party in Scotland. They will always take England’s side in any argument. And it was ever thus.

    The Lib Dems. Surprising to believe that once upon a time, this party once dominated Scottish politics. Look at them now. A gang of spiteful little fannies.

    But don’t worry. Gordon Broon will make yet another intervention for the 1st time to save his precious union.

    “Build the gallows high my brothers & sisters that we may hang together” he’ll say. What a brave intervention the BBC will say. A man of prudence says labour. A staunch unionist any Nutter of Orange can get behind says the tories. I’ve got a magic wand hehehehe – says wee wullie of the lib dems.

    how did we manage to lose to fannies like these?

  10. Robert Graham says:

    Here we go again same shit different day in Westmonster , having watched the Union at work during Scottish Questions , A plea to the SNP walk , start a fight anything will do , what’s the point ? these Unionists don’t listen, won’t listen and only react when confronted by an immovable object and that should be a total removal of any cooperation , disrupt all proceedings in the house of shame .

  11. Ken2 says:

    Iranian sent a rocket that nearly got Netanyahu. He was in the vicinity. Trump takes out the Iranian. The Iranian leader’s corruption. Not elected. All illegal under International Law.

    Netanyahu is a criminal. On criminal charges going to Court. Clinging on to power. There have been three inconclusive elections. D’Hondt There is away to be another one. Total lack of government. Netanyahu on the way out. Could end up in jail.

    Trump’s illegal strike. Treat of impeachment. D’Hondt. The loser won. Trump 3,000,000 votes short. A presidential (senate?) election in Nov 2020. The Middle East ablaze will not help.

    Netanyahu, Trump could be gone. No need for the illegal Iranian to take them out. All total corruption.

    The people will decide.

  12. Ken2 says:

    Thatcher illegally gave over the Press to the right wing. Murdoch for support. Illegal surveillance and phone hacking. Breaking the Law.

    Without a free and fair Press there is no democracy. Westminster is supposed to ensure it. There responsibility. They do not. People are not reading it or listening. They are going on the internet for more balance, shared information.

  13. Cubby says:

    House of Commons today.

    Following on from the mini sticking two fingers up to Scotland by Alister (Union Jack) in the H of Commons today we had the big blonde guy giving it the full Winston Churchill to Scotland.

    You have had your democracy Scotland – is the message. We don’t care how you vote – is the message from Westminster.

    We even had the spectacle of the one Labour MP from Scotland Ian Murray (a classic red Tory) siding with the Tories. Better together but not for the Labour in Scotland Party.

    Even the blind can see that there is no democracy in Scotland.

    Even the blind can see that this precious Union only works for England.

    2020 will be the year that defines the future of Scotland but also the future of the SNP.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      “2020 will be the year that defines the future of Scotland but also the future of the SNP.” – Yes to the first, No to the last.
      SNP is not a private company a la BrexitToryMk2PartyPLC, nor a party from another jurisdiction with a minor branch office (Greens excepted), that is what really ticks me off when the usual suspects float competition as a solution when in reality it’s the “Divide and Conquer” game played by Britnats.
      SNP exists solely in Scottish jurisdiction at the behest of the Scottish electorate, it did not belong to Alex Salmond, it does not belong to Nicola Sturgeon or any other elected official, it belongs to members of whom the overwhelming majority are ordinary Scots.
      SNP will continue until it’s job is done and independence is achieved, whomever is fronting it is up to it’s members, who number a damned sight more that the Conservative Blue Rinse Brigade, or the Leotard’s Amalgamated Shoppe Stewards Honorary Onanist Liberation Enterprise…

      • Cubby says:

        Bob the SNP asked for a mandate on numerous occasions. They got it they need to use it. If not not how many mandates do they need to keep asking for.

        The Britnats won’t even say NOW (they used to) what constitutes a mandate for Indyref2. They have learned from the past when they were more confident and stated what a mandate for independence would be never mind an independence referendum. There is the danger that we get stuck in a never ending argument over what constitutes a mandate with the Britnats not moving the goalposts but not even admitting there are any goalposts. Total waste of time.

        The EU referendum was 4 years ago. The people of Scotland need to choose – the EU or the UK. A proper union or remain a colony.

        The SNP need to get on with it now. Now IS the time. 2020 is the year.

      • terence callachan says:

        Well said Bob
        I like it

      • Bob Lamont says:

        Sorry to disagree Cubby, it is not the mandate which is in question, irrespective of that being the Britnat preferred framing, but HOW we get out of this monstrosity on a legally recognised footing internationally.
        Criticism through frustration is completely understandable, we ALL question WHY and WHAT SNP are doing in the absence of dialogue, a danger Paul has been at pains to convey to SNP through his blog, and will undoubtedly have hit it’s intended mark.
        But there is a difference between disquiet and what opponents of Indy are seeking to exploit, push demands for info in hope of winkling out some useful clues of intent, sow discord to discredit SNP and even dismantle/replace it to further delay Independence, rinse/repeat…
        The first formal step was the recent S30 request and setting out justifications, few including HMG are under any illusions that is the end of the matter no matter how they strut for the audience, but our stark choice is stick by whatever strategy SNP are following or risk waiting perhaps another decade. I’d prefer a Scottish passport in my lifetime.

        There is no EU v UK dilemma, they are the subject of two entirely separate referendums for the Scottish electorate, the second of which will be as an independent state.

  14. Petra says:

    Boris Johnston questioned in the Commons, on a number of occasions, about holding Indyref2. Answer:- You had your chance in 2014 and a majority of Scots voted to remain in the Union. Once in a generation and all of that.

    Alan Bowie Tory and Allyn Smith SNP on Politics Live with Andrew Neil (and Kuensberg). They did what they usually do and that is bring on an SNP politician at the end of the show to ensure that they can cut them off when it suits. Alan Bowie comes out with a number of invalid points, including that 55% of Scots didn’t vote for Indyref2 in the General election. What a farce, eh? A Neil doesn’t pick him up on any of it. Alynn Smith starts to cover the points and then cut. The BBC propaganda show is over. Job done for another day. And there they are, a bunch of sneaky wee charlatans sitting together, smirking. Can’t wait to wipe that smirk right off of their faces.

  15. Welsh Sion says:

    Will you permit me to add my take on the use of liquids to indicate the strength of the call for independence, in contradistinction to those from ‘another place’ who are seeking to dilute your democracy in Scotland?

    3. (of 60.

    The two men in the pub

    Once upon a time there were two men sitting around a table in a pub. On the table there was a small tumbler with some golden coloured liquid inside.

    “I say, old chap,” said the first man pointing to the glass, “you seem to have a half empty glass of Scotch there. Let me top you up and dilute it for you with the best unionist water.”

    “Och nae, laddie,” replied the second man. “Ta tae ye, a’ the same. But thon glass is hauf fu’ tae me. An’ Ah dae like my whisky neat. Ah think Ah’ll get masel’ a double!”

    Parables for the New Politics

  16. Gordon Dunbar says:

    Paul, Great article as always. Just one thing to point out and that is Stephen Kerr was the former British Conservative in Scotland MP for Stirling. Luke Graham was the former British Conservative in Scotland MP for OSP.

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