It’s the Union, stupid!

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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12 thoughts on “It’s the Union, stupid!

  1. A recent article in The Atlantic by Tom McTague is entitled: How Britain Falls Apart … one of its conclusions reads:

    “Unless people in Scotland believe that they are also British and that the British government and state is their government and state, nothing else matters.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The tediously on-going “Party-gate” saga may be a scandal. But by British standards this scandal is pretty tame compared to concurrent scandals as well as past ones. I feel no need to list them. There is no consequence for the culprits in so-doing.

    It is in reality merely a circus, designed to deflect and distract from real concerns. It’s serves to as a soap opera for journalists who ply their ‘trade’ by authoring endless meaningless articles in order to boost their dwindling circulation of print copy among the masses.


    The 315 years (and counting) of Scotland’s colonial oppression, democratic deficit and resource rip-off is the real and actual scandal.

    “Red and Blue Tories”? Doesn’t matter.

    “Red, White and Blue British”? Now your talking.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. > They hold us in contempt because of the subordinate status we have accepted for over 300 years.

    This gets to the heart of the matter. Without respect there can never be equality.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Agreed, the three ringed circus event that is going on now with regards to Johnson’s machinations won’t affect our position within this union. At best it can highlight just how dysfunctional the Westminster system is nothing more.

    There is rivalry between the Tories and Labour but both agree that Scotland will remain part of this union, by attending Westminster our MPs only give the foreign parliament credibility, which enforces the notion in the minds of Scots that they have power over us.

    It doesn’t help our cause any when our supposedly indy minded FM signs up to the Tories new union council set up by Michael Gove and to be chaired by Johnson himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. While I’m Quoting and agreeing with Mr Peter A Bell’s comments, including
    ‘The British parties don’t hate Scotland. They hold us in contempt because of the subordinate status we have accepted for over 300 years’… Perhaps, Scotland’s people should do MORE than simply ‘pause for thought?!

    Nowadays, the world itself is in some form of disarray and it IS different to what it has been for a very long time! I see more and more of Scotland’s people getting uneasy about the so-called UK… Perhaps some of England’s people may question whether or not THEIR London government’s really sovereign or NOT?

    This is too early to tell… one way or another, we’ll see a huge change in how this archipelago will be seen internationally! So, here’s hoping for the best,


    Liked by 1 person

  6. There is always hope that independence wouldn’t mean the continuation of the one party system in Scotland. But I suppose that’s part of the nature of self-determination. Anyone think the SNP would countanance a government of national unity in the tumultuous time that will follow independence?


      1. I disagree. Here’s why: How long have the SNP been in power? How long are they going to be in power? I’d bet on another 14 years – that would make 28 years. Not a dictatorship by any means, but a comparable timespan to a dictatorship. And what difference do the other 11 party’s make to anything much? Four look like they are there mostly for window-dressing, and the others are esoteric. It’s not even like dissent comes from withing the incumbent rulers.

        Monolithic, authoritarian, centralising, absolutetly embedded in the establishment, and unbeatable, are the words that come to mind.

        Why do you disagree?


        1. I disagree with the claim of a one-party system because there is no one-party system. It is a multi-party system by definition. Because there are several parties and no serious constraint on establishing more parties. That the system is dominated by one party is certainly true. But that is a function of the electorate’s choices. Democrats have no choice but to accept the verdict of the voters. Others seek ways to circumvent the multi-party system so as to ‘modify’ the outcome of elections.

          Liked by 1 person

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