The redcoats are coming! They’re wearing grey suits!

Sometimes, things happen and you think to yourself how obvious it was that this would happen. There was never any doubt that the British establishment would respond to the Referendums Bill. The ‘review’ of devolution ordered by Theresa May is just the kind of response we might have expected and is, without doubt, partly prompted by what is regarded in London as a rather impertinent piece of legislation.

This is dominance behaviour. It is political scent-marking. It is a blunt and imperious message from the British state reminding us that they own devolution. They own the Scottish Parliament. They own Scotland. Devolution and all that has flowed from it – largely unanticipated by its architects – was a gift to her northern subjects from beneficent Britannia. And what is given can be taken away.

Scotland is being told to behave. Or else!

Look at who May has appointed to conduct this ‘review’! Andrew Dunlop! Who, unless I am very much mistaken is the individual who, together with Alistair Darling, cooked up all the inane scaremongering about currency in the final stages of the 2014 referendum campaign. If the appointment of a British lord isn’t a contemptuously calculated slap in the face to Scotland, then the choice of this particular example of that species surely is.

I say this ‘review’ of devolution is only partly a characteriscally high-handed and overbearing response to the Referendums Bil because this, or something similar, was inevitable anyway. As the British state prepares to exploit the constitutional implications of Brexit in order to restore and reinforce its grip on Scotland, there had to be an initiating act. It was never likely that the British political elite would simply close down the Scottish Parliament and declare the devolution experiment a failure. Although, as recent history teaches us, it would be unwise to discount anything as being beyond their capacity for arrogant idiocy, the British pride themselves on being devious and, from their own rather biased perspective at least, subtle.

A ‘review’ is as good a way as any to start the process of dismantling devolution. It is something that can later be referred to as if it justified the process. It helps to make suspending or closing the Scottish Parliament look like the outcome of a process that is rational and dispassionate. Or, at least, that is how it will be spun by the media arm of the British establishment.

Please don’t say you weren’t warned. Some of us have been warning about this since before the 2014 referendum. We recognised that the fate of Scotland’s Parliament was sealed in 2007 when, despite all the precautions to ensure that it would never happen, the British parties lost control of Holyrood. When, in 2011, the Scottish electorate broke the system that was supposed to keep the Scottish Parliament on a tight British leash, its fate was confirmed beyond any hope of reprieve.

The No vote in the 2014 referendum gave British politicians licence to do as they pleased with Scotland. The Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum created a need to redefine the constitutional status of UK; and an opportunity to unilaterally redefine Scotland’s status within the UK. The nature of the Union ensures that neither the people of Scotland nor their elected representatives need be consulted.

Some may insist that saying the British state’s moves against the Scottish Parliament were foreseeable is just a case of being clever with hindsight. They will point to particulars that were were not predicted – such as ‘Dunlop’s review’ – and claim that this ‘proves’ the actions of the British state are such that nobody could have foreseen. But, quite apart from the fact that articles written as long ago as 2012 warning of the British state’s intentions, are still available online, any appreciation of the imperatives driving the British political elite and the options available made it obvious what was coming.

I say all this, not by way of a big “Ah telt ye!” – although I do reserve gloating rights – but in the hope that, realising we were right before, people may heed the warnings being issued now. It is to be hoped that people will at least attend to the voices saying how urgent it is that Scotland get out of the Union and warning of the consequences of failure to do so.

There may well be another purpose to the ‘Dunlop review’ of devolution. We are assured that “the review will look at areas within the UK Government set-up and not at devolved areas”. That, surprisingly, may actually be almost entirely true. It is difficult to see how any meaningful ‘review’ of devolution might exclude devolved areas. But the project makes perfect sense if the purpose of the ‘review’ is actually to gauge the preparedness of the ‘UK Government in Scotland’ to take over the powers and functions of the Scottish Parliament. It is unlikely that such a ‘review’ could be conducted in secrecy. So the sensible course of action is to announce it, but disguise its purpose.

And, of course, announcing the ‘Dunlop review’ means that it also serves the ‘scent-marking’ purpose referred to at the start of this article.

Be warned! The British government is gearing up to bypass and then eliminate the Scottish Parliament. It is preparing for an ‘end game’ in which Scotland’s distinctive political culture is eradicated. This is the ultimate playing-out of the Greater England project which aimed to obliterate Scotland’s national identity. All of this will come to pass because the imperatives of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism demand that it must be so.

Be warned! Unless the Scottish Government, the Scottish National Party and the Yes movement act promptly and in solidarity to prevent it, the juggernaut of British Nationalism will roll over our land and crush Scotland’s democracy.

Be warned! The consequences of acting and failing are now no different from the consequences of failing to act. And those consequences are catastrophic for Scotland. We must act now! We must #DissolveTheUnion!

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14 thoughts on “The redcoats are coming! They’re wearing grey suits!

  1. Great piece Peter, and absolutely spot, this racist xenophobic British nationalism juggernaut, will roll over the top of any democratic process we care to put in the way, it will do anything to hold onto its northern subsidy cash cow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed. There are many more I’m sure who could say exactly the same: telt ye! But like you say, this is no time for gloating.

    I fear that the more these hunts do what they intend, and as the level of collective fury rises, the greater will be the chance of some kind of “violence” or other conduct they deem beyond the democratic pale, thereby giving them the pretext to send in actual redcoats. The whole purpose of the Westminster parliament and everything it does is to preserve and legitimate the power of the British establishment, to justify its sense of entitlement. Its passive/aggressive attitude and disingenuous commitment to democracy are cynical tactics designed only to provoke reaction.

    The anchor on your timeline to the moment when non Unionist opinion came to dominate the Scottish parliament is apposite, for this was when the British establishment lost control. It was also when real democracy was able to express itself. They didn’t like losing control and they were particularly incandescent with the course the SNP government steered – towards inclusivity and greater democratic engagement.

    They like to play with the idea of democracy, but they have no commitment to it. None whatever. I’m sure that I am not the only one who sees this. Nor probably am I alone in wondering why we still have to play nice. Why should we pursue our aims according to the rules of the game, when the rules are designed so we will never win? This is not a rhetorical question.

    Again, exactly what these hunts would like. Even a peace loving, testosterone suppressed, relatively comfortably off, mindfulness infused, terminally ill old hippy like me is bordering on being provoked. There are hundreds of thousands much more angry than I am out there. The establishment knows this and is undoubtedly poised to respond with extreme measures as soon as somebody makes a “wrong” move. The redcoats are indeed coming.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You make a good point when you say that the British establishment is “particularly incandescent with the course the SNP government steered”. We should not lose sight of the fact that British Nationalism isn’t only about locking Scotland into the Union on the British state’s terms. Nor is it only about securing Scotland’s resources and maintaining control of territory which is both symbolically and geopolitically important. It is also about eradication a distinctive political culture which gives the lie to the British political elite’s assertion that ‘there is no other way’ but the way that they choose. The way that serves the few at whatever cost to the many.

      The British stand to lose much more than just a source of revenue and an economic asset when the Union is dissolved. It stands to lose face and credibility and influence and much else that is not necessarily amenable to being calculated or expressed in monetary terms. But, even if the end of the Union were not a looming threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state, the ruling elites would still see Scotland as a threat due to risk of our distinctive political culture inciting and encouraging and arming the forces of progressive politics in England.

      No-one should imagine that abandoning the independence project would get the British off our backs. They will not be content until Scotland succumbs totally to their ‘One Nation’ ambition.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Losing face will be inevitable. Their dream of sailing off into the seventeenth century on the good ship Empire, having removed themselves from Europe and if necessary jettisoned the bumptious Jocks, is obvious bollocks. So when this doesn’t happen, they will be caught with their breeks down.

        English/British domestic policy has always been based on securing the northern borders against creeping sedition or catholicism. Thank you for the timely reminder that our difference is enough in itself to rattle their cages, that any aspiration towards Scottish autonomy is in itself a threat to British nationalism.

        I banged on about this a lot here:

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I meant to ask: do you know the work of George Davie on Scotland’s distinctive educational tradition and its conflict with British Empiricism? His books The Democratic Intellect and The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect are about 19th and 20th centuries respectively.


          1. I know exactly how you feel. I measure my reading list in height of the stack and try not to think about the time involved in reducing its size. But if you do find the time, give the Crisis a skim. I think it’ll be right up your street.


  3. that “the review will look at areas within the UK Government set-up and not at devolved areas”.
    We must remember that some devolved areas have be taken, “temporarily”, into WM hands


  4. Peter

    Scottish Exceptionalism – the belief that it alone is immune from the brutality of what Westminster did to the rest of its empire – is just as sad and delusional as English Exceptionalism. Its like Scotland was infected by the virus but only managed a manky strain of self delusion.

    THANK YOU for again sounding the alarm…I am sure you must feel like you are tilting at windmills.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t feel that any more. For a long time I did feel like I was tilting at windmills. Four or five years ago I felt like a lone voice. I wasn’t, of course. But there were few enough people sounding the alarm that I’m sure each of us felt the same sense of isolation.

      Not any more! Over the past year it has been like a mass awakening. It’s as if everybody had been so in thrall to the noble ideals of the 2014 Yes campaign that they couldn’t think about the dark side of things at all. Now, it is part of our everyday political discourse. It used to be that people only wanted to talk about how wonderful things would be with independence. Now, they talk about the hellish consequences pf remaining in the Union.

      This may not be pleasant. But it is realistic. And essential if we are to campaign effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

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