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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