Five years ago mine was one of very few voices warning of the British Nationalist threat to Scotland’s democratic institutions. It seemed obvious to me that, not only did the ‘One Nation’ project require the emasculation or closure of the Scottish Parliament, but that the political culture growing in England could not tolerate the continuing existence of a contrasting and competing political culture in Scotland. An effort to eradicate Scotland’s distinctive political culture would be inevitable. Such distinctiveness is anathema to British Nationalist ideology and contrary to the interests of the forces which have put Boris Johnson in power.
I mention this not by way of saying “Ah telt ye!” – although I reserve the right to do so – but by way of highlighting how significant it is that my warnings are now being vindicated by politicians as senior as Mike Russell.
I just responded to a Tweet from a businesswoman saying that, only a week or two ago, she would have considered my anxieties misplaced and my calls to action “extremist”. Her views have changed. People are waking up to the true nature of what I refer to as the British state, or England-as-Britain. By which I mean those forces which have co-opted Boris Johnson to serve their interests. The very forces which, by means of the Union, have foisted Johnson on Scotland in the same way as they have imposed on an unwilling nation Brexit and austerity and much besides.
Please do not imagine that those forces will be discouraged by this growing awareness of their purposes and intentions for Scotland and the rest of what they regard as the periphery of their domain. Do not imagine they will be in any way deterred by Mike Russell’s warning. Just as these forces see democracy and the law as things to be flouted or circumvented, so they see democratic dissent as something to be suppressed. From the British Nationalist perspective, the most effective way to suppress the wave of democratic dissent rising in Scotland is to eliminate the Parliament which gives a voice to that dissent. It is the obvious thing to do if your purpose and intent is the eradication of Scotland’s distinctive political culture, along with all those aspects of Scotland’s national identity which are not considered exploitable.
Gratifying as it is to see our political leaders recognising the real and imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy, this is worthless unless it is backed up with action. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell have now acknowledged the reality of this threat. Many other politicians and commentators will surely follow. We need to know that they are prepared to effectively address this threat. We need to know that they are ready to do whatever is required to counter the threat. And we need to back them to the hilt as they confront the might of the British state.
Scotland’s Unionists are faced with a choice. It is important that those of us who long since realised the true nature of the Union should be mindful of how difficult this choice is going to be for many who have maintained a lifelong loyalty to the Union. But choose they must. Scotland is in jeopardy of a kind that it has faced only rarely in it’s long history. Jeopardy such as might sensibly be regarded as unprecedented. Sometimes, you just have to pick a side. Sometimes the choices are just so stark that there can be no compromise; no middle way.
The choice now confronting everybody who calls Scotland their country is between the Scotland we know, the Scotland we aspire to, the Scotland we hope to bequeath to future generations; and a Scotland pressed into serving those forces which put Boris Johnson in power.
What side are you on?
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15 thoughts on “Choosing sides”
“…It seemed obvious to me that, not only did the ‘One Nation’ project require the emasculation or closure of the Scottish Parliament, but that the political culture growing in England could not tolerate the continuing existence of a contrasting and competing political culture in Scotland…”
I have told the same story, Mr Bell, since 2014, and even before, and I am not trying to usurp your ‘Ah telt ye’, but we did tell them. What angers me is that the advisers around Nicola Sturgeon did not tell her and her Cabinet. I am so fed up of this attitude from the old black and white matinees of westerns: ‘wait, I have a better plan’, only for the baddie to free himself and take himself off to cause havoc another day. When you have someone down, make sure they stay down.
There never was any other way to achieve the One Nation State but to destroy the existing one, and, in order to destroy the existing one, you have to cut away all its struts and supports. From long experience of studying the elite’s English Nationalist project, they will try the ‘starve to death’ method first, the ‘death of a thousand cuts’ where the end is a slow, tortuous process of agony, bolstering this with, I think, penetration of Holyrood itself by encouraging Johnson supporters to the fore (one of the reasons for the departure of Ruth Davidson with whom Johnson could not have worked), and the grass roots will be ecstatic at this move, effectively eviscerating the Scottish parliament from both within and without. If that doesn’t work, or not quickly enough, they will find a way to shut it down. They will also need to silence Scots Law as has become obvious now.
The result of 2014 should have sounded the warning knell. Too many people with too much self-interest and/or colonial aspirations, swelling the ranks of the assorted Scottish Unionists, not sures and hard-line British Nationalists deprived us of our independence. The EU residents were conned, but they had little experience of the lying brutality of the British political machine, and believed the nonsense they were told about being repatriated in the event of Scottish independence. It was a vile and disgusting campaign from Better Together. Next time, if there is one, it will be considerably worse, and they won’t bother with the niceties of letting the Scots lead it. There is nothing to be gained from being coy about the threat to our future that we face from the self-appointed guardians of the Union in our midst. They need to be called out, challenged about their NO vote and their Leave vote (many voted both). Some may come aboard now. I hope so, and I hope that those who refuse to do so think long and hard about the potential consequences of that decision because they certainly didn’t think long and hard about it last time.
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Extracted from my final warning posted on August 13, 2014 on http://weourselves.com/independence-or-union/
“And now Boris Johnson… next occupant of No10… speaks for a large section of the ruling elite who have till now hidden the full degree of their antipathy toward the ungrateful, whinging jocks.
So what will we lose here if there is a NO vote and Scots choose dependency?
Top of the list of immediate outcomes are further Westminster-actioned cuts…
There will be we already know, at a minimum, a re-jigging of the Barnett formula leading to a substantial reduction in the block grant…
The Scottish NHS will be eviscerated due to the effect of privatisation of the English NHS and its draining effect on Barnett consequentials.
…And how long can it be after Scots voluntarily give up their right to self determination, before Barnett is scrapped altogether?
…The Unionist parties will argue a no vote gives them a mandate to implement the following:
The repatriation of key devolved competencies ( back to Westminster) to neuter Nationalist power (curtailing “SNP mischief-making”) to put an end to the Scottish Question once and for all.
Holyrood A vote NO will mean the effective end of the Scottish Parliament stripped of power and its diminution to a wee pretendy parliament (thus proving Billy Connolly right after all).
Scottish representation in the Westminster Parliament will be reduced…
…there will be concerted and coordinated efforts to dissolve the instruments and protocols of Scotland’s status as a country within the UK (AKA England), and to recast it in the public’s mind as just other northern region of Britain.
That outcome follows necessarily since our English Government has given this learned opinion the imprimatur of THE official reference to be consulted when dealing with matters Scottish.
…if we remain part of England, and ever again become uppity, Westminster may retaliate with a policy of managed decline of this northern region’s economy
A NO vote risks an inevitable and inexorable descent of our culture into obscurity and obsolescence.
Our legal system, unique education system, and our NHS, of necessity dismissed and rejected by the statists as incongruous anachronisms, predicated on the once-held delusion of our uniqueness as a people and a country.
The unacceptable risk is that the country we love will be permanently subsumed as a neglected and reviled low-opportunity Celtic backwater of a Greater England. “
“…The unacceptable risk is that the country we love will be permanently subsumed as a neglected and reviled low-opportunity Celtic backwater of a Greater England…”
I agree with much of what you have said, CW, except this – at least, not the ‘neglected and reviled’ bit. If we vote NO again or if we never achieve independence in any other way, the Scottish elements of Scotland will inevitably die. Who really thinks of ancient parts of England as Celtic or Roman or Anglo Saxon, now except as history? Who talks about the Pictish heartlands in Scotland any more as part of a living culture? Who will remember the Highlands and its Clan system in years hence? It won’t hurt – eventually, just as the complete process of Manifest Destiny will not hurt the peoples of the First Nations – eventually. The overriding culture will be English/American. It will be sad, but, after a number of generations, it won’t hurt any more until one day, young people won’t remember at all that they were ever Scottish or what being Scottish meant other than a few quaint customs half-gleaned from history books. That will be our fate.
Most peoples fought for their survival and the survival of their culture and customs, even if they lost eventually, and I believe we will fight for ours, eventually, but it may just be too late, then. The searing truth about the demographics of that NO vote, the vote that has welded us into this Union and ensured that our voice was not heard on Brexit or on other matters either, come to that, is that it was an ethnic vote, and the complete absence of comprehension of what it was telling us then because we were so afraid of being branded offensive or racist ensured that we would come to the point where it would be a fight for survival. The Scots-born Scots won that referendum by around the same margin that it was won overall by NO, soundly beating the Scots-born NO voters. The EU residents’ NO vote could not have brought it over 50%. It was down to one demographic to do that, and that was the rUK voters.
I am not blaming them. It is the way of things. I have explained many times that I am not a blood-and-soil nationalist, but I am someone who never votes without trying to work out the consequences. They do not see themselves as colonists, and many certainly are not, but have ‘gone native’ as they used to say of the nabobs in India who sided with the Indians before independence. Nevertheless, many of them are unthinking enablers of English Nationalism in Scotland. I hope we can turn enough of them to win a second indyref or, if not, win our independence by a different route. Otherwise, I fear we will become a footnote in history, like many, many other peoples and cultures before us, and that would be sad.
Things are becoming so dire, the time so short, my trust in Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP leadership cadre so tenuous, that I am inclined to give the Angus MacNeil GE-majority-conferring-independence gambit, a second look GIVEN THE SPECIFIC circumstances likely to prevail in the forthcoming GE.
It’s straw-clutching time.
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I would like to commend you, Peter, for your mention of The Precautionary Principle in your article in the latest iScot magazine (worth a subscription, BTW, if I may say so as just another ordinary subscriber). True, as yet we still don’t quite know what flavour of Brexit will be foisted on us regardless, or quite when, until the dust and disturbed cobwebs settles on the ongoing shenanigans in London, but we already know enough to realise that it will be A Very Bad Thing whatever. “Deal” or “no-deal”, mere different degrees of Bad. All those unfettered medieval “Henry VIII” powers lurking in the pipeline, ready to fall into the hands of outright English supremacists.
So somebody somewhere had better have a plan of action that is road-ready for the off. If events down south move at the speed they are now doing, we will have mere days not months. If we dither and delay until this time next year, we will have lost, and have the luxury of decades thereafter to bemoan it.
Here is the scenario if we allow what is happening to continue.
The UK is crashing out of the EU on Halloween. The pound will crash like never before. Westminster will see actual physical violence between the government and the opposition.
The streets of London and many large English cities will be curfewed. There will be a ticketing system for some supermarket goods . Foreign holidays will be cancelled and most will not be able to afford them.
In Scotland there will be unionists attacking yes voters. Like 2014 except more sporadic and threatening. The Scottish parliament will be circumvented. Our Msps will sit but have no power. All funding to Scotland will be decided by Tory Mps.
Basically Holyrood will be castrated. Our legal system will be merged into the Supreme Court and English legal system.
War will break out in Northern Eire. The UK will effectively be a banana republic, without the republic part.
And still we await action from Nicola?
i keep saying this, but we do need a new pro Independence political Party in Scotland.
I, like many others, are getting increasingly fed up with SNP politicians girning yet again, about something that comes from London.
What use hat without doing something about it?
If SNP delays, and delays, even more, they will be no better than Labour in Scotland, and will go the very same as them.
If SNP thinks these continual statements of outrage will keep us happy, they think wrong.
Explain to me how you propose to form this new party and get it into government in the next fortnight.
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Obviously I don’t see such a new group get into Govt as soon as that, but I think we need something more than what we have.
SNP are in charge of things for the timebeing, and we have to accept that fact.
But at same time, we see a total lack of vision for anything just now.
And as we see, and comment upon, the Brexit situation, and the present UK Govt approach is causing chaos, and threatening our country.
Something has to be done about it.
Another pro Independence Party might help us along.
But the reality is, and I understand this, if we have to rely on some new political grouping, other than SNP, it could well be too late to stop great damage happening, as then, SNP might well have failed us.
I don’t want SNP to fail us.Scotland does rely on them just now.
New groups will come with Independence anyhow. But if are not free of London rule before long, then we might just need a new group that takes us there, if SNP keeps along its present track.
…”British state, or England-as-Britain”…
I know it’s wordy…but this is still the most revealing term for those who wield Westminster power.
“Gratifying as it is to see our political leaders recognising the real and imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy, this is worthless unless it is backed up with action. ”
Nicola wrote in the National, “… we will have our say.” But we will not act? If we don’t act the English government of the UK will make sure that we can’t have our say. They have clearly declared their intention to prevent the Scottish Parliament acting after Brexit. So, I find myself baffled by the refusal of the SNP to ask the Parliament to act to resile the Treaty of Union and revoke the Act of Union. It looks as if the SNP is intentionally losing Scotland its independence. Why?
I feel the same, steelwires. The SNP seems to be hell-bent on demanding another S30 Order which is neither necessary nor advisable, since we won’t get it. The only explanation I can come up with is that the SNP will hold on as long as possible in the hope that enough people would be prepared to vote YES, which is fine and dandy except that the UKG will prevaricate until after Brexit when the real push into the One Nation State will begin in earnest. I listened to the interview with Piers Morgan and I have to say that Nicola Sturgeon came across as weak. Trying to prevent Brexit for the people of England was always going to be a non-starter, albeit a NO Deal had to be opposed. I hate to admit it, but Piers Morgan had Ms Sturgeon on the ropes on that point. Overturning the referendum would be a disaster for all of us. I did not want Brexit either, but we are being really glib here about the potential for real conflict if we go on like this. I know that, basically, the English government has removed our voice box as far as Brexit is concerned, but the answer to that lies in our own hands: get out of the UK. There never was any other answer except that one since 2016 – no other at all – and we must do it in a way that leaves no question of our international recognition, our sovereignty and our legitimacy as a nation retaking its past, its present and its future. In time, I think that Scotland and England will become allies and friends, but only as separate and independent nations, much as the case is between the Scandi countries.
We need a change of strategy, not a new party or a new leader.
Nicola needs to realise that playing by the rules and being squeaky clean, means that Westminster always wins. Our MP’s sitting in Westminster are in effect part of the British machine. They are enslaved by it’s procedures and limitations.
The change has to come by us recognising that England’s war with Europe is not Scotland’s . We do not go over the top with the Brits. Instead we desert the army and refuse to serve it. Our MP’s then declare Holyrood and Scotland as their sovereign parliament and country.
Nicola needs to stop playing the UK game.
See my most recent article. It seems we are of one mind.
I love the spirit of Peter’s articles.
I thought we’d have what I called a ‘fascist winter’ in the aftermath of 2014. It’s taken a little longer to materialise but it’s on the way.
And Peter is correct, the time to act is now. We need to call it out. I can understand those that have a residual loyalty to the union. It’s arguable that in the days of empire Scotland had an enhanced status among nations. But it needs to be stated, those days are long gone. Scotland is neither enhanced nor protected by the union. Canada & Australia, NZ & Ireland, little Malta & Cyprus have all moved on from London rule.
Our particular culture, history, politics, law, education, language, our sports teams, our diet, our climate, it is minor, marginal & often major differences here and in many other ways that accumulate to a wider distinction, an identifiable unique nation. A welcome addition, a wise, compassionate, distinctive voice among the family of nations. The unionist agenda is now to assault this unique combination of attributes with derision, disregard, integration, death by a thousand cuts, until the very idea of Scotland can be consigned to a footnote in history. That’s the future which any further adherence to the union holds for our ancient & noble land. If you truly value Scotland & not just your comfortable bank balance, now is the day & now is the hour to act.
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