The death-rattle

Britain is not a nation. It is the name the ruling elites of the British state use to refer to the structures of power, privilege and patronage by which the few are advantaged at the expense of the many. As far as the peripheral nations are concerned, Britain is nothing more than a politically expedient rebranding of the ‘Greater England’ project; prompted by the failure to eradicate – or, at least, substantially suppress – the distinct identities of what were always regarded as subordinate part of the UK.

The same frustrated desire to impose an alien ‘One Nation’ vision on Scotland led to the creation of the (then) Scottish Office; the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament; numerous rounds of inept and often malicious constitutional tinkering, and ultimately the situation in which we now find ourselves. A situation where the ever irrational voices of British nationalism are grown as shrilly, dementedly defensive of vaunting British exceptionalism as has here been demonstrated by Melanie Phillips.

That shrill defensiveness is the death-rattle of the British state. We can now see, if we did not before, that the political union devised in another age and for purposes that have absolutely no relevance to Scotland and England in the 21st century, cannot withstand scrutiny. When challenged, its adherents are reduced to fantastical ranting, frenzied flag-waving and banal jingoism.

This archaic, anachronistic and all too evidently dysfunctional union carried the seeds of its inevitable failure from its inception. The structural asymmetry and the denial of popular sovereignty were inherent fatal flaws, awaiting only the voice of democratic dissent and a forum in which that voice could speak to and for a polity where an undercurrent of unease and dissatisfaction with the constitutional arrangement had been a constant for three centuries.

It is time to admit that there exist in Scotland and England two distinct and increasingly incompatible political cultures. British nationalist fanatics may be incapable of admitting that the union has to be dissolved. But there is no reason why reasonable people should emulate this corrosive obduracy.

Scotland’s civic nationalist movement wants no more than to bring Scotland’s government home. There is something disturbed and disturbing about an attitude which sees this normalising of our constitutional status and governance as diminishing anything of worth. Whatever is diminished by improving democracy wasn’t worth preserving anyway.

No devotion to the British state, however fervent, can possibly outweigh the right of peoples to choose how they are governed.

Independence is normal. For both Scotland and England, it is the political union which is anomalous. The anomalies cannot be buried under a torrent of British nationalist rhetoric. They certainly cannot be resolved by the kind of political bullying being resorted to by Theresa May.

Independence is inevitable because any constitutional settlement which succeeds in terms of the imperatives of the British state must necessarily fail in terms of the needs, priorities, hopes and aspirations of Scotland’s people. Let us approach the dissolution of what is, after all, merely a political contrivance, in a mature and pragmatic fashion. Let’s not think of the ending of the union as a severing of relationships but, rather, as an opportunity to reform and renew those relationships on a basis of mutual respect and equal status.

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17 thoughts on “The death-rattle

  1. Col

    There’s as much a chance of a velvet divorce as there is of the OO waking up and having a change of heart and cancelling their marches.

  2. bringiton

    I will be very grateful to sever relationships with England’s Tory governments who have imposed so much misery on my country.
    We are,by nature,a sociable bunch of people (Scots) so have no problem with those living in England,only their governments.
    As Col rightly says,pretty unlikely we are going to get anything from London other than hostility after the divorce,which is a very good reason to be part of a bigger trading block come the day.

    1. john carins

      The English are extremely tolerant people. SNP are divisive and serve to damage Scottish interests

  3. Abulhaq

    No more pussy footing, a clean break, a republic with an elected head of state is the only way forward for future Scotland.

  4. alasdairB

    May’s address to the Tory ageing & diminishing party faithful, just as Thatcher’s sermon on the mound, was meant to reinforce the union. It had exactly the opposite effect. Like it or lump it she made it absolutely crystal clear there would be no special arrangement for Scotland within any EU settlement as the country would be leaving as one entity. Additionally she, Mundell & Davidson are of one mind to curtail the legitimacy of Holyrood as Scotland’s parliament.
    When she says take back control she includes Holyrood. It will be neutered to the status of a regional authority with Westminster & the Scotland Office regaining control . We cannot allow this to happen. Full Independence for Scotland is the only way we can continue developing as an inclusive social democratic society and protect our country within Europe from the certain implosion & societal unrest south of of the border when they realise they have been sold down the river with a hard Brexit.

    1. Alan Johnson

      Well said, AlasdairB. This must happen as soon as possible. It is vital for our survival as a Nation.

  5. Philip Maughan

    A perfect example of the archaic nature of the ‘United Kingdom’ was on display on the BBCs ‘Meet the Lords’ which looks at the day-to-day running of the House of Lords. The doormen are still officially in mourning – for Prince Albert, who died 150 years ago, and dress accordingly. Apparently they have not yet received any communique recinding this period of mourning.

  6. Alan Johnson

    Withdraw our SNP MPs from Westminster now, to return for good to Holyrood, there to reconvene the Scottish Parliament with full legislative powers, withdraw voluntarily from the Union, and declare Scotland to be an independent, dignified and proud country by UDI with immediate effect. We have passed a point of no return, and this is the only effective answer. Nothing short of full independence will serve our interests!

  7. Abulhaq

    May be the death rattle of the old order but unfortunately too many Scots have a morbid attachment to it. Britishness, kith and kin and the whole sentimental nonsense served up at indyref1 is still around. Some yes voters seem unable to psychologically detach themselves from this dying system. It may be related to age or a failure to grasp the full significance of the term ‘independence’ but whichever it is indyref2 should give no quarter and expose ‘Britishness’ and what it represents as historically and functionally antithetical to the concept of Scottish sovereignty and national self-determination.

  8. Mogz

    (I came here thru a facebook friend’s page.)
    If they want “no more than to bring Scotland’s government home” they will stop being seen to want to racistly reject some Scots from their own country, an international pariah population persecution breaking up families against human rights article 8.
    Which means: they will bind themselves to a constitutional red line of human rights for the Scottish state, fixed before the vote not after – that citizenship by parental descent will be unrefusable.
    Why would no Yes source ever say that to me during the last ref, the whole time from the White Paper to poll? Resulting in my petition 1448/2014 to the EU, not the naive type of petition making a request that can be said no to, but an assertion of ECHR article 8, which now is part of Scotland’s relationship with the EU that ref2 planners have to deal with.

    1. Edward Freeman

      I believe you are talking about article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, entitled “Right to respect for private and family life”, and reads as follows:

      “1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

      2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

      The SNP and the Scottish Government have no plans to scrap the Convention, unlike the Tory regime at Westminster, which is indeed openly racist (and increasingly authoritarian). Here in Scotland we have a much better record on inclusiveness than in the rest of the UK, I think you’ll find.

      Similarly, there is no question that European citizens would continue to have freedom of movement, including the right to reside, in an independent Europe.

      Now, for people born outwith Scotland, outwith Europe, who identify as Scottish but don’t have the passport, we can’t use jus solis as grounds for obtaining passports, but I expect that our jus sanguinis regime for claiming Scottish citizenship would be similar to the Irish one, i.e., permissive and liberal rather than otherwise, and that the ECHR article right to a family life will be honoured to a far, far greater extent than Westminster’s minions currently do, especially given that they probably don’t intend to honour it at all starting quite soon.

      In other words, please don’t worry about article 8 of the ECHR in Scotland, we have absolutely no plans to junk it, whatever Ms. May and her regime may think they can get away with, and care a great deal more about people’s human rights than they do.

      1. Edward Freeman

        Blast, I forgot that I cannot edit my comments here. First para. – The phrase “and reads” should be “which reads”.

        Fifth para. – “no question” – should be “no doubt”.

        Please forgive other dubious grammar and phrasing.

  9. manandboy

    A short time before the EU referendum, I was in the company of several English people for lunch. Tongue in cheek, I asked the company if they thought Scotland should bother to vote or just to wait for the result in England as that would more than likely prevail. In reply, an English gentleman said ” and that’s how it should be”, sounding as if he meant it.
    I immediately felt his contempt for Scottish people, and I knew instinctively that his point of view and his attitude, could never provide a basis for friendship and mutual respect.

    Such is the Union.

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