The country formerly known as Scotland

I sincerely hope that the First Minister is not taken in by this talk of a “rebranding exercise”. I trust she is aware that this is merely a precursor to, and preparation for, major constitutional reform which will be conducted over the heads of Scotland’s elected representatives and without the consent of Scotland’s people.

Prior to the 2014 independence referendum, people were warned that a No vote would be regarded by the British state as a licence to do what they want with Scotland. What they want is to lock Scotland into a political union on their own terms. A unilateral redefining of Scotland’s constitutional status without any consultation and in total contempt of democratic principles.

This had hardly got underway when the EU referendum came along and shifted the political ground. But Brexit did not deter or hamper the project to lock Scotland into a unilaterally redefined Union. On the contrary, it provides the ideal opportunity. Which people were also warned about prior to the vote in 2016.

To put it briefly and in the simplest of terms – the UK was constitutionally redefined by joining the EU (as it became). It stands to reason that the UK will again undergo constitutional redefinition on leaving the EU. The British political elite has ensured that Scotland, together with the other devolved parliaments, has been all but entirely excluded from the Brexit process. Therefore, the British political elite is ideally placed to dictate the form of the redefinition which the UK will undergo.

Brexit is the British state’s chance to close and barricade the democratic route to restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. This was going to happen anyway. But Brexit makes it easier to ensure that democratic niceties don’t interfere with the process of tightening England-as-Britain’s grip on Scotland and reinforcing the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state.

This isn’t something that is going to happen. It is something which is happening right now. The “rebranding exercise” is part of it. The ‘UK Government in Scotland’ is part of it. The ‘UK-wide common frameworks’ are part of it. The ‘EU power grab’ was part of it. The ghastly ‘unionjackery’ defacing our foodstuffs is part of it. Mundell’s new castle in Edinburgh is part of it.

And still people refuse to see!

The anti-democratic British Nationalist ‘One Nation’ project is behind schedule – by about a year. The Article 50 extension granted by the EU gave us a year’s grace. A year in which we could have acted to save Scotland. A year which has been wantonly squandered.

I genuinely despair for our country. The ‘One Nation’ project is gathering pace. The Scottish Parliament is in recess. The Scottish Government seems paralysed. SNP politicians talk as if delay is a consequence-free option. The Yes movement is marching but, for want of political leadership and an actual campaign strategy, it is going nowhere.

Brexit will soon be upon us. The jaws of the ‘One Nation’ project will close. Holyrood, no more! Dignity, fairness and respect, no more! Democracy, no more! Hope, no more!

But doubtless Nicola Sturgeon will “slam” the UK Government in a Tweet.

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The disintegrating Union

Delyth Jewell may be overstating things somewhat when he describes Mark Drakeford’s statement as marking a “monumental day in the history of the Welsh nation“. First Minister Drakeford has done no more than state the obvious when he says,

If you believe the UK is a voluntary association of four nations you have to face the possibility that some component parts of the UK may no longer choose to be part of it.

The problem lies in that opening conditional phrase. If British Nationalists believed that the UK was a “voluntary association” they wouldn’t be British Nationalists. They are British Nationalists because they maintain that, even if the UK ever was a voluntary association, it is not that now. British Nationalist ideology holds that the three smaller nations are subsumed into ‘One Nation’.

In dealing with these issues I tend to refer specifically Scotland. Not because I regard Scotland as more important, but simply because the historical backgrounds are different in each case and it would be impossible to deal with all adequately in a short article.

The Union between Scotland and England was always the Greater England project. The intention and purpose of the Union was, from its inception, to suppress and eventually eradicate Scottish identity and replace it with English identity. That project failed. Scottish identity proved too stubborn. So the focus moved to creating a new common identity for England and Scotland. We would all be British. The Greater England project became the Great Britain project.

But Britain, Great or otherwise, was never a nation. It was an invention contrived by – or on behalf of – the political, economic and social elites which combine as established power. It was, and remains, a system designed for the preservation and continuation of established power. Britain is not a nation. It is a ‘brand name’ applied to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which serve the few at whatever cost to the many.

British interests were, in the early days of the Great Britain project just as throughout the Greater England project, England’s interests. To a considerable extent, they still are. But only because and to the extent that England’s interests coincide with those of the British ruling elites. The Union, like the British state that it created, does not necessarily serve the interests of the people of England. Scotland’s interests are not now, nor were they ever, a consideration.

The aim of Union was to take Scotland out of the equation – economically, politically, constitutionally and culturally. Scotland was to be extinguished in order that established power might better prevail.

The Great Britain project was rather more successful than the Greater England project. The manufactured British identity took hold aided by the rewards of imperialist expansion, rousing military jingoism and tantalising aristocratic pomp. The seeds of the ‘One Nation’ cult were sown.

But, successful as the Great Britain project had been, Scottish identity was not eradicated. The idea of Scotland as a nation persisted. As the status of the British state declined along with the profits of colonial exploitation, the fragile cohesiveness based on notions of British exceptionalism diminished. Scotland began to tentatively reassert its identity. The British state resorted to trying to buy us off with trinkets such as the Scottish Office and devolution. But to no avail.

And so we come to the present day. Scotland has found its voice and that voice is challenging the established power of the British state as never before. All efforts at eradicating Scotland’s identity having failed, the British political elite is now resorting to a crude and increasingly aggressive form of anti-democratic ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism which threatens to do by political coercion what could not be achieved by political cunning. We are now being told that Scotland will be subsumed into an increasingly alien British state regardless of the wishes of Scotland’s people.

The Union was always doomed to fail. The asymmetry of power and denial of Scottish popular sovereignty could not possibly survive alongside the kind of political engagement and democratic participation which has developed in Scotland over recent years. One would have to give way to the other. The British political elite is determined that preservation of the Union must take precedence over respect for democratic principles.

For Scotland, the choice is clear. Either we #DissolveTheUnion, or the Union destroys our democracy. For the other “component parts of the UK” – including England – the choice is similar. Either they insist that the UK is a “voluntary association” which they can choose not to be part of, or the British political elite will ensure that it is an involuntary one which they may never leave; and in which their interests will be all the more readily subordinated by the new constitutional status imposed on them.

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This means war!

British Nationalism is an anti-democratic ideology. In what George Kerevan has christened the ‘Hunt Doctrine’, Jeremy Hunt expresses the anti-democratic nature of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism more explicitly than most. Or more explicitly than has been common until lately. Because even the most casual observer of Scottish politics cannot fail to have noticed that British Nationalist rhetoric has been ramping up of late. Mere opposition to a new referendum at this time has turned into insistence that the people of should Scotland never be allowed to exercise their democratic right of self determination. Recently, we have witnessed the unedifying spectacle of British Nationalist outrage at the prospect of independence being discussed in a Citizens’ Assembly; surely the epitome of a democratic forum.

Now we have the British Foreign Secretary and prospective British Prime Minister telling us that there is no expression of Scotland’s democratic will sufficient to outweigh the authority of the British government. Elsewhere, I have referred to this as ‘sovereignty of the executive‘; the dangerous idea that legitimate political authority derives, not from the people or even the monarch, but from those who wield power.

In reality, the Hunt Doctrine is no more than a restatement of the Union, which has always served as a constitutional device by which the superiority of England-as-Britain is maintained by denying the people of Scotland full and effective exercise of the sovereignty which is their absolute democratic right. This was particularly evident in the way Scotland’s Remain vote in the EU referendum was summarily and contemptuously dismissed by the British state. And in the way that Scotland’s democratically elected government was prohibited from having any role in Brexit negotiations; while being accused of ‘failing to cooperate’ with those negotiations and even of ‘undermining’ the UK’s position.

But it is important to remember that the way Scotland has been treated in the context of Brexit is exceptional only in the brazenness of the British state’s disdain for Scotland and for democracy. The Union has always been anti-democratic. After all, it predates what we now consider to be democracy. Unionists will claim that the Union has adapted to democracy, citing devolution as the most telling example of how it has changed. But none of the changes implemented over the years has altered the fundamental premise and purpose of the Union – that Scotland’s resources should evermore be at the disposal of England-as-Britain; that the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people should at all times be subordinate to the desires, preferences and ambitions of the British state. Devolution was only permitted on condition that it did not compromise the Union.

Scotland’s cause – the fight to restore constitutional normality – will not progress until there is a general realisation that the problem is, not Brexit or the Tories and certainly not the people of England, but the Union.

That cause cannot progress unless we first assert and defend our right of self-determination. A ‘positive campaign for independence’ simply isn’t enough. The Hunt Doctrine makes it clear that the British political elite will resort to any means in order to preserve their ‘precious’ Union. When Hunt declares that he will never allow a new independence referendum, this is more than just the Jock-bashing which has been such a prominent feature of the Tory leadership contest. Of course, there’s macho posturing involved. But the willy Hunt is waving is the Union. He speaks for British Nationalism.

The people of Scotland must respond appropriately to the Hunt Doctrine and the threat of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism. And we must do so while our democratic institutions are still intact. Make no mistake! The British state has the power to suspend or even abolish the Scottish Parliament. And they will use that power in defence of their ‘precious’ Union. Democratic principles be damned! They are to be tolerated only so long as they don’t jeopardise the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state.

When you hear Theresa May warn her successor that Scotland’s First Minister cannot be trusted and Jeremy Hunt talking about how the Scottish Government is uncooperative, what you are hearing is the British establishment preparing the grounds for action against the Scottish Parliament. The threat to Scotland’s democracy is real and imminent.

George Kerevan states it well,

Jeremy Hunt’s constitutional innovations represent a declaration of war on Scottish sovereignty and established right to self-determination. Out of such arrogance, revolutions are born.

Hunt declared war on our sovereignty … here are ways we could respond

One thing that neither Jeremy Hunt nor any other British Nationalist explains is how they hope to contend with the tide of democratic dissent that will be unleashed should they succeed in their mission to close the democratic route to independence. They genuinely seem to suppose that the independence movement will evaporate at their command. We have to make it abundantly clear that we will not sit idly by while anti-democratic British Nationalists deny our right of self-determination and destroy our democratic institutions. The Yes movement must prepare for a campaign of mass protest and civil disobedience.

The target of this campaign must be the Union. We are no longer campaigning for independence, but against the constitutional anomaly which underpins the anti-democratic British Nationalism expressed in the Hunt Doctrine. We are no longer asking for powers to be handed to us. We are demanding the restoration of powers being withheld from us by the British state.

The people of Scotland are sovereign. But that is nothing more than an empty slogan unless we are prepared to forcefully assert that sovereignty and everything that it implies. We must fight in defence of our democratic right of self-determination.

We must fight in defence of our Parliament and its rightful authority to speak for the people of Scotland.

We must fight in defence of the right to elect our own government and that government’s rightful authority to act for the people of Scotland.

We must fight in defence of a political culture which respects democratic principles rather than trampling them underfoot.

We must fight to end the Union and to thwart the anti-democratic ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project.

We must offer no violence other than that which may be commensurate with any violence inflicted upon us. Violence is the resort of oppressive, anti-democratic forces. We must fight, not with the weapons of established power, but with the weapons of the people – mass protest, civil disobedience, withdrawal of cooperation and judicious deployment of our economic power.

We must fight to defend all that Scotland is and all that our nation might be.

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The meaning behind the words

Politicians may, from time to time, mean what they say. But they only very rarely say exactly what they mean. The form of words that they use is carefully crafted and filtered through aides, policy advisers and media relations gurus. Mostly, professional politicians don’t lie. Although the version of the facts that they offer may be so distorted and perverted by that filtering process as to be a long way from the truth, it is seldom an outright untruth such as might come back to bite them on the arse at a later date.

There are, of course, exceptions. But they are exceptions because they are not behaving professionally. They are ignoring the advice and by-passing the filtering process. This may be because they are so junior as to lack a devoted team. Or it may be because they are just plain stupid. They convince themselves that they are great orators and fully on top of their brief, then make complete fools of themselves. Commonly, however, such people are so foolishly arrogant that they don’t even realise they’re making fools of themselves. Between their own lack of self-awareness and the sycophantic reassurance from their entourage, they carry on regardless.

The British political system doesn’t penalise such individuals. On the contrary, it all too frequently rewards them with high office.

Which brings us to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt – the final two contenders for the British Conservative Party leadership; and the title of British Prime Minister which is the free bonus prize. I shall leave it to others to judge for themselves whether each of these individuals is a fool behaving professionally, or a professional behaving foolishly.

When trying to discern the true meaning behind what politicians say, it often pays to blur out the actual words and listen instead to the general tone. Take Jeremy Hunt’s responses to journalists prior to the hustings in Perth. Look past all the rhetoric about him being “a passionate Unionist” and how he wants “a Brexit that works for the Union”. Tune out the carefully chosen phrases – “work constructively and positively”, “open mind”, “forward”, “engage fully, responsibly and generously”, “I’m a democrat”. Try to hear the mood, rather than the words. He may not be saying what he means, but what he means will come through in the way he says it.

On second thoughts, don’t totally tune out that last bit where Hunt insist that he is a democrat. It is of particular interest in light of what we find when we listen to the tone of his utterances. He might as well have said, “I’m a democrat, but…!”. Because what comes across is certainly not an unequivocal commitment to democratic principles. The words say one thing. The tone betrays something else entirely.

What Hunt is talking about is, not democracy as we would understand it – and definitely not the democracy we aspire to in Scotland – but something more akin the the managed (or guided) democracy associated with formerly explicitly totalitarian nations. In a managed democracy, elections are held and people vote but no matter who they elect the resulting administration remains effectively unchanged. Elections shuffle the politicians around, but have no effect on policy. Whatever the outcome of elections, whatever the make-up of parliament, whatever the democratic will of the people, the government continues to do what it wants.

This is a million miles from the popular sovereignty of Scotland. It is far, even, from the parliamentary sovereignty of England. This is sovereignty of the executive. This is the dangerous idea that legitimate political authority derives, not from the people or even the monarch, but from those who wield power. It is the notion that what is done is right because of who does it.

The tone of Hunt’s remarks – and in this respect he is no different from any other British politician – tells us that what his commitment to democracy means is that he will generously allow Scotland all the democracy we want so long as we only use in the way that he wants. We can vote for anything we like, so long as it isn’t something with which he “profoundly disagrees”. Our democratic choices are only valid if they accord with his preferences. Our democratic will is conditional on us not opposing his will.

Scotland can be whatever it wants, so long as that is what Jeremy Hunt (the British political elite) wants. That is his idea of democracy. Such is managed democracy.

Having discerned that what Hunt really means when he talks of democracy is democracy ‘guided’ by the British state, we are entitled to enquire as to what we are being guided to. Which is where we deploy another trick of political analysis and look for the imperatives which drive the British state and the options it has in pursuing those imperatives.

Maintaining the Union is a major imperative for the British state. England-as-Britain has to keep hold of Scotland. It is not entirely a matter of economics – geopolitics and pride are significant factors – but the economic implications of Scotland dissolving the Union cannot be ignored. Nor can they be overstated. Brexit is going to be expensive. The British political elite has, through a combination of idiocy and more idiocy, painted itself into a corner where it must deliver Brexit at any cost. And the cost is going to be enormous.

It is questionable whether the UK can bear this cost. England-as-Britain almost certain would not be able to do so. The figures may not mean much, but they suffice to illustrate the point. The cost of Brexit may be £200bn. Scotland’s economy is worth roughly the same amount to the UK. England-as-Britain demands the status of successor state in the event of Scotland restoring its independence. Which means England-as-Britain takes on the entire burden of UK debt plus the additional costs of Brexit. And it takes on this burden with an economy which has shrunk relative to the former UK by around £200bn annually.

Even without Brexit, losing Scotland was going to be economically problematic for England-as-Britain. Which is why the Scottish Government included in its White Paper a number of provisions intended to ease the transition. Unpopular as many of these provisions were among independence supporters, Alex Salmond realised full well that an economically crippled England benefited Scotland not at all.

These provisions were also rejected by the British government. Not because they weren’t aware of the need for them, but because accepting that England-as-Britain would need Scotland’s cooperation post-independence didn’t fit with the narrative of the anti-independence campaign. With the exception of those who were completely taken in by British propaganda, everybody – including the British political elite – was aware that a Yes vote would have prompted several screeching U-turns on the part of the British government.

We know that, regardless of any other considerations, the British government must deliver Brexit. We know that Brexit is likely to be economically crippling to some degree. We know that, failing the kind of relationship with Scotland that British politicians seem determined to permanently destroy, the impact would be considerably greater if Scotland dissolves the Union. We know that, so long as there is an SNP Scottish Government, a Scottish Parliament, and a Yes movement the British establishment must assume that their precious Union is in jeopardy.

Do the math!

It is blindingly obvious that the British state’s imperative to preserve the Union must drive it towards the option of removing the Scottish Parliament from the equation. It has to be Holyrood because proscribing a political party is fraught with problems and the Yes movement is invulnerable on account of its very nature. Besides, removing the Scottish Parliament also removes the Scottish Government. A doubly blow to Scotland’s democracy and to our aspiration to restore constitutional normality.

Whichever British politician we listen to, and whatever form of words they use, the tone tells us very clearly that the British state’s intention is to eliminate the threat of the Union being dissolved by eradicating Scotland’s distinctive political culture and imposing their own brand of managed democracy.

Because we know what the British state’s imperatives are; because we know the circumstances in which the British political elite has placed the UK; because we know the options available to the British government – whoever is PM – and because we know the meaning behind the words when Jeremy Hunt and his ilk speak, we know with a high degree of certainty that the British government will shortly move to dismantle Scotland’s democratic institutions. We know they are going to emasculate, suspend or abolish the Scottish Parliament.

The question is whether we are prepared to let them. How determined are we to stop them? How committed are we to democracy? How resolved are we to rescue Scotland from the rolling juggernaut of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism that threatens everything we have achieved – and everything we aspire to?

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WTF do they want?

Had I the time; were I better at creating graphs; were I not quite so lazy, I might find it entertaining to chart the fluctuating mood, over time, of British Nationalists, as indicated by the public pronouncements of their leaders and/or the shrillness of their ranting on social media. I might choose to chart changes in mood against the size and vigour of the Yes movement. I might find some interesting, and possibly even informative, correlations.

There is no doubting what that mood is now. If one of the axes on our imagined chart represented shrillness, the line would be trending almost vertically and threatening to dissappear into whatever statistical limbo awaits lines which escape the scale. A massed choir of banshees, sirens and harpies could scarce compete in shrillness with a mere duet of angry and embittered BritNats.

But is it possible to discern a message in all this noise? What is it they actually want? What do these British Nationalists expect of those at whom the cacophony of their incessant outrage is directed?

The glib answer, of course, is that they want to preserve the Union at any cost. They regard as sacrosanct the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state. It is no exaggeration to say that British Nationalists regard Scotland’s cause as heresy. And we’re not only talking here about the extreme fringes of British Nationalism. This reverence for the Union is a defining characteristic of British Nationalist ideology. Anyone who lacks the requisite ardour is a mere Unionist and not a committed believer in the myth of ‘Great Britain’, not as the largest island in a North Atlantic archipelago, but as a divinely-ordained golden realm populated by a chosen people who embody every enviable trait to be found in a species better known for its flaws, failings and folly.

The difference between a Unionist and a British Nationalist is that, while the former has yet to question the Union, the latter insists that the Union must never be questioned.

Which – at least until the next digression – brings us back to the point and our question about what British Nationalists expect of the independence movement. It’s all very well to know that their ultimate aim is to lock Scotland irrevocably into a polical union with ‘England-as-Britain’ on terms which accord with British Nationalist ideology. But what do they want the rest of of us to do? What do they imagine is going to happen to Scotland’s independence movement should these British Nationalists achieve their goal?

As an aside (See what I meant about digression?), we might do well to note the similarities between what we shall call the ‘Union Project’ and the now all too painfully familiar ‘Brexit Project’. In neither case are the fanatics leading these projects able to provide the three things which must be regarded as essential for any project which seeks to institute dramatic change.

  • A sufficient reason
  • A viable plan
  • A credible alternative

Firstly, we must be clear that the Union Project is every bit as much about change as the Brexit Project. The Union itself is a departure from normality. It is constitutionally anomalous. It changes Scotland’s status from what it would be absent corrupt political interference. In that sense alone, the Union Project is a project for change such as should be required to satisfy those three essentials.

But the Union Project is a project for change in an arguably more significant, and certainly more contemporary sense. Because British Nationalists today want to roll back even the relatively minor concessions to Scotland (and democracy) that have been squeezed out of jealous Britannia over recent decades – principally, devolution. The Union Project has evolved out of the ‘Great Britain Project’ which, in turn, was the successor to the ‘Greater England Project’ after this failed to eradicate – or even sufficiently suppress – Scotland’s identity as a nation. The Union Project is a reversion to the Greater England Project/Great Britain Project but with a much harder edge

Given that the Union Project demands change, what is the sufficient reason? Why should Scotland accept a ludicrously archaic, grotesquely asymmetric and jarringly anomalous political union? Why should we accept being bound to a Union which essence, a constitutional device which denies the people of Scotland the full and effective exercise of the sovereignty which is theirs by right?

Why should we embrace a Union which guarantees that the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people will always be subordinate to the whims of an English electorate whose needs, priorities and aspirations are so obviously and dramatically different?

What is the sufficient reason for accepting that the democratic will of Scotland’s people shall be treated by the British political elite with the same sneering contempt that they exhibit towards Scotland’s democratic institutions?

British Nationalists have never provided Scotland with a sufficient reason for the Union Project. But, to be fair, Scotland has not really pursued them for one until recently.

Nor do British Nationalists have a viablde plan for instituting the ‘One Nation’ Britain that is their ambition. They don’t explain how they hope to succeed in suppressing or eradicating Scotland’s national identity where earlier projects have failed. They don’t explain the process by which they intend to disable or dismantle Scotland’s democratic institutions. They don’t tell us how they plan to overcome democratic dissent. They don’t have a viable plan any more than the Mad Brexiteers did.

What about a credible alternative? We gather from their rhetoric what the British Nationalist alternative is to the normality of independence. We know what they hope to impose on Scotland instead of our normal constitutional status. But is their alternative to independence credible? Can it be sustained? Can Scotland actually become part of a ‘One Nation’ British state? Is it credible that this might ever be regarded in Scotland as the norm; as the best that we can expect; as the most we might ever hope for?

Imagine how different things might be now if those campaigning to take the UK out of the EU had been required to provided a sufficient reason; a viable plan; and a credible alternative. Does it not make sense that we should demand these from the British Nationalists who want to permanently bind Scotland to the sort of political system in which Brexit could happen? Wouldn’t we be mad not to demand answers from those driving the Union project?

Wouldn’t it be a dereliction of our duty to future generations if we failed to force answers and explanations out of British Nationalists?

Are British Nationalist in any mood to provide these answers and explanations? It would seem that they are not. We can informally trace the mood of British Nationalists from the point at which British Nationalism really started to diverge from Unionism and become a more significant, even if not a larger, force in the constitutional ‘debate’.

Before the era of devolution, British Nationalism couldn’t really be regarded as a political ideology at all. It manifested principally as football hooliganism. But the spores of political British Nationalism were there. Those spores grew in the fetid sludge of English right-wing politics and the always demented anti-EU frenzy fronted by elements of the British media. Again,.mainly in England.

Prior to the campaign for devolution, British Nationalists pretty much ignored Scotland. They became more visible, and audible, once the Scottish Parliament was reconvened; mainly because they then had a target. It’s around this time that we see the ‘subsidy junky’ myth changing from being a mere taunt to being a political slogan.

But it was the electoral success of the SNP and the first independence referendum campaign that really brought British Nationalists out of the cracks and crevices in the edifice of the British state. During the course of the 2014 campaign there was a strong correlation between growing support for Yes and the mood of British Nationalists changing from scorn to surprise, to alarm, to anger.

That anger has never gone away. Despite the fact that No won, British Nationalist anger has continued to seeth and fester. It continues to seeth and fester to this day. It has grown in indignant outrage – but not in coherence or intelligibility – as the Yes movement has matured. They are coming to the boil.

A rough timeline of the British Nationalist mood starting from the mid to late 1970s would go from opposition to devolution through opposition to further devolution to opposition to a referendum to opposition to Yes to opposition to a new referendum. They went from insisting that Scotland must never be a normal nation to insisting that Scotland should not be allowed to exercise its right of self-determination to where we are now – which is British Nationalists insisting that we shouldn’t even talk about either a new referendum or independence.

If you thought that BritNats had reached peak shrill with their anti-democratic denunciations of a referendum, you’ll have had an unpleasant surprise hearing their screeching reaction to Citizens’ Assemblies discussing constitutional matters. Tops have been blown. Blood vessels have ruptured. Toys have been cast from prams at something approaching escape velocity. Dummies have been spat like bullets and footsies have been stamped to the endangerment of bottom lips so petulantly pouty as to lie in moist folds upon the floor.

Safe to say, they’re not pleased by the idea of the plebeian citizenry discussing the dominant political issue of our time. They are not happy about it being an issue at all. They are decidedly displeased that Scotland’s constitutional status is still a matter of debate and they are damned well not going to be part of that debate. They shall, instead, stand outside throwing stones. For the moment, they are content with stones. One dares to wonder how long that will remain so.

It seems that British Nationalists – and Unionists – genuinely thought the constitutional issue would go away after the 2014 referendum. They are massively indignant that it did not. They continue to demand that it cease to be an issue. They now seem to want us all to stop talking about it altogether,

Think about that for a moment. This is an issue that is of at least some concern to at least half of Scotland’s people. At least half the electorate want a new referendum sooner rather than later, with an even larger proportion wanting one later rather than sooner and a few more resigned to the fact that there will have to be another referendum. But British Nationalists insist that this is not, and must not be, a live issue.

At least half the electorate want Scotland’s independence to be restored with an even larger proportion wanting some kind of constitutional reform. British Nationalists’ response is that we should all just shut up about it and content ourselves with what we have. And, to make it worse, they won’t even tell us why we should do this, other than that it’s what they want.

What is wrong with these people? What kind of dumb, perverted, fanatical arrogance does it take for this relatively tiny minority to so contemptuously dismiss half of Scotland’s people?

Perhaps we should ask them?

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The redcoats are coming! They’re wearing grey suits!

Sometimes, things happen and you think to yourself how obvious it was that this would happen. There was never any doubt that the British establishment would respond to the Referendums Bill. The ‘review’ of devolution ordered by Theresa May is just the kind of response we might have expected and is, without doubt, partly prompted by what is regarded in London as a rather impertinent piece of legislation.

This is dominance behaviour. It is political scent-marking. It is a blunt and imperious message from the British state reminding us that they own devolution. They own the Scottish Parliament. They own Scotland. Devolution and all that has flowed from it – largely unanticipated by its architects – was a gift to her northern subjects from beneficent Britannia. And what is given can be taken away.

Scotland is being told to behave. Or else!

Look at who May has appointed to conduct this ‘review’! Andrew Dunlop! Who, unless I am very much mistaken is the individual who, together with Alistair Darling, cooked up all the inane scaremongering about currency in the final stages of the 2014 referendum campaign. If the appointment of a British lord isn’t a contemptuously calculated slap in the face to Scotland, then the choice of this particular example of that species surely is.

I say this ‘review’ of devolution is only partly a characteriscally high-handed and overbearing response to the Referendums Bil because this, or something similar, was inevitable anyway. As the British state prepares to exploit the constitutional implications of Brexit in order to restore and reinforce its grip on Scotland, there had to be an initiating act. It was never likely that the British political elite would simply close down the Scottish Parliament and declare the devolution experiment a failure. Although, as recent history teaches us, it would be unwise to discount anything as being beyond their capacity for arrogant idiocy, the British pride themselves on being devious and, from their own rather biased perspective at least, subtle.

A ‘review’ is as good a way as any to start the process of dismantling devolution. It is something that can later be referred to as if it justified the process. It helps to make suspending or closing the Scottish Parliament look like the outcome of a process that is rational and dispassionate. Or, at least, that is how it will be spun by the media arm of the British establishment.

Please don’t say you weren’t warned. Some of us have been warning about this since before the 2014 referendum. We recognised that the fate of Scotland’s Parliament was sealed in 2007 when, despite all the precautions to ensure that it would never happen, the British parties lost control of Holyrood. When, in 2011, the Scottish electorate broke the system that was supposed to keep the Scottish Parliament on a tight British leash, its fate was confirmed beyond any hope of reprieve.

The No vote in the 2014 referendum gave British politicians licence to do as they pleased with Scotland. The Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum created a need to redefine the constitutional status of UK; and an opportunity to unilaterally redefine Scotland’s status within the UK. The nature of the Union ensures that neither the people of Scotland nor their elected representatives need be consulted.

Some may insist that saying the British state’s moves against the Scottish Parliament were foreseeable is just a case of being clever with hindsight. They will point to particulars that were were not predicted – such as ‘Dunlop’s review’ – and claim that this ‘proves’ the actions of the British state are such that nobody could have foreseen. But, quite apart from the fact that articles written as long ago as 2012 warning of the British state’s intentions, are still available online, any appreciation of the imperatives driving the British political elite and the options available made it obvious what was coming.

I say all this, not by way of a big “Ah telt ye!” – although I do reserve gloating rights – but in the hope that, realising we were right before, people may heed the warnings being issued now. It is to be hoped that people will at least attend to the voices saying how urgent it is that Scotland get out of the Union and warning of the consequences of failure to do so.

There may well be another purpose to the ‘Dunlop review’ of devolution. We are assured that “the review will look at areas within the UK Government set-up and not at devolved areas”. That, surprisingly, may actually be almost entirely true. It is difficult to see how any meaningful ‘review’ of devolution might exclude devolved areas. But the project makes perfect sense if the purpose of the ‘review’ is actually to gauge the preparedness of the ‘UK Government in Scotland’ to take over the powers and functions of the Scottish Parliament. It is unlikely that such a ‘review’ could be conducted in secrecy. So the sensible course of action is to announce it, but disguise its purpose.

And, of course, announcing the ‘Dunlop review’ means that it also serves the ‘scent-marking’ purpose referred to at the start of this article.

Be warned! The British government is gearing up to bypass and then eliminate the Scottish Parliament. It is preparing for an ‘end game’ in which Scotland’s distinctive political culture is eradicated. This is the ultimate playing-out of the Greater England project which aimed to obliterate Scotland’s national identity. All of this will come to pass because the imperatives of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism demand that it must be so.

Be warned! Unless the Scottish Government, the Scottish National Party and the Yes movement act promptly and in solidarity to prevent it, the juggernaut of British Nationalism will roll over our land and crush Scotland’s democracy.

Be warned! The consequences of acting and failing are now no different from the consequences of failing to act. And those consequences are catastrophic for Scotland. We must act now! We must #DissolveTheUnion!

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Time to choose

Am I alone in having difficulty dealing with the torrent of idiocy and mendacity gushing out of the British political elite like effluent from a burst sewer? Am I the only one who struggles to relate what these British politicians say to observable reality? Does anyone else entertain niggling doubts about their own mental state as they listen to the increasingly brazen lies and the ever more fantastical claims? Do you, betimes, catch yourself thinking, is it me?

I surely can’t be the only one experiencing the sensation that truth and facts are being so eroded as to have become ethereal and elusive. The world is shifting and crumbling under a barrage of delusion and dishonesty delivered with such easy conviction as to make one momentarily doubt ones senses and ones intellect – and even ones sanity.

I listen to Jeremy Hunt talk about negotiations with the EU and have to constantly remind myself that there are no such negotiations. As he claims to be qualified to conduct these negotiations, I find myself on the verge of disputing this in a way that would imply acceptance of the reality of the negotiations. I am in danger of becoming submerged in Hunt’s delusion and must push my head out of the cloying mire to gasp a breath of truth.

There are no negotiations with the EU. There is no remotely realistic prospect of such negotiations. But Hunt’s delusion is so complete in its construction as to take on the qualities of reality. I understand how easy it would be for this manufactured reality to supplant actual reality as the former steals the attributes of the latter. I see how truth is diminished as it is pillaged for materials from which to build lies. I have to peer ever more intently to distinguish one from the other.

It is not just truth and reality which are under attack. Discharge from the festering pit of British politics is corroding the very concepts which underpin civilised society. Concepts whose concreteness we rely on – and all too often take for granted. Concepts such as justice and democracy are in danger of disintegrating as arbitrariness, expediency, imperiousness and authoritarianism are normalised in a calculated perversion of political discourse.

Nested within the intertwined fantasies of further negotiations and “orderly transition” and an advantageous Brexit ‘deal’ is a denial of fundamental democratic principles so nonchalantly delivered as to give the impression that those principles have no value – and never did. It’s not that democracy is being discarded so much as it is being erased, eradicated. Just as Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia not Eurasia, so it has always been the case that the criterion for selecting members of bodies such as that which forms part of Jeremy Hunt’s delusion is, not democratic legitimacy, but devotion to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state.

That British state is the place where truth and democracy go to die. It is the place where it is normal to discount any kind of democratic mandate and denigrate the very idea of parliamentary authority. It is the place where political leaders are anointed, not elected. Where political authority derives, not from the people, but from a divinely-ordained monarch whose powers are wielded by an executive answerable only to forces unseen and unaccountable. It is the place where reality is whatever serves the interests of established power. It is the place where truth belongs to the ruling elite; theirs to shape using the tools of tame mass media.

For Scotland and its people, the British state is a daily more alien and threatening place. It is a place where we don’t belong. A place where our needs, priorities and aspirations count for nothing. Where our democratic choices are dismissed. Where our political culture is despised and derided. A place of insult and iniquity.

Scotland is shackled to the British state and all its corruption and dishonesty and incompetence and deluded imperialist pretensions by an archaic, asymmetric, anomalous Union. The people of Scotland hold the key to those shackles. We can free ourselves from the chaos. We can choose not to be dragged down by the British political elite.

We can choose truth over lies. We can choose the reality we make for ourselves over the the demented fantasies constructed in the diseased minds of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist fanatics. We can choose to #DissolveTheUnion.

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