In her column in The National today Joanna Cherry makes an important point. It is a point that I have been trying to drive home for what seems like many decades – but is really just the one. The name of the British Prime Minister is of no consequence and neither is the name of their party. It matters not at all who the British Prime Minister is or what party he or she represents, they all share the same imperative to defend, preserve and strengthen the Union at whatever cost to the people of Scotland. They are British! That is the point! They are all British! British Conservative! British Labour! British Liberal Democrats! British! British! British!
By engaging with the faux rivalries of the British two-party system we participate in and perpetuate the very thing that the restoration of our independence is intended to free us from. Scotland cannot be an independent nation again unless and until we stop being British (in the political sense). Becoming independent requires that we cast off that British mindset. Few things characterise that mindset more than the notion that shuffling British arses around on the green benches of the British parliament equates with effecting real political change.
I do not subscribe to the simplistic blue and red Tory fallacy. It is a nonsense to suppose that their are not significant differences between the two main British parties. What matters most, however, is that they are both British. To the shallow-minded that commonality can appear to make them identical because it makes them behave in identical ways when dealing with challenges to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The two parties are the products of two starkly different worldviews. Two quite distinct perceptions of society and the individual. Two dissimilar conceptions of the nature of the state and the role of government. Underlying and overarching all of this difference, however, is their shared Britishness. All other considerations must be reconciled with the imperative to maintain the British state. No moral principle or ideological precept is more important than the preservation of the system which grants the parties power, or the promise of power.
The two main British parties are not the same. But they converge on constitutional matters because they both regard the state rather than the people as the source of legitimate political authority. They serve the British state rather than any of the people of these islands.
A change of British Prime Minister or a change of British governing party alters precisely nothing about Scotland’s subordinate status within a massively asymmetric political union. The British parties don’t hate Scotland. They hold us in contempt because of the subordinate status we have accepted for over 300 years. What the British political system abhors is distinctiveness. Distinctiveness implies an alternative. An alternative is highly unlikely to serve established power better than the arrangements which make it established power. The point of independence is the freedom to be distinctive. A freedom denied us by the Union.
Scotland’s cause is not the removal of a particular British Prime Minister or a change of British government. Scotland’s cause is this and only this – ending the Union. On this depends our capacity to develop a distinctive politics and keep our distinctive identity. If you want to identify Scotland’s enemy it is not Boris Johnson or the British Tories – it’s the Union, stupid!
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