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.Views: 5546
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