It is becoming clearer by the day why Alister “Union” Jack was chosen to replace David “Fluffy” Mundell. The latter is a functionary. Dull, plodding, unimaginative, but mindlessly loyal and unthinkingly obedient. He could be relied upon to do his masters’ bidding dutifully and with mechanical efficiency. The ideal person to manage the setting-up of the new apparatus of the British state in Scotland. But not the man to operate it.
Some people design and build racing cars. Others drive them. The same applies to bulldozers. And to the machinery of state oppression. Not the state oppression of old. Not the crude, strong-arm oppression of medieval times. Nor the overwhelming, ‘might and main’ oppression of European imperialism. Nor even the relentlessly menacing oppression of the 20th century totalitarian state. Modern state oppression is more subtle. More efficient. More insidious.
Some will object to the use of the term ‘state oppression’ in this context. But think it through. Oppression is subjugation by means of superior power. Who can sensibly deny that the original purpose of the Union was subjugation of Scotland by the superior power of England. Those who seek to preserve this subjugating Union will insist that it has changed over time. They claim that it is a “partnership of equals”; a voluntary collaborative enterprise for mutual benefit. But is that what we see when we look at the way the Union functions?
Is there anything that has happened in the last decade that looks at all like a “partnership of equals” in operation? Is there anything about current relations between Scotland and England that seems “voluntary” or “collaborative”? From the appalling Project Fear to the impertinence of EVEL; the contemptuous disregard for Scotland’s Remain vote; the exclusion of the Scottish Government from Brexit negotiations; the seizure of repatriated EU powers; the denial of Scotland’s right of self-determination; to the competitive Jock-bashing of the Tory leadership campaign and the emergence of an unelected shadow administration accountable, not to the people of Scotland, but to a British executive wielding powers akin to those of an absolute monarch, nothing in any of this speaks of anything other than the subjugation of Scotland by the successors of those who imposed the Union on us more than three centuries ago.
What distinguishes Unionists is that they are in denial about this subjugation. What distinguishes British Nationalists is that they believe this subjugation be the ‘natural order’. What distinguishes campaigners for the restoration of Scotland’s independence is that we refuse to accept this subjugation, considering it a gross insult to the people of Scotland and an affront to democracy.
As awareness of the true nature of the Union has grown, the British establishment has been obliged to respond. That response has been much as we would expect of an oppressor. It follows the perverse logic that if oppression is failing then the solution must be more oppression.
We are not, of course, talking about overt oppression of the kind that relies on batons, CS gas and prison cells. The British state has had centuries to perfect methods of oppression which are, as has been noted, more subtle and insidious; not to mention more cost-effective. The tools of the 21st century oppressor are media and money. Adroitly deployed, these can be every bit as effective as more brutal forms of oppression – and a lot less messy. Modern oppressors don’t occupy the land with military garrisons. They occupy minds with propaganda. They don’t control the populace by means of physical force. They control the people by means of economic pressure.
David Mundell has served his masters well. Doubtless, he will be rewarded as loyal servants of the British ruling elite usually are, with some sinecure or title. For the moment, however, he has been unceremoniously cast aside in favour of someone considered better qualified to actually run the shadow administration that Mundell has been instrumental in establishing. Someone with a rather different skill set.
Alister Jack is the enforcer. Now that the infrastructure has been put in place, the British state needs someone to make sure it works effectively. This requires a certain ruthlessness. Not the violent mercilessness of the vicious despot. But the cold pitilessness of the business executive. Someone who will move the pieces around the board with the same focus on the bottom line whether they are people or plant. Someone who will be quite unmoved by arguments from principle if these get in the way of the deal.
A faithful old retainer such as Mundell has his uses. But the ‘One Nation’ project requires someone who can act on their own initiative. Someone who can manoeuvre and manipulate on the fly. Someone who can spot opportunities and jump on them without waiting for instructions from head office.
The UK Government in Scotland is, unquestionably, the most important part of the British Nationalist ‘One Nation’ project. It is crucial that the British establishment get the right person to run it. Alister “Union” Jack’s educational, business and political background is such as would, in an earlier time, have fitted him well to the role of colonial governor. It’s not difficult to see why he was considered the perfect candidate to take on the task of dismantling Scotland’s democratic institutions and readying the country for exploitation on a massive scale.
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