Are you feeling the lurve Scottish people? Are you feeling wanted and respected as an equal partner in this most perfect family of nations? Are you feeling that your voice is being heard and the views of Scotland are being taken into account by the mother of parliaments? No. Me neither.
I watched parts of what was supposedly a debate in the House of Commons, only to switch off in disgust at the arrogance and contempt which met the views of all the representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some Unionists like to claim that it’s not Scotland which is held in contempt, it’s just the SNP, and that’s perfectly fine with them. But last night in the Commons it wasn’t just SNP MPs whose views were dismissed out of hand. What we saw last night were the representatives of Tory England laying down the law to the representatives of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Michael Gove got up to speak, and put on a stronger Scottish accent in an attempt to sound hard. This failed miserably, because he’s Michael Gove. There are innovative jam trifles which are harder than Michael, and they’re certainly a whole lot more palatable too. It was the most Scottish thing about the entire sorry exercise that has become for Scotland a humiliating travesty of democratic representation. Just two MPs representing Scottish seats were called to speak, just one from Wales and one from Northern Ireland. All were cut short and in total the non-English parts of this supposed union of nations got just five minutes of speaking time in a debate which went on for most of the evening. English Tories got to speak. Brexit supporting Labour MPs from English seats got to speak. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland got the equivalent of a footnote in a Russian novel, one of those tragedies where the leading character inadvertently kills off the love of his life because he didn’t realise and didn’t care that his arrogance and selfishness were driving her to despair. Until it was too late.
It’s too late now. Watching the farce of Westminster makes you wonder what the point is of Scotland sending MPs to Westminster. They can easily be outvoted, even on topics which directly affect Scotland, by non-Scottish MPs. Those would be the same non-Scottish MPs who won’t allow Scotland’s MPs to have a vote when it comes to issues that they deem to be non-Scottish. All that Scotland’s MPs do is to lend legitimacy to a system which ignores and traduces our country, they are a fig leaf of representation covering the dickish behaviour of pricks with no respect.
You can have a Union, or you can have a unitary incorporating state. Westminster’s denizens, both Tories and Labour, have made it very clear that they expect the latter. A Union demands that the parts of that Union have a clearly defined constitutional role, that they really are equal partners in fact and in law and not just in rhetoric. That’s not what we’ve got. What we’ve got is a state in which it makes no difference what Scotland, or Wales or Northern Ireland, wants, we get what the largest part of the supposed Union decides that it wants. There is no negotiation, there is certainly no compromise.
The British state as it is currently constituted is a creature of English nationalism, pure and simple. And that means that there is no Union. There is only the agency of English nationalism which uses Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as colourful window dressing to disguise its true nature from itself and from its supporters in the non-English parts of the UK. That means that those amongst us who declare that they are proud Unionists believe in a comforting delusion that exists to deceive us all.
If you believe in the Union, you believe in a lie. You believe in something that the British state will never allow to exist. If there was a real Union, then Scotland would have a constitutional right to be consulted. If there was a real Union, it is incompatible with the English nationalist fetish of the absolute sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament. If there was a real Union then Tory MPs who know nothing about Scotland and who care even less would not be able to impose the most reckless, xenophobic, hard right Brexit on a Scotland which has voted for something else. A Union implies equality and respect, what we’ve got right now is the subordination of Scotland to a nasty and inward looking right wing English nationalism.
This isn’t about Scotland versus England. England has a long and proud tradition of radicalism and progressive politics. But the point is that at this juncture in history England has fallen in thrall to the other side of its political coin, the insular side, the island side, the side that sees itself as exceptional and special and with a god-given right to rule. Within this so-called union there’s nothing that Scotland can do to protect itself from it, and there is no point or gain in Scotland sacrificing itself on the altar of Tory xenophobia in solidarity with the English left. Real solidarity gives hope, and the best way we can give hope to the English left is by building an alternative in a sovereign Scotland.
So the question is where do we go from here? If we send representatives to a parliament in which they are arrogantly dismissed, in which they are second class, and in which they are a permanent minority who will always be out-voted and bayed down when the interests of English nationalism are at stake, we need to ask ourselves what is the point of them being there. Do they serve any purpose other than legitimising the rule of a parliament which has not the slightest interest in taking Scotland’s views into account, and in maintaining the fiction of a Union that’s not a union.
Today in Bella Caledonia Mike Small argues that the time has come for Scotland’s MPs to withdraw from Westminster and set themselves up as a Constituent Assembly. I’m not sure the time for that is just yet, but he’s right that it’s drawing close. The time to withdraw from Westminster is when the second independence referendum has been called. We need them there right now to highlight the hypocrisy of a British establishment that’s hell-bent on depriving Scotland of a voice. Once the referendum is under way then Scotland’s MPs could withdraw from Westminster to form an alternative body which can hear from all interests and groups in the country and begin the process of creating a Scottish constitution, a constitution that’s fit for the 21st century, that’s fit for the democracy that right now we don’t currently have.
A second referendum is coming soon, and yesterday’s antics from the English nationalists who call themselves unionists have only made it sooner. The Union is founded on deceit. That political reality is what will bring about the restoration of Scottish sovereignty. Scottish independence will come about because of the actions of so-called Unionists, not Scottish nationalists. It will come about because the Union is a lie.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-7th-feb-2017
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