Kevin McKenna is correct, of course. The proposal to extend the franchise in a future independence referendum to non-resident ‘Scots’ is nothing more than a far from subtle attempt to smear Scotland’s independence movement with the tar-brush of ethnic nationalism. He is wrong, however, to portray this as a particularly Tory ploy. It would be more accurate to describe it as a characteristically ugly British tactic. It is not the Toryness of the Tories which drives such behaviour but the Britishness. And that form of Britishness is to be found everywhere among the British political elite. It permeates the entire British ruling class. It is a thread that runs through all the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. There is no behaviour so base that the British Nationalist will not practice it with eager pride in defence of their ‘precious’ Union.
The potential of such behaviour to do untold harm is never a consideration. If British interests are served in even the most minor way then no amount of turmoil is sufficient to cause hesitation before or regret after the event. It is often thought that the ongoing consequences of British imperial policies across the globe – a debt being paid in misery and blood by millions – flow from mere incompetence rather than calculated malice. The reality is that casual malice is so embedded in the ‘British way’ that it cannot be separated out from any aspect of British policy. Incompetence is something which may or may not be added on. The malice is always there. It would be noticeable only in its absence.
British politics is toxic. It poisons where it touches. The desire to promote ethnic conflict evident in the venom dripping from Gove’s lips is not some special measure dreamt up in the British political elite’s desperation to preserve the Union at any cost. This is just British politics as normal. Gove is just doing what any British politician would do. He is doing what comes naturally to him as a British politician. He is being the nasty, despicable, loathsome creature that a career in British politics requires him to be.
Consider, then, that Scotland’s political leaders are prepared not only to tolerate the toxic touch of British politics on Scotland’s cause, but to welcome it. They are determined to extend to British politicians such as Gove an invitation to bring their noxious influence to bear on the process by which we exercise our right of self-determination. Nicola Sturgeon portrays this as legitimising that process. In reality, British involvement and influence can only contaminate the entire exercise.
We must regard British influence as a disease. The restoration of Scotland’s independence will be a defining event in our nation’s history. If we are to hope that future generations of Scotland’s people may recall that history with satisfaction or perhaps even pride then we must ensure that the process by which our independence is restored is clean and healthy. Untainted by the kind of corruption that necessarily stems from any contact with the British political elite. Insofar as it is possible, we must isolate the exercising of our right of self-determination from the pernicious miasma that oozes from the very pores of British politicians such as Michael Gove.
The moment when we cast off the smothering, stultifying, debilitating embrace of the British Union should be a moment of joyful rebirth. Be absolutely sure of this! If the British cannot prevent it, they will spoil it. It’s what they do.
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10 thoughts on “It’s what they do”
“If the British cannot prevent it, they will spoil it.”
Yes, it is what they do – witness perhaps their most notorious ‘legacies’ in Ireland and India.
Whether represented by the bullying and overtly obnoxious (Patel) or slimy and utterly unctuous (Gove), the British objective, either by means of intimidation or ingratiation, is to to manipulate and undermine.
I will not legitimise a referendum or other process that the British state – a foreign power – has a hand in by voting in it.
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Indeed when they were forced to retreat from Suez in 1956, the troops were ordered to fill the sewers with concrete, and to poison the wells. How very nice after London had made a fortune from the canal,
I can only agree. I have tried for many a year to explain this to friends and colleagues in the Independence movement
Our enemy is the British State and those who would expound it’s message. There is a present tendency to focus all loathing on to the tories and indeed in many ways deservably so. However it is the British state of mind per se that must be struggled against.
Centuries of British propaganda have distorted the perception of what it is to be Scottish in language, culture and law. People come to Scotland not because it is the same as everywhere else but because it is different. The British wish to destroy that difference in order to subsume Scotland into Greater England as Britain.
Know your enemy, and your enemy is the British state of mind.
Ghandi once remonstrated against those in the Congress party who dressed in Western type suits. How can you argue against the British, he said. when you are all dressed like the very British people who are oppressing you?
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“… It is often thought that the ongoing consequences of British imperial policies across the globe – a debt being paid in misery and blood by millions – flow from mere incompetence rather than calculated malice. The reality is that casual malice is so embedded in the ‘British way’ that it cannot be separated out from any aspect of British policy. Incompetence is something which may or may not be added on. The malice is always there. It would be noticeable only in its absence…. ”
What is the ‘British State’, Peter, but England’s political/social/economic elite’s interest? It is not and cannot ever be the Scottish elite’s interest even though they believe it to be so. They would find out otherwise if they ever tried to exercise autonomy – which they won’t, of course. Always, and at all times, it is thoroughly English, and even then, only a very definition of Englishness that most English people don’t share in, except in their imaginations. Until we accept that truth and get to grips with it as it influences our every move and thought and action, we are going nowhere. The Irish have sloughed it off even though, in reality, it is still having an impact on them because of the relative size and self-interest of England, known as the UK. Scotland, even if we do get away, will also always be affected by our elephant neighbour and will have to spend much time and effort in evading its trampling feet, ever vigilant in its own interest at the expense of ours, Wales’s, NI’s and Ireland’s. Most of the time, like a scuttling insect beneath its contempt, it doesn’t even see us.
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I think the fact that the British state appears to operate to the benefit of “England’s political/social/economic elite” is incidental – a function of size. The favouring of (parts of) England isn’t purposeful. It’s just that the interests of the British state tend to coincide with the interests of England. Or England-as-Britain rather than the nation of England.
The disfavouring of the periphery – annexed territories – by contrast is most certainly purposeful; especially in the case of Scotland. Power is relative. So what makes Scotland less powerful makes England-as-Britain relatively more powerful. So long as Scotland is regarded as a threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state there will be a political imperative to undermine Scotland in various ways.
It is important that we in Scotland remember that One Nation British Nationalism is a denial of England’s identity just as it is a denial of Scotland’s distinctiveness. What I refer to as the British state is a non-national entity which sits like a parasite over all the nations of these islands ever striving to assimilate the parts into single homogenous entity made in the image of a fantasy British motherland.
The people of England should, in their own interests, be making common cause with those in the annexed territories seeking to break the grip of the British state. There are some English nationalists who happily do so.
I agree with much of that, Peter. I have no interest personally in making England the bogeyman; it does a good enough job itself. It is, like or not, always a threat to the smooth operation of the other parts of the British Isles + Ireland, as we have seen from Brexit. The English elite happily deny their own identity because UK identity, or ‘Britishness’ serves the same purpose, but that does not equate to there being no latent English Nationalism lurking beneath. When – if – we finally challenge realistically and pragmatically, with thought and strategy and tactics, then we’ll see it emerge in all its fearsome colours, as surely as night follows day. If we don’t believe that, then Bannockburn never happened. The Union never happened. And our parliament at Holyrood is a national parliament and not a devolved one. We have to acknowledge the reality of what any real bid for independence will mean before we embark on it – then embark on it, anyway.
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I like that last sentence.
You do get to vote in UK general elections and referendums for 15 years after you have left the country. No-one is bothered about it. The only debate about it is whether it should be extended to a life-long right. So you can see where Gove is coming from – it’s very normal.
Obviously Scots, or at least Peter A Bell are far less tolerant of normality, and seem to be quite shocked by normality. Oddly, apparently we like Estonian citizens, who live in Scotland and get to vote in Estonian elections, getting to vote in Holyrood elections. As if they would bother. They get to vote in referendums, too (‘I’ve already seen independence – why do you think I’m here?’ being the usual comment).
You won’t see your error until you learn that you’re never as clever as you think you are.
The author’s rant that what is normal for pretty much every country in the whole world is some Tory plot, or whatever, is deranged, insular, ignorant, and cloth-eared. The subject deserves a discussion, not an ill-tempered argument.