In an article for the Sunday Times this weekend, Jeremy Clarkson says that he doesn’t understand the need for Scottish independence, but then no one has ever knowingly accused Jeremy of having any sort of insight into anyone who doesn’t fully subscribe to the agenda of the right wing British nationalist press. Jeremy is now an expert on all things Scottish because he’s a privileged middle class pal of David Cameron who has just spent a week in the Highlands. So naturally he’s more deserving of a platform to air his views on the Scottish constitutional debate than people who have lived in Scotland all their lives.
But Jeremy was looking in the wrong place. One of the biggest reasons why Scotland needs independence won’t be found in the tenements of Glasgow or the hills of Torridon during a brief trip north of the border. It’s to be found in that Parliament on the banks of the Thames where Scotland’s voice is marginalised and ignored. What Scotland wants is not what Scotland gets. What Scotland votes for is not what Scotland sees being implemented, and nowhere is this mismatch between the democratic voice and what transpires in reality more marked than when it comes to matters of military action.
We remember the debacle of the Iraq War and how this country was rushed into military action without any plan about what to do afterwards, resulting in the destablisation of the Middle East and a chain of conflicts which have seen ancient cities reduced to rubble, hundreds of thousands lose their lives, hundreds of thousands more wounded or maimed, and millions flee into exile. We remember how that same mistake was repeated in Libya. And now there’s Syria.
Theresa May didn’t just embark on a military adventure in Syria without first debating the issue in the supposedly sovereign parliament, she did so without even bothering to give a coherent explanation of her reasons for doing so or presenting any meaningful idea of what she sought to achieve by it. There’s no strategy, there’s no plan. Theresa May reacted dismissively when it was put to her that she was merely following the American line by joining in an attack on Syria so that Donald Trump could divert media attention from the mounting scandals which threaten to sink his presidency, and insisted angrily that she acted out of her own principles. But she couldn’t actually articulate what those principles might be.
We keep seeing military actions being carried out by a British government which is happy to rush into war and to wrap itself in the red white and blue in order to get itself out of some unrelated short term political difficulty. Theresa May is enjoying a wee boost in the opinion polls because she’s bombed some Middle Easterners.
To use Theresa May’s favourite phrase, let us be very clear. There may very well have been a chemical attack in Douma carried out by the Syrian regime against its opponents. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if that was the case. But the point is that the British government has lost all right to take unilateral action on any such attack without incontrovertible proof of the attack being presented by a neutral source and without the events being investigated by an unimpeachable international organisation. The assertion of the British government that bad people have done bad things is no longer enough, because the British government has lied about these matters in the past with disastrous results for the countries which are the subject of the military action. It has lied more than once and it has always got away with its lies even after the lie has been exposed. Where there are no consequences for the liars for lying, there is no incentive to stop lying.
That’s the issue here. It’s an issue of trust. It’s not that anyone trusts in the assertions of the Syrians and of Bashir Assad or Vladimir Putin that we should all move along because there is nothing to see in Douma. It’s that we don’t trust the British government and we are no longer prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s a pretty lamentable state of affairs in a democracy. What’s worse is that this is a state of affairs that has been brought about, not by fake news from the Kremlin, but by the lies and deceit of successive British governments themselves.
Supporters of the British state can scream all they like about fake news, about Russian manipulation of the news, but that’s not going to rebuild trust in a British government which has repeatedly lied and has been dishonest without any help from Vladimir Putin. The only people who can rebuild trust in the British government are the representatives of the British government, but that British government doesn’t seem inclined to change its ways. There is no willingness to learn from the mistakes of the past, and Westminster keeps on repeating them. Being British means to be caught in a groundhog day of war. All this has happened before, and it will keep on happening.
There is no accountability built into the structures of the British state. The Prime Minister can do what he or she pleases as long as they have the support of a neutered parliament of lobby fodder. There are no checks and balances, no written rules. The famously unwritten British constitution really just gives the power of the day carte blanche to do as it pleases. Sometimes a country really does need to go to war, but Britain has created a situation where even if that were the case many people would oppose it because successive British governments have lied about the need for military action so often in the past. There are times when military action is indeed justified, but British governments have created a situation in which the public can no longer be confident if that action is justified or not.
This is why Scotland needs independence. Britain is never going to change, but Scotland can. We need to get away from a state which treats warfare as a short term political tactic. We need independence because we need a government which can be held to account. We need independence because we need a government which is representative of the views and the will of the people of Scotland. We need independence because politicians cannot be trusted, and we need to keep them close to us so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet. Then when our politicians do take us into war we can be confident that they’re doing so in the national interest, and not in their own.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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