The British state and the British nationalism which drives it pride themselves on their exceptionalism, and indeed they are exceptional in a number of significant ways. As has been frequently pointed out by those of us of a pro-independence persuasion, British nationalism is exceptional in its insistence that it’s better than other forms of nationalism by virtue of not being nationalist at all. However British nationalists are also exceptional in their single minded pursuit of victimhood status.
We saw this most recently when it came to light that companies based in England which manufacture vital personal protection equipment were carrying notices on their online store checkouts informing buyers that PPE was only available for care homes in England. When this was pointed out, the fingers of accusation were immediately pointed at vile Scottish nationalists for making this a Scotland vs England thing. It’s demeaning, we were harrumphed at by British nationalists for whom self-righteousness is the air that they breathe, for “nationalists” to make this about England. Clearly they hadn’t noticed, or more correctly preferred not to notice, that what was making this about England were all those notices on the websites of companies selling life saving equipment that their goods could only be sold to England.
According to British nationalists the real issue here is not that companies in England were refusing to sell vital life saving equipment to care homes in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. No. The real issue here is that supporters of independence were pointing it out and daring to make a fuss about it. That’s the real crime. That’s what was, to use the words of a certain British nationalist columnist who never misses the opportunity to spin any situation into a blow for the SNP, demeaning.
It wasn’t demeaning that this situation had arisen in the first place. It wasn’t demeaning that care workers outwith England were in real fear that they were not going to be able to source the equipment that might save their lives. It wasn’t demeaning that we’re constantly told that we’re all in this together but it’s blatantly obvious that some of us are in it far worse than others. It wasn’t demeaning that the UK claims that it’s a family of nations but some of those nations were being put to the end of the queue. What was demeaning was that people in Scotland had the sheer uppity audacity to get angry about it. How dare you, you jockanese nationalists. You’re anti-English bigots for demanding equality within the UK.
At the same time, we have been gaslighted by a succession of British nationalist politicians and their apologists who insisted – and are still insisting – that no such thing was happening at all, despite the fact that the manufacturers of PPE were very clearly stating that they would not sell their wares to Scotland or Wales because of instructions that they had received from Public Health England. Indeed, the first question that some British journalists sought to ask in response to this revelation was whether there were Scottish PPE companies who were refusing to sell to England.
Despite clear evidence in the form of company web pages which plainly stated in simple English that the equipment for sale would not be sold to Scotland or Wales, British nationalists continued, and still continue, to insist that it was all a product of a febrile conspiracy theorist imagination on the part of vile cybernats. Because those signs that say that sales are only for England didn’t really mean that sales were only for England. Oh dear, we’re so terribly sorry for not possessing the ability to understand that the real meaning of a sentence is the exact opposite of what it actually says. Obviously that’s a skill that you only acquire when you have a Better Together avatar on your social media account.
And British nationalists continue to insist that the real villains here are those of us who demanded that this situation be dealt with and resolved. Because it’s perfectly OK for a company in England to state that following instructions from Public Health England it’s not allowed to sell its equipment to Scotland or Wales, the real sin here is when Celtic types make a fuss about it by pointing out that in this so-called union some parts are far more powerful and influential than others.
No one who is taken seriously really believes that this situation arose from a deliberate attempt by the Conservatives to punish Scotland or Wales, or to deprive Scottish and Welsh care workers of urgently needed equipment. There was obviously a major failure in communication and co-ordination, because someone at Public Health England told those different companies that they needed to restrict their sales of PPE to England only. It’s not the fault of the companies. It is implausible that four separate companies would make the same mistake independently of one another. If it had been just one company which made the announcement on their website, then we could assume that that company had misunderstood instructions. But the notice appeared on the websites of at least four companies, which can only point to incorrect or misleading information being given to those companies from a UK government agency. And what that means is that AT BEST what happened was that a British government agency, during a time of extreme crisis, failed to take into account the requirements of services and service users outside of England. It speaks of an ingrained Anglo-centric attitude at the very heart of the British state.
It is frankly insulting for those of us who got angry about this situation, and who ensured that it received maximum publicity in order that it was resolved quickly to be lectured at by those who would far rather keep schtum instead of risking doing anything that might let the public know that the British state wasn’t necessarily operating in the best interests of Scotland.
What’s most demeaning of all is to be lectured at by self-righteous British nationalists who refuse for selfish ideological reasons to accept that their precious so-called union can ever not operate to Scotland’s advantage. They’d be far happier if no one had ever clamoured for attention about the situation regarding the apparent prohibition of sales of PPE to care homes in Scotland and Wales, because then they could continue to believe that their preciousssssss was perfect. And if that meant that care workers continued to be at risk because it took longer for the situation to be resolved, so be it.
Those self same British nationalists propose to do the square root of feck all about anything that illustrates how the UK does not operate to Scotland’s advantage, because what’s far, far, more important to them is that absolutely nothing can be said or done that might show their beloved UK in a bad light and cause some people in Scotland to support independence. It’s union at all costs, even if that puts lives at risk. That’s what’s really demeaning here. British nationalists demean themselves, and threaten the rest of us with their supine and submissive inferiority complex.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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