What the independence movement didn’t do much of in 2014 was making the claim that remaining a part of the UK was a danger to Scotland, that it risked our democracy, that it was the road to fascism.Wee Ginger Dug: Scotland isn’t ‘safe’ in this insane right-wing UK
Some of us did. Some of us have for years been warning that the Union is inherently anti-democratic and that the true nature and purpose and effect of the Union needed to be conveyed to the people of Scotland. Some of us have long argued that the question should never have been whether Scotland could survive as an independent nation but whether Scotland could survive as a nation without independence. Some of us have been saying for years that what is needed is not a campaign which behaves as if independence were a nice thing we might have if we could just jump through enough of the hoops set up by the British state, but an essential condition for the survival of Scotland’s democracy and distinctive identity that is being denied us by a malign British ruling elite.
Some of us are determined that the ongoing struggle to restore Scotland’s independence should move away from the obsession with being ‘positive’ that hobbled the 2014 Yes campaign. Some of us are insistent that we recognise that we are in a fight to rescue Scotland from forces which are not just farcically inept but fanatically malevolent. There is a darkness behind the bumbling blonde mop-top facade presented by Boris Johnson within which lurk fearsome monsters; deeply unpleasant ideologies and profoundly disturbing dogmas. Here be monsters!
This is no exaggeration. Were I given to such comparisons I might point out that Adolf Hitler was once regarded as a figure of fun. Having now done just that, I hasten to point out that this is not to suggest that Boris Johnson has latent genocidal tendencies. Only that before your enemies come at you in full armour they approach you in more innocuous garb. Until the mask of artless affability slips you will not see the face of your foe.
If you consider terms such as “enemy” and “foe” to be excessively hyperbolic then take a moment to reflect on the harm being wrought on Scotland by the British state and ask yourself if this is the behaviour of a friend. Or a partner. Or even an ally. The British political elite is embarked on a massive social engineering project designed and implemented by people who see society as a machine which must be controlled. and themselves as the ones best qualified to be in control. The design may seem haphazard and the implementation half-arsed, but the underlying direction of travel is all one way – towards what is euphemistically referred to a ‘managed democracy’. How better to demonstrate the need for a mechanic than to have the the car break-down. How better to convince people of the need for ‘extraordinary measures’ that to to create the kind of chaos which defies ‘normal politics’.
Here in Scotland we don’t have to wait to see what British managed democracy looks and feel like. We have lived with managed democracy as long as we have any form of democracy. We have lived with it so long that many people are only now coming to realise that our democracy is being managed. The Union ensures that whatever democracy we may have it will always be subject to the approval of England-as-Britain. We can always be outvoted. And failing that our democratic choices can be refused regardless.
We have seen this managed democracy starkly illustrated throughout the Brexit process. Properly democratic countries freely negotiate the terms on which they associate with other nations. Scotland has been denied this. It is the Union which affords a varnish of legitimacy to this denial.
We see the unmistakable imprint of managed democracy in the Section 30 process. A legislative device which allows the British political elite an effective veto on and controlling role in the exercise of the right of self-determination which in a true democracy is the exclusive preserve of the people.
Devolution is supposed to be a testament to British democracy. In fact, it testifies only to a a slight easing of the choke-chain but with jealous Britannia ever poised to yank it tight at any moment. Our democracy is by definition being managed if powers are being withheld from our Parliament. If your democratic rights are constrained in any way then you are not enjoying democracy you are enduring a form of low-level tyranny
The purpose of the Union was from its inception and remains to this day to make Scotland manageable. To rein us in. To put a choke chain around the nation’s neck. Lately, Scotland has started to growl. The British can only respond by tightening that choke-chain. The gradualist approach to resolving the constitutional anomaly of the Union has been effective inasmuch as it has allowed us to develop the capacity to growl. But this approach can only work to win us room to manoeuvre. Britannia’s grip on the on the other end of that choke- chain is not going to loosen because we pull at it. It will have to be wrenched from her hand. It will have to be wrested from her grasp. If we do not do this now then the leash that binds Scotland to the British state will be more securely fastened. Escape may be impossible.
Some of us see the monsters. Some of us see the Union for the threat that it is. It’s time more people did.
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