By the pricking of my thumbs,Macbeth Act 4, scene 1
Something wicked this way comes.
Do you feel it? Do you not sense that something significant has just happened? Something has changed. Something ominous. It is not something new. More of a qualitative shift in an ongoing process. Just as a passenger in a car may feel even quite subtle acceleration or braking or changes of direction, so it is often possible to sense analogous alterations in the flow of events we call current affairs – until we call it history. A ferryman long accustomed to the tides and currents and eddies and shallows of the waters he navigates may become aware of a subtle anomaly amidst the roiling mass when all others see only the river as it always is. So, on occasion, we may discern a change that while seemingly minor, might well presage a major upheaval.
I sensed just such a change recently when Jackson Carlaw was so ignominious deposed as leader of the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS). It is all to easy to view such goings-on among British politicians as the random twitchings and squirmings of pond-life viewed through a microscope. Encouraged by the media, the general public may focus on the relative trivialities of personalities and what they do and what they say to the exclusion of the connections to the bigger picture which make the petty portentous.
We have long known that the British state has plans for Scotland. Or perhaps we had better say intentions. The term ‘plan’ suggest a set of moves plotted in advance for the purpose of bringing about a specific outcome. Such plots and conspiracies exist almost entirely in fiction alone. In the real world the affairs of humankind are messy. Writers tell their stories from the perspective of one who starts from the outcome and works backwards in meandering fashion selecting only the things that relate most directly to that outcome until the chosen starting point is reached. Discard the other stuff, straighten the zigs and zags of that meandering path then when run forward you have the neat plot of a tale that can be told in less than a lifetime.. Reality does not have a plot. It does not proceed according to any plan. For all the great schemes that men or mice may pretend to, our story would unfold in chaotic fashion but for the imperatives and capacities of the players.
There is no plan. There are only more or less evident trends arising out of the chaos as certain imperatives coincide with concentrations of power.
It is evident that the concentration of power referred to as the British state has coincided with an imperative to quell the democratic dissent arisen in Scotland on account of the anti-democratic iniquities stemming from a grossly asymmetric political union. Details of neither end nor means need concern us greatly. All that matters is that the British state is being driven by an imperative to restore something closer to the power relationship between Scotland and England-as-Britain created by the Union than was permitted to develop by a devolution experiment which, from the perspective of the British establishment, has gone badly awry.
Whether this restoration of what the British regard as the natural order is achieved by, for example, closing down the Scottish Parliament completely or simply by transferring all significant powers to the UK Government in Scotland depends on opportunity. As do the methods by which either of these ends might be realised. It will always be possible to go to a granular view and find things that in isolation can be presented as piffling and not worthy of fuss. But undo the abstraction and reconnect the seemingly insignificant with the overarching imperative and the capacities which serve it to gain a better sense of what is happening.
The ousting of Jackson Carlaw together with the almost simultaneous elevation of Douglas Ross and Ruth Davidson as well as surrounding and subsequent antics is one of those things our hypothetical writer would surely regard as a major plot development. For a start, the whole thing is so obviously premeditated. It was arranged. And one can detect the patterns which speak of coordination among various components of the apparatus by which the British state gives effect to its power.
Note, for instance, the sudden frequency with which the ‘once-in-a-generation’ trope is being aired. Consider the likelihood that this is striking our consciousness anew because in every case it is the same variation on that trope stating as fact that the Scottish Government had given a formal undertaking that no further referendums would be sought until a generation had passed. In a recent radio interview, another of the British establishment’s discards, David Mundell, said,
We perhaps thought, as had been signed up for ahead of the referendum, it was going to be a once in a generation event and the result would be respected and we would move on but that’s not what happened.David Mundell says no indyref2 even if pro-Yes parties win big
The emphasis has been added to highlight the relevant reference to ‘once-in-a-generation’ being part of the Edinburgh Agreement. Here’s Douglas Ross a couple of days earlier.
Nicola Sturgeon did sign that agreement with the UK and Scottish Governments that it would be once in a generation.Douglas Ross ‘rewriting history’ with indyref2 claim
This is, of course, a lie. A quite deliberate and malicious falsehood told with the intention of deceiving the public. A very British thing done in a very British way.
The lie was not challenged by the British media. They rarely are. But outside that bubble of systemic dishonesty there was a great deal of comment about the lie being peddled by British politicians. As, indeed, there was about the removal of Jackson Carlaw to make way for someone more adept at telling such lies. But focus on these incidents diverts from the way they fit with the imperative to override and trample Scotland’s democracy. Regarded in that context it seems almost as if a signal has been given. Word has gone out to start ramping up attacks intended to undermine Scotland’s democratic institutions and, not at all incidentally, to prepare our essential public services for disposal.
Some may say that these attacks have been such that it is hardly possible to suppose they might be increased in either rate or intensity. You ain’t seen nothing yet! Here’s another lie from David Mundell.
Essentially the Yes campaign continued, and we didn’t continue at the same level of intensity or effectiveness at making the case for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.David Mundell says no indyref2 even if pro-Yes parties win big
This is an example of a lie which turns truth on its head. A BIG lie! A rewriting of history which defies any effort to avoid the clichéd term ‘Orwellian’. The great thing about the BIG lie is that if you can make people believe it then you can make it a container for lots of smaller lies. Again there is something about this that suggests the British state’s propaganda machine moving up a gear or two.
The beast is stirring. It has sensed a vulnerability that can be exploited. Something wicked this way comes. It’s coming for Scotland. It’s coming for us. I have never been less persuaded that we are prepared to meet the coming onslaught.
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