“We are not four separate nations…” – Liz Truss
The British Prime Minister-in-waiting could hardly be more explicit about the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist agenda she intends to pursue. British politicians are now quite openly denying Scotland’s existence as a nation. What is true for Scotland also applies to the rest of the periphery. Only England continues to be a nation. And only on condition that it is rebranded as ‘Britain’ If British Nationalists get their way, then there will be only England-as-Britain as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are sucked into the black hole formed at the nexus of political and economic power that is the city-state of London.
Every time a British politician speaks in such disparaging terms of those parts of the UK which are not London, they give licence to the next politician to speak even more disparagingly. Thus, in what seems a very short time, Scotland goes from being that slightly troublesome northern annexed territory which can be brought back into Britannia’s fold with warm promises and cosmetic political and constitutional reform. to the enemy threatening everything that ‘we’ value and hold dear. A threat which must be ‘dealt with’. An enemy which must be brought to heel by any means.
The anti-devolution rhetoric we are now hearing from Truss will be trumpeted by the British media in an increasingly shrill and extreme and dumbed-down form that quickly morphs into anti-Scottish rhetoric. Once the British media have made it an issue, other British politicians will feel obliged to speak on the matter. If there is a populist bandwagon rolling then jumping on it is not optional for any career politician. A position must be taken, choosing between the binary choices defined by the British media ─ you are either with ‘us’ or you are against everything that is great and decent about the divinely-ordained British ‘nation’.
So great is this threat that, as in time of war, democratic principles cannot be allowed to inhibit those seeking a final solution for the ‘Scottish problem’. If British politician number one is talking about rolling back devolution, then British politician number two cannot do other than call for devolution to be ended completely. If British politician number two seeks to trump British politician number one by calling for measures to curb Scottish political parties, British politician number one must respond by calling for a ban on parties campaigning against the Union.
When mainstream politicians embrace extreme positions, they invite extremists into the realm of mainstream politics. An invitation that extremist accept with alacrity. Once this process is initiated it has to play out in its own time and in its own way. The process becomes self-energising and continues beyond any control until there is a popular reaction against it sufficient to provide an opportunity for some politician astute enough to recognise a new bandwagon starting to roll.
All of which is very bad news indeed for Scotland and the rest of the periphery. Because that reaction against extreme British Nationalism must happen close enough to established power for its effect to be felt, and because there is no way of knowing how far the wave of extremism will carry or how much damage will be wreaked or to what extent that damage will be irreparable, we have to assume the worst. It would be irresponsibly complacent to gamble on politicians ‘coming to their senses’ in time to avoid eradication of Scotland’s distinct political culture and obliteration of our national identity. Scotland is on the verge of being overwhelmed by a great tide of Union flags and open hostility to our democratic institutions.
Liz Truss isn’t only fighting a Tory leadership campaign. She is firing the first rounds in the next Westminster election. She isn’t just seeking to be British Prime Minister. She has ambition to be the first Prime Minister of a new ‘Great Britain’ shaped by a mythologised past and the conscienceless forces of modern accumulative capitalism.
The fight to restore Scotland’s independence has ceased to be about creating the nation to which we aspire. It is about saving the nation we know.
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